Part 24: Interview 12 BonusDudecon 12 - Parting with the Prince
With Dudette and Persona drinking in the kitchen, and Scout, Breed and Twee conversing in the living room behind the sofa, Commander ends up speaking with Joker. Unfortunately, Joker ends up excusing himself to go the bathroom, leaving Commander on his own, at which point he notices a conversation taking place near the hallway to the entry hall.
“Hey there, gents. What’s going on?”
Dragonborn, Celestrian and Prince look at him, and Prince sighs.
“Ah, sorry, Commander. It’s getting kinda late now, so I’m gonna head home. I didn’t want to be the first to leave, but… looks like I am.”
“Oh, I see.” Commander says. He grins. “Not to worry, Prince, it was great having you here. Safe travels back, alright?”
“We’ll see you next year, young prince of Alberia.” Dragonborn rumbles. “Until then, keep yourself well, and slay all evil that crosses your path.”
“Yeah, thanks for coming!”
“Thank you all.” Prince says. “This night really is the best night of the year…”
“Definitely.” Commander agrees. Without further ado, Prince heads for the exit, on his way to the front porch to head back to his own universe. Commander glances at the other two my dudes with him.
“Well, someone had to be the first to leave. And I suppose it is getting late now.”
“Ah, the party has barely begun. We drink until the early hours where I come from!” Dragonborn says, chuckling heartily.
“There are only four bedrooms though, so we will have to kick most my dudes out at some point. Does anybody have dibs on those rooms?” asks Celestrian.
“Not particularly.” Commander replies. “I need one, you need one and Dudette needs one, since we’ll be doing the tidying up tomorrow… the last one is free, I guess?”
“Well, we can decide who gets that room later on.” says Dragonborn. “For now, let us replenish our drinks. My tankard is looking awfully empty…”
Celestrian chides him good-naturedly as they walk to the kitchen. “How many pints does one full tankard hold, anyway, about seven?”
“Don’t be ridiculous! ...It’s clearly eight.”
“Hah! That’d be so dumb; can you imagine a flagon that can hold eight pints of special brew?”
On the sofa, Luminary and Summoner are conversing at one end whilst Hell, Sword and Tactician chat at the other end.
“So, you two. This is your first Dudecon, right? How are you enjoying it?” asks Tactician.
“It’s… definitely unique.” Hell says. “I can’t say I’m impressed by the fact that every other my dude seems to have a better universe than I do. I’d take any of them over mine.”
“As for me, it’s opened my eyes.” Sword says, leaning back on the sofa. “There are so many different my dudes, and they all grew up in totally different universes to me. I still can’t quite believe it. When I got that invitation… I never realised that I was part of such a strange group.”
“Being a universal constant is definitely a unique thing.” Tactician agrees, nodding. “Hell, even if your own world is full of suffering and death, at least you have one night off per year, right?”
“One night that gets ruined by Twee’s stupid pranks.” says Hell, sighing. “I dunno. I’m just not enthused by all this.”
“And that’s OK.” Tactician says.
Sword nods, placing a hand on Hell’s shoulder. “I mean, it’s been fun so far, and Twee’s not ruined everything - besides that little stunt during the film. If you ever want to visit my universe, you’re welcome to. I’m sure you’d get on well with my friend Marnie!”
“Maybe.” says Hell.
The trio continue chatting, but they overhear a strange conversation between Luminary and Summoner, sparked by Luminary tugging at Summoner’s hood.
“Come on, just take it off. I took my hood off, I wanna see if we look the same.”
“Of course we do! Ngh- get off- we’re all my dudes, we’re all virtually identical!”
“Do you think we all look alike, though?” Luminary says, letting go of Summoner’s hood. “Alike enough that we could pass for one another?”
“Probably? If you wore my summoner’s coat you’d look exactly like me, Luminary.”
“And if you grew out your hair a little, you’d look like me. I wonder if a my dude has ever tried that.”
“Why would you?” replies Summoner, shrugging. He checks his watch.
“True, I suppose…”
“Hey, you two. Refills?” Tactician says, gesturing to the drinks on the coffee tables. Luminary nods.
“That sounds good. Got a deck of cards or something, Tactician?”
“I do.” Summoner says. “Clear some space on that table, Sword, and let’s play some poker.”
“Aw, I was gonna suggest a different game.” Sword replies as he goes to clear the table. Tactician begins pouring out more drinks for the group, aided by Hell. “Though I guess you guys don’t own any Pokémon trading cards…”
Summoner smirks. “No, we don’t, ‘cause we’re not fuckin’ nerds.”
Barracks 12 - Fated Encounter
“Oh my god, oh my god, keep it together… hmph. Haah… haah… I can’t…”
Zlata continues muttering as she follows Diana through the barracks, on the way to the main room, where Dimitri usually spends his time. Diana sighs, unable to take it any more.
“Alright, sheesh. Cut it out.” she says.
Zlata nods. “Ah! Sorry. I’m just so nervous.”
“Nothing to be nervous about. He’s not even worth your time.” Diana says, spitting.
“What happened between you two?”
Diana falls silent for a moment as she considers the question. “...I was part of Olaf’s Mercenaries. There were seven of us, led by Wanda.”
“Probably not familiar with the name.” muttered Diana. “She was the mastermind behind the Mercenaries. That said… she wasn’t to everyone’s taste.”
Zlata nods. “Dimitri?”
Diana slows down as they reach the door to the main room, and they stop outside it so she can finish her story. She nods back at Zlata.
“Yeah. She and Dimitri fought quite often, disagreed on battle strategies. Wanda was aggressive, whereas Dimitri focussed more on
preserving the life of his troops. We were young and bloodthirsty, though, so we mostly supported Wanda. Then…”
Diana takes a deep breath.
“Dimitri and Wanda got sent on a simple scouting mission in the Alara region of Orange Star. Unfortunately they were jumped by a couple of Orange Star troops and defeated.”
“No!” gasps Zlata.
“Yes.” says Diana grimly. “Wanda died of her wounds, whereas Dimitri survived thanks to a quick application of a gauze. He assumed leadership of Olaf’s Mercenaries following her death, but it wasn’t that easy.”
“We knew he didn’t like her method of warfaring. They were the only two soldiers on that mission, and… Wanda was the one who had the medical kit. We couldn’t help but suspect foul play. Just to damn himself even further, he wouldn’t tell us what really happened out there, all but confirming that we were right, and he had let Wanda die.”
“No…” murmurs Zlata. “Dimitri did that..? But he… he seemed so kind at military academy…”
Diana opens the door and begins to walk towards Dimitri.
“That’s why the Mercenaries split up, and that’s why he’s trying to bring ‘em back together. But hey, believe what you like. Don’t let it spoil your view of him. Just… don’t trust him with everything you got.”
“R-right…” says Zlata as she follows Diana, who sits opposite Dimitri at his table. She jerks a single finger at Zlata, and Dimitri looks up at her. Zlata fiddles with the wrench in her hands, trying to stay calm.
“This is a surprise.” Dimitri says. “I thought you’d never speak to me again.”
“I’m here on her behalf. She’s got some work on the new Neotanks to do, and needs a strongman to carry her goods. Don’t you?”
“I do? Uh- I mean, yes! I do! Could you, um…?” Zlata says lamely.
Dimitri nods. “Ah, I see.”
Standing up to his full and impressive height, he extends a hand towards Zlata. “I’m Dimitri. I recognise you - you were in the medium tank in today’s battle, weren’t you?”
“Y-yes!” Zlata says, nodding and shaking Dimitri’s hand excitedly. “That was me, I’m Zlata.”
“You fought well under fire.” Dimitri says. “Are we going to the ol’ manufacturing area, then?”
“Sure! Let’s get going.” Zlata says. She leads Dimitri out of the room, and Diana watches them go, listening to the last few snatches of their conversation.
“Do I know you from somewhere? I swear I recognise you.”
“We, um, went to military academy together. Remember?”
“Oh, hm… perhaps? Were you a few years below me?”
“Uh, yes, I was, but I remember really, um, admiring you…”
“How flattering. I do seem to remember you now, yes.”
The door closes as the pair leave, deep in conversation, and for a moment, Diana feels a brief glint of happiness. She spots an unattended drink nearby and downs half of it, then leans back with a sigh of appreciation.
“Well, that’s my good deed for the year.” she says to herself. “Hopefully he doesn’t lie to her like he did to us…”