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Q is for Quixotic and Quintessential Quibbling

by on December 9, 2013

Last time, in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine had finally tracked down her onetime consort, only to discover that he was indeed a spy for the invading fleet of Atlantean sky-ships. After engaging in a bout of witty banter, they prepared to duel each other in a battle to the death, as per tradition….

Catrina, in mid-hurtle towards him, suddenly twisted aside out of his way. Luke, formerly Perry, stumbled on for a few paces before stopping and turning back. “I say, aren’t we supposed to be fighting now?”

The princess let the blade of her shovel rest on the ground. “Actually, I’d rather not. I’m tired, Perry.”

“Luke, actually.”

“Right. Luke. I changed my name, why shouldn’t you change yours? At any rate, I’m tired of fighting. Do you know how many battles I’ve fought these past few years? Vladimir the Marauder. Susan. A pack of weasels. Velociraptors in helicopters. Susan again. Murphy the Terrible. Zombie penguins. Flaming zombie penguins. A tiny orange tooth monster. A snowman. Cthulu. My evil brother Edmund. Atlanteans. And now, you. I’m tired of it all. Just once I wish I could solve my problems with calm and reasonable diplomacy. Talk things out. Non-violent resolutions of problems. I mean, what am I teaching the kids who might be reading this story? What kind of family-friendly message am I presenting? How are you supposed to negotiate peacefully with a flaming zombie penguin?”

“So…” said Luke. “Your point?”

“My point,” said Catrina, “is that all of people in the meta-verse, I did not want to fight you. So, just this once, couldn’t we work out our differences with a minimum of quibbling?”

Luke sighed. “I suppose we could. Truth be told, I didn’t want to fight you anyway. Yes, technically my Perry alter ego was a magically created facade, but I have to admit, what we  had was real enough.”

Catrina sat wearily down on a nearby log. Luke sat next to her. They were quiet for a long moment. Then Luke made a gesture with his gopherwood wand, and a small paper bag appeared in his hand. “Gummy bear?” he offered.

“What,” Catrina inquired, “is a gummy bear?”

“It’s a delicacy from the future. Some of our magicians are adept at time travel, and one of them managed to bring it back. I think you’d like them. These bears are particularly good; they’re made by a company called Haribo. And they’re sugarless, even, so they’re quite healthy.”

“Indeed?” said Catrina politely. “Might I try some, then?”

“Of course,” said Luke. He handed the bag over.

Catrina tested one experimentally. Her eyes lit up. “These are wonderful!” She tore into the bag, going through the gummy bears as fast as she could, in a most unprincess-like fashion. Luke, meanwhile, didn’t have a one. He kept a tight hold on the gopherwood wand, waiting. He’d told the truth, partly; the time-traveling magicians had brought back the gummy bears. He had neglected to pass on a few warnings they had delivered. For instance, what could happen if one ate too many all at once.

She finished off the bag and delivered a satisfied burp. “Right,” she said. “Since we’re friends now again, I wonder if you would mind sending your fleet back to Atlantis?”

“Well…” Luke said. “They’ve come all this way. It would be a shame to disappoint them. Especially since we’ve brought colonists. They were promised new lives, and I can’t go back on that.”

Catrina pondered a moment, trying to find a diplomatic solution the way her parents had taught her. “My kingdom’s occupied at the moment, and not really prepared for colonization, but there are the Plains of Hypothermia up north, past the Scrumdiddly mountains. I’d heard rumors that some of Susan’s minions were starting up a city there, but I think that fell through. It’s a bit cold, thus the name, but your people could probably deal with that quite expertly, couldn’t you?”

“Oh, yes,” said Luke. “I expect we could. We’ve got some very talented weather mages. They had to be, what with Atlantis being underwater all this time.”

Catrina, naturally curious, was about to inquire why exactly Atlantis had been plunged beneath the waves. She’d heard one story, about a shiny blue crystal thing that had been misused by the Atlantean king in some way, but she didn’t put much stock in that. She very much wanted to know the real truth. She opened her mouth, and all at once her stomach gurgled in a manner most ominous.  “Erm,” she said. “Excuse me.” She thought about making a clever quip to mask her embarassment, but then her stomach let loose a mighty gurgle indeed, and Catrina suddenly realized that she had to attend to a terribly insistent call of nature. She looked desperately round, but there wasn’t an outhouse or chamber pot to be seen. In frantic haste she dove behind the nearest bush. The sounds that subsequently emerged resembled nothing so much as the quackings of a psychotic duck.

“You all right over there?” Luke asked coolly.

“No,” Catrina said, from behind the shaking bush, “no I certainly am not. I am beginning to have grave doubts about those bears!”  She had to break off, as nature called yet again.

“Your doubts are quite well-founded,” Luke said. “Which is why I didn’t have any.”

All at once Catrina realized the truth, and felt a suddenly quickening fury at his new betrayal.  She had thought the bears were rather quaint. She had no idea what they would do to her. Worse, she was in no condition to fight now. She figured she’d be behind that bush for another ten minutes at least. Maybe fifteen. And she’d left Mlrning over by the log. Her one satisfaction was that Luke couldn’t possibly use it; it could be wielded only by someone who was worthy. Poisoning her with gummy bears was not the act of a worthy person at all.

“So,” Luke said, as calmly as if he were discussing the weather, “I could kill you right now. Solve that little problem right off. But then your people would be terribly upset, and they’d have a martyr to rally around. My fleet’s gone back to Kumquat City, so I’m going to go with them. We’ll regroup there, and then set about taking over your kingdom. You’re welcome to try and stop us. But then, I’d wager my gopherwood wand is just as powerful in its way as your shovel. And I’ve got a lot more magical friends. Mages. Very powerful. So, I’d advise that you not put up a fuss. You’ll find Atlantis can be very merciful, when we have cause.”

He waved the wand and vanished, presumably teleported back to Kumquat City. Ten minutes later, once the tempest in her intestinal system had finally subsided, Catrina emerged from behind the bush. There was one solitary green gummy bear lying on the ground, which she had missed earlier. Catrina squished it with her boot.

“So,” she said to no one in particular, “You’ve got friends, have you? Well. I have friends too.”

She could think of three right off, though she didn’t know where they were just then, and one of them wasn’t so much a friend as a twisted version of herself, and slightly more evil. Then there was the third person, who was most definitely evil. But Catrina didn’t see as she had a choice. She raised Mlrning, the mighty Shovel of Thor. “Mlrning!” she called. “Take me to Susan!”

The shovel shot away like a rocket, carrying Catrina off into the clouded sky.

This has been Episode 95 of the Catrina Chronicles. For previous episodes, go here. For my author page on Amazon, which has more stories about Catrina (and some other people), go here. Thanks for reading!


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  1. Oooh, revenge of the Gummy Bears. Lesson learned, he? 🙂 As for Luke/Perry…she should destroy him!

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