Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Day Six-Forty-Seven: Reporting for duty

"Request permission to enter the city! Sir!"

I saluted. 

The officer blinked. "You have to be kidding me. You're a kid."

I returned the blink, assuming it might be a part of military decorum. "I am not. I am a member of the imperial armed forces. I request permission to enter the city with my two subordinates. My uniform is official. See? Look at the buttons."

The officer, flanked by a pair of soldiers who looked equally incredulous, removed his helmet and scratched his dry scalp. Tiny flakes of green tumbled onto his shoulders. I considered recommending a good shampoo, but I doubt commoners have access to shampoo. Nor do they care. I envy them.

"It's official if you're goin' to a party." The officer, commander of one of the shady side entrances into Rodentia, smiled. "That's okay. You're playing with your daddy's dress uniform, or something. I can tolerate that. Not a smooth idea, nor a crime, but it's a bad time to do this, little girl. We're under lockdown. Why don't you take you 'subordinates' and go home, eh? Come back and tell us if you see the sloth."

I ignored most of his statement and looked at the dolls in my hands. They wore nicely-stitched cloth armour. I'd made them myself. "My subordinates insist I proceed into the city, I'm afraid. I must listen to my subordinates."

The other two guards chuckled. Their officer knocked them smartly on their breastplates to shut them up. "Actually, sweetheart, it's the other way around. They have to listen to you. Privilege of rank. You're an officer, too, I guess?"

I saluted again, pressing one of the dolls to my temple. "Yes! One day I shall be a general! And then a judge! Perhaps simultaneously!"

The officer applauded politely. "Bold ambitions, little one. And you'd best go home so you can see them through. C'mon, now, get back to your house."

"But I am a ranking member of the imperial armed forces -"

"We don't use the word 'imperial', girl." The officer was on his feet and scooting me away. "We're not an empire. Better get that straight if you're gonna join the military one day."

"Ohhhh." I allowed the officer to push me a few feet away. "I will have to remember that for next time. Thank you!"

I whipped around quickly enough that the officer's smile was still on his face, though by the time I had my hands on his head it was curling into a surprised frown. Launching upward, I planted my knee into his nose with as much force as my dancing legs could muster. The metal knee brace beneath my pants probably helped break his nose. He went down -

- and so did his two guards, as Logan and the lesbian used my distraction to sneak up behind them and incapacitate them. Logan planted a paralysis needle into the neck of one with his blowgun; I believe the lesbian thwacked the other in the back of the head with a light mace. Both fell into the snow.

I kicked the officer in the head once more for good measure. "You have illegally detained a foreign dignitary! Justice has rained down upon your head! Don't do it again!"

Stripping one of the soldiers of his armour, Logan cocked his head at me. "'Foreign dignitary'? The hell's that mean?"

"Dad, of course." I booted the officer one last time. "He's a king."

"He's not anymore, Celine."

"He's a king in exile!"

"No dignity in that."

"No one said dignitaries have to be dignified," I shot back. "Have you never met Mud? He's a dignitary. A mayor! He fouls his breeches all the time! There is no dignity in uri-"

"Will you shut up?" The lesbian hissed at us both. She breathed in deep as she strapped a male-fitted piece of armour over her breasts. I dare hope I never grow a substantial pair of those. "Hurry! We have to get these clods tied up and shoved in a barn! Pronto-vamoose-NOW!"

And that is how we entered Rodentia.

The city reminds me of Trademore: fiercely urban, overcrowded, filled with mud and advertisements and the smell of fudge tapioca. Yet it's also tense, a place where bravado was murdered by fear, and there's insecurity in every footstep. These people, these soldiers, these city folk, they all know there's a predator on the loose. 

Our next step is to find Mud. He is here, somewhere, with his luckless entourage. I dare hope we will not have to look too far - I abhor the smell of fudge tapioca. It makes me desirous of a good, walloping vomit.

Sincerely, and burning brighter than a star filled with coruscus diamonds,

Celine the Magnificent


  1. Second full paragraph - the officer removed his head? That's a neat trick.

    1. And my girlfriend says I need an editor. Thanks.