RCM Fanfic - Varyar: Da Bark Lurd Saga Episode 10

Moderator: JLMcCafferty

RCM Fanfic - Varyar: Da Bark Lurd Saga Episode 10

Postby JLMcCafferty » Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:30 pm

@image http://media.rivalcastmedia.com/staff/writing-team/public/images/stories/da-bark-lurd-saga/JPG_file_DBLLogo.jpg

EPISODE 10 – in which we are almost to the heroics! Oh, and there are more revelations (at Killer’s expense)

“You’re not going.”

“Edge…”

“No.”

Baroness had managed to compose herself and was now leaning against the kitchen sink, arms crossed, but Edge was having none of it. “I know you want to help him. But you are in no condition to keep an objective mindset, and I absolutely cannot put you in a position where you have a meltdown and we lose more teammates. Not happening. And you know Varyar and the others will back me up on that.”

She looked up at him in alarm. “You wouldn’t…”

“No, of course I wouldn’t.” He looked her dead in the eye, his voice softening a little as he said it. “Things shared in confidence are taken to the grave, you know that. But I wouldn’t have to go that route anyway. Aside from Varyar’s feelings on women in combat – most of which you share, if I remember right - there are a lot of other reasons you shouldn’t be. We need base support, for one, not to mention you can’t handle those weapons…”

Baroness’s eyebrows raised. “Excuse me? I am a much better shot than you are and have the targets to prove it, thank you very much.”

Edge sighed, massaging the bridge of his nose. “For smaller cal rifles, yes. But what they’re packing is a lot heavier fire power than you’re used to. Christ, the last time we were at Killer’s range he put a nine in your hands and the recoil startled you so bad you dropped it. What do you think’s going to happen in the field with a .45 and your friends running around?”

Her mouth opened in protest, but he was right, and she knew it.

*****

Hax sat staring at the video for the umpteenth time, looking for any clue they may have missed that could pinpoint where Bio was being held. His instinct told him they were missing something important; now he just had to figure out what it was. He sighed, turning his gaze away from the screen for a moment to a nearby window, where a vibrant red cardinal had just alighted on the patio table. After the grey and gloom of yesterday, seeing a glint of sunshine breaking through the clouds was refreshing.

He stifled a yawn and turned back to the screen just in time to catch a blip in the video. Had his connection glitched? It shouldn’t have; his secured remote uplink connected him to faster internet speeds than were available to civilian households, so he should never have a buffering issue. And yet there it was, a half-second flash of white. He must have blinked and missed it previously. On a hunch, Hax clicked open a tool from his desktop and started looking at that section of video frame by frame, and within a few moments he found the key he was looking for. He sat back in the chair, grinning for a moment at the brilliance of his friend before calling for Edge and Varyar.

“What are we looking at, kids?” Varyar peered over at the screen.

“An anomaly.” Hax looked at the two of them with more excitement than they were used to seeing in the steadfast Brit. “Specifically, a half second blip Bio managed to edit in while no one was looking. Literally a blink-and-you-miss-it so he could get a message to us. Now, what he –"

“Wait a second.” Edge’s voice was indignant. “Are you telling me they made Bio edit his own goddamned hostage video?”

“Er, it appears that way.”

Now Varyar was irritated as well. “Those fuckers know no bounds.”

“Well, I can imagine the sort of torture the Cult of Sesame Street must be putting him through, but the fact he was able to get us a message helps tremendously. That he’s the one editing the video tells us the captors aren’t tech savvy, which is a plus in our column. That he was able to slip in a couple of frames without them knowing says they don’t have eyes on him constantly, which means an extraction is at least possible.” Hax paused, taking a sip of tea before clicking to the Easter egg Bio had hidden for them. “And finally – from the message he was able to type in, we have confirmation it is in fact the Cult of Sesame Street, that he is being held in one of the workshops, and from what he can tell it’s somewhere in Ohio. With this, we should be able to pinpoint Bio’s exact location fairly quickly.”

“I vill help vit dis!” Arnold’s voice came excitedly from the corner. He pulled an iPhone from his pocket, mashed a few buttons with his massive paws, and spoke excitedly to the phone as he exited the room: “Siri, can you tell me how to get – LISTEN TO ME! – how to get to Sesame Street?...NO NOT CHEESE. I HATE YOU SIRI!”

“Oh my God, just FUCKING GOOGLE IT!” Edge snapped as he followed the Austrian giant outside.

After the other two had left, Varyar turned quietly to Hax. “Any headway on the other piece?”

They hadn’t shared the first video with the team at large; Baroness had seen it, as had Varyar, but it was creepy and puzzling enough that he didn’t want the rest of the team to know about it until they could figure out what it was. The doll in that video alone was going to give him nightmares for months.
Hax cleared his throat. “Well, it’s a numbers situation – a sort of cryptogram, if you will. The numbers recited in the film relate to letters or possibly words encrypted to a specific cipher. I’ve seen this sort of situation before, and it could get…sticky.” He sighed and took another sip of tea. “There are a lot of variables to this. It’s very possible the video is related to Bio’s disappearance, but it’s also very possible it’s not. The IP bounce was different from the one with the hostage footage, for one, plus the production quality was much better. My guess would be that whomever made this video is not part of the immediate group that has Bio, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unrelated. We really have no context for what the ciphered message could pertain to, and it will take some time and thought to figure it out.”

Varyar thought quietly for a moment and then nodded. “Alright, call Dee and get the WoWU guys on it – I need you on Alpha Team right now until we bring Bio home. And I know we agreed not to talk about this, but if you have any special work friends who could help us…”

“I’ve already made some inquiries,” Hax finished the thought for him. “I can’t promise anything, but I am owed some favours.” He typed something in on his keyboard. “As for the workshop, Sesame Street only has one location in Ohio, just outside of Steubenville. Downloading the building schematics now.”

“Excellent as always. Do me a favor and ask Killer to start on our tactical plan. I need to go take care of something and then I’ll be in.” Varyar knew the hardest parts were yet to come, but for the first time since the ordeal began, he started to feel a glimmer of hope.

The most important thing the video showed was that it wasn’t too late.

*****

The downside of being a human being is that emotions are always there, whether you like it or not.

Varyar took the news of Baroness’s recusal well. In fact, he was a little relieved at having one less person to worry about. Vampy, on the other hand, did not take kindly to the suggestion that perhaps she should stay behind, too – she had come looking for a fight, and after seeing the hostage video she was bound and determined to get it. Varyar understood the feeling, and respected Vampy’s skills and dedication to the team. However, as a seasoned combat veteran he also knew that if it came to a fire fight, he’d be battling not only whatever minions Da Bark Lurd threw at him, but he’d also be battling his inner instinct to protect the girl at all costs. It was a conflict he needed to resolve, and quickly. Which is why he decided to ask Baron for some counseling.

“You could pretend she’s a liberal,” came Baron’s suggestion.

“A liberal. Really. That’s fan-fucking-tastic. A liberal. I’m so glad we had this conversation where I bared my goddamn soul to you so we could partake in a little fantasy land where Vampy is now played by fucking Maureen Dowd, who despite her politics I would still defend in a fire fight, thank you very much.”

“I was thinking more along the lines of Chris Matthews, but you miss my point. How to explain this best…” Baron stroked the hair on his chin as he contemplated.

“Think about Jean-Luc Picard.”

Varyar nodded. “Easily the greatest star ship captain of all time. Go on.”

Baron rolled his eyes, but kept focus. “Ok. What made Picard such a great captain?”

“Well, he’s confident, courageous, playful, intelligent, well-read, inspiring, his family makes alcoholic beverages for a living…”

“All good points. But think about the scene in First Contact where Picard is leading his team to the Borg queen. Data’s rambling on about the experience of having anxiety for the first time, and Picard very nicely suggests he turn the chip off to maintain focus on the objective at hand. The comment Picard makes after Data does so – “there are times that I envy you” – speaks volumes. That line shows how even Jean-Luc Picard has anxiety taking his team into battle, and they’re arguably the greatest team in all of Starfleet. Christ, that entire movie is centered around the idea of effective leadership structure and what happens to that leadership when dealing with conflicting motives. The biggest battles in the movie aren’t between Borg and Starfleet, but rather those inner conflicts Picard has between his fears for his crew, his need to stay focused to complete the mission at all costs, and the anger he harbors over having been put through his initial ordeals with the Borg sparking a lust for revenge. As they go along, the fear and the anger start to cloud his judgment. Picard is successful in the end because in spite of his own emotions, in spite of his own hesitations, at his deepest level he trusts his crew and is willing to listen to them to get the job done. Picard is a great star ship captain because he allows his team to keep him balanced. He understands that he can’t do everything himself, and tags them in as needed.”

Varyar sighed. “So what you’re saying is that my issue with Vampy isn’t really about her being female as it is a focal point for all my anxieties about losing teammates.”

“Put it this way: if Vampy didn’t go on this mission, aside from having one less person to cover your ass as you charge into battle, what changes? Are you really going to say to me that if Killer got stabbed to death in front of you, or if you watched Lyserg take a shot in the chest, somehow you wouldn’t lose your shit because they’re guys? I’m not buying it. They’re all your friends. You made a connection with each of them – that’s what strong teams do. That’s what the crew of the Enterprise did. You could make the arguments about chivalry or biological instinct coming into play, but in the end your real issue is that you want to keep your friend safe while at the same time knowing she’s an asset. My opinion? Vampy made a choice, let her do her job.”

“I…”

Baron’s eyes went hard for a moment. “What your team needs right now if for you to stop aspiring to be Picard and just actually be Picard. Because you obviously haven’t noticed this, but deep down, you already are.” Just then, his work phone rang. “Sorry, I have to take this.”

As Baron left the office, Varyar’s eye caught a line from a copy of Shakespeare lying open on the desk: Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. He sighed, rubbing his temples as he flopped back on the leather sofa. “No fucking kidding.”

*****

“This layout looks so familiar.” Lyserg was pondering the print-out of the workshop blueprints Hax had found, trying to remember where he’d seen it before.
Behind him, Baron was trading off car keys before he left for work. Arnold had procured a Hummer to transport the team, but with all the firepower they intended to bring it made sense to split into two vehicles, and Baron was the only one with an SUV. He handed his keys off to Killer as Baroness reluctantly turned the Space Donut over to Baron. From the couch, Vampy protested, “Really? You’re trusting Killer’s driving over mine?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Oh, no. I’ve seen you drive.”

Vampy grumbled and went back to her copy of the tactical plan. “This is just like Carolina all over again.”

Baron smiled. “You and I seem to remember Carolina differently.”

“What happened in Carolina?” Killer asked.

“WAIT!” Lyserg broke in excitedly, “I got it! This is just like that video game, “Big Bird’s Trailer Park Offensive!”

Killer peeked over his shoulder. “Yeah, it does, kinda…”

“I’m confused,” Vampy said, “why were you playing a Sesame Street game?”

“Oh, no, it’s not mine. I was playing it with my sister’s kid. He’s five now.” Lyserg stood up to pull out his wallet and flipped to a photo of his nephew to show around.

“Aw, he’s cute,” Vampy gushed as she passed the photo over to Baron.

Before he could catch himself, Killer heard his own voice asking “Did Matthew like the copy of Super Chicken Interceptor 4 that the Tooth Fairy brought him?”

“Oh, I love that game,” Baroness chimed in.

Lyserg froze, then looked bewilderedly at Killer. “How did you know about…”

“Um…”

Baron looked slowly between his two friends, then took a closer look at the photograph. “Wow, uh…he kinda looks like you, Killer…”

“Ah, well,” Killer stammered, his face redder than the sunburn he’d had during the RCM Beach Party last summer, “he’s got his mother’s eyes.”

“This day just keeps getting worse, and worse…” Lyserg sank into the nearest chair, feeling like he’d been socked in the gut. A part of him always knew, and yet – he couldn’t think about it now. There would be questions later, but for right now he needed to focus on his job.

Right after he downed a stiff drink.

*****
Thoughts? Comments? Hate mail? Get the conversation started on the comments thread below or @BaronessvGosu on the Tweeter
Crap, what happened last time? On to the next episode
Thoughts? Comments? Hate mail? Get the conversation started on the comments thread below, by email at jen.mccafferty@rivalcastmedia.com, or @BaronessvGosu on the Tweeter
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