Dec. 21st, 2016

penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
Peter Berg had a headache. Even in ideal conditions, riding in a submarine was an extremely claustrophobic experience, featured stifling, unventilated air and a pressurized atmosphere that made it difficult to concentrate at best, and impossible to do anything but recline and attempt to breathe as gently as possible to stave off nausea in this particular case.

Whatever required a sub ride, this was important, and if no one was available to accomplish this task in the whole hemisphere he was moving towards, then clearly, he was the man to come over and do it.

Some of his colleagues nicknamed Peter “’Ice’ Berg,” a moniker Berg immediately squelched when used in his presence. Nothing made him angrier than being made into the focus of his work, when, really, the point was to not notice who he was at all. Which also explained why the nickname was so appropriate. “’Ice’ Berg” would quietly sit in the center of it all, allowing you to see just a bit of his process, while underneath he was this massive working machine that could take you out with a single swipe.

But, Peter couldn’t think on a journey where his cranium felt like it could crack wide open from the inside. If he could sit up and approach the bridge, perhaps he could get the Captain to surface the sub so he could get out of the airlock and breathe naturally for a bit. But that would slow the excursion down at least a couple of hours, possibly more, if craft traffic in the area was heavy. Best to just try and focus on breathing and the fact that this would be over soon.

Berg jolted awake in his chair, looking at the screen in front of him.

“Did you get all that?” said the undersecretary for Sector West Continent.

Berg scowled at her. “Of course, I did!” and waved her away.

He checked the screen for the date and time and silently shuddered. Then, he looked again. Another episode. This time, Peter apparently lost thirty-two hours of his life. The recurring questions: What happened during that time? How did he get here? Why did people think he was sentient when he was unconscious or sleeping this whole while? What had he said or done? He thought back, straining his brain and the very last thing he could remember before speaking to that undersecretary was closing his eyes in his quarters on the sub.

The screen said Case #1760234. At least the head wasn’t throbbing any more, Peter thought as he scanned the screen and took the useful information into his dossier.

The subject was a woman named Jailee. She had several questionable situations with The State in her previous history, and at least one of her associates had also had a negative court listing.

Why would they need me for something like this? Peter was about to ask himself when he saw a photo. This woman was blue. Surely, a blue woman wouldn’t be difficult to track down.

As Berg read on, he understood. She tended to only go out at night and she also tended to stay close enough to water to vanish, blend in or speed off silently.

The State had placed her under surveillance before, a case that was dismissed over fifty-thousand hours previous. No movement since then.

Staring at her photo, pulling the image in close on her facial features, Berg recognized a look in her eye. He felt as if somehow, he already knew this woman.

Berg depressed the COM button.

“Get me the names of every person on record to have been in contact with one seven six zero two three four in the past one, no, make it two hundred hours."

“Everyone follows a pattern. Everyone has habits,” Berg nodded at the screen as he explained the strategy.

“You don’t,” came the unexpected reply from not turning the COM back off.

“I do,” Berg snapped back. “You just aren’t looking deeply enough.”

CLICK!

This was the exterior plot, the way that Berg got Sector to allow him free reign to do what he wanted to make the arrest. On the interior, he was trying to examine something he considered much more important. This was focused on understanding what the subject wanted and what methods she might use to get it.

Berg surmised that if he could figure out what she wanted to achieve, what her motivation was, it could lead to something bigger and more important than just her arrest.

Working quickly, the agent looked through the listing of contacted people. It was, unsurprisingly, short. A baker at 400 hours and a fishmonger during that same half hour. She went back to the baker in the ensuing half hour and those were her only contacts in two hundred hours? Only KNOWN contacts, Peter reminded himself.

Berg spun her picture around, three hundred and sixty degrees. If not for the fact that she was blue, she might have been a State Promoter, a person seen on vid screens and posters helping encourage good behavior, sharing, making things great for your fellow citizens.

Berg pinched his nostrils shut as he murmured to himself, who are you, blue girl?

“I’m Jailee.”

“Wha-wha-what?”

Peter slipped off his chair and hit the floor hard.

“You haven’t even had any yet and you’re falling over.” Jailee smiled, reaching for a glass and bottle. She poured a shot and placed it in front of him before moving down the bar to another customer.

Berg looked down the bar at this woman. His quarry. How did he get here? Where was here? At least before, he knew he was in a Sector office. This was what? A darkened bar with people in a lot of fur coats.

Suddenly a tap on the shoulder. Peter turned and a walrus gave him a slow nod and a wink before waddling away.

Peter couldn’t down the drink fast enough.

//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Jantelagen.

Jailee's previous LJ Idol Appearances

Season 9

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

Season X:

Week [1]
Week [2] and
Week [3]
penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
Even though Peter detested being the center of attention in his workplace, he implicitly knew that he was always the most capable, the most aware, the most intelligent person in the room. It wasn't like he had any control over that. Those were just the facts. But, in a very big way it gave that nickname he hated: Peter "'Ice' Berg" a second and more important meaning. He was always cool in the clutch. He never overreacted.

Except this time. falling off of his chair in a strange barroom setting and meeting the woman he was trying to find wasn't typical of him. But it couldn't be helped. Another episode. Another time jump forward with no warning. Another location change with no understanding of what preceded it. It appeared that Peter lost roughly one hundred and five hours in this one.

Bending his right elbow to bring a second shot to his lips was painful. That's how he landed on the floor. He downed the shot and looked back at one seven six zero two three four. He was in a room filled with sentient sea creatures. This was going to take all of the sang-froid in his arsenal to make this work.

"So tell me, Jailee," Peter began, "How did you wind up here?"

"I might ask you the same question, except I know that you're chums with Wilfred," Jailee said glancing at the walrus on the far side of the room.

"I'd say we were acquainted," Peter squinted.

"Are you feeling alright?" Jailee seemed concerned.

"I'm fine. My question is how are you?"

"I'm not the one who fell." Jailee stated.

"But you're blue..." Peter tried.

Jailee's smile instantly vanished and she walked away, disgusted.

Berg sat there, stewing. What did he say? Surely she knew she was blue already.

Peter had to wonder what he said during the period he didn't remember, the time frame when he befriended a walrus and traveled to this location, wherever it was. He looked for his GPS but it was missing.

One seven six zero two three four busied herself with other customers and other work, not giving Peter a second glance.

Berg was a detective, certainly, but he usually had more clues to work with than this. He sat, thinking, trying to imagine what took place during those gaps.

He must have traveled to that bakery and fish market where he noted Jailee had been. He had to have asked questions. Was this walrus, Wilfred there? Wilfred the Walrus. Surely that was an alias. As he glanced back at his ivory tusked chum, he was in a bit of a struggle with two other creatures that seemed to be looking to move him towards the door.

"The next round is on me!" Peter shouted, and a small cheer came from the room as patrons moved towards the bar.

Jailee immediately started grabbing bottles and pouring drinks. The distraction apparently worked, at least for the moment, as the walrus was abandoned by his assaulters for a free glass. Berg tried to count heads to get a rough idea about what this was going to cost The State, but math was difficult for him.

He looked back and Jailee was gone. A different server was pouring. He spun around, searching the room to find out where she went. He jostled his way past the place where she was and looked for a way out from there. Nothing.

There must be an emergency exit, Peter thought.

That's exactly what the button was labeled when he got to the other side of the bar. he squeezed in past the server, saw a red "X" on the floor that color matched the button, stood right on the "X" and hit the button.

Immediately the floor opened up and he went falling down into the darkness. Though Peter couldn't see it, the walls began to narrow, and as they did, they began to bend the chamber to a horizontal position, slowing the fall and sliding him to a stop in a small, padded room.

when he stood up, the panel that Peter slid through immediately closed. Peter walked to the door. It was locked. Through the reinforced glass window, he could see Jailee.

"Hello, Ice Berg." she said.

"Let us entertain you," said Wilfred who also nodded from the other side of the window.

"Maybe it's time for us to share a little information," Berg said, confidently.

"Maybe it's time for us to shed a little blood." Wilfred grinned.

"Killing me won't do you any good. My operatives know everything I know."

"Good," said Jailee. "Tell me this. Where are you?"

Peter's brain raced as he tried to come up with some kind of answer. They would know he was bluffing if he wasn't able to answer.

Berg stared at his captors and calmly stated "Under the Great Marston Sea."

//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Sang-froid.

Jailee's previous LJ Idol Appearances

Season 9

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

Season X:

Week [1]
Week [2]
Week [3] and
Week [Holiday Break] Part 1
penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
Peter stared at the padded ceiling of his padded room.

At least the floor was comfortable. But, of course, when he could have used a blackout and a time jump ahead, to get to a new situation, there were none to be had. He was sitting in this room for, he guessed at least twenty-four hours and counting. Even his brief naps refused to send him into a new place and time.

Berg thought about his current circumstances. He figured that the answer he provided must have been right, or close enough to right that it concerned his captors. Telling the Blue Girl and the Walrus he was under the Great Marston Sea was simply a guess to his location. He had no idea where he was. But he knew that the fall he took was a long one to get to this cell, and it was nearly a lock that he had to be underwater in a circumstance like that.

Where, specifically, under the Marston was the question, and that was something he did not know. He also was out of communication with Sector. That meant it was assured that they didn't know where he was, either, for at least the time period that preceded his most recent memory lapse episode.

What were these blackouts? What caused them? Why was he having them and were others also experiencing time shifts where they don't remember swaths of their lives at a go? What was most disturbing to Berg was that he was, to the outside world, living a life, probably conversing with people, doing things, going places, and he remembered none of it. Even the people at Sector, who were trained to notice anomalies, had no clue that he was experiencing this.

Peter sat up straight and looked as nonchalant as possible as he watched Jailee approach the door of his cell. As long as they believe there are others that know what I know, I should be safe, he thought to himself.

The surprise was that instead of the expected inquisition, asking him about what he knew, who he was working for and what his intentions were all about, Jailee opened a small frame under the door and slid a covered tray through it. The door closed and she walked away, wordlessly.

Peter stood up and watched her leave, walking through a rounded hallway, disappearing beyond the curve of the path.

Then, he realized he was smelling something very familiar. He lifted the steel curtain off of the tray.

Sure enough it was a rare delicacy, that Peter loved: Brothless Burgers! Many foods, especially meat based foods, had some form of gravy, water or sauce. But these did not. They were solid meat on freshly baked bread. Each little burger was a bite sized treasure, and there were so many of them! For a few moments, Berg forgot where he was and just indulged in the wonderful treat.

Later, after his belly was full, he turned back to his mind, to try to make more sense of the circumstances and to review what he had learned, or what he remembered, about Jailee.

He thought that Jailee was a kind of kindred spirit, a different version of himself, Peter remembered. So, perhaps if he put himself in her place, he would know what she was planning.

Peter made sure not to speak aloud. He figured the very first thing they would do was have nanocams positioned around to see, hear and record any word or sound he made.

Now. She knew that he was an adversary. How would he handle that? Well, she did set a trap, the fake "emergency exit" and captured him. But he would be working her over, trying to find out every piece of information available. So far, since the first discussion, there hasn't been a word. Why is that?

Do they already know what they need to know? Are they going to try to score a ransom?

Peter didn't know much about Jailee's monetary circumstances, or whether she was trying to become wealthier to buy her way out of investigations or private situations. Was she just working in that place or was she the owner of it? If she were the owner, how did The State not have some record? Then again, where was this location under the sea?

What about those talking aquatic animals? How did they exist? Did The State know about them? Probably not because they likely would have been destroyed or at least herded for research.

Peter sat in silence playing out the various scenarios in his mind, until a robotic arm came and took the serving tray back through the slot in the door, paused and provided a new tray.

Berg once again lifted the lid, this time to find Bradshaw Stew, a mix of tender cube-cut meats and rice in deep brown gravy with still warm biscuits on the side. The serving looked like it was meant for at least four people but there was no one to share it with, Peter thought as he breathed deep the aroma of the dish before savoring the flavor.

As he was dining, a stray thought came to Peter. What if...

He blinked and suddenly, he was large. he could barely fit into his pants. his shirt was ripped in the front. There were stains of various sorts on all of his clothing. Another time jump. He had been doing nothing but eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom in the sani-corner which auto-rinsed itself clean, for how long, he didn't know. There was no way to measure it. He had no memory of the enjoyment of the meals he ate, aside from the two first ones. But he saw the results. He had put on maybe a hundred kilos?

Berg was disappointed in himself. He never did things like this. Or he never remembered doing things like this. And with no way of exercising, he would not be able to lose this weight easily or with any speed.

Jailee appeared at the window again. The robotic arm retrieved the used food tray and replaced it with a new one as she walked away.

Peter considered not eating it but it smelled so appetizing. It was a pizza covered in bacon and extra cheese.

An hour later, after the pizza was consumed, Berg looked and noticed the tray had slightly propped open the door that the robotic arm used to remove used trays.

The arm itself was slightly extended into the room and its pincers were solid and tight. He managed to use a thumbnail to unscrew them from the arm and work them towards the hinges of the door itself. Working patiently and diligently, Berg made progress, getting first one hinge, then the second hinge detached from the door frame.

Peter had no idea how much time he had, if Jailee would return soon, or if any alarms would be triggered, so he realized he had only one chance. He was able to open the door wide enough for his old self to fit through. That wasn’t good enough. He heaved and pulled and threw the full weight he could behind it and was able to get the opening wide enough for him to squeeze through.

At long last, Peter stood in the hallway where he saw Jailee eyeballing him all this while! Rather than going to the right, as Jailee always did, he would go left.

Peter took no more than five steps before he fell into a hole in the floor and again started sliding downward. He built up some momentum and then splash! He hit water. His muscles atrophied from no exercise and the extra weight he was now carrying caused him to flail around.

The last thing Peter Berg saw was the mouth of a Great White Shark.



//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Kummerspeck.

Jailee's previous LJ Idol Appearances

Season 9

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

Season X:

Week [1]
Week [2]
Week [3]
Week [Holiday Break] Part 1 and
Week [Holiday Break] Part 2

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