Part 14: Interview 7 BonusDudecon 07 - The Night With No Consequences
Dudette runs back into the kitchen, distraught. Prince, Dragonborn and Hell are in there, enjoying some glasses of special brew, and Twee has just wandered in.
“I-” gasps Dudette. She can barely speak. “I just… I told Commander about the spiking, and the last Dudecon, and he’s… gone!”
“He left the party?” Dragonborn rumbles gravely. “Hm. He’ll be back soon, I’m sure. But it sounds like that conversation did not go well.”
“He’s right. That’s the worst part.” murmurs Dudette, sinking to the floor and leaning against the wall of the kitchen corridor. “I spiked him, completely sober myself. There’s no escaping the fact that I did that.”
Twee giggles as he walks through the kitchen and out of the room. “Dudette, seriously? I’d already spiked you ages before that - you were not in the right mind to be making decisions, I can assure you.”
He wanders out, leaving the other my dudes in the room to stare at his receding form.
“It all comes back to Twee in the end, doesn’t it?” hisses Hell. “He really rubs me the wrong way.”
As Hell stalks off, Dragonborn and Prince look at one another.
“Hey, Dudette, we should probably let Commander know that he’s got it all wrong. Do you want us to come with you?” asks Prince.
Dudette shakes her head. “I… I’ll do it. But I swear, after that, I’m going to separate Twee’s head from his shoulders.”
Dragonborn laughs. “Hah! I’ll help.”
With a grim expression, Dudette makes her way out of the kitchen. On the other side of the living room, she sees Persona and Summoner exiting one of the four bedrooms, looking a little bad-tempered. She makes her way to the exit of the sub-dimension, where the front porch is located, passing a new my dude wearing a stylish tracksuit as she does.
Outside, Commander looks up to see Hell striding towards one of the portals.
“Hell? You leaving?”
Hell turns, having not noticed Commander. He nods. “Not for long, I just, uh, forgot something. I’ll be back in a bit - and to be fair, with Twee’s antics, I could do with a little break, you know?”
“Ah, Twee’s just something we put up with.” Commander says, shrugging. “See you later, then.”
As Hell vanishes through the portal, Commander turns his music up and goes back to sitting still, letting the lyrics wash over him.
Dudette enters the porch whilst he sits. She remains still for a moment, then he opens his eyes and notices her. Sensing her feelings, he removes his headphones and stands up.
“I was spiked too.” she says. “It was Twee. I didn’t know. My decisions, they were…”
“Yeah. That makes sense.” Commander replies. He gives her a pitying smile. “I kind of overreacted. It occurred to me whilst I was sitting here that you were really drunk at the time. Twee’s handiwork - yeah, that’s not surprising.”
“Sorry. I just feel bad about everything.”
“Apology accepted.” Commander says, extending his hand. “Let’s just enjoy tonight, shall we?”
“Yeah.” Dudette says, brightening up. “Yes, that would be nice. No more pining.”
“Shall we?” Commander suggests, gesturing towards the entry hall. Dudette nods, and the pair head back inside. They spot Sword chatting to Dragonborn and Prince by the west corridor, whilst stood in front of the sofas is Celestrian, mouthing something to himself. On the sofas, Scout, Luminary and Breed have just been joined by a deflated Summoner, who seems to be telling them about his argument with Persona.
Dudette makes her way to Dragonborn and the others to inform them that everything was settled, whilst Commander walks over to Celestrian.
“Hey, you got back alright, then? Did you get the drinks?”
“Yeah, I got all the supplies you could need. I was just checking whether we needed to get more drinks out here, but I don’t think we do just yet.” Celestrian replies. He gives a sigh. “Man, hosting takes it out of you. I didn’t realise how much effort you go to every year.”
“It’s a tiring process, isn’t it?” Commander replies. “But you’re picking it up. Nice job, Celestrian. Future Dudecons are in safe hands.”
Celestrian flushes with pride, and his earlier worries seem to melt away. “Thanks, Commander! I’m gonna do my best.”
Commander nods. “I know you will. Still, the party’s not over yet. I’m gonna check in with Persona, wherever he’s got to - I want to win that bet.”
“A bet, huh? Sounds good, Commander. I’ve got things under control in here, don’t worry.”
Commander walks off, nodding back at Celestrian. “In that case, relax and enjoy yourself a bit. A host who’s having as much fun as the guests makes the guests much more comfortable.”
Barracks 07 - The Mobile Fortress
When Von Panzer walks into the barracks room that evening, he can tell by the whispered conversations all around that there’s only one thing on everyone’s mind: the new plans to start deploying the terrifying Neotank.
He spots Fliss, Selena and Michael discussing it, and decides to join them, sitting at their table. Selena looks up.
“Ah, Von Panzer! What are your thoughts on, you know?”
“It’s… concerning.” he says at last. “A weapon of destruction even more powerful than a medium tank. It has superior offense and defense - but unlike medium tanks, sacrifices none of their mobility to do so.”
“You’re quite knowledgeable.” Michael says, staring at Von Panzer, who starts guiltily.
“Ach! I was a mercenary for Black Hole, if you recall. We saw what they could do firsthand.”
“Oh, of course.” Selena replies. “So… the rumours are accurate, then? This thing is going to be absolutely horrifying to face?”
“Ja,” says Von Panzer, nodding. “But equally powerful now that we have access to them too. I just wish war did not require these kinds of monstrous machines to be waged in the modern day.”
Michael nods, his face falling. “It’s an unfortunate truth of war, I suppose. An arms race. I know I’ll never get my hands bloodied, but even the thought of some luckless soldier facing a Neotank is… frightening.”
“I…” Fliss replies, a look of sorrow in her eyes. “I d-don’t want to hurt anyone, but I will. But this… it’s u-unfair. And I have proficiency in tanks… are they g-going to make me drive it?”
“I wouldn’t worry. Judging by the sheer size of this thing, only medium tank-proficient drivers will be charged with using it.” Selena says. “I might get to try it out, that being the case. That’ll be interesting.”
“OK.” Fliss murmurs, brightening up a little. “I just hate k-killing my fellow man.”
“They are not your fellow man.” Von Panzer growls. “They’re here to kill and conquer. That is the simple truth of them.”
“You were a good man. There must be other good men in the army.” Michael points out. Von Panzer shakes his head.
“Haven’t you noticed? All the mercenaries, like us, left the army. We had morals. The Black Hole Infanterie that we’ve seen in this campaign, though, are evidently from… wherever Sturm crawled out of. I’m not sure they’re even human. Harrumph!”
“True. They have an unearthly quality about them.” Selena agrees.
“So, Fliss, do not feel guilty. Every Black Hole soldier that goes down is an improvement for Wars World. You must protect your people.”
Fliss nods. “Not human… r-right. I’ll fight for the sake of Orange Star. And my p-parents.”
Selena gives her a warm smile. “They’d be proud of you, Fliss.”