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


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Hehehe

...Aand there goes another 10K...

Oh well. A long string thing?

The KRAKEN itself? Perhaps she is seeing it's tentacles? OR a Kerbal being stretched by the KRAKEN? So now it looks like you're tying Whispers of the Kraken into Shadows of the Kraken with that MunBase (HIS EEYEEES!!!), and since Edgas defeated the Kraken, am I right in assuming that Valentina LOSES to the KRAKEN at the end of this? If so I will cry on my keyboard, I like Val...

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6 hours ago, vsully said:

Hehehe

...Aand there goes another 10K...

Oh well. A long string thing?

The KRAKEN itself? Perhaps she is seeing it's tentacles? OR a Kerbal being stretched by the KRAKEN? So now it looks like you're tying Whispers of the Kraken into Shadows of the Kraken with that MunBase (HIS EEYEEES!!!), and since Edgas defeated the Kraken, am I right in assuming that Valentina LOSES to the KRAKEN at the end of this? If so I will cry on my keyboard, I like Val...

I think the bright thing was the jool ship in shadows

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On July 16, 2016 at 3:25 PM, vsully said:

Hehehe

...Aand there goes another 10K...

Oh well. A long string thing?

The KRAKEN itself? Perhaps she is seeing it's tentacles? OR a Kerbal being stretched by the KRAKEN? So now it looks like you're tying Whispers of the Kraken into Shadows of the Kraken with that MunBase (HIS EEYEEES!!!), and since Edgas defeated the Kraken, am I right in assuming that Valentina LOSES to the KRAKEN at the end of this? If so I will cry on my keyboard, I like Val...

Well you know, there IS a reason she wasn't in Shadows...

(fact that she had not been created yet completely irrelevant!)

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Hmmm, so if it WAS the Jool Ship, then maybe the Kraken will show up to party after it got liquid ticked off at being sucker punched by Edgas....

Edited by vsully
I DIDN'T WRITE LIQUIDED FORUMS
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...and speaking of insidious things...

Chapter 68: Home, Sweet Home

"PЦTIЙS LЗFT ЭДЯ, that was rough!" Vasily spat, "we must have landed on a rock."

The radio flashed with a weak, staticky signal, "you are still on-channel, Yenisey, do mind your language." 

Valentina resisted the urge to put a hand to her faceplate, "copy that, control. Vasily, the post-landing checklist, please."

The two ran through the sequence by memory, the placard only velcroed to the panel for procedural formality. Knobs were turned, switches were thrown, one by one the capsule's systems blinked off. Valentina felt an odd sort of relief when she pulled a circuit breaker and that infernal MechIVAN light went out. 

"Post-landing check complete, control," she said, "ready for final shutdown."

"Acknowledged, Yenisey. Recovery will be on site in ten minutes, you are cleared for final shutdown."

She and her comrade flicked the last few switches before doffing their gloves and helmets and stowing them away. Then, after pausing for just a moment, Valentina reached back and pulled the breaker for the voice recorder as well. Vasily turned and raised an eye... bulge at her.

She didn't quite look at him, "you... really did not see anything... on that EVA, Vasily?"

He shifted around awkwardly from laying back on his couch, looking a bit green... er, "no, nothing. We have both seen our share of space objects, are you quite sure you saw something?"

"It was so bright, like Eve on a clear morning. It seemed like the most obvious thing in the world."

"Remember," he grinned, "you are talking to one whose eyesight just barely meets standards. I stare at circuit boards, not stars."

Then, a bit lower, "you should not challenge the controllers. You know how they get."

"Indeed," she sighed, "such is life in the great Ussari Union, no?"

He scowled at her, "there must be unity, comrade, and consensus. We cannot be always bickering over petty things like the Foreigners."

She shot him a look, but decided not to press the matter. Instead, she reached back and slid the hatch open.

"Come, let us get some fresh air."

***

"Gah, I do not know how you can be so spry after three and a half days in space!" Vasily grumbled as Valentina helped him out of the capsule, "I feel as if I am walking on Eve!"

She chuckled at that, "if you were walking on Eve, I think the giant space rats would encourage you."

He smirked at her, "tell me you do not believe in such nonsense."

"Space rodents of unusual size? No, I do not think they exist," grinned Valentina, "the humongous explodium sea frogs would have eaten them long ago."

The pair had a good, long laugh, Vasily eventually pointing to a pillar of dust rapidly approaching across the barren summer grassland, "ah, here they come. About time, too. I cannot wait for a real meal!" He raised a hand in greeting.

Shortly, the area was swarmed with utility rigs and support trucks of every size. The piercing shriek of Converters filled the air as they circled around, and as usual, Igor was the first on the ground and crossed the distance to Valentina in an instant. No amount of mental preparation could ever prepare her for--

"Igor," she squeaked, "you have most odd way of hugging to very edge of broken bones!"

He held her up and looked her over for a moment before setting her down, "you are uninjured?"

"I am fine, Igor."

"This one is nearly indestructible, Comrade Igor," added Vasily, "I think even to you, she would prove a challenge, no?

Igor turned to Vasily, lowering his own massive head until it blocked out the sun, casting Vasily in shadow. The spacesuit-clad Kerbal just smiled up at him.

"BOO," boomed Igor. 

Vasily blinked, then went back to smiling. 

"Why he no run away?" Igor thundered at Valentina. 

She smirked, and gave Vasily a playful elbow, "Vasily here may not be stronk like bool... but he is stubborn like ox." Vasily shot her a look. 

Igor wrinkled his... face, and sniffed, "and he smell like yak."

Against all probablity, Vasily thrust a finger in the bigger Kerbal's face, "now see here, if you had been sweating in the same clothing for three days--"

He was interrupted as the rest of the caravan came to a dust cloud-spewing halt nearby. 

"Greetings, Comrades! It is a most glorious day!" Said a familiar voice, "papers, please."

The usual shuffling of documents commenced, Valentina again narrowly resisting the temptation to roll her eyes. 

"Yes, yes, good, good... Really? That bad? How do you not run into things?" The Political Officer handed back her docket, but... "As expected, all is... nearly in order."

"Comrade Kerman," he gestured to a pair of stoned-faced Kerbs in absolutely unremarkable suits standing nearby, "these Kerbs from the NKOTB would like to have a word with you, before your debriefing."

Vasily's smile evaporated, "yes... well... I... I am sure..." Before he could say more, he was herded off toward an absolutely unremarkable black panel van. 

"Wait, no! He hasn't done anything wrong!" Valentina moved towards him, but Igor's sausage-like fingers clamped on her shoulder, "no, let go of me! Vasily! Vasily!!!"

Igor handed her off to the Political Officer, a look passing between the two larger Kerbs that might have frozen the seas of Eve. The Political Officer led her away as Vasily disappeared into the van. 

Valentina struggled to remain calm, biting back harsher words, "what is wrong? What is the problem?"

"Problem, Comrade?" He waved a hand, "there are no problems in the glorious Ussari Union!"

Then his hand squeezed her shoulder in a way that brought back unpleasant memories, "and do you know why there are no problems in the glorious Ussari Union?"

She tried to meet his gaze, but the wide brim of his had shadowed his eyes in an old, familiar way. All she could see was the grin beneath his mustache. 

He spoke more softly, "because such things... We. Do. Not. Speak. Of."

Turning to her fully, he took her other shoulder as his grin faded, "this is a dangerous time to be asking questions. For you may find answers." This last was barely a whisper. 

"Now, kindly report to the field medic for your post-flight checkup," all grins and grand motions again, "Glory to Arstotzka!"

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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Well that went south in a hurry. Poor Vasily - something tells me that he's not about to receive a personal dinner invitation from the Empress.

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11 hours ago, KSK said:

Well that went south in a hurry. Poor Vasily - something tells me that he's not about to receive a personal dinner invitation from the Empress.

11 hours ago, vsully said:

"BOO," boomed Igor. 

Hehehehehehe, love it lol. Poor Vasily tho :( gulag for him

Segflfdb

Answers will be coming... perhaps sooner than you think and $&@&:&:?/!:!:$:&;!: do I hate this *£ £€€<~>#}>>>ing forum some times!

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Chapter 69: Seeking Answers

"The Flight Director will be back in a few minutes, you may wait in the office, Comrade Captain."

Valentina nodded her thanks to the secretary, and stepped into a room she knew nearly as well as her own. Today, however, her eyes didn't see the furnishings. There must be some mistake! Vasily didn't do anything, he didn't do anything!

He saw.

She froze. 

They think he saw, so he saw, the thought whispered, you know how it works.

No, there must be some mistake. This can all be put to right. 

They do not make mistakes.

Shaking the thought away, seeking any distraction from it, she stepped up to the wall. This, she also knew all too well. She was surprised they still allowed it at all, but being the Flight Director did have its... privileges. 

Hung on the wall was a simple corkboard, and at the top, a brass plaque engraved with the Roamin' words, AD ASTRA PER ASPERA. Several photographs were pinned below. Sergei, of course, looking so proud and unbroken. Then... Jorrigh, and his two comrades from the ill-fated mission to their space station. Valentina felt the old lump rise in her throat, somehow both comforting and rueful. Perhaps not as strong as it once was, but always there. Hanging from the pin holding Jorrigh's picture, was a tiny, well-worn stuffed bear on a keychain. 

A respectful distance away from the others, but close enough not to be overlooked, was a photo of Gene Kerman, standing before a rocket, shaking hands with--

"Tia?" Dibella stared as she stepped into the room, "you should be resting after your flight, I was not expecting you until tomorrow." She crossed the room and hugged Valentina, a bit more sedately than in days past. 

"It is Vasily," Valentina blurted out, "they have taken him!"

"What?" Dibella blinked, "who has?"

"The NKOTB."

Dibella scowled, "I was not informed of this! It must be a mistake, something with the papers.  Probably just a typo on his reentry visa, you know how careless they can be."

Valentina just gave her a pleading look. 

"I will not have them harassing my Kerbonauts over clerical errors!" She moved to her desk, and began rapidly rifling through a stack of papers there. Then, her face fell. 

"Indeed," Dibella said with resignation, "Vasily has been detained for questioning."

More to herself, "but... why? He has always been a model comrade."

"I think I know," Valentina admitted, "we--"

Dibella put a finger to her lips, and quietly closed the door before motioning Valentina on. 

"We...I... saw something," she continued, "something in space. A structure, bigger than anything I have ever seen before."

"Are you sure it was not just--"

Valentina rolled her eyes, "the KSA space station. Yes, very sure. I have seen the KSA space station from orbit, quite notoriously, if you will remember, this was not it. But it was in the same orbit."

She took a step closer, "you know... things. Are the KSA working on anything... significant?"

"No," Dibella sighed, leaning back on her desk, "they haven't been able to agree on anything since their plans for Duna fell apart. Anything but the most routine flights."

"Could it be another agency? Or even Layland-Wutani itself, perhaps?"

Dibella shook her head, "not in that orbit. Gytep has been putting up some very big things, but they're not on the equator. And not even the Company is foolish enough to launch rockets over Cerima, not with them right next door. I..." She shrugged. 

"What could do this?" Valentina pursed her lips in thought, "something that large could not possibly stay a secret outside of the Union."

"I don't know what to tell you," Dibella thought for a moment herself, "but..." She turned, and looked out the window, where the last vestiges of this very long day were rapidly fading. 

She put a comforting hand on Valentina's arm, "I will do what I can for Vasily, but I do not have the influence I once did. It's getting late..."

Hugging Valentina close, she whispered in her ear, "go down to the archives, in the sub-basement. The custodians should all be gone. Anything that's tracked in orbit will be there, even they love their bureaucracy."

"Don't worry, it will all work out," Dibella stepped back with a reassuring smile, "I will see you again soon."

***

Bong.

This time Valentina did put a hand to her face, as she stepped out of the elevator. She swore the Union did some things just to be different from the rest of the world. Looking back and forth in the deserted hallway, it also occurred to her that the Cosmodrome seemed to acquire new locations she was unfamiliar with at a very convenient rate.  With a sigh, she set off down the white-paneled room. Here and there, distantly hissing pipes broke the smooth, finished walls. Why did they need sub-basement, anyway? Why not just build the... not-sub-basement big enough in the first place? It's not like there was any shortage of l--

One by one, the overhead lights clicked off, only leaving every third or fourth unit on, and plunging the hall into shadows. Valentina frowned. Fervently denying to herself the little itch between her shoulder blades was even there, she walked on. The paneling became more broken, and the hissing, now damp pipes more frequent as she moved along. The light fixtures took on an industrial look, and of course, randomly began to flicker. Another turn, and the hall paneling ended altogether, leaving her on bare concrete surrounded by a maze of metal tubes and conduits. Shadows danced as the light fluttered. This certainly was an odd place to put--

WHOOSH!

She jumped back, stifling a scream as a jet of steam erupted from the pipe overhead. She chided herself at her own silliness. Deserted creepy location, dubious lighting, random startles from unexpected places, and ominous shadows. Now all that was missing was--

"Greetings, Comrade!"

Despite herself, Valentina yelped and spun around. The Political Officer was, without fail, cloaked in shadowy... shadows. 

"Papers, please," he grinned. 

Shuffle, shuffle. How can he even see in this light? Or rather lack thereof?

"Yes, yes, good, good... my word, but you are putting on the kilos! You're going to lose your girlish figure."

Scowling, Valentina opened her mouth.

"Are you still sneaking into the cafeteria kitchen after hours to make cheeseburgers? How do you keep your cholesterol in check?"

Valentina closed her mouth. 

"Nevertheless," he handed the docket back, "everything is in order." She tried to smile innocently. 

"Now," he grinned, "what is a brave Kerbonaut like you doing in a dreadful place like this? And at such an hour, too."

PЦTIЙ.

"I... Er... Um..." She fumbled, "was looking for the archives. To, ah... that satellite, there was an unusual discrepancy in the wiring... I wanted to... yes, find the schematics to cross reference the anomaly."

"Did you, now?" He grinned wider. How does he fit so many teeth in such a mouth?

"This is most fortuitous, then! Here, I was concerned that perhaps you were seeking information on a certain visual anomaly absolutely not reported to Mission Control on your last flight."

ЬЯЗZHЙЭV.

She gave a nervous laugh, "of course not, comrade Political Officer, why would I do such a silly thing as that? It was surely only the squishy bourgeoisie Foreigners' space station I saw."

"Quite so, good Comrade, quite so. However, perhaps it is worth noting," he leaned in closely, "that all satellite schematics are kept in the Chief Engineer's filing office. Upstairs."

...STДLIЙS SШЗДTУ SФCКS!

Valentina's lips drew back in something she hoped was a smile, "I, er... seem to have made a mistake..."

"It would seem so, good Comrade," he laid a sweaty, and very strong, hand on her shoulder, "your position and rather prestigious career have afforded you a great amount of privilege..."

His grin dissipated like the steam, "but even that... can only protect you from so much."

"But I shall leave you to your task, brave Comrade!" and instantly it was back.

She was just about to let her breath out when---

"And I shall expect a full engineering report in the morning on this wiring peculiarity! With diagrams and bibliography!"

Valentina opened her mouth. 

"In triplicate."

Valentina closed her mouth. 

"Have a safe evening, Comrade. Glory to Arstotzka!"

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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Somewhere in the background, some ominous music is playing. Comrade Political Officer seems to have lost some of his slightly cartoonish persona too.

1 hour ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Dibella scowled, "I was not informed of this! It must be a mistake, something with the papers.  Probably just a typo on his reentry visa, you know how careless they can be."

*groan*

1 hour ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Looking back and forth in the deserted hallway, it also occurred to her that the Cosmodrome seemed to acquire new locations she was unfamiliar with at a very convenient rate.

Hmmm, some tassles on that lampshade if you'd be so kind. :)

 

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ЬЯЗZHЙЭV.

She gave a nervous laugh, "of course not, comrade Political Officer, why would I do such a silly thing as that? It was surely only the squishy bourgeoisie Foreigners' space station I saw."

"Quite so, good Comrade, quite so. However, perhaps it is worth noting," he leaned in closely, "that all satellite schematics are kept in the Chief Engineer's filing office. Upstairs."

...STДLIЙS SШЗДTУ SФCКS!

Valentina's lips drew back in something she hoped was a smile, "I, er... seem to have made a mistake..."

"It would seem so, good Comrade," he laid a sweaty, and very strong, hand on her shoulder, "your position and rather prestigious career have afforded you a great amount of privilege..."

His grin dissipated like the steam, "but even that... can only protect you from so much."

"But I shall leave you to your task, brave Comrade!" and instantly it was back.

She was just about to let her breath out when---

"And I shall expect a full engineering report in the morning on this wiring peculiarity! With diagrams and bibliography!"

Valentina opened her mouth. 

"In triplicate."

Valentina closed her mouth. 

"Have a safe evening, Comrade. Glory to Arstotzka!"

 

hehehehe

 

-EDIT-

 

....aaaand crashed again....

 

-ANOTHER EDIT-

So does Vasiliy have ANY connection with vsully?

 

-YET ANOTHER EDIT-

Glory to Arztatzkah! (I spelled it right, right?)

Edited by vsully
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21 hours ago, KSK said:

Hmmm, some tassles on that lampshade if you'd be so kind. :)

Only if it goes on a disembodied leg in a stocking. :D

2 hours ago, vsully said:

So does Vasiliy have ANY connection with vsully?

This... we do not speak of. :sealed: Yet All Things Serve the Beam.

2 hours ago, vsully said:

I spelled it right, right?

I can't even spell it. Fortunately, Google.

 

Whew, one more to throw up later tonight, and then... I can breathe. :confused:

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23 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

WHOOSH!

She jumped back, stifling a scream as a jet of steam erupted from the pipe overhead. She chided herself at her own silliness. Deserted creepy location, dubious lighting, random startles from unexpected places, and ominous shadows. Now all that was missing was--

"Greetings, Comrade!"

Despite herself, Valentina yelped and spun around. The Political Officer was, without fail, cloaked in shadowy... shadows. 

"Papers, please," he grinned. 

latest?cb=20120528053604

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Chapter 70: A Last Whisper

Valentina wandered the intimidating, darkened maze of pipe-lined corridors. She'd already encountered one spider of extremely unusual size, its fangs must have been the size of her thumb! She looked down at the fang in her hand. Ok, maybe twice the size. She had wondered what the spider could possibly have been eating down here to grow so large, but then she'd seen the rats. With a shrug, she tucked the spider-bit into her pocket. Maybe Lujorie could make a nice necklace out of it. She liked crafty things like that. If Valentina ever got out of here, that is. 

It felt like she had been blundering about down here for hours. It had probably been less than one, truth be told, but creepy, shadowy places frequented by giant rats and enormous spiders tended to play with one's perceptions. And of course, no such place could be complete without that itch between her shoulder blades that told her she was being watched. 

She hoped it was another spider. Fang craft usually works best when you at least have a pair. 

She was just beginning to think someone was having a spot of fun at her expense, someone who would shortly be acquiring a spider fang in a tender place, when the corridor opened up into a large room. It was filled with row after row of shelves that seems to stretch on into the shadows forever. It would seem her search had only just begun. 

Sighing, she stepped up to the closest shelf. A rusty sign on the end read, LAUNCH VEHICLES. At first this looked like a horrible place for an archive of paper documents, warm and damp. Then, she realized, this is the Ussari Union. This is the perfect place to keep documents... when you want them to go away. Down the first row, cones of light from fixtures high overhead spread somewhat-less-dim circles on the ground, that of course didn't quite reach the shelves themselves. 

Fortunately, being a pilot, Valentina had a flashlight. 

She clicked it on and examined the nearest shelf. Lines and more lines of boxes extended down its length to the far wall. This shelf read, RETIRED. Shumno Kriket, Strannik. The one above read, CURRENT. KI-C, KI-3, Gora. Above that, just at eye level, it was marked, CONCEPTS.

With another shrug, she pulled out a moldering box marked N-1 and leafed through the papers inside. What an absolutely silly idea for a rocket! You couldn't possibly control fuel feed to that many engines with any shred of reliability. It was well that the Union had the good sense not to build it, it was the most ridiculous rocket idea she'd ever seen. 

Then she looked in the box marked SEA DRAGON.

Well, that was enough of that. She gazed to the shelf at the very top of the stack, a good 30 meters up. Smirking, she knew that whatever she needed, it would be on that shelf, up against the wall at the farthest end of the row, in the row that was most distant from where she was now, and in the opposite direction of which ever way she went. Cursing herself for being so genre savvy, and for not bringing a bit of spider to snack on, she picked a direction and started walking. 

The very next row was labelled, RADAR TRACKS. 

The eerie stillness was broken by the crack of Valentina's hand meeting her face. Ok, fine, but it was still going to be at the very t--

The bottom shelf was marked, UNKNOWN CONTACTS. 

Another slap rang out in the darkness. Looking at the dates, she was at least right on one count. The most recent tracks would be at the back of the row. Next to the wall. The light overhead cast a dim, bisected circle on the that wall and floor, still not touching the shelves. She pulled out the farthest box, and started looking though it with her flashlight. A folder with HIGH RESOLUTION COMPOSITES caught her eye. Hmm, now this is interesting. Not what she needed, but...

On the paper, a grainy, monochrome image appeared to show an oblong box, not unlike a greatly oversized phone booth. 

TRACK DESIGNATION: TT-40-3
SIZE: 2.5M
DURATION: INDETERMINATE
COURSE: TRACK DURATION INADEQUATE
ANALYSIS: ASTEROID

Pages of nonsensical numbers followed. An oddly regular shape to be dismissed as an asteroid, she thought. She flipped to the next page. 

Here, the image showed a disc-like, slightly elliptic shape with a nub on one side. It rather reminded her of a cheeseburger with an olive on a toothpick stuck in it, which rather reminded her she was hungry. 

TRACK DESIGNATION: YT-1300
SIZE: 34.75M
DURATION: 11:38
COURSE: HYPERBOLIC
ANALYSIS: SPACE JUNK

Spurred on by her grumbling stomach, Valentina flipped to the next page. 

This one looked oddly familiar. Its most obvious feature looked to be a large dish. Smaller bits seemed to jut out from the main body, but the resolution was so bad she couldn't really tell. Another agency's space probe, perhaps?

DESIGNATION: 1977-076A
SIZE: 3.7M
DURATION: 17:43:34
COURSE: HYPERBOLIC
ANALYSIS: COMET

Hmm. Comet. That didn't feel right. Neither, it occurred to Valentina, did the itch between her shoulder blades. Something had... shifted. Probably just another spider, she could handle that. The rats were smart enough to keep their distance. She shook the feeling away and flipped to the next page. Her eyes grew wide. 

This. This is what she had seen! This radar image showed a string of huge spheres, dozens of them, together in a line. 

DESIGNATION: CLASSIFIED
SIZE: 403.2M
DURATION: 38:42:12, REPEATS
COURSE: LKO
ANALYSIS: CLASSIFIED

Classified. They did know. But... what could it be? The spheres certainly looked like propellant tanks, but there didn't appear to be any other structure to it. An orbital fuel depot, perhaps? That sounded logical, and quite... ordinary. Why go to such trouble to keep it a secret? It would be visible all over the world, something this big... Four hundred meters. Nearly half a kilometer. If not the KSA, then who? She shuffled the papers, and readjusted her flashlight. A thought, congratulating herself for her forethought in bringing one, had just started to form in her mind when the flashlight went dead. PЦTIЙ. Batteries. She realized the next thing an instant before it happened, too. Every hair on her body tried to stand on end.

She spun around, and... there. Silhouetted in the shadow between two cones of light, a figure stood motionless. 

"Oh, um, hello," Valentina said nervously, "are you the custodian, then?"

The figure stood.

"Am I in your way? If so, I will be happy to move. I would not want to trouble you."

The figure stood.

"Do... do you speak Ussari?"

Valentina's breath caught, as it moved into the light. Wide, not-right eyes stared above lips pulled back into a slasher's smile. In its hand, something metal glinted. It stepped forward. 

Slowly drawing the spider's fang from her pocket, Valentina narrowed her eyes, "you will not find me such easy prey."

The figure gave a high-pitched giggle that sent chills down her spine, then spoke in a strange accent she didn't recognize, "on that, mhysa, I am counting."

She tensed, readying herself to parry the attack, when... a low, metallic bong rang out. The figure stiffened, its smile vanished, and its eyes tried very hard to look at each other as it toppled forwards. Standing behind, holding a length of steel pipe with an elbow on one end was--

"Comrade Political Officer?!"

Instead of his usual greeting, he dropped to one knee and flipped the would-be assailant over, setting down the pipe.

"Waters drown me, I did not think they would move so quickly!" He cursed as he started rifling through the other Kerb's clothing.

"Who? What is going on? Who is he?"

"A Ceriman. We don't have much time."

"Ceriman?" Valentina shook her head, "wait, where is Vasily? What have you done with him!?"

"He is safe, if he is smart enough to keep his mouth shut, which I think he is. We need to go. There is a conspiracy--"

"Conspira--," she winced, "against the Imperium?"

"The Imperium," the Political Officer spat, "bunch of goat-faced fools strutting about proud as roosters in a barnyard. And twice as brainless."

Valentina clapped hands to her mouth, "Comrade!"

His hands never stopped searching the unconscious Kerb, "this goes far, far beyond their foolery. Time is short, we must--GAH!"

He toppled over backwards as the other Kerb rose, twisting the knife in his chest and smiling once more.

"NO!" Screamed Valentina. Something took her, and in an instant the pipe was in her hands and she swung it this way, swung it that way, swung it over her head, down on the attacker's, again... and again... and again... until he ceased moving and the impacts became spongy and yielding. Dark spatter stained the circle of light. 

"No... no... Comrade..." the pipe clanged to the ground. She knelt by the Political Officer, blood flowing in regular waves from the wound.

"It... it is not bad," she lied, "I... will get help..."

"No," his hand caught hers with surprising strength, his other pressed an object into it, "you are... great danger..."

"Don't... try to talk... you will be..."

Words came in wet gurgles, sweat breaking out on his face, "must... flee country..."

"Comrade... no..."

"Go to... Kerbin city," his chest heaved and spasmed, "find girl... trust... no one..."

"I... I don't..."

Eyes rolling in his head, his lips worked soundlessly. Choking gasps escaped his throat as he struggled once more to speak.

"G... g... glo-ry... to... Ars..."

His face strained with effort.

"...totz..."

A final gasp, a last whisper.

"...tz..."

Tears squeezed from his eyes, and his throat spasmed once more. Regret washed over his face, then... nothing.

"No... Comrade-- Comrade--" A particularly jagged knife twisted in Valentina's own heart. She never even knew his name. Lifeless, a limp hand slipped away from hers. 

Shock, horror, guilt, shame... the tempest of emotion crashed into her. Breath came only in ragged, voiceless sobs. Despite this, a distant clatter drew her ear.

"Quiet, p'tahk, something has gone wrong. We will take care of her, ourselves," a voice hissed in that same unfamiliar, clipped accent. 

Voice now found Valentina's sobs. It became growls like rabid beast escaping past teeth bared in a snarl. A crimson shadow descended upon the world. Shoulders heaving, she stood, her hand gripping the steel pipe slicked with blood.

Oh yes. There will be blood.

She took a step. 

Tinka!

And froze. A voice, long dormant, whispered in her mind.

This blood has been shed for you... will it be in vain?

She squeezed her eyes shut, driving tears from them, her teeth grating. Across her face, light and darkness played out in stark conflict. She raised her other trembling hand, to see the item in it, and nearly screamed again. 

It was a bloodstained photograph of the Dead Girl that still haunted her nightmares. Turning it over, she found a name scribbled in Kerblish letters, which drifted in the fog just beyond memory. 

Anastasia Kerman.

...will it be in vain?

...will it be?

...will it?

Something new now stirred. The Münstone beneath her shirt, so long forgotten, seemed to burst into fire against her skin, and the crimson shadow fled.

No.

NO.

It would not.

Reaching back to something from her youth, something else long dormant, Valentina set the pipe down without a sound, became one with the shadows, and disappeared into the night. 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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13 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

TRACK DESIGNATION: TT-40-3
SIZE: 2.5M
DURATION: INDETERMINATE
COURSE: TRACK DURATION INADEQUATE
ANALYSIS: ASTEROID

Pages of nonsensical numbers followed. An oddly regular shape to be dismissed as an asteroid, she thought. She flipped to the next page. 

Here, the image showed a disc-like, slightly elliptic shape with a nub on one side. It rather reminded her of a cheeseburger with an olive on a toothpick stuck in it, which rather reminded her she was hungry. 

TRACK DESIGNATION: YT-1300
SIZE: 34.75M
DURATION: 11:38
COURSE: HYPERBOLIC
ANALYSIS: SPACE JUNK

 

Yeah, so I'm picking the most trivial detail out of an otherwise moving and very atmospheric chapter but - I see what you did here. :)

And Anastasia is back!

 

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22 hours ago, vsully said:

tz.......KA!

Awesome. Don't mean to rush you, but can't wait for moar...

Geeze 3 chapters in as many days ain't enough? I am not a machine! :confused:

 

Next one's like half done anyway. The story now flows like... something all... flowey.

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