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Whispers of the Kraken (Epilogue: Revelations of the Kraken)


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20 hours ago, CSE said:

I hope Whispers is proving as awesome to write as it is to read.

The details continue to click into place just as they're needed, while the big stuff is slowly resolving its self like a Cindy Margolis gif circa 1997 :D

20 hours ago, KSK said:

But...but... no pickle on the cheeseburger.

Hmmm, dill pickled cucumber. Sounds pretty Ussari to me. Might have broken that good ole all-Kleptogartian imagery.

Which means... Oh sweet Kraken, they know...

The Comestibles Conspiracy! It's real, I tell you! Real! Real! REAL!

No doctor, no I don't need that nice pill. No really. Noooooooo.

Oh dear. Oh dear dear. It seems, in my haste, I have made a horrible omission.

 

...or have I? :ph34r:
naw, I just hate pickles.

16 hours ago, vsully said:

So when does Jerdous turn to the dark side in this storyline?

Exactly the question I want y'all to be asking right now. :sealed:

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Chapter 52: One Giant Bleep

"Tee minus 10 minutes, clock is holding for final launch status check. Attention all stations, standby for final launch status check."

Gene's voice echoed across the Space Center from dozens of tinny, tiny loudspeakers. After another day, and a brief squall of very confused squid, the weather had finally broken. The ground crews had emerged into the brilliant sunlight and bustled about like ants, replacing Burdous's rocket on the pad and washing away any stubborn ink stains. Today, the dawn brought cooler temperatures and a balmy sea breeze that chased away the last hints of humidity, but not the uncomfortable wad of anxiety in the back of Valentina's mind.

She once again stood in a crowd atop the Mission Control building, a considerably better view afforded by a large box she had grudgingly agreed to stand on. The lunch lady's back was even worse than her face, as it turned out, and Valentina was nothing if not practical. To his credit, J.R. had wisely advised her to stay upwind as well. 

"BOOSTER?"

"GO"

"RETRO?"

"GO"

"FIDO?"

"GO"

"GUIDANCE?"

"GO"

"SURGEON?"

"GO"

"EECOM?"

"GO"

"GNC?"

"GO"

"CONTROL?"

"GO"

"INCO?"

"GO"

"FAO?"

"GO"

"CAPCOM is GO, OTC?"

"GO"

"TBC?"

"GO"

"PTC?"

"GO"

"ILA?"

"GO"

"ZILA?"

.....

"ZILA...?"

.....

"ZILA need you to report station readiness."

"ZILA is go."

Beside her, J.R. sighed and rolled his huge eyes, "need to have a chat with them folks. That island livin' makin' is 'em soft. This is becoming a bad habit. Stubborn folk, them Gednalnans."

"LRD?"

"GO"

"OMG?"

"GO"

"LOL?"

"GO"

"ROTFL?"

"GO"

"LMFAO?"

"GO"

"LMAOROTFBTCSTCNDBFOOTWIFOAGWLLBGWTHROOTSAIAKBAYB? And do not make me repeat that!"

"GO flight!"

J.R. sighed again, and this time put a hand to his face, "our launch procedures could certainly use some streamlining, too."

"GNN?"

"GO"

"RSO?"

"Range is clear, range is clear, you have a go."

"PLT?"

"Go flight!" Came Burdous's nasally, jubilant voice echoing through the air. 

"All stations report 'GO' for launch."

"This is launch control, you have permission to launch. Terminal countdown has resumed at tee minus ten minutes."

Valentina and J.R. looked on from their place in the crowd, as the flight controllers steadily worked through their procedures. Like so much here, it was all very familiar, yet surreally different. The crowds, for instance. Other than here on top of the Mission Control building, there weren't any on the center grounds. She could just see them, thousands of green faces, plastered along the outer perimeter fence. Anyone else on the premises was battened down in heavily reinforced buildings. She related this to J.R.

"Well it's a dangerous business, rockets," he replied, glancing at her but keeping his focus on the distant launch pad, "wouldn't want any, er, civilian casualties, now. That is a Rockomax booster under that capsule, after all."

"But we are expendable?" She said, not quite looking at him.

"We have a top notch health plan here. Besides," he grinned, "y'all signed a waver just like the rest of us."

"I do not recall signing any waver."

J.R. chuckled a bit at that, "ma'am, if you remembered half of bovine byproducts you signed comin' through immigration, Ah'd... why, Ah'd eat mah hat. Shoot, Ah'm in the business of signin' things, and Ah don't even remember half of what Ah signed to get into this country."

"Tee minus seven minutes," Gene echoed again, "begin auto sequence start."

"Have you thought any more 'bout our lil' offer?" he asked carefully, still watching the distant rocket.

Valentina let the moment drift on a bit, giving her mind time to work as the disembodied voices continued their sermon, "in my country, are many rules..."

"That there are," J.R. nodded thoughtfully, "Ah have people well versed in just those sort of rules. Arrangements can be made."

An uncomfortable pause stretched on, as Valentina's mind continued to race, leaning this way and that. 

"Core LOX purge."

"Core purge."

"Upper LOX purge."

"Upper purge."

J.R. raised an eye... bulge, "don't trust me, do yah?"

"Uh," she stammered, "certainly I do..."

He then gave a deep, bitter chuckle that chilled Valentina to her core, "really, Mizz Kermanova, Ah imagine yah think Ah'm all sortsa nasty things, and yer probably right. But one thing Ah am not, and never will be, is a liar. Ain't got no grace for the breed."

"So why don't you and Ah start with one small amity, hmm?" He turned fully to her now, "let us agree to extend this courtesy to one another, that we won't lie to each other. Can we agree on that much?"

"Fuel tanks to flight pressure."

"RCS purge, nozzle check, tanks to flight pressure."

An uneasy feeling crept over Valentina, as J.R. stood there in the bright sun grinning at her, one she had not felt in a very long time, but knew all too well. Anyone who lived in the taiga came to know the feeling, to come to terms with it, and above all, never to ignore it. She knew well when a predator was stalking her. 

And you never, ever, ran from a predator. 

"Batt heaters off."

She'd had the feeling, too, when the voice had whispered to her all those... PЦTIЙ, had it really only been a handful of weeks? But this was somehow different, more visceral, more real

You never ran from a predator, you'd just die tired. Instead you waited, stalked it back, and always kept one eye on it.

"Firing command enable."

"Firing command on."

"We have the firing command."

"All right. Fair enough," she said.

"Well that's just excellent!" J.R. beamed, "y'see? We're agreein' already, and negotiatin's nothin' but findin' one agreement after the next. Findin' the common ground."

"This is so," she kept one eye on him as the launch clock continued to count down.

"Terminate LOX replenish."

"Close topping valves."

"Closed."

"Close vent valves."

"Closed."

"Take Mister Burdous there," he gestured toward the waiting rocket as plumes of fog began to drift from its flanks, "real piece of work that was, feller's as stubborn as a mule, just had to find the common ground. He's a real team player, now."

Him too? Who else was on this 'team,' she wondered, "is that so?"

"Yes, indeed. Stubborn as a mule, mouth like one's back end, too, but absolutely brilliant. He's got idears on nuclear propulsion only Dr. Fermi can fully grasp, but one day he'll do even greater things for the team."

"Doctor... Fermi?" Valentina asked.

J.R. pointed off toward the Research Center, "Dr. Fermi Kerman. The usual source of all these, er, seismic anomalies you've no doubt noticed. World's leading authority on applied nuclear physics. Team player since the very start. We brought him out here and built him that lab after the powers that be back in Exast were... less communally minded. There's a place for you, too, here among the great."

"Tee minus one minute."

Valentina frowned, "is wise to discuss such matters so... publicly?"

"Why ma'am, transparency is one of Layland Heavy Industries' most treasured values. And besides, you might be surprised just how big this here team is."

About this time, the lunch lady turned around and scowled at him. 

"Mornin', ma'am," he said to her, tipping his enormous hat, "beautiful day, ain't it? Boy howdy, you are a vision."

Her expression darkened, and she waded off through the crowd. 

"I thought you said you did not lie," Valentina observed. 

"Well, Ah didn't!" J.R. threw up his hands, "didn't say she was a pleasant vision, now."

He sighed, "Kerbelle's got more wool than a sheep on sheerin' day."

"Tee minus twenty seconds, start engine gimbal test."

"Watch," he said, putting an unwelcome hand on Valentina's shoulder and pointing, "here comes the best part!"

"Tee minus twelve..."

"Eleven..."

"Ten..."

"Nine..."

"Eight..."

"Seven..."

"Main engine start... we have ignition."

Out on the pad, a bright flash precluded a billowing, roiling plume of thick grey smoke, and was followed a moment later by a low rushing sound quite unlike anything Valentina had heard before. A hush grew over the crowd.

"Four..."

"Three..."

"Two..."

"One..."

"Booster ignition and... lift off!"

Burdous's voice thundered from the speakers, just before the blast of the solid boosters chased away all other noise.

"HOLEY <bleeeeeeeeeeeeep>!"

J.R. buried his face in his hands as the rocket leapt into the clear blue sky. The boosters drowned the world in a deafening roar, and a smile crept onto Valentina's face. Yes, some things definitely were the same the world over. Like the barely restrained fury of solid rockets, and the need to keep certain pilots on a broadcast delay. 

The rocket continued to climb, pitching out over the ocean on a gray tail of smoke. Valentina felt her own apprehension rise with it. The crowd remained mostly silent in breathless anticipation. Higher and farther the missile shot, the smoke trail deforming into a zig-zag pattern as it passed through varying wind layers high above. Valentina strained her keen eyes, and there, just on the edge of visibility, she saw the plume of smoke abate, and three objects tumble and flash away. 

"We have booster separation... Booster separation is good, all systems remain go!"

The gathered Kerbals finally let out their collective breath in a triumphant cheer, and Valentina realized she had been holding her own as well.

"Well now, fancy that, a Rockomax rocket doin' what it's supposed to," laughed J.R., "Ah do hope we'll talk more later, though Ah believe a good faith gesture may be in order."

He tipped his hat to her, "y'all have yerself a lovely day, now," then made his way off through the crowd. Valentina frowned after him. Who else was he talking to?

She sighed, and blew at the wandersome hair in her face. A quick glance told her the rocket was far out of view now, even for her. With the continued reports over the speakers, there was no more need to stand out here in the sun. She decided to beat the rush and head down to the cafeteria for a cheeseburger. 

Mmmmm, cheeseburger!

***

A guilty grin crept across Valentina's face as the last colors of the vision faded away in her mind. That fellow could certainly play the flute well with such a nasty head wound. Something about a feathered hat and... pasta. 

The post-launch crowds had come and gone, indicating an uneventful flight thus far. Only a few dispersed diners still lingered in the cavernous space. Valentina was just about to leave herself, when a new wave of anxiety and trepidation washed over her. Stunned for a moment, a sudden outburst from across the room drew her attention. 

"Ugh, as if!"

She craned her neck looking for the source. It was a pretty young cadet she didn't recognize, talking to...

"I wouldn't go out with you if you were the last Kerb in the world!" The cadet spun around and stalked off, "loser!"

Valentina frowned. That seemed a bit... harsh. 

Still standing there, with a fragile, hopeful smile frozen on his face, and holding out a very particular flower, was the simple fellow from the hallway the other day. What was his name again? Gas-man? But... where was his friend? Before her eyes, flower, smile, and Kerb wilted. He turned and wandered away slowly, studying the floor. 

Valentina's frown deepened. Those flowers were not easy to come by, the least the young lady could have done is show him a little courtesy, even if she weren't interested. A deep, familiar sadness flowed through the back of her mind. She wished it would stop, it was very distracting when she was trying to think of what to do about the poor boy. Perhaps she should go talk to him? Give him an encouraging word? He did seem to have a liking for her, even if it was a bit... uncomfortable. 

She nodded to herself. Yes, yes that's exactly what she should do. He was still shuffling toward the door. Go talk to him, just be kind, and hope he hasn't eaten rec--

She rose quickly, without looking, and stepped into an explosion of ketchup and expletives, with not a bleep to be heard. 

"YOU AGAIN?!"

Oh, PЦTIЙ.

"Excuse... did not see..."

"You're damn right you didn't see!" D.N. screamed, throwing the splattered tray and ruined meal to the floor, "you've got a habit of not seeing!"

He looked down at the red, meaty mess on his torso, "my shirt... I love this shirt... THIS WAS MY FAVORITE SHIRT YOU--"

Valentina went from apologizing to snarling. The other fighter pilots stepped up behind D.N.

"You!" He raged, "you... you... shake my nerves... and you rattle my brain!"

"Too much love drives a man insane?" Waterfowl offered helpfully. 

D.N. stopped in mid rant. He blinked twice, then closed his mouth, thought a moment, held up a finger to Valentina, and turned to Waterfowl. He looked the other pilot deeply in the eyes, which wasn't easy, slowly waved a finger back and forth in front of them... tapped the left side of the other's head, tapped the right, moved it around this way and that... pulled his mouth open and had a careful look inside... felt for a pulse at his neck...

"Y'know what is it with you, lately?" D.N. said to him, "you hit your head on the canopy or something?"

Waterfowl just shrugged. 

D.N. put a hand to his temples, cleared his throat, and spun around again.

"YOU!" he snarled back at Valentina with twice the fury, "oh yeah, I know all about you! I've been reading--"

Garter Snake began to clap slowly, but stopped after a glare from his leader.

"You're a magnet for trouble. It seems to follow you around like a cloud. I read, that all sortsa bad things happened around you back in Ooski-land, and now that you're here, it's followed you!"

Valentina clenched her teeth to hold her tongue.

"Suddenly you're here, and Rockomax keeps blowing up... real convenient if you ask me!"

"Um, but, boss," Ivylog tapped him on the shoulder, "today's launch went fine, and Rockomax has been blowing up a long time before she showed up."

D.N. shoved him away with a scowl, "you grew up as some kinda wild child, raised by wolves out in the forest or something..."

Valentina took a step...

"...and then they found you and sent you to the orphanage..."

...another step...

"...cuz your parents got arrested..."

...her hands balled into fists...

"...for being terrorists."

...she drew her arm back...

D.N. gave a feral grin.

"Go on, punch me!" He squealed, "punch me! Get your diplomatic visa revoked! Get thrown out of the country!"

...you will do absolutely nothing that might compromise the integrity of the Ussari Union...

He threw his arms wide, "punch me!"

"PUNCH ME!!!!!"

She didn't punch him. 

Instead, she punched the wall.

The concrete wall.

Bleep.

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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"She didn't punch him. 

Instead, she punched the wall.

The concrete wall."

Awwww... I almost got excited, thought D.N was gonna get knocked flat. 

Do J.R and D.N have anything to do with Jerdous and the Dark Side?

J.R is... weird, and D.N is... creepy!

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7 hours ago, vsully said:

 

Awwww... I almost got excited, thought D.N was gonna get knocked flat. 

Do J.R and D.N have anything to do with Jerdous and the Dark Side?

J.R is... weird, and D.N is... creepy!

Exactly what you should be asking right now.:cool:

3 hours ago, 0111narwhalz said:

Ahh...Another launch with a sleepy ZILA.

Wait! Does that mean this is the same launch as the one in Shadows:confused:

That one is still quite a few years away at this point... their launch procedure just hasn't changed much. :P

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Chapter 53: The Halls of Medicine 

"Paging Dr. Kerman, Dr. Kermin, Dr. Kerman..."

The errant lock of hair continued its unyielding assault on Valentina's face as she sat on a sheet of waxed paper on an examination table in a tiny, windowless room in the infirmary. Maybe it was getting time for a haircut. At least the hair distracted her from the throbbing pain in her right hand. The swelling had gotten pretty bad too, almost looked like a-- 

The door swung open, and a smiling Kerbal in a white lab coat entered, a thick folder tucked under his arm, "good afternoon, I'm Doctor Kerman (no relation). Ah, I see they have eggplant at the cafeteria today. Oh my, that's your hand."

Without missing a beat, he held out his left hand to shake. She took it gingerly, feeling the swelling abate just a hair as blood rushed to her face instead. 

"Well now," he grinned, setting the folder on the counter and snapping on a pair of latex gloves, "we'll see to that manual melongene in just a moment, let's get a quick check of your vitals first. Poke here, prod there, say 'ah...' no need to stick your tongue out at me, I'm just doing my job... now without moving your head, follow my finger... good... good... now pull it... oh, seen that one, have you? All right... can you hear me now? How 'bout now? Ok, not deaf... now this will feel a little cold... (EEK!) ok it will feel very cold... and, deep breath, deep breath... good... check your pulse now... catchy beat, is that the Bee Gees? Now just a quick reflex check... good!"

The Doctor leaned back, and didn't quite put a hand to his chin, "hmmm, interesting. In my professional medical opinion, you are not dead."

Valentina looked at him flatly, "...is that so."

"Quite. In my experience, I find it helpful to remind people of this from time to time. Starts things on a positive note. Now, would you like to tell me how you wound up with an aubergine at the end of your wrist?"

"I punch wall."

He blinked, "did you, now? Well, I'm sure that wall had it coming."

"It wasn't, by chance," he leaned in, "a wall by the name of Dean Kerman, was it?"

"No, was actual wall."

"Oh," he blinked again, "pity, that guy could stand to be taken down a peg, he's a real d-ouch my shin!"

A small rock plinked off the wall, plinked off the exam light, plinked just below Valentina's knee...

"Ouch, my other shin!" The doctor rocked on his stool, rubbing at his legs.

"Is there a doctor in the house?!" He pleaded, "oh, wait..."

Valentina could no longer contain a giggle.

"There, see?" He smiled, "feeling better already, aren't you? Told you you had good reflexes aye yi yi."

"Next you will tell me laughter is best medicine, no?" She smirked. 

"Oh, no no no, we have real medicine here," the doctor said with a note of concern, "things with long unnecessarily polysyllabic names like trinitrotoluene, transphlablamaphlognol, and cyclopentanoperhydrophenanthrene."

For a moment, Valentina could only sit there mimicking a fish as she tried to wrap her mind around the veritable phonetic cornucopia. Fortunately, a familiar distant rumble drew attention from her piscine pantomime.

"Phaw," the doctor sighed, not quite putting a hand to his face, "that's going to kill someone one of these days," then looked up brightly. 

"So, let's take a look at that stricken solanum you've got there," to Valentina's relieved surprise, the doctor used an incredibly light and practiced touch on her bloated, entirely too purple hand, "hmm. Hmmmmm."

"Is bad?" She asked resignedly. 

"Hmm? Oh, no, I was just pondering eggplant Parmesan for lunch. Your hand, now..."

"Does this hurt?"

"No."

"Does this?"

"No."

"How about th--"

"STДLIЙS STДCHЗ ДЙD ДLL HIS STЦЬЪLУ ШHISКЭЯS TФФ!"

He recoiled, "well, then. My Ussari is a bit rusty but I'll take that as a 'yes.' How about this?"

"No."

"This?"

"No."

"What if I do this?"

"Not really."

"And if--"

"GЯЗДT GФЯЬДCHЭVS ЪLФTCH ДЯЗ УФЦ TЯЧIЙG TФ КILL MЭ MДЙ?"

"Well, all right, then!" He slipped off the gloves, "I have some good news and some bad news."

"Yes?"

"We'll need some x-rays to be sure, but the good news is I'm fairly certain it's not broken. You've just bruised the bejezuz out of your second extensor tendon sheath. These sort of injuries usually heal up in just a couple of days."

"And bad news?"

"They hurt like hell and make you look like you're carrying around a large, bulbous vegetable."

"So if you're going to pick a fight with a ruthless gang of cinder blocks again, I would suggest at least wearing boxing gloves, or someone might think you're trying to transform into a domesticated cultivar of purple-fruited nightshade one limb at a time," he winked, "and need I remind you, you are already green."

Valentina giggled again, still feeling quite embarrassed but, well, a little bit better actually.

"Now, I'll just have the nurse--" the door swung open and a nurse stepped in.

"Ah, just who I needed--"

"Doctor, come quickly, it's an emergency!" The nurse exclaimed, "injury from the research lab!"

"Oh my," the doctor jumped up, his demeanor instantly changing, "oh my, my, my..."

"Um, please stay here, I'll be back as soon as I can, we still need to see to that bloated brinjal," he said and rushed out after the nurse, the door slamming so hard behind him that the folder fell off the counter and hit the floor with a papery thud. 

Valentina sighed, and huffed again at her hair. She hopped down from the table, bent to pick up the papers, and -knowing that it was private medical information and that she absolutely should not- glanced at one. 

***CONFIDENTIAL***
PRELIMINARY KERBONAUT MEDICAL EVALUATION

A gasp, and she put a hand to her mouth, which she immediately regretted. 

Just put it back on the counter, that's private.

So of course she peeked again.

APPLICANT: KERMAN, EDGAS J.

The thought that the filing cabinets around here must be very homogeneous was quickly replaced by another... why was that name familiar? This thought lingered, as she scanned over the page, feeling quite guilty about it but continuing nonetheless, until she reached a hand-written note taped near the bottom:

Gene,

I decided to send this one up to you for a final decision. This applicant's as smart as I've ever seen, his physical scores are impressively unimpressive yet passing, but he has the weakest stomach I've ever encountered. The poor lad vomits at the drop of a hat, and I don't mean that as a metaphor. I really liked that hat. That was my favorite hat. 
At any rate, he shows great potential, but I'm afraid I just can't recommend him for training. We need good scientists here on the ground, too. I can't see him amounting to anything as a Kerbonaut. You can review his records and send this back to Admin with the last box checked.

Dr. K.
(No, the other one)
(No, the other one)

Valentina frowned. That name, that was... that was the Gas-man! The sad young cadet from the other night. She shuddered, as another wave of discarnate emotion passed through her. PЦTIЙS ЗДЯS, that was getting annoying! She was trying to think, blast it!

That boy... not really a boy, not that much younger than her... he had applied for Kerbonaut selection after all. Even after embarrassing himself in front of his hero and his--

She shuddered again. Even after that. Perhaps Chadvey had convinced him? No, she didn't think Chadvey would take that much interest in anyone, other than himself. The boy must have acted on his own. His friend, then, the earnest-faced one, maybe?

But... the cafeteria. The very thing that had planted Valentina in this room with this, she rolled her eyes, plant. Plant. He'd picked that stuck up girl a flower. She knew that flower. They only bloomed down by the lake. Acquiring one would have meant braving those... things everyone was so terrified of. They couldn't be as bad as they said, but still...

That had taken courage

She shouldn't get involved, not her business, Valentina knew that, but... Kerbonaut training was hard. You could learn not to barf all over yourself. And everyone within a few meter's radius. But only if you had the courage to try in the first place. 

She looked up, turned her head this way and that as if expecting sudden observers in the room, then carefully peeled the note from the paper and shoved it into her mouth. 

And immediately wished she'd simply thrown it away instead. While she chewed, still glancing about nervously, she scanned down the page... there. At the very bottom, printed next to big, bold letters, were two boxes:

ACCEPTED ☐  REJECTED ☐

Feeling another tinge of guilt, she took a pen from the counter, and drew a thick X in the box marked ACCEPTED

She let out a quiet breath, shuffled the papers back in, and closed the folder... at the same instant the door flew open. Valentina shot bolt upright, hiding her hands behind her back and smacking the bad one on the edge of the exam table. She bared her teeth in what she hoped was a smile.

"Oh, hello, ma'am!" Said a different nurse, "did the doctor by chance leave a folder of papers in here?"

Valentina sidestepped away from the counter, smacking her hand again, then nodded at it.

"Oh, good, wouldn't do to leave that lying about, no sir-ee!" She picked up the folder and gave Valentina a concerned look, "are you all right, there, ma'am? You're looking a bit green...er."

Valentina swallowed hard.

"I'm fine," she croaked, feeling every edge of inadequately chewed paper scratch its way down her gullet while trying to maintain an innocent smile.

"You sure now? We could always get yah some dramamine or metaproterenol or polyethylene glycol, dontchaknow," the nurse smiled. 

"I'm fine," she coughed, then managed, "is.. everything... all right?"

"Ooooooh, I think it'll be. They had themselves another 'incident' down there at the Research Center, blew the roof clean off the Extra Tension Building, dontchaknow. Finally got someone sent down here, knew it was bound to happen sooner or later."

Valentina blinked, "but... they will be all right, yes?"

"Well, they're gonna transport him over to Kerbin City General just to be safe. He'll be right as rain just as soon as he gets that thingamabob diskajiggered from his whoopsiedaisy."

For one brief, terrible moment, Valentina tried to decode what the other Kerbelle had just said, then prudently decided some mental images were best left unthought. 

"Oh, well, there I go gettin' all chatty! I'd best get this on to its proper place," she tapped the folder, "the doctor will be back with ya just as soon as he can."

And with that, she was gone. Valentina let out a huge breath and looked at her swollen hand. Her fingers twitched slightly in time to the throbbing. Her eyes scanned around the small room, desperately seeking something soundproof to scream into. 
 

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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Chapter 54: Uncomfortably Numb

Bing

The elevator doors slid open, and Valentina stepped out into the darkened hall of her floor in the Kerbonaut Complex. Her right hand was heavily bandaged, and her left carried a bag of cheeseburgers. Now, the one had predicated the other, she supposed, but they were just going to get thrown out anyway. No sense wasting them. Also in the bag was a little container of pills, something with a name so long it wrapped around the bottle two and a half times, but at least it took the edge off. Her hand was down to a dull ache, but it certainly made her hungry. For cheeseburgers. 

Yes. Yes, perfectly reasonable excuse for sneaking back to her room with a bag full of stale cheeseburgers. Just a side effect, that's all. Nothing to worry about. Nothing at all. Alone in the hallway, she laughed nervously. 

She looked around, again expecting lurking watchers, and jumped as the elevator doors shushhhhed shut behind her. She sighed, and began walking down the rows of doors. Most of the others were still back at the bar. Valentina had considered staying around for the usual Joolsday night festivities until someone had begun passing out buckets of frogs. Some sort of research project. She'd left in a hurry, then. 

But, she supposed, no sense wasting them, either. 

An odd sound to her right made her pause as she neared Jorrigh's room. She listened for a moment, then jumped back in horror, eyeing the door. Coming from the other side was a sound like ripping metal. She whipped her head back and forth, wondering how such a noise wasn't drawing other gawkers. Even as she stood there, the sound shifted, changed, now becoming a cascade of shattering concrete. 

ЬЯЗZHЙЭVS SHФЗ, the building is collapsing! Valentina thought as she backed a few steps, steeling herself to batter down the door. Just as she was about to charge, however, the sound changed again...

RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPP.....CRRRAAAAAAAACK....wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeze...

RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPP.....CRRRAAAAAAAACK....wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeze

A hand slowly went to her face as she realized it was only Jorrigh.

That Kerb snores worse than Dibella, she thought, letting out a long breath. She proceeded down the shadowy hall towards her room, still feeling very unsettled. Must be more side-effects, no coating or anything on those pills. Some food would help, surely. Valentina smiled as she gave the bag a little shake... and froze.

Slowly, her head turned to the left, eyes growing wider. Jerdous's room. She now realized that her own breathing was the only noise in the hall. Her skin felt tight, tensed, like the moment before a chill, yet none came. She crept to the door, moving softly, suddenly afraid to make a sound. Cautiously she pressed her ear against it, some part of her mind convinced the door its self might reach out for her. 

...no... no please... don't... don't want to...

She drew back, looked the door up and down, spun around expecting... no, the hall was still empty. Only shadows watched, whispered. Her head moved to the door again...

...help... please help... no...

She had to ball her hand into a fist to keep it from trembling, then lightly rapped on the door.

"M... Mister Jerdous? Are... are you awake?"

Nothing. Only the sound of very normal snoring came from behind the door now. Her hand moved to knock again, more loudly this time... but, stopped. No... no need to trouble him, just a bad dream, that's all. Said he'd been having them. 

Valentina backed away from the door, eyes still bulging. Again she searched the corridor, finding only shadows. 

It's all right... everything is quite all right...

She took one step back, then another. Her skin, that had felt to tight a moment before now felt numb and dead. Another step, another and another, and soon she was running, fleeing, certain that at any moment the lights would go out, the shadows would converge, then she would scream and... and...

She flew through the door to her room, flicked the lights on and slammed it behind her in one fluid motion. Chest heaving, it was all she could do to hold herself up on trembling knees as she leaned against it. For a few moments, Valentina stayed like that, just breathing, letting the adrenaline tremors work their way out. Side effects. Blasted side effects, making her feel strange. Just the medication, nothing more. 

She set the bag down on her little table and sat, looking out into the clear night. Medications did all sorts of odd things, she knew that. That's why they needed prescriptions. Probably shouldn't have taken it on an empty stomach. Probably even says on the bottle not to do that, she was just distracted by the ridiculously long name. 

Wiping the sweat from her face and peering into the darkness outside, she saw a tiny point of light whizz past high in the sky. She wondered if it was Mister Burdous. She hoped everything was still going well for him. Valentina reached into the bag, and unwrapped a stale and rubbery cheeseburger. 

It tasted like ashes.

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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8 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Chapter 54: Uncomfortably Numb

Well, if you do punch another brick in the wall... Is the other doctor (no the other other one) a Dr Floyd Kerman by any chance?

8 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Valentina had considered staying around for the usual Joolsday night festivities until someone had begun passing out buckets of frogs.

OK, this is horribly self-indulgentl but I don't care. :) I smiled. Then I laughed. 

Two more excellent chapters - I particularly liked the initial quick checkup!

 

 

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11 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

It tasted like ashes.

That's because there are no pickles on it! :P

 

13 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

He'll be right as rain just as soon as he gets that thingamabob diskajiggered from his whoopsiedaisy."

We may have a new winner here. :)

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9 hours ago, vsully said:

Hmm...

Jerdous had a midnight mental boxing match with the Kraken and lost?

:huh:

So...

Does the Kraken take over his body or something?

I think that ship's sailed. Or rather Jerdous is already possessed but is still fighting it. I suspect it all began with his little desert excursion...

 

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4 hours ago, KSK said:

I think that ship's sailed. Or rather Jerdous is already possessed but is still fighting it. I suspect it all began with his little desert excursion...

 

But in Shadows, Jerdous had these weird black spots in his eyes, which I'm assuming was the presence of the Kraken. He hasn't shown up with them yet...

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On 4/23/2016 at 10:42 AM, Ten Key said:

That's because there are no pickles on it! :P

Yeah, I gotcher pickle right heah!

u6X19sy.jpg?1

On 4/23/2016 at 2:47 PM, vsully said:

So...

Does the Kraken take over his body or something?

:sealed::sealed::sealed:

But I can tell you in the next chapter you'll see a completely different side of him. insert-evil-laugh.gif

7 hours ago, KSK said:

Good point. Val has them though....

Wait, she does? Did I say that? I might have said that. When did I say that? :confused:

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Seeing the same behavior here. Also, I never thought I'd hear myself saying this (keep that spoon away from me, Berdous!) but I prefer the comic sans version. The handwritten version is a little too authentically 'doctor's note' unreadable. But that might just be these old eyes.

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18 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Wait, she does? Did I say that? I might have said that. When did I say that? :confused:

Took me a fair bit of re-reading to find it (which I confess was no hardship) - and it turns out I was wrong.

 


Chapter 48: Close Encounters of The Weird Kind

*snip*

Jerdous opened his mouth as their eyes met, then paused. He stepped forward, looking intently at her. Then closer still.

"What?" She blinked. His eyes... it looked like there were little--

"Specks," he said, "those little iridescent specs in the whites of your eyes..."

 

Not exactly little black specks - more the complete opposite I'm guessing. Of course it may be a harmless inherited condition... and yaks may be appointed Kommisar too I believe.

Edited by KSK
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