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The Recollection Of Crankshaft

Chapter 11


I leaned over the seat in front of me, and looked at VanGarrett. I stared at him for a moment. He turned his serious look toward me, and we stared at each other for a moment. He did a fairly poor job of trying not to smirk. I just looked at him with my usual goofy expression. Eyebrows lowered, eyes wide open, nostrils flared, and my lips were positioned in a fashion I cannot begin to explain. Finally, the silence was broken. VanGarrett pushed aside a snicker to say, "Yes, I am aware that you have a hang-up with asking questions directly to people you aren't intimately familiar with. What do you want, Crankshaft?"

I jumped, and said with great enthusiasm, "Well, if you're REALLY that interested in knowing..." I paused and tried to look thoughtful, though I suppose that this probably wasn't to very much success. I continued with a pointing gesture which poked VanGarrett in the shoulder, "Just WHAT did Akolyte want from me?"

VanGarrett leaned back, and let out a breath. "Sit back, Crankshaft." I did just that. He continued. "Last night, around @137 beats, a FOnewmn identified as one 'Fender Clutch' was found mutilated in a Starboard-side apartment. He was, very much dead. I could go into the details, but the short of it is that some limbs were in different rooms."

I gasped. "Gasp!"

VanGarrett continued. "We believe that Akolyte went to Fender looking for something that you are in possession of."

"Well if he was looking for a pin-up calendar featuring Laya, then even I don't have one, so there."

VanGarrett leaned toward me again. "What did Fender give you, Crankshaft?"

I gave a puzzled expression and replied, "A good time?"

VanGarrett somehow became more serious. I could HEAR him getting more serious. "This is a very serious matter, Crankshaft."

I looked at him and then stared off at the ceiling of the van. "Well, there WAS that disc containing schematics for Dragoon-type androids."

VanGarrett, HuBBsDoctor and Zeirom all jumped. The van swerved. We almost hit three other vehicles, and narrowly avoided hitting a building in the chaos that ensued.

VanGarrett looked at me wide-eyed. "YOU have the schematics for Dragoon-type androids?!"

"Yeah... Didn't get much time to look at it, though. Those RAmars interrupted us when Fender showed me what was on the disc."

"Where is the disc now?"

"Hmm... Well... When Fender left the hospital-- Heeeey, now wait a minute, I have a request-- where are we going?"

Zeirom shouted back, "Right now, we're just going."

I shouted forward, "Well, if you kindly would... I'd very much appreciate a trip to the City Medical Center... I did puncture a kidney, after all..."

VanGarrett jumped again. "Great Light, Crankshaft! Why didn't you tell us?!"

I looked down and tried to look more pathetic than I normally might. "We were running... Laya Resta'd me, but that can only get a Crankshaft so far before he urinates blood and freaks out..."

Zeirom shouted back to VanGarrett, "We can visit with Meira while the doctor is attending him, too."

VanGarrett nodded. "Indeed. City Medical Center... That's where the Emergency Room on the Hunters' Deck transferred her after her initial wounds were treated."

I made a cheerful noise, and that's the direction we started heading in.

It wasn't too long, though, before the trip to the hospital was interrupted. As VanGarrett had predicted, Akolyte indeed left the University. Which, in some ways, was fortunate. It meant that repairs and recovery from the attack on the University could commence; including restoration of that beautiful marble floor, and indeed reconstruction of the building's emergency stairwells, which were thoroughly mangled after the skirmish. Bodies could be found and survivors could be treated. All was to be well at the University.

The unfortunate thing, was that Akolyte was causing repeated traffic accidents, jumping from one vehicle to another, trying to get to us. More specifically, trying to get to ME. I groaned, and held my back. VanGarrett slid the side door open, and hung out to observe Akolyte's ascent. He didn't appear too happy.

Zeirom shouted at him, "I hope you're not thinking of shooting at him! If you miss, you're sure to hit something you don't want to!"

I wondered what VanGarrett was thinking about at that moment. Fortunately, I didn't have to wonder for very long, because he replied to Zeirom, "I think it's a moot point--"

Upon hearing the word, I felt compelled to shout, "m00t!" I was looked at strangely by the bunch, then coughed, and smacked my chest a couple of times. "Buwuh-huh..." I said, "Urm, bleh. Sorry, I had something in my throat..." Then, I was conveniently able to draw attention away from myself. I pointed out a window, "Look! A moot point!"

Everyone looked away from me, just in time to see Akolyte fly by the window. VanGarrett cursed again. So did HuBBsDoctor. In synchrony. I had a key curse word in stereo. It was like, POW! From both ears. I cringed, and covered Laya's ears. Laya slapped me. There was a thump on the roof. The van shook, and Zeirom shouted a word I didn't recognize.

First a few dents appeared. Soon, however, the roof was torn open. Tentacles ripped the top of the van open like the key on a can of rancid specially prepared artificial meat. I started getting spooked at this point. I'd felt it before, but ignored it. The first time, was when I accessed the computers in the Mines, the second time, was when Fender and I wandered through the Ruins. The first time, I passed it off as my pantaloons riding up. The second time, I had thought that Fender had just cut one.

This time, there was no denying it. This stinky was Akolyte. He stuck his head in, but I felt like he wasn't alone. Then I saw it. His face was hidden behind a startling visage. Small, red orbs floated in dark, otherwise empty eye sockets. It had no lips. Actually, it was as though its upper lip had been pulled over its nose, and secured into position. Its gums were huge. Long, disturbingly straight teeth alternated position, top and bottom. As Akolyte approached, it opened its mouth, and to my ears, it made a shrieking sound, and revealed a pit of endless darkness. Its breath somehow smelled of hate, and other incredibly bad things.

I began to scream in a most absurdly frantic fashion. I was just, "AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!" then I took a breath, and was just, "AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!" And then I did it again. I saw Akolyte reaching for me. The van shook again, and with his hand inches from my face, Akolyte was ripped from my presence. Paladin had torn Akolyte away, in a moment of vulnerability.

Upon further observation, Paladin was looking rather torn up, though perhaps not as torn up as Akolyte appeared when Paladin gripped the beastly HUcast by the sides of his head, and much to Akolyte's dismay, suddenly jerked it further than was ever designed to. Paladin and I looked at each other, and he tossed Akolyte's body and head from the van, one at a time. They made a smack in the street. It was a relieving sound.

Everyone was looking at Paladin. Except for Zeirom, whose attention was focused on driving the van, and not killing us all. Rightfully so. Paladin shook a little, before finally falling in. VanGarrett looked up at HuBBsDoctor. "Good thing we're headed for the hospital, huh?"

Oddly enough, the emergency room wasn't really any busier than normal. There were a number of injuries related to Akolyte's attack. There were a few other miscellaneous injuries around as always, but I'll spare you the description of most of them. There was, however, a big orange HUcast that had evidently gotten into an argument with a bread oven, and was at the hospital to have it removed.

VanGarrett and HuBBsDoctor both carried Paladin by a leg each, while Zeirom burdened the weight of his upper body. When the nurses saw him mangled and sprawled between the three of them, they immediately came with an android-sized gurney. If you've never seen one, they're actually quite interesting. A normal gurney is designed with the consideration that the occupant typically won't weigh more than 250 pounds or so. Perhaps up to 500 pounds as an extreme. A typical male android, on the other hand, will generally weight no less than a ton. The largest of RAcasts may weight as much as 8 tons. Even more, if he's got plenty of auxiliary equipment built in.

An android gurney must therefore be designed to withstand this weight, without smacking into the floor, and crashing like some big, unbalanced, overweighted thing.  Let's consider a normal gurney, and what would happen if someone were to try to relocate a somewhat large HUcast on it.

The gurney itself is held a few centimeters above the ground by a device that takes advantage of its presence on a ship, by counteracting the gravity inducers. This device takes a whole level of the gurney, which itself, is about three meters long by one meter wide. This device will displace up to 500 pounds, which is to be supported by four simple steel pipes that lead up to the actual bed platform. The bed platform consists of a large metal tray, inset several centimeters, so the cheap generic foam rubber mattress won't slide off when the patient goes into epileptic seizures from staring at those accursed bright lights flinging by on the way to the operation room. GAH! Bright!

All right, so we have our typical gurney figured out. Now, take a 4 ton HUcast, and consider a number of hospital aids gently placing the huge android on it. Presume that they manage to set him gently enough, to keep from destroying it immediately. The steel pipes buckle like thin steel pipes trying to support something far heavier than they really should be able to. The aids rub their muscles, and lament about their backs, while another crew comes in to replace them.

The next crew begins to carefully move him down the hall. Oh no! An escaped psychiatric patient is running through the hall! A security guard tackles him, and the injured HUcast on the little gurney is safe. The trip continues. Some inconsiderate fellow has tossed his toothpick on the floor. An unfortunate hospital aid steps on it, and jumps. A security guard tackles him, and the injured HUcast on the little gurney is safe. A doctor walks by, and says, "You'd better get that HUcast on a big gurney, you silly fellows!" and the aids curse at him and continue on.

Finally, they come to an incline. They get to it. They try to ascend it. What's this? Oh no! The gurney is too low to handle the incline! The bottom edge of the gurney scrapes the floor, and leaves quite the boo-boo on the floor! The aids become hysterical. They desperately try to prevent the HUcast from going off balance. Someone lift in the front! Lift in the front! Ah! A volunteer lifted in the front. The aids give more support behind, to keep the HUcast from sliding off.

The gurney makes it to the top of the incline, with only a few scrapes on the highly-polished floor. Now that this is over, who was the kind fellow that saved the HUcast from falling by giving support in the front? Ah! It's the psychiatric patient! And he's still lifting in the front! Let go! Let go! No cookie! He's trying to tip the HUcast over! A security guard tackles him, and the injured HUcast on the little gurney is safe.

The trip to the reconstruction room is almost complete. The HUcast's foot has a sudden surge of electricity, and twitches. An aid jumps, startled by this. His foot taps one of the steel bars when he jumps. The gurney slips forward. It tilts in that direction, perhaps slightly to the left. The HUcast begins to slide, head first. The steel bars in front break. The aids are abandoning ship! They run for life and limb! The HUcast crashes into the floor! Boom! Crunch! Chaos! The ground shakes! A small child's ice cream falls from its cone! It cries! Complaints are issued to the ice cream vendor! A law suit is filed! It's appealed! Appealed again! A few more appeals, and it's taken before Principle Tyrell! What's this?!? Tyrell sends it to the Council! Egad! A lawyer has been paid off by Black Paper! He's an assassin! Key members of the Council have been assassinated! There's chaos! Midget blue hedgehogs are running at sonic speeds on the ship! Riots in front of the clothing stores! Oh no!!!

So, um, yeah, they have a heavier-duty gurney, because if they didn't, it would destroy civilization as we know it, and that's a fact.

So, they brought an android gurney, and with some additional help, they got Paladin on it. A nurse asked, "What class of android is he?" or something like that.

Zeirom replied, "He's a Dragoon-type."

The immediate response was two nurses looking at each other with concerned expressions. One of them finally said, "We'll have to page Dr. Oscar..." Then some urgency was called for, and Paladin was hurried away.

Laya grab me by my wrist. "Come on, Crankshaft. We need to get you registered at the desk, if you are to be treated," she told me, as she dragged me to the front desk. I was in bliss. When we got up to the desk, Laya peered over the counter and told the nurse, "My associate here punctured a kidney while falling on a sharp metal object. I cast Resta on him, but that only goes so far..."

I leaned above Laya, and put my hands on the desk, because well, I can do that. She's short, I'm tall, and I just lean right over her. I said to the nurse, "I had an ouchie, and Laya healed it, but it's still kinda sore." While she processed that information, I looked around, noted the lack of patients, then asked her, "Why aren't there more people here, after that whole thing at the university?"

The nurse looked disturbed, but replied, "There've been only a few injuries... But the Guaron Memorial Morgue is going to be backed up for days..."

I felt humbled. I nodded remorsefully. Then I got back to business. "So, when can I be seen by the doc?"

"It'll be a few minutes. Can I get your name?"

She asked, and I gave. Posing dramatically, I replied, "I am Professor Crankshaft R. Differential, Ph.D."

Without looking up, she wrote down my name, and asked me to take a seat, which, I did. HuBBsDoctor, VanGarrett and Zeirom waited with us for a few minutes, but before long, Zeirom decided he had something better to do.

"I think I'm going to go pay Meira a visit." he then looked at VanGarrett and HuBBsDoctor, "You guys want to come along?"

VanGarrett nodded, "I haven't stopped in to see her since I've gotten back from Ragol. I suppose I probably should. I'll have to come back later with Maegan, too." With that, he stood and looked at HuBBsDoctor.

HuBBsDoctor stood. "I'm down with it." He then looked back at me, "I'm sure it won't be too long before they come to get you, Crankshaft. We'll be in room 42B."

I saluted him and replied, "I'll be fine, so long as I've got Laya right here." Then I gave Laya a pat on the back, and she looked at me strange. Her strange look was soon accompanied by her sliding a seat away from me.

She looked at the rangers and said, "We'll be all right, guys... If he does something wrong, I won't be afraid to hit him... We're in already in a hospital, after all."

I watched them all leave, then looked around at the other people waiting. Periodically, a doctor would come in and lead someone behind a pair of large doors that presumably lead to treatment rooms. After an hour or so, my presumption was confirmed, when I was finally taken and treated. Until that point, however, I passed the time by talking to other patients. Mostly about their ailments. This is when I learned why the HUcast, whose name turned out to be Delfine, had a single-loaf bread oven embedded more or less in his armpit. I told him he should keep it, so that he could get some dough, and sell Armpit Loaf at discount prices, but he animatedly disagreed, and asked me to leave him alone.

Soon enough, I was taken in by a content-looking doctor with a shiny head and long gray mustache. I'll spare the details, but when I awoke from the anesthesia, I felt considerably better. Laya was there with me again, and once again, I had thoughts of Laya in a nurse's uniform. This time, however, I learned from my previous experience, and through sheer force of will, managed to keep my mouth shut about it. We've seen what happens when I suggest to Laya that she should wear a nurse's outfit.

After I was given my clothes, and instructed to urinate in a cup, Laya and I made our way to room 42B. I slid into the room, exchanging a usual dramatic pose, for a more traumatic pose-- The Disco Dancin' Fever pose. Ideal for sliding into rooms, and it's easy to spark your dancin' groove from there. Makes a good ice breaker at parties, too. A yelp of, "Ow! Watch it now!" and a bit of grooving to music that only I can hear, and I was finished. Laya slowly crept in behind me, unsuccessfully attempting to look like she doesn't necessarily know me.

Everyone was looking at me, and the lovely young woman in the bed at first gave a confused look, which soon mutated into a giggle. Zeirom looked at her, and introduced us. "Meira, this is Crankshaft and Laya. They're Physics professors from the University."

I bowed. With exaggerated quantities of enthusiasm, I announced, "Tis good  to meet you!!!" With another bow and a stern salute, I continued, "Professor Crankshaft R. Differential, at your service!"

Laya was much more reserved, as she chose to walk over to her, shake her hand and say, "Nice to meet you, Meira. Don't mind Crankshaft, he's still coming off of anesthesia." When I asked her why she said this later, she told me that she didn't have the heart to tell her that I'm always like that.

Still, Meira smiled and said to us, "It's nice of you two to come visit me with these guys!"

My immediate response was, "Well, I had to puncture my own kidney on a sharp thing, but Potent Guacamole, we made it here, today!"

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