Violets Is Not The Answer
NB: for events following this episode, see How Callia Became A Joker
In the SAS Clan Hall Lobby (map-square 39,5)
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone stumbles in from the jungle, somewhat barbed-wire-scorched about the trouser-leg, with a laser-burnt riiiip running through her blanket-cloak.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone mumbles feverishly about "kiddappers" and "godda fide de gag, trag em dowd."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone sneezes, takes an incautious step forward, and falls over the barricade. She lands face-first on the welcome-mat.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone does not try to read it. It's three syllables too many, for a day like this. Anyway, the bonk on the head from the monkey has put paid to any reading efforts that might otherwise have taken place.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone takes a little while to recollect her wits. She reaches for a cigarette, to help the process. The monkey hoots with laughter as he waves it at her, then lights it and blows a smoke-ring.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone whimpers. Then sneezes. Then wipes her nose on her sleeve. Another day, she might glare, but today -
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone just doesn't have it in her. She's all achey-joints and too-hot too-cold, and has someone put a goldfish bowl on her head or what?
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone closes her eyes. Rest. It's not an option anymore, it's a compulsion. And yet . . . that bloody monkey. It's circling again, hoothoot-ing at her and making rude hand-signals.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone doesn't have any more cigarettes, but she doesn't think she can stand another bonk on the head just yet. Besides, she can't give up, she's got to find her gang.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone gets up, awkwardly, and stumbles through the vault door, into the room beyond
In the SAS Clan Hall Proper
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone lets out a little distressed huff at the sight of the steel bolts. She looks fearfully about. There don't appear to be any kidnappers in evidence. And this room looks so inviting. . .
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone 's mind driiifts towards the armchairs . . . just a little nap would be soooo . . . and no-one would ever know . . .
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone pinches herself sharply! This is no way to hunt for kidnapped urchins! She has to stay awake, she can't let the Irregulars down!
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone eyes the far door, with its flickering overhead lamps, and its maddened, maw-like aperture. She shudders. Somehow, it seems familiar, and yet she can't quite place it.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone advances towards the door. As she does so, she feels a twisting in her gut. She's . . . yup, she's bloody terrified, is the truth of it.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone puts a hand on the rusted door-handle. It's cold, and disintegrating beneath her fingers. A faint vibration shivers up her arm
In the Laboratory
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone enters this room, and freezes in shock. "Whut? Wait, where ab i?" The smell of ozone might provide a clue, were her nose behaving itself properly. As it is,
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone simply sneezes and clings to the door, while her eyes adjust slowly to the flickering light.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone dimly notes that her mind, hitherto impersonating treacle, is now wide-awake and begging her legs to run! run like hell! run now!
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone 's legs, alas, have chosen this same moment to try impersonating jelly. With considerable success.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone gropes about for a weapon. but all she has with her is one tiny screwdriver. grasping it, she turns to face the --"ohh." realisation dawns.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone stares about the laboratory . . . which is empty. It might have held the Improbability Drive at one time, but for now, there's an enormous space where it once stood.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone does not mutter anything. Nothing figures. Her head is spinning. She grabs at the door for balance but misses, staggers, trips over a bundle of wires, and gives up. The floor is warm, and
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone is horizontal. There's no longer any question about what happens next.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone sleeps.
When she wakes up, something has changed. It's dark, no wait, the lights are flickering. But they were doing that before. Except . . . not quite like this.
And .. that noise. What is that noise?
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone struggles to sit up, her hand closing instinctively around her screwdriver. And as she does so, a bolt of lightning hits her square in the chest with a terrfying BANG, throwing her across the room.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone picks herself up, dusts herself off. Sneezes.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone says, "ugh" and then blinkblinks. She stares at the space across the room, where the Improbability Drive once stood.
Where the Improbability Drive now stands, electricity arcing between its heatsink fins.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone does not try to approach. she does not even dare to move. one more bolt like that to the chest and it's hello-failboat, the painful way.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone gulps, and keeps very still. it is, after all, a machine. alright, a very aggressive machine. perhaps not the sort of machine you want to be stuck in a universe with, let alone dumped on an island with, let alone trapped with in an isolated laboratory miles from anyone who can help.
But. It is a machine.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone 's heart softens, though her mouth is paper-dry. Adrenaline, coursing through her bloodstream, clears her airways slightly. she says, softly, "h'llo."
The Drive does not reply. It merely crackles menacingly, and begins to build up charge for another attack.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone backs up a pace, but the door has somehow closed itself behind her. She gulps again. And says "uhh, you dhow, it doesd't have to be this way. . ."
A shiver of static passes through the air in the laboratory. If one was highly strung, and inclined to wild flights of fancy, one might almost mistake it for a shiver of laughter.
Even to the more robust listener, it is not a reassuring sound.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone is not feeling robust. She blenches, gripping her screwdriver. But she's not that easily dissuaded. Once
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone gets an idea in her head about a machine, it'll take more than a bit of abject terror to put her off.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone says, "i bead it." and pauses to sneeze into her blanket-cloak. She's really not at her best here. She's just hoping The Drive will cut her some slack? It's no easy task, negotiating life-or-death terms with an insanely powerful psychopathic computer, when you've got a rotten head-cold.
The Drive rumbles ominously.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone sighs. She says, "look, all i'b sayig is . . . violets isd't the odly obtion." Another rumble, no more friendly than the last.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone 's back is pressed to the door. She says, desperately,"just thidk aboud it, yeh?"
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone sighs again, and murmurs, almost to herself. "after all, it bust be tough, if eberbody always wadts to gill you."There's the slightest pause in the staticky flickering.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone glances up, but the Drive's facade is as hostile as before. She shakes her head, and takes one little step forward. Then another.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone pauses, not taking her eyes off the drive, and holds out her screwdriver. She drops it on the floor. "i did't cub here for thadt. i'b jusd lookig for by gag."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone bites her lip. "i beed lookig for you, s'true. but . . . for talkig, dot for fightig. i wadted . . ."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone pauses, and then says it, "i wadted to udderstahd." At this point, a sneeze that has patiently awaiting its turn, finally makes a bid for the limelight. It erupts enthusiastically, sending
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone staggering backwards against the door. And before she's recovered her balance. . .
The Drive attacks.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone gasps "doh! dot fair!" but somehow manages to twist out of harm's way. A bolt of lighting hits the door behind where she'd just stood, and the heavy metal buckles and blackens under it.
The Drive takes a moment to relocate Callia, and then charges itself for one more killer strike.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone, weaponless, clutches at her bandolier. The combat training seems to have paid off, slightly. Except she didn't come prepared. Her fingers close on the only object on her person. An Improbabomb.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone winces. This doesn't usually work out well for her.
The Drive lunges at her again. This time with a bolt of . . . no ordinary lightning. It arcs towards her.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone reacts with all she has left. Pure, unadulterated panic. She yanks the pin and hurls the bomb. As it intercepts the arc there is a blinding flash, and the sound of an inch-thick titanium casing splitting open. The room fills with the smell of ozone, overpoweringly strong. Everything is smoke and acrid burning. And bananas rain down upon the debris.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone collapses in a heap, trying to catch her breath through the smoke and returning catarrh. "oh doh, doh, i'b so sorry. . .i did't bead . . . i did't bead to. . ."
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone whimpers, hands over eyes. "is it over?" A metallic creaking rouses her.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone sits up, and crawls towards the Drive's twitching, creaking carcass. "oh" she whispers, a tear crawling down her nose and dropping onto the hot metal, to hiss and spit there.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone sniffs. "edough" she begs. "it's edough already. . .please?" Her hand closes on her screwdriver, still on the floor where she dropped it before.
The Drive lets off a little spark, and the edges of the casing begin to seal themselves back together.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone shakes her head. She struggles up. "dhat's it, i'b goig. i did't cub for dhis. i dever wadted. . . i'b dod goig to. . ." A rip in the machine's casing curls upwards, seeming to smile at her.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone, thoroughly spooked, takes a step back. Onto a banana.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone slips. Legs out from under her, arms flailing wildly, screwdriver spinning out of her grasp and up into the air. And as she falls, her booted foot connects with a fault-line on the Drive's casing.
Shards of metal spin off in all directions like a firework, and the casing lies bare, exposing the shifting, writhing circuit boards beneath.
Grubby Sleuth calliaphone watches, horror-stricken. As her screwdriver reaches the top of its arc, and begins its descent. Straight into the workings of the Drive.
There's a flash of light and pain, and then only numbness.