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The Recollection Of Crankshaft

Chapter 9

When something terrible happens, it's interesting how things go about. Someone dies and your first thought is, "Does this mean I get to go home now?" Unless you see it happen. In which case, your first thought is, "OUCH!! Well THAT guy is certainly dead!" When a large number of people die, and you see it, you don't have a first thought. You may not even have a thought. Just a whole bunch of, "!!!!" Your eyes bug out of your head, and curse words you've never heard of before spew forth from your mouth.

I had returned to my office, and I was just about to sort through a pile of envelopes that appeared on my desk in my absence, when I heard a ruckus down the street. At first, I ignored it. Then it got louder. I dropped down a partially opened letter, and ran to the window. Opening it, I yelled, "What in the name of great historical cheeses is WRONG with you people?!?" Then I looked at what was happening, and if I had been chewing on something tangible, I would've choked. Instead, I dropped my mental hoagie, and said, with great zeal, mind you, "!!!!" Then I made some odd noises, most of which were quite loud, and many of which, I'm told were rather obscene.

This, of course, summoned Laya's attention to my presence. As she burst through the door between our offices, she screamed at me, "Crankshaft!!" I didn't turn around, but she continued, "You see it, too?!?"

In a moment of striking reality, I turned to her and shouted over the noise, "No, I just like shouting obscenities at my people!"

"This is no time, Crankshaft! Turn on the news, they've got a news van out there!"

"But we've got a front-row seat!"

"Turn it on, Screwball!"

"Yes, ma'am!" And thus, I did. I ran over to my desk, and poked a few buttons on my terminal's control pad, calling upon a news video stream. The live crew was already on the scene. The censor blocks flew. A pitch-black HUcast was making a mess of things. It wasn't terribly long before the newscaster became part of it. I remember what he said, even now.

He said, "Here we are, at the scene of the massacre in progress." He moved aside, providing a better view. "As you can see, a rather lar--" Then he got thumped by an airborne limb. Almost instantly, the black HUcast was on top of him, tearing him apart. Frames later, it jumped up, and attacked the camera. Video silence. It went back to the anchorman, who stuttered for a moment, before the cheesy "SOPHISTICATED DIFFICULTIES" flower scene thing popped up.

Meanwhile, Laya was in the restroom, recalling the lunch I bought her. I returned to the window at this point, to see what was still happening. More carnage was going on. Body parts flying. Blood spurting. Vehicles were landing on the roof. Shots fired  Unfortunately, the photon bullets were deflected by Mr. Violence Personified, down there, typically smacked in the direction of the few fleeing survivors.

The door from the hallway slammed open. At first, I thought it was Laya coming from the restroom, but when she did that, it was much more gingerly. I looked at the door, and VanGarrett was standing there. "Crankshaft!" he shouted.

I shouted back. "GAH!" I shouted. "That seems to be today's standard greeting! VANGARRETT!" Then Laya stepped out of the restroom slowly. "LAYA!" I yelled. She jumped.

"CRANKSHAFT!" she yelled. "WHAT?!?"

"Just the standard greeting for today."

"Ugh, whatever..."

VanGarrett ran over to us. "Crackhead! Let's go, there's no time!" he grabbed me, and started to pull me out of the room. Suddenly he stopped and looked at Laya. I heard him mumble as he looked at her. "So that's why he--" Then he spoke up, "You too! Let's go!"

A moment later, we were running down the hall. I was content to just run, and ask questions later, but Laya was all confused, and wanted to know why we were running to the emergency stairs. "What is going on? Why are we running? What the heck?" she questioned as we ran.

"It's not a random attack!" he yelled as he kicked a door open.


We kept running. We were coming up to another door, where we were seeing a desperate janitor lock it in front of us. VanGarrett cursed at him and yelled, "Open up the door!" Then he cursed at him some more, though he could only gesture an apology and run. VanGarrett grumbled as he smacked the door and tried to open it. He looked back, and cursed. When I looked back there, I saw something big coming and made a noise.

"Stand back!" VanGarrett yelled once more. Laya and I stepped back, as VanGarrett pulled out what I quickly identified as a Suppressed Gun, and shot the lock off. "Go! Go! Go!" So we go'ed. We ran through the door. I heard a few more shots fired off, and soon he was right with us again. "He's in the building!"

Laya shouted, "Who's in the building?!? That crazy HUcast?!"

"Yeah, that crazy HUcast!"

We kept running. A huge creature burst through the wall in front of us, and shoot the janitor off its foot, before looking at us. It was like some sort of d-cellular cow, except it was really really mean. I've since learned that it was called a Delbiter.

"Crap! A Delbiter!" VanGarrett yelled. We tried to run passed it, but it wouldn't let us by. VanGarrett started pelting it with bullets, but was unable to phase it much; though he did manage to blast a few holes through its hard skin, causing this bizarre purple substance to spurt all over the place. Just as the Delbiter was on top of him, and about to come down, something huge crashed through the roof, and effectively crushed the beast.

I though we were surely dead, that the HUcast had caught up with us. Certainly, it was a HUcast, but this one was white and covered in purple stuff. It pulled some sort of Glaive from the remains of the beast, and looked at VanGarrett.

"Paladin!" VanGarrett yelled. "You were supposed to wait!"

"You took to long. I decided you needed help."

"Glad you did! Can you hold off Akolyte?"

"That's what I do..." With that he started to take off toward the quickly approaching Akolyte. Before taking off for the fight, he yelled back, "HuBBsDoctor and Zeirom are on their way down!"

With an acknowledging, salute-like gesture at Paladin, VanGarrett holstered his gun, grabbed our arms again, and we were running again. The loud sound of metal against metal echoed in the hallway, as we got ran by another office, mere yards from the door to the emergency stairs. There was a crashing sound from the office next to us, and I thought, "Why did that office make a crashing sound?" I looked back, as we ran through the door, and saw the door on the office shatter behind us, and those creepy darkly dressed RAmars run out.

We ducked behind the door, just as they started shooting at us, and I actually caught a photon bullet in my arm. With a shriek and a whimper, I grabbed my arm, then looked at VanGarrett. "Come ON!" he yelled, and jerked me up a couple of stairs.

HuBBsDoctor dropped down behind us. Photon bullets were flying all around us. He remarked at VanGarrett in a certain sarcastic tone, commonly associated with intelligent donkeys. "Trying to get a shower, boss?"

VanGarrett recovered flawlessly however with, "That's what it looks like, but I generally prefer to bathe in water. We're gonna need some cover!"

There was a clanking above us, which was decidedly the noise made by the RAcast soon identified as Zeirom while running down metal stairs.. That clanking was soon muffled by a series of precision sharp shots. The next thing I heard was the "reeeeeeeeeeearrrrooountphpt!" of metal stairway breaking from the wall above us, soon followed by Zeirom shouting, "TALLY HO!"

Zeirom landed with a metallic thud, and with a few more curses from HuBBsDoctor and VanGarrett, and a shout from Laya, we were forced to jump from our position on the stairs, to a lower portion of the stairway across the spire from us. I hurt myself upon landing, and Laya hurt me more when she landed on me. That's okay, though. She's small, and I was able to make due with only one kidney until I could make a trip to the hospital.

We regrouped. Everyone stood, except for me. I mangled. Zeirom was nearby, and looked up at the wreckage, which by this time was several stories worth of stairway, all piled in front of the door we'd gone through. The shower of photon bullets continued, but now it was hampered by the debris. Zeirom surveyed the brokenness. "That the cover you wanted, VanGarrett?"

"That'll due..." he replied, then checked his holster. "Ah, curse words..."

HuBBsDoctor turned his attention from the flying photons to VanGarrett. "What?"

"My Suppressed gun. It must've fallen from my holster when we jumped."

Zeirom was still looking at the wreckage. "The one I gave you? It's right there." He pointed up at the broken stairway.

VanGarrett looked at me, then at Laya. Then he looked up at the gun. "Ugh..." He paused for a moment.

Zeirom looked up. Another segment of the stairway fell loose. "They're trying to make the rest of the stairs fall on us."

VanGarrett nodded. Huffed. Stroked the facial hair he had, that I lack (Facially speaking, I'm like a little hairless dog. I'm skinny and smooth skinned). "All right," he said. "I'd better go up there and get it before it's too late."

At this point, I looked to Laya. "I think I punctured a kidney, Laya." Then I made a puppy-dog face.

Laya was busy watching HuBBsDoctor and VanGarrett, however, as HuBBsDoctor gave VanGarrett a boost up to the next broken segment of stairway. "Not, now Crankshaft! VanGarrett's doing something risky!"

I cringed, and turned away, "Urgk, you can pull the jagged metal thing out of my BACK now..."

"Crankshaft! Look, I know you hurt, but please!"

"No, no, I mean, pull the jagged metal thing out of my back! I landed on something when we jumped..."

"OH! I'm so sorry Crankshaft! I'll help you..." Then she jerked the thing out of my back. I yelped. She did a little bit of Resta. Ahhh, it was worth it.

VanGarrett jumped back down, rather haphazardly, this time, with his gun. Stumbling back up to his feet, and wiping some blood from his lip, he looked at HuBBsDoctor and said, "Good crap! Almost got killed out there!"

HuBBsDoctor stepped out of the way of a falling stair, and asked him, "How do we get ourselves into this kind of situation, anyway?"

"Screwing up this bad takes mad talent, dude." He looked around for a moment, and watched another piece of stairway fall and pile on top of other broken segments. Then he looked at Zeirom. "I have an idea... Hey Zeirom!"

"My first thought, VanGarrett, is that I should say no."

"Can you do me a favor, and transfer your traps to your inventory?"

"Err... Okay..." Zeirom quirked his shoulders for a moment. "All of them?"

"All of them!"

Zeirom made a strange movement, almost as though he were stretching his back. "...Done."

"Great!" VanGarrett immediately began punching buttons on the terminal on his ranger's bracer.

I stumbled over to him, to watch. "What're you doing?" I asked.

VanGarrett pulled out a visor device, turned it on, and handed it to me. "Put on this Trap Vision, and look at the area above our cover, up there."

I took it, and looked up there. My pointy ears picked up one last poke of a button on VanGarrett's terminal. Then I saw no less than thirty traps materialize on just the other side of the stairway heap. The gunfire stopped, and I heard a collective, "OH CRAP!" Just before "KA-BOOOOM!" The sound of dozens of traps of all sorts blowing up.

Our cover was, err, well, blown. HuBBsDoctor jumped up and tackled me. "GET DOWN!" he yelled. Get down, indeed.

Meanwhile, I distinctly heard Zeirom jump and yell, "Laya! I'll save you!" Then I heard Laya yelp, and the clank of Zeirom landing. Thus, the stairway wreckage was fallen. On top of us.  It wasn't over, but it sure made getting to the top of the building more complicated.

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