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Ermingard with the Spork Brigade

by on April 16, 2012

Last time, in the Catrina Chronicles, the story had gone on a detour back to the 12th century for some dramatic revelations (and a cow!). We return now to the 42nd century, where our heroine Princess Ermingard had just found herself with the Spork Brigade , right smack dab in the middle of the Second Zombie Penguin Apocalypse….

“So,” said Ermingard morosely, “if I’m going to get the Golden Spleen and save Catrina, I’ve got to get through all that.” She waved at the horde of zombie penguins squawking in eerie unison beyond the protecting wall of the Spork Brigade’s castle.

“Er, it’s not just the zombie penguins,” Leftenant Burnside C. Nightingale exposited. “Beyond their territory lies the Empire of the Cow.”

“The….Cow.”

“Precisely.He rides across the land with his terrifying horde of sheep, slaughtering anyone who dares stand in his w-”

“I’m sorry, did you just say sheep?”

“Yes….”

“What,” Ermingard asked, though she wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to know the answer, “is so terrifying about sheep?”

Burnside C. Nightingale, officer of the Spork Brigade, did a double-take. “You’ve never seen a sheep before?”

“Yeah, I’ve seen plenty. There was a sheep farmer who lived fairly close to my castle. He had a small lamb named Petunia. I wrote a poem about her when I was seven.”

“Well, whatever sheep may have been like in your time, they cannot have been like our sheep. Let me assure you, our sheep are bloody well frightening.”

Ermingard sighed. “Yeah, but I’m sure Catrina wouldn’t be scared at all. She’s probably fought all sorts of demonic farm animals.”

“Actually, the records don’t seem to indicate anything about that. She summoned a panda once, and fought with snakes and weasels, but nothing along the lines of sheep.”

The princess perked up considerably. “Well. I finally get to fight something she didn’t. Huzzah.”

“And you’re going to need a weapon,” Burnside said. “Unless you have one with you?”

Ermingard checked her pockets, but all she had was her diary, a tiny pencil, an assortment of lint, and a chessman. She briefly contemplated throwing the chessman at her enemies, but quickly realized the flaw in that genius plan. “Alas, I am all out of weaponry. C’est la vie.”

“We do have an extra Spork-Bow I could loan you,” Burnside suggested.

Pictures flew through Ermingard’s mind of her posing dramatically with a bow, string drawn back, aiming the arrow high, doing various shooty things. She found it rather poetic. She didn’t know, of course, that her author was mainly giving her a bow because all the cool heroines are doing archery these days: Katniss, Merida, everyone. If she had known, she might have protested that she was once more relegated to being derivative of someone else. But, on the other hand, Katniss’s bow didn’t shoot sporks, now, did it? So there, Ermingard.

Pleasantly unconscious of that little narrative aside, Ermingard said that she would very much like to borrow the Spork-Bow. As it turned out, however, the brigade was a bit fussy over its weapons; it didn’t let anyone wield them who wasn’t a Spork Brigadier. Fortunately, that problem was easily remedied. And so, that was how, barely an hour after she’d arrived, Ermingard found herself standing in the courtyard of the castle.  The sun was shining brilliantly in a pale blue sky, and a cold wind ruffled her blond hair. Spork-Bow in hand, wearing a shiny new grey uniform, Ermingard calmly recited the words of the Spork Brigade’s oath.

In scary nights, and shiny noons,

we wield together Fork and Spoons.

Let those who prey on helpless dorks:

beware our fury! We have Sporks!

It was the happiest moment of her life, which was saying a lot since she’d had so few of them. She wasn’t just Ermingard, anymore, oh no; she was Cadet Ermingard, of the Spork Brigade. Technically, she ought to have been a private, since cadet is a rank normally reserved for officers in training, but Burnside had pointed out that she was, after all, a princess, and she would be leading the mission, since she was the one supposed to find the Golden Spleen in the first place. When he mentioned this, Ermingard’s excitement about joining the Spork Brigade wavered just a bit. It positively plummeted when he informed her of his plan, which he’d been mentally devising while she was off getting commissioned. Apparently he planned to launch an attack on the zombie penguins with the whole Brigade, minus her, thus giving her the opportunity to get past them and start off towards the Empire of the Cow. “Question,” Ermingard ventured when Burnside happily explained this to her. “Shouldn’t I have some sort of, I don’t know, backup or something? Maybe you couldn’t send the entire rest of the Brigade for the diversion?”

“Oh goodness me, no,” said Burnside, sounding impossibly British, which was a neat trick considering Britain hadn’t existed for a good several millennia. “I’ve read the stories, don’t you know, and whenever a heroine like yourself goes off on a daring mission with other people, they usually get caught or ambushed or split up, and the main character ends up by themselves anyway. This way we cut out all the intervening action so to speak, and start you right off by yourself! Isn’t it glorious?”

Glorious wasn’t exactly the word the newly minted cadet would’ve used, but he was a brigadier-general, and she figured he knew what he was doing. In the meantime, she decided she’d better get a least a few moments of practice with the Spork-Bow before she started. Ermingard planted her feet in the appropriate stance, drew back the string of the bow, sighted down along the length of the spork-arrow, took very careful aim, and let fly. Twang. The spork hissed through the air, shining in the sunlight, rising high, which was unfortunate since she hadn’t meant to aim high. Things got worse in a minute, as the spork glanced off a traumatized bird (Ermingard, not being an expert on 42nd century ornithology, couldn’t say what sort of bird it was), and zinged off through a window to make an ignominious disappearance in the castle mess hall.

There was a yelp of outrage. Ermingard quickly learned that she had apparently shot someone’s banana. While she was vaguely surprised to learn that bananas had made it to the future, she was very much apologetic. She hadn’t meant to hit anyone’s banana. Her archery skills, apparently, needed work. Ermingard couldn’t quite understand; she’d been led to believe from the stories that all heroes and heroines were instant experts in their chosen weapons. Yet she, it seemed, could not hit the broad side of a barn, or any other farm building for that matter. She knew she ought to bring this up with the brigadier; it was rather an important point. But…she didn’t. When the soldier whose banana she’d struck demanded to know why, Ermingard acted as if she had aimed for the banana on purpose. The soldier gaped in awe. He had never heard of someone who could shoot a spork with such skill that it would ricochet back into a mess hall and hit a banana, especially since Ermingard hadn’t even seen the banana when she supposedly aimed at it. The news spread rapidly through the Spork Brigade. Burnside promptly announced that since Ermingard was obviously so skilled with the Spork-Bow, she didn’t require any more practice, and the mission should start at once. The Spork Brigade gave a rousing cheer.

“Um…” said Ermingard. She hadn’t quite meant for that to happen.

“Off you go, then!” Burnside exclaimed. “The operation begins now!”

“But-” said Ermingard.

“No time!” interrupted Burnside. “Spork Brigade, move out! Forwaaaaaaaard harch!”

“But I didn’t-“

It was too late. Burnside was already away, the Spork Brigade rushing after him. Within two minutes they had all charged recklessly out into the open plain, rapid-firing spork-arrows at every zombie penguin within sight. Ermingard was entirely by herself.

“Oh dear,” she said glumly, to no one in particular. She thought about rallying herself with her family motto, but “Splat is coming” remained as uninspirational as ever. So, she did the only thing she could. Cadet Ermingard dispiritedly checked the map Burnside had managed to shove into her hands during her briefing about the plan. The Spork Brigade had left the castle through the west gateway; she was supposed to head north. And so, that was what she did.

Things were pretty boring for a while after that. The Brigade had done their diversion work well; she didn’t see so much as a zombified flipper for several weeks. She walked steadily northward….and walked….and walked some more….and wondered how on earth the heroes in the books didn’t go out of their minds with boredom. She’d tried to keep up with her diary, hoping to find something worthy of recording. Before long, she’d gotten to recording virtually everything out of sheer desperation.

Day 16.

Saw a bug. It was not a mutant wasp capable of causing hallucinations. It was just…a bug. Thought about squishing it. It flew away.

I had to use the bathroom. This never happens in the stories. They must all be very stoic. Found a convenient bush nearby. Got a bit nervous. Last time I did this in a story, I got put into an enchanted sleep for two hundred years. Didn’t happen this time. Pity. Would’ve been exciting.

Day 17.

Walked all morning. Counted trees. 1,432. No idea what kind they were. Oh well.

Day 18.

Yesterday was day 17. Today it is day 18. Tomorrow it will be day 19. I’m so excited. I should write a song about it. I’m sure it will be a smashing success.

Day 19.

Nothing interesting happened.

Day 20.

Still nothing.

Day 21.

Still n-

Hm. That’s odd. I thought I heard a sound like a baa. A low, sinister baa. I couldn’t possibly have heard that. Still, I should investigate. Even though I’m all alone, and it’s dark now, and that sound was coming from deep in those scary woods. What could possibly go wrong w-

*ink trails off into incomprehensible squiggle*

*diary ends*

to be continued.

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4 Comments
  1. Ah, the “to be continued” ending; a classic!
    Nice execution with this one!

  2. Gee, what could that slightly sinister ‘baa’ be all about?? hehe

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