[FFML] [SI] Chance of a Millennium 11
tannim_murphy at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 11 22:32:40 PDT 2010
It was a dark and stormy night. The air seethed in anger at the sea, and
the sea responded in kind, crashing against the rocky shore in a spray of
fine mist. Thunderous clouds hovered ominously overhead as the two
watchers, indistinctly silhouetted by the nearby camp fire, looked on with
dread. A third figure moved to join the duo looking out into the deeper
parts of the sea, putting off a more pronounced outline given he was
wearing a full set of plate armor and wielding a sword and shield. The
trio continued searching for any sign of movement for a few moments more,
before the one in armor decided to break the silence.
"Lovely day for a picnic, don't you think?"
Kyle looked irritably at Matt. "Okay, first off: it's night. Secondly?
You want decent food," she pointed vaguely inland, "feel free to try and
hunt it down yourself. Third?" Kyle paused. "... So I don't have a
"Third," Serenity chimed in, "we have movement on the horizon. I think
it's the Righteous Fury."
"Oh thank God," Matt muttered. "I don't think I could have taken eating
crab cakes four days in a row."
The three otherworldly adventurers headed towards the large keep that rose
above the tundra to report the oncoming ship. The land they'd chosen to
build their fortifications on had proven hardy enough to prevent scourge
burrowing in, but the utter lack of materials to build with (aside from
stone, there was plenty of that) had necessitated immediate scouting as
well as resupply. And the rapid building Kyle had initially anticipated
had given way to eighteen months of grueling construction, interspersed
with relentless assaults, both from Northrend natives and the scourge.
Now, however, Valiance Keep stood tall, the harbor just outside it filled
with the timber and tools required to make a new ship, tentatively named
The Stormbreaker, and construction on the Lodge was nearing completion. On
the horizon, the incoming Righteous Fury was loaded with supplies to begin
construction of a training hall, as well as food and more men for the
garrison located within the keep.
The past year and a half had been daunting, but finally, the end was in
sight. "If I have to put up with another one of those D.H.E.T.A. morons
asking me about wildlife conservation..." Kyle grumbled as he pulled off
the stuffed coat he'd been wearing.
"Oh, they're not that bad," Serenity replied.
"Trust me, they are. You don't get the same spiel I do, because you're not
a night elf."
"Hey guys, not to interrupt this delightful exchange, but shouldn't we be
checking in with the watch commander? I'm guessing he'll be as excited as
I am that we'll be eating fresh food tonight. He'll want to know the ship
made it through."
"Just so long as they didn't send in dried fish, like last time," Kyle
replied, before returning a salute from one of the soldiers guarding the
entryway. Despite his arguments to the King of Stormwind, the situation in
Northrend had degenerated quickly as the scourge targeted officers, until
finally Matt, Kyle, and Serenity were some of the few informed people
left. Reinforcements had fixed that problem over time, but the older
soldiers who'd come across the seas with them treated them with the same
respect they gave the new officers, and newer arrivals copied those
Quickly alerting the watch commander in the courtyard of the keep of their
shift, they stepped into the barracks portion of the keep, and headed for
the stairs leading up to the Officer's quarters and main hall.
"So, tonight?" Serenity asked.
Kyle nodded. "Everything is pretty much as I remember it. While not quite
caught up, I get the feeling we're close to the point I remember. We've
done our part, as promised."
"And then some," Matt muttered.
Passing another pair of saluting footmen, they entered the cozy hall and
made their way over to the balding man behind a table covered in books and
"General Arlos," Kyle said with a nod.
"Commander, Lieutenant, Lady. What news from the front?" the general
"Nothing to report there, but from the ocean, it seems our newest supply
is about to arrive."
"Wonderful! Another boat load of civilians playing at being soldiers, and
whatever supplies the smiths and carpenters turned down in Stormwind."
Kyle smiled at that. The general always complained about that, even though
they all knew he was looking forward to the new supplies and fresh foods
just as much as anyone else.
"Aside from that, sir, there's something I'd like to speak with you
The general frowned. "So it's that time, is it? The king told me about
"I'm sure he did. I don't like the thought of leaving you in the lurch,
but at the moment, I think the worst is behind us." Kyle said.
"Commander, we've got scourge-infested lands as far as the eye can see to
the north, and to the south, nothing but frigid ocean; a wall with our
backs against it, no matter how flat or calm it may be."
"I understand that, general. But my... Knowledge of things is quickly
coming to an end. I fail to see what use I'll be to you, once that's
The General chuckled. "You've no idea, Commander, do you? The men look up
to you. The three of you, really. You've been here since the beginning.
You know the men, know the land, and despite the apparent lack of
training, you've grown into some of the finest officers I've had serving
under me that I can recall. I hate to lose you. All of you."
Kyle blinked, not having thought about it that way. "I... Hadn't thought
of it that way before. But I insist, sir. Our usefulness here is coming to
an end. At least in a unique way. We'll be missed, but we're officers. I'm
sure Stormwind isn't lacking for those."
General Arlos harrumphed. "Lacking in officers? Not a chance. But good
officers? You'd be surprised." He turned to look the three of them over,
before sighing wearily. "Commander, come here." So saying, he waved Kyle
over to the table, and the map of Northrend spread out over the majority
"Our scouts have finished sounding out the location of those damnable
tunnels the scourge keep using to attack us. I've been trying to draw up a
plan to neutralized them for a time so that we can finish construction
"I see... You want us to oversee the operation?"
"Something like that. There's a special cargo on the Righteous Fury I've
requested from the Stormwind armory. A prototype weapon using some of that
strange metal our scouts found further north."
"Saronite," Matt said, trying to hide his disgust. Kyle had explained to
him and Serenity the origins of the metal. Despite its presence in nodes
of ore scattered throughout the continent, it was really the solidified
blood of Yogg Saron, the Old God of Death.
"Indeed," the General replied with a nod. "This weapon should be enough to
collapse a majority of the tunnels leading to..."
He leaned over to check the map, but Kyle finished for him "-
"That's it. We can't use anything too powerful or it might damage Valiance
Keep. But this is supposed to pack enough of a punch to blow up a small
Kyle suppressed a smirk. Where he came from, a bomb the size of a desk
could blow up a small mountain. Whatever they had coming wouldn't be
anything too impressive.
"I see. What role would you have us play?" Serenity asked.
"That mountain out there is covered with caves those damnable bugs keep
coming at us from. A small strike team can conceivably slip in, plant the
weapon near the base, and get out before the bomb goes off and brings the
mountain down on those bastard's heads."
"Sounds messy. I take it you want us to lead that strike team, then?"
The General nodded. "Indeed. You take out those undead, and I'll see to it
you have the freedom to head off on your way. I'll even let the other
outposts know to give you what hospitality they can."
"That's... Very generous of you," Serenity stated.
"You've been good to the men here. You've stood beside them to fight, and
given them orders that got them through thick and thin. The Alliance owes
you three for that, but this mission needs you for this. I can trust
others with this task. but I'm asking you. They- the others, I mean- are
capable enough, but I know you can see this task through. You've far more
luck than the rest of us combined."
"Must be a trick of the Light," Kyle quipped, earning a quick glare from
the General. He was a paladin, worshiper and follower of the Divine Light,
and he disliked the night elf's irrelevance in regards to it, but he'd
learned to let it slide in occasion.
"Elune might have a thing or two to say about that, as well," Matt said.
Serenity frowned, but held her tongue. Matt, seeing this, winced slightly.
He should have known better than to bring up the elf goddess.
"In any case," the General said loudly, to get them back on track. "We'll
unpack the gear, and move out as soon as we can. That should allow you
some time to prepare."
"Thank you, General." Serenity said.
He didn't reply, merely nodding at them before turning back to his map.
The early morning sun found Valiance Keeps' docks already bustling with
activity; the harbor itself had come a long way from a simple inlet on a
rocky shore. Sturdy, twin piers eventually took shape and made the inner
formation of the Alliance stronghold. A thoughtfully placed tower kept
watch for any surprise attacks while the vessel unloaded its much needed
supplies. And as it had become habit over the intervening months Serenity
was there, quill in hand and taking an inventory of all the items coming
off the ship. Her calm demeanor and stern voice kept all the dock workers
there at a brisk pace, making sure everything transpired with quick
efficiency. If someone looked closely enough it might appear she was
actually having fun.
"Stevens! Watch your step, you nearly dropped our only crate of spices,"
Serenity admonished. "I know you've only been with us a few weeks, but I
expect you to be more careful."
"Yes ma'am! Sorry ma'am!"
"I see you slacking over there Aldriot. Do you want to lose your dinner
Aldriot spit over the side over the boat before picking up a barrel.
"Apologies ma'am, just catchin' me breath is all."
"Do that when we're finished, we've got to make sure this boat is ready to
set sail before the evening tide."
"Of course, ma'am."
Serenity virtually hummed to herself as she catalogued each item as it
came off the ship, making a mental tally to add with the precious few
stores they already had. As each vessel was loaded with provisions, along
with additional reinforcements and crew, it was something of a guessing
game to see how much food they required and needed to survive.
Unfortunately the last few shipments of required cargo had been lost at
sea, to who knows what, and had stretched their supplies to the breaking
point. Everyone was excited to see fresh food arrive, and it didn't
require much prompting from Serenity to keep everyone working quickly.
Given how packed each ship was, with no wasted space or manpower, it was
something of a surprise to see an overly-dressed man, somewhat overweight,
arrive from beneath the ship's hold. He looked around and spotted the
most likely important person in the vicinity, which happened to be
"Excuse me, miss?" he spoke in a slow drawl, habitual to the nobles of
Azeroth. "I believe I need to see someone... hmph... in charge."
With a glare that had dignitaries of visiting nations cowed, Serenity
simply looked at the man. He wilted under the attention.
"It's just that I... Have an important message. From the King." He
looked side to side uncertainly. "I suppose there's no harm in telling
you. Kil'Jaden the Deceiver, that demon warlock menace, was successfully
pushed back into the Twisting Nether at the Sunwell. Now that we've
finished with that fight, we'll be able to fully turn our attention and
resources to Northrend." He gave a weak, half-hearted smile.
"Congratulations are in order, I suppose. We'll have a regular shipping
line established within the week."
Serenity nodded gravely. "That's all well and good. However, what I
would like for you to do is move. You're blocking the gangplank."
The man nearly fell into the sea in his haste to comply. As he left
Serenity's immediate view, she became aware of an even stranger oddity;
several gnomes were working in tandem, lifting a crate out of the hold
with a winch and pulley system, all done with the care one usually takes
with extremely breakable objects. A dwarf in plate bellowed orders,
directing the whole thing, and glared with venom at any of her boys
getting too close to the operation.
Before Serenity could open her mouth and ask what this was all about, the
dwarf stomped towards her with an angry glare. "You there! Woman! We need
a dry room with no foot traffic!"
Serenity, used to dealing with unruly subjects, simply nodded. "Very
well, I believe some room could be allocated towards fitting your needs-"
The dwarf interrupted her mid-sentence. "Good. And when you've shown my
men where we can place this, fetch General Arlos for us. This is the most
important thing you people will get to participate in since landing in
Northrend!" Rather than wait to see if his demands were carried out, the
dwarf stormed off the boat without so much as a backwards glance.
A sea breeze brushed by Serenity's hair, tousling it in front of her eyes
as she attempted to keep the rage in check. She succeeded, if only
barely. "Stevens! Aldriot! I've got some work for you..."
After the ship had been unloaded (a process that had taken most of the
morning) Kyle, Matt, and Serenity had been called to the courtyard of the
Keep by a runner. There, they were to meet with the Captain in charge of
the weapon meant to end (at least, temporarily) the scourge assault.
"So this is it, huh?" Kyle asked, staring at the... Device with no small
amount of trepidation. Semi-spherical in nature, it was waist-high, and
covered with dials, gauges, wires, and riveted patches of mismatched
metals. In a couple places, wood planks seem to have been used to create
the shell, as well. "The gnomes worked on this, didn't they?"
"Aye, lass, they did," the dwarf in charge, who revealed himself to be
Captain Bitters, said with a hint of misery. As if on cue, a half-dozen of
the diminutive Azerothians ran in, all of them wearing coveralls and
tinted goggles as they busied about it with tools and other arcane
"Should I ask for a geiger counter?" Kyle quipped.
Matt chuckled, but the dwarf seemed confused. "A what now?"
"A... nevermind. Not important. So! I assume you're going to be on the
placement team, who else is coming with us?" Kyle asked, eyeing the gnomes
warily. She'd seen quite a few gnome soldiers hold their own against the
oncoming tide of undead. Enough that she could respect them on a
battlefield. but these weren't soldiers. They looked like low-level
technicians. All they needed were two-foot long lab coats.
"I've a small strike team already picked out. Since I've been stuck with
you three as well, I'm going to divide us up into two teams," he
"How many per team?" Serenity asked, hiding a frown.
"Four. Since your Commander here supposedly has a sixth sense concerning
the layout of Northrend, I figure she'll do best leading the strike team
into the caves and clearing our path," Captain Bitters explained.
"Where do you want us?" Matt asked, motioning to Serenity and himself.
"You'll go with the strike team, and Lady Serenity here will stay with the
bombing team, which I'll be leading personally."
Matt looked uncertainly from Kyle to Serenity. "The three of us together
have been a pretty effective fighting force. Any particular reason you're
breaking us up?"
"I've read the reports, Lieutenant. The three of you have some talent, but
the strike team needs to be entirely offensive, and a priest, even one as
powerful as Lady Serenity here, would do much more good back with the
bombing team, as we're stuck escorting a technician and some muscle to
move the weapon into place."
"That's two. Who else on each team?" Kyle asked, hoping there were some
powerful people with Serenity.
"The Bombing team will be me, the Lady Serenity, Corporal Hartaz, and
Technician Nobbs." As he spoke, a draenei behemoth in plate stepped
forward, followed by a grinning gnome in a rubber smock with a combover.
Kyle did her best to suppress a groan. Especially at the madness dancing
in the eyes of the grinning gnome. "And the strike team?"
"We have Sergeant Soerta," Another plate-wearing draenei figure stepped
forward, though this one was female. "-And Private Jenkins."
Before the human private could step forward, Kyle let out a rather girlish
shriek that ended almost as quickly as it started. Trying to cover it up
with a cough, Kyle waved off the Captains questioning look, and hoped the
coughing would cover for her suddenly pale face.
"Your first name wouldn't happen to be Leeroy, would it?" Matt asked with
"How did you know, sir? I've heard you were good with the men, but that's
uncanny!" The young man swelled with pride that his superior officer
already knew his name.
Kyle's mouth opened. Snapped shut with a click of teeth. Opened again. And
it hung there, as she fumbled for something to say.
Matt, unable to do anything else, grinned weakly at the praise.
Kyle buried her face in her hand. "I can't wait to get out of here. One
more mission... one more." Shaking off her misery, she nodded. "Right.
Well. We'll see this through, just like all the other missions we've done,
right? When do we leave?"
"As soon as possible?" Sergeant Soerta said, quietly. The faint accent of
her people sounded vaguely Eastern European to Kyle and Matt.
"Unfortunately, there are some last-minute calibrations that need to be
done for the device to in- go off correctly. It'll be another day before
we're ready," Technician Nobbs interjected.
"Hmm... Sounds like a finicky bomb. You sure it'll make it to where it
needs to go without breaking?' Kyle asked, frowning at the device.
"Of course! What do you think we are? Goblins?" The Technician asked,
earning another sigh from Kyle.
"I would hope not," she replied, before muttering "I tower over enough
"I'm going to look over the reports from what few scouts who went into
that mountain and made it out have reported. Captain, if you would
accompany me?" Kyle said, taking off towards the Officer's Mess off the
Captain Bitters nodded. "Aye, you'd better believe I will," he said,
before taking off after her.
The three erstwhile dimension travelers had settled into varying roles
over the course of time it took to build and establish the Alliance
beachhead. Kyle helped oversee the overall tactical aspect of the
assault, which included organizing scouting parties, directing building
construction, and preparing for the various dangers his forknowledge
warned him about. Serenity threw herself with abandon into organizing and
prioritizing the logistical side of the operation; what resources they had
and what went where (she claimed it was much easier than trying to juggle
the demands and constraints of an entire solar system). And Matt, feeling
decidedly left out, had opted to attempt to keep the morale of the
defenders high by drilling as often as he could with the common trooper.
This in turn lead to his eventual battlefield promotion as a lieutenant
and had the unforeseen side effect of having him becoming rather attached
to the soldiers under his command, and they with him. He decided on one
last tour of inspection before leaving tomorrow, and to maybe have a few
words with the men, but before he could form up his platoon of soldiers
his first sergeant managed to find him. How he unerringly did so whenever
he wanted to Matt was dying to know, and he suspected the man had more
contacts and friends inside the Keep than most spies cultivate over an
"Is it true, sir? Are you really leaving us?"
Matt winced as a pair of puppy-dog eyes was directed his way; they would
have done a four year old asking for a sweet proud. It looked oddly
incongruous on a man ten years his senior. It was also typical of the man
to try and wheedle his commander in this fashion.
"Geez Sam, quit it with the eyes already! You're a sergeant now, start
acting like it!" He paused to take a breath. "Yes, after this mission
we're leaving, the three of us. No, it doesn't look like we'll be back
any time soon, or ever for that matter." At Sam's defeated look, Matt
added somewhat gruffly, "Of course I'll miss you guys. It's been an honor
and a pleasure serving with you." Matt raised a gauntleted fist and
punched his sergeant in the armored shoulder. "You'll be taking over for
me when I leave, so you better treat the men right."
If Matt didn't know better, he'd almost swear his prone-to-overacting
first sergeant was close to tears. But with visible effort the man pulled
himself together and performed a parade ground salute. "We won't let you
Matt nodded. "Good man." He glanced around conspiratorially, then leaned
in to whisper. "I know things have been rough on the men lately, so I
wanted to organize a small, shall we say... Celebration party? In a day
or two? Something of a victory bash for when we return. New supplies
have just docked and I have it on good authority that they've managed to
include some very excellent dwarven brews. I'm sure you have the
connections to put one together quickly."
Sam looked uncertain. "But what about the scourge attacks?"
"They're going to be halted, for a while at any rate. If we succeed in
our mission, that is. Let's just say I'm being optimistic. If this plan
works out, you'll be free of the scourge for a time. If not, we'll just
call the whole thing off." Matt figured if that were to occur he'd
probably be dead, in which case it really wouldn't matter to him either
Sam slowly nodded, and grinned. "It has been a while since I've tasted
fine dwarven ale. For all of us, really. I'm sure the men will be
"Excellent! Good to hear. But, if you could, keep this quiet, would
you? I want it to be something of a surprise for the Commander and her
"Of course sir!" Sam gave one last salute. "I'll get right on it!"
General Arlos looked over the plans before glancing up at the two
officer's standing before him. "This plan seems a little..." He paused as
if looking for the right word, before finally saying, "Loose."
Kyle smirked. "A thought I'd had as well. But beyond a few hundred meters
in, none of our scouts into those caves came back alive. We don't know
what we'll find. In light of that much 'unknown factor,' this plan gives
us the flexibility needed to handle almost any situation we come across."
"Indeed. And your thoughts, Captain? I see you're taking charge here,
despite the Commander's higher rank."
"The Commander's rank was a field promotion made during the heat of battle
when there was nobody to effectively lead the men here. The King of
Stormwind himself pulled me aside and told me to listen to her advice
whenever it was given, and I'll do so. But I'm not about to entrust the
fate of this mission to an untested officer with questionable skill."
The general blinked. "And... your thoughts, Commander?"
Kyle shrugged. "I'll try not to let my wounded ego trip me up."
General Arlos nodded. "See that you it doesn't. I want you all back here
when this is over. With Kil'Jaden's defeat, the Burning Legion's threat is
diminished for the time being. We should be seeing reinforcements as
forces dispatched to Outland are rotated up here. But until that time, we
have to finish construction, and to do that, we need some time to get
things done unmolested!"
"This will give you that time, General. My men and I are sure of that,"
"We'll see, captain. We'll see. Commander, if this plan meets your
approval, then you're free to proceed."
Kyle couldn't' help but smirk at the choking sound the dwarf beside her
made, before nodding. "It's a sound plan. Given our resources and
manpower, it's probably our best option. The teams will be ready to leave
within the hour."
"My mission, Commander. I'll decide when we leave. But yes, General. We're
nearly ready to go. I've just a few things to go over with the night elf
here, first." Captain Bitters said, before turning to leave.
The two officers watched the shorter leave, before Kyle snorted and
sketched a salute. "By your leave, General?"
Arlos chuckled. "See to it that you come back alive, Commander. Morale can
ill afford to lose you or your friends."
"And the Captain?"
"I would never turn down help up here in Northrend, no matter how
distasteful their personality."
"I suppose then, that Captain Bitters is appropriately named. I'll try to
keep him alive, as well."
"Good luck, Commander. I get the feeling you're going to need it."
"Hmm," Kyle hummed in reply, before slipping out the door.
A second later Kyle nearly tripped over Captain Bitters.
"Now see here, rogue! I don't care-" The captain started.
Said complaint was interrupted as he was bodily lifted from his feet by
his shirt and slammed into the nearby stone wall hard enough to knock the
wind from him.
"No. You listen. I will stick to your plan. And I will listen to your
orders. Something your superiors told you to do when referring to me. But
don't think for one moment that you're better than me or some such
bullshit, because up here, everything you know is just that: shit."
Kyle slammed him into the wall again. "How dare I? Look around, moron.
I've fought for these walls, these men. I've cried as we buried our dead,
and I've bled as I took arrows and claws meant for those still alive. I
could run you through right here and now and none of them would question
me. And I could tell them you merely looked at me the wrong way, and you'd
wake up just in time to slip below the waves of the harbor."
Bitters' eyes widened, and he started to struggle once more. Kyle moved
one hand from his collar towards the dagger on her belt. "Quit, Captain."
The Captain stopped struggling, and Kyle nodded. "Quit while you're not
too far behind. Nobody has to know about this, unless you want them to."
The dwarf looked around (as best he could while held against the wall by
someone twice his height) before sighing and nodding.
Kyle let go, watching the dwarf fall to the ground and slowly climb back
to his feet. "I am not your enemy Captain."
Bitters scowled, wiping dirt from his knees. "Are you sure? Because after
"Unless you decide to make me one." Kyle interrupted. After a brief pause
to see if the captain would say anything else, she continued. "When this
mission is done, you will never see me again." 'And I will never have to
see you again,' she thought with a frown. "Until then, lets work together
against the Scourge, alright?"
"Work with you, or around you?" He asked resentfully.
Work with me," Kyle said slowly, before putting one hand on her dagger,
"or I work with someone else."
"I see," the Dwarf said, eyeing the glowing blade with no small amount of
"I'm glad. Call for me when it's time to depart. I have preparations to
make," Kyle said, before stalking off. She ignored the grumbling coming
from behind her.
"What's up?" Matt asked Kyle, as he and Serenity arrived in the back room
of the Inn across from the Keep. The three of them had quickly usurped the
storage room as a private meeting place, and while most of the regulars
there knew about it, they also knew that to intrude or interrupt for all
but the most dire of emergencies was a decidedly bad idea.
"We might have a problem with the Captain," Kyle said, before filling them
in on the briefing.
Serenity nodded after the explanation. "I did say that dwarf was
trouble," she pointed out.
"Trouble is a private with poorly-fitting armor. On a mission this
important, a leader like that is a disaster waiting to happen," Kyle
"Do we want to make sure he's 'unavailable' for the mission? I know some
of my boys would jump at the chance. He's already made an impression on
the men." Matt's face darkened as he recalled the details of the reports.
"He'll be confined, and unharmed, until we we're through." The paladin
smirked at a thought. "Though I doubt anyone would be able to find him."
Kyle scratched her head, before looking at the ceiling in thought. "No...
as much as it pains me to admit, he knows more about this bomb than I do,
so we'll have to trust him enough to get the job done." She turned to
focus all her attention on Serenity. "That said, however, I don't like the
fact that he's separating us from you."
"You think he means to-" The queen started to ask, shocked.
"Nonononono! Nothing like that. I think it's the opposite. He wants you to
live, and us... well... If not before, I'm sure now he's wondering just
how he can get away with it. So I thought it prudent to warn you."
Serenity nodded. "I'll keep an eye out. You two just be careful."
Kyle smiled. "Hey, it's me!"
Matt groaned. "And here we go again."
"What?" Kyle asked, before waving it off. "No big deal, really. Napoleon
isn't that brilliant. I-"
The door to the room was thrown open, revealing Captain Bitters and a pair
of armored soldiers. "What the hell's all this?!" he shouted.
The trio looked up calmly from their position in the middle of the room,
seemingly unperturbed at being discovered.
"Is there a renewed scourge assault at the main gates?" Serenity asked.
The unexpected question put the dwarf off-balance, interrupting what he
was going to say next. "Wha- No!"
"Is another sea monster bearing down on us from the ocean?" Matt quickly
"Of course not!" Bitters said, face turning red in anger.
Kyle frowned. "Then you have five seconds to close the door and leave us
alone before we make an example out of you," she said, giving them an out
as a courtesy to a fellow officer. "Five."
"Now see here! I've had just about-"
"Four," Serenity said, over his tirade.
"-and if you think for one second-"
"Three," Matt continued quietly, looking bored.
"-another thing coming! I'll have you know-"
"Two-one-goodbye." Kyle said, before kicking the dwarf hard in the chest.
The blow sent him flying back into the arms of his surprised guards, and
Kyle quickly stepped forward and pulled the door shut. "Lets see if he
gets the hint."
Serenity reached for her staff. "I doubt he's enough sense to," she
muttered. Sure enough, the door flew open again, and the guards now stood,
weapons drawn, behind a fuming captain Bitters.
He opened his mouth to speak, but before he could...
"MY GOD IN HEAVEN! WHO ON THIS EARTH DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, BARGING IN ON A
MEETING OF YOUR SUPERIORS, CAPTAIN?" Kyle bellowed in her best drill
"AND YOU TWO," she shouted, turning to the guards who had taken a step
back in surprise. "PULLING WEAPONS ON OFFICERS OF THE ALLIANCE IN A
BATTLEFIELD? YOUR PARENTS MUST BE ROLLING OVER IN THEIR GRAVES AT THE
STUPIDITY, BECAUSE NOBODY WITH CHILDREN AS STUPID AS YOU WOULD WANT TO
LIVE ANOTHER DAY BREATHING THE SAME AIR AS YOU TWO."
She took a breath, before frowning. "STAND AT ATTENTION WHEN I'M SPEAKING,
OR I'LL HAVE YOUR GUTS FOR GARTERS!"
Too stunned to protest, the armored figures straightened up, Captain
Bitters' orders utterly forgotten.
"GOOD. YOU HAVE SOME BRAINS. NOW DROP AND GIVE ME FIFTY."
They blinked behind their masked helmets, and Kyle leapt at them, pushing
past the captain hard enough to bounce him off the wall. "I SAID DROP,
SOLDIER!" And she threw one to the floor, plate armor crashing as the
soldier landed painfully on his face. The other, went for his sword, but
was too slow, as Matt smacked him upside the (armored) head with his
shield. Kyle turned around and threw the other to the floor, so they both
lay there side-by side.
"FRONT LEANING REST POSITION!"
Matt, feeling some pity on the surprised guards, got down before them in
the classic pushup position. "Like this," he stage whispered.
"UP!" Kyle commanded. Matt lifted himself. The two guards quickly
"Lady Serenity, if you would, please see to it that these fine upstanding
Alliance Soldiers show us their dedication to the cause, the Captain and I
need to speak again, it seems."
Serenity nodded. The two soldiers looked at each other, as if asking 'what
the hell,' but before they could do anything, Serenity, voice even more
commanding that Kyle's, continued the cadence. "DOWN!"
Captain Bitters stared at his backup in shock. Then something stood before
"Hello again, Captain," Kyle said darkly, before grabbing the Dwarf's
shirt and throwing him into the back room. "We'll just be a minute," he
tossed back to Matt and Serenity, before ducking into the room and closing
the door behind him.
Serenity forced down a smile as she heard a few dull thuds, a couple
shouts of pain, and the constant, booming shouts of one pissed off night
elf. Even as she ordered the two wayward soldiers outside to run laps
(with Matt as overseer) she couldn't help but grin at the sound of feeble
protests coming from the dwarf, before Kyle again drowned the dwarf out,
this time loud enough to be understood through the thick wood.
"-you EVER try this shit with me again, shorty, I will personally flay the
skin from your bones before dipping you in the salty sea and charging
admission to everyone you ever annoyed! I will summon up the spirits of
the dead simply so that they can enjoy watching you suffer, DO YOU
Bitters' response was unintelligible, but made obvious by the next
"Be glad it wasn't your neck, Captain. And I use the rank warily. How you
advanced beyond Peon is beyond me!"
Serenity opened the door and stepped inside, secretly pleased that Kyle,
even in a rage, knew her well enough to not even bother turning, merely
nodding once at her presence.
"But... Peon is a horde rank!" The Captain blubbered through an obviously
"I KNOW that, you imbecile. I meant... Well, you couldn't possibly
understand what I meant, because insults seem to go in one ear and out the
other. As do things like advice, orders, and COMMON FUCKING SENSE."
Serenity blinked, holding back the healing she was about to start.
"You can't talk to me this way! I'm-"
Kyle had had enough. "NO! I CAN, AND I AM." She took a deep breath, before
pointing to him. "Captain, I'm putting you on notice. You screw up again,
and I will have you tried for gross incompetence, dereliction of duty, and
criminal negligence on the field of battle."
"I haven't done anything yet!"
"Yet? YET!? My god, man, listen to you. You make it sound like you intend
to screw up. This is war, Captain! People are dying out there every day,
and your mistakes can cost even more lives. Lives far more valuable than
your own. I won't see good men thrown away due to stupidity. You will come
on this mission, and when it is over, you will get on the boat and head
back to Stormwind."
"My orders are for me to-"
"YOUR ORDERS ARE RESCINDED! FINISH MISSION, GET ON BOAT! DO I MAKE MYSELF
"I... Perfectly. But... You don't-"
I will talk with General Arlos. And he will agree with me. And if you
question the validity of my rank, I will torture you for the information
needed to use that bomb, and then throw you into the sea after applying a
liberal amount of small cuts all over your body."
"But there are sharks-"
"OF COURSE TH... Oh, fuck it. Serenity, heal this idiot, I can't stand
being in the same room as him any more."
"I can't really blame you," the Queen of the Silver Millennium said, even
as the end of her staff started glowing with a silvery light. "I think a
good night's rest as well?"
"I'll leave that up to you. I have to get to the practice fields before I
tear some poor private a new asshole," Kyle growled, before stomping out
"She... She can't do that!"
Serenity smirked. "I believe she just did." The queen gave a cheerful
Captain Bitters only had a moment to express his shock before the heavy,
bejeweled end of her staff collided with his face hard enough to render
Serenity looked around the room, belatedly realizing she was alone.
"Drat. Now I'll have to go find someone to drag out the body." She
sighed wistfully. "That shouldn't have felt as good as it did."
Author's Notes (Magus): At first, I was like "new character everyone can
enjoy!" but then I was like "I need someone to hate. Everyone's been so
good (or a bad guy that we could stab later)... I need some internal
conflict." And lo, Captain Bitters was born. My apologies to any
military/ex military people reading this and wincing at the
"drill-sergeant" scene. It was fun, but most of what I wanted to write
would have been.. over the top? Not that this wasn't, but I watered it
down a little, and beefed it up, too. Like some sort of watery beef
stew... Hmm... Okay, maybe not.
Aurthor's Notes (Tannim): I'd like to thank our readers for putting up
with us as long as you have; especially you non-WoW players. As you can
see we're hurrying things along, hence the time skip, and hopefully things
remained coherent. Please, feel free to send back comments and
corrections to tannim_murphy at yahoo.com, or taitekikagato at aol.com.
As always, thanks for reading!
Addenendum (Magus): The time skip serves a dual-purpose: Firstly, it
speeds up the fic, without losing anything vital. Secondly, in the event
that one of us is wanting to write, but the other is unavailable, we can
always revisit this and write little anecdotes or ficlets involving our
times building up to the here-and-now.
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