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


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On Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 7:56 PM, vsully said:

Ew, a tooth-monster. Is that a reference to Resident Evil? Also, were any of the songs references? If so, I missed them all :( References aside, great chapter, as always!

Sounded like something straigh outta dungeon dimensions. Except those teeth were good for hurting the victim more than their owner.

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So, subject to change without notice, I present the Official Unofficial Nonmotion-Literature Soundtrack :D

Running time: flarp if I know anymore, I added to it. <_<

1. National Anthem of the Ussari Union
(National Anthem of the USSR)

2. Traditional Ussari Naval Hymn
(Hymn to Red October - Basil Poledouris)

3. Winds of Change - Solpugids 
(Scorpions)

4. Traditional Patriotic March (doubletime extended version)
(John Williams - does this really need an explanation??)

5. Why Don't You Do Right? - Lolli Kerman
(Jaclyn Haydamacha)

6. Ballrom Blitz - The Sweet

7. Do You Wanna Build A - *thump* *thud* NO!
(Kristen Anderson-Lopez/Robert Lopez)

8. Rock You Like a Hurricane - Burdous Kerman
(Scorpions)

9. Bouncy Modern Pop Song Based on Inscription Found On Old Statue Plinth - Unknown Foreign Boy Band
(Dragostea Din Tei - O-Zone [The Numa Numa song])

10. Hello Mah Baby - Random Frog
(Walk quickly, protect face)

11. Valentina's Pulse
(Stayin' Alive - Three Guys Just Kicked in the Jimmies)

12. I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That) - Random Technician/Lolli Kerman
(Eddie)

13. I Will Survive - Jerdous Kerman
(Gloria Gaynor)

14. Gimmie Some Lovin' - Spencer Davis Group

15. Iron Eagle (Never Say Die) - King Kobra

16. Winds of Change (Reprise) - Valentina Kerman
(Scorpions in really bad Russian)

17. Random Triumphant Anthem from out of Nowhere
(Top Gun Anthem - Harold Faltermeyer)

18. Anna's Lullaby - Instrumental Extended
(Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold - Heather Scott/STL Ocarina)

19. Paint it, Black - The Rolling Stones

20. Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival

21. War - Edwin Starr

22. Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash

23. Sympathy for the Devil - The Rolling Stones

24. We Gotta Get Out of this Place - The Animals

25: Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult

26: The Sound of Silence - Disturbed
(Originally Simon & Garfunkel)

27: Magic Carpet Ride - Steppenwolf

28: Imperial Requiem
(Nasicaä Reqium - Joe Hisaishi/Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä)

 

 

... And now to await the chorus of, "wait, where was that??:D

Quite the list here, including possibly the best music video ever, and probably the worst music video ever. Probably missed a couple too. Presented below in a convenient YouTube playlist.

Now, if only I could get John Williams to compose a fittingly somber closing theme... 

 

 

 

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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45 minutes ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

9. Bouncy Modern Pop Song Based on Inscription Found On Old Statue Plinth - Unknown Foreign Boy Band
(Dragostea Din Tei - O-Zone [The Numa Numa song])

 

Ouch! That one hurt!!

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What a great idea! Managed to match most of them up to a point in the story (even No. 6 :) ) - which just gives me an excuse to re-read it all and do a more thorough job!

Seriously tempted to do something similar for First Flight - but not until the next chapter is finished. :)

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18 hours ago, KSK said:

What a great idea! Managed to match most of them up to a point in the story (even No. 6 :) ) - which just gives me an excuse to re-read it all and do a more thorough job!

 

Plz excuse all the cringe-worthy typos I've missed, of the ones I've found are any indication. :blush:

 

18 hours ago, KSK said:

Seriously tempted to do something similar for First Flight - but not until the next chapter is finished. :)

You should definitely do that. There's something very meta about the written word having a soundtrack of videos. :D

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Chapter 94: Down the Smeerp Hole

The jungle just seemed to drop away. Two, maybe three hundred meters straight down. The Converter seemed to drop, too, hitting an eddy of turbulence no doubt kicked up by the sheer face of the cliff wall. Below, stunted trees and other vegetation sprouted from between enormous, ragged boulders. The far edge of the depression, rising back up in a wall of pale stone, looked several kilometers away. Overhead, an enormous cloud lingered, despite the otherwise clear day. The formation turned parallel to the cliff face, descending slowly. 

Valentina stared in awe for a long time, and had to will her mouth into motion, "this... this is volcanic caldera, yes?"

Reginald grinned... and wiped, "close, you're on the right track, really. Welcome to the site of the largest prompt-critical excursion the world has ever seen."

She gaped at him, "a nuclear explosion?!"

"Impressive, isn't it?"

"How... how does no one know of this? How can this even be?" she said, turning back to the open doorway. 

"Well, it happened in Cerima, for one. And it was a very long time ago. The world had... other concerns."

"How long?"

"A few hundred years. I'm afraid that's as precise as our researchers can date it. The rock strata are badly pulverized and even the carbon signatures have been metamorphosed by the radiation. The best we can place it is somewhere around the time of the Ceriman Crisis that heralded the fall of the Ussari Empire."

Valentina shook her head, trying to make sense of it all, "that is...  not possible. The technology..."

"Still doesn't exist," Reginald's grin grew wider, and he'd even forgotten to wipe, "This was a natural event." He turned back toward the doorway, speaking with the same fervor she'd seen not long ago, "the geology in this area is absolutely unique. There was a massive blutonium deposit a few kilometers down. Exceptionally concentrated to begin with. Much of it is still there, it's provided a handy fuel source for us. Below that was an even bigger deposit of heavy hydrocarbons, ancient asphalt and the like, all capped off by a thick layer sandstone."

The Converter leveled off, still flying a slowly circling course next to the wall of the depression, "that allowed water to percolate down from the surface and infiltrate the blutonium ore. Once there was enough, the water began to act as a neutron modulator, reflecting free neutrons from naturally decaying blutonium486 back into the mass and starting more fission events, essentially creating a natural atomic chain-reaction. Didn't get very hot, only a few hundred degrees, but enough to boil the water away until the reaction ceased. The material cooled, the water eventually returned, and cycle began all over again on the order of every few hours. 

"Now as I'm sure you know, what with your engineering background, that blutonium oxide becomes highly soluble when exposed to high pressure steam. This caused a large portion of the vein to slowly dissolve, leaving behind the heavier fission products —uranium, plutonium, kleptogartium, etc— while the blutonium migrated upwards until it deposited and crystallized. This all went on for millennia, forming a lens-shaped chamber alternately filled with water and steam, and lined with nearly pure blutonium on the 'roof' and all sorts of fissile materials on the 'floor.' Eventually the water table changed, and it all drained away, leaving the cavern unsupported. It was only a matter of time until it collapsed."

It took Valentina a few blank-faced moments to truly appreciate the implications. 

Reginald didn't wait, "several tons of mildly enriched blutonium, backed by several thousand tons of rock, slammed into several more tons of fissile material, all sitting on a bed of extremely dense hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are also an effective neutron modulator, I'm sure you know. What followed was a very interestingly non-linear feedback loop. Our scientists estimate the blast was on the order of several gigatons."

"How... how big..." she managed, pointing off towards the far rim.

"Two point eight kilometers, on average. It's not quite a perfect circle. The reaction was almost entirely contained. It vaporized several cubic kilometers of rock instantly, leaving a large steam-filled void below ground that collapsed into this subsidence crater. 

"The surrounding wall is absolutely sheer and unbroken, and this incredible microcosm is the result. Plants can get down here easily enough, even if they don't grow well since the soil has yet to reestablish itself. Birds, of course, flying things, even small creatures can survive the trip down, though those can never leave. The larger fauna, however..."

He didn't need to expound. As they flew low over the scrub-jungle, just beyond the wide piles of scree at the base of the wall cliffs, she could see the scattered, bleached bones of enormous things, again with more determination than brainpower. Even all those teeth couldn't help them. 

"The locals won't come within 50 kilometers of the place," Reginald went on, his face gleaming with more than just sweat, "they think it's cursed. Or haunted. Or that anyone who does come never returns. We do our best to maintain these fallacies, of course." He pointed up to the roiling cloud above, "the unique topography creates this eternal cloud. The sun breaks through, occasionally, but satellites can't see what's here. The residual radiation scrambles infrared sensors, too. And no one would be foolish enough to try to come on foot. It's the perfect location, a great big hole on the map that no one really cares to fill in."

About this time, the radio flashed with static, and a voice with just a slight Krünian accent came on, "victor one-niner, ident complete, you are cleared inbound for landing on pad three." There was no acknowledgement, the pilot simply turned away from the rim, toward the center of the crater. As the wing dipped, Valentina caught a slight glint of metal, buried down in the undergrowth. She came to the cold realization that this odd little flight pattern hadn't been a sightseeing circuit at all. She knew she couldn't see them, radar receivers, infrared detectors, laser designators... not with all this cover. Or the batteries themselves. She didn't want to think about the details, but suspected any aircraft blundering into the area might suddenly "disappear" at the hands of "Cerimans."

The Converter skimmed out over the trees to the middle of the crater, and then... just sort of... stopped. It hovered there for a moment before descending straight down.

"Are... are we going to land in the jungle?" Valentina asked with apprehension. Below, she could see nothing but intertwined greenery, certainly no space for an aircraft. 

"Just watch," Reginald was practically as giddy as a schoolboy, now. A very large, very round schoolboy... or perhaps several schoolboys in an ill fitting suit. And a small horse.

Right as the wheels were about to disappear into the brush, it seemed to fall away. Not like their original drop over the wall, now the ground was actually moving, swinging down and away as they descended into it. As they passed the point where the ground should have been, Valentina saw that it wasn't ground at all, the network of vines and twisted trees was supported from below by an airy metal truss-work. No, not the ground, but an enormous door. A pair of doors. 

The Converter continued alone into a darkness deeper than anything Valentina had seen before. At least on this planet. The changing pitch of the engines announced they had entered some sort of cavern; there were floodlights on the trusses overhead as the doors swung closed, but it was as if something swallowing the light, consuming it. 

Across the cabin, Reginald looked near to bursting, sweat running off his face unheeded, "unsettling, isn't it?"

All Valentina could manage was a nod.

"Always is, the first time seeing it. The walls are solid obsidian, covered in a layer of carbon graphene. It's incredibly strong. Took us a couple of years just to figure out how to tunnel through it. Easily shrugs off repeated rocket launches, with proper exhaust venting."

She wasn't sure when the headache had come back, or indeed if it had ever left. The fat, sweaty Kerb was practically beside himself with glee. He must enjoy seeing the shock on every new face he brought in like this. 

He continued without slowing, "as I said, the initial blast was almost entirely contained. There was a high-pressure vent of condensing rock through this space, like the rebounding jet of fluid when you drop a big rock into water. The sudden release of pressure caused molten rock to solidify nearly instantly, leaving this half-kilometer wide channel, and..."

His voice drained away. Valentina had felt the Converter shift, going into a slow, sinking spiral. Now, she could see what was below, lit up by a legion of floodlights. It was an odd sort of dichotomy; her brain put the pieces together at once, yet at the same time refused to accept any of it. This... this was a missile silo.

The launch towers were in the center. Not one, but three, arranged back-to-back in a triangle surrounding a pillar of concrete. As their craft neared, circling, she could see one tower covered in dirt and soot from a recent launch. The next held an unmistakable rocket — a KSA Colossus-class lifter. The third was empty, too, but she recognized the hardware. Only one launch vehicle used that odd arrangement of clamps and umbilicals. This pad was designed to support the enormous, asymmetrical Urugan.

She didn't need Reginald's constant droning to put together the rest of the details. Rockets were assembled horizontally in yawning bunkers drilled into the walls. She could see one just there, half hidden by partially closed blast doors. Beyond those bunkers must be a warren of tunnels and support stations. Once assembled, the vehicles were rolled out on rails and erected on the pads. Giant concrete shields that looked like protruding teeth could then slid in from side tracks, covering each pad by itself and protecting it while another launched. 

It was incredible... the whole place felt surreal... then she remembered the hidden weapons in the jungle above, and it felt all too real. A facility like this could support a launch every few days, maybe every few hours

But... to do that, there should be a flurry of activity down here. Where was everyone?

She turned to Reginald to ask, only to realize that at some point, he'd stopped talking. He'd gone deathly pale again. She followed his eyes toward the pad they were descending to, and here there were people. Armed people. Valentina felt herself lighten a few shades as well. 

Did... did they know? Had she been compromised? Or had this whole thing been a setup from the start? Looking to the others in the plane, they seemed as confused as she, yet the pilot never deviated from his course. The Converter set down with a slight thump, the engines immediately spooling down. 

Well, whatever is coming, better to face it head on. Valentina hopped out of the aircraft. A prudent distance away was a group of uniformed Kerbals. There were no torn shirts or big silly rifles here. No, these were very serious-looking Kerbs with very serious-looking rifles. A tall one with high-and-tight cropped grey hair and a face that looked chiseled from stone stalked up to her... and gave her the most precise salute she had ever seen. 

"Captain Kermanova, I presume?" he spoke with a frenetic Kleptogarti accent that made it sound like he was shouting even when he wasn't. Caught more than a little off guard, Valentina returned the salute but couldn't quite get a response out. He didn't seem to notice.

"Welcome to the Hole, ma'am," he said with exactly the proper amount of respect for addressing an officer of equal rank from another service, "Colonel Miles Keritch, Chief of Security. This operation is greatly in need of just the kind of discipline and professionalism I am sure you will bring." Then he rounded on Reginald, who had waddled over at some point and just opened his mouth to speak, "and you... the Boss wants to see you." Reginald closed his mouth very quickly. Then the Colonel turned to Igor, who had also wandered over, "and you..." confusion bloomed on his face, the kind of confusion that comes when one is not accustomed to being confused, "I wasn't expecting you. I am not sure what to do with you yet, but I will get back to you on that shortly."

Igor rumbled. 

"Colonel, what is the meaning of this?" Reginald broke in, "where is everyone?"

"This facility was placed on a Level-2 Priority lockdown as of fourteen hundred hours this afternoon," he snapped back.

Reginald's color drained away once more, "oh... oh my... did... did something get in?" He gasped, clapping a hand to his mouth. His voice went up several octaves, "did... did something get... out?!"

"I am not at liberty to say," the Colonel boomed, then leaned in close, "I have already registered my reservations on the situation. This is exactly the kind of out-standing clusterplotz you will get from trying to weaponize RatSquirrelFish." 

Reginald Montgomery Keswick Kerman the Third rapidly turned a whiter shade of pale.

The Colonel left him to drip and turned the group of Cerimans. Underwear had just removed the rattling bin from the plane and was approaching with a hopeful look. Keritch shook his head, and addressed Bill, who made that little gesture on his forehead again, "I'm afraid that will have to wait, Sergeant. I want this aircraft wheels-up in five minutes, and get your butts back to the IP," he glanced to the pilot, "pass it on."

Bill didn't have to. Again to his credit, the pilot hopped right back in his seat and began throwing switches. Bill barked some orders and herded the other two back into the Converter. Underwear looked truly crestfallen. 

"Is... there a problem, Colonel?" Valentina asked. 

"Not at all ma'am, I assure you I have the situation well under control. But right now the safest place for you to be is in your quarters. Corporal!" One of the other very serious-looking Kerbals strode forward and saluted, "Corporal Hickey, here, will escort you through the lower utility tunnels and warehouse to the dormitories."

Igor moved closer, and rumbled. Did... it seem like his vocal prowess had gotten even worse, lately?

The Colonel looked him up and down for a moment, "now, son, you look like a Kerb who is trained and experienced at extracting high-value targets from unsat situations, am I right?" Igor's eye... bulges went up. "Out-standing. You are exactly the kind of heavy support I need to get this dripping waste of chow up to the command deck," he stuck a thumb at Reginald. 

Igor rumbled again, and stepped closer to Valentina. 

Keritch's eyes narrowed just slightly, "now, soldier, I understand you probably have orders, and so do I. Right now I am the ranking officer at this facility and there is a certain martial precedent in play, here."

Not this again... Valentina placed a hand on Igor's trunk-like arm, "I will be fine. Best to do as he says," her eyes flicked to the Colonel, "we are all on the same team, after all."

He grinned a perfect set of teeth, "out-standing. Now, I am not a Kerb opposed to compromise," then he unclipped a huge holstered pistol from his belt and handed it to her, "I trust you are familiar with one of these?"

Um...

Well... teeeeeechnically. She qualified on the range when she had to, they always used to keep one in the survival kit in the capsule, but...

"No, I can see that you are not," his eyes twitched in what must pass for a roll, and unholstered the monstrous thing to demonstrate, "grip safety... trigger safety... point-and-click! You've got ten on deck and one in the pipe, and for flarp's sake keep your booger hook off the bang switch until you see the whites of their beady little eyes!"

Valentina took the thing gingerly, afraid it might bite.

"Out-standing!" the Colonel swung around to his squad, "detail! Escort formation!"

"YES, SIR! huphuphuphuphuphuphuphuphuphup"

"Let's get this fat tub of lard up to Command, I want to be done in time for supper!"

"YES, SIR!"

The group clomped off through an open blast door, with Reginald in the center. For a highly respected liaison, he seemed more like a... prisoner. Or worse.

Corporal Hickey saluted, and nodded down a different corridor, "after you, ma'am," then shouldered his rifle.

Hmm. Reginald might not be the only one. Nothing to do for it now, but go forward. Her senses tight, Valentina walked on, followed by her guard. Just before they disappeared through another blast door, she heard one last track booming from the Converter as the engines came up...

All our times have come...
Here, but now they're gone...

...while unseen in the shadows, a dark figure watched. 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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Out-standing!

Now that, good kerbals, is how you do a secret base! Complete with decorative lampshades:

"Now as I'm sure you know, what with your engineering background..."

Too bad Val isn't a professor. :D And why do I get the feeling that somebody is going to be mildly and humorously insubordinate to Keritch at some point and be invited to look into his eye...

 

Edit. Oh - and 10/10 for the nuclear physics digression. I approve!

Edited by KSK
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On 1/26/2017 at 1:53 AM, vsully said:

 

Aaaaaaand the only song I recognized out of the list was Paint It Black. And the Star Wars music. Still, a cool list. But just where in the story does the Frozen music go?

:huh:

 

It didn't last long... thankfully :D

 

I've added two more to the Soundtrack post, and stuck it to the Contents page. Study hard, and you too will reach... laitinman :wink:

31 minutes ago, KSK said:

Edit. Oh - and 10/10 for the nuclear physics digression. I approve!

...so I was thinking, "Now how the heck do I hide an entire spaceport in a maybe-almost-plausible manner?" Then I got to reading about natural nuclear reactors, and just like splitting an atomic nucleus, one thing led to another... :D

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5 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

trying to weaponize RatSquirrelFish

scary_names.png

This thing is at the top right.

Edited by KAL 9000
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Chapter 95: Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Down they went. And down, and down, and down some more. Down, down, down, in a burning—

PЦTIЙ on these foreigners and their obnoxiously catchy music!

Anyway, they went down. In a disturbingly large freight elevator bigger than most flats in Kermangrad. The walls had passed from smooth obsidian to jumbled, congealed rocks, to something that was quite beyond Valentina's rather limited knowledge of geology. She was certain that at any moment she would start seeing sewer mutants, or dinosaurs, or maybe infernal hellfire. Jimmy Hoffa waved. 

"How deep does this go?" she asked Corporal Hickey.

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am," was the answer. 

"I see." They descended in silence a while longer, the only sound the subtle noise of the motors, "is it much further to the dormitories?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

Hmm. She glanced at him. His face was as blank as a statue, "you must be very good at poker."

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

The corners of her mouth curled into a frown. After another long stretch she tried again, "so... Hickey... that is an unusual name, is it Dachlandish?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am," but this time, the slightest hint of color touched his cheeks. 

Oh, so that's how it is, is it?

The elevator finally bumped to a halt, and the corporal slid the steel mesh door up, "after you, ma'am."

"Oh, so you are at liberty to say that?" Valentina walked on ahead into the expected maze of seemingly random corridors lined with pipes of all sizes, some blowing billowy clouds of steam. Typical. Would it really be so far over the budget to put in some sheetrock, cheap wood paneling, anything? The shadows waited in anticipation. 

She put a hand to her face, "is there anything else you are at liberty to say?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am," his boots clopped along behind on the damp concrete floor. 

Oh, PЦTIЙS ears! "if I guessed something you were at liberty to say, would you say?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"Then what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"How about the ground speed?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"What is the meaning of life?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"What is a woodchuck anyway, is it something like a groundhog?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"Did he see his shadow?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"If a train leaves Kermangrad traveling at one hundred kilometers per hour, and another leaves Kerbelsk traveling at eighty kilometers per hour in the opposite direction, how big of a bang will they make when they meet?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"You must be very fun at parties."

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"Who Let the Dogs Out?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"Do You Know the Way to San Jose?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"War (What is it Good For?)"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"What's the Frequency, Kenneth?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

She rounded on him. He might have been an automaton, for all the feeling he showed, "how about if I just gave you a big wet sloppy kiss, hmm!?"

"I am not at liberty to say, ma'am."

"Gah!" cried Valentina. She turned and started walking again, "you really are quite impossible, do you know that?"

Silence.

"Well, do you?"

Nothing. 

"Oh for PЦTIЙS sake, is the idea of kissing me really that terrible?"

A distant dripping sound. 

"What is the matter," she turned, "cat got your—?" and just caught sight of the corporal's boots disappearing as he was dragged into the shadows. She darted over, but was too late. The poor fellow was gone into the maze of tubing and ductwork. The patter of tiny feet on thin metal, and disturbing squishing noises drifted from within. 

Eyes wide, Valentina backed away, all her senses on overdrive. She drew the pistol... then realized its ridiculousness. She hated these things! Sure, they had their uses, she supposed, but... growing up in the taiga, she much preferred a nice, pointy stick that didn't, when used, announce to everything within a couple of kilometers that dinner was served. With a scowl, she tossed the gun away. Now, to—

BANG!
PING!
PSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

She flailed helplessly as steam from a rupture line blasted her. The whole world disappeared into a shadowy white mist. When she finally found her way out of it, she was left panting and dripping up against a wall of pipes. She couldn't hear, could barely see. Had no idea which way was which, anymore. Cautiously, she crept along the metallic path, trying to look in every direction at once. She'd heard about those things, they came at you from out of nowhere, when you least expect—

A hand wrapped around her mouth and dragged Valentina back into the shadows. 

She fought back, or tried to. This specter seemed to know her every move, her every counter. They struggled there in the darkness, thrashing this way and that. She couldn't even scream! She— 

A light clicked on. 

Valentina threw her arms around her attacker and squeezed with all she had, "Tercella!"

"Shhhhhhhh!" shushed Tercella, "what are you doing here!?" her eyes darted about with apprehension, "this is not a good place..."

Valentina planted her hands on her hips, "I could ask you the same thing."

"I was reassigned," Tercella said with an eye-roll, "they gave me a simple choice: 'disappear' from the world, and come to a place where I could work with the best minds on the planet, with a virtually unlimited budget, and pursue the engine design theories I have always strived for with the goal of a real, working application."

"...or what?" Valentina asked. 

"Or just disappear. As the foreigners say, it was offer I could not refuse. What about you?"

Could... could she trust Tercella?

...trust no one... especially not me...

"Erm, more or less the same," Valentina managed, "but we have to get to safety, the place is on lockdown."

"I know, I started it."

"You... what?"

"Debugging the security mainframe is one of my hobbies," Tercella said matter-of-factly, "it was a simple enough thing to initiate a lockdown so I could find you first, and by the time they figure out what has happened it will just look like Ivan's doing."

"Ivan?" Valentina shook her head, "but... there are things..." she glanced to the shadows, "loose..."

Tercella rolled her eyes again and gave a little grunt, then counted off on her fingers, "there are no weaponized RatSquirrelFishes here. Or venomous tribbles. Or roid-raging Wookiees. Or xenomorphs on Ritalin, or cyborg whales with lasers, or graboid tapeworms, or Daleks with halitosis,  or red herrings," having run out of digits, she added, "and the smeerp is mostly harmless as long as it is fed regularly and kept away from any questing knights errant."

Valentina just blinked.

"Look, this place thrives on misinformation," Tercella smirked, "we regularly give dumps of accurate info to the most well-known conspiracy theorists on the planet," the smirk widened into a grin, "and the louder they shout about it, the more everyone ignores them. It's quite brilliant really. He's quite brilliant," the grin became a wistful smile.

"He? Who, he?" Valentina asked, confused.

Color bloomed in the other Kerbelle's cheeks, "he? Um, er, nothing! No one! Anyway, that's how we keep this place secret." Then after a thought, she added, "well, other than the hypersonic guided missiles, jungle full of giant hungry things, mildly psychotic indigenous population, and friendly benevolent dictator next door." She smiled brightly. 

"So I see," Valentina said with a blank look.

"But still," apprehension crept into Tercella's face, "some people here are very strange. Like, strange strange, not just different. I am beginning to think something is very wrong here. You need to be careful."

"I know. It seems odd that they suddenly need a pilot, from what I have been told."

A very... strange look washed over Tercella, "er, yes. There have been some... irregularities... with the latest revision of the flight software. It is quite revolutionary, but the docking algorithms do not seem to work at all. We are reverting to an older version for the rest of the assembly flights, but the lifeboat is entirely experimental anyway, so the higher ups decided to use it as a testbed for that, too."

"The... lifeboat?" Valentina raised an eye... bulge.

"Yes, that's what you will be flying. Or tagging along with until you are needed," Tercella smirked, "there is a very... strange listing on the cargo manifest, but not even I know everything around here."

"But... the ship is nowhere near completion, yes? Why would it need a lifeboat already?"

Tercella's eyes sparkled just a bit in the dim light, "we are launching the engine components next. Once checked out, short shakedown flights to Minmus or even Duna could come in a few weeks. If all goes well, we will launch with a full crew to Jool before the end of the year. They want one lifeboat docked for a long-term checkout before then."

Duna?! As was becoming tradition, questions stampeded through Valentina's mind. She was just about to ask one when—

"Attention all personnel, attention all personnel," boomed a loudspeaker, "standby to secure from lockdown. Secure will commence in thirty minutes. That is all."

Tercella looked around nervously, "you had better go. I will find you later."

Um...

"What about him?" Valentina jabbed a thumb at where Corporal Hickey was crumbled into a ball off to the side.

"Him? Oh, he will be fine. He will wake up with a splitting headache and no memory of me," Tercella said brightly, then mumbled with a scowl, "wouldn't be the first time, hmph..."

"What?"

"Nothing," she grinned, "I will see that he gets where he needs to be and gets a new nickname, too, grumble grumble."

"Wait, what was that last part?"

"Nothing," Tercella grinned, "please take care of yourself, I meant it when I said this is not a good place. Keep your head down, your eyes open, and do not trust anyone."

"Um... how do I get..."

"Go straight that way past the second blinky light, then go left. You cannot possibly miss the warehouse, the elevator to the main deck is at the far end. Good luck."

They hugged once more before Tercella unceremoniously hiked the unconscious corporal over her shoulder and headed off deeper into the shadows. 

Valentina followed the corridor down past the second blinky light, then turned left as her friend had said. There certainly was no way to miss the warehouse, it was enormous. Possibly bigger than some countries. She walked past row after row of wooden crates stacked as far as she could see. It occurred to her that this would be an ideal place to hide something very important. A an ornate golden box, perhaps, or a maybe special cup, or even—

All the air was driven out of her lungs as a fist slammed into her guts. The elbow caught her cheek on the rebound, bone crunched, and she was swung around and up against a crate so hard that her head smacked into it with a sharp crack. Stars danced across her vision. 

Now an arm pressed up under her chin, choking her. A hand clamped across her mouth, grating her lips against her own teeth. Stars bloomed into blotches and shadows as her vision narrowed. She struggled to focus on a face... she didn't recognize. 

"I've been expecting you," the face whispered, its lips parting into a horrible grin, "he told me, to tell you, 'no more mister nice guy!'"

Valentina's knees gave out, she couldn't move... couldn't scream... all she could see was his horrid, merciless eyes...

...his eyes...

...his eyes...

They dissolved into empty pools of nothing.

Panic took her, but her limbs felt rubbery and lifeless. All at once, she felt it... that creeping, invading sensation of something other slithering across her mind. She couldn't even thrash before it. It writhed, groped, sent its tendrils out and she knew, she knew that this time the madness would come. A tendril found an opening, a tiny, overlooked weakness, forced its way inside... and flooded into her mind... and soul. 

Hello Darkness, my old friend...

 

 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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How long has it been since spaceflight begun? 5 years? 10? Kerbals must be advancing faster than human's did, because these kerbals are bulding the NERVA nuclear engine, possibly the Dawn, ion engine, probably the Rapier. <edit>

Oh sorry, they are building a Warp drive, the only thing that can get to Jool in a few weeks.

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."
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29 minutes ago, Alpha 360 said:

How long has it been since spaceflight begun? 5 years? 10? Kerbals must be advancing faster than human's did, because these kerbals are buling the NERVA nuclear engine, possiblely the Dawn, ion engine, probably the Rapier.

I'm deliberately very vague about time, otherwise the whole thing will rapidly fall apart (or slowly, depending on one's perception of time...-_-) I know from the game that started it all that it's a little over six years from the operational founding of the KSA to abandoning the Münbase... but... are these stock years? 6.4x years? Earth years? It all gets rapidly confusing so you'll just have to nod and take my word for it. 

It's been... "a while" :D

 

In other news, I see that my trusted fake Cyrillic generator no longer exists.    :mad:

PЦTIЙ.

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Oh no, Val! But lifeboat... hmm. So maybe Val actually tagged along with Edgas and Chadvey on their flight to Jool. But I thought that already happened in the timeline. So maybe the evil Kraken-kerbs are trying to send another ship and undo what Edgas did? Maybe give The Kraken some band-aids and rubbing alcohol? A bottle of vodka too, for medical purposes?

Edited by vsully
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13 hours ago, Alpha 360 said:

the only thing that can get to Jool in a few weeks.

Whoops,  missed this...

The engine is based on a fission fragment rocket. With a fusion afterburner. :cool: There's some in-universe detail Here.

8 hours ago, lodger said:

LANGUAGE!

Not anymore, apparently. :mad:

6 hours ago, vsully said:

But I thought that already happened in the timeline

This is all happening during the 3-year lull in Shadows, between abandoning the Münbase and Edgas getting that fateful phone call. 

Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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14 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

She walked past row after row of wooden crates stacked as far as she could see. It occurred to her that this would be an ideal place to hide something very important. A an ornate golden box, perhaps, or a maybe special cup, or even—

Tax reports? I get it now. They think they are involved in or against a conspiracy to release The Kraken, but all that is just an intricate and overly elaborate plot to get a few trinkety artifacts from around the system to the Warehouse. By the Warehouse.

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9 hours ago, monophonic said:

Tax reports? I get it now. They think they are involved in or against a conspiracy to release The Kraken, but all that is just an intricate and overly elaborate plot to get a few trinkety artifacts from around the system to the Warehouse. By the Warehouse.

I was thinking more along the lines of a diadem, maybe a ring or a particularly revealing diary. Beware of the snake though. Never know what you can find pottering around in a warehouse. :) 

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On 2/1/2017 at 1:16 AM, KSK said:

I was thinking more along the lines of a diadem, maybe a ring or a particularly revealing diary. Beware of the snake though. Never know what you can find pottering around in a warehouse. :) 

"Snakes? I hate snakes!"

 

I'm pretty sure it's a reference to the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. But there are so many such trinkets to lose in there! I sometimes wonder if a certain learned medical practisioner might be wandering it's halls looking for a large blue box with a blinking light.

 

"I know I parked it somewhere near here?"

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2 hours ago, Patupi said:

I'm pretty sure it's a reference to the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. But there are so many such trinkets to lose in there! I sometimes wonder if a certain learned medical practisioner might be wandering it's halls looking for a large blue box with a blinking light.

 

"I know I parked it somewhere near here?"

People often mistake him for that kind of doctor. It is always a little awkward when they do that.

The warehouse is definitely that one too. Did you know Syfy did a whole series on that premise alone? It may feel a bit silly at times but there's no point being grown-up if you can't be childish sometimes.

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Citizens of the Ussari Union! You are being lied to! Valentina Kermanova did go to Mün! The explosion was a cover-up! Your government is an oppressive totalitarian regime! You must fight for your freed- 

OH, PЦҐЇЍ! THEY'VE FOUND ME! SAVE YOURS- SҐДLЇЍ'S SШЭДГҰ SФҪҠS! NOT THE RATSQUIRRELFISH! NOOO-

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