Fiction Tuesday – Briefed

Today’s blog continues my long-neglected satirical fantasy, In The Land of the Penny Gnomes

“So you’re the prophet,” said the general as he shook Will’s hand. He was a tall Wizard with grey eyes and matching hair. Dressed in his combat uniform, he was an imposing figure.

“Uh, yah. I guess,” the teen responded.

Isme scowled. “I would have expected you to be a bit more articulate.”

“He’s still settling into his role, General,” offered Sills. “He’ll get there.”

“He’d better. We don’t have a lot of time.”

Will didn’t appreciate people talking about him as if he wasn’t present, so he cleared his throat and spoke. “I’ll do whatever I can, General.”

Isme turned and examined Will with an expressionless stare, which Will confronted with a nervous smile. Shaking his head slightly the wizard grunted.

“We’ll see.”

The de facto leader of The Realm then stepped aside and waved the group into a small briefing room, where a number of Realmian officers were already seated. Nobody had woken up as their escorts were in the process of retrieving him from the transport but remained exhausted. As he passed the general the old gnome groaned a deep yawn.

“I’ll try to keep you interested, Professor,” growled Isme.

“Oh? Well that’s good. I do loathe being bored, and I have some new snack chip ideas I need to work on.” The professor offered a grin to the silent officer. “Progress never stops, you know!”

“Whatever you say, professor,” the general agreed. Though his expression offered a much different response. Unaware of the offense he’d given, Nobody grabbed a seat next to Will and waved for Bug and Sindy to join him. Isme didn’t acknowledge gnomes as they passed by, a slight which was not missed by the Sindy. Steam had begun to pour from her ears.

As Sills moved to join the others in the briefing room Will saw the old wizard step forward to block her path. He then lowered his voice to a whisper, which Will was just able to hear 1.

“I asked you for the beings who could save The Realm, Agent Sills. This group is not what I had in mind.”

“They’ll get the job done, General, I promise.” Sills replied.k

“I hope so, because if they fail you’ll be waiting for the end in the stockade.”

“Yes, sir,” Sills replied. Her face etched with rebellion.

“Just so we understand each other,” said Isme as he stepped aside. “Have a seat.”

Once the IBI agent was seated the General boomed out an unnecessary call for silence as he brought the meeting to order.

“OK, let’s get on with it.

“First, by the authority granted by what’s left of the Board of Governors I’m pretty much running the show. The politicians are scared and running to whatever holes they think will keep them safe. I know several officers have been thinking of forcing me to assume the Empty Throne. I want you all to understand if I hear any such talk I’ll have the persons responsible court-martialed and shot. We’ve got a job to do, focus on that.

“Second I want our esteemed guest, Professor Cooly Nobody, to enlighten us on the state of the Firewall.” The General stepped back and motioned for Nobody to come forward. “Professor?”

Nobody was flustered by the sudden invitation to speak. He stood and made his way to the podium in awkward fashion, and when he finally reached the microphone he was dwarfed by the stand. This led him to seize a chair from the first row of seats 2 and drag it over to use as a stool. After several hops, the gnome successfully stood up on the platform and cleared his throat before speaking.

“Yes. As we know the Firewall had not been receiving it’s regular security updates. This led to numerous security vulnerabilities which allowed the Hoard to bypass the wall enough to send in several raiding parties. Several days ago these forces successfully inserted a self-replicating unauthorized fan-fiction virus which threatened to bring down the entire system. I have been able to stabilize the system, but the firewall is now even more porous.”

“What do you mean, “Porous, professor?” Isme growled. “I thought you fixed it.”

“Well, no,” Nobody replied. “Without a major update it’s not ‘fixable.’ The pass remains blocked, but more of the Hoard is able to come through now.”

“This confirms our scouting reports, General,” called an officer from the back row of seats. “We’ve seen a recent uptick in troop buildup near the pass, and they’ve even managed to move in some heavy equipment.”

“I saw the numbers. Good work.”

“Thank you, sir.”

The room shifted back to silence for a few moments as Nobody smiled down from his perch. “Oh, was I supposed to continue?”

Isme sighed. “Just tell us how long we have before the Firewall collapses entirely.”

“Certainly. I believe my patch will hold out for another three days. After that the fair use provision I used in my patch will be overwhelmed, this will allow the Hoard to inject an injunction overflow sub-routine into the system’s memory buffer. That will bring the firewall down.”

Isme nodded. “Fine. So our path is clear.”

“It is?” Bug croaked.

“Yes, Mr. Moume, it is.”

The general then pointed to a group of officers to his left. “I want a plan to attack the Hoard’s position by the gate on my desk in three hours. Put every available unit into motion.”

Shifting his gaze to a lower-ranking group in the back Isme continued, “In the meantime, start issuing equipment and provisions for a week to everyone.”

“Oh this, is exciting. What should I do?” the professor clapped.

Isme ignored Nobody as he pointed toward a Dwarven officer who’d raised his hand.

“Go ahead Chuck.”

“Sir. If we attack with all of our available resources we should be able to handle the Hoard forces currently on this side of the firewall. But when that Firewall comes down the Hoard’s going to pour through and we won’t be able to stop them.”

“I know, Chuck. Which is why the battle is a diversion.”

“Marshalling all of our available force is a diversion?”

The general nodded in agreement as he pointed to Nobody, “Yes, because it will give the professor an opening to get to firewall control, and update the code.”

“Oh! Won’t that be exciting, Bug? We’ll be behind enemy lines!”

Bug beamed a sarcastic smile as he raised thumbs. “Just, great, Professor.”

“And then, when that’s done, we’ll begin work on a negotiated peace with the Hoard.”

“But who’s going to negotiate, sir?” blurted out a voice from the back of the room. “The civilian government is all but dissolved!”

Much to Will’s shock, Isme pointed directly at him.

“We’ll let our resident prophet speak on our behalf.”

It’s about time!

  1. Thanks to me. Will is the vantage point for the story, but sometimes I do need to cheat a bit. 
  2. No one ever sits in the first row.