The amount of random that went into this one, in both the original conversation and in writing it, has made me giggle quite a lot. So ignore the bit where the story is rubbish and enjoy and weirdness that seems to happen when me and Joe start chatting
Side note: all people in this are real people, but I made up the things they say and do, so that’s all on me.
Although America does own all the cool t-shirts – that bit isn’t made up at all (and is kind of how this happened).
by Lee Hulme
The group of raggedly-clad outlaws blinked as they emerged from the forest and mounted the hill. Before them lay a flat course of grassland, leading to a fortified castle.
“There they go,” Malise nodded at the retreating figures.
“So? We knew we’d never take her by surprise. She’s too damn good!” Joe shrugged.
Malise nodded. “Everyone got their gadgets and stuff?”
Joe, Steve, Finn and Andie nodded in tandem.
“Alright, let’s go. And for fuck’s sake, stay behind me, ok?”
Malise set off walking, eyes scanning the ground, hand straying to her utility belt. “C’mon you little vermin, I know you’re here.”
Off to the left, a snout poked out of the ground and Malise pounced, grabbing the mallet from her belt and pounding it into the mound.
There was a small squeak and a splat, and the ground was flat again.
“Lise!” Andie shouted, “Behind!”
Malise spun and whacked two more snouts. Then three more. Then four more. Still they continued to come.
A line of badgers emerged and began padding towards her. Strapped to each of their heads was a small tube, connected to a power pack on their backs. Red lines painted themselves on Malise’s chest and she flipped herself into a sideways roll as a dozen tiny red beams shot out from the tubes.
“Fuck,” she exclaimed, rolling back to her knees, “Finn!”
Finn waved a small black box with an antenna, “On it,” she shouted. “Finding wavelength…”
“Now would be good!” Malise shouted back as she attempted to flip forwards over a second barrage, swearing loudly as the pulse from one found a chink in her armour and sliced deeply into her thigh.
“Got it!” Finn yelled, bashing the switch on the black box and grinning as the lasers turned off all at once.
“Yes!” Malise set about the badgers with her mallet, chasing some back into the ground, smashing others into it with a crunch.
When the field was empty again, she stood and examined her wound. “OK. That fucking hurt. At least those things cauterise their own wounds.
“You alright?” Steve asked.
“Shiny,” Malise nodded. “C’mon,” she set off again, hand reaching to her belt again, finding a telescopic baton to go with the mallet.
Ahead of them, a line of figures emerged, dripping wet, from a dip in the grass.
“Joe,” Malise checked over her shoulder.
“Yep,” he grinned and flexed his hands.
Malise stood still and let the figures approach.
Clad in black top-to-bottom, modified so they could both walk and wield a set of sai, 10 land shark ninjas gave simultaneous toothy grins and leapt forwards.
With a spin, Malise sidestepped all but the leftmost shark, sending it to the floor with a well-timed mallet blow and leaping over it to plant the baton in the head of the next.
Joe grinned, reached behind his shoulder, pulled out a sawn-off shotgun and began firing. Two shots, two sharks on the ground twitching as they bled their last. “Boomstick, bitches,” he shouted, emptying the shells to the ground.
As he reloaded and Malise drew the attention of the remaining 6, Andie threw a small device into melee, with a shout “Lise! Out!”
Malise drove the baton into the stomach of the nearest shark and, using it as a stepping stone, escaped the circle just in time for the device to detonate, covering the moist sharks with a mix of salt, flour and sawdust, absorbing the water that remained.
The sharks visibly slowed, looking around in panic and trying to scrape off what was now forming into goo.
Between them Malise and Joe killed or knocked out the rest with haste.
“That was all the shells,” Joe commented, dropping the shotgun on the ground, “Pick it up on the way back.”
Malise nodded, “Next hurdle.”
Approaching the dip in the grass revealed a moat, filled with murky water and green, scaly creatures.
Malise shrugged, picked up a handful of rocks, and threw one at the nearest body.
There was an angry buzzing sound and, as one, a lot of winged crocodiles lifted from the water and surrounded the group.
“Steve!” Malise shouted, pelting the rest with rocks and leading them off a short distance. “Uh….shit,” she growled as they formed into groups and began launching bombing attacks at her, teeth snapping. Dodging, falling, leaping, occasionally hitting one in the face and yelling in pain as she connected with the metal beneath the scales, Malise was quickly becoming overwhelmed.
“FASTER WOULD BE BETTER!” Malise yelled as a set of teeth tore into her shoulder.
“Sorry!” came the reply, “Here!”
Malise leapt as Steve threw a bundle of wires towards her, catching them and immediately beginning to dig them into the crocodiles.
Ignoring the pain of yet more bites, Malise tagged each creature then made a diving roll out of the way, “NOW!”
The wires all fed back into something tablet-sized, with an array of switches. Pressing a few, Steve waited. There was a hum of electricity, and the crocodiles exploded, one by one, with the smell of an overloaded power socket.
“Yes!” he shouted with a grin, dropping the now burned-out equipment.
“Nicely done,” Malise laughed, tying clean rags around her injuries. “I’m good, let’s go.”
“Wait, you’re hurt,” Steve interjected.
Malise shrugged, “And I’ll heal. Come on!” she was off before anyone could reply, standing on the edge of the moat and looking at the closed drawbridge. Reaching to her belt again, she produced tools for her hands and feet, each featuring a set of sharp, sturdy claws. “Wait here, only be a few,” she ordered, moving backwards a few steps before taking a running leap across the moat, planting her hands and feet into the wall on the other side with a painful thud that knocked the wind out of her for a moment.
“Fuck. Ow!” she muttered when she could, and tiled her head upwards. “Up we go.”
One by one, she pulled her hands and feet out of the wall and slammed them back in again, further up. Pulling herself higher a movement at a time, Malise made it to the top of and skittered over the wall, landing in a crouch and looking around.
There was a gentle whirr from behind her and she spun, eyes wide, just in time to register an automatic railgun on the corner tower.
“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!” she shouted as she leapt down the other side of the wall, scraping the claws still on her hands and feet to guide and slow her descent, landing heavily at the bottom and falling backwards.
Spine protesting, she stood again and checked for breakages. Still moving, if not uninjured, Malise forced herself to job around the wall, to the drawbridge controls.
Inside sat two winged monkeys, whose chatter was quickly silenced with the telescopic baton. With a rattle of chains, the drawbridge lowered, and the other 4 ran across.
“Trouble?” Andie asked, looking around.
“Nothing I couldn’t, you know, run the fuck away from,” Malise answered. “Let’s get this last shit done before all my pieces quit working.”
The front door opened to their touch. Around the walls of the enormous entrance hall were glass-doored closets. Inside, spinning in and endless display, were more t-shirts than any of the group had even imagined.
“Wow…” Joe breathed. “We’ll never need to buy shirts again.”
“Because we’ll already own all the best ones,” Malise agreed. “But focus, guys. Last hurdle.”
The five of them put on a pair of glasses, enhancing their vision so they could see the criss-cross lines that made up the laser defence system. Malise reached into a pocket and sent a balled-up handkerchief sailing towards the closest lines.
With a flash and a sizzle, the handkerchief was nothing but ashes, floating to the floor.
“Shit,” Andie murmured. “How do we get past that?”
Malise grinned and pointed to the other side of the room, “Over there is the breaker. Very traditional stuff – get across, smash it in, lasers go off.”
“Right. But as you’re not actually invincible…” Steve trailed off as Malise laughed.
“Not quite, but there is a trick. Gimme your pack, Finn.”
Finn obeyed and Malise removed a small stack of reflective metal sheets. “Can’t stop them all, but this stuff will absorb enough of them for me to get past. The power is covered by stuff like this so we can’t just burn it out, but we can shift the lasers upwards a couple of feet, so I can fit through the gap. Got it? Two each for you. They’ll get warm, but they shouldn’t burn, at least not in the time it should take me.”
“Should?” Andie asked. “Should. Alright.”
Malise shrugged. “If it gets too hot, drop the thing and dive out the way. I’m the one gonna get lasered into pieces.”
“We would prefer that not happen,” Steve suggested.
“Hah! Me too! But talking about it won’t help any. Let’s go!” Malise stood and positioned each of them quickly and carefully until 8 of the lasers were being absorbed. “Now the fun bit,”
Taking a deep breath, she fixed the position of the remaining beams into her head and set off at a run.
Skidding to the floor, she slid under the first one, back on her feet to crouch-step between the next two. Leaping over the 4th, she almost fell face-first into the next and stopped, heart hammering. Carefully ducking underneath, she dropped onto her stomach and kept her head low as she carefully shuffled underneath the final laser. Unable to see how far she had gone, Malise kept going until her head hit the wall, before curling her body around to stand.
“Alright guys, you can step out now,” she told the others, facing the sheet in front of the power. “Lame,” she muttered as she unclasped the door and ripped out the power cables.
“Lame?” came a voice from one side of the room. “That’s not exactly nice, Malise. Or can I call you Mal? I think I’ll call you Mal. So, Mal, what brings you and your band of…” she looked them up and down, “Badly-dressed friends here today?”
America slowly crossed the room to stand a few paces from Malise, drawing a metal tube from a hook around her waist and pressing a button to reveal a lightsaber.
Malise simply smiled, seeing the rest of the group begin to move.
From his pocket, Steve drew a pair of filthy, holey, dirty-grey pants, which he carefully aimed and lobbed at America’s head. They landed perfectly, dangling down over one ear, and she turned, pulling them off with a grunt of disgust.
As she moved towards Steve, Andie and Finn came in from both sides, Andie above, Finn below, attempting to wrap rope around her torso and legs.
As she tossed them both aside with ease, Joe slid around to the front, “Signature move,” he laughed, leaping up to slam his hand into her face. “Permanent Facepalm!”
America staggerered backwards, hands flailing for balance.
Joe dropped back as Malise dived in to grab the lightsaber and aim it at America’s neck.
America laughed, “Seriously?”
Malise ignored her, “Go!” she shouted at the rest, who ran for the closets and began grabbing tshirts.
America smiled sweetly at Malise, “Aw Mal, c’mon, you don’t wanna do this. Tell you what – you get rid of your little friends there, and you can have all the t-shirts you want. I’ll even let you live long enough to wear them.”
“I have a lightsaber at your neck,” Malise chuckled, “And you’re offering me a deal?”
America shrugged and, in flash, reached out to grasp Malise’s wrist, turning the lightsaber back on its wielder. “Right. So what do you say?”
Malise struggled a moment longer.
“All the t-shirts. All the coolest ones. No sharing. And I won’t even kill you for making me need to replace and upgrade, oh, everything.”
“I’ll even throw in a promise on new t-shirts. C’mon, you know this is what you want. Fuck those morons.”
Malise looked at the other 4, now arguing over who got which t-shirts.
“It’d be like putting them out of the misery,” America whispered into her ear, circling behind and gently nudging her forwards.
Malise took the momentum and was on the group before they could react. Four quick slices, and instead of 4 people fighting over t-shirts, there were 8 bloody pieces on the floor.
“Well, I guess those are ruined now,” America approached, looking at the pile of t-shirts now covered in blood. Taking the lightsaber from a pale-faced Malise, she grinned brightly. “Come on. Let me show you where I keep the really good ones.”
Malise nodded, looking away from the carnage, and followed her from the room.