• Published 7th Oct 2012
  • 4,423 Views, 215 Comments

Dead Space: Valor in Laughter - Kishin

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

  • ...

Pink Midst: Part 2

USM Valor. 2508.
Aegis VII system. 0937 hours Normal Time
Habitability Deck 5A

"Hey, Vargas! How much closer?"

"70 meters 'til we reach the RV point. Hang tight. Just keep on sprinting."

PFC Vargas looked behind her shoulder, making sure her remaining squad member, Restrepo, was keeping up.

"Just like Basic, huh?" she huffed and gave a small grin.

Restrepo grimaced, struggling to continue the pace while blurting out a response, "Yup, except without the crawl tunnels full of pig shit and the 70 kilo packs. Shit, I can't keep this up, Vargas."

"You gotta. Just a few more moments, and we'll get to see some of our own again. Not a bunch of space-zombies. Honest-to-God Marines and the Navy POG-WOGs!" she chuckled. Restrepo wheezed out a laugh.

Crap. I should have ordered him to leave the Detonator behind. It's weighing him down, meaning it's going to slow down both of us.

Vargas reduced to a fraction of her speed as they reached an intersection on the deck, and directed, "Ok, we take a right at this hallway, and we take a detour through Valor's Plaza. When we reach Cadigan's safe zone, we'll give a toast to Koji and Sorens, ok? Least we can do for 'em. Then some chow and sleep. "

Restrepo stopped beside her and said, "Fine by me. But sleep is gonna be hard to come by aft-

A pink blur of a creature flew up behind his leg, and unbeknown to him, tapped the side of his knee joint, yelling in a high-pitch tone, "TAG! YOU'RE IT!"

Restrepo nearly jumped out of his skin and sprayed a drawn-out burst from his Pulse Rifle behind him. The pink....thing, noting his panicked body language and the light emerging from his curious shoulder-aimed cannon, flung herself into another passageway away from Restrepo and the wake of expended plasma rounds that impacted the walls near her.

"What the hell were you firing at?!" Vargas asked, looking up from a map of Valor's schematics on her RIG.

"No idea. I'm going after it-"

She gripped his shoulder pauldron and reminded urgently, "We don't have time for this. We still have Necros trailing us. They know where we fucking are now, and they'll be dragging their rotting asses over here like moths to a flame."

"If we keep this up, we'll never make it to the RV point in time!" Vargas shouted, and in her anger, she carelessly wandered directly below an engineering vent shaft.

"Get your ass back in gear, Restrepo. We still got-"

Vargas never got to finish the sentence. The venting collapsed over her, and a humanoid tackled her to the ground. Restrepo rapidly brandished his firearm to help his friend, but five more of the creatures fell out of the venting and started to menacingly step towards Restrepo.

These were "Necros" he had never seen before. Unlike their more majorly-populated kin with long serrated extensions of bone and tendon sprouting out of their shoulders and back, these were taller and their exposed skull and rib cage revealed a more grotesque anatomy. Though they weren't visibly armed with any modified human limbs (besides their long, spindly fingers), their empty eye sockets and cavernous mouths were starting to creep Restrepo out.

He fired in short, controlled bursts, but one of Necromorphs jerked towards him immediately. It drove its fingers into the tendons of Restrepo's arm, and tugged the Pulse Rifle out from his arms. They others quickly grasped his head and neck as they ripped off his helmet.

Restrepo, his face naked to the cruel temperatures and rot-hinted breath of the Necromorphs, started to kick and punch and scream and act in anyway to attempt to escape from their steely grip. But Restrepo couldn't scream anymore when they managed to force open his mouth by dislocating his jaw.

As he struggled to free himself and find relief to his pain, he found himself mesmerized by their empty eyes. They were the last thing he would be able to see until they all began to vomit into his exposed face and mouth, quickly melting away his facial features and skull. The Necromorphs no longer heard Restrepo's whimpers of agony when they spit their acidic digestive bile down his esophagus and started to devour his melted flesh.

Amidst their orgy of massacre among the bodies of the two Marines, the pink creature from before approached the mortiferous and blood thirsty pack of Necromorphs.

"Hey! That's not very nice!" the four-hooved pink animal shrilly exclaimed.

One of the necrotic nightmares spat a projectile of its bile at Pinkie. Her quick reflexes weren't fast enough to enable her to escape the room without some bile splashing onto parts of her right fore-hoof. Despite the tingling of the acid on her limb, Pinkie Pie ran down an uninhabited hallway away from the Necromorphs, who chased after her roaring and moaning for others to join their hunt of a member of the living.

Pinkie Pie, finally realizing her grim situation, turned around the corner and tripped as she started to lose feeling and could no longer be able to move her injured hoof. She tumbled down the hall and collided with an emerging figure from a deck compartment.

It was one of the robot-like humans. And, with it's bright, sapphire-blue "eyes" projecting through the dim lighting, it had directed its weapon at the forehead of the injured pony.

USM Valor. 2508.
Aegis VII system. 0928 hours Normal Time
Habitability Deck 5A
Personnel Lockers

11 minutes before....

Joon closed the compartment door behind him and locked it silently. He surveyed the area for any of the things. The bastards loved to sneak up on you.

Joon swiftly ran through the area to double-check for any potential threats, or survivors. Both relieved and doleful to find himself alone, he jogged solemnly up to his locker and used his personal combination. His locker door popped open with an audible hiss, and revealed the only two earthly possessions he had inside: A single PDA and a rugged, beaten package wrapped in faded paper. Joon could have probably sold the scraps of wrapping paper for a couple million credits as an antique (after all, EarthGov and its colony worlds scoured every inch of the galaxy for every tree and weed they could compress into paper a few years back before the Resource Wars. Eventually, the only organic life that would ever exist after urbanization on a planet would be the human and domesticated animal population), but what was inside was far too precious to let go of.

Joon reached for the PDA and didn't dare power it on. His natural impulse to activate the PDA mystified him, and the little voice inside his head not to drove his curiosity even more. The little voice reasoned that whatever was on that PDA.....was far too painful to see. Joon tossed the dreaded piece of circuitry and plastic onto a bench, and set his eyes back on the packaged item inside the locker. He grasped the soft, wrinkled material on the package and carefully peeled the paper off.

The paper was valuable, but what really matters is in the inside.

Joon dropped the plain, brown wrapping paper on the locker room floor, and set the precious item onto his palm.

It was the orderly, folded mass of a shemagh. Patterned on were plaid-stripes of white and thin, intricate traces of black. Electric blue dashes streaked across the fabric, making the pattern all the more breath-taking. On the folded triangle of cloth was a wrinkled note with weathered, old-fashioned writing wrapped around a metallic object.

Hey, my little puppy! It's Mom again. I know that you're 14 already, but heck, you'll always be that chubby little boy that could never stop smiling! My deployment in the Marines is getting extended. Some riots over resource supplies are starting to happen in the Outer Rim. Don't fret about me, I'll be safe. Nobody ever gets killed nowadays in the armed forces. That was the past.

Don't watch the news for a while. It might get ugly over there, but it's nothing I can't handle. Puppy, I'm starting to worry. I'm starting to forget why I'm out here, and not taking care of you with your Dad. The politicians keep lying and the truth is always stretched to its limits. But everytime I get a letter from you or a vid-com from home, you always remind me what I'm fighting for.

I'll be back home for Christmas, okay? I promise! But in case I'm not, I'll include this gift in here. It was sort of my good-luck charm the past couple of months. Never got hurt with it on, even during that time that I stepped on a tripware. I got blown sky-high, but I landed without a scratch!

It's called a shemagh, and it was standard kit during some of the Earth-bound wars in the 21st century, especially the ones that took place the Arabic desert provinces. Wrap it around your neck or head, and it'll protect your skin from getting major sunburn. But since Marines are mainly space-bound now, it's usually just worn for some available gauze or as a fashion statement by civvies. This one was my grandad's, and my family passed it on through the generations to anyone in the family that decided to serve in the military. Hope you like it buddy!

Don't get into fights, and accept everybody for who they are. And yes, be nice to the Unitologists at your school. It's unkind to ridicule someone because of their beliefs, scientific reasoning or not.

-Love, Mom <3

Give Dad a hug for me! And never forget to smile! Girls dig it!

Included with the note was a set of RIG tags detailing:

Ahn, Shane Sinclair


Blood Type B+

No religious preference.

RIG TAG 01576-98342-SA

Along with the RIG tags, which were more for decoration than function as the RIG automatically emits a "casualty" report back to the nearest EarthGov ship or base when the user flatlines, was an official notice titled "WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU".

Sorry, Mom. Dad didn't take the news too well. I kept in touch with his rehab doctors and it turns out they worked out most of the kinks with his glitter-stim addiction. They even told me the medical board is considering giving him is license back.

Rest easy, Mom. I always try to smile ever now and then, but it's never the same without you.

Joon grabbed the PDA, letter, and shemagh and headed towards the store armory. He stopped a couple of meters in front of it, and careful not to step withing scanning range, Joon pulled out a blood-stained pRIG unit from his thigh pouch and shoved it near the identification optical scanners of the armory.

A holographic panel instantly popped up with a message:

Welcome back to the STORE, L. Jenkins....

The side panels of the armory unit slid open and revealed suit and weapons choices.

Joon selected the standard "Advanced-Soldier RIG", and gave a short snort as he waited for the armory to prepare for suit fitting. Advanced my ass. Security forces get better suits than we do. They're not even the ones that get shot at while boarding ships hijacked by pirate militias.

When the armory gave a "ready" signal, Joon dropped his belongings onto the floor and stepped in to the readily-prepared "tailor's hell" suiting chamber, waiting for it to all end. Whoever designed the software for suiting mechanical functions always seemed to make the impact-plating really crimp on some important parts of the male anatomy.

After the uncomfortable experience, and a couple of deep-breathing exercises, Joon emerged out of the armory in full gear:

He attached an optional RIG pack to the magnetic locks embedded into the back of the armor. Normally EDF Marines and Sailors used the magnetic plates to carry spare ammunition and weapons, but Joon had a feeling that he would need the extra baggage space. He dropped in the pack the temporarily discarded PDA and letter, but collected the shemagh with his hand. He adorned it accordingly around his neck, leaving the helmet exposed, but neck covered.

Gonna need all the luck I can carry.

He turned around as the armory rearranged itself to be ready for supply distribution. Joon entered the firearms menu and selected extra magazines for his Pulse Rifle and 2 concussive grenades. He paused in his selection as he saw the option for a Seeker Rifle.

He didn't know why he struggled to select it. The more firepower that he had, the better his odds of survival were going to be. But he felt....strange.

Despite the mysterious anxiety building up in his chest, he forced himself to press the Seeker Rifle option and slug cartridges for ammunition.

His magazines, cartridge clips, and the Seeker rolled out of the armory's compartment, and as Joon collected them, he stopped to grasp the Seeker Rifle.

Joon viewed the rugged carbon-fiber/titanium weave alloy that consisted of the rifle's externals, and noted the scope flush into the upper handguard. He inserted a clip of 5 shells into the magwell, and racked the bolt.

The firearm felt....strange. As if it was alive with a history....a past.

"They say a murderer always remembers the weapon they used in their crimes. I see you're no exception."

Joon looked up to find the maiden figure of his hallucinations. His tormentor. The source of his misery.

"Fuck off," Joon replied.

"I have a name you know. Diane Mercer? Anne? Ring any bells? You don't know? Of course you don't. You've been lying to yourself this whole entire time," sighed the apparition. "I don't even expect you to care-"

"I don't care. GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HEAD!" Joon screamed.

Anne scoffed, "Hah. What, did you think that I want to be here? Do you honestly think that I'm doing this out of my own volition? No, you little fool, I'm here because you want me to be!"

Joon felt his heart beat faster and faster, a sudden migraine was splitting his head, and he clasped his gloves onto his helmet. He tried to force his eyes closed, but his body was making an unconscious effort to keep them open, as if his body, now completely out of his control, was forcing him to watch the static and torrent of light in his hallucination.

"Who-grrrrrh-are you?" Joon cried out through the pain.

Anne gave a sadistic smile and coldly chuckled, "Me? I'm a reminder of all your sins, all your pleasure, and all your guilt. You thought that you could forget about me that easily? Just a little mental re-adjustment to make the bad feelings go away? WELL YOU'RE WRONG!"

Her smile disappeared and her hands, with the force that felt as heavy as Joon's new-found guilt, grasped his windpipe and roughly charged into Joon into the wall. A loud "CLANG" echoed throughout the room as metal met metal, and Joon's choking broke the silence that normally carried throughout the personnel locker room.

"You know why I'm here? You want to know why I'm doing this? Because of you! You never wanted to forget! You never forgave yourself of what happened to me! To my child! You were responsible for me! For her! But you betrayed us, Joon! All of your commitments, all of your empty promises killed us!"

Joon felt her grip around his neck becoming tighter and tighter. White dots began to fill his vision.

"You wanted ever since to forget about me. But here's the thing. You REALLY wanna know why you will never, ever stop seeing me?" Her voice dropped to a sinister whisper. "Because you never wanted to let go of me, you selfish bastard. Even now you don't. And you wanna know how to make this stop, how to atone for what you did? Make us whole. And never separate us again."

She let go suddenly, leaving Joon to crash down onto the deck floor. While on all fours, he gasped for air, sucking in every breath as if it was his last.

After a few minutes, Joon steadied himself on his knees and got up. He scrambled for his Seeker Rifle, and see if the noise resulting from his "moment" attracted anything unwelcome.

Thankfully, he didn't see her return. He returned to the armory, and decided to spend the rest of the late Marine's credit account on Power Nodes.

After he accommodated the Pulse Rifle and Seeker Rifle with as many Power Node upgrades he could possibly modify with on the nearby BENCH, Joon purchased 3 med-packs and some MREs.

He stood away from the armory, and fully tooled up, Joon exited the locker room, keeping a wary eye out for "Anne" or whatever she really is, an eye on his suit's new database contents, and for some stray....Necromorphs?

That's what their called? RIG databases update every few seconds, so it must be true. Better keep Identification Mode on. Too much craziness around here to let self-stupidity run rampant.

The Gunnery Sergeant heard gunshots and blood-chilling screams of pain. Automatically heading towards that source, hoping to met with some survivors, Joon sprinted down the hallway, unfazed by the scene of mental instability that had just occured. However, as soon as he turned the corner, something very pink zipped right into him.

Joon got knocked down, but he quickly recovered. He shouldered his fully-upgraded Seeker Rifle and aimed the targeting laser directly at the forehead of the thing's face. And holy shit, was it scared.

The pink creature was so frightened, in fact, it had kicked one of its....hooves right at Joon's groin.

Joon collapsed onto the deck, again. The plating blocked most of the blow, but the ache was still there. As he struggled to get back up, the pink creature ran off, tripping over its wounded limb several times, and....crying?

Wait...it ran away? From me? I doubt it. That thing had me in the palm of its...hooves, I think. RIG database couldn't identify it, so yeah. Definitely equine. Or just another motherfucking hallucination. You would think that it didn't have ENOUGH pink on its body.

Joon followed the trail of blood, walking slightly bow-legged nearer and nearer to the origin of the crying. The flickering lights above, as he continued down a passage way, revealed the pink horse/pony trapped at a dead end. Its frantic, wide eyes were brimmed with tears and it was muttering something in a quivering tone, making only a portion audible to Joon.

"Learn to face your fears....Make them disappear....Giggle at the ghosty.....Guffaw at the grossly....Crack up at the creepy...."

Each verse of its "sob" was interrupted by a sob. Poor little bugger. Should I help it, or-

No. It isn't real. Just a figment of my damn imagination. Just another crazy that can't be helped.

Joon began to turn and walk away, but he felt his gut instinct to help the poor thing.

But hallucinations don't bleed...and it doesn't look like it was running away from any human at first. That wound looks like its been burned through.

That's when the pink alien squeaked, "Please don't kill me."

That crossed the line. I'm going to help that thing even if it kills m-

Joon was interrupted as a fluid projectile of some sort flew down the hall and hit his back. Hearing the audible hissing of acid, Joon turned around to meet his assailant. Or assailants.

His RIG Identification Mode pinpointed IFF tags in his HUD. Apparantly, some Marines gave them the nickname "Pukers." Which was extremely literal and to the point, as Joon soon saw why when three more projectile of bile hit his chest plating consecutively.

Joon tried his best to shield his equipment from the acid, and drew his Seeker Rifle. The Power Nodes increased the hydrostatic shock, tumble, plasma intensity, and cartridge velocity of the Seeker shells, and were well-worth the investment, as the Pukers, and some accompanying Slashers, were dropping dead from 1-2 shots to the body or head.

As the Seeker Rifle clacked empty, Joon drew his Pulse Rifle as he concurrently slung his Seeker Rifle around his back. He finished off the Necromorphs (or Necros, as the database would refer them as sometimes), with a few, controlled bursts, and turned to the pink equine.

She froze, left in the company of a seemingly unstoppable being; A monster that triumphed above the other nightmares. And she didn't fare too well in friendly communications in past experiences with humans, vividly remembering how the human "Res-strehp-o" almost killed her.

She repeated in a whisper, "Don't kill me...."

The human, with a metallic skin, glowing blue eyes, and a disembodied voice aimed its weapon at her, resolute in his purpose. It fumbled with something from its utility pouch, but drew it out in a flash. It was a cylinder, also with blue lights emerging from its openings, and painted on one side a Red Cross. The human tapped the Red Cross on the container and pointed at her.

It responded in a surprisingly soothing voice, "Don't worry. I'm going to try to heal your wound. Heck, I can't even believe we speak the same language. Hold tight. This might sting a little."

Out from the container, Joon gripped a tab that flung out, attached to it a rolled strip of gauze. He then applied a base solution to her wound, and sprayed on some anti-biotic and medi-foam. He firmly pressed on a compress, and rolled the gauze around the hoof. In a few seconds, he had successfully treated the wound and managed to place and organize every medical supply into the cylinder, which had stenciled on its body: Medical Pack.

The pony watched in mesmerizing amazement at the speed of the procedure and the gradual feeling she was beginning to regain in her hoof.

All of a sudden, the pony hugged Joon's neck with a gargantuan amount of force.

"Thank you." Joon felt the sobbing coming back, as her body gave off tiny heaves.

Joon was slightly taken back and reluctantly replied,

"Not a problem, sweetheart. Let's get you home. Wherever it is..."