The Recollection Of Crankshaft
Sometimes, crazy things happen on Pioneer 2. It wasn't long after the aforementioned trip, that a HUcast freaked out, and killed a three-eyed, burrowing primate known as an "Orangoo". This happened at the Zoo of Pioneer 2, only two blocks away from the University of Pioneer 2. As I recall, I could hear the vicious android from my office. I shall attempt to quote exactly what I heard. Ahem. "Give me that third eye, you triclopped froop. Don't just sit there and look at me. You give me that third eye, or so help me, I will take it from you. All right, that's it. Give me that eye. Don't run, give me that eye, you freak. Give it to me. I want it now." Then there was a series of loud, squishy sounds that left me cringing. Among these sounds, was the sound of metal against flesh, in an absurdly loud fashion. Then a hearty, "Ha ha, now I have it. Now just stay over there and think about what you've done. And over there. And over there. And there, too. And get off of me." Of course, what was said, was considerably more vocal and exclamatory. By this time, the sirens and people screaming blocked out his words. The thunks of metal against metal that followed, however, were quite clear.
That wasn't the last incident of a HUcast randomly killing things on board the ship, though it was certainly the most mild. A number of weeks later, another HUcast, said to be of similar build, but different color, and a decidedly different model massacred a number of people who were wandering the downtown district down the street from UP2, where there are an absurd number of trendy clothing stores, and also a nice little cafe, across the street from an electronics store.
I remember quite clearly. That day, Laya and I had lunch at the cafe. The number they gave us was 28. Interesting how they give numbers at cafes and such restaurants, to know who ordered what. I suppose they could give letters, but then prankster children would each order individual orders, for the express purpose of using the letters to spell curse words on their tables.
So anyway, Laya and I had lunch at the cafe, as I had finally managed to convince her to eat with me, under the allure of telling her about what it's like in the gardens of the Central Dome. In the end, I didn't have a terrible lot to tell her, but it did the job, in any case. I told her about the ferocious Rappies, though. I told her all about their beaks full of jagged teeth, and laconium claws, stained black with the blood of their victims, and about their sharp feathers, and those eerie, beady little eyes, and how they just kinda fall on you out of the sky, and try to peck away at your flesh like scavenger birds, except that you're still alive! AHHHH!! Scary! So, yeah, that's what I told her.
Her reaction to coming across one for the first time, much, much later, was something to the effect of, "That thing doesn't look nearly as mean as you said... Look at it's soft feathers, shiny beak, and-- Great Light, it tried to bite me, DIE!!!"
In any case, the streets were calm when we walked back to UP2, but I'd only been in my office for a few minutes, when I heard screams coming from down the street. I looked out the window, which conveniently overlooks said street, and saw a horrid sight. At first, I couldn't believe it. I saw a pitch-black HUcast, standing in the middle of a running crowd. He made an unidentifiable sound, which sounded something much like, "BWLAARRRGGUAH!!!" if you tried to scream it through a tin can with a slinky in it. There was also blood in the street, which was the first thing I noticed to be strange about the sight. Indeed, it wasn't the people running from the pitch-black HUcast that I found strange, but the concept that there seemed to be wholly, three large peoples' entire contents of blood, flowing toward the sweep drains.
The next ghastly thing, was when it seemed to pick an individual out of the running crowd, and with a mad dash, and I mean MAD, grabbed him, literally picked him apart, and started beating others to death with the limbs. You might say that he went out that afternoon, to paint the town red.
As I saw a news van pull up to the scene, Laya ran in to tell me to turn on the news broadcast, which I did. The next thing we saw, we will never forget. Though they were a considerable distance away from the massacre, it was the focus of the background. That wasn't the disturbing part. The disturbing part, was when the camera spotted the HUcast in the crowd, just as the HUcast poked his head up to see the news van, and in a period of about a second and a half, proceeded to run up to the reporter, jam a fist through the poor man's lower torso, and then throw him through the window of one of the aforementioned clothing shops. The camera then fell to the ground, and the signal just sorta stopped, as this monstrosity turned toward the cameraman.
This scene inspired Laya to run into the restroom, and relieve her stomach of the lunch I so generously bought for her. All right, I insisted on paying for her, because I wanted to pretend that it was a lunch date.
It was between those incidents, that I was contacted by a one Fender Clutch. He asked that I meet him on the Hunters' Deck, in the Redia section, which, now that I've further checked on things, just happens to be the section ID that Fender had given me before. I agreed, and convinced Laya to come with me.
When the time came, Laya and I took off from the university, canceling a few classes for the day. I rushed her passed the HUmars posing dramatically in their fearsome dudeness, in a futile attempt to get her through the lobby, before they started hitting on her. They did, however, begin the instant she appeared from the teleporter.
Soon enough, however, we'd joined with Fender. We walked out to him, in front of the hospital, and we were surprised to see him standing with a very tall, very broad HUcast, with a mildly black paint job. This HUcast ran up to me immediately and yelled, "I want to KIIILLLL you!!!!" I nearly soiled myself, but he very quickly, and in a truly absurd manner, stopped where he was, stood up straight, gained some composure, and said very matter-of-factly, "But I won't, don't worry. It's nothing personal, I want to kill everything."
And then it hit me. I'd heard this voice before. "You're the loon that slaughtered the three-eyed burrowing primate!!!"
"EYE! That would be me. It was looking at me funny with its third eye. But only its third eye."
"That's certainly strange. They're not supposed to be able to do that. They have to use all three eyes to focus, I thought."
"It did, though!"
"What were the other eyes doing, then?"
"I don't know, I wasn't paying attention to them, just that creepy THIRD eye. It pissed me off. I warn you now, don't look at me with your third eye, I may not be able to take it."
"But I only have two eyes."
"Good, then be sure to keep your third eye under control."
"Yes, I'm very tall," I said as I stepped around the scary pillar of destructive energy.
As I stepped around him, I noticed him bend over, and yell, "I want to KIIIILLLLLL you!!!" I promptly scowled and grabbed Laya, to pull her with me. Luckily for her, I think that she was expecting it, but on the other hand, I don't think anything can fully prepare you for being yelled at by a scary mechanical feat of destruction, such as this particular HUcast.
I then whispered to Fender, "Who the heck is this scary mode of mechanized destruction that nearly made me soil my pants?"
Fender then calmly said, "His name is Dragoon. He is a HUcast of brutal strength and savage bloodlust. Yes, he is the one that killed the Orangoo at the zoo. I hired him for protection."
"Protection... Whatever from?"
"You should hope that you don't have to find out. Nonetheless, those men that I was running from have very much to do with it."
I looked at him with the most bizarre expression I could muster, then said, "All right. But before I give you your disc back, I want to know what the heck is on it."
"I was hoping that you'd say that, Crankshaft. There's a computer terminal that the military has put in the Ruins, that can read that disc. Come with Dragoon and me, and I'll show you," he said. He had the most serious look on his face that I've ever seen, as he turned toward the large door to the teleporter room. He looked to Dragoon, who was explaining his urge to kill, to a poor scientist near the check room. "Dragoon!" he yelled. "We're going down to the Ruins! Join us, if you would!"
Dragoon stopped in mid-sentence, and dashed for the teleporter, chanting, "KILLKILLKILLKILLKILLKILLKILLKILL..." As though it were his own deranged engine noise. We then followed him.
When we got down there, Laya said to Fender, "Can't you get in trouble for bringing civilians down here?"
Fender then replied, "Only if found down here by the military. In which case, you get to tell them that you're on a special assignment from the University of Pioneer 2."
Laya nodded, and then we found Dragoon waiting for us, at the entrance to the next room. He looked at us anxiously, but then charged in. The room was quite crowded to begin with. The insane android, however, reveled in this, and took advantage of the situation. Before this, I had never seen a HUcast lay waste to a large quantity of things so quickly.
I'm not entirely sure what I saw that day. I did learn later, however, that Dragoon is the prototype of his own class of HUcast, designed for the express purpose of being the ultimate killing machine. He ran in, and as he breezed by a devilish creature, I would hear the sound of a smack of metal against something that sounded like a metallic substance with gooey stuff behind it. And then purple liquid would fly into the air, and a thing that I'm told is called a Dimenian-- a demonic-looking bipedal thing with sword-like arms, would fall to the ground, sometimes in several pieces.
Then, as he spun around something that looked like a hunter gone terribly wrong (which I'm told is referred to as a Delsaber), I swear his shoulders opened up, and launched a missile attack, consisting of dozens of little rockets, which went boom all over the place, and kinda paved the way for the rest of us, while he finished off the last few of them.
Possibly one of the strangest things I've ever seen though, was when Dragoon came across two Delsabers in the room, right next to each other, and chose to wind his arms through them. That is to say, he rammed his arms into them in such a manner, that he then used one Delsaber as a shield, then one as a saber. With this combination, he hurt things. Which seems to be what he's best at. Hurting things. Hurting things like Delsabers and other things that intend physical harm.
The next room after this, was more of the same, and we were very much just fighting our way to this computer of which Fender spoke. Dragoon was the first into the fray, and when a large, mean looking thing known as a "Bulclaw" bit down around him, Fender yelled to Dragoon, "I'll save you!" At which point, Fender focused his energies, and cast the light technique, Grantz, on the creature.
Dragoon then made a screeching noise at Fender, and scowled at him, "Nooo!!! You should've let it do its thing!! There's more to kill, that way."
Fender commented to Dragoon, "You really like to kill..."
To which Dragoon bluntly replied, "What's your point?" Dragoon then proceeded to kill most of everything else, and we proceeded onward.
In the next room, Fender was flogged by two or three Delsabers. Dragoon rushed onto the scene and yelled, "I'll save you!" At which point, he proceeded to beat the tar out of the Delsabers, using the other two Delsabers that were, by this point, dangling from his arms.
Around this time, I was standing next to Fender, when I noticed Fender freak out, and scurry away. I scratched my spiky head, and wondered what inspired him to do this. I then turned around, and discovered a large, somewhat bell-shaped creature, known as a Dark Belra, right behind me. It flashed its eyes at me, as though it was confused. Perhaps it was confused that I hadn't run away. Perhaps I was confused that it was still there. Perhaps I don't remember exactly what I was thinking at that moment, because it smacked me at that time, until I felt something like a great, tall, sculpted stack of ground meat of some sort.
I remember stumbling around in a daze for a moment, and I seem to recall something to the effect of Dragoon making noises, and beating the thing to death with its own appendage. I couldn't really move my appendages with very much conscious awareness of them, and furthermore, I'm sure I would've been in pain, except that I felt nothing. I remember being pinched between its arms, and I think I felt a vertebrae slip out of place, and maybe even wander off to some tropical island, where it could meet attractive female vertebrae. I like tropical islands. Especially the sort that have attractive females.
As I started to regain my self-awareness, and realized that I was indeed somewhat paralyzed, stumbling around and drooling without realizing it, Laya ran up to me and shouted, "I'll save you!" as she cast the techniques, Anti and Resta on me. I felt better, but not quite perfect yet.
I didn't feel quite perfect yet, so I kissed Laya, full, on the mouth, then promptly blamed it on the delirium of being smacked around by a giant bell-shaped thing, and being paralyzed and punch drunk. Then I felt as though I were in perfect health. Then Laya smacked me.
"If you were still feeling the effects of being paralyzed and punch-drunk, then you probably wouldn't have used your tongue, Crankshaft!" she said.
Without missing a beat, and in my own defense, I replied, "But I was still confused... I saw your big yellow hat, and thought you were a--" It was then, that I got slapped. Evidently, Laya didn't want to hear the rest of it.
Shortly thereafter, we arrived at a computer terminal. It was actually a dual terminal, having a unit on either side of one of the peculiar crystalish monuments that appear in the Ruins. They seemed to be running a program that was examining the structure.
As we stepped up to the terminal, Fender passed gas right next to Laya. In her moment of need, I jumped between them, shouted to Laya, "I'LL SAVE YOU!!!!" and promptly began sucking the fowl gas through my nose as quickly and noisily as I possibly could. Hey, we use our strengths to help each other out, don't we? The group looked at me strangely, and as they did so, I hyperventilated. Not one to give up at a sign of adversity though, I continued until I passed out.
When I came to, Laya was leaning over me. I blinked, and she stood. Fender helped me up. Then I said, "I had this dream," I said, "I had this dream, where I was in these Ruins, and you were there, and you were there, and YOU, YOU were there, too!" They looked at me strangely again. Of course, after fifteen years of life being the one and only Crankshaft R. Differential, I'm used to this by now. I continued, "And you, you you, you cut a fat one, and it was just Buh-EEEERRRRRRPTFT!, and I was just, 'Oh no!' and 'Zoom!' and I got between IT and Laya, and Laya was just 'Eeewww!' and I was just, 'I'll save you!' and then I was just, 'SSSHHHHFHFHFFFHFSSHFHHFSFFHH*SNORT*SSSHHSHFHFFHSHSSHFPHPHHSSHSFH!!*HONK*SNORT*... And then everything went black."
Fender smacked his forehead, then looked back up to me. "Crankshaft, where's the disc?"
I held up a finger, then removed it from my inventory. A personal inventory is an interesting device. It's actually a storage container at a remote location, but it has a very limited amount of storage space, though certainly more than you can carry on yourself. The second component of this storage space, is a program on your personal terminal, that tells the storage container to teleport the selected item into your hands. Very interesting indeed.
So anyway, yeah, I claimed the disc from my personal inventory, and handed it to Fender. Fender then took the disc, and slid it into a computer terminal. Fender looked at Dragoon. Then he looked at me. I looked back at him, and said, "What? Is there something hanging from my nose? It's not a nose goblin, is it? Ah! Nose goblin! Get it off, get it off!" Then I frantically brushed my hands down my face, until Laya kicked me in the knee, which inspired me to stop. Of course, then I was rubbing my knee, but that's beside the point.
Fender brought up the information that was on the disc, and had me look at it. "Do you understand what this is, Professor Differential?"
I leaned over and studied the hologram. "This looks like a set of mechanical plans. For a HUcast."
"Yes," he said. "That's precisely what they are."
Laya looked in, under my shoulder. "That HUcast looks familiar," she suggested.
Dragoon leaned in to look, and actually pushed me a bit. Fender, too. We all stared blankly for a moment, and then Dragoon suddenly had an out burst. He abruptly pointed at the hologram, knocking all three of us over, and shouted, "Hey! That's me! That's me! That's me!" Then he did what seemed to be a happy dance of some variety.
Rubbing his face, Fender got up, shut down the viewing program, removed the disc, and said, "More specifically Dragoon, it's the mechanical plans for a Dragoon-type HUcast, developed by the Bortevo Corporation as the ultimate machine for combat with large numbers of enemies. A HUcast designation of which, YOU are the prototype."
"I suppose that this would make me feel special, if I didn't already know about that," Dragoon stated. "I want to kill something."
Laya jumped up and outburst, "Wait wait, you mean that this walking lump of violence is the first of many?!?"
As I stood up, and brushed myself off, Dragoon said, "Dragoon is first of one. Bortevo go down the hoooole."
Fender started to say something with, "Actually Dragoon--" but was interrupted by someone who had snuck up on us.
A deep and almost broken voice said, "How kind of you to bring that back for us. We were afraid we'd have to execute our search-and-recover team for general incompetence."
A group of men with guns stood there with us. They all wore black uniforms, with black helmets. Each had a section ID, and each of their visors were colored according to their section ID. The one with the Pinkal section ID looked almost downright silly. As the others stood there with photon launchers, and varying varieties of rifles and high-powered handguns, he stood there holding a Love Rappy by the legs with one hand, with his other hand around its neck. Very strange indeed. Definitely the odd one out. Maybe he grew up too close to the power lines, or maybe he was just weird like that. He far exceeded my own absurdity.
The one with the Greenill section ID was the only one that spoke, and he was naturally the one that interrupted Fender. He continued, "Now, if you would, please hand over the disc. We're very busy you see, and Lord Guybec has been so immensely impatient, lately."