Welcome to When Zombies Attack: The Commentary! In case you're not sure what this is about, the fic commentary thing started as a meme in I think HP fandom -- or was it popslash? A damn long time ago, anyway. It is, quite simply, like a DVD commentary, but for fanfic, and I tend to do them for my longer fics, because if I spend weeks working on a story, then by god I'm going to talk about it. A lot. :D
Before we get to the story proper, I need to note a couple of general things. In list form!
People, Countries, and Abstract Concepts I Would Like To Apologise To, No Really, I Am So Very, Very Sorry:
- Everyone I've so much as mentioned in this story. I'm pretty sure I've messed up the canon, such as it is, massively, and I'm sure there's places where I've taken huge liberties with characterisation in the name of plot.
- Everyone I haven't mentioned in this story, or killed off, or shoved off into the background in some way. It's really nothing personal, and I normally do a lot more research on a fandom before I start writing in it, especially something as semi-epic as this, but in this case, the problem is threefold:
This is me and my issues, please don't take it personally.
- I had limited internet time when I was writing this, which means I couldn't really watch each and every video on the site.
- I'm not interested in anime, and as a (console) gamer I sorta got stuck in the NES era, so my motivation for watching a lot of the videos is low, as is my understanding of what they're talking about. (Too many buttons! Augh!)
- I have trouble processing certain American accents, especially when I'm tired or stressed, and I've been both quite a lot recently. What this means is that while I can watch, for example, a Nostalgia Critic video any time, I sometimes have trouble with Spoony and Atop The Fourth Wall, and I seriously cannot watch Video Game Confessions, because Doug's accent as Dominic is almost physically painful to me.
- U.S. geography. Geography isn't exactly my strong point anyway (I once spent ten minutes looking at a map of Belgium looking for my hometown, ffs), and trying to deal with a country as huge as the U.S. pretty much made me break down and cry until I decided to just wing it. I'm sure it shows.
- Stephen King, because no matter how hard I tried to avoid similarities to The Stand, I read the unabridged version of the damn book when I was barely twelve, so it's pretty much unavoidably burned into my brain by this point. Mr King, I'm so sorry for appropriating bits of your magnum opus for a semi-silly zombie apocalypse fanfic story.
Things I Researched For This Fic, Because When Writing Zombie Apocalypse Fic In A Fandom With Barely Coherent Canon, Details Are Vitally Important, Obviously:
- U.S. Geography, which pretty much melted my brainmeats. See also point 3 above.
- Locations of assorted internet characters/personalities, half of which I probably got completely wrong.
Note that these lists are by no means complete, sigh. And now, on to the story!
When Zombies Attack: A Dark Comedy In Three Acts
So the thing about this story, right, is that when I started writing it, there was no other darkfic in this fandom, and I was really unsure about writing darkfic in what is, essentially, a humourous fandom. Plus, as much as I love it, I'm really not that good at writing "real" darkfic.
I spent a good amount of time flailing wildly while hurtling myself through writing the first couple of chapters of this, because I had a general idea of the setup, and a couple of scenes I knew I wanted to write (half of which ended up on the cutting room floor, so to speak, but I'll get to that later), but absolutely no idea as to where the story wanted to go, or how it would get there.
Luckily, insomnia came to the rescue, and when I thought "Hm, so what I want is a kinda funny darkfic, really," the title just came to me like that, and that, in turn, have me a narrative structure and at least a vague idea of where the story was going.
Of course, that then required a rewrite of the 5,000 words I already had at that point, about which I had a bit of a freakout on LJ. Sometimes, I really wish it was possibly to physically stab a story in the damn face, sigh.
Overture: Back To The Future
Proof that I spend far too much time thinking about titles: note how all the small bits, i.e. the prologue, both "intermissions," and the epilogue, have movie-related titles. That was a coincidence at first, really. This one was just the first pop culture reference that came to mind, really, but when I got to the second intermission, I found myself subconciously trying to find an apt title that was from a movie reference, and realised there was a theme going on with the titles, and I went with it.
1 April 2025
(Journal, author unknown)
Hey everyone, say hi to Tim! Tim's in his mid-fifties, married, had three kids after the zombies were smished, and has no connection to anyone in the actual story. The reason he's in this story at all is that he found the surveillance footage from Dr Insano's lab in the wreckage at Ground Zero. I felt bad for him being all anonymous, but narrative structure doesn't care about him, sadly. But now you know. :)
In retrospect it's probably for the best that only a handful of people ever knew how it all really started.
There were theories flying around from day one, and as the days went on and The Situation (as the media insisted on euphemistically calling it) spread across the country, and then the continent, the theories grew wilder.
Oh sure, there had been people early on who'd claimed it was the wrath of God come down on President Obama's home town, but they'd been the usual fringe lunatics. By the time it reached New York, though, half of Congress seemed ready to force the president to step down, just in case it would appease God, and the other half was convinced it was all a secret government experiment gone wrong -- or possibly right.
By the time they discovered it was nanites, the first victim had been sighted in Paris.
The truth seems almost disrespectful -- as if the dead (and the undead) deserve better than to have been unintentional victims of someone who was the laughing stock of even the inherently laughable "mad scientist community."
I actually wibbled a fair bit about this aspect of the whole thing. Sure "Blame Dr. Insano" was easy enough when I was plotting, but then the story took a (mostly) serious turn, and I kept thinking, "Come on, he's a pseudo-villain born from a bad video game, how can he nearly cause the end of the human race?" Then that turned into what I think is one of the more understated (for me, anyway) dark bits in this story, and one of the things I'm still quite fond of, if I'm honest. Because 99% of humanity is wiped out in a matter of weeks, a month tops, because a cartoonish pseudo-villain wanted to increase his brain capacity, and isn't that just pathetic?
I was rather ridiculously pleased that this section made people angry at Dr. Insano. I mean, it's not exactly his fault -- he didn't set out to create a horde of zombies, after all -- but ... it still kinda is, and he's very much aware of that by the time it turns into a pandemic, sadly. Poor, wibbly mad scientist.
1 April 2010(CCTV footage, audio only)
"Change ... Ya got-- Hey, where am I?"
"Oh, good, you're awake! How are you feeling, then? Bright-eyed and bushy-headed?"
"Ng ..." (struggle) "Let me go, you nutcase! You can't do this!"
"Oh, really?" (cackling) "And who exactly is going to stop me, then? Don't tell me you actually have any friends."
"I. Well. Um. The Nostalgia Critic! He'll get me out of here, he's a good guy like that. Besides, he owes me for helping him during the Brawl. And That Guy will probably tag along just for the potential for mayhem and destruction."
"Well, that was unusually lucid and eloquent of you. The nanites must be working faster than I thought."
"... Nanites? What? What are you doing to me?"
"Oh, relax, it won't hurt. Much." (cackling) "Now hold still so I can draw blood for some tests."
"Fuck you, ASSHOLE!" (struggling)
"I said, hold still. Struggling is useless, these restraints are unbreakabl-- OW! Fuck-- HEY!"
(struggling, metal clanging)
"SUBJECT ZERO ONE HAS ESCAPED. SECURITY HAS BEEN BREACHED. REPEAT: "SUBJECT ZERO ONE HAS ESC--"
"Shut up, stupid computermabob. I-- ARGH! Hurts ... Brains? Brains ... Ya got brains? BRAINS?"
E-mail to Amy, my beta reader, some two or three days after finishing the story and sending it to her:
So I'm watching the Bum review of Zombieland, and I nearly had a heart attack when he went "I was a zombie once!" until I remembered the fic isn't posted yet and that cannot possibly be a reference to it. I think I may have lost like a year of my life, though. D:
would really like her fandoms not to accidentally read her mind, kthx.
"Computermabob" is an obscure, injoke-like reference that most of the fandom, not being familiar with UK commercials, isn't going to get, but which I put in anyway because hey, it amused Emeriin. :D
Act One: One Year Later
A comics reference, of course. Originally, this was the title of the first chapter, in which we'd get a lot of "slices of post-apocalyptic life," and people discovering the message Spoony left, and that sort of thing. Chapter two was going to be about people travelling to and arriving at the compound, and was called "Survivors: The Gathering". In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't go with that, because that title is kind of appalling in all sorts of ways.
(In which we catch up with our heroes; our heroes catch a ride; some bad guys catch a hero; and some people just refuse to catch a clue.)
5 May 2011
"Oh, goeiendag, didn't hear you come-- Oh, it's you."
The Nostalgia Critic rolled his eyes. "Of course it's me, fuckwit. Who else would it be? Are you expecting company?"
That Guy With The Glasses muttered something about force of habit, eliciting another eye roll from the Critic.
"Whatever. I refilled the flamethrowers -- you didn't fill yours again, by the way. One of these days I'm going to just let you deal with a pack of zombies and an empty weapon, you know."
That Guy just smirked. "No, you won't. You couldn't handle being on your own out here. Even if you managed to hold off the zombies, you'd still end up curled up in a corner whimpering that you're all alone. Which means you'll keep refilling the flamethrowers for me, so why should I bother doing it?"
The Critic scowled, but didn't reply. Unfortunately, That Guy was probably right.
He probably is, you know. The Critic somehow doesn't strike me as the kind of person who deals well with not having an audience.
Of course, this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, since I can't see That Guy dealing well with not having someone to torture (physically, mentally, emotionally, or any combination thereof) either.
Really, even though they've spent the entirety of what I call, in my head, "The Missing Year" fighting and arguing and bitching at and about each other, they did more or less manage to keep each other sane -- or at least mostly as sane as they were before, and wow, I hadn't realised before I just typed that up exactly how much of that concept I must've cribbed from Red Dwarf. Huh.
"You think we're starting to make a dent in their numbers?" Not the most subtle subject change ever, he had to admit, but That Guy would notice -- and mock him for it -- anyway, so whatever.
"Nice segue, asshole. Assuming they're not just learning to stay away from us, I actually think so, yes."
"I don't think they're capable of learning. I mean, if they were, they would have learned by now not to run towards the flames of fiery doom, right?" The Critic settled himself on the couch with a can of soda and leaned back, settling in for a long argument. Semi-scholarly discussions about the zombies made up the bulk of their interactions anymore. Most other subjects tended to result in their being -- literally -- at each other's throats, which was somewhat counterproductive to the whole survival thing.
The idea of being stuck in a house with That Guy for more than a year is somewhat terrifying, I admit. Keeping each other sane or not, I'm still kind of surprised the Critic is as reasonably well-adjusted as he is. I'd probably be curled up under a bed somewhere, wibbling incoherently, myself.
"'Flames of fiery doom'?" That Guy looked almost aghast. "Seriously? What is this, Zombie Apocalypse: The Poetry Hour?"
That warranted another eye roll. "Yes. Yes, it is. Here, I wrote a poem especially for you: Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm feeding you to the zombies, and also fuck you."
I'm way, way more fond of this bit than I probably should be, all things considered, I admit. For some reason, "Zombie Apocalypse: The Poetry Hour" makes me giggle whenever I think of it. The fact that this is one of the bits I wrote in the heaviest throes of insomnia probably doesn't help, either. I'm a sad, sad person, I know.
But hey, it seemed to amuse other people as well, so if I'm a sad person, so are the rest of you. :p
"Aw, it's beautiful," That Guy said, with more sarcasm than should be humanly possibly to put into three words. "I'll treasure it always."
But the Critic was no longer paying attention. "Shut up, douchebag. Do you hear that?"
That Guy opened his mouth, probably ready to spout more caustic commentary on the Critic's mental health, but then seemed to think better of it. "That's a car."
"That's what I thought," the Critic agreed, strapping on his gun as he did so, and reaching for a flamethrower. "Please tell me they haven't figured out how to drive."
Zombies On Wheels! Or, as I like to call it, Antwerp. :D
(This joke brought to you by the Society for Obscure Belgian References No One Else Will Get. *cough* Sorry 'bout that, contractual obligation.)
"You're the one who was convinced they can't learn," That Guy pointed out, and for once there wasn't even a trace of mockery in his voice. "Could be a survivor?"
"At Ground Zero? After more than a year?" And okay, they'd survived this long, but how likely was it that there was another geeky shut-in basement dweller whose housemate was owed some favours by Satan? Not very, is how likely, and even their survival had more to do with extreme luck than with skill, to be brutally honest.
This is a bit of a throwaway line, and it's mostly me handwavingly trying to explain why these two are still alive after spending a year or more at Ground Zero of the Zombie Apocalypse. I mean, I don't believe that the Chick is the only one still alive in NYC, but I do think it's quite likely that they're the only ones still alive in Chicago, because if nothing else, any other survivors would've hightailed it out of there while they still could.
When they emerged from their subterranean hideout they were just in time to be too late. A pack of zombies had forced the car they'd heard into a lamppost, and dragged the driver out of the car. Her desperate flailing -- the gun still clutched in her right hand was obviously empty -- was quickly proving ineffectual. When she saw them, she shouted something at them, but it was difficult to make out over the noise of the still running car engine. Her next words, though, were clear enough.
"Kill me please god don't let them--"
The blast from That Guy's gun shattered the woman's skull and snapped the Critic out of his horrified, stunned daze. The pack, annoyed at being denied their prey, turned snarlingly towards them. The Critic quickly shouldered his flamethrower. Guns weren’t very effective against packs of zombies, they’d quickly discovered, but even amateurishly macguyvered flamethrowers usually worked pretty well. Set one zombie on fire, and if you're lucky, it'll take out several others.
Barely ten minutes later, the pack was reduced to a pile of smouldering, stinking flesh, and the Critic was climbing into the car to switch the engine off. No sense in wasting fuel, after all. From the back of the car, he could hear That Guy yelling, "Hey, assmunch!"
"What?" He was looking around the car for useful things. There was some food, but not much, and the clothes were unlikely to fit either of them.
"Here's a riddle for you: what's a Canadian car doing in Chicago? Doesn't look like it's been here from the beginning, I think she drove it down here."
"Through Ground Zero? What the hell?"
Note how I never actually answered this question, either. Who was Random Canadian Woman, and why did she drive through Ground Zero? I have absolutely no idea. Hey, it's the Zombie Apocalypse; people do weird things.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. :D
"Well, she was obviously crazy; she kept yelling about cash, like that's worth anything anymore."
But the Critic had spotted something interesting in the foot well of the passenger's seat. A laptop, and plugged into the cigarette lighter to keep it charged, too. What the hell? That Guy was right, Canadian Lady had obviously lost it, because who would risk an empty car battery for a game of solitaire, which was about all a laptop was good for anymore, unless--
Suddenly, it clicked, and understanding didn't so much dawn as arrive with the sudden blindingness of a nuclear explosion. "Not cash," he yelled at That Guy, "Cache." He grabbed the laptop and switched it on, praying to whatever god might be listening that he was right.
"What the fuck are you talking about?" That Guy asked, coming round to the front of the car.
"Cache. C-A-C-H-E. As in a browser cache," the Critic explained impatiently. Fucking XP and its long-ass boot sequence.
(Warning: TV Tropes link coming up!)
Caution: Writer On Board! Heh. And yet, even the first, buggy releases of XP were still better than what I saw of Vista on initial release. The fact that I actuallyenjoyed working Tech Support and am currently actvely trying to find another TS job probably says a lot about me, doesn't it?
"Come on, come on, .... Finally! Firefox ... history ... There we go!" He stared at the screen in gobsmacked disbelief. "Oh, you have got to be kidding me." Reality, it seemed, had finally jumped the shark.
"What? What is it?" That Guy leaned in over the Critic's shoulder. "... Oh. Huh."
"Yeah, pretty much," the Critic quietly agreed.
7 May 2011
"Dammit," the Nostalgia Chick sighed, closing the cupboard doors. She was going to have to go out for food again soon, and she was really dreading it this time. She was barely recovered from the last time she'd gone out, and that had only got her enough food to last a week. That had been four days ago, and what was left should hold her for another four days, maybe, but probably more like three. She really didn't want to leave it until she was down to the last can of tuna again, though.
Also, she was out of tampons, and her period was due in five days. Dammit.
I'm kind of ridiculously pleased that I managed to work in a reference to tampons, here. Feminine hygiene needs rarely get mentioned in these survival stories, you see, and it seems like it would be an even bigger problem than, say, toilet paper, which you can improvise if really necessary. I mean, it woulden't be much of a prolem for me, because I use washale pads and a menstrual cup, but those aren't really widely-known options, so for most women, this would be a priority right up there just below "food" and "drinking water" and yet I've never seen it mentioned in the post-apocalyptic fic I've read.
... I make my own fun, yes. Don't judge meeee!
She sighed again, ran a hand through her short-cropped hair, and eyed the map covering most of one of the kitchen walls. She forcibly suppressed another sigh. The cluster of pins around her location was depressingly small and red. She was going to have to go further out this time, especially if she wanted enough supplies to last her another three or four weeks. Looking over the map again, she saw what was, maybe, a glimmer of hope: a small green pin several blocks to the northeast. "If I remember correctly," she mused out loud "That was a pretty big store, and it looked like someone boarded it up pretty early on, so if I'm lucky ...
She didn't dare voice her secret fear: that her luck was about due to run out. She couldn't talk like that, couldn't think like that, even with no one around to hear her. She wasn't just going to lie down and die, dammit. There were others out there, there had to be. Even if she was somehow the only survivor in New York City -- and the idea that she'd survived when more than fifteen million others hadn't was ridiculous -- there had to be people holed up in bunkers outside the big cities, right? It was just a matter of finding them, of communicating, because setting off on her own on a search for a needle in a zombie-infested haystack was tantamount to suicide-by-undead-hordes.
She dragged her attention back to the matter at hand, and tried to remember what the roads were like between her and the location of the green pin. Reasonably clear, she seemed to remember; probably not enough to get an SUV through, but she had a vague recollection of a 4x4 parked on the corner. At the time, she'd wondered what kind of small-dicked asswipe had a 4x4 in New York City, but now she was grateful to whoever it was. With a bit of luck, she could sneak over to the store, cram the car full of supplies, and get it back without too many problems. That should give her at least four weeks of supplies, if not more, and at least some more fuel.
"Or," she reluctantly admitted to herself, "I could pick up and move there." Which would be necessary soon enough, she knew, but it would mean cleaning out another flat, boarding up the staircase, killing the lift (if necessary -- not all buildings still had electricity), not to mention--
She sighed. Not to mention there probably wouldn’t be wi-fi. The laptop on the table in the sitting room hummed audibly as its ventilator kicked in.
Checking for an internet connection had been the first thing she'd done whenever she'd moved into a new place, once she'd secured it, and usually even before clearing out. By the time she'd moved in here two months before, she'd pretty much given up hope, checking more out of habit than out of any expectation of a hit. She almost hadn't noticed the connection message popping up, and it had taken her several minutes to believe it was real.
If you were wondering what this magic ISP is that's still connecting here and there, it's ... AOL. Of course.
Also, 4-Chan isn't actually the only website left on the internet after the zombie apocalypse; it's just the one people tend to come across first, since it's got the lower IP address. The other website is http://www.heywheredidalltheporngo.com (... that link won't work, don't bother clicking it) -- or at least it would be, if the vast majority of nameservers weren't down.
Yes, I've given this whole question of what would still be up and running after the internet goes down in a ball of zombie-fuelled flames entirely too much thought. Yes, I am a sad, sad geek. MOVING ON!
Someone, somewhere in this building, or maybe a neighbouring one, had left their wireless router on, connected, and unprotected. She'd never found it, but then she'd never really looked for it much either, as if it would disappear if she went through every apartment in the building -- with all that entailed, bodies and trash and all -- and failed to find it. Schrödinger’s Router.
And again, I should not be as fond of this line as I am. I just really love the concept of Shrödingers Router, dammit. Shut up.
The laptop continued to hum, and on the screen, she could see the command prompt doing what it had been doing for the last six weeks: pinging IP addresses in sequence. Nameservers were likely to be down, but if there were any websites still up and running, she'd find them.
She couldn't stay where she was forever, she knew that, but the next day's supply run should give her another month or so at least. Another month of hope to cling to.
And them, suddenly, the silence in the apartment was shattered by a loud bleep. The laptop -- it had found something. Something, someone was still out there. Hands shaking, she launched FireFox and entered the valid IP address from the command prompt, barely daring to breathe as the page loaded, slowly but surely.
The header took her by surprise, but she supposed it did make sense. "Guess they really are the cockroaches of the internet."
People, Countries, and Abstract Concepts I Would Like To Apologise To:
- 4-Chan. When I say "cockroaches of the internet," I mean that in a completely complimentary sense, I swear. please don't send anonymous after me i'm small and harmless i promise D:
Things I Researched For This Fic:
- How 4-Chan works. In fact, I actually posted to a community asking about this shit. My credibility, let me show you it -- oh, wait, it's down the drain now. Sigh.
Then she read the message, and read it again, and again, unable to wrap her mind around the information. When it finally sunk in, she burst out laughing in relief and disbelief.
In the original version of this fic, before I rehauled the whole narrative structure, this image was a chapter in and of itself, and the chapter title was "This Is The Zombie Apocalypse (That Is A Cult)". It's one of the few things I'm actually quite sad about losing. I mean, I like the overall structure much better this way, and it's much more coherent and whatnot, but I liked that chapter title, dammit. *sulk*
Random sidenote ("What, like the rest of this commentary isn?"): I suspect most other people would've put traditional long/lat co-ordinates on Spoony's message, and assumping that people would be using maps. I, however, worked Tech Support for GPS software for two years, and thus that's more natural to use, as far as I'm concerned. Not that most of you will have realised in the first place that those are GPS co-ordinates, anyway.
13 May 2011
"Any new messages this morning?" Spoony asked, trying in vain to get his hair looking something less of a mess.
"Nothing," Angry Joe shook his head. "But there's been fewer and fewer of them lately anyway. I think the connections are starting to go. It's a minor miracle we still have ours."
"Don't jinx it," Spoony muttered. Having finally found a comb, he made quick work of his hair. "Who's up for morning shift today?"
"You are," Joe grinned. "And I'm taking over from Linkara at noon."
They'd come up with the system of overlapping six hour shifts to ensure there was always one relatively fresh person on guard duty at all times. That Chick With The Goggles had been the one to come up with the idea -- had insisted on it, in fact -- after she and Linkara had arrived for their shift one day and found Angry Joe and Ma-Ti both fast asleep.
("Not that they didn't look adorable," she'd told Spoony. "But adorable isn't going to keep the zombies at bay." As usual, she had a point.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the infodump! I did actually did some fairly in-depth pondering about how things work around the compound, and in the post-zombie-apocalyptic world in general. See also: the tampons thing, and
And dammit, I'm proud of this bit, because it makes sense. Six to eight hour consecutive shifts are just asking for someone to fall asleep, or lose their focus, or for the enemy to take advantage of guard changes. Plus, this way, the longest you'll ever be stuck with someone is three hours, instead of the full six or eight.
"Great." He looked at the clock. If he was quick, he could just about grab breakfast before heading to the gate. "Hey, bring me over a Red Bull and some Ramen for lunch when you come over, would you?"
Random trivia: when I was typing in the fic from the handwritten original, I managed to type "Red Bull" as "Irn Bru" almost every single time. My rather spectacular typos, let me show you them.
"Glad to see our Fearless Leader is keeping himself healthy," Joe remarked dryly, and quickly ducked out of the way of the object flying at his head. "Dude, did you just throw a comb at me? The hell?"
But the Fearless Leader ignored him, and started down to the canteen.
15 May 2011
Hey look, everyone: it's the one and only scene from the Nerd's PoV! I, like apparently others in this fandom, have a lot of trouble writing the Nerd. And by "a lot of trouble," I mean "fear," of course. It's a little strange that, as a fandom, we seem to be more comfortable writing from the PoV of That Guy than of the Nerd, but that's fandom for you, I suppose.
Of course, the lack of Nerd PoV would come back to bite me in the ass later on, but we'll get to that when we get to it ...
"Incoming!" the Angry Video Game Nerd nudged Ma-Ti with his boot, none too gently. He was tired, hungry, and he was supposed to have ended his shift ten minutes ago, but his relief was late. He was in a bad mood even for him, and he wasn't above taking it out on Mr. I Am An Invaluable Asset To The Compound So I Get To Nap On Shift, Dammit. "Looks like a car, so probably friendlies. Not zombies, at least."
"Probably," Ma-Ti agreed, rubbing his side and wincing slightly. "Too far away to tell if they're infected, though. Or who they are."
But the Nerd had already lifted the binoculars started to adjust them. "Too far for you, maybe," he smirked. "This calls for old-fashioned methods."
"Old-fashioned methods and state-of-the-art technology," Ma-Ti pointed out, and okay, he had to admit, the high-tech binoculars did help. A little. His point still stood, though.
"Damn sun's glaring off the windshield," he growled. Then, a cloud came to his aid, and he quickly focussed the binoculars ... "Oh, you're shitting me," he exclaimed. The Nostalgia Critic? The guy everyone gave up for dead almost a year ago, because no one could survive at Ground Zero, right? Except, it seemed the fucker had. What was he, the goddamned Batman, now?
There are two potential explanations for this line:
- It's a reference to this fanart, or
- in the original version of Act One, ths line was meant for Linkara, and I just couldn't bring myself to cut it when I rewrote it.
Deciding which one is the correct answer is left as an excercise for the reader. *handwave*
"What?" Ma-Ti reached for the binoculars, the car apparently still too far away for his mojo to work. The Nerd handed them over without a word. "... Critic?"
Not a hallucination, then. The Nerd sighed. "Keep an eye on him in case he's infected or something. I'll go tell the others."
New arrivals, even less spectacular ones than this one, were exciting enough that even those on opposite shifts didn't mind losing some sleep to welcome them. By the time everyone was awake and gathered around the gates, the car was close enough that the Nerd could heard the Critic yelling, "Neeeerd!" He rolled his eyes.
"Shut your pie hole, fuckwad!
"Fuck you! Are you gonna let me in, or what?"
"Or what! We need to make sure you're not infected, first." He turned towards Ma-Ti, and gestured. "Well?"
Ma-Ti, not immune to a little dramatic license, apparently, made a point of leaning slightly out of the tower and studying the Critic for several seconds before yelling at the small crowd, "He's clean, open the gates." He slid down the stairs before the car was even through the gates.
"How the fuck could you tell I was clean from up there, you pipsqueak?" The Critic yelled at Ma-Ti as soon as he got out of the car.
Ma-Ti, apparently still in prima donna mode, held up one hand, ring glittering in the early morning sun, and said, "Heart?"
Okay, so I kinda made Ma-Ti into a bit of a smug bastard in this fic, but it was done with love, really. Because if you'd have had to put up with decades of (TV Tropes link!) "What kind of lame power is Heart, anyway?" and then the zombie apocalypse hits, and you find out that actually, it's a damn handy power with some applications that are vital to the compound, wouldn't you be smug? :D
Oh, and credit where it's due: the concept of Ma-Ti being able to sense things like this is totally stolen from Aunt Zelda. She'd mentioned in the comments to her own post-apocalyptic fic that she'd originally intended for Ma-Ti to have the power to sense humans in hiding and all that, and I shamelessly stole that idea and ran with it.
"Huh," the Critic said thoughtfully. "Maybe it's not such a lame power after all."
The next few minutes descended into chaos as people crowded around the Critic, demanding to know how he managed to survive, and the Nerd kept his distance, figuring even the pussy deserved his hero's welcome. Sort of.
"Okay, people, break it up!" And there was Spoony, interrupting the general mayhem and attempting to restore some semblance of order.
Note: "attempting". This is why my plotting notes for this fic include about the words "Poor Spoony" about half a dozen times. Trying to fashion a bunch of geeks and nerds into something resembling an army is difficult enough, but this lot? I'm surprised the boy didn't develop a drinking problem, frankly.
"I know we're all glad to see each other, but there's no one on guard right now, or preparing breakfast, and I'm sure the Critic will want food, and a shower, and some sleep." The Nerd couldn't help but smirk as Spoony wrinkled his nose and added, "Not necessarily in that order." When people began to disperse, albeit grumblingly, he called to the Nerd, "Hey!"
Oh, god. "What?"
"He'll be bunking with you. Show him around, would you? I'm on kitchen duty." And he was gone before either of them could object.
So I came to this scene and thought to myself, "Wait. Why would they all have to share if there's less than a dozen of them and a whole army barracks to sleep in?"
Because Spoony is an evil, cunning bastard, is why, hee!
"You better not snore, asshole," the Critic commented.
"Fuck you, douchebag," the Nerd retorted. "Come on, let's get this over with. You're not the only one who needs food and sleep, you know. I've been on guard shift all night."
"Poor baby," the Critic intoned sarcastically.
The Nerd ignored him. "Showers are over there," he pointed. "Canteen's that way. And this," opening the door to one of the smaller building to reveal a sparse room containing a set of bunk beds, a table with some chairs, and a desk. "Is my humble abode."
"Our humble abode, now," the Critic pointed out.
"Whatever. You've got the top bunk." He saw the Critic smirk. "What?"
"Nothing, just never took you for much of a bottom, that's all. Wasn't it Nerd-on-Critic action, after all?" His attempt at looking innocent failed spectacularly, and the Nerd scowled at him.
Believe it or not, I didn't plot this bit at all. Somehow, it hadn't occured to me that Nerd + Critic + bunk beds = begging for this joke, ffs.
Yeah, sometimes I'm kinda dense. As much as I blather on about narrative structure and plotting and whatnot, when it comes to the actual writing, I usually throw myself on the mercy of my muse, who is far more clever about these sort of things.
"Oh, shut up. We'll see who's laughing when you have to try and get up there after a supply raid. If you survive your first one, that is."
"Hey, I survived at Ground Zero for a year, remember? Although, to be fair, I did have help. Sort of. That Guy was a liability more than an asset, sometimes, though.
"What happened to him, anyway?" The Nerd asked. It was against one of the cardinal rules of post-zombie-apocalyptic etiquette, he knew, to ask about the ones who didn't make it, but manners had never been a big concern between the Critic and him anyway.
Of course, this bit of post-zombie-apocalyptic etiquette also totally explains why no one mentions any of the people I didn't include in the story. It's not because I wanted to leave their fate open to reader interpretation, no, it's because the other characters are being polite. Ahem.
The Critic uttered a short, harsh laugh. "Actually, that's a funny story. See, we survived that whole first year, right? Then we found Spoony's message -- don't ask how, long story -- and of course we decided to leave as soon as possible. We did one last supply run for the road, and on the way back, the asshole tripped and broke his ankle while we were getting away from a pack. I managed to hold them off, but there were more coming, and there was no way I could drag him back to the car before we ran out of fuel and bullets. I mean, I tried, but ..."
Silence for a few moments, then: "Anyway, he gave this whole speech or whatever about wanting to die with his, and I quote, 'vastly superior brain' intact. So I shot him though the heart. Turns out he had one. Who knew, right?"
This would be the scene that convinced me to actually write this story, sigh.
See, by late August, I had a whole bunch of things worked out, if only vaguely, about the story and the characters and roughly who would be doing what and whatever, and I had a handful of scenes, most of which never even made it into the first draft, let alone the finished story. I still wasn't sure if I was going to write it, though, because there wasn't really anything that grabbed me about the story and made me need to get it out of my head and onto paper, and I know from past experience that without that, trying to write a story is just a invitation for writer's block.
And then this line came to me and I knew I was done for. Oddly enough, I did actually originally mean it to be more funny than anything else, but then I put it into context, and the story made me cry! D:
Okay, I didn't quite cry, but I did wibble and tear up a little. Over a story I was writing! Stupid brain. Stupid story. Stupid muse. :(
On the bright side (... so to speak), this is one of the bits where I think I managed to hit the understated, kinda-funny darkness I was aiming for with the story. Like I said at the beginning, I'm not good at all-out darkfic, and I didn't want to turn this into a gorefest, either, so I went for things like this instead. I think I mostly hit what I was aiming for.
The Nerd wasn't sure what, if anything to say to that -- fuck, sure, they'd had (still had!) their epic feud, but this was something else. He was still trying to think of something when the Critic spared him the trouble.
"So, shower, and food. And I meant what I said about not snoring, asswipe, because I need to sleep for days, and if you keep me awake, I will smother you in your sleep."
29 May 2011
"Are we there yet?"
The Nostalgia Chick glared in the general direction of the passenger's seat. "I'm really beginning to regret picking you up, Paw. I should've just left you for the zombies." Five days of being cooped up in the car, taking turns driving and sleeping, stopping only to refuel and for the occasional bathroom break, were starting to take their toll.
People, Countries, and Abstract Concepts I Would Like To Apologise To:
- Paw, for turning him into a whingy brat in this scene. This is another holdover from the original version that I was reluctant to scrap entirely. In the original version, the role of Paw was played by the Nerd, which made more geographical sense (I don't actually know where Paw is from, to be honest), and which was a fair bit more IC, too.
The tension and cabin fever were inevitable, she knew, and she did try to keep her patience. Still, she had probably saved Paw from certain death, the Chick thought, still annoyed. He'd fallen asleep at the wheel after 36 hours of non-stop driving, and ended up swerving into a ditch. Miraculously, he hadn't been seriously injured, but the car was a loss. If she hadn't happened by he'd be zombie chow by now, so you'd think the man would be at least vaguely grateful, but no. Not him. If he opened his mouth just one more time, she decided, he was going to spend the rest of the way tied to the roof, dammit.
"Right, that's it," the Chick started, but he interrupted her.
"No really, look! Over there," he pointed. It was hard to see, squinting against the sunset, but coming up on the horizon was what looked like an army compound, watchtower and fences and all. "I think that's it, isn’t it?"
She nodded. "Looks like it. So, in answer to your earlier question: yes, we're almost there, yes."
"Well thank fuck for that."
The Chick considered the tied-to-the-roof option again. It would only be for half an hour, tops; no harm would be done, right?
"What's up?" That Chick With The Goggles asked, walking into the common-room-slash-comms-room.
Spoony sighed, then stretched. "I'm trying to work out this month's schedule, and we need to organise another raid. Otherwise, we're gonna have to start dipping into the supplies the army left behind, soon.
Goggles patted him on the shoulder. "We'll manage."
"Sure, as long as we don't get more people," he said. "What's with this sudden influx, anyway?"
"You're the one who posted that message," she pointed out.
Before Spoony could respond, Joe stuck his head around the door. "We've got incoming. Two people, can't tell who, yet. I'll go tell the others, and get Ma-Ti."
Spoony threw his hands up in defeat, and Goggles snickered. "Could be someone who's worth the extra mouth to feed," she suggested.
"Unless it's Chuck Norris," he sighed. "I doubt it."
Shaking her head, she made her way to the tower, where Ma-Ti was waving at her excitedly. "Congratulations!" He yelled. "It's a girl!"
"It's the Nostalgia Chick," he explained, grinning. "And Paw," he added, almost as an afterthought.
Goggles considered whether doing a little dance of joy would be too undignified. Weeks of being the only girl in a sea of testosterone were starting to get on her nerves. She settled for a discreet arm-pump of victory.
Not bothering with the theatrics this time, Ma-Ti just waved the car through the gates. The Nostalgia Chick jumped out of the car with a cry of "Oh my god, people," prompting Paw to inquire if he was chopped liver, now. Goggles ignored him, instead hugging the Chick until she practically turned blue with oxygen deprivation.
"I am so fucking glad you're here," she said. "I've been all alone here for weeks with nothing but boys, and I was about to start on a rampage or something. Come on, I'll show you where the showers and the canteen and everything is. You're sleeping with me, by the way."
There was a sudden silence as everyone else's eyes seemed to glaze over. Goggles mentally reviewed what she'd just said, and rolled her eyes.
"Oh, for-- snap out of it, guys! God, you're all pathetic." She turned to the Chick. "I swear, you take away their porn for a while and they start acting like everything's innuendo."
Not that I'm projecting my own innuendo tendencies onto the boys, oops? This is also a(nother) reference to Aunt Zelda's post-apocalptic AU, obviously. Because clearly the biggest problem with apocalypses is the lack of internet porn. *sage nod*
"Hey, I was acting like that before," Spoony weakly tried to defend himself. "By the way, Chick, you're not hiding a bunch of supplies in that car, are you?"
The Chick shook her head. "Sorry, I just had enough to get here. You guys running low?"
Joe rolled his eyes. "We have a whole bunch of supplies left by the army, but he refuses to use them."
"I'm trying to save them for an emergency!" Spoony protested.
"Dude, it's the zombie apocalypse, I'd say that counts as an emergency! Anyway, hate to add to your worries, but the Critic was supposed to take over my shift like half an hour ago, and he never showed up. The Nerd says he hasn't seen him since yesterday, and his bed hasn't been slept in."
"Fuck!" Spoony ran a hand through his hair. "All right, I'll take over his shift; you go and get some sleep. Goggles, once you've shown her around, could you try and find out what happened? And see if you can find a volunteer to take over his next shift just in case."
She nodded, and then the boys were off, leaving her alone with an amused-looking Nostalgia Chick.
"The Critic is sharing with the Angry Video Game Nerd? That sounds like it's good for hours of entertainment. Or did they finally let go of their feud?"
Goggles laughed. "Oh, they tried to keep it going, but I smashed their heads together the first time they tried to actually fight. No reason to actually do the zombies' work for them, after all. So now they're doing this thing where they pretend they still hate each other, even though they share a room and pretty much spend all their time together when they're not on shift It's really amusing, to be honest."
The Chick snickered. "Never underestimate a supposedly straight boy's capacity for denial, huh?"
"Oh, girlfriend, you have no idea. I'm running a betting pool on when they'll finally just admit it, by the way. Want in?"
"Hell yeah," the Chick beamed. "But first, I need a shower."
7 June 2011
The Nostalgia Critic ran through the desert, hoping like hell he wasn't going in circles. He could hear engines behind him, and swore. They'd discovered his escape, then. He'd hoped they wouldn't check on him until late in the day. Six hours head start wasn't a lot, not when he was on foot and his pursuers had cars. Not to mention the fact that he had no real idea where he was, or how to get back to the compound.
He blinked against the sunset. At least he'd managed to stumble onto a road. Not that it would do him any good; they were going to catch up with him in a matter of minutes. He set off down the road anyway. He was going to give the bastards a run for their money, even if he was so exhausted there was a dull roaring sound in his ears.
He blinked, turned back. The roaring wasn't a hallucination -- that was a truck coming up behind him.
"Hey! Hey!" He yelled, waving wildly. He hoped whoever was driving it was, at the very least, not one of the crazies he'd just escaped.
The truck pulled up beside him, and the passenger's side door opened. "Get in, get in!" He was in the truck before he realised who his unexpected knights in shining armour were.
"MarzGurl! Linkara! Man, am I glad to see you guys!"
"Feeling's mutual," MarzGurl grinned, then turned her attention back to getting away from their pursuers. "I think we're losing them. Who are they, by the way? They don't look infected."
"Oh, they're not; they're just crazy." He glanced in the side mirror. The crazy people did seem to be losing ground. "They're some group of survivors who've gone completely paranoid. They found out about the compound and assumed we were, I dunno, planning to raid them for supplies, or in league with the zombies or something. They grabbed me to 'interrogate' me about it. Well, that was the plan; by the end, they were making noises about making me into supplies."
The Crazy People plot really ran away from me -- I'd originaly conceived of this storyline as just an excuse to make the Critic go missing for a while so the Nerd could Not Worry About Him. Then I started thinking about it, and I realised that after more than a year, there were inevitably going to be some people who'd started going round the bend, and they'd be too much of a threat to just handwave away and dispose of in a paragraph of two, and since I needed a plot device for the story arc in Act Two anyway ...
MarzGurl and Linkara shot him near-identical looks of horror. "Seriously?" Linkara was looking a little green, suddenly.
"Yeah, don't even. Anyway, I finally managed to escape them last night, but they would've caught up with me soon if you two hadn't come along. So hey, thanks!"
"You're welcome." Linkara winced and shifted, and the Critic now realise his leg was splinted and bandaged.
"Is that leg broken?" He asked. This could be a big problem. He knew they were running low on painkillers, and none of them really knew much about first aid.
The plotline of Linkara's broken leg was, of course, largely a reason to get him down into the lab to meet Dr. Insano, but it's also
an excuse to torture Linkara for Aunt Zelda's amusementan illustration of the real problems of the zombie apocalypse: lack of properly trained medical people, communications problems, lack of infrastructure, and the daily grind of food and supplies and whatnot.
Some days, actually fighting the zombies would be a welcome distraction, I suspect.
"Yeah, a couple of weeks ago," Linkara said. He winced again, took a small bottle of pills out of his pocket, and swallowed one of them.
"Hey, you guys have painkillers?" It suddenly occurred to the Critic to wonder what was in the truck they were driving.
"Painkillers, antibiotics, bandages, food, tea, coffee, you name it," MarzGurl grinned. "We've been stocking up."
Well, Spoony should be happy about that, at least.
'Happy' turned out to be an understatement. "There's even a box of Red Bull!" He beamed at MarzGurl. "I may have to marry you, now."
"In your dreams," she said. Still, it was nice to be appreciated.
"Uh, guys? A little help here?" Whoops, she'd forgotten about Linkara, who was trying to climb out of the truck without falling face-first onto the concrete. Angry Joe and That Chick With The Goggles rushed to his aid, and she could see Spoony wince.
"That leg does not look good," he commented.
"Yeah, I tried to set it as well as I could, but I'm no doctor. He's been doped up on painkillers since it happened, and I've been keeping an eye out for infection, though."
He nodded. "I'll go and see what I can do, then." He caught up with the three, and took over from Goggles, who came over to MarzGurl.
"Hey, hon, good to have another girl in here. Don't worry, we'll get him fixed up. Come on, you can stay with the Nostalgia Chick and me, we'll put an extra cot in our room."
"Sounds like a plan to me!"
On the way, they passed the Nostalgia Citric and the Angry Video Game Nerd, who seemed very intent on pretending to be arguing. Next to her, Goggles sighed and shook her head. "Boys," she sighed.
"What's up with them?" MarzGurl asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Oh, that's the North American Male doing the dance of I Don't Care, Really, I Don't Even Like You. They do that, just ignore them. Oh, except I think this is the lesser seen I Wasn't Worried About You, No Seriously variation."
Marz muffled a laugh -- it wouldn't do to alert the boys, after all. "Now, now, I'm sure they'll at least admit to being friends soon."
"Oh, I'm sure," Goggles agreed. "And on that day, somebody will never have to do chores again," she grinned. "We have a betting pool. Want in?"
"Gimme a chance to observe them first," MarzGurl replied. "I wanna make at least a semi-educated guess. Now, I believe I was promised a bed?"
The problem with painkillers, Linkara realised quickly, was that they only did so much good if there wasn't anyone around who knew more than some basic first aid. Sure, the pain in his leg had been dulled down, and he was nice and woozy and ooh, lookit the purdy colours, but that didn't actually fix his leg, and whenever someone tried to move it, the pain returned with a vengeance, making it impossible to hold still.
"This isn't working," he heard a voice say -- probably Spoony, he thought, but his eyes felt to heavy to open them and see. "The bone's started to heal wrong, and we couldn’t set it properly anyway. He keeps moving around too much and tensing up." Well, that didn't sound good.
"We could try muscle relaxant," a second voice, sounding doubtful. Angry Joe? Probably. "I think I saw some in the truck."
"Too dangerous. If we give him the wrong dose, it might relax the wrong muscle? Like, say, his heart, or his lungs, or his brain?"
... Yeah, I totally made up how muscle relaxers work, there, I'm sure. For one thing, I do actually know that the brain isn't a muscle. Just ... pretend it's the characters who know nothing about this, rather than me. Or something. *handwave*
(For all my careful plotting and blithering about realism when it comes to things like feminine hygiene, I do a lot of handwaving about the plot of this fic, have you noticed?)
He wanted to point out that he was pretty sure the brain wasn't a muscle, but he could barely manage an incoherent mumble, which neither voice paid attention to.
"Leave it for now," the first voice sighed. "I'll see if I can find anything in the books the army left behind. He's too full of painkillers right now to care, anyway."
Linkara didn't even bother trying to protest this time, and instead listened as the owner of the second voice sighed "I guess so," and left.
"I really hope there's something in the books," probably-Spoony muttered. "Otherwise, I'm going to have to take you down to Him."
DUN DUN DUN!
BEHOLD my clumsy attempts at creating suspense! MARVEL as I pretend everyone didn't catch on to who "He" was halfway through the next bit! BOGGLE as I torture the English language to avoid naming names!
Intermission: Strange Things Afoot At The Circle K
I kind of feel like I should apologise for this title, which is one of the products of my long night of insomnia that made it into the story proper. Why yes, I did picture Spoony and Dr Insano as Bill and Ted, actually. I amuse myself far, far too much. *hangs head in shame* (In my defense, Amy encouraged me!)
"Look, you know I wouldn't even ask you if there was any other way," Spoony argued. "But his leg's already started healing wrong -- even I can see that -- and if we don't fix it now, he'll be crippled. We can't afford to have someone sitting around unable to pull their weight, not if it's avoidable."
Which was, strictly speaking, not entirely true, of course. There'd be something Linkara would be able to do, even without the use of his leg, and he wouldn't be kicked out to fend for himself, but still. Especially now that they apparently had more than just the zombies to worry about, he really wanted as many people fit for fighting as possible. If he had to deploy a little emotional blackmail to achieve that, so be it.
By the time I was writing this bit, I already knew how the eventual confrontation between Spoony and Linkara was going to go, so I tried to subtly hint here that Spoony was in no way above some ruthlessness in the name of getting what he wanted. As you can probably tell, I don't really do "subtle".
The other man shot him a scornful look. "What is this 'we', kemo sabe? I'm not part of your little wannabe army, remember? As you keep telling me, the only reason you're wasting supplies on me is because I might find a way to fight the zombies."
Spoony sighed. He hadn't actually made that particular argument in months, but trust the man to hold a grudge.
Newsflash: Dr. Insano Holds Grudge! Also, water is wet!
"Anyway, as I've told you before, I'm not that kind of doctor."
"Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a -- oh, wait."
This line keeps making me want someone to write a Linkara/Insano fic with horribly pun-like "playing doctor" references. I am a horrible person and should go stab my brain with a Q-tip until it shuts up, shouldn't I?
"You're the closest we have," Spoony pointed out, trying not to snap in frustration. "Look, just have a look at the damn meds and tell me how much to use so I don't accidentally kill him, and I'll do it myself, okay? No need to bring him down here, that way."
That earned him another scornful look. "That'll just make it worse, you realise." He ran a hand through his hair and sighed, shoulders sagging in defeat. Fine, I'll have a look at the meds and see if I can find something in the books. If I can, I'll do it -- as long as he's kept unconscious while he's here. He isn't exactly the most likely person to react reasonably about this, you know."
"I know, I know," Spoony said soothingly, patting the other man on the shoulder. "Trust me, I'm not exactly happy about this, either. Anyway, he'll never know. I'll take all the credit -- sorry -- and you'll be safe and free to keep experimenting and doing ... whatever. How's that going, by the way?"
His only answer was a noncommittal shrug.
"Right, same as before, then. Let me know if you need anything; I'm going back up before anyone misses me." The other mad had already turned back to his equipment, and Spoony was halfway up the stairs when he hesitated, turned, and said, "Hey!"
Act Two: Welcome To The Special Hell
Of course the TV reference was going to be a Joss Whedon show. :D
By this time, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do with the titles, i.e. refer to the things the people on the site review: comics, TV shows, video games, and movies. (The latter got more titles because those were the shorter bits, and because I didn't want to lose the Bill and Ted reference.)
Of course, I also realised I was gonna be in deep shit with the title of the final act, because: not so big on the video games, me. But I get ahead of myself ...
(In which a secret is discovered; the crazy people take their sweet time attacking; and Egypt continues to be lovely this time of year.)
9 June 2011
The common room was unusually crowded, even for the time of day. Sure, there'd usually be a bunch of people watching DVDs, or playing cards, or reading, but tonight, everyone was crowded around, eager to hear first-hand just what, or rather, who, they were up against now. Apart from the zombies, of course.
"I didn't really see much of their camp," the Nostalgia Critic explained. "They blindfolded me on the way over, and it was dark when I escaped. I think they're a smallish group, though -- maybe about thirty or so?" He shrugged.
"What about weapons?" Angry Joe asked.
"Rifles, mostly. I saw one or two of them with handguns, but it didn't look like they've had access to anything they didn't own before. Same thing with the cars and the food, I don't think they've been raiding or anything; they didn't seem to have had any contact with the outside world at all."
That Chick With The Goggles sighed. She didn't like the sound of this. "So, basically, they've been holed up in there for more than a year now, probably feeding each other's paranoia, and now they're getting low on supplies and they think we want to steal what little they have left?"
"Pretty much, yeah," the Critic confirmed. "Well, that, or we're conspiring with the zombies, or god knows what. They got pretty incoherent with the accusations after a while, and I kinda stopped listening once they started with the kicking and the punching because they didn’t like my answers."
That explained the bruises she could see on his arms, then, and from the way he was sitting, she guessed his torso probably looked even worse. At least he hadn't broken any ribs. A punctured lung was so not something they were equipped to handle. Linkara's leg was bad enough.
"How much do they know about us?" She asked, carefully neutral, trying not to make it sound like an accusation, like she was asking how much he’d told them.
"That's the weird thing," he said. "They didn't really ask. I mean, they kept asking what we wanted, which I told them, because that's not exactly a secret. They didn't believe me, like I said, and I did hear them talk about 'taking care of' you -- well, us -- but they didn't ask any other questions."
Spoony frowned. "You think they already knew what they needed to know?"
"How?" Goggles pointed out. "They couldn't have gotten close enough to see anything worth seeing without being spotted, not during the day, anyway. And there's only so much they could've seen in the dark. At best, they might more or less accurately guess at our numbers, and assume we have army weapons, but ..." She gestured vaguely.
The Critic nodded. "It was still dark when they grabbed me. I think ..." He sighed, frowned. "It was almost like they didn't care. I mean -- numbers, weapons, whatever, they've decided we're a threat -- no matter what I said -- and they're going to take us out no matter what."
She frowned. "Well, shit. So you think they're coming for us, then?"
"Pretty sure, yeah. Sorry," he half-smiled, but she waved it away.
"We should probably start preparing, then." Not that she was sure what that preparation would entail, though.
"So we're just going to sit pretty and wait for them to attack us? Just play sitting ducks?" Joe interjected.
Um, I think Joe might be channelling Jayne a little, here. *eyes him suspiciously* (Yeah, I don't know, that line struck me, even as I was writing it, as somehow Jayne-like. I left it in anyway, though.)
"Well, what do you suggest?" Ma-Ti glared at him. "We can't just go and attack a bunch of other survivors unprovoked! We'd be as bad as they are!"
And Ma-Ti once again speaks up for ... I dunno humanity? Being humane? Something like that, anwyway. In a sense, he's the opposite side of the coin to Spoony and especially the Chick's cynicism and willingness to do whatever it takes to survive. Darkfic or no, I did think someone should speak up against striking first for reasons other than tactical ones, and Ma-Ti is of course the obvious choice.
"What do you mean, 'unprovoked'?" The Critic, outraged, turned to face Ma-Ti, then winced and turned back. Definitely looked like badly bruised ribs, Goggles thought, maybe even cracked? She hoped the idiot was at least smart enough to have had those looked at.
He totally didn't, of course.
The Critic isn't really objecting to Ma-Ti's actual point here, by the way, just against the idea that his being held captive and tortured doesn't count as provocation. To be fair, he does have a point.
"It wouldn't exactly be unprovoked, no," Spoony placated the Critic. "But still, I'd rather not attack them unless we have no choice. They might not decide to attack us after all, you know. And Ma-Ti is right, they are humans. Violently crazy humans, granted, but humans. I don't know about you guys, but I'm not sure if I could shoot them if it's not in self-defence."
There was silence at that, and Goggles had to admit Spoony did have a point. They'd all gotten over any discomfort with killing zombies, but as much as those might look sort of human, the brain-eating, the rotting flesh, and the snarling, wild-eyed rage put them in a category all of their own. She didn't relish the idea of having to kill actual people, even if they'd be trying to kill them first.
"Guys, it’s getting late, and I for one am on guard shift soon," she broke the silence. "There's not really anything we can do tonight, other than get a good night's sleep so we're all rested if they do attack us." There was a general rumble of agreement, although she could see Spoony pulling a face for some reason. Whatever, it wasn't like he was scheduled tonight, anyway.
I hope it was clear that this was a reference to Spoony knowing he was gonna have to spend the whole night down in the lab helping Insano fix Linkara's leg. Like I said, I'm not big on subtlety.
Slowly, people started making their way to their sleeping quarters.
"You're sure this is going to work?" Spoony asked again. It hadn’t been easy getting Linkara down here undetected, but he'd rather drag him back up than have to explain to people how he died. Luckily, The painkillers seemed to be working, and he hadn't woken up on the way down, at least.
"No, I'm not sure," the other man said impatiently, downing one of the Red Bulls. "I'm sure it won't kill him," he continued. "But I can't guarantee his leg will heal all right." He looked at Spoony and shrugged. "It's your call, oh Fearless Leader."
Spoony really wished people would stop calling him that. He ran a hand through his hair, looking from Linkara to the assembled tools and medicine, and back again. "Okay, fine. What do you need me to do?"
"Hold him still. I'm pretty sure the painkillers will keep him knocked out, but he might still move about in spite of the muscle relaxers, and I have to do this as fast as I can."
Spoony nodded, and mentally crossed his fingers. They'd need every bit of good luck they could get, he suspected.
In the end, the whole procedure took thirty long minutes, but once it was over, Linkara's leg looked a lot better even to his layman's eyes. "That ... didn't go too badly, I think," he ventured.
He received a short nod in response. "Luckily, it hadn't healed too much yet. Well, the bone hadn't, anyway. I think I managed to re-set it properly, but time will tell if it'll heal the way it should. Come over here and hold these splints, would you?"
Spoony did as he was asked. "At least he has a better chance than before," he commented. "Thanks again."
"I'll take him back upstairs, then?" It wasn't actually a question, not really. Keeping Linkara down here wasn't an option no matter what. Even if he didn't wake up, someone would notice him missing, and then the shit would hit the fan in a big way.
"Give me a moment to clean up and I'll help you. If you try and move him alone, you might undo all my work."
He opened his mouth to protest -- what if the other man was seen? -- but realised it was a good point. Anyway, they'd already taken a huge risk doing this in the first place, what was a little more, right?
10 June 2011
The Nostalgia Critic looked down from the top bunk and suppressed a groan. Every part of his body hurt in ways he hadn't noticed the day before (three cheers for adrenalin, he guessed) and even just sitting upright had been a struggle. He wasn't even sure how he'd managed to get up into bed the previous evening, especially since the ladder had disappeared long ago. He didn't think he had enough strength in his arms to lower himself down, and jumping down would likely result in more bruises. What he wouldn't give for some random boxes right now ...
Obligatory Injoke, yaye! And I actually nearly missed this perfect opportunity to put it in, too. *facepalm*You'll have noticed this is a pattern, I'm sure. Like I said, this is why I throw myself on the mercy of the muse when it comes to the actual writing.
Just when he was about to risk the jump anyway, his unwanted -- and , to be fair, unwilling -- roommate entered. And laughed at him, the asshole. "You look like a kitten stuck up a tree," he announced.
The Critic glared at him. "Cram it, asshole." The Nerd easily dodged the pillow the Critic lobbed at him -- and ow, that may have been a mistake. He made a silent promise to himself that he was never going to take his ribs for granted ever again.
The Nerd sighed theatrically and came over to the bed, arms crossed. "Need some help?"
The Critic scowled at him and mentally weighed the pros and cons of accepting the Nerd's help versus jumping off and risking further injury. After a moment, his pride gave in to the knowledge that Goggles would kill him if he broke something. One person with a broken leg was enough, really. "Yes," he sighed, and the Nerd smirked and pointedly held out his hands as if the Critic was a five year old. Well, if that was how he wanted to play it, the Critic would play along.
He swung his legs, pushed off, and landed sprawled across a now very angry Video Game Nerd. "Ow," he complained. "You're way too bony to make a good pillow."
I admit, I have no idea where this whole scene came from. All I had in my notes was the Critic reluctantly accepting the Nerd's help. It should've been a few paragraphs long, at the most. Then I actually pictured the scene, and, well. This happened. WTF, brain?
"Get off me, you shitmonkey!" And wasn't that an interesting shade of red, the Critic noted.
He scrambled upright and looked around bleary-eyed. He needed his glasses. And, he suddenly realised as a cool breeze came through the window, pants. He definitely needed pants. Oops.
Quoth the beta reader, when I told her about this scene: "BRB laughing at the Critic" Because really, now.
(This scene is especially funny to me because as far as I'm concerned, pants are underwear. For once, Briticisms work in my favour. \o/)
And of course, this is the point at which I ran face-first into the above-mentioned consequences of avoiding any scenes from the Nerd's PoV. Apparently, not writing from their PoV makes it much easier for characters to hide things from me. See, from the Critic's PoV, this scene goes roughly like this:
Nerd: "Aslkdjasdj GET OFF ME!"
Critic: (thinks) "Wow, that's an interesting shade of red." *wanders off in search of glasses, and also pants*
I wrote this scene, and then I typed it up, and then I skimmed through it while spell checking, and only then did I realise that from the Nerd's PoV, it actually goes like this:
Critic: *sprawls pantslessly*
Nerd: "Aslkdjasdj GET OFF ME (and some pants on)
before I embarass myself!"
... at which point I finally realised that not only is the Nerd not nearly as deep in denial as he'd like people to believe, but also that this is just the latest in a series of increasingly less subtle hints I've been dropping to that effect. WITHOUT REALISING IT! *headdesk*
I hate characters. I hate stories. I hate my brain.
Pants and glasses acquired, he followed the Nerd to the canteen for breakfast. They were late, it seemed, as most everyone else had already left, but the Nostalgia Chick was still there, finishing off what seemed to have been a truly humongous plate of food. She cheerfully waved at them to join her, so they did.
"Are you preparing to go into hibernation or something?" The Nerd asked, raising an eyebrow at the Chick's now empty plate. "Because if you are, I'd lay off the coffee." He ducked out of the way of a crumpled-up napkin aimed at this head. "Okay, would people please stop throwing shit at me?"
The Critic and the Chick both ignored him. "I'm fuelling up for the big fight," she informed them imperiously. "Not that they're likely to attack on my watch. They'll probably wait 'till it's dark."
"Great," the Nerd grouched. "I'm on evening shift today. Just my luck, they'll probably start five minutes before I'm off, too."
"Oh, stop complaining," the Critic told him. "I'm on late evening shift tonight; at least you get to get some sleep at a normal hour."
The Nerd shot him a look of disbelief. "You're going to go on shift in your state? You couldn't even get out of bed without help!"
Not that he's worried, of course. *pats him gingerly*
The Critic could see the Chick’s eyebrows shooting up at that, but ignored it.
"Careful," he told the Nerd. "I might get the impression you care."
"Oh, fuck off. I don’t want you distracted up there is all, you fucker." If looks could kill, the Critic thought, he'd be a pile of ashes now.
He cast a curious look at the Nostalgia Chick, who seemed to be choking on something. "You okay, there?"
She waved him off. "I'm fine, don't mind me. Hey, do you guys know what the plans are for when your crazy folks actually attack?"
Oh, look, it's a change of subject! My characters: only slightly more subtle than I am, heh.
"Okay," the Critic started. "They're not 'my' crazy folks, thank you. And no, I kinda assumed we'd just shoot at them until they were all dead or they surrendered or something."
"You call that a plan?" The Nerd demanded.
"No, asswipe, as a matter of fact, I don't. But then, I'm not in charge of this operation, am I?"
"Thank fuck for that," the Nerd grumbled.
The Nostalgia Chick shook her head at them. "It's the waiting that's getting to me," she said. "I kinda wish they'd just attack already."
"So," Spoony started, "To echo the question everyone is asking, what do we do to prepare for the crazy people?"
"Not much we can do, is there?" Joe sighed, "Other than sit around and wait, I mean."
"We have to give people something to do, even if it's just busywork," Spoony said. "We'll all go stir-crazy otherwise. Including me," he admitted.
"God, seriously," Goggles said. "The Nostalgia Chick was already complaining earlier, and it's just gonna get worse if they take their time preparing for their attack."
"Or if they're waiting for us to attack first," Spoony said darkly. If this whole thing was gonna devolve into some sort of twisted staring contest, they could be in a lot of trouble.
"The other thing is," Goggles pointed out. "If we just leave things to chance, it'll be pandemonium when they attack. Everyone will rush to the gates and leave everything else unprotected. I mean, the crazies don't sound like they're likely to have any actual strategy, but ..."
"But that doesn't mean we shouldn't," Spoony agreed. "So you’re saying we ... what, give everyone a post to be at when they attack?"
"Sure," she shrugged. "That way, they can't distract us at the gates while they steal supplies or kidnap someone else, or god knows what."
"No, it's a good idea," Joe put in. "And if people start getting fidgety, we can always run a couple of drills," he grinned.
Spoony shot him a stern look. "You're not running training drills in the middle of the night just to annoy people," he said.
"Spoilsport," Joe sulked.
"I didn't say you couldn't run drills in the middle of the night at all," Spoony grinned. "I just said you couldn't do it just to be annoying." If he was going to have to organise this, he reasoned, he was allowed to get some of his own back.
This is another one of those bits I'm probably overly fond of. I liked the parts where Spoony displays some nastiness for the sake of having his revenge on the rest of the compound for all the shit they put him through. I can't say I blame him, to be honest.
"What about Linkara?" Goggles asked.
"Nothing wrong with his hands, is there?" Joe said. "If we can find or make him a pair of crutches, he can get to the tower. I'll haul him up, and he can shoot from there without having to move around to be safe."
"Works for me," Spoony said cheerfully. At least now they had a plan. All that was left was to work out the details.
"Oh, hey, you're awake!" Linkara blinked against the light and struggled upright.
"Marz?" He croaked.
"Okay, maybe 'awake' was a bit optimistic," she grinned at him. "Still a bit fuzzy-headed, then?"
He nodded and rubbed his eyes. His head felt like it was stuffed with cotton, and his mouth tasted like the worst hangover in history. "Water," he managed.
Three glasses of water later, he at least felt capable of speech, and his mind was clear enough to form coherent sentences.
"Thanks. How long was I out for?" It felt like weeks but that was probably the leftover painkillers talking.
"About a day and a half," Marz confirmed his suspicions. "How's the leg?"
He hadn’t thought about it before, but now he noticed the lack of pain in his leg. It still felt sore, but an experimental wriggle of his toes failed to send pain shooting through it. He peered down at it, and noticed the now neatly stitched wound and the new splints. "Huh. A lot better, I think. Doesn't hurt nearly as much, anyway, but I think that's partially the painkillers."
She nodded. "You should need a lot less of them, anyway. Spoony did a god job, didn't he? We're trying to get you some crutches, even."
"Spoony?" He raised an eyebrow.
"Apparently, he has hidden talents," she said.
That line should probably not be as innuendo-laden as it is to me, I know. Hidden talents indeed. *snickers, waggles eyebrows*
"Apparently," Linkara agreed, though privately, he did wonder. Something was niggling at the back of his mind; something he couldn't quite remember, but which didn't make sense about this whole thing. Then again, maybe he should just be grateful his leg was fixed at all and not question it.
11 June 2011
"Bored now," the Nostalgia Chick announced. "Really, really bored."
"Would you like me to find you a cup to rattle against the bars?" Marz offered. "Hell, I'll get one for myself, we can do a duet or something."
"Meh. God, I really wish they'd just do something." She rested her forehead against the rail and sighed.
Marz patted her on the back. "I know, honey. But don't say that too loudly, or we'll have another drill tonight."
The Chick groaned. "I'm starting to think Joe's right and we should just go after them.
Not that Joe was mucking about with random drills specifically to convince people to do things his way, of course. That was just a welcome side effect. :D
This waiting around knowing they out there getting ready to attack is killing me."
"I know, I know. Look, complaining about it isn't going to help, though, is it? Let's change the subject."
"Okay," the Chick said, suddenly cheerful. "Let's talk about that other favourite subject, then. Have you placed your bet yet?"
Marz snickered. "Yeah, for about a month from now," she said. "Though to be honest, I was surprised I wasn't too late. You'd think a miraculous reappearance after more than a week of being presumed zombie-chow would snap them out of their rut, but apparently not."
I had actually originally meant for the Critic to return and for the Nerd to be all "OMG I thought you were DEAD you ASSHOLE never do that to me again *glomp*," but for some reason I decided to drag out this whole story line some more, so they could have a bit more scenes together in which I could build things up.
I think, in the end, it's better the way I ended up with, but the Critic's return was actually one of the scenes I had in my original inception of the story, complete with glomping, and it did make me sad that I had to cut it, woe.
"God, seriously. Boys, I'm telling you. Although it's probably a good thing they're still oblivious. Somehow, no one's put anything down for this week."
"Really? Huh." She pondered this for a moment. "Maybe I'll put another bet in, then. Hey, what happens if they find out about the betting pool before anyone wins?"
"You know what, I don't know. I think we all just run away from them very hard," the Chick grinned.
12 June 2011
"Hey man, you feeling more coherent today?" Spoony asked brightly.
"More or less," Linkara said. He certainly looked a lot better, Spoony thought.
"How's the leg?" He asked, gesturing. He knew that setting it properly had to have relieved a lot of the pain, but there was still an open wound, and he was under strict instructions to keep an eye out for infection. Speaking of which ... He frowned. "That's looking a bit suspicious," he said. There was reddening around the stitches. Fuck.
"Yeah," Linkara sighed. "I think it got infected. It's not that bad, though, really."
Spoony gave him a level look. "This is not the time to try and be a tough guy," he said, and placed a hand on Linkara's forehead. "Great, you're running a fever, too." He knew they should've just given him antibiotics preventatively, instead of waiting for infection to set in. It was inevitable that it would, really, and not worth the potential benefit of not wasting any of the medicine.
Linkara slapped his hand away irritatedly. "Please stop mother henning me," he glared. "I'll be fine. We have antibiotics, don't we?"
"Yeah," Spoony admitted. "But I'm not sure which ones to give you, or how much, or for how long, and by the time we figure it out, the infection might have spread to the actual bone."
He tried not to think too hard about that. The idea of having to do an actual amputation, even down in the lab, with nothing but some painkillers, a saw, and a whole lot of luck, was not very appealing. in fact, it was kind of terrifying.
"So," Linkara said after several moments of silence. "Is this where you start muttering about taking me down to 'Him', or should I pretend to be asleep, first?"
Oh, very subtle and tactful there, Linkara. *eyeroll* He's going to pull this kind of thing again later on, too,
Spoony froze. Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck. He knew the risk had been too great, knew he should've been more careful, should've--
"Dude, breathe," Linkara interrupted his panicked train of thought "I just want to know what the hell's going on."
Spoony took a deep breath. "Okay," he said. "You cannot tell anyone about this, understand? There's too much at stake here, and I took a huge damn risk to save your leg, so you owe me. Or, well, I guess you owe him."
"Yeah, I'd guessed that much," Linkara said. "I'm sure you have many hidden talents, but fixing my leg looked like at least a two person job." He paused for a moment, looking thoughtful. "All right, I promise not to tell anyone unless it's necessary to save our lives."
"No," Spoony said flatly. "You can't tell anyone, period. This is more important than individual lives." And he really maybe should've remembered that before he took the risk to bring Linkara down to the lab, he belatedly told himself.
Aaand welcome to the Dance of I Don't Care, version two. Hee. *pats Spoony* Poor lad.
To be fair, Spoony does at least have an excuse to worry about Linkara's leg, and take risks trying to fix it. Having everyone as close to fighting fit as possible is a reasonable goal under the circumstances, and I do think Spoony would've taken the same risk if it'd been anyone else who'd been wounded. It probaly would've taken hima few days longer to decide to take the chance of bringing them down to the lab, though, rather than doing so straightaway like he did with Linkara.
"You know, even if you don't tell me now, I already know there is something to know," Linkara pointed out. "If I tell people you're hiding something, how long do you think it'll be before we discover it anyway?"
"You wouldn't get a chance to tell anyone," Spoony said, sounding a lot calmer than he felt. "You've got infection setting in in your leg, and you're running a fever. I'll dope you up on so many painkillers you won't even remember your own name, and no one will realise it isn't the fever making you incoherent. And if you should die from the infection, well ..." He crossed his arms across his chest to stop his hands shaking. "Welcome to the zombie apocalypse. Shit happens. Hell, it's a minor miracle you've survived this long." He forced himself to look Linkara straight in the eyes, and hoped fervently the other man wouldn't decide to call his bluff.
This is another bit where I think I managed to hit the darkness I was going for. Spoony may not be as ruthless as, say, the Chick, but especially when it comes to this, he is capable, if not entirely willing as such, to do whatever is necessary. And of course, he's entirely right in what he's saying, too -- no one would realise any incoherence isn't from the fever, or that Spoony'd be giving him more painkillers than he's letting on. Chillingly applied logic can be far scarier than any other threat, I've found.
According to Aunt Zelda, this scene is reminiscent of the airlock scene between Mal and Jayne in Ariel, and while that sort of thing was in fact what I was going for, being actually compared to Joss Whedon inflated my ego like whoa. :D
After several tense moments, Linkara sighed. "Fine. I guess I'll trust your judgment, then. Not that I have much choice. I won't tell anyone, you have my word."
Spoony tried not to show his immense relief, and just nodded. "Okay," he said. "Let me get you the crutches we found you, and I'll show you."
Story: *takes a sharp turn into the wonderful land of meta*
This is also one of the longer scenes in the story, I think, because apparently when these three get together, they talk a lot. Bastards.
The whole thing was like something out of a movie, Linkara thought. "Really? A secret doorway?" He looked aghast. "What is this, an Agatha Christie novel?"
"Dude, we live in a dystopian sci-fi novel, and this violates your suspension of disbelief?"
"We live on a space ship, dear." :D
Not that my sense of humour was at all influenced by Joss Whedon, of course. Not at all.
"Well ... Yeah? It's totally the wrong genre!" Seeing Spoony's almost pitying look, he sighed. "Never mind, just lead the way."
Getting down the stairs, even with the help of the crutches, was difficult, and he wondered silently how Spoony had managed to get him down there before, on his own. It took them more than a minute to reach the reinforced steel door at the bottom of the winding, narrow stairs.
"Wait here," Spoony instructed, and opened the door slightly. "It's me!" He yelled inside. "I've got company!"
There was a moment of silence on the other side of the door. Then, "Goddammit! He found out, didn't he? I told you it was a bad idea to bring him down here!" The voice was vaguely familiar, and Linkara frowned, trying to remember where he'd heard it before.
Spoony winced slightly. "Look, he promised to keep quiet about it, and he does kinda have a right to know. And anyway, we could use his help. We're coming in, now."
Spoony swung the door open, and behind it, Linkara could see what would have been, a year or so ago, a state of the art laboratory, but which showed signs of intense use since then. In one corner, he saw a cot, which looked slept in, but not recently. And in the middle of it all --
"Dr.Insano?" The mad scientist was looking at him warily, as if expecting him at any moment to start trying to strangle him. Behind him, Linkara could sense Spoony tensing up, probably for the same reason. They didn't seem to have much faith in his ability to control himself, he thought peevishly.
He hauled himself up on the nearest empty surface -- a metal table that looked recently cleaned -- and gestured at them. "Okay," he said. "Explain."
At this point, Linkara's pretty much given up on being indignant, and just wants some explanations for these shenanigans.
The two men exchanged a glance, and Linkara was struck by a certain resemblance. Probably just a coincidence, though.
"He's trying to find a cure for the zombies," Spoony began. "Or a vaccine, or a weapon, or something. We're not really in a situation to be picky anymore."
"So why him?" Linkara asked. Dr.Insano hadn’t ever demonstrated actual genius tendencies in the past, after all, except maybe in a Surf Ninjas sort of way.
"Because this whole mess is my fault," the scientist said, voice shaking slightly, and Linkara now noticed the man was looking ... Well, 'dishevelled' was putting it mildly. His once-white lab coat was frayed and stained, cracked goggles shoved up onto his head, and he looked like he hadn’t slept for days and had been surviving on Red Bull and junk food for weeks. Which, Linkara thought, was probably a not inaccurate impression.
Aaand this is where I start heavily woobifying Dr. Insano. *pats him onna head* I'm sorry about locking you in that lab for like a year, honey.
Speaking of the lab, in my plotting notes, I kept referring to it as the InsanoCave. Hello, my name is Melle, and I am a giant nerd. *hangs head in shame*
"You did this?" He asked flatly. It was almost inconceivable, really. Dr.Insano did things like invent push-n-eat macaroni, and run for president on ridiculous platforms involving Canada. He didn't invent things that killed off (even just technically) 99% of humanity. Did he?
"It was an accident," the other man said quietly. "I was trying to engineer nanites to ... to make me smarter," he confessed.
I went back and forth about putting this in at all, for a while. Because I knew why he was doing the experiment, but I was afraid that revealing that would just make him overly woobyish and pathetic. Then I realised that might not be a bad thing -- he is rather pathetic, really, which is exactly what makes the whole origin of the plague so horrifyingly sad.
"And you thought that would work?" Linkara blurted out.
"Oh, I knew it wouldn't work," Dr.Insano gestured. "I knew it would fail, like everything else I did, I just --" He paused, swallowed. "I didn't think it would go this wrong. I tried it on a test subject first, and it-- He ... It seemed to work, at first. He was smarter, coherent, and then suddenly he ... turned." His voice grew flat and clinical. "Unstoppable rage, inhuman strength, well, you know the symptoms. He escaped, and ..." His voice faltered.
"Yeah, I think I can fill in the rest," Linkara sighed. "And you think you can find a cure or whatever?"
"I think he might be the only one who can," Spoony spoke up. "If anyone can, anyway."
"I'm touched by your faith in me," Dr.Insano muttered darkly.
"You see now why I couldn't let you tell anyone?" Spoony asked. "If the others found out about this, he'd be dead in less than a day, and we'll never find a cure."
"I know," Linkara sighed. "I understand. And I guess I do owe you both for fixing my leg," he admitted. "But I still think the death threat was over the top."
"You threatened his life?" Dr.Insano sounded almost proud. "There might be hope for you yet." Spoony looked at him, clearly unamused. Linkara noticed again the odd resemblance.
"Okay, I have to ask," he said. "What's with you two? How come you look so much alike?" He narrowed his eyes at them as they exchanged another glance. "Long lost brothers? Twins separated at birth? Clones?" He tried to remember what other possibilities there might be. If only TV Tropes were still online, he thought wryly.
"He's me from the future," Spoony blurted out. Huh. Well, that was gonna be his next guess.
"Sort of, anyway," Dr.Insano added. "Because I don't remember this."
"This?" Linkara inquired.
"This," Dr.Insano gestured, encapsulating the lab, the compound, possibly the whole world. "Any of it." He laughed humourlessly. "I became mad scientist to stop a stupid video game from being made, for Pete's sake. Even my priorities aren't so skewed that that would be my main goal, if I'd come from this future." Linkara had to admit that did make sense.
"Best we can tell, he's either from an alternate universe," Spoony elaborated. "Or from a future that no longer exists due to some sort of unstable time loop, or--"
"Or," Linkara interrupted with a sudden flash of insight. "This zombie thing is basically Final Crisis." Great. The history of the world, of humanity, was being written by DC. This could not end well.
It occurs to me that when your own damn characters start comparing your story to Final Crisis, it's obviously way past time to increase the beatings. *sulks*
He looked up into two identical looks of near-disgust. "Dude," Spoony said.
"That was an appallingly geeky metaphor, even for you," Dr.Insano pointed out.
Before Linkara could defend himself, a loud noise sounded from above, and all three of them froze. "Tell me that's a drill," Linkara pleaded.
"Not unless Joe's fucking around again," Spoony said, already halfway to the door. "And I don't think he is.
Fuck. Linkara grabbed his crutches and hobbled for the door as fast as he could. Damned crazy people really knew how to time their attack.
"You took your time," Goggles complained when Spoony finally came running up to their post at the gates. "I was starting to think you'd found something better to do. And have you seen Linkara?"
"He's coming," Spoony almost snapped. She decided not to press the issue, although she couldn't help wondering if she should be starting another betting pool.
Linkara made it to the tower just in time. By the time Joe and Spoony had hauled him up, the convoy of crazy people was pulling up to the gates. The entire compound seemed to hold its collective breath as one of the 'visitors' stood up in his jeep.
"I want to talk to the man in charge," he yelled.
Goggles huffed. "I like how he assumes it has to be a man in charge," she muttered to no one in particular. Up in the tower, she could see Linkara scowling as well, and she allowed herself a small smile.
"I guess that's me," Spoony called down warily. "What do you want?"
"Come down here and we can talk about it like civilised people without having to yell!"
There was a loud, scornful "Ha!" -- she assumed that was Joe -- and then Spoony called back, "Yeah, no offence, buddy, but that'd sound a lot more appealing if you hadn't, you know, kidnapped and tortured one of my friends."
Interestingly, this is the only time I refer to what the Crazy People did to the Critic as "torture" in-story. This is partially because the Critic himself tries to play it off as no big deal, "just a couple of bruises," etc., but it's really more serious than that. Just because the torture didn't involve any sharp implements or creative use of electricity doesn't make it not torture, after all, and he endured a good ten days of being kicked and stomped and interrogated and whatnot. And yet here I am, still somewhat reluctant to call it by its proper name in-story.
She could see the other man (she assumed he was the leader of these people, or at least their spokesperson) scowl at that, then turn to his companions and gesticulate wildly. Her fingers tensed around her gun. She had a feeling she was about to find out how hard it was to kill a non-zombified human.
Out of the corner of her eye, she could see one of the crazy people take aim at the tower. Without hesitation, and in one smooth motion, she drew her gun, took aim, and downed the man before he could get a shot off. She had just enough time to marvel at how easy it turned out to be, before the enemy attacked, and all hell broke loose.
The moment the first shot sounded, Linkara, Joe, and Spoony ducked behind the tower's protective balustrade. "Fuck," Joe snarled. "Spoony, get down to Goggles, now!"
There was a moment of breathless silence, and then, hopefully after Spoony'd slid down the ladder to relative safety, they attacked. Linkara sent out a silent thank you to whichever entity was responsible for his gun, and started taking out people one by one. It was slower going than Joe's automatic, but magic guns, at least, didn't run out of bullets. He just hoped the group amassed at the gates was all there was, and they hadn’t managed to get inside the compound.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck," the Chick swore. She and Ma-Ti were holed up in the common room, trying to protect the communications equipment from what felt like an onslaught. "Why the fuck aren't they going for the supplies building? There's nothing here they'd want!" She felt panic rising in her throat -- what if they were going for the supplies, and these bastards were just leftovers? -- and ruthlessly squashed it down. They would defend their post, and whatever else happened, would happen.
Well, 'they' ... "What are you doing?" She snarled at Ma-Ti, who seemed to have abandoned his gun in favour of just sitting there.
"What I do," was the terse and cryptic reply. "Can you hold them off for a couple more minutes?"
"What? I mean, yeah, but--"
"Do it," he said. "Just ... trust me, okay? I know what I'm doing." A look of intense focus crossed his face, and the Chick shrugged and turned her attention back to the window. Fine, she'd trust him to work his mojo, whatever that might be.
Three more dead crazy people late, she heard him sigh deeply. "Watch this," he grinned at her, rising up to stand beside her at the window. Following his eyes, she saw a group of about half a dozen coming at them. Before she could even shoulder her gun, though, the group was attacked by a pack of brown, furry creatures.
"Hyenas?" She asked, unable to take her eyes off the spectacle. It was horrifying, really. It was bloody and gory, and these were people, she knew, people being torn apart by wild animals. But they were people who'd been planning to do that to herself and her friends, and she found it hard to feel any pity for them.
The Chick's cynicism kinda goes into overdrive, at this point. Unlike everyone else, remember, she's been alone against the zombies for more than a year, and it's left its traces, like her much more cavalier attitude towards killing. (This is going to be referenced again later on, in my typically "subtle" way.)
In a way, you'd expect the Critic to be the cynical, hardened one, because he's been at Ground Zero for a year, but he had company, at least, and in a way, I think having That Guy stopped him from turning into That Guy, forced him to be the "good" guy, more or less.
Interestingly, this is also the one point where Ma-Ti gets all ruthless for once. He may regret the necessity of this move, but he's backed into a corner, and part of him does enjoy showing off what he's capable of, if he's totally honest.
Or, to quote Aunt Zelda: "Eeeeeeew ... Ma-Ti kicked ass ... eeeeeeew ... *rocks back and forth*" Muahahaha!
"Feral dogs, actually," Ma-Ti corrected her. There was more than a bit of the proud father in his voice.
The animals had finished their bloody work, and disappeared back into the desert. Grinning, the Chick turned to Ma-Ti. "That," she breathed. "Was awesome."
Ma-Ti just grinned back, a little smugly, and pretended to polish his ring. It wasn't nearly as annoying or off-putting as it could have been, the Chick reflected.
And then they had sex. Apparently! Yeah, this would be the couple that hooked up behind my damn back, without telling me about it. I have no idea where that even came from, to be honest. I finished this little scene and suddenly realised they were totally gonna hook up after the battle, in some weird, post-battle thing.
And then I e-mailed Amy to complain about how much I hate characters, sigh.
The Nostalgia Critic took a grim satisfaction in defending the supply building. It wasn't, he had to admit, entirely a matter of defending the compound from attackers. These bastards had spent ten fucking days keeping him in a cramped room, almost starving him, and torturing him, and at least one of them had enjoyed inflicting pain. No, this was payback, as far as he was concerned.
From the direction of the guard tower, he could head a yell of "I am a MAN," and he saw a body tumbling down off the tower. He grinned to himself. Nice one, Linkara.
This is, of course, Linkara punching Joe's killer off the guard tower. I wasn't sure if that was clear at all, but in the grand scheme of things, it hardly matters, really.
His attention was drawn back to his immediate surroundings when a large figure loomed suddenly in his field of vision. The Critic narrowed his eyes. This was him, this was the sadistic motherfucker whose boot prints were still on his ribs. He look aim, pulled the trigger--
And froze in place as the gun jammed.
For several long moments, he seemed unable to move, unable to do anything but stand there as the tall man grinned and lifted his own gun. Then, suddenly, and seemingly just as the shot sounded, a weight slammed into him, and a voice hissed in pain. The Nerd? He saw, as he fell, the tall man fall to someone's bullet, either a stray shot, or possibly Linkara and his magic gun from the tower.
He turned to the Nerd. "What the hell?"
"You're welcome, asshole," the Nerd winced, holding his right arm. The Critic could see blood streaming between the other man's fingers. Fuck. He knelt down beside the Nerd, took off his tie, and used it to improvise a tourniquet. Not ideal, but at least it stopped the bleeding.
"Why the hell were you just standing there, anyway? Were you trying to get yourself killed?" The Nerd demanded.
"My gun jammed, okay?" The Critic snarled back. He grabbed the Nerd's gun, since he wouldn't be using it for the time being. "Now shut up. You just lie there and ... don't die."
... *pats the Critic*
Yeah, I don't even know, he just seems rather pathetic to me in this scene, flailing about the Nerd being wounded and having no idea what to do about it other than bitch and snap at the Nerd and pray to whoever might be listening that the other man won't die.
Not waiting for a response, he turned his attention back to the fight. Now it was really personal.
The battle seemed to last for hours, but Spoony knew it couldn't have been more than thirty minutes when, finally, there seemed to be no more left of the enemy. Cautiously, he looked around the compound, seeing several faces looking back at him, questioning. Was it over?
"I think that's it," he said to Goggles. A cheer went up throughout the compound, but the joy was short lived.
"Guys?" Linkara called from the tower. "I need some help, here. It's Joe."
Spoony was up the ladder in a heartbeat, but he could tell right away it was already too late. There was blood everywhere, and he could see Joe's crumpled body, a gaping wound at his throat.
"One of them climbed the tower," Linkara explained, looking stricken. "He had a knife. I threw him off, but ..."
Spoony nodded, not quite trusting his voice. Victory had come at a steep price.
People, Countries, and Abstract Concepts I Would Like To Apologise To:
- Angry Joe, for killing him off, and not even doing so onscreen.
- My readers, for killing Joe off. :(
In my defense, as I said in an e-mail to Amy:
I'm a bit worried right now that there's not enough dark in my dark comedy, but I figure a) I can tweak that in alpha editing, and b) the obvious solution here is to kill someone in act two.
Joe seemed like the obvious choice for a number of reasons. I didn't want to kill off anyone who'd been, or was going to be, paired off, because darkfic or not, I'm a big sap, at least when I'm writing, so that narrowed the choice down to Ma-Ti, Paw, or Angry Joe. Ma-Ti seemed far too essential to the compound to kill off, and I wasn't sure if Paw dying would have quite enough emotional impact to be worth it.
Plus, Joe's been sort of Spoony's right hand up until now, and the only one, until Goggles stepped in, to sometimes try taking over some organising of the compound, and I felt I needed to take that away from Spoony, to break him down a little, so he'd really be at rock bottom by the time he'd confess to Dr. Insano being at the compound.
Intermission: Do Not Feed After Midnight
Yet Another Conversation With Amy:
Melle: "[I] may or may not be writing an inbetweeny bit with a title that implicitly compares Dr Insano to a Gremlin. Er."
Amy: "...Wow the Dr. Insano = Gremlin bit is...scarily accurate. O.O"
Melle: *carefully does not get him wet*
And then it sort of devolved into a conversation about whether or not Febreze counts as "getting wet". I think Amy and I should really be separated for the good of humanity, sometimes.
Linkara hobbled down the stairs slowly. This had been difficult just with his crutches, but now with the added difficulty of trying to carry a bag, it had taken him almost twice as long. He didn't even try to open the heavy steel door, and just thumped it with a crutch. "It's me! Open the door, would you?" There was an annoyed noise from the other side of the door, and then it swung open.
"I take it you won the battle, then?" Dr.Insano sounded disinterested, but his next question did seem a little worried. "Where's Spoony? Don't tell me he managed to get himself killed now."
"He survives against the zombies for more than a year, and he gets killed by mere humans?"
Not that he worries, of course.
"He's fine," Linkara reassured him. "We only suffered one casualty, and some wounded. Nothing we can't handle upstairs, though. Spoony's busy cleaning up the bodies of the enemies, an I figured ... Well, he seemed not to want company, I'm no help lugging bodies, and I wasn't sure when you'd last had anything to eat. I don't think Spoony'll remember before tomorrow, anyway, so ..." He shrugged and handed over the bag.
"Thank you, I guess," Dr.Insano mumbled. He cast a quick glance inside the bag.
Sandwiches and instant soup weren't much to get excited about, Linkara realised, but there'd been no hot food tonight, and he wouldn't have been able to carry a plate down anyway. But the other man ignored the food altogether, instead extracting one of the cans of Red Bull, opening it, and downing half of it in one go. He put the bag down on a corner of the metal table, and apparently promptly forgot its existence.
"How's your leg?" Linkara blinked at the rather sudden question. His brain caught up after a moment, and he resisted the impulse to slap his forehead. He knew they'd forgotten about something when they were down there ... had that really been just earlier the same day? He gave the scientist a sheepish look.
"Actually, um, what with one thing and another, and then the attacks, we forgot to tell you ..."
"You got it infected, didn't you?" It sounded accusatory.
"It's not like I did it on purpose," Linkara protested. "But yes. And yes, I have a fever," he quickly added, before he could find himself in the strange and awkward position of having his forehead felt by his (former?) arch nemesis.
I actually seriously considered actually having Insano feel Linkara's forehead, and have Linkara flail all "What is WRONG with you people?" It would, admittedly, have been funnier, but Dr. Insano got all weird on me about touching people. I mean, he doesn't strike me as a touchy-feely kinda guy to begin with, and after a year down in the lab with only Spoony for (occasional, non-touching) company, he's bound to have developed even more issues. Poor wibbly mad scientist.
"Typical," Insano sighed. "Right, up on the table, and let me see. Honestly, why did I even bother, if you’re going to turn around and undo all my hard work?" After a few moments of painful prodding, he went on, "It's not too bad, luckily. Here," handing Linkara a box of pills. "Two of those, three ties a day, until I tell you otherwise. I assume you'll be down here with the other nuisance every other day, no?"
"Probably," Linkara said, and wondered to himself how often Spoony actually did come down here. It couldn't actually be that often, if no one else in the compound had ever noticed him missing.
"Fabulous," Insano sighed sarcastically. "Well, just try and take care of your leg, in the meantime."
"You're one to talk about taking care of yourself," Linkara pointed out. "When was the last time you actually ate? Or slept?"
He got an eyeroll in return, and the scientist reached into the bag for a sandwich, and took a bite. "Happy?" He said around a mouthful of bread.
"Very," Linkara replied, and got up off the table. He really should get back up before anyone noticed him missing. "Seriously, though, you should get some sleep, too. Might clear your mind, you know."
Insano didn't reply, and Linkara shrugged and started up the stairs again. If the mad scientist wanted to work until he literally collapsed, who was he to stop the man, really?
Note the change from "Dr. Insano" to "Insano" in the narrative, here! Yes, I'm being subtle again. I used the distinction throughout to indicate a level of ... I don't want to say "closeness", but you see what I mean. So Spoony always thinks of him as "Insano", Goggles thinks of him as "Dr. Insano," and this is where Linkara goes from one to the other.
Act Three: Don't Look Back
Here's where, as I mentioned above, I ran into trouble, title-wise, due to my utter lack of video game knowledge. The internet was no help, either, despite my repeated attempts at Google- and wiki-fu, which is why this is the most obscure and not entirely fitting title of them all. I mean, it's a reference to a game that isn't even out yet, although the retroness of the game makes it a bit more fitting. Still, I continue to feel irked about it.
(In which the compound turns into something of a soap opera; some secrets are revealed (and others aren't); and the zombies might actually put in an appearance.)
... I did say "might"! Yeah, I realised after I'd finished the fic that I managed to write a zombie apocalypse story in which the total of actual on-screen zombies is ... one. Sort of. I mean, I'm not entirely sure Chester really counts as a zombie, and the dead zombies in the last scene are dead and therefore corpses, not zombies as such, and yeah. I'm special.
13 June 2011
Yawning and stretching, Goggles meandered towards the common room. She could really do with some breakfast, but someone had to check for messages first, and anyway, it was unlikely there'd be anything but cereal to eat, since she was the first one up this morning.
Or not, she amended, spotting Spoony securing the doors on the truck Linkara and MarzGurl had driven. "What are you doing?" She frowned.
"Cleaning up the bodies," he replied curtly. "Figured it'd be easiest to just pile 'em in there, drive it out into the desert, and set it on fire."
Inception of this whole thing: "Uh, crap, I have people going off and doing stuff the night after the battle, and I forgot to do anything about body cleanup. Um. Um. Spoony!"
... Poor Spoony.
"That makes sense," she nodded. "But you shouldn't have done all this by yourself. We would’ve helped, or it could've waited until this morning." Except none of them had even thought about the cleanup the evening before, not even her, she realised guiltily. They all had a tendency to assume Spoony would organise whatever needed to be done.
Spoony shrugged. "I needed to do this," he said quietly, not quite meeting her eyes. She decided not to push it.
"Okay, if you say so. You should probably go and get some sleep now, though."
"Nah, I'm fine," he said, and immediately belied his words by yawning. "There's still a lot of stuff to be done."
'Stuff', she realised, meaning disposing of the bodies, and figuring out what to do about Joe. "I'll take care of it," she said sternly, eyeing Spoony's reaction. She wondered if he'd object to her taking charge of this. Really, though, it was time someone else started doing some of this stuff, and this was as good a time as any to start. "Go get some sleep, you're no use to anyone like this."
He seemed about to protest again, but another yawn cut off his objection. "Maybe you're right," he admitted. "I'll see you in a few hours, then."
Spoony re-emerged in the middle of the afternoon, looking, in Goggles's considered opinion, at least closer to human than he had that morning.
"Right," he announced. "What'd I miss?"
"I got someone to drive the truck out and burn it, so that's out of the way. And I mostly organised Joe's funeral. Well, cremation, whatever we're calling it."
Funerals -- actual funerals -- had fallen out of favour in the last year and a bit. Cremation, even improvised as it usually was, ruled out the risk of infection. It was unlikely in this situation, but still.
"Oh hey, we haven't had a good, old-fashioned infodump for a while, have we? Let's remedy that!"
Like I said, I did a lot of thinking and plotting about how things would work after the Zombie Apocalypse, and I wasn't always as smooth as I could've been about working that sort of thing into the story.
""I think we should do this tonight," she continued.
"You're right," Spoony said. "If nothing else, in this heat ... Anyway, thanks."
"Don't worry about it," she smiled.
The funeral took place after dinner, and if Goggles was honest, there hadn't been all that much to organise. What it came down to, really, was a semi-improvised wake around a campfire in the central area of the compound. They sat, and drank, and talked. Talked about Joe, mostly, though sometimes the stories wandered.
As the sun began to go down, she pulled Marz closer to her for warmth. "You okay?" She asked softly.
"Bit chilly," Marz replied, and leaned into her. "I'll be fine," she smiled. Goggles smiled back, and turned her attention back to the others. Spoony had just finished a story, and she saw Linkara put a hand on his friend's back. She squashed her rising suspicions. This was neither the time nor place, and anyway, there was no way they could keep another betting pool a secret from Spoony.
Ma-Ti and the Chick were sharing a bottle of something that looked like vodka. And speaking of rising suspicions, that explained why the Chick hadn't slept in their room the previous night. She wondered if it would last.
Marz nudged her side, and subtly nodded at the other side of the fire. Goggles suppressed a wholly inappropriate snicker. The Critic, clearly thinking no one was looking or paying attention, had carefully put his jacket around the Nerd's shoulders, apparently against the cold. And yet they weren't touching; pointedly so, in fact.
Because as long as they don't touch in public, they can pretend nothing's going on. Or something -- I don't even know, people. *throws up hands in despair at them*
"Still doing the Dance of Awkward Boys In Denial, are they?" She whispered to Marz, who muffled a giggle in her shoulder. "It'd be cute if it weren't so ridiculous."
The sun continued to disappear behind the horizon, and eventually, they all fell silent. Spoony caught her eyes, and she nodded.
"I think it's time, guys," she said softly.
The rest was done in silence: the procession out of the compound, the lighting of the pyre, its flames bright against the now almost black sky, sending up the smell of burning flesh which they'd all become far too inured to. Then, as the flames died down, they started to leave in ones and twos, until only Goggles and Marz were left.
"Come on, babe," Marz said, taking her by the hand. Goggles squeezed Marz's fingers lightly, and allowed herself to be led back to the barracks.
The Critic cast a sideways glance at the Nerd to assure himself that the other man wasn't about to pass out. Goggles had done a good job stitching up his arm, and thankfully, the bullet had gone straight through. It had only left a flesh wound, and they'd managed to improvise a decent enough sling. Still, it'd been a long day, and the other man was on a noticeable amount of painkillers. It would be just like the Nerd to pass out and leave the Critic to drag his unconscious ass to their room, or to fall down and hit his head or something. Not that the Critic was fussing, of course.
It wasn't like he'd asked the guy to take a bullet for him, after all, and anyway, he hadn't exactly escaped without a scratch, either. Even apart from the still healing bruises on his ribs and back, his tie had been soaked in blood. At least the thing was red, so the bloodstains were mostly invisible once he'd rinsed it out. Still, that was no excuse for having had to get it bloody in the first place.
"What the hell were you doing yesterday, anyway?" He asked the Nerd.
"Saving your life, maybe?" The Nerd replied, and the fucker had the temerity to roll his eyes at the Critic.
"Oh, fuck you, asswipe. I can take care of myself, you know. And I'm sick and tired of you being in my face all the time, acting like I can't." They'd reached their barracks by now, and the Critic emphasised his point by slamming the door shut.
"Oh, sure, you can take care of yourself. That's why you went and got yourself kidnapped and almost killed, was it?" Okay, that was a low blow even for the Nerd.
"Fuck you," the Critic snarled. He pulled back his fist, ready for a punch, but held back at the last moment. Punching an injured man was below him, really, and anyway, Goggles would kill him -- kill them both, probably. He settled instead for a vicious shove at the Nerd's uninjured shoulder.
"We're shoving now?" The Nerd looked disgusted. "What are you, ten?"
"I was going easy on your arm, shithead," the Critic retorted.
"I still have one good arm, asshole," the Nerd spat, and proceeded to prove it by pushing the Critic back against the door, hard. The ensuing struggle was vicious, but brief, and at the end of it, the Critic found himself pinned against the door, the Nerd's good arm against his throat. "See?" The Nerd smirked triumphantly.
I love how, as a fandom, we seem to have collectively decided that the Critic is the bottom in this relationship ... in a lot of ways. Hee. *pets him*
The Critic scowled, and tried to think of a way to regain the upper hand, preferably in a way that wouldn't leave any marks -- again, Goggles would kill them both. Taking a swipe at the Nerd's legs proved ineffective, so, on a sudden impulse, he grabbed the other man's bloody shirt, and yanked him forward into a bruising kiss.
He wasn't exactly sure what reaction he was going for -- disgust, confusion, all of the above -- but he was, he could've sworn, expecting the Nerd to pull back, thrown off balance, which would've given the Critic an opening to make his move.
No, really, that was totally what he was expecting, honest! (What can I say, the denial is strong in this one.)
Instead, after a moment in which everything seemed to freeze, he felt the lips under his part, and, reflexively, he followed suit.
They were kissing. Huh. Well, that was new.
New, but necessarily bad. It had been a very long time since he'd been kissed, after all,
Note how I said nothing about how long it's been since he last had sex. Why yes, this is me deftly avoiding either confirming or denying the possibility of Critic/That Guy during The Missing Year.
*waves cheerfully at Emeriin*
(Have I mentioned how much I love being in a fandom where it's considered good manners to leave this sort of thing open to interpretation so other people can fill in the blanks if they so desire? :D Open Source Fic yaye! And for future reference, you should totally assume that, unless it's explicitly stated, anything I write in this fandom or indeed any other is totally Bring Your Own (Background) Canon.)
and as it turned out, the Nerd wasn't a bad kisser at all. When he pulled back for air, the other man laughed sharply, "Took you long enough."
"What?" The Critic blinked in confusion. He'd obviously missed something, and his brain was no help in trying to figure it out, still stuck as it was on the "Yay, kissing!" part. Fuck, this was going to turn out to be some sort of FoeYay thing, wasn't it?
Oh, look, it's another TV Tropes reference! Love this fandom!
"Oh, never mind," the Nerd sighed, rolling his eyes at him, and then they were kissing again, and the Critic gave a mental shrug and decided to just go with it. The zombie apocalypse was no time to turn down sex, after all, and he'd slept with more repulsive people.
*coughcoughThatGuycoughcough*(Stop looking at me like that, Emeriin!)
So when a hand slipped under his shirt, he just wriggled happily, and expressed his approval by licking the other man’s neck, until --
"Ow," he hissed as the Nerd skimmed a particularly painful bruise.
"Sorry," the other man muttered. The Critic pulled back a little and surveyed their situation. He could tell the Nerd's arm was bothering him, squished between them as it was, and his own bruises were going to start really being a problem very soon. Dammit.
"Our timing kinda really sucks," he informed the Nerd, and received a wry smile in response. Huh, the man actually looked kinda nice when he smiled. "Right, hang on," he said, and started undoing the buttons on the Nerd's shirt, then carefully eased it off, taking care not to aggravate the wounded arm. He flung the shirt in a corner, glad to have the blood out of sight, and returned to licking the Nerd's neck, grinning smugly to himself when that evoked an approving response.
A light push at the other man's hips got him an annoyed almost-whine. "What?"
"Bed," the Critic said. "Before one of us collapses."
"Oh. Right," and the Nerd's eye widened satisfyingly when, as soon as he sat down, the Critic knelt in front of him, hands going to the other man's waistband.
It was over embarrassingly quickly, and the Critic realised with some dismay that apart from his tie, the Nerd's shirt, and their undone pants, they were both still almost fully clothed.
"We're officially pathetic," the Nerd announced, sounding vaguely embarrassed, and was that a blush? The Critic decided it was, and counted it as a victory. It was also kinda cute.
"We really are," he agreed pleasantly. "Better luck next time?" He wondered if he was pushing his luck, assuming there was going to be a next time. Did FoeYay usually last? Or maybe this was just some delayed post-battle, hurray-we're-still-alive thing.
Aw, poor insecure Critic. He's totally all "Crap, is this a one time thing? Do I want it to be a one time thing? D:"
*pats him again*
But the Nerd grinned at him -- and he really did look nice when he was smiling -- and said, "Luck, shmuck. Skill is what it's about."
"Oh, really?" The Critic raise an eyebrow. "And you think you have the skills, do you?"
The Nerd's grin widened. "I'll have you begging in no time," he claimed, and caught the Critic's mouth in another kiss before he could protest.
I got a fair bit of flailing about leaving this scene at this, but I'm really no good at writing porn unless I'm really in the mood for it, and this is actually already pretty explicit as far as I'm concerned. In fact, after I'd written this scene, I realised that both my stories in this fandom contained a more than average amount of smuttiness -- for me, but also for the fandom as it was then, and I did briefly flail about the idea that I might be this fandom's smut writer. I was glad when other people started writing smut, let me tell you.
On the bright side, in addition to being BYO(B)C, my story also tend to be BYOPorn, though, so if anyone were inclined to remedy the lack of smut, I would totally be okay with that. :D
14 June 2011
When she walked into the common room, Marz was greeted by Spoony, Goggles, and a bleary-eyed Paw.
"Dude, seriously, you can't keep sleeping in here. These couches are not that comfortable," Spoony was saying.
"I know, I know," Paw replied. "I'm just trying to give the lovebirds some space, you know? And the only other bed right now is ..." His voice trailed off.
"Joe's, I know," Spoony finished for him, voice quiet and tense.
"Why didn't you go to the Critic and the Nerd?" Marz asked, trying to direct attention away from Spoony so he could compose himself. "I think they have a spare cot, that would've at least been more comfortable than a couch."
"I did," he replied, pulling a face and looking more than a little uncomfortable. "How should I put this? I think you won the betting pool."
"A betting pool?" A voice came suddenly from the doorway behind her. The Critic. Fuck. "You fuckers had a betting pool?" He looked torn between anger and extreme embarrassment.
"For the record," Goggles said. "I didn't place any bets. I just ran the thing." The Critic glared at her.
"That's even worse," he fumed. "How long has this been going on?"
"Um," Goggles said. Marz tried her best to become invisible, and she could see Paw and Ma-Ti doing the same.
"You know what, don't even answer that. I really don't want to know." The Critic threw his hands up in despair, and Marz remembered the Chick's advise to run away as hard as possible. It was sounding like good advice right now.
"I have a suggestion," the Nerd interjected, sounding suspiciously, deceptively calm. "I think, given the circumstances, we really should be entitled to at least half of the winnings, all things considered." He pointedly looked at Marz, and she sighed.
"Fine," she reluctantly agreed. Even half would still leave her with enough I.O.U.s to never have to do the dishes again, she reflected. And she still had the bragging rights for having won, especially on a last minute bet like that.
"That doesn't mean any of you are off the hook for this," the Critic glared at them, then sighed. "I can't deal with this at this time of the morning. I need caffeine," and he stomped off to the canteen, followed by the Nerd.
"Well," Goggles said. That could've gone worse." Then, looking at Paw, who looked oddly sulky and despondent, "What's with you?"
He sighed. "Everyone is getting laid except me."
"Hey, I'm not getting any, either," Spoony commiserated.
Paw stretched and got up off the couch. "If that's an offer," he said, walking to the door. "Thanks, but I'm not that desperate yet."
"... Hey!" Spoony called after him. "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"
And once again: poor Spoony. Okay, I admit, this was all about me being cruel to Spoony's ego. I'd say I'm sorry, but I'm not, and it amused me, dammit!
18 June 2011
"Tell me you have good news," Spoony sighed. Insano was certainly looking more hopeful, although that could just be because he seemed to be getting more sleep, lately He suspected Linkara had something to do with that, which kinda weirded him out. But then, a lot about Insano weirded him out. Stupid unstable time loops.
I suspect Spoony sometimes walks around muttering that to himself. ("Stupid unstable time loops. Stupid zombies. Stupid lack of internet porn.")
"I have good news," the scientist said. "Well, more or less."
"I knew it sounded too good to be true," Spoony said. "All right, hit me."
"Don't tempt me," Insano muttered. "I think I've found a vaccine," he continued. "Well, it's not a vaccine as such, but it would work like one, anyway."
Aaand the scientist gets nitpicky about the science.
"But you can't vaccinate against nanites, they don't work that way!"
"They don't exist, how can you know how they work? And while I'm at it, you're in my head, how are you arguing with me?"
"Oh, fuck it. Fine, I'll let you do your nitpicking. But everyone's gonna call it a vaccine anyway, you realise."
... Have I mentioned yet how much I hate characters? And stories? And my brain?
Well, that did at least sound like good news.
"So we'd have something that could immunise people against the nanites?" Linkara asked. "That's good, right? I mean, it's not a weapon, but it'll help stop the spread of the nanites."
"Exactly," Insano nodded. "And once I have something that works, I may be able to tweak it, to--"
"To weaponise it," Spoony finished. "Sounds good to me. So what's the catch?"
"I need to run one more test," The other man replied. "I've tested it as much as I can in the lab here, but it needs to be tested on a person. So I'll need one of you two to be here to monitor me in case it doesn't work, or something goes wrong. Shouldn’t take more than a day."
"Whoa, hang on! You're testing this on yourself?" Linkara interrupted, looking disturbed.
"Linkara," Spoony started, but the other man didn't give him a chance to continued.
"Don't even," he said. "'He might be the only one who can find a cure.' Your words. How does it make sense to risk him if this vaccine isn’t quite finished? If it just needs some tweaking, wouldn't it make more sense to not risk the guy who can do the tweaking?"
Spoony cast a glance at his semi-counterpart. Linkara was making sense, he had to admit. He shrugged. "I'll go for it, then," but Linkara just shot him a withering look.
"Really. And how were you planning to explain to everyone why you're disappearing for a whole day? Not to mention, how am I supposed to explain what happened if t goes wrong?"
There wasn't really any way to argue with that, Spoony admitted. But that didn't really leave them any other options, except-- Oh no. Oh hell no.
"I'll do it," Linkara sighed, confirming Spoony's fear.
"No," Spoony said. "I'm not letting you do this."
Linkara gave him a flat look. "Who's talking about 'letting'? Look, it makes sense. We can't exactly bring in someone else, and neither of you can be missed. But no one's going to notice if I'm not around for a day; just tell them I'm sleeping off the fever or something."
"And if it goes wrong?" Spoony asked.
"Then ... Well, like you said, who’s going to know it wasn't the infection, or the fever?" That was definitely a pointed look, and Spoony suppressed a wince. That was going to get used against him again, he suspected, and sighed.
Oh, it will, Spoony. It will. But really, you did bring it on yourself, to be fair.
I didn't actually deliberately set this scene up in contrast to Spoony's threat, just meaning to call back to it, but the contrast is there anyway, between Spoony's aforementioned chillingly applied logic, and Linkara using the exact same logic not as a threat but as a reason to put himself in harm's way.
"Fine," he gave in. "If you're determined to risk your life, who am I to stand in the way? But if you die, I'll kill you." He turned to the scientist, who'd been suspiciously quiet throughout the whole argument. "How is this gonna work?"
"It's quite simple, really. I'll inject him with the 'vaccine', wait an hour or so to ensure it's spread properly, and then I'll ... infect him. Or, well, try to, anyway."
"And then?" Linkara asked.
"Then we wait. If it hasn't worked, we'll probably know in a matter of hours, but I'll give it twenty-four hours to be sure if it has worked. And I’d have to check a blood sample to be absolutely sure, of course."
"All right," Linkara nodded. "Let's get started, then."
The Chick, fresh from the showers, knocked on the barracks door. "It's me! Can I come in, or are you two ... busy?" She called, grinning.
"We're decent," she heard Marz's voice. "Come on in!"
"Hey, stranger," Goggles greeted her when she entered. "Did you just come to pick up some clothes, or are you here to stay?"
"I'm back to stay," she said, flopping down on the cot.
"You guys broke up already?" Marz asked. The Chick shrugged.
"We would've had to have had something to break up, first," she explained. "It was temporary, and we both knew it. Just a post-battle fling to celebrate being alive, really."
Goggles raised an eyebrow at her. "For five days? That seems like a pretty long fling to me."
"Yeah, well," the Chick grinned, a little self-consciously. "Apparently, that power ring has some pretty interesting, if unorthodox, applications."
I admit, I have no idea exactly what sort of "interesting applications" the ring has, and my logic that it has some is shaky at best. I think I was really just trying to make up for making Ma-Ti a little diva, earlier on, by getting him laid.
She could feel herself blushing slightly, and she really hoped they wouldn't ask further.
"You know what," Goggles said. "I'm not even going to ask."
"Yeah, me neither," Marz agreed. Thank god for small mercies. "Good to have you back, though."
"You sure?" The Chick asked. "I mean, if you guys want some privacy, I can find somewhere else to sleep, you know."
"Actually," Goggles grinned at her. "I had a feeling your little fling thing wasn't going to last long. So we talked about things, and, well ..." She looked over at Marz.
"What she's trying to say," Marz filled in. "Is that we're ... open to suggestion."
It took her a moment to process Marz's meaning. She blinked, and considered the situation. After several moments of silence, she grinned back at them, and said, "I think we're going to need a bigger bed."
19 June 2011
"Don't touch that," Insano's voice cut through the lab.
"That's like the fiftieth time you've said that," Linkara complained.
"That's because you keep touching things! You're worse than a sugar high toddler with ADD, I swear. Sit down and stop fiddling with things before you blow up the whole place"
Linkara: *bounces around the lab like an overexcited puppy*
Dr. Insano: *facepalm* "I cannot take you anywhere!"
This image amuses me way, way more than it probably should. Hee hee hee. Hey, at least I'm not the only one who thinks this is amusing -- Emeriin independently wrote a very similar scene into her kidfic, although in that one, Linkara at least has the excuse of actually being three years old, rather than just acting like he is.
"But I'm bored," Linkara complained. "Hasn't it been twenty-four hours yet?"
"Almost," the scientist replied.
"Well, isn't that close enough?" Surely a few minutes wouldn’t make a difference, right?
"No," Insano sighed, exasperated.
"Oh, come on, I'm tired of being stuck down here." He knew before he'd even finished saying it that this was not the person to make that argument to. "Sorry," he winced slightly.
"I'm sure you are," the other man said flatly.
Before Linkara could respond, he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. "Honey, I'm home!" He heard Spoony call down.
"Well, at least someone's in a good mood," Linkara commented as Spoony practically bounded in.
"And why shouldn't I be?" Spoony said. "You're looking nicely non-zombified, which I'm guessing means the vaccine works. We're finally getting somewhere, making progress."
"I still need to test his blood," Insano cautioned. "Speaking of which," he turned to Linkara. "Now it's been twenty-four hours." He took a syringe fro a tray and motioned for Linkara to hold out his arm.
"How long will it take to run the blood test?" Spoony asked impatiently.
"Not long," the scientist replied. Linkara and Spoony looked on in silence as he examined the sample under a microscope. After what seemed like several tense minutes, the verdict finally came. "It's clean." Linkara could see the man's shoulders sagging in apparent relief.
"So the vaccine works?" Spoony demanded.
"The vaccine works," Insano confirmed. "And he," pointedly glaring at Linkara. "Can go back up and stop messing around in my lab, so I can get on with science."
"Great!" Linkara exclaimed, reaching for his crutches. He really needed some fresh air, and a change of scenery, or he was going to start trying to make things explode on purpose.
He assumed Spoony would stay behind to discuss things with Dr. Insano, but the other man caught up with him at the top of the stairs.
"Did you get kicked out as well?"
"No reason to stick around," Spoony shrugged. "He's doing his mad scientist thing, and he doesn't need me for that."
That was fair enough, although it did seem strange that Spoony seemed to avoid spending any time at all with his time-displaced self.
I kinda feel like I could've and should've done more with this whole thing. My basic idea with it was that Spoony tends to avoid Insano because the whole Alternate Future Self thing is, first of all, extremely weird, because it's like having a twin you didn't know about, only more like your mirror image has come to life.
And of course in their case, there's also the whole "I have the potential to become you" thing, especially since Spoony is probably well aware that his own occasional ruthlessness comes from a not dissimilar place from Insano's mad scientist thing. I do briefly reference that in a bit, but overall, it's more background noise than anything.
Like I said, I kinda wish I'd done more with that, but I'm not sure if I could've brought all that across without getting infodump all over the readers (... again), and I think it would've been a bit more explicitly angsty than I liked.
(AU counterpart? Potential future self? Trying to figure out their relationship was giving him a continuity headache.)
Continuity headache: What I get whenever I try to figure out comics canon. Ow.
No wonder the scientist was tetchy, really, after being stuck down there alone for months.
"I'm glad you managed to not get zombified, by the way," Spoony continued, and grabbed a Red bull from the small fridge under their desk. Apparently, a secret stash was one of the (admittedly, few) privileges of leadership. "I wouldn't have liked having to kill you, zombie or not."
"Yeah, I would've been a bit annoyed at being killed, too," Linkara said dryly. "And that wasn't the impression you gave me last week, you know." He could see Spoony suppress a wince, and okay, maybe that wasn't entirely fair. Low blow or not, though, it was the truth.
"I never said I'd enjoy it," Spoony pointed out.
"True," Linkara admitted. Them curiously, "So what would you have done if I'd have refused to keep quiet?"
"Spoony smiled semi-apologetically. "I would've followed through."
What he's not mentioning, of course, is the part where it would've killed him. *pats* Poor Spoony.
It was the answer Linkara had been expecting, but it still came as a bit of a blow, even if, intellectually, he knew it would've been necessary. Good of the many, future of humanity, yadda yadda yadda. None of that changed the fact that one of his best friends had been -- probably still was, really -- prepared to kill him.
"I'm starting to see where he came from, now," he told Spoony.
"Who?" Spoony asked, confused.
"Him," nodding towards the door to the lab. Spoony gave a short, harsh laugh, an a hand through his hair, and smiled wryly.
"I know. It's why I don't like to spend time down there. It's too weird, really." He sighed. "This is gonna be a bitch to explain to the others, you know." Linkara had to admit, that aspect of the situation hadn't really crossed his mind yet.
"Do we have to tell them?" He asked after a few moments' consideration. "I mean, we could try and minimise the resemblance between you two, or something."
"What, you mean with a false moustache and glasses?" Spoony said. "Or maybe one of us should grow a goatee? No, that would just emphasise the evil not-really-twins thing."
"Also, we'd have to figure out which one of you is the evil one," Linkara pointed out, grinning slightly. "Okay, so disguising the resemblance probably wouldn't work, but ... Is there any reason the others need to know he's the one that caused all this?"
After a brief pause, Spoony said, "I guess not, but ... I dunno. Honesty, maybe? You don't think they have a right to know, too?"
Spoony really just wants to tell people everything, once they have a vaccine and a weapon. It's not easy keeping a secret like that for all this time, and coming clean would take a load off his shoulders. Except, of course, Linkara is right; there isn't any reason for them to know, and a lot of reasons why they shouldn't.
"So maybe I'm a hypocrite," Linkara admitted. "But they don't know there's anything to know. People are already gonna throw a fit about you -- well, us -- not telling them about him, and about him being here at all. If we can tell them about the vaccine and the weapon at the same time, they'll at least probably be too preoccupied with that to dwell on the rest, but if they know he started all this, how are we gonna convince them to even try the vaccine, let alone the weapon?"
"Maybe you're right," Spoony said. "And after all this time, what's another little lie by omission, right?" He paused for a moment. "You think we should wait to tell them anything until we have a weapon, then?"
"It'll be easiest, I think. Distract them by organising a raid to test it, you know. With any luck, they'll be too busy celebrating the fact that we can really fight back now, and they'll forget to yell at us." At least, he hoped so. He really wasn't looking forward to facing Goggles's wrath, and he'd heard about Ma-Ti's little demonstration during the battle with the crazies. Definitely not something he wanted to be on the receiving end of. "Really, ideally, I wish we'd have a cure before we tell them, but--"
"Apparently, that's impossibly," Spoony shook his head. "Something to do with the fact that the bodies keep decomposing despite the nanites. And anyway, it's probably for the best," he pointed out. "Given how many zombies we've all killed, would you really want to face the possibility that we could've saved them, instead?"
It was, Linkara had to admit, an excellent point. They'd all killed during the battle, killed actual people, but that had been in self-defense, and even then, it hadn't been easy -- not for most of them, anyway. It was much easier to disassociate, to separate the zombies from the people they'd been before, and view them as rabid animals to be put down. He knew that the Critic, for one, had actively gone out to hunt them sometimes. A cure would turn them from animals back into people -- people who couldn't control what they did, so even self-defence would be a difficult thing to argue.
"No, you're right," he admitted. "We'd ..."
"Yeah," Spoony agreed with the unspoken sentiment.
22 June 2011
There was an almost palpable buzz of fearful excitement in the air as everyone crammed into the common room. Spoony could tell people were nervous, both because no one was on guard, and about whatever would prompt him to pull people off guard in the first place. He wasn't feeling too sure about this himself, either. They'd never been entirely sure they'd gotten all the crazy people during the battle, after all, and while they had been pretty safe from roaming packs of zombies, isolated from what had been civilisation as they were, it would be just their luck for a pack to attack the one time the compound was unguarded, and --
He sighed. And he was totally displacing his nerves and anxiety, he acknowledged. He looked over at Linkara, who was trying his best to look encouraging and supportive Yeah, that was helpful.
People were starting to get restless, now that everyone was here. It was time to face the music. He mentally braced himself, and gestured for silence.
"I know you're all dying to know why I called this meeting," he began. "So I'll get straight to the point. We've found a weapon to use against the zombies, something better, more effective, and safer for us than the guns and the flamethrowers. We also have a vaccine. Right now, there's only enough to immunise all of us, but we should be able to make enough to spread it around to other survivors, and--"
"Hang on," the Critic interrupted him. "What do you mean, 'found'? What, it just happened to be lying around behind a couch or something? No one's gone out in weeks except me, and I know I didn't 'find' anything, and you can't tell me those crazy fuckers just happened to have a formula for a vaccine on them."
"No," Spoony admitted. "I mean 'found' as in 'invented'."
"Invented by who?" That was Goggles, looking suspicious and slightly sceptic. "Do you have mad scientist ambitions you never told us about?"
The really funny thing about that line is that I didn't realise what Goggles just said until after I'd actually written it. I mean, it seemed like a perfectly logical thing to say, under the circumstances, and then I realised that oh, wait, he does have mad scientist tendencies, sort of. *facepalm*
Spoony fought back the semi-hysterical laughter wanting to burst out, and frantically avoided looking at Linkara. Trust Goggles to accidentally almost hit on the truth, he thought. "And where?" She continued. "It's not like there's a lab anywhere here."
"Actually, there is," he admitted. "Well, it was a bomb shelter originally, but I converted it into a lab before any of you guys showed up. And as for who ..." He took a deep breath, and braced himself. This was the moment of truth. "Dr. Insano."
The stunned looks on their faces would've been funny if the situation hadn't been quite so serious, Spoony reflected. The silence dragged on for several seconds, until he was ready for someone to start yelling at him already, just to get it over with.
"Dr. Insano?" Ah, leave it to the Critic to come through on that. "Have you lost your mind? What part of 'mad scientist' made you think it was a good idea to hide him away in a lab and trust him to find a solution to this mess that no one else has found yet?" The Critic paused for breath, clearly gearing up for the second part of his rant, but Spoony was spared by Goggles.
"You lied to us," she said, quietly and accusingly, and that was worse than the yelling. He wondered if she'd even heard a single word of the Critic's outburst, or if she was just ignoring him in favour of her own priorities. "He's been down there all this time, and you’ve been lying to us abut it."
Pointing out that technically, he hadn't lied, he just hadn't told the entire truth, was unlikely to go over well, he realised. Instead, he just said, "Sorry," unable to quite meet her eyes.
"The Critic has a point, though," Paw spoke up. "How do we know this vaccine actually works?"
"Because I'm not zombified," Linkara piped up.
And once again, Linkara lacks any form of subtlety or tact. *pats* That really could have been phrased better, there, honey. A simple "Because we tested it" would possibly not have sent Marz into a fit like that. Or maybe it would have, but still.
Oh, very tactful there, Spoony sighed inwardly. That was going to go over well, he was sure.
"You let the bastard test it on Linkara"? Marz shouted. "How could you-- You're supposed to be his friend."
"I volunteered, dammit!" Linkara yelled, clearly frustrated.
Poor Linkara is getting really tired of all this talk of "letting" him do things, like he's incapable of making decisions on his own. He's not a small child, after all. *pats him*
"Marz, Spoony tried to stop me, okay? I'm the one who insisted on doing it, so if you want to yell at someone about it, yell at me." The look on Marz's face made it clear she was intending to do just that, and Spoony quickly stepped in and tried to regain control of the situation.
"But not now," he said, trying his best to sound stern and leader-like, and very much aware that it probably wasn't working. "Look, you can all yell at me and Linkara later, once we have someone on guard again. Right now, we need to decide how and where to test the weapon."
"Why the fuck should we listen to you anymore, actually?" The Nerd. Great. If he couldn't even convince the guy who barely even know who Dr.Insano was, he really had no hope. He threw up his hands in despair.
"I don't know. Hell, maybe you shouldn't listen to me, you’re right. The only reason I'm in charge is because you all seemed to expect me to be. As far as I'm concerned, if someone else wants to take over, and do the scheduling and the worrying and the keeping track of supplies and the dealing with the general bullshit I keep having to deal with, because let me tell you, it's like herding fucking cats most of the time--" He paused for breath. "If anyone else wants to take all that on, be my fucking guest!"
I hadn't originally planned on this little outburst here, but after Goggles started getting involved, and she realised exactly how much work is involved in running the compound, and how little anyone really realises that, it seemed only fair to give Spoony a chance to point that out to the rest of them as well.
Because the thing is, as anyone who's ever gone to a con can probably tell you, trying to get a bunch of geeks organised for something as simple as dinner can be a four hour ordeal. I've only ever known two people who managed to get it done in under two hours, and they did it by running the operation like drill sergeants.
"Herding cats" is a massive understatement, is what I'm saying, here. Poor, poor Spoony.
They all seemed a little shocked at his outburst. Hell, he was kind of surprised at himself. He could see a vaguely guilty look cross Goggles’ face, but before he could really wonder what that was about, the Chick apparently decided to take advantage of the sudden silence.
"If we're all done bickering like children now?" She asked, her voice cold. "Spoony did what he thought was necessary. Whether he was right or not ... Whatever. Hindsight is 20/20, and fuck knows I've done things I'm not proud of, but I did them because I had to. And frankly, we're losing sight of the important thing, here: we. have. a fucking. weapon. So let's use it, let's start fighting back?"
Remember how I mentioned, way back at the end of Act Two, that the Chick's cynicism and ruthless survival instincts were gonna be referenced again? Yeah, this was what I meant. It's not that she's happy about Spoony's deception, as such, because she does actually feel hurt and betrayed and angry like the rest of them. But she also understands he did what he thought was necessary, and she can't really say she disagrees, mostly. And in the end, what's done is done, and dwelling on it won't help them defeat the damn zombies.
Everyone looked slightly chastised, and Spoony mouthed a thank you at the Chick. She shrugged back, but looked at him oddly, as if she suspected there was more going on than he was telling.
Marz still looked at him with suspicion as well, but her voice was even as she spoke.
The Chick totally suspects there's more going on that Spoony still isn't telling them, and she's seriously considering calling him out on it, except ... Well, she does actually agree that keeping Dr. Insano's presence a secret was probably the best course of action, so she trusts his judgement about whatever else he's keeping a secret.
The irony, of course, is that if she did confront Spoony later on, without the others around, he might well tell her. I'm not sure how she would've reacted to the revelation that Insano created the zombies, though -- yes, she'd understand that it was an accident and that they need him to fight the zombies, and that that was why Spoony "sheltered" him, but I'm not sure the need for revenge wouldn't get the better of her, and she is the one to whom killing non-zombies came easiest, after all.
"You said the weapon needed testing?" They were at least, it seemed, willing to give him a chance, however reluctantly.
He nodded. "It's more or less based on the vaccine -- I don't understand the details -- so it more than probably works, but we need to field test it to be sure. It's ... Well, basically, it's a bomb, sort of, except one that doesn’t damage buildings or anything other than the undead hordes. I was thinking we should test it in that small town south-west of here. It's completely taken over, so there's no survivors to worry about, and loads of zombies in a small place." He could see several interested faces, and breathed a silence sigh of relief. Looked like this might just work.
25 June 2011
"All right, does everyone remember their roles?" Spoony called out. They were gathered outside of the target town, far enough out not to be spotted prematurely, but close enough that they had to start getting ready, and Goggles could tell Spoony was nervous. He wasn't the only one, either. She could see Linkara and Dr.Insano -- and boy, was it still weird to see him out and about -- checking the launch mechanism for the bomb for what was probably the fifteenth time.
"We're all ready," Ma-Ti reported. Then, "Remind me again why he's here?" He nodded at Dr.Insano.
"Because if something goes wrong, or it doesn't work, he needs to see exactly what happened," Spoony explained patiently.
"If something goes wrong, how about we chuck him at the zombies as a distraction so we can get away?" the Critic muttered.
"Oh, great idea," the Chick snapped at him. "Let's kill off the scientist the first time a prototype fails, that makes sense."
"Thank you," Linkara said. Goggles decided not to ask.
"Okay, people, let's stop arguing and start moving out!" Spoony intervened. "Places, everyone!"
Less than an hour later, they were driving in nervously expectant silence through the once zombie-infested town. Goggles could see the point of impact of the bomb, where the ground had been slightly scarred, but other than that, there seemed to be no material damage at all. The only real evidence left behind were the piles of now inanimate corpses littering the streets.
"I think it worked," Spoony finally breathed, and a huge cheer erupted. People were practically dancing, hugging, and Goggles found herself having to squeeze past people slapping people on the back in congratulation to get to him.
"Hey!" She called to him, and found herself wrapped in a hug and twirled around. Under any other circumstances, she would've smacked him for that, but she decided to let it go. Heat of the moment, and all that.
"Guess what?" Spoony beamed at her. "It worked."
"I noticed," she grinned back at him. "And it looks like you're still in charge, then, oh Fearless Leader." The look on his face made her dissolve into wild giggling.
"Well, crap," he sighed. She decided another hug was probably warranted. Herding cats, indeed.
Poor, poor Spoony. Hee. Yeah, the others pretty much defaulted back to letting him take charge, because even without his little outburst earlier on, none of them really wanted to be in charge themselves. Some of them would've stepped up to the plate if necessary, I'm sure -- the Chick, Goggles, and, were he still alive, Joe -- but as long as Spoony's around and issuing orders, it's much easier to just go along with it.
"So, now what?" She asked him.
"Now, we celebrate," he said. "And then, I guess we go on the offensive, and we take this show on the road."
"Sounds like a plan to me," she said.
Epilogue: Round Up The Usual Suspects
Originaly, I'd just called this bit "The Usual Suspects," until I realised people would think it was a reference to the movie, because not everyone is as obsessed with Casablanca as I am. Not that there's anything wrong with The Usual Suspects -- I like the movie a lot, actually -- but it carries different implications for the "feel" of the chapter.
23 December 2011
"Sometimes, our timing is kinda awesome," Spoony announced, self-satisfied. He was right about that, Linkara admitted. Two days until Christmas, and New York City was officially clean. Their small group had grown exponentially over the past six months, especially since they'd started hitting towns and small cities, and spreading the vaccine, and now the New York survivors had been added to that. He suspected this couldn't last; they were going to have to split up into smaller groups soon.
But for now, they were swarming the Hilton, and celebrating a major victory, and preparing for Christmas. In fact, he saw that someone had already found and put up a bunch of decoration, including, somehow -- "Wait, is that a Christmas tree? Where'd they get that?"
Remember, the zombies hit in Spring, and it's not like Christmas trees would've been a priority by December. As Spoony says, though, it's New York, and in my heart of hearts I'm convinced that in New York, even a year and a half after the Zombie Apocalypse, you can find anything if you know where to look. :D
"It's New York," Spoony shrugged. "I'm just glad they haven't found any mistletoe yet."
I did consider having this take place on Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day, or having mistletoe up during this bit anyway but then I imagined the potential mayhem, and decided it would distract me from the point of the whole scene.
"Not that that's stopping some people," Linkara noted.
Through the crowd, he could see the Critic dragging the Nerd off into a corner for what he assumed was a make-out session, and shook his head. He was about to comment to Spoony about them, when he noticed his friend was looking distracted. He followed the other man's gaze, and rolled his eyes.
"Spoony. Spoony!" A smack to the back of his head snapped Spoony out of his daze, thankfully without attracting the attention of Marz, Goggles, or the Chick. "They're not going to start having sex right there, you know."
"They might," Spoony protested.
... And pigs might fly out of my butt! </Wayne> No, seriously, Spoony, they're very well aware of the spying eyes, and they're not going to make with the public sex just because you want them to.
"They're just giggling and holding hands," Linkara said, exasperated. "How do you-- Oh, never even mind." He saw Ma-Ti make his way towards them through the crowd.
"Hey, guys!" He called cheerfully. "We just got a message from Europe!"
"Benzaie?" Spoony asked, brightening even further, possible lesbian threesome apparently forgotten, at least for now.
"The one and only. They managed to replicate the vaccine and the bombs." Spoony cheered.
"That's great news," Linkara said. It was almost overwhelming, really, this sudden fast-paced progress after more than a year of barely surviving. Not that he was complaining, mind.
"Hi," a voluptuous blonde suddenly appeared behind Ma-Ti. "Which one of you is the one with the ring?" She asked brightly.
"That would be me," Ma-Ti told her.
"Hi, I'm Sarah. I was told you can do .. interesting things with that ring," she smiled. Ma-Ti grinned back.
"Oh, absolutely. Excuse me, guys," he said to them, as the girl led him away.
"... Not gonna ask, don't wanna know," Spoony said.
"Probably a good idea," Linkara agreed. He'd been following that policy for months, himself. There were some things man was just not meant to know, he figured.
Woman, on the other hand, was very much meant to know, of course. And yes, this is me once again being mysterious about these "interesting things" the ring can do because I cannot actually conceive of them. I mean, that would mean I'd have to ponder hetsmut, which makes my brain seize up.
Plus, it's much more fun to leave that sort of thing to the imagination, really. :D
"Oh, great," Spoony said. "It's official: everyone is getting laid except me,"
"Wait, I think I've had this conversation before ..."
Poor, poor Spoony. Don't worry, sweetie, you'll get laid soon enough.
not very discreetly pointing towards a corner where Paw seemed deep in conversation with a girl. "Okay, maybe not everyone," he amended as Insano came towards them.
Six months of fresh air, sunlight, and, lately, a lot of people who knew nothing about him except that he'd found the vaccine and the bomb, had done him some good, Linkara thought to himself. He was still clearly uncomfortable out in public, though.
I wasn't sure if I should have Dr. Insano actually travel with the growing group of survivors, because I figured he'd probably be reluctant to do so, himself. I suspect he only went along because staying behind on his own wasn't an option, and they might need him in case anything went wrong. (Plus, he really was the closest thing they had to a medical doctor.)
It makes sense to me, though, that the other survivors, the ones who weren't in the original group, would think he wa a hero. No one knows he was the cause of this mess, after all, and the newcomes won't care that he was a "mad scientist" who tried to kill Linkara on many occasions -- he found the vaccine, and the weapon, who cares about anything else, right?
So he's feeling the effects of (TV Tropes Link!) Good Feels Good, but he still prefers to sort of hide behind Spoony and Linkara, because being celebrated as the saviour of humanity is kinda painful and guilt-inducing when you know humanity wouldn't have needed saving in the first place if it hadn't been for you.
Poor, wibbly mad scientist. *pats him onna head*
"Here comes the saviour of the human race," Spoony said good-naturedly.
And of course, after six months of not being able to avoid his future AU self, Spoony's a lot more used to the weirdness. I suspect Linkara's also occasionally told him off about his treatment of Dr. Insano, because seriously, they might have had a vaccine a lot earlier if the guy had been told to take a damn nap every now and then. Exhaustion is not conducive to science, after all.
Linkara elbowed him sharply.
"Shut up," he said amiably. It was still weird to see the two of them together, although luckily most of the others had accepted the 'from the FUTURE!" weirdness easily enough, he knew.
"Just ignore him," Insano said. "It's what I do. It doesn't work, mind you, but at least it saves your breath."
"If you two are gonna start conspiring against me, I'm gonna go get some food," Spoony glared at them. "And I should probably go and find a room key somewhere, too, before all the rooms are taken."
Poor Spoony. When your alternate self and you best friend start teaming up against you, you really have no hope of winning.
"Actually, food sounds like a good idea," Linkara said, following the other two to the dining room. "And don't worry about rooms," he added, holding up the key he'd procured earlier that day, and allowed himself a small feeling of smugness. "I got us the penthouse."
The identical stunned looks were gratifying, if also a little disturbing. Spoony beamed at him, and slung an arm around his shoulder. "You are so my new favourite person ever," he said. Linkara smiled back, and put his free arm around Insano's shoulder.
"Gentlemen," he said. "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
In my mind, I'm actually being pretty explicit about the Spoony/Linkara/Insano thing, here. It honestly didn't occur to me until the fic was off to beta that, oh, right, not everyone sees the ending of Casablanca as a happy ending, with Rick and Louis going off into the sunset together. Yes, I do tend to forget that wasn't how that scene was actually intended. My slash goggles are a bit hyperactive, sometimes, especially when it comes to old movies. (Ask me about The Defiant Ones!) Um, oops? :D
Anyway, everyone else read it the way I'd intended, so it worked out okay in the end. Even though there was once again a lot of flailing at the lack of smut, heh. (BYOS, people!)
I don't think I quite have the words to explain exactly how damn relieved I was when I finally finished this damned story. Writing over 20,000 words in a month is a lot more than my usual output, and I probably wasting flailing about how I was never going to get this written, let alone posted, before NaNo, and there were times when I was genuinly half-convinced this fic would KILL ME DED. ("'Death By Zombie Apocalypse Fic' is so not a dignified way to go ...")
Thankfully, Amy was available to talk me down off the ledge every time, and for that alone, she has my undying (HA!) gratitude.
She also went above and beyond the call of duty in her actual beta duties, especially when it came to reining in my love of commas in spite of my sometimes going against her authority. ("Oh, and I think I left one comma in against your advice, because you can take my Oxford comma when you pry it from my cold dead hands.")
Given that she took on the job knowing that the last time I wrote a long(ish) fic, the rewrites alone took almost a year, I think her stepping up to the plate anyway deserves some sort of medal, or at least a rambling thank-you like this. :D
To finish off, as a bonus to those of you who've made it all the way to the end of this commentary, I figured I'd throw in a couple of "extra" scenes that were cut altogether (for the better, I think) when I did the Big Rewrite of Act One. In the original version, Nella'd survived with the Chick, it was Linkara, rather than the Critic, who'd got himself caught by the Crazy People, and Weird Canadian Lady'dd been driving a truck full of supplies rather than just a car, which the Critic then took down to the compound.
Most of the first version of Act One was more or less the same, with adjustments of course, but I had several scenes of Linkara's escape from the Crazy People that I threw out altogether rather than transfer them to the Critic. I can't now remember my exact reasoning for this, but I think it was mostly a feeling that I was spending too much time on a minor plot point (the Crazy People aren't, but the escape itself definitely is), and the way I rewrote it gave other people a chance to be Big Damn Heroes (the truck full of supplies) as well.
Early June 2011
"Fuck, fuck, fuck." Linkara tried again to loosen the rope around his wrists, but to no avail. He slumped against the wall in defeat. "Fuc--Ow!" Okay, hitting his head against a solid concrete wall wasn't going to do him any good. He had to find a way out of this damn mess he'd managed to land himself in, and he was going to have to do it soon.
It was his own stupid fault he'd landed in this mess in the first place, after all. He knew going off on his own wasn't a good idea -- was, in fact, a spectacularly bad idea -- but sometimes he needed to get away from people for an hour or two, and he did usually manage to find something useful on these little expeditions: some fuel, a generator, soap, ...
Unfortunately, on this last trip, what he'd managed to find was a small hideout of two dozen or so people. On the plus side, they weren't infected. On the downside, they were very unhappy at being discovered, convinced he was after their supplies, or a spy for the zombies ("Wait, what?"), or both, and they were very keen on the idea of killing him. Their leader had so far convinced them to keep him alive, but Linkara wasn't sure if his motives were entirely humane -- the man's arguments in favour of not killing him seemed suspiciously cannibalistic in nature.
"We have to fatten him up, first!"
As you can tell, my tendency to infodump is even worse in first drafts.
At first he'd hoped someone would come to his rescue, but after ten days of being tied up in a tiny room, he was beginning to despair. Even if the others had managed to follow his tracks, they'd probably see the signs of struggle and assume he'd been taken by a pack of zombies. No, if he was getting out of here, it would have to be under his own steam.
He peered around the closet-like room, hoping that maybe the last person who'd brought him food and water -- only once a day, the bastards -- had been sloppier than the previous ones, and dropped something useful. Not that it was likely, but-- There!
It's a Deus Ex Machina! Huzzah! (One of the many reasons I deciced that handwaving the escape from the Crazy People, whoever was doing the escaping, was probably a better idea.)
Something was glittering near the door, something metal, perhaps? Keeping a careful ear out for any signs of his captors approaching, he sidled up to the door, twisted around, and grabbed the mystery object.
It turned out to be a bottle cap; not exactly razor sharp, but it just might do the trick, especially if he sharpened it a bit against the wall. He eyed the window. It looked to be around seven; if he worked hard, he might be loose by midnight, and be able to get out under cover of darkness. The door of his claustrophobic cell might prove a problem, but it was only locked wit a flimsy bolt from the outside, and he was on the opposite side of the camp from the guards. He just hoped his luck would hold.
Things I Researched For This Fic:
- "Can you actually use a bottlecap to cut ropes?" I actually tried this, and I can confirm that it is in fact possible, if slow going.
As it turned out, it did; he'd worked himself free by the time darkness fell, and the man who'd been careless enough to drop the bottle cap also hadn't closed the bolt properly -- some judiciously applied pressure, and the doorframe's wood gave way easily. Through the crack of the door, he looked around the camp. No sign of his bike, or any other easily stealable mode of transport. Fuck. He was going to have to walk back, and he had no idea where he was, or how far from the compound. Double fuck.
Oh, well, nothing for it. As long as he could avoid going in circles, he should end up finding a road sooner or later, and be able to find his way back to familiar territory.
He took a deep breath, pushed the door open, and started moving through the shadows to the edge of the camp. He'd almost made it when the guards spotted him, and, cursing under his breath, he started to run. Gunshots rang through the air, but he was so intent on getting to the relative safety of the desert, out of reach of the guards' flashlights, that he didn't even realise he'd been hit until his right leg suddenly refused to co-operate, and he fell down. He reached down, felt the blood, and braced himself for the pain, trying not to cry out and alert the guards to his location.
After a few moments' silence, a voice cut through the darkness. Let's go back to the camp. I think I got him with that last one, and either way, we can easily track him with the dogs tomorrow. No sense in leaving the camp unprotected." The other guard grunted in agreement, and their flashlights moved off, back to the camp.
Linkara breathed a sigh of relief, but he knew it was only a reprieve. The first guard had been right; they'd be able to track him easily come morning, probably wouldn't even need the dogs, just follow the blood trail, and he wasn't going to get very far with a leg wound. He was going to give it a damned good try, though.
He used his shirt to staunch the blood flow -- luckily, the bullet didn’t seem to have hit any major artery, so he wouldn't bleed to death just yet -- stumbled into a vaguely upright position, and started walking. Well, limping, anyway.
It was going to be a very long night.
By dawn, he'd managed somehow to stumble onto a road, and, looking behind him, he could see he'd covered a pretty decent distance, and mostly in a straight line, too. Unfortunately, judging by the dust cloud following his trail, it looked like his pursuers were being good to their word. Fuck. He gritted his teeth and set off down the road. He was going to give the bastards a run for their money, even if his leg was now causing him so much agony there was a dull roaring sound in his ears.
By the time he realised the roaring sound was not, in fact, a hallucination, but a truck coming up behind him, it had already pulled up beside him.
"Get in, get in!" The driver frantically gestured, hauling Linkara up by his t-shirt once he'd got himself partway up to the cabin. The passenger door wasn't even shut before the truck tore off again, leaving the wannabe cannibals in the dust. Linkara didn't take his eyes off the side mirror until he was sure they'd lost them, then realised he was being kind of rude.
"Thanks for the rescue there--" e cut off abruptly as he suddenly recognised his unexpected rescuer. "Critic?"
He got a tired grin in response. "I was starting to wonder if you were ever gonna recognise me."
"Yeah, sorry, I was a bit distracted by the crazed lunatics trying to catch me. Also, you know, the bullet in my leg."
"Oh, that's a bullet wound, good. I mean, not good that you got shot, but good that it's a bullet and not, you know, a zombie-infected bite." The Critic visibly collected himself, breathed deeply, and said, "Sorry, haven't talked to another human in like a month, and before that it was just me and That Guy for more than a year. My conversational skills are a bit rusty."
The Critic was a fair bit more fucked-up in the original version, as you might be able to tell.
"I'm amazed you're even alive, man. I mean, a year at Ground Zero? What are you, the goddamn Batman?" That just got him a slightly confused look. "Never mind, stupid joke. But seriously, how'd you survive, and what’s with the truck? And what happened to That Guy?" And clearly, the pain and blood loss were making him tactless as well as just plain stupid, now. Great.
The Critic uttered a short, harsh laugh. "Actually, funny story, that. See, the truck belonged to some Canadian woman; the zombies got to her before we could get her to safety, so we had to shoot her. She had Spoony's message in her laptop's browser cache, so we secured the truck and went to get some supplies we hadn't bothered with before, like that," he nodded at the GPS device. "And on the way back, the asshole trips and breaks his ankle while we were getting away from a pack. I managed to hold them off, but there was no way I could drag him back before we ran out of fuel and bullets. I mean, I tried, but ..."
Silence for a few moments, then: "Anyway, he gave this whole speech or whatever about wanting to die with his, and I quote, 'vastly superior brain' intact. So I shot him though the heart. Turns out he had one -- who knew, right?"
Another reason I think the rewrite works better: somehow it seems more fitting for the Critic to have this conversation with the Nerd than with anyone else.
Linkara wasn't sure how to respond to that -- "I'm sorry" seemed horribly insufficient, and his addled brain wasn't coming up with anything better. Luckily, he was spared the need for a reply when the Critic suddenly changed the subject.
"I hope you know where we're going, by the way, because Alice says the roads end several miles on any side of those co-ordinates."
"Alice?" Then, seeing what the Critic was looking, at, he caught on. "Oh, the GPS system?"
"... Yeah. The voice I picked is called Alice, and-- Don't judge me, dammit."
"Wouldn't dream of it. And yes, I know the way from here. Just follow 'Alice' for now, I'll tell you when to turn." He spotted something else interesting in the truck's dashboard. "Hey, does that CB radio work?"
The Critic shrugged. "I think so? I mean, the lights come on and all, but I've been twiddling with the controls, on and off, but no luck. Which could mean it's broken, or that there's no one out there, or that I have no idea what I'm doing. Or all three, come to think of it."
Linkara was barely paying attention to the Critic at this point, busy tuning the radio to the compound's frequency. "Home base, this s Linkara, anyone there?"
It took less than three seconds before a breathless Marzgurl, who must've broken several laws of physics running halfway across the compound, answered. "Linkara? Holy fuck, you're alive!"
"More or less, yeah. The bad news is, I'm wounded. The good news is, I've got company, and we should be there in fifteen."
"It's a surprise. See you in a bit!" Seeing the Critic look at him oddly, he said, "What? With any luck, they'll be too surprised and busy giving you a hero’s welcome that no one'll think to yell at me for getting myself into this mess."
Hopefully, anyway," he added silently. Marzgurl was pretty good at multitasking, though.
"Who was that?" Spoony, just off the late nightshift, poked his head around the door of the common-area-slash-comms-room. He really needed sleep, but a radio message was a rare enough occurrence it warranted attention.
"Linkara," Marzgurl replied, looking both a little dazed and rather annoyed. "He'll be here in fifteen -- actually, probably closer to ten now -- and he's wounded. Also, he has company."
"Company with a radio, apparently. Anyone we know?"
"I'm guessing so, since it's apparently a surprise," she said sarcastically.
"Unless the surprise is that they're bringing a truckload of supplies, I'm not sure I wanna know," he yawned.
"Could be someone who's worth the extra mouth to feed," Marzgurl pointed out.
"Unless it's Chuck Norris," he suppressed another yawn. "I doubt it."
She sighed. "Come on, let's go wake up the others. I'll get Ma-Ti and tell whoever's on guard to expect incoming.
It actually took them less than ten minutes after the radio conversation to reach the gates. The Critic had to admit, between the fence, the gate, and the guard tower, the whole thing looked pretty solidly defended. It would almost look professional if it hadn't been for who was manning the tower.
"NEEEEERD!" He yelled, grinning at the dumbfounded reaction. Gratifying as it was, though, there were slightly more pressing matters to be seen to. "Hey, are you gonna open the gate and let us in, or what?"
"Or what," Linkara muttered from the passenger seat. "You're new and I'm wounded; they have to make sure we're clean, first."
And as if on cue, the Critic could see Ma-Ti pop up over the wall of the watchtower, watching them suspiciously. Then, suddenly, his expression brightened, and he yelled, "You're both clean, we're opening the gate!"
"How can you tell we're clean from up there, you pipsqueak?" The Critic yelled back.
In response, Ma-Ti held up one hand, ring glittering in the early morning light. "Heart?" He said as if it should have been obvious. Huh. Maybe it wasn't such a lame power, after all.
He manoeuvred the truck through the gates, an operation that was somewhat complicated by the small crowd that ad gathered just inside the gates. He'd barely opened the door and slid out of the cabin before a vague blur flew at him and attached itself to him.
"Critic! Fucking hell, we gave you up for dead ages ago!"
His brain identified the voice -- and the blur -- as the Nostalgia Chick, and as nice as it was to get this kind of welcome ...
"Can't ... breathe ..."
The Chick loosened her grip on his neck slightly. "Oops, sorry, sorry," and then there were people slapping him on the back and poking him to confirm he was real, and the whole thing was starting to overwhelm him.
"Um, guys? Guys! Hate to interrupt, but can I get a hand here?" Marzgurl called from the other side of the cabin, where she was trying to help down a nearly unconscious Linkara. Fuck. Looked like the blood loss was catching up with him. He saw the Nerd move in to help (making himself useful for once, apparently), and from somewhere next to him he heard Spoony swear.
"Damn idiot," he sighed, then turned toward the Critic. "I don't suppose you have any painkillers in that truck, do you?"
The Critic grinned. "Actually, I do And lots of other stuff, actually." He made his way to the back of the truck, undid the latches, and threw open the doors with a gesture he knew full well was overdramatic. Not that he cared; he deserved a chance to how off after this past month.
Spoony took one look at the contents of the truck, blinked, and muttered, "And here I thought I was kidding." Before the Critic could ask what he was talking about, Spoony'd climbed into the truck, and was taking inventory of its contents. "Painkillers and antibiotics, fantastic, and this has to be months worth of food, and--" He paused blinked. "Is that Red Bull? You are so my new best friend."
Collecting himself and remembering there was an emergency to deal with, he quickly grabbed some bandages and painkillers, and took off towards what the Critic assumed was the infirmary, leaving the rest of them looking dazedly at the mass of supplies.
The silence was broken by Nella, who climbed into the back of the truck. "Come on, guys, let's get this stuff unloaded. And someone should show Mr Big Damn Hero here where everything is.
And that's it for the commentary. Hope you enjoyed this undoubtedly fascinating trip into my mind, and thanks for reading.