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


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I hear that. The one benefit to renting year-by-year was that the constant moves did force regular dejunkification sessions, so the tide was kept to a manageable level. On the other hand moving every year sucked so yeah, pick your poison. On the whole I'm happier being a homeowner - it does get better. :) 

Good luck with the frozen spigot. If it's literally frozen due to inclement weather, why that's nothing a butane torch can't fix!* And if it's frozen for reasons unknown then Mr. Pliers and Mr. Claw Hammer could be your best friends. :)

 

*There's probably a reason I don't do much DIY. Caveat emptor.

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9 hours ago, KSK said:

I hear that. The one benefit to renting year-by-year was that the constant moves did force regular dejunkification sessions, so the tide was kept to a manageable level. On the other hand moving every year sucked so yeah, pick your poison. On the whole I'm happier being a homeowner - it does get better. :) 

Good luck with the frozen spigot. If it's literally frozen due to inclement weather, why that's nothing a butane torch can't fix!* And if it's frozen for reasons unknown then Mr. Pliers and Mr. Claw Hammer could be your best friends. :)

 

*There's probably a reason I don't do much DIY. Caveat emptor.

We were in there for nearly 10 years, longest stretch we've spent anywhere. The amount of stuff coming out is absolutely staggering. Every time I think we're 99% done another 99% pops up.

Trouble is, the spigot froze, then broke, so now it won't shut off. Plumber can't get to it till Friday. Put a hose on it and draped it over a bush. Should have a nice ice sculpture by morning. <_<

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20 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

We were in there for nearly 10 years, longest stretch we've spent anywhere. The amount of stuff coming out is absolutely staggering. Every time I think we're 99% done another 99% pops up.

Trouble is, the spigot froze, then broke, so now it won't shut off. Plumber can't get to it till Friday. Put a hose on it and draped it over a bush. Should have a nice ice sculpture by morning. <_<

Ouch! If that'd happened to us we'd be in trouble. Salesmen tracked us down and hunted us mercilessly a while ago. Now we are the proud *sigh* owners of a water purification system (that breaks down a lot and needs expensive servicing) and has a large water tank. If ours broke like that it'd drain the tank, strain the Stenner motor, empty the chlorine tanks...etc... etc... etc...

 

Hope you get your system fully operational and ship shape.... Fashions of Bristol optional.

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On 12/6/2016 at 6:42 PM, Vaporo said:

CatastrophicFailure, you need to write a proper book someday. Your writing just keep getting better and better.

I think that would end up being entirely too much like work. :D

 

 

Thanks for the kind words, all. I really can't give @Ten Key enough credit on this one. I won't say he polished a turd, but... maybe burnished a coprolite?

Next chapter is well underway already, hopefully I can get back in a normal rhythm  again. My hopes for finishing by the end of the year are dashed by this point, but the end is near. :wink:

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On 12/6/2016 at 5:04 AM, KSK said:

I was wondering how the writing was going with all the house shenanigans to get in the way and was about to bump this thread with a polite enquiry :)

3 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

I really can't give @Ten Key enough credit on this one. 

For what it's worth, any extended delays in Whispers are more than likely my fault. Not all who wander are lost, but we do tend to play havoc with release dates. :blush:

 

On 12/7/2016 at 1:13 AM, CatastrophicFailure said:

Crap in boxes. Crap not in boxes. Exotic quantum crap simultaneously in and out of boxes, but also neither. 1600 pounds of crap to the dump alone. Crap that was once looked upon with the words, "I must pay good money for this piece of crap!" Now good money has been paid to send said crap on a barge down to Portland, where the rats no doubt live like kings.

We solved that problem by simply not unpacking from our last move. We have some "bookshelves" made from stacked cardboard boxes that are, in turn, filled with books. The ottoman I use for my desk is, in fact, a cardboard box full of books with a spare pillow on top. 

If we ever end up owning a house I'm not sure I'll know how to move in properly. 

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I have created the Ussari national anthem! 

Here it is: 

*Begin patriotic music*

Ussari, Ussari, Ussari Union 

Oh Glorious Imperium! 

We pledge our heart and mind and soul 

With mindless conformity and perfect obedience 

We salute your opression

OR ELSE WE GO TO SEE KOMMISAR!!!

Ussari, Ussari, Ussari Union 

Oh Glorious Imperium! 

We work night and day 

With no pay 

AND ANYONE WHO QUESTIONS THIS WILL GO TO KEREMIAN SALT MINES FOR REST OF LIFE!!! 

Ussari, Ussari... 

*End patriotic music*

 

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On December 9, 2016 at 7:29 PM, KAL 9000 said:

I have created the Ussari national anthem! 

Here it is: 

*Begin patriotic music*

Ussari, Ussari, Ussari Union 

Oh Glorious Imperium! 

We pledge our heart and mind and soul 

With mindless conformity and perfect obedience 

We salute your opression

OR ELSE WE GO TO SEE KOMMISAR!!!

Ussari, Ussari, Ussari Union 

Oh Glorious Imperium! 

We work night and day 

With no pay 

AND ANYONE WHO QUESTIONS THIS WILL GO TO KEREMIAN SALT MINES FOR REST OF LIFE!!! 

Ussari, Ussari... 

*End patriotic music*

 

Hehehe. Now make one to the Soviet National Anthem....

How's chapter 89 coming @CatastrophicFailure?

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*two thousand years later*
:rolleyes:
I know, I know, other ppl have a life.
But seriously, how is chapter 89 coming along? Does Val go to see Kommissar? *no like 2 see kommissar sully* shut up Karl! 

Just checking to make sure that @CatastrophicFailure is alive. Can't have this series die, now could we? Would be of much concern to the Imperium! @CatastrophicFailure would have to see Kommissar! *no like 2 see kommi-* SHADDAP KARL! :sticktongue:

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I'm the hold up at the moment. I can only get at the forum through a smartphone, and that's going to slow things up quite a bit. As soon as I run out of relatives we haven't seen in two plus years, I'll circle back to this. I swear, they multiple on an hourly basis. :confused:

Maybe tomorrow, late. Or. . .what day is it? Maybe Tuesday morning?

Patience please. :)

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I can assure y'all things are still moving along slow but sure behind the scenes. @Ten Key you're only half right, cuz I've only sent you half the chapter.:wink: I keep picturing you in some unholy mashup of National Lampoon's and the first part of Home Alone so please, circle all you need. 

On the upside, the longer I need to come up with A chapter increases the likelihood of a bunch of chapters all at once. :D

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Aha. Well, good luck with the editing and family.
The bunch of chapters all at once part had an especially nice ring to it...

I wonder. Does Val celebrate Kristmas? Nah, Ussaris don't seem like the kind of people to celebrate much...  unless, of course, it's rok n' roll.

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5 hours ago, vsully said:

I wonder. Does Val celebrate Kristmas? Nah, Ussaris don't seem like the kind of people to celebrate much...  unless, of course, it's rok n' roll.

For Ussari, celebration is day without having to go see the Kommissar.

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13 hours ago, lodger said:

For Ussari, celebration is day without having to go see the Kommissar.

Ussari society in a nutshell, right here. :/

 

18 hours ago, vsully said:

Does Val celebrate Kristmas?

I tried to do a Halloween tie-in and look how well that turned out. :rolleyes:

 

So, 89 is written and off to editing (with NO temporal expectations!) Think I'll end up splitting it in two. 91, then, will be a bit of a "breather" chapter after all this darkness. At least until I... Paint It, Black <_<

 

on a side note... anybody here speak Spanish? At least better than Google? 

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Huzzah!

6 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

So, 89 is written and off to editing (with NO temporal expectations!) Think I'll end up splitting it in two. 91, then, will be a bit of a "breather" chapter after all this darkness. At least until I... Paint It, Black <_<

 

on a side note... anybody here speak Spanish? At least better than Google? 

Yo hablo el español. Y si, mucho mejor que Google.
(I speak spanish. And yes, much better than Google.)

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Chapter 89: Lies

Helga the Head Nurse had a thick, luxuriant mustache. So much so, that Valentina had felt compelled to compliment her on it. Midway through her own scream, Valentina realized that might not have been the wisest thing to do, as her shoulder was popped back into place. It was sore, now, but the large mustachioed Kerbelle was confident full use would soon return. Somehow, she seemed disappointed. 

It also turned out, Valentina hadn't been bleeding to death, after all. She'd hardly bled at all, really. It was just that sticky goo smeared all over her side. Waiting to meet up with the Zarya in Münar orbit, she had stripped out of the flimsy rescue suit and what remained of her water cooling garment, and spent an hour prying bits of broken glass from little pockets in her skin. That was unpleasant, but... considerably less so than the alternative. By the time she had docked and made the return burn to Kerbin, even the pockets seemed to have disappeared. 

One transmission was all she had been allowed. A single coded flash of bits, sent out after MechIVAN had computed her likely landing site in the middle of the Tethys Inland Sea. It was all that was needed. Minutes after splashing down, an unusual thing in a Zarya, a fishing trawler had appeared to pluck Valentina from the bobbing capsule. An explosive bundle was tossed back in. With a gentle nudge from the boat to submerge the open hatch, the blackened craft slipped beneath the waves, disappearing forever with only a muted thump and a ring of bubbles foaming on the surface. 

The crew bound her injured arm, gave her food and water and a warm, if noisy, berth near the engines, but never spoke to her or even looked directly at her. A few days later, as the boat motored along the shore just before dawn, one by one they jumped overboard carrying waterproof satchels, until only Valentina and the captain were left. He still said nothing, only pointed her to a landmark as he lowered her into a dinghy that was little more than an inflatable pool toy. 

She stood there on the shore for a long time, watching the rising sun and the thin trail of smoke before it, until that, too winked out. It was a short walk in the brisk morning air to the spot, where a nondescript kar was waiting. And now, she found herself back in the office of the Kommissar, sitting in a chair with her arm in a sling, giving a report that sounded ever more insane while he stood there impassively, staring at the broken-tipped knife on the shelf. 

"I could feel it in my head, in my mind, trying to get inside," her voice was taught and thin, stretched near to breaking, "and I could see things, horrible things..."

The Kommissar didn't move. Valentina didn't think he'd moved at all since she began. He just stood there, hands folded behind his back, his knees ramrod straight. A smoldering rattail dangled from his fingers. He might have been made of iron. 

"I ran after that," she continued, studying the floor, "I wanted to do something. I wanted to fight back. But I just ran. I have never been so terrified. The shadows, I could swear they—"

"The structure, what did it look like?" the Kommissar said abruptly, eyes never leaving that knife. 

"I, um.." she stumbled, "I did not get a good look at it. It was... wrong, it... it didn't want to be looked at." 

The Kommissar remained silent, so she pressed on, "the rover ran out of power when I reached the base again, I think I might have hit something. I had to—"

"Did you touch it?" he broke in again. 

"The... what?"

"The structure. Did you touch it?"

"Touch it? No, I... I do not think so. It's all getting fuzzy now, like trying to remember a nightmare. I just wanted to leave there. I felt like I was going mad."

"You say you felt it in your mind," the Kommissar didn't turn. He ran a finger along the edge of the glass case, "and you ran."

In spite of herself, a tinge of irritation crept into Valentina's voice, "er... yes. It was like being... I wanted to get away, anywhere, I—"

"Do not lie to me," a single eye flicked her direction. His voice was a knife in silk. 

Her head twitched, "I am not lying, it—"

With speed that defied his size, the Kommissar spun around. He swooped up the chair, Valentina and all, and slammed it up against the wall to the sound of splitting wood. 

"Do not lie to me!" he roared. 

Valentina could only gape in shock. Holding the chair up against the wall with one hand, he gripped her chin with the other. Like so many time before, his frigid eyes bored into her. Deconstructing, dissecting, prying. Panic flared for an instant, as she recalled fetid, dank tendrils of shadow... But, no... this was entirely unlike that. Not prying, searching... Her memories, her feelings of that horrible time once more paraded across her mind's eye, but nothing moved to enter... only... to draw out.

The intensity in the Kommissar's eyes faltered, then of all things, confusion crept in. His features softened. He released her chin and let the chair slide down with a thump.

"You have seen," he whispered, more to himself, "and yet... there is no taint. No stain." Staggering backwards, he collapsed against his heavy wooden desk, eyes never leaving hers. He looked on her with the awe of one beholding divinity. 

"It is you," his head shook slowly back and forth, eyes still locked, "until this very moment... I did not believe, myself..."

Valentina blinked in bewilderment, "have... have you gone quite mad?" then slapped a hand to her face as she realized what she'd just said and to whom.

The chill returned as quickly as it left, and he was once again looming over her, "do not lie... to yourself."

She... didn't quite have a response to that. 

The Kommissar turned back to his desk, studying the few items there, "you have felt it. Long before the Mün, you have felt it. Sensed it working in the dark places. Perhaps you have heard it whisper to you, tempting you. Placating you." He looked to her, "do you deny this?"

A slight shake of her head was all she could manage. 

"You have stood before the infernal Shadowwell, looked into its phantasms, yet your mind is still your own. And your soul." He stepped up to her, and with a thick finger, lifted the titanium chain around her neck that held Dibella's Münstone and the sliver of Anastasia's münrock, "though I suspect you had help. Many, much greater than you, have broken long before."

Something tried to form in Valentina's mind, some understanding of all this madness. It seemed almost within reach, but circled, just beyond comprehension. 

She forced voice from her lips, "the thing on the Mün. What is it?"

"A shadow. There is no better word for it in any language you would know. The shadow of an entity not of this world or any other. It is the embodiment of chaos, destruction given will. It remains imprisoned somewhere near Jool, perhaps one of the moons. The Shadowwell is its beacon, to draw the unsuspecting like moths to a flame. Technology has now removed the final barrier to that cursed place. Anyone who stands before it will find their mind twisted and lost, and become one of the shadar'skemmd," his eyes flicked to her, "the shadowstained. Like your friend, Edmund Kerman.

"Anyone," he leaned closer, "except you."

With a thunk Valentina was sure could be heard outside her head, the final piece dropped into place.

"You knew..." her eyes widened, "all this time... you knew. You knew what I would find up there. You did not need intelligence, the whole time it was nothing but—"

"A test," he went back to staring at that odd little knife, "I needed to know it was really you. That you would not crumble like the others. And truth be told, I am... disappointed."

That brought her train of thought to a screeching halt, "what? Why?"

The Kommissar turned again, his look as icy as ever, "because... you will die."

I am expendable...

The thought had long wandered her mind, but to hear it aloud from another person settled an unpleasant lump in her gut. 

"The Songs are unusually clear on this," he said. 

"Songs?" she managed. 

"Since before the Deluge, the People sang of the rise of the Kraken. But with it also, the rise of Bane and Scourge. From among the People hope would arise, so that hope might not vanish from the world. Those songs are now silent, like the People. And yet, here you are."

Valentina put a hand to her swimming head, "you... you really have gone mad!" She pointed to the nub of a rattail still clenched in his fingers, "its those things, they give you an abnormal brain." Squeezing her eyes shut, she waited for the world to stop spinning, "and you think I am this... hero?"

The Kommissar only continued that frigid, weighing look.

"You..." she groped for words, "you have made a mistake. I am no hero! I found your thing on the Mün, and I was terrified! I ran!"

"Of course you did," a trace of anger edged into his voice,  "you are not a fool."

Her mouth flopped open and closed for several moments before she jumped out of her seat, "I-I-I-I am just a peasant girl from Kerberia! I grew up in a shack! I fly airplanes and space capsules! Andandandand... the whole world has gone mad! And! And! And..! STДLIЙS SШЗДTУ SФCКS ФЙ PЦTIЙS ЬДLD PДTЭ!!!!!"

Incredibly, her eyes remained steady, if slightly trembling, before that unmovable glower. 

"You have your mother's fire," he said after a time, "and your father's mouth." 

That mouth then flopped open for a moment. 

Eventually, speech returned, "you... you knew them? You know something... of course, you know something! You must tell me!" She grabbed the lapels of his uniform coat, seeming to have lost all fear, "please, you must tell me!" Then she collapsed back to the chair, rubbing at her temples again. 

"Have you really no memory of them?"

Not looking up, she just shook her head. The Kommissar gripped her chin, gently this time, and again stared down into her with that piercing gaze. 

"You have," he said at length, "you have merely forgotten. I will help you. You are, I think, owed that much." He turned to a box on his desk. 

Valentina rose, a question forming on her lips.

"Sit."

And plopped back down. The Kommissar pulled the other chair over, and sat across from her. In his hand was some sort of short, ragged, brownish tube. He lit it from the stub of his rattail, before snubbing that out. A thin trail of grey smoke rose from the tube, and the air filled with a faint odor of cinnamon. The Kommissar watched it intently, muttering something rhythmic under his breath. 

"What is that?" Valentina asked with apprehension. 

"A leaf. A refugee to this world, from a time when it was yet young, and the People already old. 

"What... does it do?"

"Nothing. It gives your senses something to occupy them, so that your mind may move freely."

"How—" she never finished the question. The Kommissar raised the smoldering tube to his lips, and blew through it, sending a dense cloud of smoke into Valentina's face. As he had said, her senses were instantly very occupied. Immediately, her eyes teared up and swelled shut. Her lungs heaved, her skin burned. The subtle scent of cinnamon became an overwhelming, desiccating fire, as if she'd tried to swallow a spoonful. She could just hear the Kommissar's mumbles become subvocal chants before her ears began ringing, drowning everything else out. 

Then the burning on her skin became tingling, which quickly passed to numbness. It felt like she was floating... falling... rising...

She was... she...

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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Chapter 90: Truth

She sits on a cold, dirty floor, playing with Dolly. The floor is always dirty, no matter how much Mama sweeps. And always cold. She doesn't like Dolly, but there is nothing else here to play with. She misses the toy airplanes She had in the Big House, and the mobile of all the planets that hung over Her crib. But even those memories are fading away now, and will soon be oblivion. 

Mama and Papa are fighting again. They fight a lot, now. Nearly all the time. Once again, Mama is throwing their meager things into a worn, old trunk. 

"...get away to Kerbelsk. I have an old colleague there, he can get us passage on a ship to the East."

"No, we must go north!" Papa's eyes are sunken and red. He never sleeps. He is always watching. Always listening. "There are rumors of an outright rebellion in Erakonia. They are holding the line. It is not too late!"

"We cannot bring Her into a war zone!" Mama gestures without looking, "not based on stories! We have to get out!"

"We stay off the roads, travel overland. If we can make it to the Tethys perhaps we can find a ship..."

"Listen to you, you've gone mad! Do you even know what you're saying? In this weather?"

"We cannot just give up!" Papa is raging.

"There's nothing left to give up!" Mama slams the trunk, "it's over, we've lost. All we can do now is flee."

"And become refugees?!"

"What do you think we are now?"

"No!" Papa screams, so loud it hurts Her ears, "I will not abandon my homeland! I will not abandon—"

He points to Her, sees Her eyes, and in an instant, the rage is gone. There is no crying in this place, somehow She has sensed the futility of it, but Her eyes are wide and wet as she clings to Dolly with trembling hands. Papa drops to a knee and flings his arms wide, his features softened as his own eyes well up. She runs to him, tiny hands outstretched, Dolly forgotten on the floor.

"Moya Zvyozdochka, prosti mi," he whispers as he pulls Her close. In his words is regret for far more than merely yelling. Mama approaches, and runs a hand through his greying hair. He wraps one tightly around her hips, presses his cheek to her. 

"It was not supposed to be like this," he says softly, like one in a dream, "it was supposed to be better. I thought we were... I thought..." His tears are warm on Her cheek.

"Lyubov moya," Mama breathes, "we all did. But it is lost, now. For Her sake, we must leave."

They hold each other in this dark, freezing place, and for just a few brief, perfect moments, She is happy. But in this place, such things can never last. 

The door slams open, bringing with it a cold blast and swirling snow. Deda is here, now, his eyes wide with fear.

"They are here!" he cries, "they are searching house to house!"

Papa bolts up, "out the back door. Quickly!" But Mama is already there, peeking through the window. She doesn't say a word, only shakes her head, her face pale. Screams and shouts carry in on the biting wind, and a popping sound like knots exploding in the fire. 

"Trapped..." Papa barely makes a sound. Conflict, anguish rampage across his face, and he grabs Deda by his worn old coat, "you must be the one to turn us in."

Deda staggers as if struck, "Vladimir...!"

"You must!" Papa pleads, "or they will take Her! And they will take you too!"

The same struggle plays across the old Kerb's face, in a mirror of his son's, "hit me!" he says.

"Papa...!"

"You must! It must be real!" Deda sees his son hesitate, he turns to the wall and smashes his own face against the shelf there, opening a gash above his eye. He places a single hand to his son's cheek, for one last moment, before turning to the door.

"Help! Help! They are in here! Come quickly!"

Papa scoops Her into his arms and runs to the closet, "you must not open this door, do you understand?

"No matter what you hear, you must not open this door!"

"But Papa..."

"No!" He slams the door shut, plunging Her into darkness. All at once, the noises come. Yelling. Cursing. Smashing. Shattering. Fear and panic fight to own Her. The darkness seems to close in, envelop Her. She can feel it, squeezing,  searching. At last, at the sound of Mama's scream, She can bear it no more, and kicks the door open. 

With a nascent talent that will be honed over the years, her eyes take in the scene at once. Papa is gone. Mama is disappearing out the door. There are soldiers in their long coats, holding big sticks with little metal tubes at the ends and long, cruel spikes. And Deda cowers before the Big One, who has a thick mustache and gold braid on his shoulders. 

Something deep inside Her, long dormant, stirs, and everything goes red. Though She can barely reach it, She grabs the kitchen knife from the table. She charges forward, instinctively putting Her slight weight behind it, a wordless cry on Her lips. For an instant, just an instant, their eyes meet before She drives the knife into the Big One's knee until she feels it hit bone. 

He screams. A soldier shoves Her back. She lands hard. He raises the stick. Points it at Her. And

Sound.

Sound.

...the world becomes sound...

Something hot kisses Her cheek. But—

The Big One. He has knocked the stick away.

"Oaf!" he rails at the soldier, "you would shoot a child?

The soldier gapes at him, his own mouth wide and fighting for words, "I—I—I—I..." he glances to the knife, "I will pull it out, Comrade Captain!"

He reaches but the Big one shoves him away, "it's cut the artery, do you want me to bleed to death?!" The soldier backs away, shaking. His face has gone as white as the snow blowing in. "Argh, I think the tip broke off. I can feel it in the joint!" He grabs the soldier and pushes him out the door, "get the medic!"

Deda wakes from his shock, scoops Her into his arms, shields Her with his body, "mercy, Comrade! Please! She is just scared!" 

Tears and blood wash Her cheek, but the fear has departed. She peers over the old Kerb's shoulder, meeting eyes that are more frigid than the cutting wind outside. Eyes that have never known warmth. She can feel them, cold, calculating, weighing. Yet She holds his gaze, the fire in her burning against the ice in him.

Finally, he smiles. Bitter. Mirthless. But... also...

"Of course she is," the Big One says softly, "of course."

Deda turns, the smile evaporates, "she is your charge now, old Kerb. Take her far away from this place. It would be best for you both... if no one even knows you exist."

Deda nods, backs away. For a moment, those warmthless eyes meet Hers again, "we... will be watching you."

Another soldier enters, "medic, Comrade Captain?"

"Ugh, help me to the truck. These two, put them on the next train going north, with papers. They are..." one last time, his eyes meet Hers, "of no concern."

", Comrade Captain! And what of the village?"

"Burn it."

", Comrade Captain!"

"You, move!" another soldier roughly leads them out into the cold. The wind scrapes against Her face, scouring the fire away. Suddenly, She is so tired. Soon, She is in the back of a truck, heading away, watching the bottoms of the clouds glow orange.

"Shhh, Tinka," Deda says, hugging her against the cold, "we will do as we were told. Remember this night. Do not make noise. Do what you must to survive. And never, ever... take sides..."

She feels numb. Like floating. 

Floating, drifting, rising...

Rising...

She is...

She is...

***

Back in the chair, in the Kommissar's office. Skin still burning, Valentina looked around groggily. He stood by the wall, staring at the knife again. Knees straight, hands folded behind his back, a fresh rattail dangling. 

"It is still there, between the bones. I feel it, with every step. Every movement."

"You... this whole time, it was you!" In a single motion, she leapt from the chair, smashed the glass case, and pressed the knife up against his throat. "You took them away!"

There was no surprise in his eyes, "do it. Do it! Strike me down. It would be fitting, no? It would be...just."

"No!" she screamed, pushing the broken tip against his flesh, "you do not get to walk away, and claim a bad knee as your penance!"

"Then do it! Have your vengeance."

Her hands trembled. Little rivulets of blood ran down his neck. 

"Do it! There is money in the desk, and papers. You are already dead. You can disappear. Back into the woods, or across the globe. 

"Do it. And while you hide, the shadows grow stronger. They spread and search. They will come for you. They will come for everyone.

"Do it!" he pressed his neck against the blade, "and spare me what is to come. You have seen. There is no escape. I cannot save the world. Only you can.

"So do it, and be done," those frigid eyes grew wide now, burning into her, "or put away your anger, curse the Shadow, and embrace who you are."

He leaned in, the knife dropping away listlessly, "put down the knife, take up the lash... and drive. The shadows. Out!"

Valentina looked down, at the blood staining her own hands.

...blood on my hands...

...Billy-Bobrim... Donald... the Director... the Political Officer... Anna... Sergei...

...NO...

...drive... the shadows... out...

I choose to go into the shadows, to seek them out, to find their limits. I ride the ragged edges of understanding. I fly into the dark places in the sky, the places others fear and fear well. I chase the shadows, harry them, scourge them. I drive them out, so that others will not have to know them.

...I drive them out...

The knife dropped to her side, and she looked up, meeting that piercing gaze as she had years before.

"Are you strong enough?" he raised his brow, "are you? If you do this, it will break you. You will not be able to trust yourself, what you see, what you hear. What you feel. You will not be able to trust any of the threads that have held you together in the past. Can you do this?

"Are you strong enough?"

She thought for a moment, then rammed the knife down into the heavy desk, burying it up to the hilt. 

"I.. am a test pilot."

For the second time she had ever seen, the Kommissar smiled, "good. I will tell you more when you return. You must leave at once."

Valentina nodded, "where am I going?"

"To Cerima."

Somewhere across the cosmos and deep in her psyche, a needle scratched across the vinyl record of reality.

Once she had finished twitching and pawing at her ears, she said, "I am sorry, I do not know what came over me. I must have something in my ear. What did you say?"

"You are going to Cerima."

STACK OVERFLOW ERROR
UNABLE TO READ FROM ADDRESS 00F90000
DIVIDE BY ZERO, DOES NOT COMPUTE
VALENTINA.EXE HAS STOPPED WORKING
ABORT, RETRY, FAIL?

It was some time before her senses returned. She had to struggle to piece together a sentence.

"Cerima? Why... why am I going to Cerima?"

His expression as dark as ever, the Kommissar pressed a small envelope into her hand, "read this. Burn it. Swallow the ashes. A kar is waiting for you outside.

"You are dismissed."

Valentina staggered out into the strange little room, with the strange little clerk typing at the blank typewriter at the strange little desk, holding the strange little envelope before her. A thousand and one thoughts rode roughshod through her mind, but one threw a dust cloud much higher than the others. 

She hadn't told him... everything.

She hadn't told him what she'd seen, beyond the visions, beyond the darkness, beyond the Beast.

She hadn't told him... the truth.

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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18 hours ago, vsully said:

 

Yo hablo el español. Y si, mucho mejor que Google.
(I speak spanish. And yes, much better than Google.)

Noted. :wink:

 

17 hours ago, 0111narwhalz said:

wat

New smiley.

17 hours ago, 0111narwhalz said:

Really? I didn't realise that was a tie-in. It flowed with the story/plot pretty well.

Might have been more obvious if I'd actually released the whole "Haunted Münbase thing" on Halloween instead of a couple weeks after. :/

 

 

And, as always, thanks to @Ten Key :cool:

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Darkness has a foil, and it's light shall pierce the depths.

 

Quote

STACK OVERFLOW ERROR
UNABLE TO READ FROM ADDRESS 00F90000
DIVIDE BY ZERO, DOES NOT COMPUTE
VALENTINA.EXE HAS STOPPED WORKING
ABORT, RETRY, FAIL?

Oh, and Valentina.exe does not have the lib file for the term 'Fail.'

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