Tell a Story Day: Part 21

And now more of the amazing and amusing Tell a Story Day! I’m posting part 21 here, but the story started April 15th on M. Todd Gallowglas’s site with Part 1 and has continued on up to Part 20 on Christopher Kellen’s site. You can see all the parts and links in order on Genre Underground’s Tell a Story Day event post. The story will wrap up on April 27th, so… keep reading and be sure to take a ramble around the other sites to see what else those writers are up to.

And now… Part 21:

As the bow sang and the arrow leapt free of the string, rushing to pierce the troll’s eye, a hand swept from down from the upper gantries of Assembly—just a hand, now mind, not an arm or a whole creature-me-thingymabob—and snatched the winging, singing arrow from the air just a nanosecond late to save the troll’s eyesight.

“Glarglebraglamit!” the troll roared. “Me eye! Arrrraggh! I’m blinded!”

“Oh, do shut up,” came a voice from On High (which was the very nicest neighborhood in all of Assembly and I’m sure you can guess who lived there….) “It’s only one eye and it’s not like you’re going to die or anything. Pull up your big-troll panties and be grateful I didn’t let him slay you, you stinky pustule.”

The android raised its head from the slick of marinara and lawyer guts. The elf could see the machine-man trembling, which he found quite curious and upsetting. But, since he was currently transformed into a rather handsome, capable fellow, he thought it best not to show his surprise. Instead, he snatched another arrow from his shoulder-blade and nocked it to his string as he drew the bow and aimed upward into the gantries and guy wires of Assembly’s mechanical heavens. “Assembly General, I presume?” he inquired, entirely as a courtesy.

A laugh rang from the upper reaches of Assembly and the hand mangled the arrow, rearranging its molecular parts along with the hand itself to create a metal face that now hung from the thick industrial smog and grinned at the elf in a way that seemed entirely too fey for a mechanical creature. “Oh, no, no! Assembly General is engaged at the moment and I came down to lend a… hand, so to speak, until AG is free to join us.” The face laughed. “I’m General Protection Fault. The Kernel says you’ve been a very naughty boy… or someone has. Now I need to straighten some of this out before AG gets here… Hmm… 1337, run the transcript for me so I can catch up on the situation.”

“Yes, General,” the android said, making some truly impressive grinding sounds as he generated a transcript of all that had transpired.

Using the noise as a cover, the elf swiftly re-aimed and let his arrow fly toward the grinning face of General Protection Fault. But the bow made a dreadful crunching sound and the string went as slack as a beggar’s purse. The arrow clattered uselessly to the floor.

“Hey!” the elf exclaimed, “that’s cheating!”

“This is not cheating,” the general replied. “This is Assembly. And your bow is, essentially, mechanical and thus, within the purview of Assembly. So there, and nanny-nanny-boo-boo. I win!”

The troll had, by this time, stood up, rubbing its wounded eye and looking somewhat cowed, not to mentioned confused and sheepish. Apparently this attracted the general’s attention as the face suddenly split in two so it could look down at the troll and keep an eye on the elf at the same time.

“Troll!” said General Protection Fault, “you have violated the gamer rules by utilizing the iDroid Universal Controller in spite of all reasonable protocols and warnings. So… you need to be punished,” the general added in a sing-song voice. “Guess what I’m going to do to you…?”

The troll cowered, “Oh, you wouldn’t. The lurkers support me in e-mail! I was just goofing off—I didn’t mean it! You got no sense of humor!”

“On the contrary: I have a marvelous sense of humor, which is why I’m banning you. For Life!”

“Nooooo!” screeched the troll as it vanished in a puff of gamer flop-sweat.

“Android,” the elf hissed. “Hey, why are you helping him? Look what he just did to that troll. We’re next.”

“I can’t help it, sir. I am a creature of assembly myself and I cannot disregard an override issued by General Protection Fault. It’s impossible! It’s part of my code!” the android added as a shiny icon appeared by his head sporting the words “Transcript ready to upload.”

“Ah, excellent,” said the General and ate the icon. He chewed thoughtfully. “Mmm… interesting adventures you’ve been having elf. And you too 1337. Oh, my… I think we may need to make a few… adjustments to your program after this….”

In the distance of Assembly’s heavens, things began moving ominously in the smog and a sound like ten thousand locomotives rushing to the same cataclysmic collision began. The elf and the android both looked up in alarm.

“Oh, goody! AG’s on his way!” sang General Protection Fault.

Princess Zyx was missing the best part as she sat in the examining room of Dr. Glockenspiel, the multiverse’s most celebrated reconstructive mage-surgeon.

“Now, Your Highness, you know I’m against this sort of surgery. I don’t think it’s at all wise to tamper with such near-perfection as yours and for such a paltry reason as hiding from your intended…”

“He’s not my intended. He’s my father’s choice and… well you know what sort of fellow he is. Besides, I’m in love with someone else. Someone wonderful…”

“Oh, that’s what all the princesses say.”

“Not you, you silly old man,” Princess Zyx said. “Not that you aren’t… quite wonderful in your own way, I’m sure.”

“All my wives think so.”

“Oh… well. Then of course they’re right. And I know I’d be settling for less, but, you see, love, True Love, has stuck its arrow in my heart and I simply can’t marry anyone but my beloved. So do something to make me unrecognizable to my father’s minions but still unutterably lovely so I can marry my love and get this moping over with!”

“Well, if you insist. Now, lie back and think of England.”

“What’s England?”

“I’m not sure, but that’s what you’re supposed to think about, so whatever it is, start thinking, toots.” Dr. Glockenspiel waved his hands over Zyx’s head and face and things began to glow and glitter….

The next part is now up at Jennifer Brozek’s site, or you can check the Genre Underground post listed above if you need to catch up or skip ahead.

About Kat Richardson

Writer, editor, eccentric pain in the tail, bestselling author of the Greywalker novels.
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