Strange, Strange World

-Prelude to Madness-

“Damnit!” cursed Ransom as he was flung against the wall of his small space craft, if you could even call it a space craft. It wasn’t really craft-like, more like a tall box or cupboard, and it certainly wasn’t for space, not regular space anyway. It was more designed for traversing the rather incomprehensible pathways that connected Normal Spaces to each other, and, to a much smaller extent, for the Non-Space, E-Space, and Negative Space that existed between them. Basically it was a dimensional car for dimensional highways.
Sparks bounced from the main control panel, a long chest height desk decorated with buttons and dials and switches. The ship rocked again as Ransom fought with the controls, turning down a large dial.
“That’s a dent put into Dimension 24.”
There was a unhealthy groan from the workings of the vessel.
“Yeah, well,” said Ransom to his ship, “If you had stopped in Dimension 2 like I asked, we wouldn’t be in this mess, would we?”
The ship rocked again.
“Oh, stop it.”
A small screen mounted on the wall displayed a map of sorts, a massive tangled web of destinations connected by thin strands.
“What?” he cried as the ship began to rock back and forth even faster and more violently. “45? 76? 100?! 200?!” There was a burst of sparks from underneath the console, where the Dimension Slip Drive was situated. The green glowing cylinder billowed smoke as it began to overheat.
Ransom thrust himself from the control panel and to a back of toggle switches, he liked toggle switches. Quick and nimble hands flicked them back and forth and the strange object came to a halt, the DSD lifeless and grey, choking smoke gushing from wounds cracked along its surface.
“270? Good number,” he said, glancing at the flickering screen, a pulsating red dot indicating his position.
He readied himself, straightening his jacket and fixing his hair. The door slide open and revealed the madness that awaited him.
Smoke clouded around him as he stepped out.
“I’m not interrupting anything am I?” asked Dr. Ransom Beckett, a casual smile on his face.
Three bullets struck the side of his strange spacecraft, and one flew right past him. The other, though, grazed his left shoulder, slicing through the fabric of his clothes and leaving a red stain in its wake.
“Well, that’s a good start.”
Ransom was greeted with what you could say wasn’t exactly a welcome party. Some strange creature shaped like a shark was talking, rather calmly, to a woman when that same woman threw a knife at him, which was quite impressive.
“You know, I’ll just, eh, just go and check on the drive,” Ransom said to no-one in particular, and gingerly stepped back inside his box as the confrontation continued without him.
He bent himself over and looked at the exposed drive, its dying husk clinging on to the last vestiges of its life. It was hot to the touch and it partially burnt thepalm of his hand, adding to the gallery of mistakes his skin already carried. Chemical stains and burns, scolding, and temporal wind damage.
Outside two people screamed in what was probably pain. Remarkably, they both did it in unison.
Probably best to ignore it.
Everything was broken. Life support. Offline. Navicom. Blank. Dimensional Sails. Ripped. Light bulb. Dim.
“Now, I could try to re-route the primary drivers and feed them back into the residual collectors…”
“ Planetary defence mech!” someone screamed.
“No…” muttered Ransom, “That would probably overload the power couplings and cause an E-Space blank-out.”
There was a shimmering dematerialisation sound, like when a holo-gram was sent offline. It floated through the air, sharper than the rest of the background noise that flooded whatever sort of building Ransom had landed in.
He peeked his head around the corner just in time to see a gun, an old pistol to be exact, clattering to the ground. He was also lucky enough to see what appeared to be a manifestation of Lucifer emerging from a rather grubby and slightly tipsy looking man.
“Nah…” he said and went back to examining the control board. “Was that a hamster?” he wondered to himself. As he thought, his hand instinctively reached for the grey metal chain that hung from his waistcoat. It led to a watch but his fingers found entertainment playing with the links and running them through his fingers. He stared blankly at the wall as the commotion continued outside. Well, to someone that wasn’t him, it looked blank but he was consumed with the middle distance, that area of space that seems like it should hold all the answers to all your problems and you spend hours pouring through it, searching through it.
He didn’t find anything.
A thin hand pushed through his hair and he took another look outside. The strange shark-like-thing as on his back and a Terran, well, probably a Terran, was, well, she was doing what it looked like she was doing.
“Yeah…” Ransom muttered, repulsed, as he turned away.
269 steps from Dimension 1, Standard Dimension Designation. Could things be really that strange?
Another quick glance revealed a small midget, who looked awfully strange, was groping a breast slick with blood. A swift kick from a man sent the midget flying somewhat but it did little to ease the whole world back into normality.
A woman, red haired and smallish, shot a finger point in his direction. “You!” she called. “Come here. Hold this.”
“I… ah…” floundered Ransom. Medical things weren’t exactly his strong point.
“She’s going to die,” she explained forcefully, “Hold this or I drop kick you over the table.”
Now, normally Ransom could deal with this sort of situations. Well, he told himself that he could anyway. But as the colour drained from his face slightly, he discovered that he wasn’t particularly adept at field surgery.
He took hold of a needle, or rather had the needle thrust into his hands.
“What’s your name?” she asked, softer this time.
“Ransom,” he said as he examined the curious device he was holding, “Doctor Ransom MacIntyre. Yourself?”
“Excellent, another doctor,” she said, either not hearing the returning question or was too busy to bother with formal introductions, “You’ll love it here. Now I’m pretty sure the hemothora…” The doctor began but then looked up. “What?”
“Wrong kind of doctor.”
“No… A scientist…” The woman seemed disappointed some how, although it was understandable. If this was the daily routine around here, another doctor was probably needed. “Well, you’ve dissected a frog, I’ll bet, so it’ll do. Just, hold that still for me.”
Ransom did as he was told, though he was slight perplexed by what a ‘frog’ was and why he would dissect one.
“Near as I’ve been able to work out, it’s a type of ultrasonic scanner. I think it uses a combination of ultrasound, infa-red and some other dubious science. Damnit, I’m a doctor not a scientist.” She pressed a few buttons and ran the scanner over the wound. The little display began to feedback information, “I think the bleeding has stopped, we just need to wait for her to come around.” Jade fetched a bag out of the field kit and hooked it up to Cass's arm. Then tidied up the knife wound as best she could, it needed a fair few stitches. "The fluids will help, but really we now need to get her to the medical centre here for more blood."
</End Snip>
What a strange place this was.
“Well, doctor,” said Ransom, “This is… eventful.”
“Would you believe that this was our holiday, doctor?”
Ransom laughed, although he was hiding genuine concern that this was what people did on a holiday in this dimension. “Please, call me Ransom.” He extended his stain, burned, and scared hand.
“Jade, Jade Black,” she replied, taking his hand and shaking it warmly.
“So, this is…”
“Yeah, kind of hard to explain. Where do you want to start?”
“It’s a toss up between Beelzebub walking the earth and shark-man that I just watched have sex with a Terran.”
“Terran?” she asked, puzzled.
“Yeah. Terran. Me, you probably, her probably. Born on Terra, Earth.”
“Oooh, humans?”
“If you say so. Strange name.”
“Well, the shark-man is Jaxx and the human, well that’s a lie, she’s not a human, is Evelina. They’re married.”
“And they often show their affections in public?”
“Only when the situation demands it,” she joked.
“And shark-men are common?”
Jade shrugged. “We’ve been in stasis for 3 million years…” Ransom began to form the obvious ‘How/Why?’ question but he was cut off. “It’s a long story.”
“Okay… What about Lucifer over there? Is he a common companion.”
“No, actually, this is new.”
“Well, at least I’m not missing everything.”
“You did miss Plisken, though. Oh Christ, Plisken…”
“Yeah… quite the coincidence you appeared here, actually. I’ll explain later.”
There was a lull in the conversation as they watched as Jaxx tossed a towel, that could only contain something unmentionable, at Lucifer’s eyes, blinding him.
“So, you see a lot of work, do you?”
“Keeps me busy. Shame you’re not a proper doctor, it would be quite useful.”
Ransom laughed, “Sorry I’ve got the wrong set of letters after my name.”
“What are you a doctor of anyway?”
“Dimensional and Temporal Physics and Mechanics.”
“Ohhh, so a really useless doctor, then?” she teased.
“Well, maybe you could teach me some of you’re ‘useful’ doctoring.”
“You might have to at this rate,” Jade said as the large hamster leapt upon on the Devil’s back.
“The hamster?”
“White Wolf. It’s a long story.”
“There are a few long stories around here.”
“3 million years in deep space, we aren’t going to have any one-liners. “
“This is a strange place.”

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