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Wild Kratts fic: Priorities on Point (1/2)

December 5th, 2015 (12:07 pm)
amused

feeling: amused

Title: Priorities on Point

Disclaimer: I do not own the Wild Kratts.

A/N: I can’t even explain this. I mean, I can. I just can’t promise that it’s a good explanation, but here goes. The thing is, my kids watch this show ALL THE TIME to the point where I have seen most episode SO MANY TIMES and the thing is, it’s not a terrible show, and the character dynamics are excellent, and Martin and Chris are just such good brothers that I can’t even stop myself. Also, this fills my loss of possessions square for hc_bingo. And this is really not beta’ed because no one else I know watches a kids show on PBS except for my kids, who are 7 and 4 and are not capable of beta reading.

Summary: The suits -- they were just technology. And the Kratt brothers? They were only human.



-o-

“That’s it,” Martin declared. “I want a narwhal suit.”

Chris chuckled, rocking back on his heels while the ice crunched beneath his feet. “No,” he said. “I need a narwhal suit.”

“Need, want, whatever,” Martin said. He tapped the comm link on his wrist. “Aviva, can you make us--”

“Narwhal suits?” Aviva supplied over the line. She shook her head. “Honestly, you two can be so predictable.”

“Well, they are impressive creatures,” Martin said. “Look at that tusk! I think that’s what I call you: Tuskegee.”

Chris rolled his eyes. His brother was enthusiastic to say the least, but he wasn’t always the most practical. “It’s not just the tusk, though,” he said. “They’re actually a mid-sized whale, not unlike the beluga. Their bodies are well adapted for life in the arctic, and they can dive almost 5,000 feet and stay underwater for up to 25 minutes.”

“All the more reason I want a narwhal suit!” Martin enthused.

Need a narwhal suit,” Chris clarified. He peeked over Martin’s shoulder. “Do you think you can do it, Aviva?”

“Well, it should be too hard to modify our sperm whale disc,” she said. “But I’m going to need a little bit more than tusks to go off of.”

“No problem,” Martin said, as he nudged Chris. “You up for a narwhal creature adventure, bro?”

“Am I up for it?” Chris asked. “Just try to stop me.”

“Okay, Kratts,” Aviva said. “Call me when you have an update. And stay warm out there!”

-o-

“So,” Chris ventured, pulling the zipper on his jacket a little more snug around his chin. “Any ideas how we’re going to get close enough to learn about narwhals?”

“It will be tricky,” Martin agreed. “But we can use the arctic diving suits back at the Tortuga. That would give us an up close and personal look at these creatures in the water.”

“Up close and personal and freezing,” Chris said. “We’d never be able to stay in the water long enough to learn what we need.”

“Well, it’s not like we’re going to learn enough just by watching them from land,” Martin argued. “A huge part of the narwhals life is underwater. We can dive down first and then come back up to make any final observations.”

Martin had a point, but Chris knew he had a better one. “Except by the time we come back up, we’d be too cold to do anything,” he said. “We have to think about safety.”

“Uh, I know safety,” Martin said, his humor starting to fade. “But what I don’t know is narwhals. Which is why I want to get in the water to learn about them.”

Most of the time, working with his brother was great. Really, it was. They generally got along really well, and Chris knew that they complemented each other.

Most of the time.

There were times, however, when Chris remembered that they were, in fact, brothers. That meant the good.

And the bad.

And sometimes with Martin, things could get bad.

“The whole point is to get Aviva enough information to make the power discs,” Chris reasoned. “If we jump in the water, we’re going to waste too much time.”

Martin narrowed his eyes, standing a little taller. “If we don’t jump in the water, we won’t have a complete understanding of the narwhal’s powers.”

Chris was shorter, but he wasn’t intimidated. “Not every mission has to involve swimming.”

“And not every mission does,” Martin said. “You know how it is, bro. We do what we have to for the creatures.

The creatures -- Martin was pulling out all the punches. As if Chris wasn’t here for the creatures.

Still, arguing with Martin wasn’t going to be productive. Trying to keep his cool, Chris drew a breath. “Look,” he said. “Obviously we have to get in the water at some point, but I still think we should observe first and save the water until last. Why don’t we head back to the Tortuga and update our gear?”

Martin grinned, heading back triumphantly. “Arctic diving gear, here we come!”

Chris scowled, following just a step behind.

Here they came.

Whether Chris was happy about it or not.

-o-

They weren’t far from the Tortuga, which was the good news.

The bad news was that the closer they got, the less sure Chris was about their plan of action.

Rather, Martin’s plan of action.

“I’m just saying,” Chris said as they entered into the utility bay of the Tortuga. “We have to respect the climate up here. “Koki had to upgrade the exterior just to make sure the Tortuga could withstand the cold temperatures. And even then, she’s keeping the heating cycle on maximum to prevent ice build up.”

“It’s all about proper precautions,” Martin said, starting to put on his arctic dive gear diffidently. “We’ll be careful. You know we are.”

Chris gave him a plaintive look. “Like the time you were careful and dropped me out the back of the Tortuga? Or how about the time you didn’t realize Zach had captured me for a whole day.

Martin pulled on another piece of gear. “Oh, you were fine,” he said. “And it’s not like I haven’t had my share of close scrapes.”

“That’s what I’m saying,” Chris said. “We have to be more careful, and I’m just not sure our diving gear is equipped to do what you want it to do.”

Martin sighed, stopping to look more fully at his brother. “Look,” he said. “I want a narwhal disc. Narwhals live in the water. I’m not seeing another option.”

Chris held his gaze. He was shorter, but no less determined. “We observe first, make as many notes as we can,” he said. “Then -- and only then -- we can get in the water.”

Martin nodded resolutely. “You stay on land, I’ll go in the water,” he said confidently. “And we’ll see who ends up with narwhal powers first.”

With that, Martin pulled on his head piece and started out the back.

Chris watched him with a sigh of his own.

So much for the brotherly bond.

Resigned, he started to put his own gear together. Preparing for a dive was still an important part of the process, and if Martin wanted to make this a competition, then it was a competition Chris intended to win.

As he started to remove his outer layer of clothes, however, he recognized one more dangerous natural element he had previously failed to consider.

There was no actual land mass in the arctic. They’d parked the Tortuga on a floating chunk of ice. A large chunk of floating ice, but still floating.

Which mean sometimes when a strong current came up.

Everything else went down.

It didn’t take much, when Chris had his balance compromised by trying to get suited up. He stumbled back, almost falling. He caught himself on the hangers by the bay door, grabbing onto the first thing he could before he hit the ground hard.

Just when he thought one crisis was averted, another started.

The momentum of the water was just enough to tip the Tortuga toward the water. Now, there was a reason that Koki had designed it to be aquatic, so there was no danger there.

But Chris, on the other hand, wasn’t designed to be aquatic.

At least, not yet.

So when the Tortuga tipped toward the water, his balance faltered again. He held on tight, but the suit slipped from the hanger and this time, Chris didn’t have time to catch himself as he slipped down the ramp and straight into the icy water below.

-o-

Now, as a creature adventurer, Chris had had more than his share of close calls. It came with the territory -- if you wanted to get up close and personal with nature, you had to expect it to get up close and personal with you. This was why he was always well equipped for every situation.

At least, in theory.

Granted, he had once run out of water while trekking through the Outback with a wayward koala. And yes, he had wound up on Madagascar with nothing but a granola bar to tide him over.

But.

But Chris was smart, capable and resourceful. He’d never been truly afraid that his life was in jeopardy.

Even now, Chris wasn’t really afraid.

No, he was much too busy being cold to feel fear.

Because it was more than cold. It was arctic water with ice chunks floating on top. It didn’t actually get much colder than this.

Worse, Chris wasn’t even in his gear. He’d only managed to take a layer off before the Tortuga had tipped, which left him woefully exposed to the frigid elements.

This wasn’t the subnivean, either. This was water.

Ice cold water, in his mouth, in his nose, and then, horribly, in his lungs.

The icy tendrils in his chest galvanized him, and Chris struggled to get his bearings. The fall had turned him around, and he took precious seconds to realize what direction was up and which was down. By that time, the water was burning along his skin, and he could feel his muscles contracting. He’s already losing feeling -- the creature power suit in his hands is nothing but dead weight to him.

This was bad.

This was very, very bad.

The risk of drowning was only amplified by the cold water, and Chris realized he needed to put his full attention into getting out of the water.

Now.

Desperate, he shook his hands free, prying his frigid fingers apart. The suit slipped from his grip, but there was no time to go after it or even worry about the consequences. Not if he was going to get to the surface.

Thus determined, Chris put his focus toward the surface. In his disorientation, he had floundered, driving him deeper beneath the waves. Not so far that he couldn’t make it, though.

Chris could make it.

Chris would make it.

Directing all his energy and focus, he kicked his feet, propelling himself upward. He pulled his free hands through the water, ignoring the nagging weariness in his bones, until he broke the surface and inhaled greedily.

Air was good.

Air was better than water.

There was a reason Martin was the swimming brother.

Still, air alone wasn’t enough. Chris had to get out of the water and fast. At these temperatures, hypothermia would be a real threat. He had less than a minute if he was going to save himself.

Forcing his frozen limbs to move, he pulled himself through the water to the closest ice shelf. His fingers were clawed as he tried to hold on and leverage himself up, and he grunted in exhaustion as his muscles trembled at the exertion. It was slow work, and the iciness in his bones made it feel like an eternity. But Chris was persistent, and with this unwavering dedication, he flopped face forward into the ice.

Wet and cold, for a moment, Chris could only lay there and focus on his breathing. The air in his chest felt like daggers and the thrumming of his heart was like a drum in his ears. He could feel the arctic air freezing the water in his hair. There were even ice crystals on his eyelashes.

What he wouldn’t give for narwhal powers now.

But he was only human.

Cold, wet and way too far from the warmth of the Tortuga. If he’d held onto the creature power suit, he might at least be able to communicate with the ship, but at this point, it was probably sinking into the twilight zone, far beyond anything Chris wanted to risk in these temperatures.

Craning his neck, he could see the ship, but it was farther than he remembered, probably because Jimmy had moved it to more secure ground. That was the safest decision for the ship.

Not so safe for Chris.

Moaning, he dropped his head to the ground. No communication, no gear, no help. “Looks like I have to do this the old fashioned way.”

-o-

In nature, everything moved at its own pace. There were creatures like the cheetah, which ran faster than any human ever could. And then there was the sloth, which took slow to a whole new level. This diversity was good and normal, and every creature was perfectly suited for its habitat and lifestyle.

Chris’ pace on the way back to the Tortuga, however, was torturously slow. True, he might have beat a sloth, but at this point, he actually wasn’t sure. Everything hurt to move, and every step felt like an excruciating effort that threatened to take him to his knees.

This was worse than being dehydrated in the outback. This was even worse than being locked in Zach’s ship for an entire day. Polar bears had fur; narwhals had thick rounds of fat. Chris didn’t even have a coat.

To make matters worse, he had pulled himself ashore on a separate ice chunk. Getting back to the Tortuga had no direct route and it involved balancing on precarious pieces of floating ice. It required skill and balance, both of which Chris usually had, but not when he was half frozen.

More than half frozen.

He teetered his way across, and the violent shivering only made him more unsteady on his feet. He nearly slipped several times, and he crawled on his hands and knees across several -- both due to safety and abject exhaustion.

Somewhere, in the back of his head, he knew that he wasn’t safe yet. The water would have killed him faster, but the extreme temperatures were also a pervasive threat, especially in his soaking wet condition. If he didn’t hurry, Martin would only find a popsicle for a brother by the time he got back.

Maybe that way, Martin wouldn’t be too upset about the fact that Chris had lost his power suit.

Still, Chris would like to apologize for that.

And for being contrary earlier.

Mostly, Chris wanted to see his brother when he got back. Martin didn’t want a popsicle for a brother any more than Chris wanted to be a popsicle.

As he staggered over the last ice chunk, he was struck with a conundrum. Was a narwhal power suit worth this? Or was this why a narwhal creature power suit was worth it?

At the edge of the chunk, Chris had to steady himself. The last distance wasn’t too far, but it looked far enough. The dark, cold water taunted him from below. And the warm, familiar exterior of the Tortuga beckoned him from not far away.

He looked down.

He looked up.

He whimpered.

He could do it.

He had to do it.

Clearing his head, he took a deep breath, moving his aching muscles one last time. It wasn’t his most graceful lunge -- in fact, it probably looked like a belly flop -- and for a brief second, Chris feared it would be enough. One misstep, after all, he’d plunge into the water, and this time, he wouldn’t be able to pull himself out.

Then, he hit the icy ground chest first. Snow smashed against his face, and he was both relieved and exhausted.


He’d made it.

He turned his head toward the Tortuga.

And yet, he still wasn’t there.

Chris had come this far.

And this was as far as he was going to come.

It wouldn’t be so bad just to rest for a bit. To catch his breath, get his bearings.

To sleep.

Just for a second.

Sleep.

-o-

“Whoa, Chris! Are you okay?”

The question had an obvious answer. Moreover, it was poorly timed.

Which could only mean Martin.

“Chris, bro, wake up.

Groaning, Chris tried to open his eyes, only to find them disconcertingly stuck together with ice. He tucked in more closely on himself and willed his brother to leave him alone.

“Chris,” Martin said, fingers like hot daggers on his arms. “Chris.

This time, Chris managed to crack his eyelids, looking blearily up at the face of his brother.

Martin’s brow furrowed. “What happened?”

“Shifting ice,” Chris murmured. “Tipped me out.”

“You fell out of the Tortuga?” Martin asked incredulously. “Into the ice? Wearing nothing but that?

“It was an accident,” he muttered in reply, starting to close his eyes again.

“Whoa, I don’t think so,” Martin said, this time hefting Chris up into a sitting position.

Chris objected inarticulately but had no power to resist.

“You’re almost as cold as the ice,” Martin said, rubbing his gloved hands along the exposed flesh of Chris’ arms. “This kind of weather, we’re at risk for hypothermia, especially if you decide to go swimming.”

Glaring, Chris huffed through his chattering teeth. “That’s what I told you.”

Martin rolled his eyes. “I was wearing proper dive gear,” he said. But then his looked turned just a little sheepish. “But I’m still pretty cold.”

“Get what you need?” Chris asked.

“For what?” Martin returned.

“The power disc,” Chris said. “Did you finish your observations?”

Martin’s expression turned even more sheepish. “Nah, I had to cut out early,” he admitted. “I got a little too cold.”

“I know how you feel,” Chris said, head starting to dip forward.

“Whoa, okay,” Martin said, putting an arm around Chris and hauling him up. “I think it’s about time to see if Koki can get a little more out of that heating system of hers, don’t you think?”

With that, Chris had no arguments.

-o-

Movement had been hard before.

It was basically impossible now.

Chris’ feet barely responded, and no matter how hard Martin tried to hold onto him, Chris’ legs seemed intent on dropping him back to the floor. He was vaguely aware of the heated air inside the Tortuga, but it wasn’t exactly enough.

Not when Chris was tired and cold and so, so sleepy.

He heard Martin call for help, and he heard Koki nearby. Aviva made a cry in Spanish, and there was a thunk as Jimmy dropped his controller.

So apparently this was worse than he’d thought.

Chris was ushered gently into a chair, and before he knew what was happening, he was wrapped in a blanket. Then another, and another. Someone turned the chair, scraping it against the floor of the Tortuga, until a blast of hot air hit him in the face.

It probably should have felt good.

Unfortunately, it only reminded Chris just how cold he was.

Blinking blearily, he craned his neck up to look at his brother. “I’m sorry.”

Someone rubbed a towel through his icy hair. Martin cocked an eyebrow at him. “For what?”

“I lost your power suit,” Chris chattered. He didn’t have the energy for pretenses, not that he ever had bothered with his brother.

“You what?” Martin asked.

Chris’ eyes fell to half mast as he tried to keep himself awake. “It fell in the water.”

“Well, so did you,” Martin pointed out, layering another blanket on top of him.

“I tried to hold onto it,” Chris explained. “But it was so cold--”

Martin’s jaw set tight.

“I’m sorry,” Chris said again, sinking a little deeper into the blankets. “I just wanted you to know.”

“We’ll talk about it later, okay?” Martin deflected.

Chris couldn’t stop thinking about it, though. The way it slipped from his grip, the way he let it go to pull himself up. If he hadn’t been so stubborn in the first place, none of this would have happened. “It was an accident,” Chris rambled. “I would never--”

“I got it, Chris,” Martin said, a bit more forcefully now. “We’ll talk about it later.”

Chris blinked up at his slowly.

“Much later,” Martin amended tautly. “When you’re not my brother, the popsicle.”

-o-

It was a bit of an ordeal to get changed, but Chris salvaged enough of his dignity to do it on his own. Now that he was dry, he was aware just how cold he actually was, and he was happy his snuggly green sweatsuit was button-free.

Even so, by the time he was done, he was plainly exhausted, and he barely had the energy to pull the covers back on his bunk in the Tortuga before crashing heavily into bed. He was already half asleep when there was a small knock on the door.

“Everything cool in there, bro?” Martin asked, his voice hollow and distant.

Chris shuddered, not just from the cold. He’d fallen into freezing water and lost his brother’s creature power suit. He’d ruined their chances of discovering narwhal powers, and his brother wouldn’t be able to go on any adventures thanks to him.

Nothing was cool.

It was freezing.

Pulling the covers up a little higher, Chris sniffled a little while he tried to still his trembling.

“Chris?” Martin asked again.

“Yeah,” Chris called back flatly as he closed his eyes to sleep. He hated lying to his brother, but this time, the truth was like ice in his throat that he couldn’t quite move. “Everything’s cool.”

PART TWO