SN: Ask me the questions, law-keeper. I'm not afraid.
RHYS:What is your name?
SN: Sergeant Njörđr.
RHYS:What is your quest?
SN: To seek the Colonel Ferris.
RHYS:What is your favorite color?
SN: Blue. No, yello--- wait, no, it is blue.
RHYS: Great. Now, down to some heavier stuff.
SN: Hit me.
RHYS: How's the current state of world affairs?
SN: Well, not so good, Marshall. President Rapsknuckle is doing all he can, but he's had to pull back most of his forces into The City. Out here in the West, the people have been left to deal with the bandits, rebels, Candaemons, and assorted sundry all by themselves. I know for a fact there's troubles for folks in the North, East, and South.
RHYS: I think Iknewall that. Could you maybe go into more detail about the political geography of the world?
SN: OK. Settle in. I have a Bachelor's degree in Political Science as part of the soldier education programs put in place by President Rapsknuckle. (Ahem.)
(Note: The following is really long. Skipping it is not only acceptable, it's what all the cool kids do! -Andrew)
Sergeant Njörđr drops an EXPOSITION BOMB!
SN: The political situation is multi-faceted. The basic theory is that the main world is divided into five major regions: the West, the North, the East, the South, and The City in the middle of the others. Each is, since the Treaty, a member state of the Union States, which was rebuilt from The City. However, each State functions as an independent entity with more autonomy than may have been previously expected under such a federal system. This of course discounts The City, which is under nominal direct control by the US. However, each of the other states have their own government which shares a strained position of authority ostensibly under the central government; however, in reality, each State has its own ruler as the main controlling power in their region. In the North, the King and Queen have maintained rule for almost 30 years, despite the other factions attempting to take control there, such as the Vikings or even the crown's allies at the Wizard's Academy. Their relationship is typical of those found in other regions, where several groups attempt to gain power out from under the current leadership while rendering them assistance out of necessity. In the case of the North, should the Monarchy fall, the lack of a central government would leave a vacuum which would enable Candaemons, the Gangle Hoards, the Dragons or others to decimate the rest of the area despite the independent resistance of the lesser groups. In addition, the monarchy keeps the forces of the Central (City) government from completely dominating and annexing their territory. Still, each group attempts to keep the Monarchy balanced on the edge of a knife so that while it is never so weak as to crumble, it is never too strong that the other factions feel unable to challenge their authority. Each wishes to supplant them, but each lacks the power to do so while still maintaining stability in the region, so an uneasy balance is struck.
In the North, the King and Queen hold court over the region, though their rule has become increasingly strained in the past few months. In the East, the Invisible Shogun rules, though he has only given orders through his immediate followers for the past several years, and his Daimyo are becoming increasingly hostile towards each other in his purported absence. In the South, the current Pirate Lord has only been in his seat for less than a year, and another Civil War is likely in the near future. Here in the West, there has been a historical lack of a unified leadership, with each individual group holding more of a burden of self-rule. In cases of extreme duress, it is likely that most Western collectives will look to Marshalls, Sheriffs, Judges, or Mayors to solve their problems, while they look for Union forces to deal with any larger problems such as Candaemon invasions or our good Colonel Ferris here. Unfortunately, with most Union forces retreating to the City, the West has suffered the most, as the peacekeepers in the other regions tended to be more token guards than viable military forces. More weight has fallen on the shoulders of local Western law enforcers like yourself.
Now, while all of this statecraft is important, there are other matters to consider. While there are a multitude of factions, the Soda Corporations rank high on the power index. While all of the Soda Corps are based in The City, their influence and competition can be found across all regions. The Big Three, as they're known, are the Mule Kick Corporation, the Rokkit Juice Corporation, and the One Up Corporation. They are locked in constant struggle for "market share," though the actual meaning of this has been lost over time. In modern politics, they are a wild card, looking for money, power, and prestige in whatever way they can. Depending who you ask, any of the three groups can be considered "winning" their struggle. Mule Kick has the most men and possibly the most money; they're ruthless in their hatred for Rokkit Juice. Rokkit Juice enjoys the most public support and their Rokkiteers are fierce combatants. One Up has managed to remain mysterious, despite their vast power; while fewest in number, they are the most technologically advanced Soda faction, and are gifted at corporate espionage and covert operations. There are other soda groups, such as UltraPink, Fancy Moist, Blue Dye and others, but their petty squabbles are far below the levels of the titanic Big Three For All.
Finally (skipping over some bits), we come to the Candaemons. The Candaemons are a hoard of destructive, deadly beasts which desire nothing more than to bring the entire world to its knees. Though some have said their designs are more subtle, the majority of their actions feature wanton destruction. They tend to guard remnants of the Old World--- (RHYS: You're seriously calling it that?) ---and are wicked ruthless. And wicked. They operate in a hierarchical framework, more or less. Candimps are on the bottom, followed by the Candaemons (though that name is also used for the generic entirety of their kind), then the Candark Ones, and possibly there are more above that, but that's all I know. Supposedly there are even competing groups within the Candaemons, but I don't know anything about that.
So that's the basics of the world's political geography. But what do I know? I'm a political science major.
RHYS: Political science Sergeant. Don't put on airs, Njörđr.
SN: Whatever. Did that help?
RHYS: Maybe. But why are they called "Can"-daemons? Isn't that kinda silly and juvenile? Why not just "daemons?"
SN: I dunno. And by the way, I may have some of that stuff wrong. It's a big and complicated world out there. And I was a 3.2 GPA student.
RHYS: OK, next question. Why--- you know what? I know "talking is a free action", but we gotta move on to another turn. This is ridiculous. Just keep pointing at that chart. We'll get there tomorrow. Or Monday, since tomorrow is Halloween. Sort of.
You opt to hold off on the HIGH FIVE, instead choosing to disclose the basics of OPERATION TROJAN MULE!
In summary: Using your MULE KICK DISGUISE, you'll drive a MULE KICK TRUCK into FORT FERRIS under pretense of restocking the FORT'S SODA MACHINES while the SOGGY NINJA and his UNIONJA ALLIES hide in the BACK. Once the TRUCK is safely inside, well, you can figure that out once you're inside.
SOGGY NINJA loves the plan. He hops on his RADIO and calls his team's "PROCURER" to grab a MULE KICK TRUCK.
Oh, man, you're so excited! Your DISGUISE fits into the plan sooooooo perfectly! Is it HIGH FIVE time? No... not yet.... You keep yourself busy by combining your HANGER and TOOTHBRUSH to make a BRUSHERHANG (a wire hanger boomerang with a toothbrush sticking out). It doesn't look very effective....
The SOGGY NINJA (whose name you keep meaning to ask) tells you the TRUCK should arrive within a TURN or two and asks if you have any questions about anything (at all) while you wait.
With the SUN set behind the MOUNTAINS, night has fallen. (But you haven't fallen! You stuck the LANDING! Your DIGNITY is fully restored!)
Your current position is behind a large BOULDER somewhere in the DESERT. In the distance is a FORT, a fort which you can safely assume is FORT FERRIS, your current destination. How fortuitous! It is a large and foreboding area with high WALLS, several TOWERS, a building with several SMOKE STACKS and a building with LARGE RED WINDOWS, possibly a CONSERVATORY of some sort. SMOKE billows (as it is wont to do) and deep THUMPING NOISES emanate from the facility. Shadowy FIGURES patrol the walls, too far away to make out in the dark.
In any case, you can rest assured: this is the base of operations for COLONEL FERRIS and his CONFEDERBOTS.
A ROAD stretches from the FORT past your BOULDER and into the DESERT. On the other side of the BOULDER is a small POND, more like a WATERING HOLE, really.
Your PARACHUTE has been rendered useless; you have no idea how to repackage it anyway. You have set down the BACKPACK which still holds your SUIT and CANE. Your pockets still bulge with the HANGER, SAUCY MAGAZINE, RED RUBBER STOPPER, and TOOTHBRUSH.
After you admire the freaking beautiful scenery, what will you do?
You're still over the DESERT, or at leastA DESERT. While you've never skydived before, you figure you'll be able to pick your landing zone within some degree of accuracy, so it would be good to see what you have to pick from.
To the WEST is a large MOUNTAIN RIDGE. In its NORTH region there is a VOLCANO with lots of visible LAVA (And additional invisible MAGMA, probably! -Alan). Further down the RIDGE is what appears to be a small SETTLEMENT near a TRAIN STATION. Even further SOUTH, on the other side of the RIDGE is some kind of FOREST or SOMETHING. It isn't entirely clear. To the NORTH-EAST is some sort of FORT, but you can't tell any more about it from this height.
The GROUND isn't gonna stay so far away forever. Better pick a LANDING ZONE! Quick!
In order to get a disguise, you... undress the DOCTOR (shudder) and dump his unconscious body into the VAT, making sure to keep his mouth above the surface. Judging by his current state, you meta-guess that you have between six and ten turns until he wakes up. Unfortunately, you can't hook him up to the MULE VISION EXTRACTOR to watch his dreams; aside from the fact that you ripped out most of the needed ELECTRODES, you realize that a subject probably needs to drink some MULE KICK HALLUCINOGENIC VISION POTION for there to be any visions to extract. Bummer. You also grab SKEETER'S HAT which, along with the DOC'S CLOTHING, completes a wonderful MULE KICK EMPLOYEE DISGUISE!
YOU'RE IN DISGUISE!
You use the CANE to knock down your WICKED AWESOME SUIT, the PARACHUTE and the HIKING PACK. You rifle through your WICKED AWESOME POCKETS. Dang. Looks like they took your GUN, your TRAP, your SCRABBLE TILES and your PEANUT DEUS EX MACHINA MACHINE. Luckily, you still have your TOOTHBRUSH and RED RUBBER STOPPER. These you put into your MULE KICK DISGUISE POCKETS, filling up two of four. Looks like this outfit doesn't have as many pockets as your suit....
Still, better pack these pockets full! You snatch up the SAUCY MAGAZINE and HANGER from the floor and cram them into your remaining POCKETS. (Your WICKED AWESOME SUIT will not fit into a pocket, but you do manage to fit your WICKED AWESOME HANDKERCHIEF into your DISGUISE.) You equip the CANE to your HANDS. Despite your highest OPES, it appears to be a completely normal cane.
What else have we got? Looking around the room, you finally take STOCK of your surroundings in a traditional manner.
You are in a HELICOPTER COMPARTMENT aboard a VERY LARGE MULE KICK CORPORATE HELICOPTER. There is a DOOR FORE which is locked but has a very small BULLET HOLE in it, too small to fit much of anything through. There is also a DOOR AFT which is open; PIERCE is back there and you're not sure if your DISGUISE would fool him. There is a GOOEY VAT in the corner with a SLEEPING NAKED DOCTOR stuffed into it. A MUG sits atop the VAT MACHINE. In the opposite corner of the compartment is a dead GUARD named SKEETER, whose HAT you have liberated. His body holds nothing of interest. On the WALL behind you is a VIEWSCREEN which looks to be able to contact various CONTACTS. Beside that is a DOOR which, if opened, would lead to the SKY and (if given some time and 9.8m/s/s of acceleration) the GROUND. On the FLOOR in front of the DOOR is your WICKED AWESOME SUIT (which retains its form, possibly due to unconscionable amounts of STARCH), a HIKING PACK (which would give you two LARGE INVENTORY POCKETS), and a PARACHUTE. As far as you can tell, you are in transit to a MULE KICK AIRSHIP called the "MKC Sarsaparilla."
You start mumbling again in an effort to draw the DOCTOR back towards the VAT. Hey, it worked the first time, so why not? Thinking quick, you draw on your considerable COOL NERD KNOWLEDGE for a mumble-prophecy topic.
The DOCTOR draws near, straining to hear your odd and twisted mutterings.
RHYS: That is not dead which can eternal lie... and with strange aeons even... death... may...
The DOCTOR leans in even closer.
You grab the DOCTOR and pull him into the VAT, holding him under the surface of the GOO just long enough to knock him out, but not long enough to kill him. You're not a MURDERER, after all. You're a MARSHAL. If possible, you'll try to keep the SENSELESS MURDER to a minimum. Semi-random VIOLENCE and general HAVOC are still more or less cool by you, though.
Ah. It feels good to be out of that VAT. There's a cool, cool BREEZE. Ah.
Too bad about SKEETER, though. Better think of a new plan before the same thing that happened to him happens to you.
You begin to mumble as the DOCTOR passes. He stops to listen as you rant "prophetically" about someone... some... man in brown... reading SAUCY LITERATURE... and plotting to betray MULE KICK! Oh, what dreams are these, these totally prophetic mumblings! They must be prophetic, they must be part of your VISIONS! The DOCTOR doesn't seem entirely convinced but he walks back to the VIEWSCREEN THING anyway.
DOC: Herr Pierce. I am not interrupting?
P: . . .
DOC: You have a minute, ja? [Yes?]
P: . . .
DOC:Lieb. [Good.] Come in here. I need you.
P: . . .
SKEETER: What's up, Doc? What do you need him for?
DOC: Be silent. Pierce?
P: . . .
DOC: Pierce. Kill Skeeter. Schnell! [Quickly!]
SKEETER: Wait, what? No!
P: Ruhe in frieden, Skeeter. [Rest in peace, Skeeter.]
Pierce passes through the door aft. Skeeter passes through a hole in his head.
HOLY FREAKING CRAP IN A VAT OF GOO!
EVEN MORE HOLY FREAKING CRAP!
That PIERCE is a stone cold killer with a FREAKING SWEET PISTOL, and the DOC doesn't seem concerned in the slightest about that poor guard! Or the poor guard's poor family! Or his pet Schnauzer, who he probably named Lord Barkley Barkington! Or his pet Schnauzer Lord Barkley Barkington's poor family! THE LACK OF CONCERN IS VERY CONCERNING!
Still, that's one problem taken care of. Your plan worked perfectly, too, so that's good.
With the DOOR leading AFT still open, you will probably need to be quiet with what you do next.
First things first. You need to take INVENTORY. Wait, no, you need to take "inventory." Your actual INVENTORY may be harder to procure. What do you have? Modesty levels: Very low. Dignity levels: Slightly less low, but still pretty low. Hope levels: None. You have no HOPE. You don't even have OPE anymore since your SCRABBLE TILES are nowhere to be seen.
The DOCTOR (not thatTHE DOCTOR) looks tired. His conversation with LARS wasn't exactly a pep talk.
DOC: You zere, guard. It is "Skeeter," ja?
DOC: I'm going to take fünf.
SKEETER: Don't forget to punch out.
DOC: Punch out?
SKEETER: Yeah, if you don't punch out they'll dock your pay.
DOC: You dummkopf! I'm a salaried employee! SKEETER: Whatever, man. Not my problem.
The DOCTOR sighs and starts heading for the AFT DOOR (the one beside your comfy VAT).
DOC: Let me know if his readings change.
Maybe it's time to launch a cunning plan.... and you have just the one in komf! Er, just the one in mind!
You are in a VAT of PURPLE GOO, ELECTRODES stuck to several of your BITS. From the motion and noise, your warm and cozy VAT is probably within a large HELICOPTER which is moving at great speed. Presumably, judging by the BRANDING, the vehicle belongs to the MULE KICK CORPORATION.
You're still quite groggy. You had a strange VISION after drinking that SODA. Something about... TEDDY? JILL and CAD and ALAN? And HAM? And... and... a DUCK? What DUCK? You're getting off track.
You check your pockets and quickly determine that you have, in fact, no pockets to check. Your WICKED AWESOME SUIT has been swapped out for your WICKED AWESOME BIRTHDAY SUIT. This is... less than idea.
There are two other PERSONS OF INTEREST in the COMPARTMENT. A MULE KICK GUARD stands nearby reading some SAUCY LITERATURE. It looks very much like the SAUCY LITERATURE you traded to GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER. The other MAN is less recognizable. He is elderly, which is kinda nifty, and has a WOODEN CANE. He is chatting over a video screen with SOMEONE who you can't quite see, but can definitely hear. It's LARS MUELLER, son of the PRESIDENT of the MULE KICK CORPORATION. Lars seems... perturbed.
LARS: Doctor, I don't care for your excuses! Tell me what you've gotten from his prophetic visions!
DOC: Herr Mueller, as I said, his visions are not comink through clearly. They are to jump, seemingly at ze random! Just ze bite-size pieces of girl, of fat man, of a stuff-ed boar! I cannot make ze head or ze tail of it!
LARS: I hope your machine isn't malfunctioning again, Doctor. I would hate to have to... dock your pay.
DOC: Nein! Das ist nicht gut!
LARS: Regardless. Once you reach the MKC Sarsaparilla we'll fill him with more of that Vision Quest junk and put him into the primary machine.
DOC: And then?
LARS: Well, then we kill him. Duh. I--- didn't you get the memo?
DOC: Oh, ja, ze memo. I forgot.
LARS: Right, OK. Anyway, take five, clear your head, then get back in there and try to suck his brain stuff out or whatever. Is that clear?
DOC:Ja vol mein herr.
LARS: You know I don't speak German, right?
DOC:Ich weiß es zwar nicht genau, aber...
LARS: Right. I'll meet you on the Sarsaparilla.Mueller out.
The connection is broken. Hmm. You're still groggy and this situation is hardly ideal.... Naked on a helicopter in a vat of goo. This has not happened to you before. At least, not that you can remember. What will you do?
With more ZOMBIES approaching, the FIRE getting closer, the IMPS dealt with, the QUEEN rescued, and all other immediate concerns completed, you decide it's time to ROLL OUT with your POSSE. The QUEEN lowers the BARRIER to the EAST and you carry MISS WHALE CHICK and her new friend, MOUSE DUDE. PAD and the QUEEN LADY follow down the CORRIDOR.
MONOCLE PIPE is still MELTING DOWN on the TABLE.... He doesn't look good at all. And that... doesn't look like blood.... Pfft, whatever. He said he was totally safe. Loser.
Through the DOORWAY, the QUEEN LADY raises the BARRIER back into place behind the lot of you, barring out the ZOMBIES and FIRE. And SINGING DISHWARE.
QL: You know, Wizard, now that I have a moment to think, I don't believe you ever told me your name.
CAD: Huh? Guess not.
QL: My name is Queen Jillian of the North Kingdom. Your friend... Alan, was it? He called you Cad. That's not short for something is it?
CAD: Yeah, it is.
QL: Ah, Cadungery, then? Named after another great hero of the realm?
CAD: What are you talking about?
QL: . . . . What is your full name, Cad?
CAD: Cadungery Muffinbottom III. So who's this hero dude?
QL: . . .
CAD: What's up?
QL: His name... the hero... his name was... the Great Sir Cadungery Muffinbottom III, the greatest time-traveling hero the world has ever seen! He prophesied that he would return in our time of greatest need and rid the world of it's greatest evil as one of a company of the four greatest heroes of all time!
CAD: That kind of sounds like me, I guess.
QL: The heroes... of whom he said he was totally the coolest, much cooler than the others, especially some man named Rhys O'Callahan, who was totally not as cool as Cadungery, not in any way, and who's girlfriend was totally in love with Cad, since he was so much better than Rhys, but she stuck with Rhys in order to keep him from crying all the time like the little baby he was.
CAD: OK, yeah, that sounds like me. I guess I'm the world's greatest hero. I kinda wonder how that crybaby is doing, though. Probably crying....