Literary Challenge #38 : We'll Always Have New York
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Survivor of Remus
Join Date: Dec 2012
02-07-2013, 05:04 PM
For your reading displeasure, another shameful adventure of Commander Khas Ker'at, ((Inscrutable Bugman of the Future!!!)) and his misanthropic crew. In today's adventure Khas has a feeling!
So now, I present you:
Dice tumbled over the soft green felt, making muted clicking sounds as they bounded.
"Seven," stated a malevolently cheerful, if somewhat muffled, voice. "It seems, Mr, Kaskeratti, that your soul and your moonshine distilleries now belong to me!"
The figure on that side of the table was shrouded in shadows, but strong fins flanked it's ovoid silhouette. The gangster's small derby, perched atop it's mouth, seemed to glow in the harsh, yellow, overhead lighting.
A rough, flat voice grumbled a terse reply. "Over my dead exoskeleton, Hal Capone. I mined those distilleries from the very earth using nothing but sweat, tears, and heavy machinery." Khas' right manipulator limb tightened it's grip on the harpoon gun hidden under the card table.
"Think you'll off me that easy, eh?" Came Hal's smug voice. "I got a gun, too, Kaskeratti. Yeah! It seems we're at a standoff, see?" Khas watched the hat bobble at the top of the fish gangster's head as it's mouth opened and closed.
Khas scowled to himself. The Halibut was a crafty foe indeed. He tightened his finger around the trigger slowly, staring Halibut Capone squarly in his two close-set eyes. Hal Capone returned the look steadily, daring Khas to make his move. It was a tense moment indeed.
Suddenly the door burst open and two suited shrimp with Thompson subacquatic machine-harpoon guns aimed their fearsome weapons at the card-playing duo. With a nod of understanding Khas kicked the table over as Hal brought his own weapon up, and prepared to open fire.
The simulation paused as Khas' hidden commbadge chimed.
"Khas." He grumbled, like he always did.
"Cap'n! We got a thing on sensors! It's sort of an anomaly. Or an anemone. Certainly an anomalous anemone at any rate. Might wanna scoot up." The voice was also malevolently chipper, though decidedly feminine.
"Acknowledged, Lieutenant Tarayl. As always your lack of formality sickens me. I will be up momentarily." Khas sighed, blowing a suppurating breath out of his cranial oxygen/carbon exchange vents and ended the program.
Khas shambled gracelessly onto the bridge. Lieutenant Commander Shanda, his tall, slim Andorian First Officer stood up from the captain's chair to make room for him.
"Did we interrupt anything important, Captain" Shanda asked with a smirk.
"It was a terrible simulation, Lieutenant Commander. Who would bother to create a scenario where one dwells within a sub-aquatic pineapple?"
"It takes all kinds, sir." said Shanda diplomatically. That was one of her favorite holoprograms.
Khas turned his chitin-plated head towards Tarayl. "Put it on the main screen, Lieutenant, and give me your analysis."
It took Khas a few moments to make any sense of what he was seeing. It appeared as though the background image of stars was rippling at first, but as he continued to stare, he could see that it was more like something was curving space right there in front of his eyes. The shape was something like a hundred writhing tentacles pressing and struggling against a thin sheet of plastic. Most of the crew couldn't bear to stare at it for long and just seeing it gave Khas a headache. Tarayl simply watched with rapt fascination as she described the sensor readings.
"Not sure, sir. Subspace emissions are going wild in the area, though. I'm getting Chronitons, gravitons, even phlogistons. Something's definitely stirring up subspace right there. Doesn't match anything in Starfleet Records, but it seems almost alive, Captain."
"Well, it could pose a hazard to shipping in the area, whatever it is. We might as well give it a look. Raise shields and bring us in. With our luck it will end up being some giant borg-encrusted Romulan supership from the future."
"Could be Q again, sir." Shanda added thoughtfully.
Khas's eternal scowl deepened. "Man. Screw that guy." he intoned.
From up close, the distortion was enormous. Vast, tapered, barely visible structures flexed and moved just at the edge of understanding. Khas had ordered the image off the main screen some time ago, but he was still watching it from the tiny interactive panel on his command chair.
"Still no response to our presence. Scans aren't turning up anything new." Tarayl seemed almost disappointed.
Khas stroked the spikes of chitin jutting from his lower mandible and clacked his dozens of rending teeth together thoughtfully. "Try hailing it on the subspace radio. Perhaps we'll get it's attention that way."
"I'm not sure that's a good idea, Commander" Shanda spoke quietly. Something about that shapeless entity caused her an immense sense of disquiet.
"Noted. If you would, Lieutenant, Tarayl."
Tarayl gave Khas a smile and tapped a virtual button on her interactive console. After a moment, her smile grew strained. "Uh...Captain. I think we got it's attention."
Khas would never be able to make much sense of what happened next. Indeed, today he can't even remember it. There was a sound that came over the ship's comm systems that he felt more than heard. The lights started to flicker. Tarayl said something about enclosing and the ship. Khas remembered himself shouting something about engaging the warp drive and then nothing at all seemed to happen for a very, very long time.
When Khas awoke next he was very disoriented. He rolled over onto his belly and found the action took an inordinate amount of effort. He hauled the forward half of his thorax up on one arm and tapped at his commbadge. His movements felt ponderous and slow.
"This is the Bachelor to the
." It was an old joke to the crew, but he found using it made them feel slightly more at ease about their horrible, anthropo-arachnoid commanding officer. Hopefully, someone on the
USS Bride of Quiet
could hear him.
, here. That you, Commander?" The voice sounded more irritated than concerned.
"Of course it's me, Piper. What's going on up there?" If Lieutenant Piper, the Bride's surly Chief engineer was answering the comms, then things were probably awry.
"Couldn't even begin to tell ya. Half the crew's missing. We found a few of them just floating in space not too far out. They've been...changed. They're mostly dead, of course. Except for Crewman Lovegood. the Holodeck janitor. He seems to be made of living stone and seems quite put out by it."
"He'll get over it. His grim duty has hardened his soul much as the capricious whims of causality have hardened his body. Any idea what happened, Piper?"
"None! I will tell ya that we seem to be in orbit around Sol III of all places, only it's smoggy and there seems to be some wars going on. Chronometer's saying that, based on current star positions, it's about 8:42 pm Greenwich Mean Time, October 3rd, 1940. You're just north of New York City."
"So we've been moved through both time and space?"
"I'm an engineer not a time-space theorist. I mean...I took a few classes, but mostly so I could see a girl, you know? Didn't pay much attention. Tarayl's the one you'll wanna ask that. Uh...she's somewhere nearby. About two kilometers north of you. See if you can't find her. Oh, and be careful about violating causality or the Temporal Prime Directive of whatever. Huh...you know Kirk'll be showing up in a bit."
Khas stood up painfully and his perspective on things changed. There were small creature pointing up at him and hooting in horror. If this was Earth and those were humans... Hrm. Well, this was rather going to be a problem.
"We can pretty much throw all of that out the door. I have already been seen."
"Can't you be more careful, ya terrible bug? If humans from this era saw you, their heads would pop clean off their bodies."
"Piper, silence your meat-hole. I'm close to fifteen meters tall at the moment and in the middle of a large field. Two humans are pointing and hooting at me. This reminds me of being in the Academy. I will find Tarayl. Do what you can to keep the ship running."
Khas looked down at the two humans who had seen him. They were holding each other and were obviously terrified. Khas squatted down awkwardly and looked at them closely.
"Sorry for the interruption. Which way is North?"
They goggled at Khas for a moment in confusion until they heard the word "North." One of the two figures pointed off to Khas' left.
"Thank you. Have a pleasant day." One of them started making those gurggling sounds that humans make when overwhelmed by their horrible, alien emotions. Khas unfolded himself back to his full height again and ambled off towards the North and his missing Science officer.
It didn't take long but Khas was spotted several more times on the way. Humans in smog-spewing conveyences stopped to point and jabber at him. Khas ignored them. He had to find Tarayl. He made his way to a likely copse of trees near where her last transponder signal and was startled when a blindingly-blue light flew up to him unsteadily. Khas blinked one eye, then the other.
"Hey, Listen!" The blue light shouted impatiently. "Captain! We've got a big problem!"
Khas nodded sagely to Tarayl. "Quite."
Khas sat down and spoke quietly with the pixie-ish Lieutenant. Her own form shimmered and had taken on an insectoid sort of appearance that Khas found uncomfortably attractive. "What do you make of things?"
"1940, huh? No good. I think that whatever that...thing...was, it was trying to break in to our reality from somewhere outside. That's the best I can come up with right now. We've been pulled here, probably along with it. Don't even ask me why here and why now. I couldn't begin to tell you, but the passage has screwed with reality something fierce. There's no telling how much damage we've already done to the timeline."
Khas looked up at the helicopter already hovering nearby. "Noted." He rumbled. "How can we get back?"
Tarayl just shrugged her tiny shoulders. Her wings tinkled. "That beasty's probably still around here somewhere, though there's no telling what it looks like. It could be anything. Entering space probably changed it worse than it changed you and I."
"Do you think you could pinpoint it, Lieutenant?"
"I could always try. Might be emitting some exotic particles. I'll need to beam back aboard and get access to the ship's sensors. I'd suggest you go back in with us, but...I don't think you'd fit, Captain."
Khas looked around glumly. He could hear sirens in the distance. "Do so. I'll try to keep myself out of sight as much as I can. Given the tensions of the day, I do not expect to be able to do so."
Tarayl gave Khas a vicious smile and disappeared in a shimmering cloud of science. Khas stood up again and started moving deeper into the farmlands.
Khas had just finished a meal of terminally startled deer when his comm badge chimed.
"Khas" he rumbled, picking a hoof out from between his grey, translucent teeth.
"I think we got something, Captain. The whole region's lighting up with subspace emissions. And by region, I mean the whole bleedin' solar system. Something's distorting reality in a terrible way, like a hand trying to push through a rubber wall. It's stretching from a central point. They can't sense it with the instruments they have here, but we're getting a lot of radio chatter anyway. Seems that...something...is pushing itself up out of the water near a place called Manhattan. Reports say it's big, green, and...er...tentacle-y. About the same size you are, actually."
"What do propose, Lieutenant?"
"I think that's the source of our trouble. All of it. If we can...I don't know...push it back somehow, it might cause space-time to snap back into its proper place. I think that's just the little bit of it that's managed to punch clean into our reality, sir. The place where the emissions are the strongest is right off the coast. Slap that creature back through there and I'll betcha it'll think twice before trying that again."
Khas grumbled, as he always did, and managed to finally dislodge the hoof. "Very well. I am on it. Guide me to his Manhattan place."
It took a few hours to make the trip. The harsh, grating buzz of the helicopters overpowered the panicked caterwauling of the surprised, horrified (and in one case highly aroused) American citizenry. While Khas could make some sense of what they were saying, he didn't realize how much he relied on Starfleet's auto-translate software to make up for his linguistic deficiencies. He'd have to rectify that if... No. When. When he made it back to his proper place and time. His appeals for calm probably sounded like tearing sheet metal to their poor ears anyway. He just hoped he could make it to the human's primary dwelling hive without too much fuss.
This would not be the case.
Khas was greeted by some human military vehicles when he reached the edge of the city. He was impressed by the towering structures across the water, but less so by the hurriedly thrown together defensive position. Someone was squawking at him, but he couldn't make it out. He held up his hands in supplication and slowly squatted down so he could hear the little man a bit more clearly. The human took a step back, but held his own hands up.
Khas very, very slowly tapped his comm badge. "Keep this line open and translate what this man is saying to me."
Piper grunted in reply. "He says "'identify yourself or get blown all to Feckenbach."
Khas had never heard of a town called Feckenbach, but given the needlessly complex history of human linguistics, he didn't question it. "I see. Translate what I say back for him in 20th century English if you would. Do try to make me sound diplomatic."
"Terrible meat-creatures of Earth." Khas said theatrically. He paused as his comm badge broadcast his words into the jibbering mess of ugly consonants that is 20th Century English. "I come to you today in peace. Even now a terrible creature assaults your shoddily-constructed metropolis. I am here to defeat it in the name of Lord America. May your slipshod gods bless the USA."
At those final words the men cheered and the officious-looking one gabbled back at him.
"He says that it's off that way and that he'd appreciate it you could go around the city instead of through. There's a lot of people packed in the streets."
"I will take this monster the same way that Japan will take your nation's navy next year: By surprise."
"You shouldn't have told him that." Piper snerked.
"Whatever. We'll let the time police fix it later. I have to go fight a space monster now."
Khas waded out into the sea. As his legs drug through the grey, briney water he caused great swells to batter the small boats ferrying horrified people off the island. Many of them pointed at him and cried out in horror or delight. Khas couldn't tell any more than he could when it happened to him at the Academy. Humans were such inscrutable creatures. Already primitive combat planes were swarming in to the air. A few of them lined up on him and began swooping down, only to break off without firing. He supposed the officious human at the defensive position was to thank for that. Or not. Either way.
The city really did have its charms, Khas thought. The vast hive-city of the Arch-Genarch on Arkathia couldn't match it for size, even today. Deep in his withered soul, Khas was quietly impressed by the industriousness and banality the humans of this era displayed. For just a moment, he was caught off guard as an enormous green humanoid woman with a curious, spiky forehead loomed on a pedestal ahead. He realized it was the famous Lady Liberty. Khas quietly wondered where Lord Liberty was. Beyond her, however, was a ruined corridor between two towering buildings. The creature had entered there. It was time.
Of course, it's impossible to sneak when you're a giant space bug from the future, but Khas crept as best as he was able to. The interloping entity had manifested itself as en enormous green humanoid. On its back were two great wing-like structures and its head seemed soft and bulbous. Hearing his approach, it turned, revealing a face made of tentacles. It bellowed a challenged in a tongue that made Khas' teeth tingle. Despite being unable to understand the words themselves, Khas was sickeningly aware of the meaning: "I hunger!"
To emphasize it's point, the creature bent down and grabbed an entire group of humans in one of it's tentacled forelimbs. They were carrying a banner that said "Welcome Cth..." or something along those lines, but Khas couldn't read the rest. The banner tumbled to the ground even as its bearers were consumed.
Khas lumbered foreward and slamed his chitinous fist into the creature's squid-like face.
"The Commander's gettin' stuck in!" Piper uttered breathlessly. He tapped a few buttons and a staticky news broadcast from somewhere nearby the fight piped through the bridge's audio relays.
"Jet Johnson here and you won't believe this, folks, but another monster has emerged from the sea! This one's big, black bug-like man, and wearing a uniform of some kind! The green monster's seen it and...OH MY GRACIOUS! The black one's just walloped the first monster something fierce! The two are exchanging blows. My goodness folks, I can't believe my own eyes. Sea monsters fighting right here in Manhattan. Oh, the green one's slammed the black one with some sort of tentacle and sent him reeling into the Empire State building. The black one's back up and charging. HOLY F....Oh...Words fail me folks! These two Titans of the Deep are just destroying downtown. The green one's grabbed the black one's shirt and pulled it off.. ((here, the sound of vomiting can be heard)) The big-man's built...like...like a spider! There's extra legs under there! It's leaping onto the green one now. He's got him and he's dragging him back, back into the sea! Oh my god! Oh my...I'm gonna have to stop drinking, folks. I have no idea what to make of this. The green one's putting up a terrific effort, but the bug monster's pulling steadily back. Waves rock the coast and boats are been sunk by the dozens, but still..."
Piper smiled happily. "That's our monster, eh? Oh, they're gettin' close. Ah, bloody hellfire! He's lost his comm badge. Can anyone think of a way to tell 'im where to go?"
Exhausted, Khas gripped the rubbery Kathy Hulu or whatever it's name was an pushed it under the waves. It continued to bellow profanities that Khas couldn't really hear, but still understood. It was maddening. His head craned around, looking for any obvious sign of the rend in reality he was supposed to drag this beast into, but could find nothing. Khas was starting to lose heart when an actinic lance fell from the sky and turned a few thousand liters of sea water into steam. If Khas were capable of smiling, he would have done so. Instead, he grabbed the weakening monster and dragged it along behind him.
There was a "sproing" of sorts.
Khas blinked. The strange, frightening, writhing mass just disappeared. The rest of the bridge crew looked a bit ill, but glad for it being gone.
"Any idea what just happened, Lieutenant?"
"None, sir. It was there one minute and...now it's gone. I feel a bit strange, honestly. Like my insides just flipped."
"I also feel a great deal of discomfort, but I was certain it was simply gas." Khas replied soberly. "Belay that order to transmit a subspace hail, then. We'll sniff around some more, but if that distortion does not return, we'll need to move on. I wonder what happened to it."
Meanwhile, in a place beyond space and time....
A vast and indescribable being rubbed the tip of its maddeningly huge pseudopod gingerly. It's attempt to burrow into this reality had failed. Again. It's unspeakable bulk pulled away from the ephemeral wall between worlds and it moved on to find easier pickings elsewhere. The wound in timespace even now was rapidly healing itself. The inhabitants of that universe would never know, never possibly remember, just how close to annihilation they had come. Kathy Hulu would try again one day, but for now, they were safe.
Last edited by squatsauce; 02-08-2013 at