Carpathia III: Epilogue 2 - Evaluations
Rune Lake, Nekomi Culture Center
Over time, Tier found that his scheduled daily quiet time in his office was becoming more and more necessary. It was a time when there would be no meetings, disruptions, or calls. Usually, he caught up on paperwork, but sometimes the compulsion to nap was irresistable. As he leaned back in his chair with his feet propped up on his desk, Tier contemplated early retirement again. The only thing that stopped him from doing so was the simple fact that it was his job that got him out of bed on most days.
This day, however, Tier found his office refuge noisily disrupted when Kradik came crashing through his office door.
Kradik: Jeez, Tier, don't you pick up your phone?
Tier suddenly put his feet on the floor and sat up straight in his chair, as though he could still convince Kradik that he had been working the entire time.
Tier: Kradik! Um... I didn't expect you!
Kradik put one hand on his hip and rolled his eyes.
Kradik: That's obvious. Come with me. Jaze and Toma are alive and they're on a shuttle to a research base outside of the city.
Tier nearly slid right out of his chair but caught himself just before his butt could complete the journey. Sputtering gibberish in disbelief, he finally managed a single intelligible word in response.
Tapping his foot impatiently, Kradik waved his hand frantically, beckoning Tier to follow him.
Kradik: Your wife is grabbing some of Jaze's clothes and is probably already on her way now. Let's go!
Tier hesitated only for a moment. If anyone besides Kradik or his wife had told him this, he would have thought someone was playing a cruel joke. This, he knew, was why Kradik came personally instead of phoning the front desk. Without another word, Tier snatched his vest from the back of his chair and hustled out of his office with Kradik.
Research Base, New Berengaria
Passing through decontamination felt like little more than standing under a warm lamp for a few minutes and they didn't even have to remove their clothing, though most of them desperately wanted to do exactly that, for even Quilyon was so bathed in the stench of many days of grime that even she couldn't smell it anymore. They still had to wait for their chance, for next was a medical screening to test for internal pathogens and anything else that might need taken care of. The man who introduced himself as Doctor Nielson also seemed deliriously excited to learn more about the Yserians who had just landed on his doorstep.
One who was far more concerned than excited, however, was the base commander, with whom Ryuu shared a few select memories. Immediately, she was in communication with the highest levels of government of Carpathia, Tokkastra, and Draconis. Disappointed that nobody knew where Yseri was, she requested any and all photographs that were taken to see if they could start building a computer program to analyze stars and topography. With any luck, a database match with scanned, but unexplored, planets could be found.
For the medical checkups, the group insisted that Oliver go first, he being the sickest. The others sat on the benches scattered throughout the lobby area. Artemis curled up into a little ball clutching Phobos while Adell sat next to him. It was less than ten minutes later that Oliver emerged from the examination room sporting a new pair of pants and slipping on a fresh, white t-shirt.
Jaze: How did it go?
Oliver: It was fine. Mostly a lot of poking and waving some flashy things around me. He said he thinks he can help me, but he wants to have a look at the rest of you first.
Just then, Dr. Nielson poked his head out of the door.
Dr. Nielson: Jaze Bond? Oliver told me that you were drinking the same water as he was. I'd like to see you next.
Dr. Nielson ducked back into the examination room as Jaze shrugged.
Jaze: Well, I guess I'm next. Maybe I can even get a shower before my parents get here.
Jaze was pleased to be next, for it meant that he could finally remove his sweaty, nasty clothes. Reaching down to his waist, he grabbed the bottom of his shirt. Instead of wafting effortlessly from his body, his shirt audibly peeled from his body more like the skin of a tangerine. After significant effort, Jaze finally managed to pull the shirt over his head and off his body. However, before he could enter the examination room, he heard a familiar voice.
Jaze froze for a moment and turned slowly. In the doorway was his mother, holding an armful of rumpled clothes. Casting aside the clothes, she ran to Jaze with her arms outstretched. Jaze held his arms out too and braced for a bear hug, but his mother suddenly stopped and pulled her arms back when she got near.
Elektra: Oh my. I'm afraid I'm going to break you!
Jaze tilted his head, puzzled, until he realized that his mother was staring at his chest. Looking down at himself, Jaze remembered the jagged scars from the razorbear swipe that went from his shoulder all the way down to his waist plus the three bullet wounds, one in his right shoulder, another in his left bicep, and the last in his abdomen.
Jaze: I have been through the wringer, haven't I? It's okay. I'm mostly healed up.
Before Jaze could get out another word, Elektra threw her arms around him and squeezed tightly. Having difficulty breathing, it almost felt as though he might die again, but mercifully, his mother knew just when to quit and stepped back, with tears running down her cheeks. Jaze was surprised, as his mother was a lot of things, never aloof, always affectionate, but weepy had never, ever been one of them.
Jaze: Aw, Mom, are you crying?
Elecktra sniffled deeply and wiped her eyes.
Elektra: I'm not crying. You smell like week-old natto and it's burning my eyes!
Jaze paused and then turned his head to sniff at his armpits. He immediately recoiled and, as he looked up, he saw two more familiar faces in the doorway.
Jaze: Dad! Kradik!
This time, Toma's ears stood up straight and pitched forward. With a small spurt of wind for assistance, he rose from his chair and looked past Jaze to see his father standing with Tier. Meanwhile, one of the base sprinted between Jaze and Toma and handed a communicator to Kaoru.
Tier smiled and charged exuberantly at Jaze until he was brought to a halt by the outstretched arm of Elektra.
Elektra: Hold it! This boy is a walking poison gas attack.
Jaze: I suppose I could use a shower.
Tier scrunched up his face and muscled his way past his wife.
Tier: Don't be silly, dear.
Tier picked up Jaze and squeezed him tightly. The embrace, however, did not last long.
Tier: Okay, have you been rolling around in a bucket of sweat?
At the same time, Kradik and Toma were greeting each other with customary ear scratches and they finally all merged into one happy group, until they heard sniffles coming from the couch behind them. They turned to see Kaoru hunched over with the communicator in his hand and Quilyon with her hand on his back.
Kaoru: Yeah, I understand... No, you can come on over without them. It'll be fine... I'll see you soon.
Kaoru touched a button on the communicator and rubbed his face with his hand. Jaze and the others felt guilty for watching, but still wondered if he could use more comforting beyond what Quilyon was giving him now. Kaoru stood and sniffed deeply and, to everyone's surprise, hurled the communicator against the wall, where it smashed into little pieces.
Kaoru: My sister is on her way. My parents still have two weeks left on their timeshare and they don't want to waste it, so they're not coming.
Kaoru stood still for a moment while Quilyon rubbed his back.
Kaoru took Quilyon's hand.
Kaoru: Nope, I'm not putting up with this anymore. I've been through too much. Come with me. I want to introduce you to my parents.
With Quilyon's hand in his, Kaoru marched defiantly up to Elektra and Tier, who were not even pretending that they didn't hear what had just transpired. Kaoru made it a point of looking into each of their eyes with steely sincerity, and yet his voice cracked as he spoke.
Kaoru: Can I call you Mom and Dad?
Without a moment of hesitation, Elektra grabbed Kaoru's shirt and yanked him in close for a tight embrace while Tier looked on with a smile and a pat on Kaoru's back.
Elektra: Oh, sweetie! Of course you can!
This time, Elektra sniffled and Jaze was quite sure that she really had become weepy. When they parted, Elektra started patting Kaoru's shoulder near where his right arm used to be.
Elektra: Oh my, what happened to your arm?
Kaoru glanced at his empty shoulder as though he had forgotten.
Kaoru: Oh, that was yanked off by an ancient cosmic abomination.
Elektra raised her eyebrows and then scrunched up her face. It was a day of firsts indeed, for it was unheard of for her to be left speechless. Finally, she deemed it better to change the subject.
Elektra: Okay, so who is your lovely lady friend here?
Kaoru stepped aside and gently nudged Quilyon forward.
Kaoru: This is my wife, Quilyon. She's an elf.
Quilyon smiled awkwardly.
Quilyon: Nice to meet you, ma'am.
Elektra reached down and took both of Quilyon's hands in hers, perhaps a bit too overwhelmed to question the elf thing.
Elektra: Enchanted, my dear.
At the same time, Reuli started jumping up and down behind them.
Reuli: Me too! Me too!
Kaoru stood aside again and pushed Reuli forward.
Reuli: And this is her brother, Reuli.
Elektra giggled and shook Reuli's hand.
Elektra: Such a lively new family we have here! We'll have to clear out the third floor of the house to make room for everyone! So, how did you two meet?
Quilyon responded with her usual matter-of-factness.
Quilyon: I shot him.
Kaoru: Right in the leg!
Again, Elektra wasn't sure what to say and she was thankfully interrupted by Oliver.
Oliver: Hey, Jaze. Dr. Nielson is asking for you again.
Jaze had forgotten entirely about his medical checkup, but there was still something he wanted to do first. He stepped back so that Oliver was in front of him.
Jaze: Mom, this is Oliver. I want him to stay with us too.
Elektra smiled once again.
Elektra: Well, I'm certainly glad your grandfather left me that big old house! We have plenty of room. So tell me, how do you two know each other?
Jaze looked away and scratched behind his ear.
Jaze: Hmmm... That's a good question. I guess it started when he shot me.
Jaze pointed to the bullet wound on his right shoulder, but Oliver intervened.
Oliver: No, no, that one wasn't me.
Jaze looked down at himself and pointed to the bullet wounds on his abdomen and leg while his mother's face took on a more befuddled expression.
Jaze: Really? I know this one and this one were from Pestilence.
Oliver pointed to the wound on Jaze's left arm.
Oliver: I think that one was mine.
Jaze examined the wound on his arm as both his mother's and father's mouth flopped open.
Jaze: Oh, right. This one has the burn marks on it from when Ryuu fixed it. Yeah, that one was you.
Finally, Elektra had had enough and raised her voice for all to hear.
Elektra: What kind of a crazy place did you come from? Is gunfire just a standard greeting? Is there anyone else who needs a place to stay?
The others looked up, but nobody volunteered.
Jaze: Actually, several of our friends here do need a home.
Elektra barged past Jaze and addressed the others with her hands firmly planted on her hips.
Elektra: Listen up, everyone! If Jaze says you are friends, then I believe him, but there is to be no gunfire in, around, or anywhere near the house! Understood?
The others nodded, Keast in particular with a particularly amused grin on his face.
Jaze: Since that's settled, I suppose I shouldn't keep Dr. Nielson waiting.
Elektra: I'll go with you, sweetie!
Jaze conspicuously looked down at his pants, sending a clear enough message that he was soon likely to take them off.
Elektra: Oh, silly me. Of course you can go by yourself, dear.
Jaze: Maybe not by myself.
Jaze took Toma's hand and with little prodding, he followed him into Dr. Nielson's examination room.
All city pictures from SimCity 4