Part 26: Interview 13 BonusDudecon 13 - The End of the Bet
As the my dudes in the living room begin playing a few rounds of poker, Commander pops up from behind one of the sofas and waves at Summoner.
“Hey, Summoner! Need to chat to you!”
“Urgh, can’t it wait? I’m playing poker.”
“I’ll take over for you.” offers Celestrian, who is walking over to the coffee table with Dragonborn.
“Dragonborn! Celestrian! Come join us - I’m well practised at poker and I want some more competition.” Luminary says.
Summoner relents, and hands his cards over to Celestrian. Hell deals some more cards for Dragonborn, who sits at the table with the rest of the group. Summoner walks over to Commander and looks at him expectantly. “Yes?”
Commander glances around. “Well… I was going to settle that bet with you, but Persona appears to be absent…”
Then, almost simultaneously, Commander and Summoner spot Persona and Dudette sneaking into one of the bedrooms, looking quite drunk and very rowdy. The door closes shortly afterwards, and for a good few moments, neither my dude speaks.
“Well, it’s midnight, and I held my drink.” Summoner says, still staring at the bedroom door. “Fifty.”
Commander continues staring at the door as he passes Summoner fifty. “Yeah. Hey, do you wanna play poker and forget what we just saw?”
“Yeah. Persona... with her? Really? Right after we did it just a few hours earlier?”
“Best not to think about it.” Commander says, and he seats himself on the sofa. “Alright, our bet is settled. Deal us in, will you?”
After a few rounds, Twee, Scout and Breed exit the kitchen and begin to head to the door. Twee waves at the group.
Commander looks up, and breathes a fake sigh of relief at everyone, causing them to chuckle. “Thank god, I thought that jokester would never leave.”
He stands up and salutes casually.
“Alright, guys! Thanks for coming!”
“W-wait! You’re leaving?” asks Hell.
Scout looks at him, nodding. “Yeah, we’ve got places to be. It’s kinda late.”
“What did you need?” asks Breed.
Hell stands up. “I, uh… had a bit of an outburst at Twee earlier. I wanted to apologise for that.”
Breed and Scout, having said their goodbyes, head to the exit, but Twee remains, waiting as Hell disappears to the kitchen. Hell comes back moments later with a drink in his hand; the rest of the my dudes have gone back to the poker game for the time being.
“Let me walk you out; I might head back now as well.” Hell says. “I just… yeah, I got a bit angry about the whole drink spiking thing. I guess I just didn’t expect someone to be so…”
As they exit into the courtyard, Hell notes that Scout and Breed have already gone through their respective portals to go to their home universe. He glances at Twee.
“Malicious?” Twee says, grinning. “Oh, don’t you worry, friend. I get it. Tell you what, next year, I’ll be sure not to spike your drinks.”
Hell holds out the drink - it’s a glass of special brew, fresh from the fridge. “Sounds good. Take this, and have a safe journey back.”
Back inside, Commander looks up.
“Hm. Looks like Hell has cleared off, too. I can’t blame them, it is getting pretty late. I hope they had fun at their first Dudecon though!”
“I’m sure they did.” Celestrian says. “There’s not many of us left, it seems. Once this game’s gone on for a bit longer, shall we watch another movie?”
“Yeah, sounds good. But I’m not quitting this game until I win back everything I lost from Dragonborn!” Luminary says, staring at his cards, and his rival, intently.
“Alright, alright. Let’s go another round then. Hm… two in.”
As midnight transitions to the early hours, and the my dudes begin to get more and more tired, it comes as no surprise that they end up traipsing off to the empty bedrooms, sofas and chairs in order to sleep rather than watching another film. By 1 in the morning, the entire sub-dimension is dark and quiet, with the remaining my dudes resting gently, completely unaware that a murder was committed in their midst.
Barracks 13 - Over a Glass of Whiskey
Mikhail looks up as a woman walks over to his table in the barracks room, holding a bottle of whiskey and two glasses. She offers them to him.
“Olga, as I live and breathe.”
“Mikhail.” she replies, grinning. “We’ve not been deployed together for so long that I thought you’d kicked the bucket.”
“Please. You think I’d let myself die before you?” Mikhail chuckles, pouring himself a glass. Olga laughs too, but it’s the hollow laugh of someone who knows that they’re lucky to be alive.
“So here we are again. Deployed with a group of youngsters.” she murmurs. “What do you make of them, Mikhail?”
“They’re good. Plenty of them are experienced, and those that aren’t… well, they’re learning quickly.”
“Mm. I’m looking forward to working alongside them. The young make me feel younger, you know?”
Mikhail nods. “I know what you mean. I just hope we get through this campaign safely.”
Olga downs the last of her whiskey and puts the glass down with such force that Mikhail is shocked out of his reverie. He turns around as Olga gives him a serious look. “Or, at the very least, if some soldiers must fall: let it be us.”
“Yeah. We’ve already lived long lives in soldiers’ terms. They’ve still got so much to do.”
This comment causes Olga to pause.
“What would you do? I mean, if we finished this campaign and quit the army life. Where would you go?”
“Me?” Mikhail says. He’s never considered the question; he has served most of his life. “I… don’t know. What about you?”
“I’d move into the countryside. Find somewhere nice and breezy, maybe get a cat. A wife or a husband would just be an annoyance.”
Mikhail nods. “Sounds good to me. I’d prefer to stay in the city, I think. I could get a gig delivering pizza or something. Sounds much less life-and-death than this job.”
They fall silent for a few moments. They both know that they would never give up the military life. Olga’s eye spots Mark and Ludmilla leaving the barracks room, and she grins.
“Pizza, huh? I could see you doing that.”
Outside, Ludmilla turns around to see Mark behind her.
“Hey!” he says forcefully. Ludmilla eyes him with dispassion.
“What is it about me? Is it because I’m not conventionally attractive enough for you? Am I the ugliest guy in the barracks, or what?”
“No, that’s not-” Ludmilla growls, but he interrupts her.
“You women are all the same! Going after the hottest guys, even when they’re stupid jerks and there’s perfectly nice guys lik-”
“No, you see!” Ludmilla says shrilly, shocking Mark into silence for a moment. “That right there - that is my problem with you, Mark! You think you’re a nice guy, but your personality is abhorrent. Perhaps if you took a quick reality check, pal, you’d realise that the other guys in the barracks are genuinely nice guys, and that’s why I like spending time with them. You, on the other hand? I get major incel vibes from you, and I don’t like it one bit.”
This outburst leaves Mark somewhat lost for words.
“Yes, personality. If you can’t convince a gal to fuck with your nice personality, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself ‘am I really as nice as I think I am?’ Because harassing girls, demanding sex and denigrating your comrades doesn’t sound like nice behaviour to me, and I’ve had enough of it!”
Mark stares at Ludmilla, shellshocked. Without waiting for a response, she turns around and walks away, muttering to herself.
“God, I was gonna hang out with Zlata and see how she and Dimmy are getting on, and now I am just absolutely not in the mood. Urgh… I’m just gonna go to bed.”