Thursday, September 12, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p16): Dirt

It never takes me long to set things up. The model projector Aldaris has is a pretty good one, easy to work with, and it was already plugged into an outlet outside the stranger's house. I felt bad, though. The projector, as wells as all that random stuff that got beamed up on Charlie's ship, had to have come from somewhere. I just hoped that he didn't take anything important from someone that's poor. I made the mistake of looking back at Charlie as I thought of this.

"Bethany." growled the massive Protoss sitting behind me. "I thought I told you not to ascribe to me that human name."

"I didn't say it. I was just thinking about it."

"There is little difference. " he retorted. "Would you enjoy it if I replaced yours?"

"Are you kidding me? I'd love a Protoss name! That would be so cute! I...."

I turned back to get his reaction, and that was a mistake. What greeted me was the most crinkled, ugly face I'd ever seen, and for a moment it looked like Aldaris would sic the dog on me. I laughed out loud.

"Don't take it so seriously." my laughing didn't help, but it took a minute for me to settle down. "Charlie's just what us conspirators call you when we're talking on the internet, so that just in case someone gets hold of our chat records, they have no idea what we're talking about. It's just a nickname. Besides, replacing my name wouldn't be so bad. 'Bethany' means house of poverty."

"Maiasha N'Gukhol I'n." Aldaris murmured. "That is not quite catchy."

"Huh? What was that supposed to be?"

"Your Protoss name. 'House of poverty'. I hope you like it."

I turned and stared at him. "Charlie, why're you dang so mean?"

"Am I more cruel than your parents? Activate Starcraft. Your nonsensical conversation tries my patience."

And I did. As you recall, the Terran missions of Brood War are all about the United Earth Directorate, where they're trying to take down Mengsk. The missions introduced Duran, and the psi disruptor gets "destroyed" by Stukov. All through this, Aldaris is silent. I glanced back a few times, and he just sat there, seemingly more interested in just messing with the dog. He watched the game, but it got no reaction out of him whatsoever. It wasn't until I got to the mission where we go after Emperor Mengsk that he finally spoke.

"This is quite dull." Aldaris rather loudly, which is a weird sensation for someone who doesn't speak audibly. He shoved the dog off his lap and slumped back in his seat like a tired child ready to leave a movie theater. "More dull than the parts before it."

"I don't remember you being bored watching the Protoss missions." I chuckled. "But yeah, it's just that all the real plot is with the Protoss and the Zerg at the moment."

"That much is certain. Perhaps it is a false hope considering that the Protoss missions have finished, but shall I learn much more of the condition of the Protoss?"

Power Overwheming is such a good cheat. It's really handy when the game tries to nuke them all and you're on a run to make the plot go by as fast as possible. I directed these survivors to Mengsk's command center as I answered Charlie's question.

"Not that much, but terribly important things." I said. "Like what happens to the Matriarch for example."


"Y'know, Raszagal."

"Ah yes, I had forgotten. We did not refer to her with a human word, and in fact do not use many of the human words which describe the Protoss in this game."

"Oh? So you're not really a Judicator?"

"You may as well refer to me in that manner. The Protoss word for my caste is similar enough."

"So what is that Protoss word?"

The fake, invincible troops on screen could destroy a command center without my help, so I went ahead and turned to look when Aldaris didn't answer. All I got was the blank stare of his rather gingerbreadman-looking eyes.

"I'm not getting an answer to that, am I?"

"You have completed the objective." Aldaris pointed to the screen. "I wish to see what will happen."

Well, nothing I could do about that. Back to the screen, I guess. To be fair, watching Raynor save Mengsk is one of the more bizarre and interesting scenes in Starcraft. I tried not to turn and look at Aldaris again. He doesn't like it when I try and see his reaction to things. He hasn't come out and said as much, but with Toss, does he really have to? All the same, I could only imagine how his features torqued at watching that utterly obtuse moment when Raynor comes in and saves the person primarily responsible for all the bullcrap that's happened to him in the past game.

Giving in to my curiousity, I turned back to find that Aldaris wasn't reacting at all, at least not outwardly. Charlie was just sitting there, his fingers clutched together thoughtfully at his chin. He continued to be thoughtfully silent throughout all the rest of the Terran campaign. At that point, I had to admit I was starting to get bored. It's more than a little nerve-wracking to show someone their home universe with them brooding behind you, and honestly, sometimes some of Aldaris' outbursts are pretty dang hilarious. When playing Starcraft with nothing more than a silent, brooding giant behind you...that's really something pretty creepy. But hey, I said I'd play the game, and play I did.

"Wait." Aldaris finally said. "Dugalle only learns of Kerrigan's existence at the end of it all?"

"Yep." I nodded.

"Then what exactly does the Earth Directorate know when it comes to the Koprullu Sector?" Aldaris leaned his head on his hand. "Their plans were entirely foolish, if they knew nothing of her. Perhaps there were many things they did not understand about the war. Had they more plans than simply domineering the Terrans of the sector?"

"Not that I know of." I said. "Though they're not Terrans."

"Who? DuGalle and the UED?"

"No, everybody in the K Sector. They're not from Terra, so they're not Terrans."

"And where exactly is this 'Terra'?"

I laughed. "You're sittin' on it, Charlie."

Aldaris paused a moment, giving me an odd look as though I was lying to him. "I was led to believe that your planet was called 'Earth'."

"That's the same thing as Terra, just in english instead of latin." I nodded. "They both mean the same thing."

"And that is?"

I kicked at the ground to emphasize my point, but it didn't really work because I was still on the concrete patio. "Dirt."

"Dirt?" Aldaris exclaimed. "The very ground you walk upon?"

"Yeah. Hence something is 'unearthed' if it gets dug up from the ground. I think it's supposed to be a reference to a goddess of the harvest, or of the Biblical reference to us being made out of dirt. Or that this is the only planet in the solar system that supports life. Or all three at once. Though I have to say that my favorite name for the planet is 'Thulcandra'. It's not official, but it's cool sounding. It means 'the silent planet'. It's a concept C. S. Lewis came up with in his space trilogy when the spirits quarantined the spirits of Earth because they had started a war with the spirits of Mars, or that is, Malacandra."

"As much as you enjoy filling the air with these inane ramblings," Aldaris said. "I much prefer that you cease attempting to make yourself sound intelligent and continue with Starcraft until its completion."

"And I will! As soon as I have a bathroom break." I got up from my chair, though paused before heading to the back doors of the house. "Hey wait, that door probably is locked, isn't it?"

"No. It is open."

I raised an eyebrow. Well, I tried to raise an eyebrow, but I can't raise one without raising the other. It's very undramatic. "Um, how did you arrange that?

"Why do you insist upon asking questions when you do not desire the answers?"

"I dunno, maybe there's something wrong with me. I've been acting funny ever since I started hanging out with this weirdo alien guy."

I scooted in through the doors before Aldaris could reply. Oh wait, since he's not dependant on sound waves, I guess he didn't want to comment. Anyway, the guy Kensley had a nice house. I mean, aside from the fact his muddy boots were in the middle of the kitchen and there was a pile of dishes in the sink to rival any bachelor, the kitchen looked almost like one of those catalog models with the nice black tile counters and built-in island. It sure didn't smell like a model, but fortunately the smell of the kitchen didn't carry too far, and I was able to escape it once I scooted out through a dining room.

The living room was in front of me, but I instead went to the right down the hall to the bathroom. A cranky Protoss was waiting on me, and it's weird to poke around strangers' houses. Crap, first consorting with aliens, and now breaking and entering. This situation is really starting to get out of hand.

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