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Ermingard’s Future Isn’t Bright (So She Doesn’t Have to Wear Shades)

by on March 17, 2012

Last time, in the Catrina Chronicles, the story had gone on a tangent that has nothing to do with the actual plot. So, actually, we need to go back to the episode before last, in which Ermingard had just arrived right in the middle of the Spork Brigade…

“Oh dear,” said Ermingard. The artistic part in her couldn’t help noticing the nice effect the shining points of the spork-arrows had as they clustered about her, their light glinting off the dark armor of the soldiers like a miniature constellation…and then the pragmatic part of her butted in and reminded Ermingard that all those shiny points were not just shiny but deadly, and they were every one of them intended to stab into her. Under the circumstances, Ermingard took her predicament rather well. “Look,” she said, “I mean you no harm. I’m just trying to get the Golden Spleen for a friend. Well, she’s not a friend exactly, although I suppose since she did wake me up from-”

“You’re after the Golden Spleen?” the officer who had confronted her said. “But the Spleen is miles and miles away from here in the Queen’s Museum. I do hope you’re not one of those treasure-hunters trying to steal the Spleen and sell it on the black market, are you?”

“Not exactly,” said Ermingard. “I don’t want to sell it, I just need to, er, borrow it for a while. My sort-of-friend, Catrina, she’s got overwhelming post-”

But Ermingard’s sentence was once more interrupted, as the officer and all the other soldiers gasped. “Catrina? The Catrina? You knew her?”

Ermingard’s mouth fell open. “You know her? Honestly. Is there anyone in this whole blasted story who doesn’t know Catrina?”

“Of course we know Catrina, sure as my name is Burnside C. Nightingale!” the officer said. “Here in the 42nd Century, her name is legendary, and her doings are the stuff of-”

“Wait.” Ermingard said, now interrupting sentences herself. “Go back a bit. What century did you say?”

“42nd,” Burnside said. “The year 4193, specifically.”

Ermingard suddenly felt a bit dizzy. “But…but I was just in the 12th Century. 1131, I think. How did I jump forward by thirty thousand years?”

“I expect it was because of that hovercraft you came in,” Burnside said. “I’m rather interested to know how it works. Our scientists have been researching time travel, but no one’s ever managed to achieve it.”

But Ermingard couldn’t answer his question any more than the author could, because, hey, it’s a time-traveling hovercraft. What more does one need to know? This isn’t a physics exposition. Blimey. Moving on, Ermingard had a few questions of her own. “If this is the 42nd century, shouldn’t you have all sorts of advanced technology? Flashy things and shiny things and weapons that go bloop and clothes in odd patterns that don’t really look comfortable?”

“Well, that’s rather a long story,” Burnside said. He gestured to his soldiers to lower their spork-bows, convinced at last that Ermingard wasn’t a threat. She had used the word bloop, after all, which is always a sign that you can trust someone. Plus, she was a friend of Catrina. He didn’t know that Ermingard was really beginning to resent her apparently legendary princess companion. “You see, there was a time when our people did have all sorts of advanced technology. We had communication devices that allowed us to speak instantly to anyone we liked, even if they were on the other side of the planet. We had little metal things called iPhones that we could play games on and do math with and make snarky comments about cats on. We could control the temperature of our houses simply by pressing a button, we could flush toilets automatically, we could set clocks to wake ourselves up at five in the morning. It was glorious.”

“How did it end?” Ermingard asked quietly.

Burnside let out a long sigh. “Well, from what our records say, there was this game everyone played. It was called Farmville. It wasn’t an actual farm; it was a simulation of one. You raised simulated cows on simulated pastures, and kept them in simulated barns. It was all very fun, but soon so many people were playing it that they all decided they wanted to work on a real farm. And so the Farmville Revolution began. Our records are sketchy at this point; we do know the revolution began on a Friday, which was regarded as an auspicious day back then, because everybody was looking forward to the weekend, and getting down on Friday, and so on. Beyond that, however, the records say little. Only that the Farmville Revolution wiped out all technology and knocked the whole world back to medieval times. We’ve never been able to retrieve what we lost.”

“Sucks for you,” Ermingard said. “Speaking as a member of the medieval time period, I don’t think it’s all that bad. At any rate, I know I’m going to regret asking this, but how is it you know Catrina?”

“Because of the legend,” Burnside replied, his face lighting up in awe. “Not to mention the prophecy!”

“The what?”

“I’ll have to show you.”

He led her out of the parade ground and into the nearby castle. Inside, after going through a series of drafty rooms, they arrived at the library. Bookshelves rose to the ceiling all about them. Ermingard’s fingers twitched; she would very much liked to get at those books. Just to think of all the history and poetry contained there, the poems of thirty thousand years….but Burnside was moving quickly on to the back of the library. Ermingard followed, rounded a corner, and then stopped short in amazement and growing irritation. There, mounted on a wall, was a gigantic portrait of Catrina. It wasn’t completely accurate; her eyes were green, not grey, and her birthmark was on the back of her neck and shaped like Newfoundland, not on her left shoulder and shaped like Walloonia. Still, it was Catrina, alright, and she had that same coy half-smile she usually wore before laying down a righteous whoopin’ on her enemies. Ermingard made a sort of choking noise. “A portrait. She gets a portrait. Wonderful.”

“And a prophecy,” Burnside pointed out reverently. “It is said that she saved the universe multiple times, and that because of this, she is the only one worthy enough to wield the Sporksaber, an elegant weapon, for a more civ-”

That did it. Ermingard had been supposed to be a quiet, blase sort of character, but now she flew into a really genuine rage. “Of course!” Ermingard snapped. “Of course she’s the only one worthy to wield the whatever-it-is! Of course, because she’s the heroine, and she defeats Susan, and she saves the world, and she gets her own Chronicles and everything. What am I, a duck? I mean, I’m not complaining. But this is supposed to be my own story, my own adventure! This isn’t supposed to be an appendix to another grand escapade by Her Stuck-uppyness Catrina! She can’t possibly be the only one who can sling around a sword, can she?” Ermingard rounded furiously upon the taken back Burnside. “Has anyone else even tried to wield the watchamacallit?”

“Sporksaber,” Burnside corrected. “And no. No one ever has. It’s rested untouched in the Queen’s Museum all this time. Because the prophecy-”

“Hang the prophecy!” Ermingard said. “I’m going to the museum, I’m going to wield the Sporksaber, and for once, just once, I’m going to do something heroic, not her!” With that, she stormed out of the library, her blonde hair flying out in a flounce behind her head. She marched down the succession of drafty rooms, and was well out into the parade ground again before Burnside caught up with her.

“There’s just one little problem,” he said. “You can’t exactly get to the Museum. At least, not easily. Not from here.”

“And why not?” Ermingard huffed. “Would you please explain to me why not?”

Instead of answering, Burnside pointed up to the wall surrounding the outer border of the parade ground. Ermingard ran to the corner steps and climbed up. She reached the top of the wall and looked out, and her mouth dropped open again. There, spreading out before her, was a vast field of trenches, craters, and innumerable little fires burning steadily. Beyond that scene of wartorn devastation was an even broader scene: a vast horde of creatures, clacking their myriad beaks and squawking in ominous unison. “Are those…” Ermingard asked.

“Penguins,” Burnside answered grimly. “Zombie Penguins. You’ve landed right in the midst of the Second Zombie Penguin Apocalypse!”

“Yay!” Ermingard cheered, which was a bit unusual for her, since she rarely cheered. “A new peril! Something Catrina never faced! Finally!” Then her innate pessimism reasserted itself. “What do you mean, the Second Zombie Penguin Apocalypse?”

“Well, the First Zombie Penguin Apocalypse occurred in the 21st Century, when Catrina traveled there in an attempt to-”

“Never mind,” Ermingard said, her heart sinking faster than the Titanic, her last hope dying like Leonardo when he let go of the door. “I supposed I’m doomed to be derivative of Catrina. Oh well. Splat is coming.”

“What is coming?”

“Splat. Family motto.”

“Ah, I see,” said Burnside, though he really didn’t. “And…that’s supposed to be inspirational?”

Ermingard sighed bleakly. “Not really. Sucks to be me.”

  1. I am constantly in awe of the sheer amount of work you put into your little universe, my friend! I shouldn’t say “little ” though; the possibilities are infinite!

  2. …Bloop…


    Poor Ermie. I wonder what the 42nd century’s equivalent of Zombie Penguin Charlie Sheen would be like…

  3. YAY!!!! More zombie penguins! Just when I thought I’d never hear of more zombie penguins, you’ve brought them back! hehe.

    I love, truly love, the family motto. Splat is coming. GENIUS!

    • You can thank my Torts professor for the motto. I think we were discussing a case about flour barrels or falling or some such. Anyway; it’s a great motto. 😛

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