Today’s blog continues my long-neglected satirical fantasy, In The Land of the Penny Gnomes
Will refused to speak with the Narrator as their company made it’s way out of the city 1. They left the campus of Boarsblemish University and marched through downtown, surrounded by a terrified civilian population. Much of the populace gazed upon them in silence, others pleaded for food or blankets. No one cheered, the joy of patriotism had long-since deserted the masses.
Will saw Bug turn to Sills as the group squeezed through an alley. “Should we be traveling out in the open like this? If the Horde has spies here we’re not exactly being careful.”
“We’ll be ok. It’s not like anyone is going to be able to send information outside the shield at this point.”
“Hmm, I guess.”
“For Narrative’s sake, dear! Sills said its fine. I think you have quite enough to worry about without adding spies to your plate!”
Some of the Red Boots chuckled to see their Captain be dressed down by his wife, but a quick scowl dampened their mirth. The group marched in silence for several miles following this brief exchange, and Will noticed the crush of people began to trail off. He leaned over to Nobody and gestured at the nearby buildings, most of which appeared empty.
“Professor, why aren’t there any people here? We’re still downtown.”
“Ah… well… it’s a matter of reflection.”
“Oh yes, if the Penny Ore is detonated, the Satire shield should dissipate much of its destructive force.”
“I know, Professor.”
“Ah… of course you do. Well, not many know this but, the shield is a tad weaker near the mountains. It doesn’t have as much room to spread out, you see.”
“Well, there is some concern some of the blast’s energy will bounce off the mountains and fall on to the city at the shield’s weakest point. Personally, I don’t believe that will happen.”
“Yes, the blast will simply obliterate the mountains, it won’t have time to reflect anywhere.”
When Will said nothing in response to Nobody’s pronouncement the gnome drifted off from Will’s side mutter, “Oh dear. I wonder what I said?”
The company walked a few more miles before emerging from the tall buildings which made up downtown Boarsblemish. Ahead of them structures became less intimidating, aside from the fact they were all empty and dark. Bug led the troop to a waiting set of transports and ordered everyone to mount up.
Everyone gratefully took seats in the climate-controlled vehicles, but no one seemed half as pleased as Oscar. The dwarf breathed a relaxed sigh. “Now this is a nice change of pace. I thought we were walking to Firewall Control.”
“We are walking to Firewall control,” called back Bug from the front seat. “But it would take too long to walk all the way outside the shield’s effects, and driving around the city is impractical at this point. So we’ll take a nice ride to the outer suburbs and then… we’re on our own.”
The group nodded their determination at Bug’s pronouncement, but quickly settled into catnaps and daydreaming as the vehicles got under way. The sky was grey, and threatened rain, which caused Will to sink down into his seat even deeper. He wanted to enjoy this respite of warmth as best he could before leaving the safety of the shield. When the transports came to a stop and Bug ordered everyone out, the teen groaned with regret.
“Careful there, Will,” Grimby chuckled as he grasped Will’s shoulder. “I don’t think our Captain is much in the mood for a grumpy teen at the moment.”
“Do you blame him?” Fineflin commented from his own seat. “Look at it out there. That combination is going to be a disaster for my hair!”
“Will, Grimby, Fineflin! Let’s go!” Bug’s voice sounded throughout the transport. “The firewall isn’t going to reboot itself!”
With a shared sigh, the trio exited the transport. They fell into line with the rest of the company. As Bug addressed the toops, the transports turned and drove back toward the city. They were one their own.
“OK, our two scouts are set to meet up with us at the top of the ridge just beyond the shield. The Red Boots tell me walking through the shield is even more disorienting than driving, so we’re gonna take their advice.” The gnome motioned to a nearby sergeant, who stepped forward and began to speak.
“Some of you have been trained in Satire Compensation. Those who haven’t aren’t ready for sauntering through the shield on foot. It’s two miles of torture you do not want to deal with right now, believe me. So, we’re gonna pull a trick on Satire. Corporal Janes is going to be handing each of you a blindfold and earplugs. You’re gonna put these on now, and will not take them off until you’re tapped on the shoulder. OK?”
Will, who didn’t care for his two passages driving through the Satire Shield, didn’t need to be urged to follow his instructions. He donned his blindfold as soon as it was placed in his hands, quickly followed by his earplugs. The last thing he heard, before reaching the outside of the shield, was Nobody’s complaints.
“But I was going to get a really big button this time!”
Both blindfold and earplugs helped with the passage through the shield’s effects, but the journey remained uncomfortable. At one point Will felt as though he must have been saddled with a full set of knight’s armor, and it made a good portion of the trip uncomfortable 2.
When the tap on his shoulder arrived at last the extra weight he’d been carrying had already vanished. He reached up and pulled off his blindfold, blinking several times as he readjusted to the light. The scene around him wasn’t quite chaos, but it was close. Several Red Boots were crumpled on the ground, overcome with exhaustion. A few more were huddled around Bug, who was keeled over and somewhat green. Grimby and Fineflin were covered in a cloud of steam. Oscar and Nobody seemed to be having an argument. When Will pulled out his earplugs the noise came rushing in to his skull.
“But I want to press it!”
“Professor, it says ‘DO NOT PRESS.’”
“That’s what makes it interesting. I’ve already lost my life-form scanner and coffee grinder combination, let me do this!”
“It’s OK, Sindy, I think it’s calming down now.”
“This is doing wonders for my pours. Keep steaming, please.”
“What? I can’t hear you over the whistle! I THINK IT’S GETTING BETTER!”
“Don’t worry, Captain. It happened to all of us first time through as well.”
“On your feet, wizards, we’ve got a firewall to reboot!”
Will was just about to grin, when he saw some lights heading their direction. They were coming from the North.
The sound of a loudspeaker echoed down the road, followed by a voice. “In the name of the Copyright Hoard, you are all prisoners of war. Get down on the ground and don’t resist!”