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aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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The Approaching Light
« on: March 13, 2019, 05:19:31 AM »
Hi everyone! I've written 10 Darwin's Soldiers stories and 38 Into the Black stories, but I've never written a story for Insane Cafe, the third RP series I participate in...until now!

This story is completely isolated from the Insane Cafe plot, I don't think you'll need any understanding of the RPs in order to read this, other than that my two main characters, Aimee and Shakila, recently emerged from a wormhole missing their short-term memory, and are now recovering on a massive starcraft called the Spire of Winter. (Aimee is a fox with robotic arms, Shakila is a black cat, both were created and originally owned by MrDrake)

I got permission from nick22, GM of Insane Cafe, to write this. Also I want to reiterate: this story is not in any way canon to the Darwin's Soldiers or Into the Black universes. Enjoy!


The vulpine felt a heavy hammering in her head. It was matched with a low humming somewhere to her left. "Wha?" she muttered. She crawled out of her seat. She was in some sort of very small, heavily-damaged spaceship, and her friend was with her. "Shakila," Aimee shook her friend awake. "Where are we?"

"I...don't know," the black cat groaned, nursing a headache Aimee suspected was similar to her own. "I can’t remember...anything..."

Aimee nodded. "This shuttlecraft is shot to hell. How did we get here?" She pressed several buttons on the control panel and the cockpit windshield untinted, letting them see the Spire outside. And the Spire could see them.

‘Unidentified shuttlecraft, this is the RIMCS Spire of Winter.’ A commanding voice echoed through their tiny cockpit. ‘Identify yourselves or be destroyed.’

Aimee felt her blood run cold. "How do we reply?" Shakila asked hurriedly, as her friend started operating the controls.

“One sec!” Aimee snapped, sending a hailing frequency to the larger ship. Or at least trying; the button didn’t seem to be responding. “Comms are down. We need to alert them some other way!” She noticed Shakila try a button that turned off the hallway lights. "Hey, don't go pressing stuff!" Aimee snapped. "What if you shoot missiles at them?"

"Well, if we do nothing they're gonna shoot missiles at us!" Shakila snapped back. Suddenly, as if on cue, Aimee saw the Spire’s point-defense lasers activate. Two deadly beams of light sliced the shuttlecraft to ribbons, barely missing the two girls. With a pair of shrill screams, the two embraced in terror as their fiery wreck plummeted into the ocean--

“--Augh!” Aimee awoke in a cold sweat, abruptly sitting upright in bed.

“Aimee, what is it?” her bunkmate, Shakila, sat up from the other bed. “What’s happening?”

“Nothing…” Aimee sighed, catching her breath and feeling her heartbeat settling down. “Just...bad dreams. Sorry about that.”

Shakila groaned and collapsed back onto her pillow. “Chrissake, Aimee. Took me forever to fall asleep the first time.”

 Aimee glanced over. “You’re having trouble sleeping too, huh?”

Shakila grumbled. “It’s just...so quiet. Nothing but the humming of the ship. It’s the same as it sounded when we woke up on that shuttlecraft. You know, before they shot us out of the sky.”

“Have you been wondering about that too?” Aimee climbed out of bed and crossed to the bathroom to wash her face.

“Not really. We weren’t answering hails, so policy dictates a swift--”

“No, not that part! The part where we were in that shuttlecraft to begin with!” Aimee ran her finger under the tap, waiting for the water to heat up. “Neither of us have any memory of how we got there, and nobody on this ship seems to know either! We straight up disappeared, reappeared just as mysteriously, and nobody cares!”

“Well, what are they supposed to do about it?” Shakila shrugged. “We’re lucky they even took us back. We’re lucky to be alive. I don’t see a choice other than putting it behind us.”

“I didn’t get this far in life by taking mysteries for granted.” Aimee shed her pajamas and turned on the shower. “Maybe you don’t care, but I want to know everything I can. Tomorrow I’m going to ask Captain Carson if I can borrow a shuttlecraft and examine the spot where we went missing.”

“Oh great, because that’s what we need right now. To annoy the captain even more than we already have,” Shakila groaned and covered her head in her pillow. “Well, I hope she says no and then we can move on without wasting any more of everyone’s time.”
« Last Edit: May 02, 2019, 01:49:04 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2019, 06:21:22 PM »
“I can’t believe Stripetail authorized a whole shuttlecraft for this…” Shakila grumbled.

“I can’t believe he let me go with you!” Eric piped up from the copilot’s seat. He was a cheerful junior engineer, the only one willing to spend his shore leave on an unpaid space assignment. “This is so exciting! I wonder what adventures we’ll have?”

“Yeah, this just keeps getting better and better…” Shakila grumbled sarcastically, flashing a sideways glare in Eric’s direction. His optimism had always rubbed her the wrong way.

“You know nobody forced you to come, Shakila.” Aimee stabilized the shuttle to account for some turbulence. After consulting with Stripetail, he’d directed them to the coordinates in space where their shuttlecraft had first disappeared.  “We could hyperjump back, drop you off, and then you can tan on the beach or whatever you were hoping to do instead.”

“God no, I’d rather just get there and get this over with,” the cat yawned. “Plus I have black fur, I don’t think it’s possible for me to tan.”

“I wish I had that power,” Eric nodded sagely. “I spend more than five minutes outside without sunscreen and I turn brighter than a lobster!” He hit some buttons on the dashboard. “We’re approaching the final coordinates of your old wayward craft. Did you ever give it a name, by the way?”

“No, and we’re not about to.” Aimee shuddered; she didn’t want to grace that death trap with a name.

“Well, we need to something to refer to it. How about the SS Nemo? Nemo means ‘nameless.’”

“Uhh, guys?” Shakila interrupted. “Is anyone else’s fur standing on end? I’m not just nervous, am I?”

“No, I’m getting it too.” Aimee felt an electric tingle shoot down her body. It seemed to affect everything except her robotic arms.

“Really? Curious. I don’t feel a thing.” Eric checked his datapad. “Scanning the inside of the shuttle for any anomalies. Perhaps it's the same sensation that causes canines to bark before a thunderstorm.”

“Or perhaps it’s tied to whatever brought our shuttlecraft here in the first place.” Shakila stood up and looked outside. “I don’t see anything unusual out there. Doesn’t help that we picked the most starless chunk of space. Maybe tomorrow we should come back with floodlights.”

“Starless? Stripetail said we’d been returning from a planet when we disappeared.” Aimee looked outside. Indeed, the darkness of an empty sky basked their craft in shadow. “But I don’t see anywhere at all we could have been returning from.”

“This doesn’t seem right...” Eric gulped. “The star maps say we should be just off Nouveau Monde.”

The three looked out at the obsidian sky. “Uh, Spire of Winter? Aimee radioed. “We’re transmitting our coordinates. Can you confirm that these are out of visible range of any planets?”

Negative,” the helmsman replied. “You’re 23million km from Nouveau Monde. Easily within visible range.

“Fascinating…” Eric breathed. “Even if somehow the planet was completely destroyed, we should still see surrounding celestial bodies. We’ve entered some sort of sensory deprivation bubble.” He dashed to the ship’s locker and began donning a spacesuit. “I have to see this from the outside.”

“It’s gonna look exactly the same,” Shakila protested, but suddenly a massive rumble shook the ship, sending her falling over.

Aimee, the only one still in her seat, gasped as a massive glimmering tear appeared at the moment they matched the coordinates of their arrival. “We’ve got a...I’m not sure what to call it!” she reported, hitting the thrusters and trying to reverse trajectory as fast as possible, but the controls weren’t responding.

“Get us out of here!” Shakila shouted.

“I’m trying!” Aimee turned the ship away from the anomaly, but it was too late; the tear was exerting its own gravitational force, and their shuttle didn’t have the power to pull back. Aimee felt her vision growing dark.

“Aimee, I’m...feeling faint again…” Shakila murmured, suffering from a similar problem. As they passed through the tear, Aimee tried to buckle her seatbelt but her conscious gave way, and her last sight was of the floor roaring up to meet her.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2019, 02:43:05 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

Nick22

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2019, 06:57:34 PM »
great job LBT! really enjoying the story so far. you've done a great job capturing the vibe of the story. only ting i would add is a ' several hours later) break between your first post and second. i would also add some magical elements to the story, suyuch as a magical comunicator, as where they are going , regular communications wont work.
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aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2019, 08:04:00 AM »
Unfortunately, our heroes didn't think to bring a magical communicator, since they weren't expecting to be hopping universes. But that did give me an idea for a future plot twist, so you'll just have to wait and see!

Aimee only realized she had blacked out when she regained her senses on the other side. “Errgh…” she muttered, rubbing her head. She was sitting, and when she opened her eyes to look around she saw she remained in the pilot’s seat. “Shakila? You there?”

“Shhh…” Eric urged, appearing in her line of sight. “She’s still out.” He handed her a cup of tea. “Drink this, it’ll help with the nausea.”

“What nausea? I’m--” Aimee’s words caught in her throat when her stomach suddenly flip-flopped and a terrible seasickness washed over her. She drained the cup in one gulp. “Eric, what happened?” she coughed.

“The anomaly took us to a completely new planet. Different gravitational force, different atmosphere. It caused the on-board anti-grav to overcompensate and basically depressurize the cabin for a second, which knocked both of you out!” Eric helped her get to her feet. “It's a good thing I was wearing the spacesuit! I managed to land the ship without incident.”

Aimee’s legs shook as she regained her balance. “At least that explains why we were unconscious when we arrived at the Spire.” She looked out the window to see a sprawling metropolis. The appeared to be parked on the roof of a skyscraper. “Where are we?”

“Earth. Apparently you and Shakila were trying to get home last time.” Eric opened the main door to the shuttlecraft. Aimee stumbled into the light, looking in amazement at the futuristic city. “There’s a fire stairwell down that wall, leads directly to the street,” he continued, smiling.

“You’ve already gone down there?” she gasped.

“Where do you think I got the tea?”

Aimee heard a groan behind her as Shakila regained her senses. “Tea?” the cat mumbled, shaking her head.

Eric handed her a cup as Aimee peered at the ground level below them; fashion apparently hadn’t updated too much since she’d last seen Earth. Their Spire uniforms would look pretty out of place on the streets.

“Goddammit Aimee!” Shakila suddenly burst out, flinging her teacup to the ground with a ferocity that broke Aimee’s concentration. “I TOLD YOU to just forget about the damn shuttlecraft! I TOLD YOU we should have been happy to arrive at the Spire and to just look to the future, now look at us! How do you plan on getting home now???”

“We are home, Shakila!” Aimee interrupted, sweeping her arm across the city skyline. “This is Earth!”

“I bet it’s some parallel universe Earth, or it’s a dystopic tyrannical hellscape!” Shakila folded her arms.

“Nope,” Eric checked the readings. “The Spire was built for hopping universes, remember? Everything indicates we’re in the same timeline, same universe. That’s our Earth, a bit further in the future.”

Shakila sighed. “Well that’s just great. There are still a host of things that can go wrong; I’ve never heard of a sci-fi city that turned out to be a fabulous place to live.”

“We’re not living here, we’ll get home to the Spire,” Aimee assured, the fur on her neck prickling in annoyance at Shakila’s attitude. “If you want to stay in the ship, fine. I want to see how Earth’s been doing while we were touring the stars.”

“Me too!” Eric piped up. “Keep your eyes out for any change. I found a 5-credit bill in an ashtray, which was why I could afford a box of tea from the gas station!”

Shakila rolled her eyes but followed them as they left the ship and headed for the starwell. “What’s your plan when the military shows up wanting to know where the magically-appearing shuttlecraft came from?”

“I activated the cloak almost the second we arrived,” Eric replied, and indeed there was only a glimmering hemisphere of slightly-bent light that revealed the location of their ship. “We should be fine.”

“We’re already not fine,” Shakila grumbled. “Nothing about this is fine…”
« Last Edit: May 02, 2019, 01:54:09 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2019, 07:37:43 PM »
The city was bustling even at this time of night. Most of the shops were open, decorated with neon signs advertising all sorts of products and services. Several people gave them weird looks, but for the most part everyone ignored them.

“2035, huh?” Shakila noticed a date on a newspaper. “That’s not even that far in the future. At least our English won’t sound out of place.”

“We kinda stand out thanks to these uniforms though. I think our first order of business should be to get normal clothes,” Aimee pondered out loud. “And I guess we’re gonna need local money in order to do that.”

“Not necessarily,” Eric checked his phone. “There’s a Goodwill about ten minutes that way. We could offer to swap our current outfits for something on their sales rack!”

“How do you know all that?” Aimee asked.

“This world has UBI! Universal Broadband Internet!” Eric showed Google Maps. “It’s awesome!”

“Hey, can I see that?” Shakila piped up, looking interested for the first time. Eric cheerfully handed his phone over.

A short walk later, they’d reached the Goodwill, and Aimee was bartering with the receptionist. “Look, this is all we have to wear, we just want to do a direct swap,” she explained as the rabbit cashier looked incredulously at them. “Look at this fabric. These have to be worth more than a ragged pair of jeans and a shirt, right?”

“Where exactly did you come from, if this is all you have to wear?” the clerk asked again, but then her raccoon manager arrived, apologized for his employee’s behavior, and agreed to the swap once they’d picked their outfits of choice.

“Oooh, look, they have a South Park sweater!” Eric exclaimed, grabbing it immediately. “Nice to see the future still has good taste!” He had already swapped clothes in the middle of the store; Aimee had a little more restraint and was holding a metal token that would give her access to the changing rooms.

The vulpine was examining the long-sleeved shirts; she’d rather not have her robotic arms showing at all times. “Shakila, pick something out. What are you so focused on?”

“Well, the internet’s been through a couple different eras since we were alive,” she explained, still glued to Eric’s phone, “but I’m pretty deep into what’s lasted this long, and I think I can confirm a theory.”

“Yeah, what’s that?”

“Both of us died in the past.”

Aimee paused and looked over. “What?”

Shakila handed Eric his phone back. “My Facebook page stops at seventeen. My Google account now belongs to a completely different person. Nothing later than my high school has record of me, and the website I made as an adult doesn’t even have a shutdown notice. It’s like it was never there.”

“It’s been ages, perhaps the other stuff was just lost over time.”

“Aimee, I’m the technology girl, so just trust me that I thought of that,” Shakila threw her hands up in frustration. “I checked edit histories of Wikipedia articles, comments on YouTube videos, even sites I once hacked and left my calling card where nobody would ever notice it. Everything stops in 2009.”

“And you said something about me?”

“Yeah, you’ve got an obituary.” Shakila held the phone so Aimee could see the headline: Body of Missing Springwood Woman Discovered in Culeston Forest. The article went on to interview her two best friends, Hailey and Aydin, about them discovering her eviscerated corpse while hiking. 

Aimee pursed her lips. “Okay, that complicates things, I admit. Maybe there’s somebody with authority we can talk to, try to learn a bit more about what happened.”

“Like the cops?” Eric asked, pointing. Several squad cars with flashing lights had appeared at the entrance of the Goodwill.

Something warned Aimee that things were off, and she ducked behind the clothesrack as several officers burst into the store. “Attention: fox and cat!" shouted a bull with a megaphone. "Immediately step out with your hands in the air!

Shakila quickly followed Aimee in taking cover, but Eric stepped forward. “Err, officer?” he asked, hands held non-threateningly. “What seems to be the problem?”

That's Chief to you, citizen, and step aside or you’ll be arrested for interfering with LPD business!” the bull warned. “Those space invaders are wanted for kidnapping, theft, and resisting arrest!

“Shakila, they seem to know an awful lot about us for people who don’t belong in this timeline...” Aimee muttered, slinking into the next aisle.

“What the hell did we do last time we were here?” Shakila stammered, slipping on a hangared dress as she regained her footing.

Last chance to come quietly!” the megaphone shouted. “TEN...NINE...EIGHT...!

Shakila exhaled. “Right, that’s how it’s gonna be.” She glanced at the linoleum-paneled roof. “I’ll distract them. When I give the signal, make a break for the exit.”

“Wait, what’s the signal?” Aimee hissed, but Shakila had already vaulted over the aisle and slithered into the upper recesses of the building with catlike grace. Several taser ropes embedded themselves in the tile in her wake.

Advance!” Aimee heard the police chief order. She used the rows of dresses to mask her crawl into the far side of the store. She tried to keep an angle that would allow her to reach the exit, but she had her doubts Shakila could do anything from the--

POP! With an electric discharge, the lights fizzled out, plunging the store into darkness. That’s probably the signal. Before the cops could adjust to the new level of light, Aimee broke into a sprint for the nearest window, wielding a clothes iron. Shattering the glass with a desperate throw, she hit the sidewalk running as several officers cried out and fired tasers in her direction.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2019, 01:39:36 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

Nick22

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2019, 10:15:07 PM »
so thety have a number of issuesto deal with
 1 how to ditch the police the police
 2 get back to the ship and head to a new city (part of 1)
 3 try and find something that can start to make them recover their memories. something or someione who knew them back in 2009.
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aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2019, 05:34:40 AM »
Aimee didn’t catch her breath until she was holed out in the alleyway across the street, and even then she knew she only had a few seconds before the cops would find her position. Looking around wildly, she didn’t see Eric or Shakila anywhere. Not that she’d blame them for laying low; it’s every man for himself when the cops are hot on your heels.

Shimmying up a dumpster and vaulting the alley wall, she winced when she heard footsteps round the corner. Had those been the cops? She had no way to know, but she had to sprint into the next alleyway just in case, and then scale a fence and find herself back on the city sidewalks.

Trying to keep from panting too hard and drawing attention to herself, she hurried down the sidewalk, half expecting squad cars to appear down the road any instance. For all she knew, the streets were being recorded, like in Great Britain, and it didn’t matter what she did next.

The minute she’d crossed the street and was in the next row of alleys, she tried to resume her breakneck pace but quickly found she didn’t have it in her. Jeez, I’m getting out of shape… she wheezed, leaning against the building wall and trying to catch her breath. Okay, what now? If these police know what they’re doing, they’re already blockading the whole area. She’d learned a lot about how police operated from working with Darwin, a former chimpanzee cop, and she knew that without insider help, she had little hope of reaching the ship on the other side of the city.

She retreated further into the alley when someone walked past it. The cops would be swarming this area in minutes, but she couldn’t see any options--

Please…! I paid you! Just let me have it!” Aimee heard something happening in the next alley over. 

You want it?” the other voice laughed. “Well, I’d promised to give to you when we were INSIDE.

Aimee crept under a staircase, keeping to the dark. She saw that she was flanking some sort of dance club, and a group of men was circling someone and laughing while tossing a small bag of powder just out of reach of the person in the middle.

“I told him to let you in!” Their victim was a Great Dane wearing glittered high heels and a trenchcoat. Whenever she jumped, Aimee could see glimpses of a skimpy dancer’s outfit underneath. “I told him! Please, just--” She made another swipe for the baggie and faceplanted into the grimy alleyway dirt.

“You said we’d all get free lap dances.” The man kept his voice neutral, but his antagonism was unquestionable. “Without panties. Instead we’ve been stuck in this fucking alley all night.”

“But I paid you...” The Great Dane was wracked with shivers, and her makeup was running down her face. Aimee could tell she was suffering from some sort of major drug withdrawal.

“Well, you paid in money...” The man glanced curtly at his posse, who moved to shield the view from the street. “...but you’re missing the second half. If we’re not allowed into your private booth, we’ll accept the next best thing. Right out here…”

Aimee had seen enough. “All right,” she announced her presence, stepping into the alleyway. “I’m gonna stop this right here.”

Several of the men drew pistols and knives in alarm. The leader dropped the bag and turned to face the newcomer, and the dancer grabbed the drugs. “Who the hell are you?” he growled in surprise. “You should stay out of this!”

“Too late.” Aimee darted forward and locked him in a full-nelson after a quick wrestler's takedown. “The rest of you back off, or things get messy,” she growled. “Just get out of here.”

They weren’t interested, and the whole gang quickly advanced on her position. Aimee retreated to maintain distance, tightening her grip on the man’s windpipe to show she meant business.

“--Help!” her captive gasped. He waved at his men frantically. “Kill her!”

Aimee realized this wasn’t going to end peacefully when one of them fired a bullet that blasted chunks of concrete out of the wall behind her. Using her arms’ superhuman strength, she threw her hostage at the man opening fire. The momentum sent both of them flying into the streets, right into the path of a car that didn't even bother to stop after flattening them. Before the others could react, she propelled herself off the wall and bridged the gap in milliseconds. Cracking skulls with a flurry of blows, she rounded on her opponents, not giving anyone a chance to retaliate. One of them got a lucky stab that sliced all the way down her sleeve, but it didn’t penetrate her metallic arms. She heard gasps of surprise when her cyborg extremities were revealed. “Yeah, I tried to warn you,” she snarled at the survivors as they bolted, leaving her surrounding by unconscious gangmates.

She quickly crossed to help the dancer to her feet, who had crushed and snorted several of the powdery cubes seemingly oblivious to everything that had just happened. “Are you alright?” Aimee asked.

The Great Dane sighed contentedly. “...I am now...” she murmured, legs wobbling. “God, I hope my dancing outfit didn’t tear...I can’t afford a new one…”

“It looks, uh, fine to me,” Aimee averted her eyes as her companion removed the trenchcoat to examine herself; her outfit was a bit risque for polite company. “Listen, I’m not normally the sort to cash in favors, but I’m in a lot of trouble, and I could really use your help.”

“Oh, who isn’t in trouble these days…?” the dancer groaned, regaining her balance before her manners. “Sorry, that was rude.” She flashed Aimee a smile. “My name’s Rose. And I’d be happy to help, I owe you one. So long as it doesn’t involve money, I’m not doing great financially at the moment.”

“Nothing like that,” Aimee assured. “I just need a way to disguise myself. Or to reach Boarding Avenue before the, um...cops setup a roadblock.”

“Hmm...Boarding Avenue…” Rose muttered. Aimee noticed with relief that she didn’t seem to care about the police part. “You could go through the mall. Here, come with me. And put this on.” Aimee donned her trenchcoat and followed her to the streetside entrance to the club. Aimee gulped as she heard the sound of sirens rapidly approaching.

The bouncer was a heavyset armored cyborg. His massive three-fingered hands visibly displayed emitters for some sort of deadly energy weapon. “State name of female performer.”

“Honey Bunny, with a paying customer,” the Great Dane flashed him a warm smile as he scanned Aimee suspiciously but ultimately granted entrance.

The inside of the club was raucous and filled with strobing colored lights. The pungent smell of sweat, drugs, alcohol, and oil hit Aimee’s nose like a ton of bricks. “Is this a strip club?” she gasped, looking in alarm at the half-dressed dancers on stage.

“Welcome to the Electric Sheep, the busiest and only Augment-friendly bar in town.” Rose deftly navigated Aimee through the tables full of unsaintly clientele.

"Hi Rose! Your guest need a table?" asked a smiling waitress wearing only undergarments and a nametag reading 'MARIE <3'. Rose waved her away. 

Aimee noticed at least two people cop feels on Marie as they approached the Employee’s Only entrance. “No offense, but couldn’t you work somewhere nicer?” she asked delicately, swatting the tail of a serpentine customer that was invading her personal space.

“It pays the bills...and for other things.” Rose shrugged. Grabbing Aimee’s hand, she led her into the back of the club. Back here, things were painted black and the lights were sensually-dimmed; Aimee tried not to focus on the noises coming from the many rows of velvet cubicles.

And then they were out. “The mall’s closed this late at night, but the doors will open out from the inside,” Rose explained, sliding open an exit and revealing the ground floor of a massive shopping center connected to the club. “You’ll want to go straight as long as you can, then exit onto the streets. Keep going and you’ll eventually hit the cross street for Boarding Avenue.”

“Thank you again, Rose, I really, really appreciate this,” Aimee exhaled in relief, returning the trenchcoat and shaking her new friend’s hand one last time. “You’re saving my life here. Wish I could repay you or something.”

“You already have,” Rose smiled, showing her the baggie. “I only paid for a single cube. This stash will keep me going for months!”
« Last Edit: May 02, 2019, 01:57:28 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2019, 04:34:10 PM »
Fifteen minutes later, Aimee staggered gratefully into the alleyway underneath the building housing their shuttlecraft. She didn’t want to climb it just yet; with the police out in full force, she couldn’t risk revealing the location of the ship before the others arrived. Or at least, that was her logic, but it flew out the window when she saw Eric arrive and hit the staircase two steps at a time. “Hey!” she hissed, chasing after him. “If someone sees you, we’ll have to leave Shakila behind!”

“The manhunt isn’t searching this far from the store!” Eric assured. He was dressed in his new Goodwill clothes; Aimee didn’t know if Shakila had managed to procure a set of her own, but she was still dressed in her incriminating uniform. “At least, not yet.”

“Did you learn anything more about us?” Aimee asked. “Why we’re wanted criminals in this timeline?”

“I couldn’t really ask questions; they thought I lived here and I didn’t want to give them reason to second-guess that.” Eric briefly disappeared from her view as the two of them entered the shuttlecraft’s cloaked bubble.

Shakila was already sitting on the running board. “Oh, thank god,” she exhaled when she saw the two. “I thought I was really in trouble, considering you’re the only two who know how to fly this thing.”

“Gee, glad you’re alive, too!” Aimee kept her voice down even though realistically nobody on the ground could hear them from here. Ushering her allies into the ship, she sealed it tight and set the sensors to repeatedly scan the whole roof for any movements.

“Um, Aimee?” Eric asked. “I get why you’re paranoid, but maybe we should save power? If this thing runs out of juice, we won’t be able to fly home.”

“I don’t think we can do that anyway.” Aimee checked the scanners. “I don’t see any sort of readings indicating that space-time rip is still here. We’re stuck in this timeline.”

“I disagree,” Shakila shook her head. “This isn’t our first time here; we escaped this timeline once before. We just have to figure out how.”

“Well, apparently it involves committing a whole laundry list of crimes, including kidnapping!” Aimee threw her hands in the air. “Why on Earth would we kidnap someone, and what happened to them?”

“I’d love to know, but the populace probably isn’t in a chatty mood.” Shakila folded her arms. “We’ve got to stay here until morning, at least. We can’t risk leaving the ship while the police are active.”

“Maybe we don’t have to go outside to learn more.” Eric brought up his phone’s web browser. “We’ve still got signal. If you two really left that much of an impact last time you arrived, there’s probably reports about you in the news.” His eyebrow raised. “Wow, I don’t even have to search! You’re making headlines right now.”

Aimee activated the shuttlecraft’s screen and searched for television signals. It only took a few channels to locate a news station.

“...have now added property damage to their list of federal transgressions,” the anchorwoman said somberly, as a police sketch of Aimee and Shakila displayed in the corner. “Both suspects were recognized by a store owner and police engaged in a shootout with them roughly ten minutes ago. We’re still waiting to hear if the spacewomen were apprehended, but there was no sign of the orphan they kidnapped the last time they visited, and citizens are encouraged to--

“Did she say orphan?!” Shakila interrupted, eyes widening incredulously.

“Yup,” Eric chimed in, reading old news articles. “Last time you were here, you landed on the orphanage and befriended a little fox girl. Then you disappeared, and she was never seen again.”

“Aimee, if our method of escape requires somehow powering the ship with an orphan, I think I’d rather stay here and go to jail!” Shakila protested.

“Look, I think there’s more to the story that we--and the news--don’t know,” Aimee assured. “I didn’t see a little girl on the shuttlecraft when the Spire shot us down. Is that all the article says, Eric?”

“One other thing,” he reported. “Apparently you also stole 600 pounds of radioactive waste from the Lanthae Power Plant.”

Shakila buried her face in her hands. “How much crack were we on last time we were here?” she cried in frustration.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2019, 01:59:59 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

Nick22

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2019, 05:53:14 PM »
great job LBT. great job working in rose. perhaps she could help eric aimee and shakila get out of town?
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aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2019, 07:34:14 PM »
A quick bonus update, so that tonight I can post the more exciting bit

Aimee rubbed her forehead as she pored over her facts and figures again.

“Everything all right?” Eric asked softly. He was surfing the web on his phone; Shakila had fallen asleep.

“I think I know why we stole the waste.” Aimee double-checked one of her calculations. “The power plant works primarily with plutonium and uranium, and plutonium isotopes are compatible with our fuel supply. It can’t completely replace it, but if we mix a certain amount in with our existing fuel supply, it can prolong the operation period of the craft.”

“Kinda like how my mom used to add water to the handsoap to make more handsoap?” Eric asked.

“Uhhh, kinda.” Aimee sighed. “We must have been low on fuel and desperate, because this shuttlecraft requires a very precise cocktail of different fuel types to operate. Pouring 600 pounds of untreated radioactive waste into the engine could do...almost anything.”

“Well, nothing says we have to repeat the past’s mistakes, right?” Eric shrugged. “It sounds like the Aimee of the SS Nemo did it for fuel, but the SS Eric is doing fine this time around.”

“I am NOT accepting either of those names as standard parlance.” Aimee shook her head in exasperation. “And while former me may have done it for fuel, I don’t think she got what she bargained for.” She handed Eric some blueprints. “You’re an engineer. Are you familiar with how the jump drive works?”

Eric nodded. “It connects the ship to two different points in space simultaneously. It’s how we do faster-than-light travel.”

“Right, and it’s powered by the plutonium in our fuel supply. If you replaced that plutonium with, say, the decaying plutonium isotopes in the waste…”

Eric’s eyes widened as he pondered the ramifications. “The jump drive relies on the fuel supply to stay stable. If the fuel was breaking down, the connection would...my god, I’m not sure what would happen. Would we be sent to some random point in the universe?”

“Anything could happen. We probably wouldn’t arrive at the right time either.” Aimee watched his shoulders slump. “But this time we have one guiding light; we know how much radioactive waste our former selves used, and we know how much pure plutonium they had stored in their fuel tank before adding the waste.”

“We do? How do we know that last one?” Eric asked.

Aimee handed him one of her papers full of scribbles. “I calculated how much plutonium each jump drive activation costs. Shuttlecraft only have enough plutonium to jump twice, and we…I mean, not ‘we’ but…” Goddammit, it would be convenient to have names for the two iterations of this voyage. “...the SS Nemo clearly had used both jumps already, which was why they resorted to waste. If we vent two jumps worth of fuel and add exactly 600lbs of waste, we’ll have recreated the plutonium mixture that returned the Nemo to the Spire.”

Aimee wasn’t sure if Eric’s smile was from having a plan to get home, or from her finally accepting his name for the lost shuttlecraft.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 07:35:59 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2019, 04:10:59 AM »
“Wow, they mobilized fast…” Eric breathed, looking at the police blockage guarding the entrance to the power plant.

“Makes sense they’d guard one of the few places we’ve robbed before.” The door to the shuttlecraft was open, and Aimee was attached by a bungee cord and observing the entrance to the plant.

“Can we really refuel without even shutting down the ship?” Shakila asked again, buckled safely into the passenger seat.

“Yup. This is for the jump drive, goes in a completely different tank.” Aimee cocked her silenced pistol; the shuttle came with one self-defense weapon containing twelve tranquilizer darts, and she had license to use as many as needed to keep the cops at bay if it came to that.

“I hope this doesn’t take too long, we’re kinda low on electricity for the cloaking device,” Eric reported nervously. “Thing’s not supposed to run overnight like it did.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll be home at the Spire before anything runs out.” They were hovering over the main cooling tower, Aimee’s cue to jump. “Shakila, are you prepared to back me up if push comes to shove?”

“Nope,” the black cat shook her head. “You’ve got the only hazsuit.” Aimee was dressed in the same spacesuit that Eric had used to stay conscious during their arrival. “It’s all up to you.”

Aimee rolled her eyes and jumped. The humidity from the steamy air venting from the cooling tower hit her like a ton of bricks, but she forced herself to keep her eyes open; she had to keep herself aimed properly, hitting the sides of the tower at this speed would be a death sentence.

She pulled her parachute at the last possible minute, and seconds later she hit the ground with a shock that sent vibrations shooting through her legs. “Oof!” she grunted, rolling out the shock on the catwalks surrounding the draft eliminators. “I’ve landed,” she radioed up.

Awesome. Did you altimeter track the length of the fall?” Eric radioed back.

“190 feet,” Aimee checked her readings and glanced around. “I think there’s space down here for the ship.”

Roger. Beginning descent.” Aimee didn’t relish his job; even with a straight shot downwards, there was very little margin of error for Eric to navigate. “Hope you’re back soon…

“You and me both.” Aimee dropped down the catwalk and landed on the floor, the shock absorbers in her suit cushioning the fall. A rickety starwell led deeper into the plant, and it wasn’t long before she found herself in the levels more likely to contain people.

She hid behind a shelf full of boxes when she spotted her first worker; a canine janitor mopping the floors. After several strained minutes of watching him gaily sweep closer and closer to her position, Aimee darted out and roughly grabbed him by the throat. “Tell me how to get to the reactors!” she snarled, jabbing her pistol painfully into his ribs. He started screaming, forcing her to tranq him. “Dammit dammit dammit…” she muttered, looking around nervously.

Then she had an idea. Stripping out of her protective suit, she donned the janitor’s outfit and stored her suit in one of the boxes. Leaving said box on her cleaning cart, she hid the sleeping man by wedging him onto one of the shelves and covering him from sight with boxes.

Luckily she now had his keycard, which helped her gain access to the rest of the plant. As she found herself increasingly populated areas, she had to fight to keep her face neutral.

“Hey, you!” Her heart leapt into her throat when an otter supervisor appeared in her peripherals. “What are you doing in here?”

“I’m so glad you asked!” Aimee stammered, tugging at her long sleeves nervously. “I’m afraid I’m a bit lost. I’m supposed to clean the reactor on this floor?”

“In Sector C?” he asked, furrowing his brow in confusion. “There aren’t any on C. You sure you don’t mean B?”

“You know, now that you mention it, it might have been B!” Aimee plastered a smile on her face.

“Well, follow me then.” The supervisor escorted her down an elevator, then swiped her into one of the reactors. “Jesus, we opened hours ago. How behind schedule are you?”

“You don’t want to know!” Aimee quickly wet her mop and slapped it into the ground noisily until her left her alone. She’d partially lucked out; this reactor appeared to be offline at the moment, meaning she was alone. Poking around, she sighed with relief when she located the storage compartment filled with barrels of spent reactor fuel. “I’ve found the waste,” she reported. “42-gallon drums, like we expected.”

“Awesome, so you’ll need two,” Eric reported back. “What’s your plan for that?”

“Well, the alarm hasn’t sounded yet, so maybe I can get two trips out of this.” Hoisting a barrel onto an industrial dolly, she rolled it into the hallway.

“Uhhhh, are you supposed to be doing that?” asked a skunk scientist who happened to be walking down the hallway.

Aimee thought. “Hmmm, you’re right. As janitor, probably not.” She shot her with a tranq dart and dragged her back into the reactor. Swapping disguises yet again, she returned to her prize and began her long trip back to the shuttlecraft. “Shakila, I’m gonna need you to help me get this thing up the stairs.”

“Oh my god,” panted Shakila as the two of them lugged it upwards one stair at a time. “Is this a thousand pounds?”

“It’s 300!” Aimee gritted her teeth. “And a person on average should be able to lift their own weight, so mathematically we’ve got enough muscle!”

“I only weigh 150 pounds!” Shakila protested. “Not all of us have robotic arms!”

“Jesus, just shut up and next time send Eric.” Aimee wished she could wipe her brow, but she was shouldering the bulk of the weight lifting the barrel slowly up the stairs.

“Hey gals!” Eric offered a greeting when he noticed them finally reach the catwalks. “Why didn’t you use the hydraulic lift?”

“There’s a hydraulic lift???” Aimee let out a strangled growl when she followed his index finger to see the operating lever at the side of the catwalk. “Goddammit. Shakila, get to that lever and be ready for me and the second barrel.”

“Wait, shouldn’t we pour this one in?” Shakila asked.

“Can’t, I left the suit in the reactor. I’ll have it when I come back next time.” Aimee quickly left before anyone could criticize the fact that she left one of their most important tools behind.

But retrieving it turned out to be more complicated than she thought when she returned to see the otter supervisor talking to a pair of police officers at the entrance to reactor B. “..I thought something was up, I’m glad I trusted my instinct…” she overheard as the elevator doors opened. The policeman looked over, but she didn’t give any of them time to react as she gunned them down with sleepy darts.

Bursting into the reactor, Aimee dove for cover when a third officer opened fire. “What the hell are you doing?” she shouted, ducking behind a metal column. “Are you trying to start a nuclear meltdown?”

“We need backup, the suspect is in the plant!” the cop shouted into his radio. “I repeat, suspect is--” Aimee finished his sentence by tagging him in the arm with a dart. I’ve used half my darts, need to be more conservative going forward… she thought grimly as she abandoned the labcoat and rolled another barrel to the elevators.

“Hey cops!” she shouted into the stolen police radio, changing into the spacesuit as the elevator carried her back up to floor C, “Don’t follow me down the elevators, I’ve flooded them with nuclear waste!” Of course she was lying, not to mention going up the elevators, but maybe that’ll delay them for a little bit longer.

But she’d forgotten about in-house security, and two guards were quick to remind her when they were waiting for her at the opening of the elevator doors. “Don’t shoot, or we’re all going to die!” she cried, ducking behind her barrel and gunning both men down with darts.

“Aimee, the police scanners are going into overdrive!” Shakila warned as she activated the hydraulic lift and brought Aimee back up to the ship.

“That’s okay, get in the ship and seal the entrance!” Aimee was about to begin transferring the waste into the jump drive, and her geiger counter was warning her that the travel had taken its toll on the integrity of the barrels. Rolling both of them to the back of the ship, she panted and again wished she could wipe the sweat out of her eyes. Locking the receptacle hose onto the barrel, she drained the first barrel of waste while gasping for air.

Aimee, we’ve got cops onbound!” Eric warned. Aimee chucked the empty barrel at the stairwell, hoping it would delay them long enough to give her time for the second barrel.

After the first barrel clattered to a stop, the first cop bravely stuck his head around the railing, pausing in confusion when he didn’t see anything. Aimee’s arms felt like they were on fire, and she bit her tongue to keep from audibly grimacing as she finished draining the barrel. “Get inside Aimee!

The cop looked over at the sound of the barrel clattering to the floor, and the cloaking device chose that moment to run out of power, revealing Aimee crossing over to the ship. “Don’t move or I’ll shoot!” she threatened, shooting him right in the forehead. “Crap, my brain and my mouth weren’t on the same page there…”

Diving into the ship, Aimee saved her last two darts as the cops spilled out onto the catwalk. She'd held them off just long enough for Eric to coast the ship out of the plant and off into the sky.

“Whew!” Eric whooped, as Shakila helped Aimee to her feet. “I think we got away with it!”

“Holy crap, we cut that close…” Shakila breathed. “Are you okay, Aimee?”

“I’m fine…” Aimee staggered to the cockpit. “Are they pursuing?”

“Yeah, but I mean, who cares?” Eric shrugged. “We’re in a spaceship, and they’re in cars!” His cocky flyboy smile vanished when an alarm started blaring and Aimee grabbed the yoke and yanked hard, sending the shuttle into a controlled spin that barely dodged a missile.

“What was that?” Shakila screamed in alarm.

Eric paled when he checked the dashboard. “Oh crap, we got helicopters! Those showed up fast!”

“Let’s stop screwing around,” Aimee commanded. “Activate the jump drive. Let’s book it like Brutus!”

Eric nodded and punched it. Abruptly Aimee felt butterflies in her gut as gravity reversed and sent her and Shakila tumbling to the ground.

“Crap…” Shakila murmured, flailing pitifully as Aimee regained her balance. “Not again…” Aimee realized she was talking about blacking out as Eric slumped over in the pilot seat. Leaping forward and commandeering the ship, Aimee urgently compensated for the tailspin as another rip in the sky dragged them out of the city and over a coastal beach overlooking a splendid ocean. “Yes!” Aimee shouted. “Hell yeah! We’re back! We’re...uh…”

Rotating aft and and scanning the sky, Aimee looked for the Spire of Winter, but the clouds were as empty as the coast was abandoned. Wait, abandoned? Where’s that futuristic city where everyone was on shore leave?

Easing the ship lower, Aimee checked the readings. They hadn’t actually left Earth. What? Tapping the geocalibrator, she pinpointed their location as somewhere in Spain. She scanned for signal, and found radio and television waves but no internet.

Behind her, she heard Eric stirring. “Oh my…” he muttered, clutching his head. “I can see why you two weren’t keen on repeating that experience. Do we still have any of that tea?” He looked over. “You don’t look happy. What’s wrong?”

“1989,” breathed Aimee. She was watching a Spanish radio broadcaster. “We just time-traveled to 1989. Earth.”

Eric stumbled over and checked the readings. “What?” he furrowed his brow. “We’re not back at the Spire?”

“Nope.” Aimee faceplanted into the dashboard. “We’re even further away than we were before…”
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 07:41:48 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2019, 04:32:20 PM »
Shakila was watching a Simpsons short on the Tracy Ullman show with a disbelieving look on her face. “This can’t be happening,” she shook her head. “How did we go backwards in time this far?”

Eric looked outside the shuttle; Aimee had landed on the beach and was walking the shore with a tricorder. “We perfectly reenacted the sequence that the SS Nemo followed, assuming it would take us to the Spire,” he answered chipperly. “Unfortunately, it turns out that the Nemo had a hitherto-unknown pit stop here in 1989!”

Shakila flashed him a look. “You don’t have to sound so spirited about it. How are we supposed to get home now?”

“Genuinely don’t know. We’re kinda screwed,” he admitted. “Spain enacted a moratorium on nuclear power in 1983, and it won’t be repealed for another four years.”

Shakila groaned and sank into her seat as Aimee hoisted the door open and climbed back into the ship. “There’s a fishing village down the coast,” she informed, kicking sand out of her treads. “That’s our best option for food and supplies.”

“How am I gonna walk into town without attracting unwanted attention?” Shakila asked. “You and Eric have civilian outfits, but I never managed to ditch this uniform.”

Aimee shrugged. “Public nudity is legal in Spain. Strip down and say you were pearl diving or something.”

Alternately,” Eric hastily suggested when Shakila’s eyes widened in disapproval, “you can wear my sweater and jeans into town and I'll stay here in my boxers and work on the ship. I have something I was hoping to look into anyway, something that came up in our engineering training.”

“And what would that be?” Aimee asked.

Eric brought up the schematics for the jump drive. “Our jump burnt up most of our plutonium, but not all of it,” he explained. “There isn’t nearly enough to jump the entire ship, but if I make some modifications to the slipspace emitter, I think I could send a message through jumpspace to the Spire.”

Shakila’s eyes lit up. “Then they could just send someone to pick us up!”

“That sounds awesome. Best of luck, Eric,” Aimee uploaded her beach readings to the ship’s computers while her teammates swapped outfits. “Shakila, let’s vamanos and leave the engineer to his work.”

“What does 'vamanos' even mean? I don’t speak Spanish...” Shakila grumbled as she exited the shuttlecraft.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 07:46:55 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

Nick22

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2019, 08:36:18 PM »
keep up the good work LBT1 this looks great!
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aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2019, 02:28:11 AM »
Thanks Nick! I know Spain might not seem like the most exciting locale, but trust me there's a whole host of new troubles in store for our unlucky protagonists ;)


Santa Camila was far, far smaller than Lanthae, or indeed any city Aimee had ever seen. There were only a few blocks of houses and a tiny commercial district with a few shops and restaurants. Just like last time they were in a city, a few streetwalkers looked at them funny but nobody openly treated them with distrust.

“They can tell we’re not from around here, but they aren’t calling the cops,” Shakila muttered under her breath. “So that’s a good sign. Hopefully we haven’t committed any crimes against humanity here.”

“We might not have even come here before.” Aimee smiled awkwardly when the driver of a food cart made prolonged eye contact while driving down the main road. “It’s a bit out of the way, and if we had supplies I doubt we’d risk it.”

“Why are we risking it anyway?” Shakila asked. “We don’t have any money, so we can’t exactly--where did you get that??”

Aimee flashed her a gold coin. “They gave it to me at the Lanthae Goodwill, it unlocked the changing rooms. In the late 2020s, someone figures out how to cheaply create gold, and its value crashes to around bronze or copper. But in the 1980s, this coin is worth a pretty penny.”

The point was driven home when the clerk at the bank’s eyes widened in surprise when they showed it to him. “Where on earth did you get this?” he stammered.

“She found it in the ocean. While pearl diving,” Aimee grinned when Shakila rolled her eyes at the cover story.

The clerk tested it and found it pure. “This is solid, 24 karat. I’ll need to clear it with the manager, but I’d imagine we can easily offer 46,000 pesetas for this.”

“Forty-six thousand?” Shakila gasped. “What’s that in American dollars?”

“About four-hundred,” the clerk informed before leaving.

“What!? That’s it?” Shakila’s fur stood on end in outrage.

Aimee elbowed her. “Remember, we’re in 1989!” she whispered urgently. “That’s a lot of money back then.”

“Those assholes are lowballing us, I know it,” Shakila glared at the ‘Employees Only’ door the clerk had exited through.

“So what? It’s more than enough to pay for supplies until we leave. I’m gonna handle the talking if you can’t behave!”

Eventually the clerk returned and reiterated his price, and a few minutes later the two girls were leaving the bank with a week’s wages in their pockets.

“All right, where should our first stop be?” Aimee glanced down the main street of the commercial district. “The farmer’s market looks like the closest thing to, like, a general store. We might want blankets, no way to know how cold the beach gets at night.”

Shakila’s stomach growled. “Can we sit down and eat something?” she asked, pointing at a seafood place at the far end of town. “We’ve been militantly focused on getting home since this whole ordeal started. I want to just sit down for a bit and eat some fish.”

Aimee agreed, mostly to keep her friend in high spirits. The chef, a vulpine girl of around fifteen, flashed them a warm smile when they walked into her restaurant, La Barracuda. “Buenos dias,” she smiled, preparing the massive frier behind the countertop. “Siéntate donde quieras. ¿Qué puedo conseguirte, amigas?

Shakila glanced pointedly at Aimee, who shakily explained in broken Spanish that the two of them only spoke English. The chef found this hilarious, and couldn’t stop herself from laughing mirthfully before switching languages. “You’re lucky,” she wiped a tear from her eye. “Not many people speak English out here. My name’s Lúcia. What can I get you?”

“I’m not picky,” Aimee shrugged, secretly unable to read the menu. “Whatever’s your favorite meal to cook works for me,”

“I want something with lots of fish,” Shakila chimed in.

The child’s eyes lit up. “Ooh in that case, I bet you’ll both love my paella de mariscos. Everything in it was caught by me earlier this morning!”

“Paella de mariscos?” Shakila asked.

“It’s a classic dish made with Spanish rice and shellfish!” Lúcia lined a row of prawns and began peeling them with an expert’s speed. “It’s super famous Spanish cuisine. You’ve really never had it? How long you been in Spain?”

“We honestly just got here,” Aimee answered, grabbing two glasses of water from the pitcher on the counter. “You’re our first stop. We’ve heard good things.”

“Of course you have!” Lúcia beamed, frying the prawns in a mixture of olive oil, onion, and various spices. “My store is super famous. As soon as I turn eighteen, I’m gonna add my name to it and go global. There’ll be a Lúcia’s Barracuda on every street corner!”

“Do your parents own the store right now, or what?” Shakila asked, unable to tear her eyes away from the simmering seafood.

“Sí, mis padres.” Lúcia added the rice. “Actually, mom will be home with groceries in just a few minutes, I think I’ll make some for her too.”

“Look forward to meeting her,” Aimee smiled politely. She looked around the store and noticed the stairs upstairs; Lúcia’s family must live on the second floor.

Fifteen minutes of smalltalk later, their host delivered two steaming bowls of paella and an extra ramekin of olive oil. Shakila immediately tucked in, ravenously scarfing hers down before Aimee had barely started. “Oh my god…” Shakila breathed, spraying rice everywhere. “This is incredible. You need to give us some for the road!”

“Aw, leaving already?” Lúcia chuckled. “You’re such good company. And look, mom just arrived! ¡Hola, madre!

Aimee glanced at the woman in the doorway, a red-haired and much younger Vulpine than she expected. She raised her hand in greeting, but Lúcia's mother dropped the groceries on the floor with a thud, staggering backwards with a look of pure horror on her face.

“Madre, this is Aimee and Shakila!” Lúcia introduced them, completely missing her mom’s demeanor. "Aimee, Shakila, this is Emi!"

¡Lúcia, vete ahora!” Emi hissed, crossing the room while giving their guests a wide berth. After a startled pause, the young chef wasted no time bolting up the stairs as her mother grabbed a large knife from behind the counter and brandished it threateningly. “I don’t know why you came back,” she snarled in a low voice, “but you’ll never take me alive!”
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 07:50:50 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2019, 04:12:36 PM »
“Whoa, ma’am!” Aimee raised her hands quickly. “I think there’s been some sort of misunderstanding. We mean you no harm.”

Emi narrowed her eyes. “Gloves off. Show me your arms. Now!”

Aimee acquiescently hiked her sleeve, and Emi’s eyes flashed when she recognized the chrome underneath. “Look, I know you recognize us, but we're just passing through!” Aimee added, trying urgently to deescalate the situation. “We had no idea you were here, and honestly, we don’t even know who you are.”

“You’re the orphan, aren’t you?” Shakila asked, ignoring Aimee shooting her a frustrated glare. “The one we kidnapped.”

“Kidnapped?” Emi kept her distance, but lowered the knife when it was clear neither guest was threatening. “What are you talking about? You didn’t kidnap me.”

“Then what did we do?”

“What?” Emi cocked her head. “You’re asking me what you did?”

Aimee rubbed her temples. “Emi, if we must be honest, both of us have lost our memories,” she admitted. “Neither of have a clue what we’re talking about, or what happened. If we didn’t kidnap you, but you are the orphan from Lanthae, we’d really appreciate if you could just tell us what happened last time we were here.”

Emi paced around the room, her stance still poised for a fight. Aimee noticed she was now blocking them from leaving, rather than going upstairs. “I can’t have you telling anyone where I’m from,” she warned in a low voice, glancing outside. “My husband will be home soon. He can’t know. If I jog your memory, you need to promise you won’t tell a soul what you’ve relearned.”

“Promise!” Shakila crossed her heart, and Aimee nodded in earnest agreement.

And,” Emi added, “you need to promise you won’t try to take me back to Lanthae. Or anywhere but this home.”

“Absolutely,” Aimee assured.

“We weren’t going to do that anyway,” Shakila added bluntly.

Emi took a deep breath. “Fine. How far back should I start?”

“How about the very beginning?” Aimee suggested.

Emi glanced at her. “I lived in the Nature’s Heart orphanage, I was five. I went up to sweep the roof and found you two snooping around.” She sighed, letting the memories come back. “You told me you’d come from space. Showed me your spaceship, but said I wasn’t allowed to go in. You asked me to take you to see the warden.”

“Did we say what we were doing on Earth in the first place?” Aimee asked.

“You mentioned you both had been part of some sort of intergalactic war, but it was too much work and you were tired of it. You said you were just trying to get home.”

Shakila sighed. “Well, that’s just great, Aimee…” she growled under her breath. “We were deserters. Thank god we went through all this to discover that.”

“You ran afoul of the law shortly after that,” Emi continued. “Paid me some cookies to slip through a fence so you could break into the nuclear power plant. You got away with some barrels, the alarm had gone off and the police were arriving. But you made it back to your ship, and then poof! You left, and wound up here.”

“Wait, what about you?” Aimee asked.

“I’d stowed away on your ship. You didn’t realize until it was too late,” Emi admitted. “I figured you were leaving when you arrived with those barrels, and I didn’t care where you were going. I hated Nature’s Heart and I hated Lanthae.” She folded her arms. “Then I snuck out of the ship while you were asleep, and made my way here. I’ve lived here ever since, and I’ve never been happier.” She sighed, this time one of contentedness. “Things are so peaceful, even when I was homeless the populace cared for everyone. Cared for me.”

“That’s honestly great, we’re happy for you,” Aimee encouraged. Shakila had completely tuned out of the conversation since learning they'd deserted. “And rest assured we have no intention of disrupting that.”

“What are you even doing back?” Emi asked, observing the two from top to bottom. “Your clothes are different, but you look like you haven’t aged a day.”

“We..um...we messed up on our repairs,” Aimee lied. “Hit the button, and it just threw us a few decades or so into the future. Landed right back where we’d been, but don’t worry. Once we get our ship working, we’ll be gone and out of your life forever.”

“That’s what I thought last time…” Emi finally returned to the counter and stashed the knife. “You may stay here if you need food or lodging, until you’ve sorted out your spaceship problems. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go apologize to Lúcia for frightening her.”

Neither of them said anything until Emi was gone. “Well…” Aimee finally gulped, “I guess that answers a lot of our questions.”

You think??” Shakila finally rounded on her, her voice low but her unbridled rage still apparent. “Are you satisfied? Are you happy that you finally solved the goddamn mystery? We were turning tail!” She stabbed her finger at the door for emphasis. “Going AWOL! We ditched all our friends, our responsibilities, our duty to save the damn universe, so we could waste oxygen on Earth!”

“Shakila, I know--” Aimee acquiesced, but Shakila cut her off, not finished ranting yet.

And then…” the cat threw her hands in the air. “Providence gives us a goddamn miracle after we manage to grow a spine and make it back to the Spire--apparently after screwing up multiple parts of Earth’s timeline and leaving orphans in the wrong centuries--because it just so happens our memories somehow got wiped!” She paced rabidly, glaring daggers at Aimee with every step. “Lucky us! We get to go right back to where we were, with nobody the wiser that we’d been a pair of lily-livered little runaways, until you just had to--”

“--I get it, okay!?” Aimee snapped in exasperation. “You’d rather have not known. You’ve only said that a trillion times since we started this trip. And frankly, I’m sorry you even bothered to come along!” She flicked one of Shakila’s spilled rice back at her. “Apparently we would have all been happier if you’d stayed on the Spire permanently unaware of a giant portion of your memories! Cause guess what, me and Eric have been busting our butts flying the shuttlecraft and solving problems to get home, and what the hell have you done?”

“You don’t get to throw that at me!” Shakila snapped, face flushing red. “Not when it’s your fault we’re out here in the first place! Not when I was right to want to stay on the Spire! Why can’t you admit that I was right?”

“Because you’re not! I’m far happier understanding what happened!” Aimee folded her arms defiantly. “So apparently we made some terrible calls in the past, choices that sent us on this wild goose chase of poor decisions with ignoble motives. Well, guess what? I’d rather face the consequences of those decisions than live blissfully in ignorance!”

“Oh please, don’t start trying to act proud!” Shakila glared. “Like there’s any level of nobility in knowing you’re a deserting piece of crap. When we get home, I’m going right to Captain Carson and telling her the truth, then the courts can do with us as they please!”

Suddenly both became aware of a new figure, who’d been standing in the doorway for longer than they’d like.

“Err, I don’t know who you two are…” Rudyard Shelton scratched his sleeve awkwardly. “...but is this a bad time?”
« Last Edit: May 02, 2019, 02:25:16 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

Nick22

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2019, 09:43:54 PM »
nice nods to Darwins , LBT! Keep it up!
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aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2019, 12:34:24 AM »
Thanks! This story is basically a big love letter to all three RP franchises, and a chance to make them all run into each other without affecting their actual canons.

Kinda an awkward stopping point for this chapter, but it was too long so I sliced it in half.

“Shelton?” Aimee gasped.

“What are you doing here?” Shakila demanded.

It wasn’t the same Shelton they’d known; this one looked far younger, with a surfer’s tan and a rugged beard from working the docks. But his accent and the way he carried himself was a dead giveaway.

“Er, do I know you?” he asked, looking at both of them.

Aimee recovered sooner. “Sorry, we’d eaten at the Barracuda before,” she explained quickly. “That’s all. Um, you’re looking good these days! Long time no see!”

Shelton blinked. “Uh, okay…” he crossed to the cash register. “Looks like you two had a couple plates of rice and fish. Are you ready to pay, or you want something else?”

“They eat for free, dear,” Emi quickly explained, returning from the second floor followed by her daughter. “They’re old friends.”

Shakila’s mouth fell open when the two hugged and pecked each other on the lips. “You know these two, honey?” Shelton asked.

“We go back,” Emi smiled. She closed the cash register. “Aimee, Shakila, this is my husband Rudy.”

“Um, hi Rudy!” Aimee waved awkwardly. “Nice to meet you.” Even Shakila gave her a weird look.

“...We already met,” he reminded her. “Also, Shakila, where did you get that sweater? I’ve never heard of South Park.”

Shakila quickly changed the subject. “So, Rudy, what brought you to Spain? Lúcia mentioned you originally lived in another country.”

“A lot more than just one,” Rudy chuckled. “But the last was Switzerland, earning my Master's at ETH Zürich. I studied abroad here, was supposed to be for just a quarter but then I met Emi,” he kissed his wife again, and Aimee realized she was having trouble seeing any of the neurotic tech-focused scientist she’d known back in the day.

“So you just gave up on college? To catch fish in this village forever?” Shakila raised an eyebrow.

“There’s more to life than studies,” Emi counseled. “And there’s such beauty in nature, in being part of a close-knit community. What more can a man ask for?”

Rudy nodded in agreement. “In all honesty, I think I’ve learned more in my time here than I did all 6 years of school,” he smiled.

“Six?” Shakila repeated. “Are we talking four years of undergrad and two of Masters? Wouldn’t that make you graduated?”

Shelton shook his head. “There are just a few general ed requirements I haven’t gotten to yet. I might go back someday.”

“You ditched college with only a couple classes remaining?” Shakila’s other eyebrow popped up.

Aimee quickly grabbed her friend’s arm and steered her out of the room. “Ummm, well, it was great to meet you all!” she stammered, trying to turn it into a friendly chuckle. “We’ve just got some...things we need to do while it’s still light out!”

“Do come back for dinner!” Lúcia shouted after them. “I’ll make a feast!”

Aimee waited till they were alone on the beach again. “Shakila, is there any chance we could not repeatedly insult our host’s life choices right after they agreed to drop our bill and let us stay with them?” she muttered as they hurried for the ship.

“We could easily have paid the bill. And I can’t believe that person is Shelton,” Shakila shook her head in disbelief. “You know that’s our fault, right? If we hadn’t brought Emi here, Rudy would never have met her, and he’d have just gone back to college like I’m sure he originally did.”

“So? I don’t give a crap about Shelton.” Aimee waved her arm dismissively. “He’s ancient history for us. Let’s just get home and leave the lovebirds to their marital bliss.”

Eric glanced over when he saw them out of his peripherals. “Ah, just in time!” he exclaimed. “It was a total success! We can contact the Spire whenever you’re ready!”

“Thank god. Okay, hit it.” Aimee cleared her throat and watched the viewscreen as Eric sent the call.

“You’ll only have about a minute to talk, so make your words count,” Eric warned as the ship began shuddering from the effort of making a collect call across time and space.

After several seconds of increasingly shrill humming, their hail was answered and Eric gave Aimee a silent signal. “Is this the RIMCS Spire of Winter?” she asked.

Affirmative.” the voice of the stern helmsman rang loud and clear, and Aimee felt as if a great weight were lifted from her.

“This is Lt. Aimee!” she introduced herself. “I’m here with Crewman Brennan and Engineer Theodore, we desperately need a pickup!”

I’m sorry, repeat those names?” Silence for several seconds after Aimee repeated her credentials. “Um, we have no crewmen with those names on record.

“What? What do you mean?” she gasped.

The helmsman repeated himself. “Not even me?” Eric asked in alarm.

The real Eric Theodore is currently stationed on Pokitaru since transferring two weeks ago. I just received verification that he's accounted for, right now.” The helmsman’s voice took on a decidedly unfriendly tone. “How exactly did you get ahold of this frequency?

“We just know it because we’re crewmen of the Spire!” Aimee protested. She looked at Shakila and Eric, who shared her expression of befuddlement. “Look, you’ve got to believe us!”

It’s a violation of interplanetary law to use this frequency for unauthorized transmissions.

“This isn’t unauthorized!” Aimee shouted in exasperation. “Put Stripetail or Captain Carson on the line!”

“There isn’t enough time,” Eric warned, and sure enough the connection died seconds later.

For a few seconds nobody said anything. The sound of the waves echoed throughout the shuttlecraft.

“Um, Eric?” Aimee asked. “Is there any possible way we can contact them again?”

Eric checked the plutonium levels. He shook his head.

“Is it possible for them to contact us?” Shakila asked.

“If they can somehow discover our frequency, time, and location in history,” Eric’s shoulders slumped defeatedly. “Which would take a Herculean level of effort, and the willingness to even bother. That guy didn’t sound like he believed us at all.”

“But why?” Aimee asked. “Why didn’t he recognize us?”

“Hold on…” Shakila suddenly interrupted. “I think I understand. I’ve figured it all out.”
« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 04:56:46 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2019, 05:47:04 AM »
Ehh what the heck, have the whole thing!

Eric and Aimee both glanced at Shakila, waiting for her to explain.

“That useless phone call to the Spire had a clue in it,” she explained. “He actually recognized Eric’s name. So whatever’s happened to make us disappear, it only affected me and Aimee.”

“I gathered that much,” Aimee snapped. “But we still don’t know--”

“--Yes, we do!” Shakila interrupted. “Remember the newspaper articles in Lanthae? You and me died in 2009. Presumably it was during all that Dragonstorm business. And now we know what changed in the timeline to cause that. Shelton’s backstory.”

“Who’s Shelton?” Eric asked.

Aimee sighed. “In a nutshell, Shelton was a scientist who we worked with in 2009,” she explained. “We were fighting this underground scientific organization called Dragonstorm, and Shelton had infiltrated them as a spy. Together we managed to take them down.”

“That was how it’s supposed to go,” Shakila chimed in, “except now it didn’t. Turns out in 1989 Shelton studied abroad in this little fishing village, and this time he fell in love with Emi, the now-grown-up orphan we accidentally brought here from Lanthae.”

Eric put the pieces together. “Oh my. So because of Emi, he doesn’t leave Spain when he was supposed to?”

“Right. Which apparently causes us both to die fighting Dragonstorm.” Aimee's lip quivered. “I bet I know when it happened, too. He and I met Trinity at New Peenemunde Harbor, and he demanded she keep me alive, claiming he wanted to study me. If he hadn’t done that, she would have just killed me.”

“I probably died in that base in Texas...being tortured for information by that hideous deer,” Shakila's shuddered.

“Oh my god, is that why we don’t have our memories?” Aimee realized. “Because none of our future after 2009 happened anymore...there aren’t any memories of the Spire to have.”

Several seconds of silence passed. “So, um, what do we do now?” Eric asked. “If neither of you ever served on the Spire, they won’t even know you when--or should I say, if--we manage to get back. Not that I’m in much better straits, mind you, but at least I’d have a frame of reference for explaining I’m a duplicate of a pre-existing crewman.”

“There is another option…” Shakila admitted. Aimee noticed her friend looked uncomfortable. “And I’m playing devil’s advocate here. But Shelton mentioned he’s only a few credits away from graduating. If we could motivate him to return to school, we might be able to fix the timeline.”

“Even if he agreed to go back to school, wouldn’t he just return to Spain afterwards?” Eric asked.

But Aimee realized where her friend’s line of thought was going. “It depends on the reason he goes back to school,” she pondered out loud. “If we removed his motivations for staying here...”

Eric’s eyes widened. “Wait...you’re not suggesting you’re gonna...hurt his wife...are you?”

“His family shouldn’t exist,” Shakila pointed out. “Emi is supposed to be in the 21st century, their daughter should never have been born.”

They have a daughter?” Eric stood up. “Okay, I think we need to stop going down this train of thought…” he urged nervously. “Just listen to what you’re suggesting!”

“You’ve never even met them, why do you care?” Aimee protested. “Shelton was an arrogant douche, I don’t particularly care how happy he turns out. We’re trying to prevent our own deaths here.”

“Oh, now that you want his family dead he’s an ‘arrogant douche,’” Eric used finger quotes for emphasis. “Might I remind you that you’re doing this so he saves your life?”

“So you agree that we’re doing this?” Shakila asked.

“What? No, I--” Eric groaned and collapsed in a chair. “Do we have to kill them? Can’t we just take them back to Lanthae?”

“We can take Lúcia, but Emi’s not going to go willingly.” Aimee glanced at Shakila. None of them seemed comfortable with what they were discussing, but she didn’t see any other choice.

“...Okay well can we at least sleep on this?” Eric pleaded. “Let’s spend some time to see if a better solution presents itself. We still don’t have an actual plan for getting home to the Spire, so there’s absolutely no need to rush into this--” He was interrupted by a low beep as a green light ignited on the shuttlecraft’s dashboard.

“What’s that?” Shakila asked.

“It’s a hailing packet...let me unscramble it.” Eric pushed it to the viewscreen and exhaled in surprise. “Oh my god, that’s a temporal lock-on. From the Spire! They’re sending somebody!”

“How long will it take for them to get here?” Shakila asked.

“ETA 24 hours. We’ll be rescued in one day!” Eric’s fingers flew across the keys. “There’s a coded message using my hash key, apparently they seriously considered the possibility that I’m the real Eric…” his fingers abruptly stopped. “Oh...shoot.”

“What?” Aimee asked.

Eric bit his lip. “Um...it says not to tell you this...but this rescue craft is law enforcement, and apparently just for me. You’re both going to be arrested and sent to interplanetary prison."
« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 06:56:44 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2019, 01:44:55 PM »
The encrypted packet didn’t go into full detail, but for the most part it seemed that the girls’ biggest crimes involved impersonation of military personnel and unauthorized use of official channels, both of which carried a hefty sentence.

“They’ve got to listen to us though!” Shakila wrung her hands. “We used to be crewmen before the timeline changed. They can’t arrest us!”

“Remember, being arrested doesn’t necessarily mean charged with a crime,” Eric pointed out. They might just hold you for a bit and let you go.”

“I don’t want to be ‘let go', I want to pick up my old position on the Spire!” Aimee protested. “I’ve got a mission to do, I’m trying to find Hailey and stop her from getting herself or the universe destroyed!”

“I’m with Aimee; this is a raw deal." Shakila nodded. "But maybe we can fix the timeline before they get here."

Aimee nodded. "So, if I'm not mistaken, Operation Shelton just became our top option. Unless we want to spend the right of our lives in interplanetary jail.”

They both looked at Eric, who sighed. “Do we really need to name the operation?” He shook his head. “Okay, fine, I’ll help. But can we please not kill Emi? Isn’t there a plan that leaves everyone in Shelton’s family alive, even if separated?”

“What, you think he’s going to believe a note that says “Honey, I took the kid and I’m never coming back?” Shakila protested. “If we don’t 100% end this chapter of his life, we’ll just be motivating him to chase the world looking for his wife, and he’ll be even less likely to wind up in America fighting Dragonstorm.”

“Shakila’s right.” Aimee changed the viewscreen to draw mode and started scribbling notes. “I’m sorry Eric, but it’s us or them. And I’m not willing to die and rot in prison just so the wrong Shelton can be happy.”

* * *

“Isn’t she amazing?” Rudy cheered, and Emi clinked his glass in agreement. “Best cook in the whole town! I keep telling her, she’s going to be famous one day!”

Lúcia clicked her heels happily as she brought another plate of fish tacos to the table. Both of her parents had gotten cheerfully drunk as everyone tucked into a lavish feast, but Aimee’s team were light eaters and had only drank water and coffee.

“You gotta put this stuff on it,” Rudy leaned over and poured some sort of white sauce on Eric’s tacos. “It’s delicious!”

Eric took a small bite and nodded enthusiastically. “You’re right!” he exclaimed, but his buoyancy vanished again when Emi thanked him for passing the sauce.

“So how long are you planning on staying in town?” Rudy asked in Aimee and Shakila’s direction. “In the morning I’d love to show you all the sights, but I must admit there won’t be that many.”

“Oh, Rudy, don’t shortchange Santa Camila!” Emi chided playfully, her face bright red from drinking too much sherry. “It’s full of wondrous things! The windmills, the church, the old abandoned water wheel!”

“Honey, I’m pretty sure the guests would rather see statues or parks, or, like, museums,” Rudy hiccuped. “That’s what normal people consider ‘sights.’”

“Well, if Santa Camila had any of those, dear, we could take them to see it!” Emi stuck out her tongue, and the two started drunkenly laughing. Aimee traded a resigned look with Shakila. She was having trouble eating, and she noticed Eric wasn’t doing much better.

Desierto!” Lúcia announced, returning from the kitchen with a steaming plate of churros. “Aimee, Shakila, you want vanilla dipping sauce?”

“No thank you.” Aimee bit into her churro; it was delicious but her mouth was so dry it felt like she was chewing chalk.

Rudy burped loudly and leaned back in his chair. “You certainly aren’t a talkative bunch, are you?” he teased. “Welp, guess it’s up to us Sheltons to keep spirits high. Who wants to sing a song?”

“Ooh! Can we do one of the shanties you learned from your traveling days?” Lúcia piped up, and Emi nodded encouragingly.

Rudy grinned. “Let’s start with my childhood favorite; father used to sing this with his men on the naval base.” With a knowing wink to his daughter, Rudy grabbed an acoustic guitar from under the table, strummed a few opening bars, and then the whole family burst into song:

I've been a wild rover for many a year
And I've spent all me money on whiskey and beer
But now I've returned with gold in great store
And I swear that I’ll play the wild rover no more...


Aimee felt her eyes glazing over, and quickly took another deep sip of her coffee. She couldn’t stand how embarrassingly happy this family was. As she stared at the remnants of rice and beans remaining on her plate, the voices and the music and the ambiance faded away, leaving her alone with her thoughts and revelations.

Is there really no other way? Aimee hadn’t gone into this business to kill innocents, and while Emi had trespassed on their vehicle and unwittingly changed the course of history, she had neither intent nor knowledge of the untimely fate she’d created for Aimee and her friends.

Maybe they didn’t have to kill her. She was already plastered and could hardly put up a fight; if they merely kidnapped her (again), flew her and Lúcia somewhere her husband could never find them… No, it won’t work. A husband will devote his life to finding a missing wife. Shelton needs to think he has no choice but to return to school.

With a heavy sigh, she suddenly broke out of her trance when Shakila looked her square in the eyes and motioned surreptitiously to the wall clock; time was slowly running out. “Erm, Rudy?” she interrupted. “I’m feeling pretty tired. This was a fantastic dinner, but I really feel I could use some rest.”

“Oh, one more song! Please?” Lúcia pleaded.

“We’ll do something slow,” her father nodded. “A somber melody to fall asleep to.” Strumming his guitar, Rudy made eye contact with everyone in the room. “This song dates back to the 1600s,  a melancholy recounting of the time a Scottish clan gave shelter to a treacherous band of travelers.” He cleared his throat and started a quiet, mournful lullaby:

They came through the blizzard, we offered them heat
A roof o’er their heads, dry shoes for their feet
We wined them and dined them, they ate o' our meat
And they slept in the house O' MacDonald.

Oh cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe
And covers the grave o' Donald
And cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe
And murdered the house o' MacDonald...


Eric had turned white as a sheet. Even Shakila looked ready to bolt from the house. Lúcia, in contrast, was smiling contentedly as she drifted off to sleep in her mother’s arms.

Emi gave Rudy a knowing signal, and he quietly ended the song and climbed out of his seat. “I’ll take her to bed,” he offered. “Thanks again for being our guests, you three. Always pleased to make new drinking buddies.”

“I’ll take the plates to the kitchen,” Emi offered, stacking an impressive amount on her arm despite being staggeringly drunk. “I converted the second eating area into a guest room, there are bedrolls behind the bar. Let me know if you need anything.”

“Thanks, we will…” Aimee gulped.

Rudy slowly climbed the stairs with Lúcia, and the three crewmen left for the bedrolls. Aimee could see Shakila and Eric were as wide awake as she was. She remained crouched near the door, peeking at the kitchen where their target was now washing dishes.

Strained minutes of silence passed. “She’s got an awful lot of dishes to get through…” Aimee muttered.

“Honestly? I’m starting to think we should just take her now,” Shakila whispered. “If we wait until she goes upstairs, we’ll have to deal with Shelton and Lúcia being right there.”

“I can’t believe we’re actually doing this…” Eric’s breathing was fast and hyperactive. “I feel like I need to throw up…”

Aimee clenched her fist. “No, Shakila’s right. Let’s expedite the plan.” She pulled her last two tranquilizer darts out of her pocket. “Shakila, take these and sedate Shelton and Lúcia. I know they’re asleep, but we don’t want any unexpected variables.”

Shakila left, and returned a few minutes later. “Done,” she nodded soberly. “They’re out cold. Nobody will be interrupting us…”

Aimee clenched her fist. “Okay, let’s do this. Eric, you guard the door. Shakila, you keep her blocked if she tries to escape. I’ll do the hard part. Let’s move!”

She led the charge into the kitchen. Emi was sleepily humming to herself as she scrubbed a pan, and looked over to see who had arrived. Aimee met her eye for only a second, and she saw the moment of realization play across Emi’s face as Aimee grabbed a drying knife out of the rack and swiped for her throat.

She didn’t expect to hear the clang of metal on metal; Emi had reflexively blocked the shot with her own pan, crying out in terror. Aimee angled for another stab, but suddenly squawked when Emi threw her pan to knock the weapon out of her grasp and then followed up with a kick between the legs. Goddammit...didn’t expect a housewife to put up this much of a fight... Aimee staggered backwards, clutching her crotch, as Shakila realized she needed help and ran forward, pinning Emi against the sink. Emi continued screaming for help, swinging her arms in desperation and scoring a glancing blow on Shakila that sent the cat’s head rattling against the cupboard.

Aimee regained her balance and gasped, “Keep her pinned!” She limped forward, deciding to just strangle her victim before she could regain the upper hand. Adding her weight to Shakila’s, she shoved Emi’s face under the running spigot and clasped her metallic fingers around her neck--

Aaugh!” she abruptly screamed when her vision exploded with stars and a searing pain rendered her completely blind. Emi had grabbed a spice shaker and peppered Aimee in the face. Headbutting Shakila in a panic, the Vulpine swung the heavy shaker against Aimee’s head as both of her attackers staggered backwards. The shaker shattered, sending Aimee collapsing to the ground in a hail of broken glass, and Emi maintained her initiative by punching Shakila in the head, sending her tumbling into the fridge and dropping in a crumpled heap.

Gasping, she wielded around to face Eric, who was standing terrified in the doorway. Panting and soaking wet, she waved her blood-stained improvised weapon and wordlessly dared him to enter her kitchen.

As Aimee slipped unconscious, the last thing she heard was Eric sprinting out of the house as fast as he could.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 08:08:02 AM by aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato) »

Nick22

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Re: The Approaching Light
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2019, 02:17:52 PM »
I'm going out on a limb and saying when they wake up they'll be in the local jail,  and facing a lengthy , nearly life-long stretch in prison. basically I'd say this ' cant get any worse' but knowing these 3 and their luck.. it CAN get worse
« Last Edit: March 18, 2019, 03:08:20 PM by Nick22 »
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