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


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*blushes*

I got the reference in seconds - and then spent more seconds wondering if I should be worried about getting the reference in seconds. Then I disappeared in a puff of involuted logic.

 

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4 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

The bureaucracy expanded, in order to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy. 

 

Political Officer: Comrade, did you bring any goods to declare?

Kerbonaut: Nyet, Comrade. Have just brought dust from shining stars with me.

Political Officer: I'm afraid this is not allowed. You come with me please! You must see Kommissar!

Kerbonaut: PЦTIЙ!

Political Officer: Language!

Edited by lodger
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3 hours ago, lodger said:

Political Officer: Comrade, did you bring any goods to declare?

Kerbonaut: Nyet, Comrade. Have just brought dust from shining stars with me.

Political Officer: I'm afraid this is not allowed. You come with me please! You must see Kommissar!

Kerbonaut: PЦTIЙ!

Political Officer: Language!

lol

i get the captain america reference

Edited by vsully
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10 hours ago, KSK said:

*blushes*

I got the reference in seconds - and then spent more seconds wondering if I should be worried about getting the reference in seconds. Then I disappeared in a puff of involuted logic.

 

I was trying to figure out what bureaucracy had to do with Stronghold:blink:

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On 20/07/2016 at 7:26 AM, lodger said:

They have special visa for reentry? From orbit?! 

No doubt official districts are divided over whether a kerbonaut needs entry papers for arriving in the Union from elsewhere, or transit papers from the Ussari space centre to the Ussari landing province - probably, entry papers are not accepted by the officers of provinces that have no land or sea border. Flight crew experienced in the uncertainties of space travel know to obtain both kinds, and to carry authorizations for each potential return location; and the resulting weight of paper, plus means of the unneeded documents not having existed*, begins to eat into the payload capacity. The solution is an extra (Extra) travel document.

I still find the Whispered world sensible and straightforward, in its own special way of course.

 

* I suspect that the Union is beautifully symmetric in this: if travel requires papers, then papers require travel. If a departure permit arrives in your mail, well ... congratulations, Comrade kerbonaut! They do not make mistakes, after all.

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6 hours ago, CSE said:

No doubt official districts are divided over whether a kerbonaut needs entry papers for arriving in the Union from elsewhere, or transit papers from the Ussari space centre to the Ussari landing province - probably, entry papers are not accepted by the officers of provinces that have no land or sea border. Flight crew experienced in the uncertainties of space travel know to obtain both kinds, and to carry authorizations for each potential return location; and the resulting weight of paper, plus means of the unneeded documents not having existed*, begins to eat into the payload capacity. The solution is an extra (Extra) travel document.

I still find the Whispered world sensible and straightforward, in its own special way of course.

 

* I suspect that the Union is beautifully symmetric in this: if travel requires papers, then papers require travel. If a departure permit arrives in your mail, well ... congratulations, Comrade kerbonaut! They do not make mistakes, after all.

:D:D:D

But y'know, there is a precident...

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Chapter 71: Night Train

Bing-bong

With feet like lead, Valentina shuffled onto the train. Her arms, too, felt like lead. Her face felt like lead. Her eyelashes felt like lead. 

...I feel as if I am walking on Eve...

A noise that might have been a laugh wandered past her leaden lips. She hoped Vasily really was safe, wherever he was. She couldn't do anything about that now. She could barely stand, now. A convenient pole provided a welcome place to lean. She couldn't trust her legs to sit, they might not work again, so she just leaned and pulled her bag up close. 

It wasn't really her bag, but a weary traveler looked more legitimate with some kind of luggage. She'd left the previous owner a good sum of cash. And a splitting headache. She felt rather bad about that. 

Getting off the Kosmodrome grounds had been easy enough, Valentina was more than used to sneaking away from Igor by now. A farm truck had given her a ride most of the way to Abvonovichatkaderivokistan, and she had crossed the border at a checkpoint on a deserted dirt road just before dawn. The border guards had, of course, asked questions for which she had no answers. They probably still had splitting headaches, too. 

She didn't feel so bad about that. Judging from the large wad of foreign currency she'd found on one of them, they were up to no good anyway. 

Not much later, a train carrying yaks had taken her all the way into and across Nusad. As it turned out no one really wanted to inspect a boxcar full of yaks very closely. That had been a stroke of luck. Mostly. 

She left the train in Oglona, dressed in rags and unwashed yak wool, and simply walked across the border into Dachland. Nobody wanted to go anywhere near her, especially with the wind blowing the direction it was. Unfortunately, one baby-faced officer apparently drew the short straw, but even he found some place very far away to be when she had looked at him pleadingly and said, "bugrit! Millennium hand and shrimp!

In a small, idyllic Dachlandish town not far from the border, Valentina had washed off as much of the smell as she could. Which really wasn't much. Luckily, she bumped into a very friendly perfume maker and soon learned that the odiferous secretions on yak wool were of great use to the fragrance industry. He was happy to supply her with a small bottle of something more pleasant in exchange for the wool. 

Sadly, he, too, probably had a splitting headache still. She felt really bad about that one. She had no idea knocking over a jar of ambergris in an enclosed space would affect someone like that. Her own sense of smell had completely stopped working by that point.  

Bong-bing

"Doors. Closing. Next. Stop. KSC International Airport. Terminal. One."

The obnoxiously cheery voice called out as the train lumbered forward. Valentina wrapped an arm around her pole in a desperate bid to remain upright. The other pulled her heavy trenchcoat tight. She wasn't quite sure where she'd acquired it. There was a matching fedora, too, and if not for her fatigue she might have felt quite ridiculous. After all, this was the tropics, but the copious material was good for concealment. Plus, just as she remembered, they didn't bother to shut off the air conditioning in the train cars at night, and it was always frigid. 

What had followed the poor perfumer was, oddly, the least troublesome part. With the pilfered wad of cash she had bought airline tickets to half a dozen places all in different directions. She only boarded one. The thick docket of papers every Comrade of the Union was required to carry had proven most useful, as she had no shortage of nonsensical documents in an unintelligible language to wave a the bewildered gate agents and security people, all while blabbering on as loud as she could in the most obscure Ussari dialect she knew. 

That, and, well, she still smelled of yak. 

Hours in the air. Stopovers in Cocomor and West Yalktika, a plane change in Krünia, and a painfully long ground hold on Zaroeka. And she hadn't slept through any of it. The one stretch where she didn't have to watch for people, well... sleeping in the company of huge, stupid animals was a good way to end up as another smelly pile of mush on the floor. 

Sleep. Valentina knew she needed it soon. Exhaustion made you vulnerable. Just get to Kerbin City, find a cheap motel, the cheaper, the better, then she could get some rest. And to figure--

A screech of metal announced the train's next stop, along with that hideously cheerful voice. She had been enjoying the empty car, deserted at this time of night, when an equally weary-looking family trundled on. Among their copious baggage was a very small kerbling who was quite upset about being up so late past his bedtime, and was doing his very best to proliferate this opinion to anyone within earshot. 

Valentina groaned as the train moved on. Why couldn't her ears feel as dead as her nose? Plodding, she shuffled through the doors into the next car. 

And nearly cried aloud in anguish. If not for another convenient pole she might have collapsed to the floor. 

Sadness. 

Such crushing sadness...

Like all the light had gone out from... everywhere.

A hand went up to her heart, it felt like it might break wide open. 

Emptiness. 

Regret. 

And guilt

...my fault...all my fault....

...should have... I should have...

Valentina tried to blink away tears blurring her vision. And cold. So cold, but not from the chilly train air. 

The rush of feelings threatened to wash her away, only... they weren't hers. Her head shook back and forth, trying to find some path back through them. Someone else was...

But, no... The car was empty, like the last one had been. There was nobody else--

There. Crumpled in the far corner. 

"H...hello?" She said carefully. The form didn't move. 

"Hello? Are... you...?" She approached with caution, ready for any counter move, specifically keeping the eye in the back of her head wide open. 

"Hello...?"

Hmm. 

A limp form sat huddled on a seat in the very farthest corner of the train car, hugging its knees. 

"S... Sir?" It still didn't move. Just... shivered slightly. 

Poor fellow must be freezing in here...

A vagrant, perhaps? He had at least a week's worth of dark stubble on his cheeks, but his face was buried in his arms. His hair was greasy and disheveled, clothes unwashed. Valentina imagined that if her nose were working, that might find evidence too. 

But... his clothes were fairly new. A collared shirt and slacks. She peered at the ID badge just peeking out of his pocket. Couldn't see a name, but it looked like he worked at the Space Center. That made a certain sense, this train line was very popular with workers who commuted to Kerbin City. But... it almost looked as if he hadn't left the KSC for a full week. At least. 

...and it almost felt like the battering flow of emotion was coming from...

No, that was impossible! Dark conspiracies, shadowy dangers... Ceriman assassins... that was all well and good but... it just couldn't be. You can't just feel other people's emotions! Valentina knew she was beyond exhausted, stressed, emotionally drained herself. It was probably just her own feelings manifesting as some kind of hallucination. Yes, yes that was it!

But... the poor fellow certainly did look miserable. With a little half smile, and a sigh, she slipped the heavy trenchcoat off. 

"Here," she said as she wrapped gently it around his shoulders, "you need this more than me. Besides, the cold--"

"...never bothered me anyway..."

"Sir?" She strained her ears, but he made no more sound. Just wrapped pallid green fingers around the lapel and clutched it tightly. She thought a moment more, then took the hat off and set it on his head, seeming to block the Kerb out from the whole world. 

What could do this to a person?

With a longer sigh, she leaned back against the wall. There was nothing more she could do, yet... somehow... the weight of despair in her head seemed lightened. Wearily, she also realized she was more tired than ever. 

But what to do now? She would shortly be in Kerbin City, and then what? How could she find one girl in a metropolis of millions? It's not like the girl would post--

Once more, Valentina felt and overpowering urge to put a hand to her face. Maybe she should just accept it and stop questioning these things. There, on the far wall, just opposite where the unfortunate huddled Kerb sat, was the same picture of the girl that Valentina held in her pocket.

And, oddly enough, a phone number. 

 

 

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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Man you're on a roll at the moment. And that ending was particularly ominous...

Incidentally, I think I've found Tercella's coffee machine in our holiday apartment. Bright red, more complicated than I'm used to, makes excellent coffee - and sounds like a Converter with mismatched ducting fans. I'm presuming that left over HTP motors don't figure anywhere in the design though.

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Nice! Val knocks out all the people that ask questions along the way XD, then "accidentally" drops a extremely heavy bottle of yucky perfume on the unfortunate Perfumer Kerb's head.

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14 hours ago, KSK said:

I'm presuming that left over HTP motors don't figure anywhere in the design though.

Well how else do you think they make white coffee, hmm?

10 hours ago, vsully said:

Nice! Val knocks out all the people that ask questions along the way XD, then "accidentally" drops a extremely heavy bottle of yucky perfume on the unfortunate Perfumer Kerb's head.

Lol that was an actual accident. Couple of days in close proximity to yaks can make you a bit... clumsy. :confused:

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57 minutes ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Couple of days in close proximity to yaks can make you a bit... clumsy. :confused:

xd

not to rush you... 

but...

MOAR PLS

OK, to rush you.

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20 hours ago, KSK said:

Man you're on a roll at the moment.

Almost missed this...

Yes, the words have been coming rather mechanically lately, and not in a bad way. But after another chapter or two I'm gonna hit a spot I'm expecting to be very difficult, in a bunch of ways. Prolly be a slowdown around then. :(

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4 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

Almost missed this...

Yes, the words have been coming rather mechanically lately, and not in a bad way. But after another chapter or two I'm gonna hit a spot I'm expecting to be very difficult, in a bunch of ways. Prolly be a slowdown around then. :(

And don't I know about those...

Take all the time you need - we'll still be waiting when the words start coming again. In the meantime of course we have another 'easy' chapter or two to look forward to!

 

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Chapter 72: Dangerous Thoughts

"Our top story this morning, an event terrifyingly reminiscent of the Gulf of Edinkurgh Incident less than a year ago played out in the early morning hours as vessels of the Glorious Crimson Navy traded traded fire with shore emplacements kerbed by Kleptogarti Marines on an undisclosed island in the Iwahaki Archipelogo. Kleptogart claims a 30 mile limit all around the chain of islands, while the Imperium of the Ussari Union only recognizes 12, and maintains that its vessels were in international waters at all times. The Prime Minister of Omork was quick to condemn the, quote, "blatant act of Ussari aggression," and declared a heightened state of alert for all Royal Omork Air and Naval forces. An official from the Kerman Administration called the incident "unfortunate," but President Kerman has yet to release an official response. 

"Semi-retired bazillionaire philanthropist Layland Kerman issued his own statement on the matter, calling for calm and restraint while emphasizing the importance of a diplomatic response. He has invited representatives from all three nations to a summit at his Exast estate to help resolve the matter. 

"In other news, area hospitals are reporting a dramatic up tick in facial injuries as the wildly popular MonéyPoke OW craze sweeps the nation. 

"And now, over to Gregner with weather, Gregner?"

"It's hot!"

Valentina clicked the picture off with a grunt. The old, discolored entertainment box only got two channels: the news, which was depressing, and that other station that gave her a powerful urge to wash. Washing, however, was completely out of the question. There was some... thing... in the bathtub. She had no idea what it was. It looked grumpy. She'd thought it best to just let sleeping... things lie, and had backed away slowly and just shut the light off. 

Then she had staggered into the all-night liquor store across the street from the motel, her gait, garb, and smell quite matching the regulars at that hour, and purchased two large bottle of 180-proof grain alcohol. These she used to sterilize, as best she could, this table and one small corner of the distressing room. Valentina had half-expected a monster to jump out of the closet when she opened it. Instead, it was an enormous rat. Which was unfortunate for the rat, but at least she'd had something to eat. 

The bed, too, was a non-starter. She felt like she needed a powerful course of inoculations just from looking at it. A rusty metal box mounted beside it promised an "electrifying experience" for a couple of coins. Judging by the wiring coming out of it, that was completely true. Instead, she had curled up on a wobbly, cracked plastic chair reeking of high-proof booze and slept with one eye open. She briefly considered gripping a pillow tight, but not after what crawled out of it. Sleep, too, was a bit of a relative term. The occupants of the next room had been up all night, fighting. At least she hoped it was fighting, lots of screaming and cursing and breaking noises. She didn't want to think of what else it might have been.  

So here she sat, in her little slightly-less-disgusting corner of this house of madness, eating stale cereal from a box of Captain Sugar's Sugar-Frosted Sugar Puffs of Sugar*, now with more Sugar!. She'd found it in a cupboard, surrounded by a thick halo of dead vermin. Looking over the ingredient list, it was probably the most sterile thing in the building. Most of these chemicals were considered too caustic for use in rocket fuels. Sugar was actually the last thing on the list. 

She sighed, and popped another not-quite-soft, not-quite-crunchy bit of not-quit-food into her mouth. The short but restless night had given her mind plenty of time to wax neurotic on her current situation. In one single, bloody moment... everything had changed. 

You should have told them. You should have reported the whole thing

And where would that have gotten her? Led away to a black van like Vasily? Or "reassigned" like Tercella? The kind of "reassignment" no one ever returns from?

You shouldn't have asked questions. Never make noise. Do what you must to survive. And never, ever take sides.

Were those really her Deda's words... or her own? She'd always done just that... and saw what the Union did in turn...

Those are dangerous thoughts, you must not think such things! Have you not had an enviable career for it?

She had. Then she had failed to follow the rules ...this... we do not speak of... and now look at her. A virtual fugitive, dressed in beggar's clothes, surrounded by filth, eating cereal that expired eight years ago. 

She glanced at the box again. 

Make that nine. 

Nothing good can come of this fool's errand. Are you really so quick to trust a traitor who would besmirch the Imperium?

But... he said...

What you wanted to hear. And now... you are a murderer...

The thought stung, but it was true. 

I killed a Kerb...

Defense! It was only to defend--

A traitor. And the others?

Sergei... Donald... 

...my fault... all my fault....

But this time was different, wasn't it? You wanted to kill him. You enjoyed it. You felt power. And you would have killed the others.

It is true. I am not a predator. I am a monster.

A tear threatened to fall, then Valentina's eyes shot open. 

Lass, that's about the biggest pile of steaming УДКPЦTIЙ Ah've ever heard. 

Why... why was Chadvey in her head now?!

Ah've absolutely no idea. Ah'm probably just a repressed manifestation of your own subconscious, tryin' t' break through your dysfunctional mental defense mechanisms as you strive toward self-actualization. Or somethin' like that, Ah never did finish that psychology degree.

She blinked several times, then looked over the ingredient list on the cereal once more. 

That might have somethin' t' do with it, too.

Then she tried shaking her head and smacking it with the heel of her hand once or twice. 

'Fraid that's not goin' t' help, lass. Some part of your own mind wants to get a message through. So Ah hope you'll forgive me for sayin' this, but Ah do believe you've got your head up your own patoot. And given Kerbal anatomy, that's rather a feat. 

Valentina gaped at the wall

Ah spent years runnin', denyin' what Ah saw with mah own two eyes. Somethin' is wrong, and you know that. Don't make the same mistakes Ah did.

Are you mad? You see ghosts in shadows! You are not one to take to fairy tales and stories!

Aye, you're a rational person who doesna ignore empirical evidence.

With a grunt she clapped her hands to her head, "shut up, shut up, all of you!"

A loud banging from the other side of the wall answered, "bugrit! Millennium and and shrimp! Blowitoutcherteapot! And shrimp!"

Ascending to the next level of weariness, Valentina rubbed her hands over her face. Tonight, she was finding a better motel. At least one that didn't charge by the hour. Laying on the table nearby was the flyer she had found taped to the wall of the train car last night. At the top was the same picture of the girl... the whole picture. Next to the girl was a face Valentina hadn't seen in a couple of years, not since the buzz about the Münbase had ceased. Below that, printed words read:

To the workers at the KSC,
Please help me. You all knew my brother Billy-Bobrim, you all did. You all knew he'd give the shirt off his back for any of you. Now he needs your help and no one will do anything for him. They've locked him away and hope everyone will just forget about him, but I won't let that happen! Please, I just want to know what happened, I need to know. All responses will be kept in strict confidence. 

                                  --Anastasia Kerman

In the other hand was a scrap of paper with an address written on it. The girl had seemed quite friendly, despite Valentina having called her at such an early hour. They were to meet at a cafe a few blocks away, in the nicer part of town, where Valentina would disclose crucial information about... what, exactly? The Political Officer had said to find the girl, but... then what? Something stirred deep in her mind, bringing with it a resigned certainty. Once she actually found the girl, the next move would resolve its self. 

It would probably involve running and screaming. 

With a sigh, she popped another sugary lump into her mouth. At least she'd had a good breakfast. She absently tossed a Sugar-Frosted Sugar Puff of Sugar (now with more sugar!) to a cockroach poking around in the corner. It approached cautiously, took a few bites... took a few more bites... then burst into flames. 

Then it burst into multicolored flames. 

Then it burst into inverted flames, which is rather a hard thing to describe, but it sounds a bit like the color blue tastes. 

Given the way things were going, Valentina thought this one of the less unusual things she'd seen. She stood, and tossed the box of cereal into the rusty trash can, where it promptly ate through the side and toppled out onto the floor, smoking just slightly. She took a moment to regard herself in the grungy, cracked mirror. Hair tousled and greasy, spilling over her shoulders. Face dirty, clothes ragged. Probably still smelled of yak, too. No one would recognize a famous Kerbonaut looking like this. That was good. The Imperium, or... someone... was after her. Someone daft enough to employ Cerimans. 

Much was said of Cerima. Most of it was a joke. Most, because that other bit... that would keep you up nights, if you thought about it too much. But, why Cerimans? Why her at all? Why--?

Pfft. Questions without answers. Nothing to do now but go forth, and see what the day brings. With that thought, Valentina opened the door, and stepped out into the sunlight. 

The day didn't wait long.

"I'ma' get you!"

She spun around to face the assault. 

"I'ma' get you!"
"I'ma' get you!"
"I'ma' get you!"

Then just stepped aside as her attacker ran face-first into the wall. 

Thud!

"Ow."

He looked up at her with what might have been a sheepish grin, if it had more teeth. One hand triumphantly thrust aloft a red and white plastic ball with a cheap-looking LCD screen on one side. 

"Peek-at-u! I got 'im!"

The all-too-familiar hand found Valentina's face, and she walked off. At least one thing hadn't changed. 

These people were so strange.

 

 

 

 

*Contains no actual cereal or other grain products.

 

 

 

 


 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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Could that possibly be a poke at a certain popular virtual reality game? :)  And I liked the cereal that only Calvin could love. Although if it puts Chadvey's voice in your head it's probably best avoided!

Finally reckon I've got a handle on the the timeline too - am I right in thinking that is is a prequel that's run into the back of its sequel and is now overlapping it?

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13 minutes ago, KSK said:

Could that possibly be a poke at a certain popular virtual reality game? :) 

My attorney advises me to say that any resemblance to existing games, real or not, is entirely coincidental and absolutely not a backlash to nearly running over so many of the €€>#?€%^&@:;++^*'!!!!'s lately. 

But also, he's not very good. 

16 minutes ago, KSK said:

Finally reckon I've got a handle on the the timeline too - am I right in thinking that is is a prequel that's run into the back of its sequel and is now overlapping it?

Yes, you're correct. This is now two years after the Münbase was abandoned and about a year before Edgas gets the phone call. 

I've never been quite sure what to call it, knowing where it ends up. I just read the Wikipedia page on prequels and now my brain hurts, and I now know that Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom actually takes place a year before Raiders of the Lost Ark.:mad::confused:

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2 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

"And now, over to Gregner with weather, Gregner?"

"It's hot!"

Is that a reference to the "water" movie (1985) featuring Michael Caine?

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That poor cockroach :(

And Pokemon Go.

And the Peek-at-u!

Lol.

Moar.

Oh, and... Anastasia was MURDERED, right? Sooooooo.....

Hmmm.... 

Maybe Valentina witnesses this? Hope so. That would be a sad but interesting part of the story.

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Just now, CatastrophicFailure said:

Eh, he's a cockroach, he's fine. Just wound up with a... splitting headache. :wink:

No cockroaches were hurt during the production of this story. :wink:

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Chapter 73: A Terrible Mistake

Valentina walked down the busy sidewalk, surrounded by bubble of empty space that moved with her, like a school of fish might move around a predator. The bubble was notably larger on the downwind side, however. It was demeaning, but at least it made it easy to get around. The way people pointedly avoided making eye contact probably helped, too. 

How long since she's last been here? Years, at least. Not since before the Foreigners' Münbase. The City had always been new, back when Valentina first climbed into the earliest training capsule, it had been nothing but a couple of tents on a river favored by fisherkerbs. Yet it was continuously renewing itself. Towering construction cranes dotted the skyline as they always did, only the locations ever changed. There was none of the grand, ornate architecture of Old Kermangrad here, all was beautifully modern, with straight, sober lines and endless facades of glass on towering buildings. It was all a bit to sterile for Valentina's tastes, but it did have its attraction. 

Kars on the wide streets whizzed by to the sound of whining turbines, crossed here and there by the stark concrete pillars that held up the elevated train lines. VTOL's occasionally flitted past higher up, the transport of choice for the well-off for whom several tonnes of steel and half a dozen screaming turboshaft engines weren't quite ostentatious enough. 

Just as Valentina was mulling this over, she felt a low rumbling in her chest. The feeling grew and grew, soon joined by Doppler-shifted sound as something big approached. Even the people on the street looked up and took notice. She strained, trying to guess where the source was from how the sound moved, but it was hopelessly hidden beyond the canyon of concrete and glass. As rapidly as it appeared, the sound faded and soon disappeared. Whatever it was must have been enormous. Too slow for an airplane, it was surely another VTOL of some sort. A distant, very old memory whispered in Valentina's mind, but evaporated as soon as she reached for it. Still frowning off towards the noise, she walked on. 

Oof!

"Sorry!"

"Excuse me!"

"Oops!"

"Pardon!"

"Sorry, sorry!"

She looked at the young Kerb she'd just blundered into, and another memory whispered. 

"Sorry. Sorry. My bad," he mumbled, looking down, "sorry."

"No, it was my fault," Valentina said, "I should have been watching."

The Kerb looked up, then his eyes widened.

"Ermagherd!" He honked in a high, nasally voice, "you're-you're-you're-Valmmfplp--!"
 
She clamped a hand to his mouth, not initially considering the hygienic consequences, and raised a finger to hers. The fellow's brow pinched in confusion. 

"I am, er, on vacation. Do not want too much attention, mister, um..." He was wearing a McKerbal's® uniform, so she glanced at his McNametag®, "Door-pay?"

His eyes grew even wider, and slobber splattered against her hand until he batted it away. 

"You got it right!" He blared, grabbing her shoulders, "nobody ever gets it right!"

She struggled out of his grip, "um, yes, my Dachlandish is a bit rusty, but is quite plain."

"You are V-- uh, her," he gaped, then took in her appearance, "why ya dressed like a hobo?"

"Is a long story," Valentina said with an eye roll, "I would not want to keep you from job."

The young fellow's countenance dropped like a failing rocket, "oh, ok. Sorry to have bothered you." He turned and began to mope off. 

Oh... just... PЦTIЙ.

Valentina caught his shoulder, "is... something the matter? You seem most unhappy."

He turned, not quite looking up, "I got fired. Again. They say I talk too much."

"You... look most familiar," she said thoughtfully, "have I not seen you somewhere before?"

"Prolly. I've lived all over. Always end up getting kicked out."

She thought for a moment, "perhaps, you strive down wrong path, no? What it is you want of life?" 

His face lit up, and he bleated, "I wanna be a spacekerb!"

"You. Want to be... Kerbonaut?" Valentina hoped that didn't sound as bad as she thought. 

Door-pay didn't seem to notice, "ayuh ayuh I wanna go inna space an to the Mün an to Minmus an to Duna an to anywhere else that's go-able ayuh!"

"Well... Have you applied, then?"

"No," he sank again, "they prolly wouldn't want me."

Valentina frowned, then clapped him on the shoulders, "if this is what you want of life, then this is what you must do. Or you will never be happy. First you must chase your dream, if you wish to catch it."

He looked at her, confused for a moment. Then she could nearly see the wheels click into place in his head. 

"You should march down there right now and submit your application."

"Y-yeah..." His eyes steadily grew wider. "Y....YEAH! Imana do it!"

He glomped into her, "oh thank you thank you thank you miss hobo Valentina but wow you sure smell I mean I don't mean to be rude but you really sure smell like yaks or something but Ima go down there right now and Ima be a spacekerb woohoo ayuh!"

With a little shake, he made a sound that was the aural equivalent of walking on broken glass, "do a little dance! Uh, uh! Goinintospace! Uh, uh! Spaaacekeeerb!"

Valentina watched the odd young fellow bounce away, occasionally kicking his feet up in the air or grabbing a random stranger and yelling his intention in their face. 

"SpaceKEEEEEEEERB! SPAAAAAAACEkerb! Ima be spaaaaaaace keeeeeeerb woohoo!

Hmm. Apparently he was unaffected by pepper spray, too. Surely a useful talent for a Kerbonaut. But still... even though the KSA did have some notoriously lax hiring standards, as Valentina watched him go, she wondered if, perhaps, she hadn't just made a terrible mistake. 

------------------------------------------------------

One last short one before stuff gets real:0.0: Was originally going to be part of the next chapter, but since someone (@Shania_L) asked so nicely a while back...:D

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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