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Caitlin and the Dark Side (They Do Not Have Cookies)

by on April 21, 2011

Author’s Note: This story was written for Prompt Number Sixteen of the Chrysalis Experiment. For previous episodes in the Caitlin Chronicles, go here. Enjoy!

Princess Caitlin was not in a good mood. She had happily passed the first of the three tests she needed to pass in order to defeat Evil Susan and escape Character Hell, but in the process she had been forced to listen to “Friday” three hundred forty-seven million and one times. Even now she could still hear the words pounding on and on in the back of her mind. I got this, you got this, my friend is by my right, ay!  Her left eye still hadn’t stopped twitching. Caitlin wondered if she would carry that nervous tic to the end of her days, then she remembered that technically she’d already died twice, and she could very well lose her challenge to Susan and get trapped in Character Hell forever, so the end of her days might not be all that far away. Being a story character was more confusing than time travel, Caitlin reflected. She wondered idly, as she marched along behind Susan, whether she was the heroine or the villain. Or perhaps an antihero? Quietly she whispered a prayer to her author that she might a) be the heroine and b) get set up with a nice fellow protagonist, preferably someone who wouldn’t get killed off later in order to add an element of tragedy to her story. As she’d already lost her mother, Queen Maralyn, and served a short stint as a zombie penguin, she’d had quite enough elements of tragedy, thank you.

“Right, here we go,” Susan said, as they stopped before another wooden door. “Behind this door is your second challenge. You might enjoy this one. Your task is to find Charles and defeat him again.”

For the first time in a while, Caitlin smiled. “Charles. I was just beginning to miss him. Why am I not surprised that he landed down here? So all I have to do is find him and kill him again? Easy.”

“That’s what you thought about Friday,” Susan replied tartly.

Caitlin couldn’t stop herself from giving a little shudder. Fun fun fun fun…. that unhappy thought gave her pause. She had indeed underestimated the difficulty of the last test; suppose she was underestimating this one? “When you say ‘find’ him…” she began, “how exactly has he gone missing?”

Instead of answering, Susan pushed the door open. Caitlin stepped through with only a flicker of hesitation, and then gasped. Before her stretched a plain that ran all the way to the horizon and beyond, absolutely flat, completely treeless, and swarming with uncountable hordes of fighters. Men, women, elves, dwarves, giant animals, and a host of creatures Caitlin couldn’t even identify: all were busily whacking at each other with a bewildering variety of weapons. A cacophony of sound swelled to her ears: cracks, clangs, booms, snaps, battle cries, and some sounds she couldn’t place. The whole scene was filmed over in a red haze, and the ground was wet with blood. Caitlin was no stranger to battle, but this…this was something beyond her ken. “What…” she whispered.

“This is the Plain of Minions,” Susan announced. “You’ve probably read lots of stories where the hero cuts his way through various random guards or lieutenants before he finally reaches the villain. Did you ever wonder where those people went when they died? They rarely qualified for Character Heaven, yet they weren’t quite bad enough for a proper punishment down here. So I set up this place. Every minion comes here, where they get to fight it out with each other to my heart’s content. So to speak. I think it’s quite ironic, really. But I digress.Your friend Charles is down there. Find him and dispatch him again, and then we can move right along to the last test.”

Caitlin sighed. “And won’t that be fun.” She took up her sword and advanced out into the plain. Caitlin had no illusions; she despaired of ever finding Charles in all that sea of minioninity. But she didn’t have anything else to do and besides, it was better than “Friday”. Not that the bar was set all that high to begin with…

The princess dispatched the first two minions she met with ease; they were small metal creatures that beeped and wirped like mad things, and quite vulnerable to a good hearty whack with a sword. Caitlin had never seen robots before,  so she had no idea what she had just killed off. The next minion, however, was someone very different. He stood tall and ominous, cloaked in black, holding a plastic cylinder. He had apparently just killed a minion from a medieval story, whose impressive-looking battleaxe had nonetheless been reduced to splinters. “You there,” Caitlin called, shifting into a battle-ready stance. “I don’t suppose you’ve seen a man named Charles, by any chance?”

The minion rolled his eyes. “Put that thing away, will you, you witless whelp. I’m not going to fight you.”

“Oh.” Caitlin didn’t much care for the insult, but at least he seemed relatively cooperative. “Well, then…my question still stands. Have you seen-”

“I’m not going to help you either. I’d really rather you just went away. Every second you spend talking to me is an inexcusable waste of good air.”

“Okay, first off, you’re in Character Hell. Air doesn’t really enter into the equation anymore. Secondly, what did I ever do to you?”

The man rolled his eyes again and gave a sigh of utter contempt. “I see I’m going to have to explain myself. Very well; I shall go slowly, and use little words, so that you will be sure to understand. You are a woman.”

“Do tell. I’m curious; did you just now figure that out, or have you known all along and couldn’t find the right way to tell me?”

“As I was going to say, you are a woman, and therefore, on my personal scale of usefulness, you rank about two points lower than the waste disposal bin in my old ship’s mess hall. At least the bin kept quiet when you were done with it.”

Caitlin’s voice went very quiet. Only those who knew her well (Colin the Mime-Assassin, for example) would have known how truly upset and furious she was. “So. I’m comparable to a waste disposal bin, am I?”

“No, actually, I said I put the waste disposal bin two points higher than you. I believe the list goes “waste disposal bins, rancor-pooper-scoopers, and then you. You being representative of your irrational female species.”

To quote Rebecca Dew, (a person Caitlin naturally wouldn’t have known about, but whose candor she certainly would have appreciated), that really was the last straw. Caitlin flew forward, her sword flashing. Unfortunately, she wasn’t facing any ordinary minion. The man quickly did something to the black cylinder he held, and a beam of red light shot out with a loud vssssh. He flicked it through the air in a rapid slice, and the red blade of his lightsaber cut right through Caitlin’s metal sword. Her blade clattered to the ground, and she stood there, unarmed, but still very, very ticked off. The Sith apprentice (who’d never actually gotten a name, having been just a mere random Sith in one of the Expanded Universe Star Wars stories), then committed one of the worst mistakes a villain can make. He assumed that since he’d disarmed her, she was no longer a threat. And so, he deactivated his lightsaber, made a sarcastic salute, and started to walk away. He felt a slight tap on his shoulder, and turned back around with an irritated huff. “Oh, what is it n-” His face contorted into an expression of pure agony. Caitlin’s boot had just slammed in a perfect kick right into a fairly delicate place. “Ow ow ow ow ow OOH THAT HURTS…” he squeaked, crumpling to the ground.

“Whiner,” Caitlin said, stepping dismissively over him and relieving him of his lightsaber. She hefted it experimentally, found the activation button, and gasped as the blade vsshed out again. She made a few cautious swipes; the blade danced lightly through the air with a loud bmmmm vmmm vmm bmmmm. “Interesting,” Caitlin said to herself. “I like it!”

The Sith minion, cowering in the dirt, chirped something unintelligible, which Caitlin interpreted as the usual cliched request to finish him off and let him retain his honor. She started to say, “You’re not worth it,” as heroines were wont to do. But, as her hand held tightly to the red lightsaber, she felt a sudden wave of emotion. Emotion…and something else. Something dark, and blazing, something that crackled with raw power. Her eyes shone with a pale yellow light. When she spoke, her voice seemed at least a full octave lower. “Do you think I’m just a waste bin now?” 

The red lightsaber flashed forward. The Sith minion tumbled apart in pieces. Then Caitlin spun and hurled herself at the next group of minions, cutting through them like a paper shredder cuts through paper. Far behind her, Susan watched the princess’s wild attack and hummed softly to herself. “Dum dum dum, dum de doo, dum de doo….”

  1. Thanks for the awesome ride!

  2. Oooh, a Sith minion! 😀

    This was my favourite:

    “…where they get to fight it out with each other to my heart’s content.”

    First zombie penguins, now she’s turning into an evil possessed Star Wars dude? hehe

    • Let’s just say it’s not Caitlin’s best day ever, to borrow a Firefly phrase. 😛

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