Fiction Tuesday – Answering the Summons

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

“What do you mean we’ve been summoned?” Bug growled. “Who are you?”

Stevens sighed, and hopped out of the transport. “I already said. My name is Roy Stevens, and I’m with the Bar. If you want to end this conflict you’d better come with me.”

Will began to crawl from the vehicle, but stopped when he noticed no one else was moving. Sindy, in particuarly, seemed intransigent. Her arms were crossed as she stood in defiance of her strange enemy. Steam was gushing from her ears, and a new fountain of fog had joined them — her nostrils were flaring water vapor.

“How do we know this isn’t some sort of trap?” She spat.

“I have to admit, I was thinking the same thing,” agreed Sills.

“Madam, I don’t know what will convince you. I’m here to gather evidence and file a suit against this renegade firm. And I’m afraid if we don’t leave right now your lives may be in danger.”

Bug grunted, “We’ll see. Fineflin?”

“I’m not sensing any duplicity, sir. And I do wish you’d make up your mind, this cramped space is mangling my outfit!”

Bug nodded. “All right, we’ll go with you. Prof, stay near Will and Sills. Sindy, keep by my side. Oscar, you don’t wander from Bug and Fineflin.”

Stevens huffed, “I assure you, Captain, you don’t need to take such precautions. You’re not prisoners.”

“Are your soldiers the only beings with weapons in these woods?”

“Uh, no, actually.”

“Then I’ll take all the precautions I think are necessary. Thanks, anyway.”

Bug moved forward and exited the vehicle, then stepped aside to make certain his orders were carried out. He reached out a hand to help his wife from the transport. Sindy accepted the proffered hand and stepped from the vehicle, fixing Stevens with an unbroken glare as she disembarked in a bank of fog 1.

Satisfied everyone had exited their former cage, and relieved they’d not be shot as soon as their feet had hit the ground, Bug turned to survey his charges. His eyes widened.

“Grimby, what are you doing?” the gnome hissed.

Grimby held the weapon of one of their former captives. He was aiming off into the woods and testing the balance of the rifle he’d just picked up off the ground.

“I’ve always wondered what these things were like to hold,” the dwarf grinned.

“What are you doing with a weapon?” Bug hissed with more urgency.

“Huh? Oh.” Grimby pointed at one of the lawyers who’d liberated them from the prisoner transport. “He told me to get it, just in case we needed it.”

Bug wheeled on Stevens, “You’re letting us arm ourselves?”

“As I said, you are not prisoners. And I need your testimonies before the Bar. So, yes, anyone who wants to be armed may be armed. But make it quick.”

Bug snorted. “Well, OK. Folks, anyone who is so inclined, grab yourself a weapon.”

Bug hadn’t needed to give his order. Fineflin had already retrieved a rifle from another guard and Sills was examining what appeared to be an officer’s side-arm she’d retrieved from a third. Will, Sindy, and the Professor made no move to retrieve weapons, but Fineflin and Grimby conficated the rifle Oscar had attempted to requisition.

“I think we’d like to have people who know what they’re doing carrying these things.” quipped Grimby.

“But it’s dangerous out here,” Oscar hissed.

“All the more reason to keep you from carrying a weapon,” assured Fineflin.

While the Realmians determined which of them would be armed, Stevens conferred with a member of the retrieval squad. After several moments he nodded and made his way back over to Bug.

“OK, my men tell me they have transports just over the ridge Northeast of here, about a three mile hike. If you and your people can move together, we’ll keep scouts out to keep us from being surprised. Aside from the force we just eliminated, The firm doesn’t have much of a presence on this side of the City yet. We aren’t expecting much trouble, but you never know.”

The Bar Member looked down into Bug’s eyes and continued, “Do you all think you’re up for this?”

Bug nodded. “I’m still not sure what’s going on here, but I figure it’s better than being taken to the Hoard’s camp.”

“That’s more true than you know. Let your people know what we’re planning, we’ll be moving out shortly.” Stevens took a few steps away from Bug before the lawyer turned back and added, “And would you do me a favor and not let your wife shoot me in the back? It would be bad for my case.”

Bug turned and faced Sindy, who’s head was steaming so much it looked as though her head was on fire.

The lawyer reached down and patted Bug on the shoulder. “Good luck with that. And I haven’t forgotten your ‘ex-lawyers’ comment. We are going to need to talk.”

  1. The steam she’d been generating hit the cool night air and sank to the ground. After the war Nobody attempted to convince his daughter to moonlight as a smoke machine. The conversation did not end well.