Wednesday, May 14, 2008

008: Ishmael's Decision

Barge in: 2 votes
Sneak in: 10 votes
Decide later: 0 votes
Land Captain continued drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, and then suddenly stopped. "It seems to me that we really don't know what's on the other side. So what I'm thinking is that you activate your cloaking device, and then we proceed full speed ahead."

"Aye aye, captain," replied Ishmael.

They entered the portal, and wound up right back in front of the laboratory. Only everything was enveloped in a sort of blue fog, and the Alogrins were standing all over the place. None had noticed Ishmael's arrival.

Land Captain leaned over to Ishmael's stereo, and whispered, "Drive as slowly as you can into the woods. I've got some more thinking to do."

Ishmael did so, managing a sufficient blend of speed and stealth, and with a bit of luck they parked several yards away from the tree line. Once they thought they were safe, Land Captain exhaled. He had been holding his breath.

"Where are we, Ishmael?"

"We appear to be on Earth. The same Earth, no less. We know the Alogrins have technology to jump from universe to universe, and I know how it works, as it's the technology I use. However, they seem to have modified it to deposit them in between the jump."

Land Captain nodded. He remembered how a group of Alogrins had contacted him to see if he would track a group of evil Alogrins who had designs on the destruction of the multi-verse, and how they had modified his Buick Electra to be able to jump between dimensions and do all sorts of other fancy things.

"Wasn't that tunnel thing the jump?" asked Land Captain.

"Indeed, but right now we are in mid-leap, so to speak. Closer to the Earth we currently reside on, yes, as being directly half-way between the two universes would no doubt tear us apart," said Ishmael.

Land Captain nodded, "So right now we're between dimensions with a group of evil aliens and a demented ichthyologist. How's the atmosphere?"

"Everything appears nominal."

"Gravity and all that okay?"

"Aye aye, captain."

Land Captain smiled. So far, life in this universe- or more accurately, the universe they jumped from- had been all right but a bit dull. A little driving here and there, yes, but up until now the most excitement he had experienced was delivering Charleston Charge to TYRIS. Now, he had his old group of foes, and what was potentially a new archenemy. He couldn't wait to go head-to-head with her.

"Take off your cloaking device, Ishmael. It's time we made ourselves known. Then switch to manual. I know you don't like it, but sometimes in life there's just times when a man has to take the wheel."

Ishmael did so, and Land Captain set his hands on the steering wheel, at 10 and 2. He checked his mirrors, buckled his seat-belt, and then turned off the car. He took a deep breath, turned the key, and let the engine's purring engulf him. This is what he lived for. Not driving people around, not trying to figure out what the heck to do. He could do those, yes, but they didn't complete him. But right now, at this very moment, this is what made his life worth living. Just a man, a car, and a group of perps waiting to be collared.

He put his foot on the gas pedal and drove out to meet his foes. Despite the short distance, he was still able to gain enough speed to drift in front of the lab. With one swift movement, he turned off the car and unbuckled his seat belt. Before the car had come to a complete stop, he had already opened the passenger's door and dived through it. He hit the ground with a roll, and came up with his fist connected with a surprised Alogrin's chin. It fell to the ground, and Land Captain grinned. He managed a back-flip, landing on the top of Ishmael, and he stood up, hands on his hips, and looked down at the shocked Alogrins.

"Remember me, you scurvy dogs?" he shouted. The Alogrins were tall, thin, and deep blue with egg-shaped heads and bulbous black eyes. The ones who had a streak of decency had taken to tattooing little emblems on their chests, which none of the Alogrins here had.

The Alogrins were hushed, and one stepped out of the crowd. He was a bit taller than the rest, and a lighter shade of blue, his eyes had white specks. Land Captain knew these were the marks of an elderly Alogrin.

He began to speak, and the special circuitry in Land Captain's hat translated the words, "Don't meddle in the affairs of your betters, Land Captain!"

"I'm looking for Professor Liana Koleyna," said Land Captain, "We can do this the easy way, or the hard way!" He sighed, knowing that that was a very clich├ęd thing to say.

The elderly Alogrin clenched his fist, and thrust it at Land Captain. The surrounding aliens nodded, and advanced. Land Captain laughed, and leapt off the car, kicking the nearest Alogrin in the chin. He picked up the fallen alien, hefting it above his head, and hurled it at several more of them. They fell. Land Captain knew that the Alogrins had never been able to fully compensate for Earth's atmosphere, and so they usually relied on sheer numbers to overwhelm their Earth-based foes. In space, it was a completely different matter, but here and now, Land Captain had the edge. He launched himself into the biggest cluster of Alogrins, and began throwing kicks and punches. He grabbed the wrist of an Alogrin who had tried to punch him, and yanked the alien with such force that it was hurled behind him, knocking out several of its fellows. Soon, the entire cluster was taken down, and the remaining Alogrins maintained a safe distance.

"So, do you want to tell me where she is?" asked Land Captain, fists still clenched, "Or do I have to take out the rest of you?"

"You win, Land Captain," sighed the Alogrin elder, "She claimed she needed to finish a job, and headed off down the road in one of our vehicles." He pointed down the road, in the general direction of TYRIS.

This fact was not lost on Land Captain. He walked over to the Alogrin elder and did his best to look menacing, growling, "What did she take with her?"

"Some of her creations and the jumper we gave her," said the Alogrin, shrinking back, "Please don't hurt me," he added in a whisper.

Land Captain turned, "That fiend! I've no doubt she's planning to finish off Mister Charge, or perhaps that entire branch of TYRIS! I've got to stop her!" He ran over to Ishmael, but before he got in, he turned back to the Alogrin elder and said, "You lot have until I get back to clear out of here! If I catch you in these parts again, I'll make you walk the bloody plank!" Hoping his threat was sufficient, he climbed into Ishmael and started the car.

"Well done, sir. I've transmitted a report of this to what passes as the Alogrin authorities, so it'll most likely get cleared up. However, I do have some bad news."

"Can't it wait? We have to stop Koleyna!"

"It can't, sir. Being in a state of mid-jump is wreaking havoc with my programming and power reserves. If either gets too low, you may not be able to return."

Land Captain drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, and said, "What does that mean, exactly? I mean, I know what it means, but how does that effect me?"

"If I use my maximum speed to reach Koleyna, there is a chance my programming will buckle from the strain of being in two places at once. Likewise, if I allow you to drive, then there is a good chance my power reserves will run dry. They are not recharging as efficiently in this in-between world as they would in a normal universe."

"I could drive at your maximum speed," said Land Captain.

"You're a good driver, Land Captain, but not that good. Even with the lower risk of crashing into something, you may impact with Koleyna, killing both of you instantly."

"I could use... the goggles."

Ishmael was silent.

"I said, I could-"

"I know what you said," replied Ishmael sharply, "Do you know what you risk if you use the goggles?"

"I risk losing my mind. I know they allow my brain to directly interface with your body, Ishmael. I would become the brains of this car. There's a chance I might not come back, that my mind would be outweighed by yours, but you know what? There's a madwoman out there, heading towards a building filled with people. People with friends and families. People just trying to do their jobs. She plans on setting a bunch of freak-fish on those people, to tear them to shreds. She would come out of nowhere, without warning, and I doubt many of those people would survive. If I don't take this chance, those people will die. If I don't take this chance, you might die, too. I may be the Land Captain, but I'm still just a man, and what man can honestly say his life is worth more than the lives of a building filled with people? What man can say his life is worth more than that of his dearest friend? Not I, Ishmael. Not I."

"You might turn into a vegetable."

"Better a vegetable who tried to do the right thing than a man who stood by and did nothing."

"It's my decision," said Ishmael.

"Then make it," said Land Captain, "Make it quickly."

Ishmael knew his options: Go full speed after Koleyna and risk losing his mind, let Land Captain drive and risk losing his life, or let Land Captain use the goggles and risk losing Land Captain himself. Ishmael knew what Land Captain wanted, but it was his decision...
The poll finally started working, so that's a good thing.

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