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Old 10-31-2005, 04:39 PM   #285
Spectre of Capitalism
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Battling evil bureaucrats at Zeta Aquilae
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Unfortunately, the Eagles managed to take out only eleven of the still-overwhelming numbers of orcs before they trotted off the field doing odd dances in the manner of the Sorethighhim. Gateskeeper's nifty new white outfit was now so splattered with the black blood of his foes that he now resembled a bipedal dalmation, but he had no time to look up a good dry-cleaner between staff parries and sword thrusts. Slicing through a Geordian knot of massive orcs in metal VISORs, he attempted to survey the battlefield of never-say-die foes, but everything he saw was merely depressing to the point of desperation: unending seas of unending enemies who themselves were unending. The only hopeful spot was where Vogonwe and Pimpi stood alone in the center of a large roughly circular area which no enemy could penetrate, for verily all who came within the invisible boundary ventured within earshot of Vogonwe's shrill extemporaneous on-the-spot poetic account of the battle in progress. Pimpi wore earplugs and waved Hush at any who ventured too close. Vogonwe threw arrows aimed to maim rather than kill, so as to prevent them from dying and coming back at full strength.

"So many," Gatesy muttered to himself while trying to catch his breath, which had once more inconveniently scampered off into a nearby ravine. "So many...if only there was some way to cut the enemy numbers...reduce...compress...compress??...Compression!! Of course! Why didn't I think of it sooner!" he cliched. The weary wizard put on a grim smirk (which his grandmother had knitted for him many years prior) and turned to face a new set combatants. Thundering towards him were the three remaining waves of orcs upon which several Loyers were surfing, for indeed were they of the dread faction of the Kahli'phorr'nyah Loyers. Dressed in their gaudily-colored tropic-print shorts, they smelt of rancid coconut oil and bellowed their dread battle cry of "COWABUNGA, DUDE!!"

Gateskeeper responded to the improbable spectacle from atop his fashionable steed Fad-O-Slacks by swinging his staff in a wide arc over his head before bringing it crashing to the ground with a shout of "ZIPFILE.EXE!!" The effect was astounding: absolutely nothing happened. Well, not exactly nothing -- Gateskeeper got a nagware o-mail about not having completed the registration form for the use of the magical command. Whipping the staff up from the ground he quickly entered the required information and obtained a 30-day temporary trial period just in time to repeat the action before being pincushioned in the all-too-near barrage of poorly-forged-but-really-sharp-pointy-objects.

This time the effect was even more astounding: a brilliant bolt arced from the staff head and hopscotched lightning-like thru the nearest of the companies of warriors who were suddenly reduced in size to mere ripples -- the heavily armed, six-foot-three members of the You-Rock-High batallions loosed to deal with the spotted sorcerer and his companions were abruptly transformed into cockroach-sized stomping material...2-inch hors d'oeuvres for Chrysophylax...loyers were brought low...dragons were diminutized.** Peals of laughter arose from the momentarily-relieved Good Guys, for there is nothing more hilarious than hearing the battle cry of a Loyer in the voice of a chipmunk.

With merry hearts they began a dance of death that would surely have done St. Vitus proud. The newly minute minions, finding themselves facing seemingly oversized opponents turned and fled, but those who escaped the boots of the Forces of Good made it away only to be crunched under the iron footwear of the next battery of battling belligerents. Kuruharan, as was his usual modus operandi, quickly sold out of his supply of golf clubs which the Questians then used to "release the prisoners" -- that is, they rained down miniature heads upon the stunned full-sized troops further back in the column. The headless ham-handed hirelings were, of course, regenerated, but being still short-of-height they were only repeatedly lost (and crushed again) in the following flow of fierce full-sized fighters.

The merriment in the camp of the How-do-you-get-orc-blood-off-your-shoes-ship, though, was short-lived. The next horde of evil minions quickly overcame its apprehension and surged forward heedless of the Lilliputian casualties. But even as Gateskeeper prepared to downsize them a shadow fell over the confident conjurer, missing him by scant inches as it thudded into the blood-dampened earth. The air about the combatants suddenly began to whip up the dust surrounding them, and the advancing orcs stopped and staggered back as a custom black aerophaunt with a convertable top landed in the space before the thunderstruck thaumaturge. Its rider wore a robe so hideous in its utter blackness that it seemed to pull all light into itself, drawing every eye to its evil weave and leaving those who beheld it despairing of ever regaining hope of light and life again, much like the campaign platforms of the major modern political parties. A tense silence fell upon the battlefield, hitting the ground near the shadow which fell a few moments earlier and squashing a couple of mini-orcs in the process.

From atop the sporty late-model aerophaunt (which sported a rump-er sticker that proclaimed "Don't laugh, it's paid for.") the rider threw back his cowl, and lo, there came the unmistakable hiss and the impeccable white wig of none other than the Chief Counsel of Mogul and master of the Great Cloud of Litig-ai-shon, Greedhog (surely you didn't think he'd escaped the regenerative fiesta, did you?) Desperately trying to think of something threatening to say, Gateskeeper stood alone between the Dark Loyer and the rest of the Geez-We-Thought-Maybe-We-Were-Going-To-Finally-Win-Ship, but only for a moment. First Merisuwyniel, then Gravlox, then the entire Fellow-gallo-insert-gender-and-or-race-here-ship stood forward at Gateskeeper's side -- mostly his backside. Heartened by the support of his long-time comrades, he brandished his staff menacingly at the Lead Loyer and shouted "Go back to the abyss!"

Greedhog laughed, a sound as merry as the joyous wailing of the eternally damned. "Old fool," he wheezed from his perch. He drew from his briefcase a tall, thin stack of subpoenas, writs, petitions, restraining orders, and other papers upon which were inscribed many foul and cunning devices. Holding it high over his head, a sheath of flame ran dramatically from its base to its summit, shining with a vile and depressing light yet not comsuming them. He gestured with his free hand and Gateskeeper's staff burst asunder in his hands. "Wow," mused the Gateskeeper, "I thought my virus scanner was impregnable."

"Old fool," Greedhog repeated, advancing his aerophaunt slowly towards the cluster of heroes and heroines, "this is my hour! And besides, The Abyss was a crummy movie." The massive dark form moved within striking distance of the small knot of brave and/or foolhardy Questians, ignoring Vogonwe as he verbally composed the requiem that he thought no one would live to hear. Such was the discomposure engendered by Greedhog's fearsome presence that none thought to raise hand or sword in defense, but merely tried to maintain enough dignity so as not to soil their breeches before the end. But even as the loathsome loyer prepared to hurl his lethal load of lawsuits and end the quest for good and all, he hesitated but a moment. For in that moment a thin ray of sunshine shone across the gap between them, and as from very far away a sound of hope reached their ears, like unto a symphony of a thousand herald trumpets no two of which were tuned to the same pitch, like the lower Bronx at rush hour. Merisuwyniel cried out, "Horns!" And the rest of the Yet-Another-Improbable-Rescue-Ship took up the cry, "Horns, horns, horns!"

( ** Editor's note: a lone mini-dragon on the edge of the battle managed to escape the melee, and lives on to this day doing television commercials for an American car insurance company.)
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