Part 18: Interview 9 BonusDudecon 09 - The Corridor
It is the sounds of chatter and laughter that wakes Celestrian over an hour later. Sitting up, he heads outside to find several my dudes sitting in the corridor just outside the bedrooms - Persona, Professor, Sword and Dragonborn.
“Ah, Celestrian has finally awoken.” Dragonborn says. “Would you like to join us?”
Celestrian sits with the group, nodding. “Sounds good. Anything interesting happen whilst I was asleep?”
“Not really.” Professor says, shrugging. “Commander finally got sick of Together We Ride and put his own playlist on, Summoner is managing to hold his drink, and we’re having a movie in a little while. With cake.”
“Mm, cake. Sounds good - what are we watching, anyway?” Sword asks.
“God knows, Commander chose it. Said it was some kind of masterpiece… I believe he called it Gurren Lagann?” Persona says.
“I guess we’ll see how it is, then.” Celestrian replies. “Oh, wait, the cake! I was supposed to get it out of the ov-”
Dragonborn chuckles. “I told you, I’d take care of things. Me and Commander sorted it.”
Celestrian breathes a sigh of relief and leans against the wall of the corridor. He glances into the living room, seeing several other my dudes chatting on the sofas as they down drinks. Dudette and Scout are walking down the west corridor.
“That’s a relief. Sorry, guys.”
“It’s a pleasure. The whole point of this night is that every my dude gets a chance to relax - we can pick up the slack.”
Professor says. “Besides, you certainly needed it - you look much better now.”
Celestrian brightens up. “You think so?”
“Yeah, you don’t look dead on your feet now.” Persona replies, and the group chuckle. Sword tilts his head, lowering his sunglasses to see the group eye-to-eye.
“So, like, how exactly does all this work? Is there some kind of my dude hierarchy?”
“That’s quite a question.” replies Celestrian. “I suppose there is, in a sense? Not officially, of course, but Commander is considered the unofficial head of the my dudes.”
“Why’s that?” asks Sword.
Dragonborn decides to weigh in. “He was the visionary who created Dudecon. Three years ago, he discovered that in other universes, there were others like him; universal constants.”
“He got in touch with us via a friend of his. They call him the Cosmic Postman, who delivers letters between universes.” Persona says. “As we widened our scope, we discovered many more my dudes. Eventually, we decided to have a yearly party to celebrate all of us getting together.”
“So that’s who delivered the invites.” murmurs Sword. “I did wonder how somebody snuck into my bedroom in the middle of the night to leave a letter on my bed.”
“He works in mysterious ways.” Dragonborn replies. “So, yes, Commander is the one who organised the first Dudecon, and he’s done that ever since.”
“That first Dudecon was awkward.” Professor says. There’s a hint of fondness in his voice. “There were only… what, six of us?”
“Commander, Professor, me, Dragonborn…” mutters Persona as he counts them on his fingers. “Dudette, Celestrian… oh, and Scout. Seven.”
“It’s grown so much.” Celestrian says, smiling. “That’s cool, though.”
“It certainly is.” Sword replies. “I’m really happy to be a part of it. Makes you wonder, though, how many more my dudes are out there?”
“No idea. It could be hundreds more, or maybe just a couple. We won’t know until we find them.” Persona says.
“My dudes really are interesting. Are all universal constants like this?” Celestrian wonders.
Commander, sat on the sofas, hops over the back of them to land in the living room, then glances towards the corridor.
“Oh, good, Celestrian, you’re up. I’m gonna go prep the cake now - do you mind setting up the movie?”
Celestrian nods. “Yeah, no worries. Uh, Persona, do you want to help with the sound system? You come from a modern world, right?”
“Of course, not a problem.” Persona says, standing up.
Dragonborn chuckles to himself, and Sword looks at him.
“What’s so funny?”
“The movie starts soon.” Professor says. “The lights go down, the my dudes sit on and around the sofas… and under the cover of darkness, it’s not uncommon for several my dudes to disappear off to the bedrooms for... a bit of fun.”
“Every year it happens.” Dragonborn replies. “It just amuses me. Come, let’s get the good seats before the others take them.”
The my dudes in the corridor stand up and head for the living room, with Sword looking around in amusement. Dudecon is certainly not quite what he was expecting, but he’s having fun.
Barracks 09 - A Born Leader
The soldiers of Blue Moon, gathered in the barracks, are relaxing after a difficult battle. Despite the frost-ridden country they live in, the barracks are homely and warm, with radiators all around keeping it toasty. Dimitri, Boris and Ivan are seated at the biggest table, talking quietly; Eduard, Valentin and Leo are just walking in and decide to sit with them.
“You three were pretty good out there!” says Leo, gesturing to Dimitri. “Old hands, I guess?”
“Mm, you could say that. The name’s Dimitri.” he replies. He sits with the ease and confidence of a practised soldier, eyeing the nearby recruits and sizing them up at a glance. “I lead Olaf’s Mercenaries.”
“Olaf’s Mercenaries? Never heard of you.” Valentin says. “Is that a real division of the Blue Moon army?”
Dimitri shrugs. “It’s not an official squadron, no. You might recall, though, that Olaf served the ol’ Orange Star Army for a time; back in his youth, this is.”
Boris and Ivan, sitting nearby, turn to face the group. Ivan nods. “Yup, that’s right. And when Olaf defected back to his home country, several of his soldiers decided that they were more loyal to him than to their country, so they went with him.”
“That’s us.” Dimitri says. “We’ve been in this game a long time, so you should listen to us given half the chance. Alright?”
Valentin shrugs, yawning. “Eh, I suppose so. I don’t really have any complaints.”
Eduard, chewing on a toothpick, glares at the trio. “That’s a bit forward of you, isn’t it? Are you that desperate to have power over your new comrades?”
“No, he ain’t.” grunts Boris. “But he knows that it’s very easy for anyone to die out there. And since he’s very good at, you know, not dying, you’d do well to listen to ‘im. Get me?”
“OK, OK.” Leo replies, nodding. “We hear you.”
Dimitri stands up. “I mean, I’ve no real power, but I’ve led Olaf’s Mercenaries for a long time now and most of us are still alive. You can listen to me if you want, but at the end of the day, it’s your choice. Do what you like.”
He strides away, and Ivan sighs.
“What’s up with him?” asks Eduard.
“Well, you know how there’s only three of us?” Ivan says, and the others nod. “There were more. We got split up after… well, no reason to bring up the past. But all we want is to find our old squadmates and fight together once more.”
“You really have been in this game a long time.” murmurs Leo. “Welp, whatever. Guess we can replace your missing buddies for now. And hey, with any luck, they’ll join our division of the army as we fight Black Hole.”
“Yeah, that’s what we’re bankin’ on. Dimitri’s got a lot of wrongs to right, and I’m only here to make sure that he does so.” Boris replies darkly. “In the meantime, you guys seem like good soldiers. We should do well together.”
“Of course! We’re the proud soldiers of Blue Moon - we can’t lose!” Leo replies. He turns to Valentin, who seems to be dropping off. “Except him. He just sleeps and lazes around.”
“We’ll have to whip him into shape.” Ivan grins. “But hey, we’ve got some free time now, so may as well chill out for a bit. Dimitri will be back once he’s had some time to think, I’m sure. Anyone up for a card game?”
“You ever played Blue Moon Poker?” asks Eduard, getting out a pack of cards. “It’s kinda like regular poker but you put one card on your forehead…”
As he explains the game, the rest of the group take the time to relax, but some of them are still thinking on Boris’ words. What did Dimitri do that led to his squadron splitting up?