Thursday, April 3, 2014

Me and Aldaris (p29): Secrets

It has been a hell of a week.  First my sister has to move into my apartment for a bit, and since she has two boisterous boys and I'm their Auntie Fluff, well, let's just say that not a lot of work has been getting done on my part.  Hide and seek doesn't work in an apartment this small, and that's not counting my sister's stuff everywhere.  Then Dad gets in a wreck, making this possibly one of the most stressful weekends ever.  Thankfully he's okay, but I'm getting pretty sick of all this crap happening to my family.  Where do I go to get a vacation from life?

At this point, though, I'm just grateful for having a vacation from my auntly duties.  I love my boys, but sometimes I have to do my homework.  Today, though, they moved into their new apartment, and now that my sister's boxes are out of the way, I can clear a path through my own (hey, remember my house burnt down just a week ago) and set up my computer in the "dining room" corner.

"Man, I love my box fort.  I sure hope I'm not too old for them."  I sat on the floor, plugging my laptop into the wall.  My coffee, far enough away not to threaten my precious mechanical baby, was the right temperature, and as I pushed the power button, I knew I was in nerd paradise.  I took a sip.  "Mmm.  Now let's see if we can't get some stuff done.  Tax homework ain't gonna do itself!"

I should have known.  The by now very familiar blue arms of the recall pulled me up, and the next thing I know I'm on Aldaris' ship, staring at the back of a very surprised alien monster.

"Son of a bleep!" I immediately snapped.  "Dang it, Charlie, I thought you were going to fix the teleporter!"

Evidently I said the wrong thing.  Aldaris whirled around, and to see me there you'd've thought he was staring at a burning effigy of Khas for how dang offended he was.  He scowled at me with all the force of his centuries, and the wrinkles in his face...actually, when had the wrinkles in his face ever been that deep?  Sure, Charlie's a reptile (kinda), but he's looking pretty careworn.  Not that he hasn't had reason to be stressed, but...okay, normally Aldaris is a lot darker than that.  More of a tree bark shade than week-old chocolate.  I think.

"Is something wrong?" I asked, stupidly.  "You look-"

"Do not speak if you wish to live."  Aldaris continued glaring, and his hand hovered a moment above his controls.  He hesitated just a second, and then flicked his fingers.  When the blue stuff went up again (seriously, I've got to ask him what that is), I expected to be back home again.  Only I wasn't.  This time it was back to the Kensley's.  Now I really wonder if Aldaris did something to him.  It's been months...

Aldaris zapped in too, and in the light of day, he looked even worse -- seriously, why is his ship so dim? -- and unless my eyes were tricking me, it almost seemed like little bits of his scales were starting to flake off.  I didn't get a good look, though.  Aldaris, the deadly of his eyes growing despite his skin, still focused on me.

"Are you still here?"

Nerd girl ain't stupid.


I immediately turned away and went for the house, shutting both the sliding doors and the curtains behind me. Curious as I was, there's only so far you can go to ask question of a Judicator.  Apparently.  So now, instead of doing my much delayed and very much overwhelming tax homework (one cannot do taxes without developing a healthy hate of the government), I was trapped in a house I'm not supposed to be in where I know for a fact that the only thing to eat there are several cans of baked beans.

This I swear: I know neither how nor when, but one day I will get my revenge on baked beans.


John Statkus didn't like nonsense.  He liked things to be straightforward and uncomplicated, just like in his job rigging the computers as a systems analyst.  Flaws in the system had a way of setting him off, to the point where he couldn't function if there were so much as a minor bug in his way -- Stakus had to spend either the rest of the day working it out, or sweat the whole night while running through scenarios in his mind of how to get it running properly again.

The Protoss in his life was one such bug.  Bethany, the little miss "wait and see what happens", was another. Here they had a dangerous creature watching from the skies with the technology to do any amount of damage to important human facilities with near impunity.  Faith in humanity's ability to resist was only marginally stronger in John's mind than his faith in God, thus forcing him into the position of Earth's sole defender.  Toby, caught up in his delusions of Doctor Who, was no help at all.  And Cheonha....well, she was Cheonha.  So if something was going to be done, it would have to be done by John Harris Statkus.

"Hello, Earth to John."

Statkus blinked.  How long had he been staring at the video camera?  If the thing weren't attached by a thick metal wire to the counter, someone were bound to think he was stealing it from the store.  Statkus put it down and turned to his girlfriend, a wiry blonde whose bracelet-bearing hand rested right on the hip of her designer jeans.  Tanya, though skewing her face with a doubtful look, melted John's inner debate and brought him back into the here and now.  He smiled at her.

"Sorry." he said.  "I guess I didn't realize cameras were this interesting."

"They're not." Tanya said flatly.  "I didn't come with you to mall to spend the last day before your business trip looking for some camera.  You're not setting it up in the bedroom, either."

"I wasn't thinking about that."  Statkus frowned.  For all her good qualities, Tanya had some rather absurd assumptions about men.  "I just want a camera for trips and things."

"Yeah, whatever." Tanya tugged her purse strap higher on her shoulder and turned to the cameras.  "I don't know, just that takes both pictures and video.  It's a waste of money to get both a camera and a video camera."

"Says the person with the five hundred dollar purse."

"That's right.  I believe in prioritizing spending." Tanya playfully flicked John in the chin.  "Shooting pictures takes time away from making real memories.  You never seemed all that sentimental before."

"I'm not."  John took Tanya's hand and led her out of the electronics department.  "I just think a camera might be handy to have around.  Now come on, it's almost time for you to go to work.  New York & Company isn't going to sell itself."

The girlfriend willingly and reluctantly let Statkus pull her away.  "Fine, but only because this electronic kick you're on is boring.  I get enough of that when you talk about your job.  And I can't believe they're making me work today of all days when tomorrow you're going to be gone."

"Gone for the weekend.  It's not like I'm getting deployed."

"I know.  Johnny, just so you know, if you ever join the military, I'm breaking up with you."

"I'd break up with me too.  Now relax, have a good time at work, and I'll see you tonight."

The electronics department was only empty for ten minutes.  Five, if you count a child wandering in to look at the riding lawn mowers.  It wasn't long, however, before Statkus returned.  He perused the cameras for almost half an hour more, before settling for one.  Sure, it was a bit out of his price range, but Statkus always hated those foggy pictures that "proved" Bigfoot or Nessie.  He was more professional than that.

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