Part 26: Episode 25: In a Forest Far Far Away
Well Google Video took around 30 hours to process the tiny clips in today's update. It wasn't a huge problem since it took me a while to write everything up anyway. Still, future videos will probably be youtube or dailymotion.
Episode 25: In a Forest Far Far Away
Somewhere on the Surface of Democratus / Backup
Somehow I had gone from imminent explosive decompression to men in ridiculous armor shooting forest trolls. I'd say that was at least somewhat an improvement.
The troops brought me back to a makeshift camp in the middle of the forest.
One of them must have dropped this while carrying me in. It was far superior to my old cell.
As I started walking through the camp, I was greeted by another soldier wearing the same full body armor. He said, "Welcome to Doren. You should be safe from the Waugees here, ma'am."
Ma'am? I guess the deep south is still better than decompression. I started to walk away, but he just raised his voice as I turned my head and said, "This was a small mining camp before Walton made it a military compound. We used to mine Dorenium. You've never heard of Dorenium, huh? It's super-strong, ultra-durable, and oh-so pretty. The Ring-dwellers were building a battle cruiser for the Emperor. Our Dorenium was gonna provide the rib structure and outer hull. Blah blah blah. Boy, I'm just talking outta my butt, aren't I? Say, you wanna hang out after my shift is over? I know a secret path that's beautiful in the moonlight. Lemme know if you wanna go on that stroll later tonight. Mark's too paranoid to make good company."
Chuckling, I walked away, ignoring his further attempts at my attention.
Further down the path, I saw a soldier nervously pacing back and forth. He began complaining further about the Waugees and suddenly froze.
"They're everywhere. They've even learned my name. I hear them chanting it in the distance. They're out for me. Please help. I know they look harmless… but they KILL. They've already killed a dozen of us this month. My brother was patrolling on his bike when they killed him. They found him and his bike wrapped around a tree with a thick rope… both a charred mess. AARRGGGHHHHH!!! See that? They're taunting me! Did you hear that?"
It was odd. Why didn't the Waugee in the forest try to kill me? In fact it almost seemed scared of me, and well it should have. The furry bastards wouldn't be able to use their cuteness to escape my blade.
As I walked through the forest I pondered this question. I also reflected on how when the syllables in Waugee are reversed, it doesn't sound anything at all like Ewok.
My thoughts were disturbed by the distant sound of burning and shouting soldiers. "Man, I can't believe they took out the AB-AB. This was our most dangerous piece of hardware and the Waugees took I tout with a pair of logs. We suck," one said.
The other added, "I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. Man, she was so sweet. Everything was great until those little furry bastards showed up. Why did they have to ruin a perfectly good thing?"
I tried to stifle my laughter, but a chuckle somehow must have escaped because one of the guards turned to me and said, "Oh, excuse me. You might want to get inside, ma'am. The Waugees could be in the bushes, their little knives ready to stab you." And then quietly to himself, "I miss women."
I walked down the twisted forest path, knives drawn and prepared to eviscerate the next thing that crossed my path. The path opened up into a clearing where the Dorenians had built. The soldier on duty decided to try his hand at flirting. "Aren't you cold wearing those little scraps of clothing? What you need is body armor. Too bad we don't have any spare suits for you. Weird suits, huh? It's like this… we mine for Dorenium which only forms in the presences of red methane pockets deep underground. Due to lethal gas and intense tectonic pressure, only these environment suits allow us to survive the process. It was Walton's idea to keep them on full time as protection against the Waugees. Too bad we can't tell each other apart now. I haven't taken this sucker off in a week. Thank God for our internal sani-suck units. Sometimes, I wander deep into the forest and rip my suit off. Let it all hang loose, you know? I dance around wearing these special strap-on blade holders. It makes me feel like a free man. You oughta try it sometime."
Oh boy. It was still damp. There was no way this was coming anywhere near my skin without a thorough washing.
I was walking down the path, trying to figure out a way to keep the suit from contaminating the rest of my supplies. I asked this guy for help, but he preferred to rant about camp conditions.
"We're completely disorganized," he said, "Walton is trying to run a military operation with people who aren't soldiers. Listen to us act like military men. It's ridiculous. We're not soldiers, we're miners. I wish we would stop pretending we're something we're not. Walton was the bosser-man back when we were just hard-workin' miners. His military background became obvious once contact with the Ring-dwellers broke off. He played everyone against their fears, convincing us our way of life would be destroyed once anarchy broke out. Now he's got himself a third-rate army. Walton got himself kicked outta the military before he came to Doren. He doesn't talk about it much. We joke around about what he must have done to get kicked out. Not in front of his face though. That guy's got issues. I want these Waugees to go away so we can get back to doing what we do best: mine Dorenium."
This miner's sentiment was shared by many throughout the camp. Almost none of these miners enjoyed being soldiers, but Walton was a master at manipulating their fears.
A small minority actually enjoyed the suits, however.
One soldier told me, "Once I put this suit on, I become someone else. Someone strong. Confident. In control. It's like a second skin. A place I can hide. I'm not giving it back."
There were two paths. I was really thankful that the natives had provided me with a map or at least some inkling of where I was supposed to go instead of just dropping me off in their base and letting me run around. I decided to wander down the right path.
In the heart of the forest was what appeared to be their command center. Numerous guards patrolled the building. I spoke to one of the guards on duty. He said, "Good evening, ma'am. At ease. Can I get you anything?" I could immediately tell from his pompous manner that this was no ordinary guard. He continued, "I'm General Walton, commander-in-chief of this army. You must be the mercenary-for-hire that came out of the forest. You must be quite an experienced fighter to be traveling the woods on your own, especially at night. I hope you're feeling fit for duty because I have a job for you and it pays handsomely. Six months ago, all communication with the boys in the big brass ring above the planet suddenly stopped. When we hadn't heard from them in over a month, I assumed the worst. Fearing anarchy, I did the only thing a responsible leader would do… I declared a state of emergency and mobilized us for war. That's when the Waugees came. They kill my men. They eat our food. Those little bastards won't leave until all the food in this vicinity has been depleted. My men won't survive the winter. That's where you come in. Your mission is to proceed to Joyous Fern Valley and pick up the Waugee path. Follow the river along Slippery Rock Canyon, taking out any Waugees you encounter along the way. Once you reach The Great Tree, penetrate the queen's den of bodyguards and terminate her command. We're counting on you to save our camp. It's worth 12 bars of solid Dorenium to us. That's an entire month's output from our mines. You won't be able to find the path in the moonlight, so you should grab some rest now and leave in the morning. Visit the quartermaster when you're ready to retire for the evening. Thank you. You're our savior."
As I turned to walk to the barracks he called out, "I know there's dissension among the troops, but they judge me without understanding what I do. Their way of life has changed and they blame me. But it's the Waugees who are to blame. They must die."
He also told me that the barracks were down the other path at the fork.
The soldier on the ground was still twitching a bit. The other soldier, a bit shaken, said, "Our suits aren't very effective against the spears and rocks the Waugees throw at us. The helmets make nice drums though. Poor Aaron. He was telling me he felt like he could take on the whole Waugee tribe himself….Then a rock him 'em in the head."
Nearby the twitching body of Aaron was the barracks. The quartermaster extended his hospitality and offered me a bunk.
These oughta keep the guys away during the night.
More Dreams / Backup
The dream had brought back to mind the hate that I had channeled to survive this long. I almost pitied the Waugees for the pain I was about to bring down.
A pair of Waugees jumped me.
I'm glad that Stargent decided to add sparklers to their bladerangs. It really sets them a notch above the competitors.
By the time I found the Waugee Moss, my clothes and blade were stained with the blood of a thousand furries.
I penetrated deeper and deeper into their domain.
This must be their "Great Tree."
I giant Queen Waugee emerged from the tree.
Out of the houses from the sides of the tree came reinforcements for the Queen.
She attacked with a devastating ass-first lunge.
I threw all of my bladerangs, MysTech, and knives at the little creeps.
Wait a second…what are they doing….
A catapult? But there's nothing in the sling.
The battle raged on, but the even the Waugeepult wasn't enough to give them an edge. The Queen's lifeless body ragdolled on the bridge.
But I had to make sure.
Really really sure.
Ok those last ones were just for fun.
Back in the camp, the mood was generally jovial. The miners really wanted to stop playing soldier. Some, like the creep who asked me out when I first entered the camp, were sullen.
"You never took that walk with me last night," he complained, "…No, that's cool. I'm sure you were tired or something. No, really… I'm okay. I understand how it is. I ain't crying under here or anything. Tease. 'Please'. I said, 'Please'. Listen, I gotta get back to work here. Thanks for saving us."
Paranoid Mark was also relatively normal. He said, "Thanks for killing all the Waugees. Now I realize it wasn't the Waugees that have been stalking me. I think they're tree spririts. Heartbreaker."
The bladesuit donor seemed a little down, too.
"Thanks for ripping those fur balls a new one. I was about to strip off this helmet for a breath of fresh air when Walton announced we're still in a state of emergency until we become self-sufficient. Guess it'll be another few months before I can frolic naked in the sun. Thanks anyway though."
Another guard said, "Thanks for killin' all them Waugees. Are you single?"
Alright, it was time to get to Walton, get my pay, and get out of this place.
Walton was delighted to see me. By killing the queen Waugee I had allowed mining operations to return to normal while he still remained in control. In fact, he seemed more determined than ever to mobilize his troops.
"Everyone thought the destruction of the Waugees would mean we could kick our feet up and have a party. But the Waugees were the least of our worries. Without the organizational structure of the Ring-dwellers to guide us, there will be planet-wide anarchy. This is how dictators come to power. The strongest gang survives. If the Waugees can wreak so much havoc, what could a well-organized army do? We need time to prepare ourselves. Your work here is finished. Here are the 12 bars of Dorenium I promised. You earned every penny of it."
As we finished talking, another soldier reported that a ship had landed nearby. I went to investigate, hoping it could carry me far, far away from here.
End: Next Episode we'll go back to Whitendon where boots will track down the feral child that can climb trees that has been kidnapping the village's population.