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Send in the Cavalry

by on April 30, 2015

The forest was on fire. Both Madeleines could see the flames racing through the howling trees, as they crouched behind a low bank of shrubs. Madeleine Prime didn’t know if the shrubs were tortured souls trapped in hell, or only ordinary shrubs. She didn’t want to find out, either. At least they weren’t on fire, though how long that might last was an open question. Something rushed over her head with a freight-train roar, and a second later she heard a loud whump nearby. The shock wave slammed her against the shrubbery. Branches scraped her face, and she had a nasty cut on one knee, but so far she hadn’t been hurt. Neither had her other self. Madeleine had no idea what would happen if they got seriously injured or even killed in hell. She didn’t have time to ponder it.

The best she could tell, the shellfire and gun noises came from further up Circle Seven. Madeleine knew it had to be Phlegethon, the boiling river of blood where the violent against people and property were eternally plunged. Apparently it hadn’t been a good idea to keep all those violent people in one place, brooding together like a cancer in hell. Now they had broken out, and got hold of modern weaponry. Madeleine heard distant shouts in what sounded ominously like German. Her stomach clenched. “Right,” she said. “Violent against people, modern weapons, military experience, speaking German. Nazis. I just hate Nazis.”

Then she saw the excited look on her evil counterpart’s face. “You are not going to join them.”

“Why not?” Evil Madeleine whined.

Madeleine Prime face-palmed. “Because they’re freakin’ Nazis. And they’re leading a revolt in hell. You really want to join a Nazi hell rebellion? Does anything about those words suggest that maybe that’s not a good thing to do?”

“I killed off the entire population of my planet,” the other Madeleine observed coolly. “I’m  evil, remember? So, naturally…”

“Oh, cripes. Look, we’re getting out of hell right now. We, and by we I mean you, are not stopping to join a Nazi hell rebellion. Got that?”

“Make me,” Evil Madeleine challenged.

Before Madeleine Prime could take her up on it, another shell roared in. This one was a lot closer. The explosion knocked Evil Madeleine flat unconscious. Madeleine Prime, protected by her own counterpart, sighed. “Okay then. That settles that. We’re getting out. I just need to figure how.” She was still Gaseous Girl, so she could probably flame a few of them before they shot her. Still, she really didn’t want to get shot.

Then she heard a rumble of hooves. To her great surprise, a full squadron of twenty centaurs charged up around her, centaurs in neat khaki uniform tunics and neater pencil mustaches. “Right, love, we’ll take over ‘ere,” said one of them, waving a saber gallantly towards the gunfire in the distance.

“Who in the hell are you?” Madeleine asked, somewhat literally.

“Captain Arthur Jenkins-Dunchurch, miss,” said a second, more serious centaur. “My lieutenant, Jinx MacPhee. Seventh Circle Defense Corps, Squad B, at y’r service. ”

“Ah,” said Madeleine. She remembered centaurs from Dante. She hadn’t remembered them being quite so formal. “Shouldn’t you have bows and arrows?”

“Sure, and haven’t we gone and upgraded them?” Lieutenant MacPhee said. “They’ve got Earth-side weaponry datin’ from twentieth century; we”ve had to adapt.”

“So…what do you have then?”

MacPhee smiled. “Somethin’ that’ll fall on the enemy like a bloomin’ piano.”

The captain, all business, bawled out orders in a stentorian voice. The squad fell out, deploying in a neat line. Other centaurs, moving up behind them, handed out an assortment of long green metal tubes. “Bazookas?” Madeleine Prime asked.

“Almost,” said MacPhee, still smiling.

“Squad, aim!” Captain Jenkins-Dunchurch roared. Twenty almost-bazookas pointed at the horizon. A pregnant pause ensued. Even the distant Nazis seemed to sense that something was amiss. Then, the pause gave birth. “Squad, fire!”

The weapons didn’t go bang. They went wirp. Twenty balls of crackling light arced through the air and were gone. Then, after another pause, the sky in the direction of the river lit up. The ground bucked beneath Madeleine’s feet. “What the-”

“Proton torpedo-bazookas, miss, to be exact,” MacPhee said. “The Popsicle, Mark One.”

“Blimey,” said Madeleine Prime.

This story was written for the Mutant 750 challenge at Grammar Ghoul Press, and is part of the ongoing Gaseous Girl adventures.

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