• Published 7th Oct 2012
  • 4,405 Views, 215 Comments

Dead Space: Valor in Laughter - Kishin



Giggle at the Ghosties....Make them go away

  • ...
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On the Other Side

Charybdis colony world, 2505, 3 years before end of Resource War and Aegis VII incident.
Location: 89th floor of Timson Tools Corporation building.


Damn, door's locked.

The RIG-clad soldier stealthily checked the entrance of an evacuated conference room that would serve fairly well as a observation point, brushing his gloved hands along the nooks and crannies of the door in order to make certain that it wasn't booby-trapped.

Old dogs can learn new tricks, but it doesn't mean they won't remember earlier ones, either.

He got up until he was head-level with the door panel, and pulled back the interface pad, revealing the circuitry beneath. He twiddled around with the wiring and the magnetic locking system until he found the emergency fail-safes in the hydraulics of the doorway's mechanics. He faked a power systems shutdown by tearing some wires responsible for the hydraulics and driving them into the electromagnetic micro-coils that surrounded the power conduit in the interface's circuitry, leaving the rest of the work to the building AI in charge of safety protocols to automatically open the entrance in order to "evacuate" the "inhabitants" of the room.

He rushed in and used his Kinesis to roughly throw the conference table and numerous luxury appliances into a pile in a lonely corner. He set the modified Seeker rifle slung behind his back onto the now-empty flooring in the direction of the CEC skyscraper, which was giving off the faintest of reflections through the modestly-sized windows currently taking the place of an entire wall in the conference room.

He opened up a communique in his RIG to the commanding officer of the USM Reqiuem above Charybdis's orbit.

"Requiem, this is callsign Falcon." He lay prone onto the floor, ejected the bipod and the stock monopod from the Seeker rifle's body to stabilize the rifle, and started to allow the ORACLE program in his RIG to uplink with the Seeker rifle.

"Awaiting further orders."

"Let's cut the bullshit, Marine. We'll have to abandon SOPs for now. The target already is capable of disconnecting his RIG interface from Charybdis's network, so we'll have to assume that he already triangulated on your location through the comm relays on Reqiuem and already hacked into your RIG ID. Sorry for not briefing you before we dropped you off, but time is short and I don't have time for the formalities. Now...." There was a pause, as the officer was probably side-swiped a look at the soldier's service record. "...Gunnery Sergeant Ahn, according to your record, you're an Electronics Warfare Engineer. And a damn good one. And the situation we're in requires more of a refined method that our best snipers can't provide."

As the marine scoped in onto the 67 floor and third window to the right of the sdjacent skyscraper(exactly as Intel specified), the Requiem CO uploaded a EarthGov Security profile picture of a graying Caucasian male in around mid-age and multiple logs of information onto his RIG.

"This is Robert Grayson. Worked as a Net Systems Technician in CEC for 23 years. Wife and kids died a month back from an orbital barrage in the rebellious provinces of Charybdis while he was out of system. The man cracked, and as of today at 0350 hours, he hijacked the CEC Charybdis skyscraper's security systems and is currently holding the Condcordance Extraction Corporation's Board of Directors, who were on a business trip here, hostage. He already announced a statement threatening EarthGov to remove their presence on this planet. I'm sure you're quite familiar with one of hostages."

Another photo blinked up on the soldier's RIG of a young, curly-haired brunette with fathomless sapphire eyes and a smartly-tied bun. He knew her name before her profile loaded onto his RIG. It was Diane Mercer, the Junior Undersecretary of the CEC Board. And she was three-months pregnant with a girl.

Wait a minute. How do I know all this about a complete stranger? Pretty sure I'm not a fucking stalker.

And did he just say that I knew her? Never seen her in my life. Curious...

"But that's besides the point. At the rate that the Resource Wars are continuing, the human race will consume all its resources in a matter of months, even with the colony mining operations. I have both the CEC Management back on Earth and the brass on separate lines up here screaming at me to save the Board at all costs. EarthGov and the CEC are in cahoots with a secret construction of a ship they've just started to mention called Project Ishimura. The CEC are creating a new class of ships called Planet-crackers, which they claim will solve humanity's mineral resource problem with a few mining operations on planets considered uninhabitable. If the Board dies, all CEC's credibility will flop and the funding for the Planet-crackers will be pulled out from under them by investors. Humanity will be left to rot in its own shit. EarthGov doesn't want that to happen."

The Gunnery Sergeant found his target. The man wandered into his visual range near the CEC building room's window.

"I have visual on Grayson and some of the Board members. He appears to have a device around his neck..."

He tagged and uploaded the RIG signatures of the prone CEC Board and of Grayson.

Requiem reported in, "The target designed a monitoring apparatus that'll track any drastic increase or decrease in vital signs. Remember when I said that he hijacked the building? He also linked the device to the generators below the CEC skyscraper compound, and it will start a melt down sequence that will wipe out a quarter of the urban sprawl if the damn thing around his neck senses that his heart is flat-lining, meaning we can't breach the compound in case he triggers the melt down himself."

Sergeant Ahn watched Grayson look behind himself, and impatiently scream at and drag out a member of the hostages towards the window.

Oblivious, the CO above orbit continued, "That's where you come in. The modified Seeker Rifle has a targeting supercomputer, or ORACLE, integrated into the scoping system, that relays information from and to your RIG. You're pretty familiar with ORACLE, seeing as you collaborated on its prototype couple weeks ago. It's barrel has been replaced to allow for a different cartridge to be used, like the EMP slug currently chambered in the Seeker Rifle. ORACLE will lock on to the target and automatically calculate any variable it encounters, and the EMP round guided by ORACLE, once it penetrates the the detonation collar on Grayson, will both disable his RIG and disconnect his spinal cord from the resulting hydrostatic shock. I've gotten a 'go' signal from EarthGov, so as soon as the oppurtunity presents itself...."

"...take the shot?" Ahn answered.

"Take the shot. No matter what. As long as the majority of the Board survives this, humanity won't go extinct. Am I clear?"

"Crystal, sir," Ahn responded. He tried to push all of his fears of what might happened to her.

But a tiny pessimistic voice of doubt lingered.

What if it meant she had to die?

Wait. What? Why should I worry myself about collateral damage? But I can't get rid of this feeling that I met her before...

Grayson returned to the window clutching a woman by her neck, and held an activated industrial plasma saw to her midsection. Ahn began to assign ORACLE's tracking system onto Grayson's RIG signal.

Damn. It's her.

The Requiem called in, "Patching through a transmission incoming from Grayson's RIG. Hold on a moment..."

After what seemed like an eternity, the Marine heard through his helmet speaker what supposedly was Grayson's haggard voice:

"To all the EarthGov terratorialist bastards still on this planet. Let us just die in peace. You took my wife and kids away from me, and if you don't withdraw from this planet, I'll take your precious resource solution away from EarthGov. I've got nothing to live for anymore. Humanity deserves to die in the ditch it dug up by itself. If you don't give in to my demands, I'll start to carve into this pretty little thing right here, like I will for the rest."

He turned his head towards his captive. She, even with dried trails of tears and mascara, was still entirely recognizeable. She was mouthing something......"Junebug"

Fuck....she knows me. And by a pet name. Calm down, it could just be a coincidence.

But how the fuck shouldn't I know her, if she knows me already?

"I'll give you 24 hours to-"

Grayson rambled on as Ahn recieved a transmission directly from the Requiem CO.

"According to Marine units on the ground, you should have perfect visual on the target. Execute on my mark..."

Ahn placed his index finger firmly on the two-step trigger of the Seeker Rifle.

"3....."

Ahn looked into Mercer's eyes. She looked back.

"2....."

I'm not a Unitologist, but please God if you're REALLY out there....

"1...."

....Keep her safe.

"Mark...."

The NCO squeezed the trigger, and a loud crack echoed dully throughout the city. As his shoulder calmly accepted the recoil, he saw a millisecond later a small cloud of pink and red puff behind Grayson.

Grayson's head, disconnected from its neck, rolled onto the floor and fell off from the now-windowless balcony onto the sprawl below. The body it left behind jerked a little, and to the Gunnery Sergeant's horror, the insignificant jerk of a muscle turned into a sudden muscle spasm that charged the plasma saw into the captive's chest.

"No...."

At first, faint smoke eminated from the wound, but as the saw burned further and further into Mercer's body, chunks of burnt bone fragments and dark, purple deoxygenated blood spurted out of her shoulder and bosom. From the fractured windows of the room, her scream penetrated the heart of the city. The screaming began to stopper as gravity pushed the embedded plasma saw down, and the additional weight and agony disoriented the poor woman into taking a panicked step towards the shattered windows, which gave way to her weight, and tumbled down to the Charybdis urban sprawl beneath her.

Ahn looked away and withdrew himself from the Seeker Rifle's scope. Ahn got up from his prone position onto his hands and knees, and then onto his feet. He stumbled and grasped around for any physical support.

Amongst the pool of radio traffic in Ahn's helmet, Reqiuem screeched in, "Sergeant, what the hell is going on down here? We're getting reports of a civilian getting slaughtered up on-"

The Marine returned, "Mission.....accomplished. Hostages secure. Congrats, sir. We all get to live to fight another glorious day."

He suddenly wrenched off his helmet and threw it onto the marble flooring. He sank down and breathed out a sob.

He whispered harshly to none other than himself, "What the fuck did I just do? She fucking looked at me in the eyes. And what did I do? I killed her. But why in the hell should I be upset about this? I saw plenty of people die before."

"Why can't I just shake this off?!"

He remembered after a few moments of recollection her last words. It was Junebug. Why do I feel like I've heard that before? Why can't I fucking remember?

The memory brutally fresh, he replayed it over and over again in his mind until her could actually hear her call out:

Junebug....

Whether he actually heard it, or he was starting to drift didn't matter. He was slowly becoming disturbed at the fact that his vision was distorting, as if he was viewing everything through a cheaply-produced holo-cam that streaked the imaging with static whenever the smallest hint of illumination was captured by its lense. He remembered that the two suns that Charybdis orbited were setting, but the light outside was now unbearingly blaring, as if an old 20th century lighthouse had its signal light directed right into the room.

Junebug....

He heard the voice again. The static and increasing luminescence was giving him a migraine, and forced to wince, the Sergeant closed his eyes.

The second he opened them, A bloody figure blinked into existence in front of him, with unearthly glows emanating from her eyes and mouth, and pale, icy skin that made it...her...look like her body had prolonged exposure to the zero-degree, harsh environment of space. The corpse-like female, as quick as lightning, clutched the NCO's neck with a death grip and opened her mouth with a ghoulish howl.

Her features were too much like Mercer's to be ignored.

Shit. This didn't happen. Nothing like this happened. What the fuck is going on?

Her screaming outburst was as if it was played from a damaged audio file,

"You killed me! You killed my child! MAKE US WHOLE!!!!!!"

His tormented vision stuttered and blacked out. With a sharp gasp of breath, he opened his eyes.



USM Valor. Present day, 2508.
Shockpoint jump towards Aegis VII system. 0740 hours Shockpoint Time.

Hyperventilating, he immediately rose up. He wasn't on Charybdis anymore. He was lounging in a chair, adjacent to what he now recognized as the ship's Psychiatrist. Ahn gave a salute as soon as he noted the silver bars of a naval Lieutenant on his fatigues.

The LT warily looked at him, "Steady there. I think we might have to cut short our hypnosis session. I'm sure you were told this before, but this will have to be our last examination. But mind letting me ask you a couple of questions?"

"Aye, sir,"

"Excellent. Gunnery Sergeant Ahn Joon....umm, which one is your first name? Sorry, I like to start off with a first-name basis. Makes things easier to handle for patients."

"It's Joon, sir."

"Ah-ha! That makes more sense. Never could get foreign names right," the psychiatrist explained. "Now then, when did these dreams, memory black outs, and/or hallucinations start occurring?"

Joon seemed to stare absentmindedly past the psychiatrist. The Lieutenant noted something was bothering him, or maybe was having a hallucination concurrently with his session.

"A couple of days ago, sir."

"Alright then. Roughly the same time as the others. Do you still have them?"

The Marine continued to stare at the crucified body of the same mysterious woman in his vision on the room wall, sultrily repeating, "Make us whole". His eyes watering, he blinked, and she disappeared.

He recovered himself, "Yes, sir."

"Do they look familiar to you in any way?"

"I see a woman. Brown hair, blue eyes. Familiar, but I can't seem to identify her exactly."

The Lieutenant said, scrolling on a tablet with a window open that was the Marine's crew service record, "Really? Because in your personal information, there seems to be a similar-". The psychiatrist stopped himself and spoke again,

"Never mind. It won't help you until you start treatment at a mental hospital. Alright then, final question: You requested a ship-board transfer for Valor's Ship Systems Techinician position 48 hours after the Charybdis incident. Was your decision linked in anyway to the events before it?"

The Marine didn't answer.

"Sorry, Gunnery Sergeant. Must have been a personal question," the Lieutenant murmured. His impassive facial expression started to soften.

"Look Marine, I'm afraid that I'm going have to declare you mentally unfit for duty."

Joon looked up. "You're Section 8-ing me?"

"I don't have a choice. You now how many cases of paranoia and dementia similar to your's I've gotten this past week? 45, including you. Must be the G-sickness and Shockpoint radiation getting to you guys. Too many jumps, so little rest. This is getting to the point where I had to inform Cadigan about this....pandemic. I'm truly sorry," The naval psychiatrist replied gently.

"You'll be fine. I've seen plenty of Marines and Station or Planetary Security come out of the meat grinder more screw-loose than you are now, and still end up back in service after therapy and treatment." The psychiatrist grasped Joon's shoulder firmly. "But I'm afraid I'm going to have to put ya into stasis. Valor got a distress signal from the Aegis system while you were out. Suspicious, right? Not even the most insane person in this galaxy would go there. Bet you 5 credits it's the Unitologist funny handshake again. So we can't drop you off anytime soon at the nearest planetary base for a refuel and crew exchange. It's not an option anymore."

Joon blankly stared and nodded few seconds later in grudging agreement. He hated the cryo-stasis process with a passion, but the sooner he got himself looked at, the better. "Fine."

The Lieutenant graciously shook his hand, "Thanks for making this easy on yourself, Gunny. And me, especially. Got 12 more cases to check through today before we reach Aegis VII. Wish ya the best of luck."




USM Valor. 2508.
Aegis VII system. 0830 hours Normal Time
Stasis Bay C

"Did you hear?" The lonely Petty Officer asked. Couldn't catch his name. His RIG tag says its Buhari, or something. Crap, the friggin condensation is starting to cover my RIG screen. Getting harder to read.

"Something mighty fishy is going on below in the hanger. Lost contact with everybody in there as soon as we got one of Ishimura's escape pods onboard. Complete radio silence. No comms from the Marine unit we sent down there, too. Some freaky-ass shit, right?"

Joon answered, looking up from his RIG holo-screen, "Sure as hell sounds like it. You sure you don't need an extra hand?" He would have done anything to escape the cramped confines of a stasis tube.

"Nah, Gunny. Enjoy yourself when you start getting handled by them Navy nurses in padded rooms. Perks to becoming completely psycho."

Joon, his voice dripping with sarcasm, retorted, "Jeez, your making me feel SO much better. Do you think I'll still get put on a murder charge if I strangle you while I'm clinically insane? I think its one of those perks you mentioned about not being able to control myself in fits of madness..."

"Damn, Guns. Ease up on the insults," The Petty Officer said. "Just here as an technician."

He gestured at his Marine escorts that they didn't need to stay during the stasis process. Buhari closed the "casket". The nickname for stasis tubes, popularly used by Navy techies, originated with the early prototypes of stasis tubes in the 23rd century that ended tearing apart the subjects and half of the laboratory containing them with subatomic black holes. The project staff attempted to project a space-time bubble that slowed every individual particle inside its field, but ended up exciting the particles inside with such instability that the bodies inside simply disappeared. Overall, a pretty lax name for such a dark past.

Mist started to creep up and cover the "casket's" clear tubing with even more condensation, signs that the stasis generators were functional, expelling H2O emissions, blah blah blah, when shouting started emerge from out of the room, specifically from the direction Joon recognized with his limited vision where the Marine escorts exited the room from.

Blood-curdling screams and gruff yells increased in frequency, until pregnent silence hung about.

Even the occasional "Get 'em off of me!" had stopped.

Joon exclaimed from inside the stasis tube, "Yo, Buhari. What the hell's going on?"

"No idea. I'll stop the stasis sequence to see what's going on," Petty Officer Buhari replied, as he frantically tapped on his control interface. "Whatever's happening, shit probably escalated from-GAHHHHHH!"

A monstrosity of mishapen flesh and bone impaled Buhari from the shadows. The clear casing of Joon's stasis unit fogged up, making the blood splatters and rabid, unintelligible screaming the only visual and audible evidence of what was occurring. And, to Joon, it was far from normal.

"Buhari!" Joon hit the plexiglass casing repeatedly. "Answer me! You alright?!"

All he got in response was deep moaning and silence lasting several, nerve-racking seconds.

Out of nowhere, bony limbs thrashed on the stasis tube's clear casing, cracking and eventually breaking through the damage-resistant plexiglass. A disfigured human head burst through the now-useless shards that had temporarily shielded Joon, and roared into his face. Bloody spittle and decaying matter rained onto Joon's countenance.

Joon lashed out, striking the nightmarish creature below the jaw, and broke through the weakened plexiglass casing, landing onto the deck. He scrambled away from the creature, and his eyes searching for a discarded weapon, entered the blood-stained room where the escorts met their demise. He salvaged a Pulse Rifle off of the gore-splattered deck, and turned to face the creature of misshapen flesh and bone.

Joon fired a short burst at its center of mass. The sizable amount of fire that would have shredded a dinner plate-sized hole in a normal human being was simply shrugged off by the monster. A stray round blew off half of its head, but the creature continued to charge at him. Joon could only watch through his peripheral vision the ammo counter draining precariously to zero as the creature, now legless, still was intent on continuing the onslaught. As its arms were shot off, and as Joon's Pulse Rifle ejected its last shell casing, the monster finally stopped and drowned in a pile of its own shattered limbs and ruptured organs.

The Gunnery Sergeant edged away from the monster's corpse. He put enough rounds in the thing to stop a truck, and it still wouldn't stop until its appendages were disconnected from its body.

Note to self. Aim for the limbs

He approached the Stasis Bay's exit, but he was denied passage. The exit bulkhead left him trapped in the bay.

Joon remembered EDF's Naval standard procedure for removal of mentally-ill crew. Normally, their RIGs were restricted access into and out of all compartments unless accompanied by certified crewmen and bank accounts were frozen, with funds only available until they started treatment at a mental asylum.

Joon heard grisly rustling in the vents above him. Fuck that. I ain't staying here.

The only way he would be able to escape would be with the RIG tag to scan the bulkhead with...

He looked at the many corpses with their RIGs intact and a combat knife strapped onto an amputated thigh.

The Sergeant walked cautiously to one of the bodies, and solemnly collected the name of the Marine's body he would have to defile to escape.

Jenkins...Sorry, for this bro.

Joon unseathed the combat knife and thrusted it between the corpse's shoulder blade, starting the grisly process of severing the nerve/titanium wiring-infused connections between the spinal cord and a combat RIG.

But you would have done the same exact thing...


....or not.