Sunday, January 12, 2014

Me and Aldaris (p27): Charlie Said a Naughty Word

Aldaris didn't want to leave his study.  It was nice to simply sit and draw with someone, even if it was a little human dwarfed by his table like a child interfering with the business of adults -- and Aldaris liked no children, much less the interfering ones.  Still, this particular "child" couldn't talk back.  Aldaris missed intelligent conversation very badly, but at least he wouldn't have to put up with any human nonsense.  Still, it was nice to at least have someone to look at his drawings and enjoy them, even if she didn't quite understand what they were.  Cheonha had given up on drawing the face of that woman, and was now trying to copy his summer home drawing.  Aldaris grudgingly admitted to himself that he wanted to see how the copy turned out.

Most of all he didn't want to leave Cheonha in his ship by herself.  Even if the worst she did was look through the rest of his sketches, he didn't want her fingerprints all over everything.  Who knows what that human had already touched with her greasy little fingers?  At least Cheonha was so fearfully polite that she probably wouldn't roam about the ship at will.  Aldaris didn't trust any of the other three even slightly.

No, Aldaris had to risk letting the human have free reign on his ship.  The power loss of the recall unit couldn't be ignored forever.  Aldaris rose from the table and gathered his papers on the far side of the table from where Cheonha sat, leaving behind an ominous emotion so Cheonha wouldn't be tempted.

With that, he vanished from the room, hurrying down the halls.  This ship was his only survival, his only sanctuary from the humans.  And that was assuming that if something went fatally wrong, he could make his way to Earth first.  Neither option appealed to him, and that meant keeping this hunk of metal in orbit.  He passed in a grumpy haze to the main bridge, where he poked about on the controls with impatience.

Aldaris blinked.  Had he been too impatient?  There didn't seem to be any indication of a power leakage at all.  All indicators were at nominal levels, other than the power level still recharging after the massive recall wave.  It was nearing half of its standby power, and still going forward.  At least the solar power conveyer was still operational.

"To recall Cheonha does not require more than half of the recall unit's power."

Aldaris tapped on the screen.  An image of a spherical mechanism appeared, with pipes jutting out at regular intervals.  At each joint where pipe met the sphere the lights shone green: nominal.  Out of a sneaking suspicion, Aldaris very reluctantly checked the recall records.  He saw exactly what he did not want to see: three more recall signatures, each matching the records of previous recalls.  All four humans had not only recalled, but been recalled at different coordinates.

"Venetaris bh'alla iinhuman," Aldaris growled as he slammed the innocent controls.  "Ma'cah irendeenia!"


I was in the cell for over an hour before something happened.  I was starting to lose hope that Aldaris would ever find us, and I'd be stuck in this jail until they decided to move us.  If that's what this place is.  It may just be some room convenient to stick me in.

"Come on, Charlie...." I sent out my thoughts to try and get Aldaris' attention.  I don't know if that works with me not being a psychic, but it wouldn't hurt to try, would it?  "Charlie, I'm right here....Charlie, if you don't get me now, I'm going to start would definitely not want to hear that..."

Suddenly the door banged open.  In came a stern faced Chinese in an important looking uniform -- rule one of communist countries is that the higher in rank you go (until you get to the very highest), the grumpier the reds get.  That's because having rank of any kind in a communist country means you get all the responsibility of the people below you. Not a fun thing to have to deal with. I wasn't too worried, being a Miguk and all, but his timing could have been better.

So instead of getting out of there, I get dragged by out by what I think is a Lieutenant into a sort of interrogation room.  Or at least I assumed that's what it was.  It wasn't more than a windowless cement room with a table in the middle.  Not all that different from where I was before.  Oh crap.  It didn't occur to me until now that maybe there was a recording device somewhere in the building.  Wait, would they have that in a remote village?  It's not like foreigners can suddenly appear in the middle of their country for no reason....outside the influence of the alien in the sky.

Well, in any case, there I was, sitting at a table with my crazy head all a-swirl with ideas with Lieutenant (I'm just guessing his rank) Grump in front of me.  He examined me for a minute, trying to assess me.  I don't know if he picked up anything other than confusion.  My heart sank as I realized that I was going to be stuck here for a long time, and people are going to wonder where the heck I am.  What with my house having been on fire, people are expecting me to be ready to salvage whatever I can from it tomorrow.  I don't know what time it even is back home.

The man sitting before me seemed as confused as I was, concealing it only marginally with a disdainful stare at his prisoner.  It was a moment before he spoke, and when he did so, it was softly, with his chin resting on his hands.  He went straight to the point.

"Who are you?  And why are you in China?"

I stood there dumbfounded.  This was my first experience as a prisoner, and I had nothing to say.  If I were guilty of something, or "guilty" of something that isn't really a crime, I could cultivate the most delicate of bullcrap or craft the fairest of self-righteous rebuttals.  As it was, what could I say?  Sure, John said for me to betray Aldaris, but...I didn't really want to betray him.  But how could I lie?  It's not something I'm talented in.

"Ich verstehe das nicht."  I began, with much hesitation.  "....Wer is das Bad?    Erdbeeren hat kein hutte."

The man interrupted my terrible stream of incoherent german with smack to the table.  "Stop it!  Speak correctly!"

"Freivilliger glaube ich nicht." I said with all the earnesty I could muster.  "Alle....alle meine Freundinen send Dumkopfen kase*!"

With that, Captain (Sargeant?) Grumpy stood up so fast his chair fell.  He left and slammed the door behind him before the chair hit the floor.  A stream of very angry sounding Chinese came from the other side of the door...apparently Sir Grump was just on the other side, ready to get back in and direct more of those angry words at me.  He never got the chance, fortunately.  I can't help but think that maybe he caught a glimpse of the recall unit at work, but it doesn't make any noise, so perhaps he just finished yelling at whoever it was while the recall faded out.

You wouldn't believe how relieved I was to be back on Aldaris' ship again....for the first five seconds.  Everyone was there.  Cheonha and Toby were sitting on the seating in the back, and John was standing at the nearby window.  My first impulse was to go up to them with the relief that nobody was in jail and check on John.  They, however, weren't all that enthusiastic.  I turned around to ask Aldaris what the deal was with them, only to jump out of my skin when I suddenly found him already there, glaring in my face.

"What happened?" he demanded.  "Leave nothing out!"

Pssht.  He really thinks he can talk to me like that?  I folded my arms because that's just no way to let people treat you.  "I'll tell you, just as soon as you calm down."

Bam! It feels like I've been punched in the whole brain, all at the same time.  I crumpled, staggering and barely able to stand on my feet.  For a minute it was as if a bright light shone in my face, and I couldn't see anything.  It was like my brain was stuffed in a jar full of wool, and I couldn't think or understand anything around me.  Someone grabbed my arm and hauled me away from Aldaris.

"Do not force me to do that again." I could barely hear Aldaris as he spoke.  "I do not enjoy dealing with small minds."

I couldn't answer, and just stood there blinking the cotton out of my brain.  My vision cleared up pretty quickly, and it turned out to be Toby leading me to the seating in the back.  He helped me get sat up there next to Cheonha.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

"Yeah." I nodded, blinking a couple more times.  "Actually, I feel fine.  That wears off pretty quick."

"Good." John snorted and shuffled closer to the window, his arms tightly folded.  "I thought it might be worse on you."

"Huh?"  Oh crap, what was Aldaris doing while I was gone?  I glanced over at him, and at the moment our Protoss "friend" was working on the controls doing something.  Apparently he sensed my curiosity, or else he just started talking because we were all together now.  Either way, he kept working at the console as he barked at us.

"The four of you have tried my patience to the last." Aldaris said.  "And now that I have retrieved all of you, I have not the power stored within this vessel to send you each to your separate homes.  You will all be sent together."

"Can we go to Fayetteville?"  I asked.  "I need to-"

"I am not accepting requests, and it is inappropriate of you to ask preference when the others are not considered.  Since I have not the patience to deal with any sort of debate, you will all be inconvenienced.  Prepare yourself to be recalled."

Again with this "prepare yourself" crap.  What does that even mean?  I started to ask Aldaris, but we all got swooped away again.  I'm getting sick of this.  I'm also getting sick of teleporting.  Once we landed on the grass again, I hurled.  Statkus might not have done the same, but even in the dark of the place he landed near enough to see.  He took one look at me and ran for the woods.  He made it halfway there before dumping whatever meal he'd had last.  Poor guy.  I'm glad it was dark, because he was coughing it up pretty loud over there, and I didn't want to see that.

"Ugh, guys, please." Toby snapped a hand on his mouth.  "Urg, the family I stayed with stuffed me full, and I can't watch you two be sick."

"Yogi odee-ehyo?"  Cheonha asked, the only one who seemed unaffected, though I couldn't really tell in the dark.  "Chuwoyo."

"Ne." I answered.  It was pretty cold.  It took a second of looking to answer her question, but the place was familiar enough.  "Ah.  Kensley-eh chibee-ehyo.  We're at the Kensley house, y'all.  It's the place Aldaris took me to show him Starcraft.  The guy who owns it had something happen to his daughter, and he hasn't been here for at least a month.  Well, I'm assuming so since Charlie dropped us off here.  Let's go in.  Kapshida.  I'm pretty sure the door's still unlocked."

"Hey Statkus!" Toby called.  "You alright over there?"

"Yeah." a pale figure shivered his way over past us and plodded to the back door.  "Toby, add breaking and entering to our list of illegal activities.  I'm too cold, sick, and tired to put up with staying out here all night."

"Alright," Toby chirped.  "Four counts!  I forget how many that makes."

Thankfully the door wasn't locked.  Though we were greeted by the stench of accumulated food passing into rot.  It wasn't too bad, but it's like someone went through the place and sprayed it down with the faint smell of browning apples.  Oh, it was the bowl on the counter.  I don't remember seeing that the last time I was here.  Statkus and Toby passed us quickly, but my stomach was doing better so I just stayed by Cheonha.  Why was she being so shy?  Was she always this reluctant to be around the guys?  She let them pass her, with her arms tightly clutching the notebook she held.  Then she stayed by me until we got to the living room.  The living room smelled better, though, more just like stale old house.  Needs a candle.

This is really a strange kind of house to leave abandoned so long.  It's super nice.  The living room was huge, very long.  The door from the from the kitchen was on the narrow side of a rectangular room, so the living room kind of ended up like a very comfortable tunnel.  Heh, a hobbit hole, I guess.  The far wall was long enough to have both a huge stone fireplace and enough room left over for a TV and an entertainment center.  Couches lined the other wall, as well as -- my favorite! -- a nice, comfy brown lounge.  Thankfully, when Statkus decided to plop face first into one of the pieces of furniture, it was a couch and not the lounge.

"So Statkus..." I winced.  "What happened up there?  It really seems like I missed everything."

"Unngh...."  Statkus moved his face from the cushion so he could talk, but the rest of him scooted further into the couch, apparently his new cuccoon.  "Long story short, Aldaris caught me ratting him out."

"What?" I gasped.  "And he let you go?"

"Yeah, I guess so." Stakus touched his still-bandaged head, but chuckled a little.  "Fortunately I don't think the Chinese believed me.  They thought I was delirious.  Hell, I was delirious.  I kept talking about aliens and video games, and they got so mad at me.  I thought they were going to beat me or something, but maybe they felt sorry for me because of my head.  They left me alone, but as soon as they left I get caught by Aldaris.  He did that mind-zap thing on me too...."

Here Statkus stuffed his face back into the couch.  "I feel like crap.  It's cold and I don't want to move."

"Then at least stop aggravating your head wound and sit up." I pulled on Statkus' shoulder.  Seriously, doesn't that hurt him?  "Did the Chinese take care of you?"

"Yeah," Statkus nodded only slightly.  "They, um, put some stuff on it.  I'm not sure what it was, but it smelled anti-septic."

"Mm'kay.  You at all hungry?  I think maybe I can find a box of something in the kitchen."

"Blurgh." Statkus said.  "I don't know what's more disgusting -- eating some guy's old food or sitting here and starving to death."

"Well, if your stomach still hurts, then you should eat something," I glanced over at the kitchen.  "Huh.  I wish we had some kind of dairy product.  Ice cream is best for right after somebody hurls."

"Unngh, can we not talk about it anymore?"

"I'm going outside." Toby announced, putting down the fireplace poker.  "Anyone who's got a chimney probably has some logs for it.  I'll get a fire going for our poor dear injured baby.  If you ladies would fix dinner, the men of the house would appreciate it.  Well, none for me, anyway.  I had lots of food in China."

"What, really?"

"Oh yes.  An old woman and her family took me in.  We had a very nice dinner together."

"You friggin' jerk.  I spent that whole time in jail!"

"I guess I was born under a lucky star." Toby winked as he went out the kitchen door again.  "Be right back."

"Mm'kay, jerk.  Hurry up and build the fire already."

"You haven't got a torch on you, by the way?"

"Nope.  Ain't got a flashlight neither."

"You know what I mean, you troublesome American." Toby paused a minute.  "Oh, I'm in your country without a visa again.  So is Cheonha.  That's two more counts of breaking the law."

"You can drop that joke any time now, Tobs." I pulled open the nearest cabinet.  "C'mon, Cheonha, let's go find some umshik.  Hopefully it's not all rotten."


*Translation of the german: "I don't understand that.  Who is the bathroom?  Strawberries have no hats.  I don't think of volunteers.   All my friends are idiots with cheese."

Yeah, it's been a while since my last class.  I'm not really interested in learning any languages with five ways to say the word "the".

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