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N is for Nearly Impending Doom

by on October 20, 2013

Last time in the Catrina Chronicles, the evil Peter Mordred had been fighting a wizard’s duel with the Yellow Fairy, who was trying to change Catrina’s royal consort back from being a bear. Unfortunately, Peter teleported himself into outer space and then transmogrified into a meteor, a meteor which then hurtled down towards Catrina’s kingdom. Given that the author is a fairly big fan of meteor-impact stories like “Lucifer’s Hammer” and the movie “Deep Impact”, this does not bode well…

Catrina was having an exceptionally bad day. Her prince consort, the love of her life, had turned out to be a traitor who’d sold her and her kingdom out to Atlantis. An Atlantean fleet was even now invading her kingdom, with their floating sky-ships and who knows what other advanced technology. They’d stolen Mlrning, the Shovel of Thor, and used it to trap her inside her own wardrobe by freezing the thing in a block of ice. Worst of all, there appeared to be a meteor descending from the heavens to wipe out the world, Atlanteans and Shmirmingardians alike. She didn’t know how to stop it, or how to defeat the Atlanteans, or anything. She wasn’t even sure that she cared anymore. How much of this was a princess supposed to take?

She had made a perfunctory exploration of the wardrobe she was trapped in, just in case it turned out to have a secret passageway to Narnia. No such luck. All  she found in the back of the wardrobe was mothballs. Catrina might’ve gone away and come back, just in case this was the sort of wardrobe that sometimes had a way to Narnia and sometimes didn’t, and of course Catrina would have left the door open, since she knew it was very foolish to shut oneself up in a wardrobe. Unfortunately, in this case she hadn’t shut herself up in the wardrobe; the Atlanteans had done it for her. Using Mlrning, no less, the very Shovel of Thor. How dare they? How could they?

Catrina paused for a moment in her fuming, suddenly intrigued by the question she had posed. How could they, indeed? Mlrning wasn’t your ordinary shovel, after all; it wouldn’t work for just anybody. It had an inscription. “Whosoever holds this shovel, if he be worthy, shall never be Thor in the morning.”  The Atlanteans had invaded Shmirmingard without cause. That meant they couldn’t be worthy. And that meant….”It wasn’t Mlrning.” she said to herself.

She didn’t smile. She might not smile again. Not after Perry. But her green eyes blazed in her face. Acting on instinct, she flung out her hand, willing the Shovel of Thor to come to her. She’d heard that trick could be done with the hammer. It had to work with the Shovel. It had to.

There was a distant crash, and a bang. Someone screamed in a manner that would’ve made the Wilhelm Screamer proud. More crashes. A decidedly loud thud. Several voices yelling a blistering torrent of Atlantean expletives. (Catrina didn’t know the language, or she would have been decidedly shocked.) Then the door to her room shattered as Mlrning came hurtling through it. The mighty Shovel of Thor smashed into the ice surrounding the wardrobe and plowed through it like it was mere slush. Mlrning thwacked into Catrina’s outstretched hand. “Right,” she said. “Now we are in business.”

Her first thought was to hunt down her scruffy nerfherder twit consort and brain him over the head with the shovel for betraying her like that. She’d had twins with him, for heaven’s sake! Then Catrina’s eyes grew wide in sudden fear. The twins. Timothy. Tamalyn. They’d been in the nursery, only a few days old. Suppose the Atlanteans had found them? She took off running as fast as she could, flying pell-mell down the corridors, her heart racing like a jackhammer on speed. Catrina whipped round a corner and plunged through the nursery door, where Sister Mary Patricia should have been standing watchful guard over the slumbering newborns.

Only she wasn’t. Instead the room was fairly packed with Atlantean soldiers in blue tunics. Admiral Lucia stood by Tamalyn’s crib, with both babies in her arms. “Ah,” she said. “You found out. We did not really use the Shovel. Could not get it working. We thought perhaps the name….we do not understand the meaning of Mlrning. Explain?

Catrina was not about to discuss mere questions of Norse nomenclature. Her left hand tightened hard on the Shovel. “Put. Them. Down.”

“Oh no.” Lucia said. “I have a transporter mage on my ship, locked to me. One thought, and I vanish, with your spawn. You surrender, right now, and you keep them. Fight on, one second more, and they are gone. Pick.”

Her mind raced. Mlrning could move very fast, but could it move faster than Lucia’s thought? Could it block a transporter spell? Catrina wasn’t overly keen on magic; the only spell she knew was one that turned her temporarily into a newt, and that wouldn’t exactly work as nullification of a transporter spell. If she ran, stayed and fought, did anything, her twins were gone. But if she surrendered, what guarantee did she have that Lucia wouldn’t take them anyway? The Atlanteans had co-opted Perry, and launched a sneak attack on Shrirmingard; that didn’t exactly give her confidence of their trustworthiness. If she surrendered the Shovel, they might very well just go “Nana, nana boo boo” and hit her over the head with it. Not that they actually would go “Nana, nana, boo boo,”; Catrina was not at all sure that they were familiar with that particular idiom.

She hesitated, not sure what to do. She really had no good options. And she didn’t have much time, not with Lucia standing right there, and then there was the meteor coming down from- 

Catrina almost smiled. Not quite. But almost. “Even if I do surrender, and hand Shmirmingard over to you, it won’t be much use for long. Have you looked outside lately?”

“We know about the meteor. We are taking steps.”

“Oh, are you. And you’re absolutely sure they’ll work? You’re positively confident that your weapons, whatever they may be, can stop a meteor big as a mountain from crashing down and wiping us all out just like the dinosaurs?”

Lucia was a bit rattled; she couldn’t hide it. “They will work. They will work. Our ships will be safe. They are magically shielded.”

“Your ships are safe. How fortunate for them. Assuming those magical shields work, do they cover the countryside as well as the ships? Otherwise you’re going to be left ruling a pretty fair wreck of a kingdom.”

The admiral’s eyebrows raised. “What would you do about it? Can you stop the meteor?”

Catrina honestly wasn’t sure, but she wasn’t about to let Lucia know that. “I have faced down Cthulhu with this shovel, recreated a world, defeated my brother, the leader of Character Hell.” Strictly speaking she hadn’t defeated him; he had been hit by a stray plasma bolt and fallen into lava, but again, this wasn’t a fact Lucia really needed to know at the moment.  “I can stop a meteor. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I want the meteor to hit. These stories have got to end sometime, right? I don’t want to go on and on, having adventure after adventure until it all gets too unspeakably dull. If I let the meteor come down and end us all, that would be a fairly appropriate conclusion, don’t you think?”

Lucia wasn’t aware that she was only a story character; she thought she was a real person. Therefore, she assumed Catrina had simply gone mad. That wasn’t a comfort. Her thoughtfully crafted invasion plan had not allowed for meteor strikes.

As if on cue, fiery light spilled in through the nursery window. The meteor was nearly upon them. Only seconds remained. “Stop it,” Lucia demanded. “Stop it now.”

“Why should I?” Catrina said in casual tones. “Seriously. Explain why.”

Lucia assumed the princess wanted terms. “We will surrender. My ships will leave. We will return to Atlantis and not bother you again.” Quickly she laid down the twins in their cribs. “There. Proof of our goodwill. Now stop it.”

“That wasn’t much of an explanation. You know what I heard? Blah blah blah blah something about leaving. Go ahead. Go. You won’t outrun it. That thing’s big, have you noticed? It’ll obliterate the continent. I could stop it. But it would make for a fantastic ending. So why shouldn’t I?”

“You have gone mad.”

“Not quite,” said Catrina, her eyes glittering in the light of the descending meteor. “I’ve gone sane.”

She glanced at her reflection in the Shovel’s blade, and made a slight adjustment to her hair. If her story was going to end now, she wanted to look her best.

And the meteor came.

This has been a very dramatic episode of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, go here. Also, today is the last day you can enter the Goodreads giveaway to win a copy of The Catrina Chronicles: Year One, so to do that, go here. Thanks for reading!

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  1. Impressive, she got out even in the absence of a passage to Narnia 🙂 I guess we’ll soon see if she stops the meteor or if the story comes to an abrupt ending here.

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