For Dwayne via io9: Yes, he is New York City's de facto birthday party protector. Marvel, make this canon.
March 2011 Archives
By Douglas E. Gogerty
Prince William struggled with his assailant. He tried to free himself from the grasp, but he was unable. Nonetheless, he kept up his struggle.
"Prince William," whispered the man into the Prince's ear. "Calm yourself."
With the man's hand over his mouth, the Prince was unable to respond. However, he did stop struggling.
"That is better," the man continued. "Now, I am going to let you go. Please be quiet and refrain from running."
The Prince nodded, and the man released him. The Prince turned to look at his attacker.
"Who are you?" asked the Prince. "How do you know me?"
"It is me Lars Thomsen. We practically grew up together in the castle."
"Lars? Is that really you?"
"It really is."
"What are you doing here?"
"I am scouting for Lakeland."
"The Lakeland army is on the move. They are attempting to get into Kaanfed without being noticed."
"That sounds like quite an undertaking."
"I thought so too, but the Kaanfed army seems to be concentrated in a few towns. You are the only person I have run into this entire trip."
"That makes sense. They are probably preparing for a siege on those towns."
"We have been giving those towns a wide birth. Hopefully, we will be in Kaanfed in a few days."
"Well I have not seen any soldiers on my trip."
"Why are you scouting the same area as I am?"
"I am not a participant in this military action."
"No? Then what are you doing?"
"I am headed to the peninsula."
"For what purpose?"
"I am not wanted or needed in Lakeland. It is the only place I can go."
"You are a member of the Thorbjorn royal family."
"I am the only member left. That can only spell trouble for me."
"Oh yes. I suppose that is true."
"That is why I am leaving. I may return once this conflict is over."
"I should join you."
"What? And be a deserter? You best continue with your duties. Do what is best for Lakeland. Do not worry about me."
"I should report you to the generals."
"They should be aware of your movements, and what if you are captured?"
"Captured by whom?"
"I do not know, but there may be hostiles out there."
"They will not get anything out of me."
"Let us hope not."
"Please do not report that we have met. No one needs to know where I am."
"Okay, I will not."
"Thanks! Good to see you Lars. Be safe."
"Good luck on your trip -- sire."
Lars walked down the road and disappeared. The Prince stood and watched for quite a while. The shot of adrenaline he got from the encounter had worn off. He was now quite sleepy.
He got another bucket, and poured it on his fire. It was now very much out. He stirred it a bit to be sure. The logs were cool to the touch. It was out. He gave a heavy sigh. His encounter went better than it could have, but it was still a lesson learned.
He had proclaimed his presence for miles around. He thought about this. He began to worry again. The words of Lars rang through his head. There may be others out there. There may be entire squads closing in on his position.
Thus, he decided to hide his suncar. He pulled it farther up the road and near a clump of trees. He gathered some twigs and branches to camouflage it. It would not be perfect, but in the dark it may look like a bush.
Once the suncar was hidden to his satisfaction, the Prince turned around real fast. There was no one there. He almost expected someone to be there, but he was mistaken. He was glad of that.
He took a circuitous route to his tent. He back tracked a few times. He waded through the water in the ravine. He did not want to draw attention to his tent. When he was satisfied with these efforts, he climbed into the tent to attempt to sleep.
With the conversation with Lars, the hiding of the car, and the stealthy return to the tent, it was pretty late. It seemed like the events of the day were ages ago. He shivered as the memory of the warm fire washed over him, but there was nothing other than a damp chill in the air.
The Prince attempted to sleep, but every sound in the night put him on alert. A breeze would become an army sneaking through the woods. Each animal sound was an alert to some strange creature moving in on him. A brief shower sounded like gunfire as it dripped on his tent.
As the hours went past, he just lied there with his muscles tense. He was ready to move at a moments notice. He thought about the euphoria he felt sitting by the fire. He wished he could take that all back. He would trade that feeling for a good nights sleep. Eventually, he drifted off into a shallow dreamless sleep.
The area came alive with noises just as the sun broke above the horizon. A raven sounded like a teenage boy shrieking with joy. The jays were arguing with other birds. A bunch of sparrows twittered and chirped around the wooded area.
A squirrel pealed a pine cone just above the Prince's tent. The pieces rained down upon the fabric of the tent like small explosions. When the Prince left his tent in a rush, the squirrel chattered at him in defiance.
The Prince was exhausted, but he survived the night. He thought that he just might make it to the Pirate Peninsula on this day. It looked like the weather was going to cooperate. While the morning was damp, there were few clouds in the sky. The sun would clear the light fog that surrounded the area.
He broke camp. He packed up his tent, and threw a pine cone at the squirrel. Once again the squirrel chattered in defiance. He gathered up his camping equipment and headed to his suncar. He looked around, but did not see anyone. He also did not see his suncar. What happened to it? He did not need another delay. He did not think he could take another night like the previous one. He needed to get into his suncar and go, but he did not know where it was.
For Dwayne via io9: Spider-Man's adventures in the Electroverse are so banal but so relatable. Screw Stegron and Big Wheel robbing banks. I want Spider-Man to use his powers to investigate petty consumer fraud.
By Douglas E. Gogerty
With the King of Kaanfed dead, naturally there was a power vacuum. The Princess had to be the person filling the leadership role of the country. As was customary, she claimed the throne of the kingdom in a brief ceremony among the survivors and her military people. The only task left was to inform the remaining people of Kaanfed of their new sovereign.
The first signal the Princess ordered was the raising of the Lakeland flag over the castle. She had not defined a flag for her rule, so she used the old Lakeland flag. They also put flags at various positions around the capitol city. Thus, signalling the Kaanfed Kingdom was no longer in charge of the city.
Also, against the objections of the Princess, the king's body was put on a pike outside of the city's wall. This declared to all those who could see, that the king was indeed dead. Thus, by tradition, the killer could claim the throne. This was a clear indication that a new sovereign was in charge. The Princess thought it was disrespectful, but she understood this was the best way to demonstrate that the king was in fact dead.
The Kaanfed army had gathered their forces and marched towards the waiting Lakeland army at the capitol city. They noticed their king hanging on the pike. The Kaanfed generals were enraged, and attempted to retake the city. However, the city's defenses were quite formidable when fully in use. The army quickly lost its motivation, and gave up after a short attempt.
To the Princess, the victory over Kaanfed seemed too easy. After two minor battles -- skirmishes really -- the Kaanfed Kingdom became part of Lakeland. At the insistence of the Princess, the two armies were joined. Her generals wanted to put the Kaanfed army up front to serve as cannon fodder. However, to improve the morale of the defeated army, she insisted that they were treated like everyone else. She also gave a speech to all of the troops to gear them up for fighting the Kingdom of Nunu.
"Soldiers of the army of Lakeland," she began. "Battles are a messy business. However, everyone here has fought bravely for their country."
There was a big cheer urged on by the generals of Lakeland.
"Good soldiers -- like you -- know how to follow orders. Some of you followed the orders of your now dead king. His orders were to attack the Kingdom of Lakeland while it appeared to be weak. Those orders cost him his life. This is why you now serve at my bequest."
There was another cheer from the crowd.
"Everyone here will be treated the same. Those are my orders!"
The crowd cheered despite the attempts to quell them by the generals.
"While you fight under the banner of Lakeland, we are all one people. When this is all over, you will be free to return to your homes wherever they may be. Nothing will change in your lives -- except the ruler. You will be free to live as you had before."
The assembled armies cheered again.
"We now have to fight a common enemy of both peoples. For many surrounding kingdoms, there has been an uneasy truce with Nunu. Now is the time to make up for the ills they have perpetrated on our kingdoms. We now march north to Nunu!!!"
A large cheer arose from the crowd. The Princess walked off her platform, and began walking out of the city. The army followed her in a big disordered mob. The soldiers wanted to be close to the Princess. She was surrounded by a disordered group as she walked. The military discipline was secondary to getting close to the Princess.
Some of the generals were concerned for the 15 year old princess, but those concerns were unfounded. The soldiers did not wish to harm her, they just wanted to be close. Perhaps they would even get to have a conversation. That was their primary goal. Thus, the unruliness was between soldiers and not between the soldiers and the Princess.
While this was going on, the generals organized the retinue. They got a report of all of the soldiers from their commanders. When the information was all at hand, the generals, commanders, and soldiers were organized into Lakeland companies, squads, etc.
There were very few bridges over the river that served as the northern border of the Kaanfed Capitol. Thus, it was a day's march south and east just to get across it. It was by design, and it was effective for the King of Kaanfed.
Once the Lakeland combined army crossed the river, they headed north and east towards the Kingdom of Nunu and its capitol. The Princess and her generals expected heavy fighting soon after they headed north. However, the scouts continually reported that there was no one in the area.
During their march, the Princess attempted to speak to as many of the soldiers as she could. She found it was very good for morale. In fact, she felt that is was good for her morale as much as the soldiers. She marveled that these people were willing to die for her. At least, they were at this point. If the conditions became brutal, that may all change.
This march was different than the previous one. The army had to be on full alert at all times. While there were still scouts set to search in front of the army, they were there to be an early warning system. They no longer wanted to avoid conflict. They would fight everyone that was willing. They may also recruit anyone willing to join them on their battle against Nunu.
Report after report came back from the scouts. It appeared to be clear all the way to their goal. At this point, the Princess ordered more scouts. She felt that perhaps the Nunu army would attempt to outflank them. Thus, the scouts spread in all directions looking for signs of an opposing army. The reports continued to come back with no sitings.
As they went along, the Princess got more concerned about an assault. With a report of no sitings, the scouts were ordered to get some rest, and return to the field as soon as they were able. Nonetheless, the days passed with no sign of any Nunu troops. The local townspeople were questions, but they too did not report any strangers. The march was eerily uneventful. It made everyone uneasy.
For Dwayne via io9: Does Peter Parker exist in this universe? I mean, Spider-Man goes to the baseball stadium in his costume. This isn't a complaint, mind you. And hey, it's Morgan Freeman again, cured of his vampirism!
By Douglas E. Gogerty
Prince William stood there wondering what happened to his suncar. It had been a long night, and he was ready to make it to the Pirate Peninsula. However, if he had to walk, then it would take days. He felt he did not have days to spare. With a war raging, he did not want to be in either Lakeland or Kaanfed.
Panic was about to set in when he remembered. He moved his suncar and hid it a bit farther down the road. He walked a bit down the road and there it was. He gave a big sigh of relief. He took the camouflage off of his vehicle. The relief continued to wash over him as he got in and moved it closer to his camp. He loaded up his gear, and just like that he was on the road. He was so anxious to get on the road, that he did not even think about eating.
He drove for a few hours as fast as his suncar could go. He did not think he would need to save any batteries. He just wanted to go. It was more important to get into the peninsula than it was to save any power for later. After a while, he got very hungry. He was getting close, but he had to stop.
There was a small outcrop of buildings beside the road, and he pulled next to them. He drove the suncar behind one of the buildings to make it less visible from the road. The events of the last few nights made him jumpy, and he was not going to take any chances. He hoped to not be there long, but he wanted to be as safe as possible.
Next to one of the building, he sat on the ground. He leaned against the wall and ate what was supposed to be a light meal. However, he was quite hungry and he kept eating. The stress had gotten to him, and he was happy for any bit of relief. He enjoyed the little peace and quiet in his little spot. Thus, he sat for longer than he wanted. In fact, he eventually dozed off.
The Prince awoke with a start. He did not know where he was. Slowly it all came back to him. He was by the side of the road. He was sitting on the ground leaning against a building. He shook off the sleepy feeling and looked at the sky. He was only out for a short time -- perhaps as long as an hour.
He gathered his things and got back into the suncar. He tried to pull onto the road, but the road was crowded. There were people streaming out of Lakeland and Kaanfed toward the peninsula. He eventually made his way onto the crowded roadway.
It somewhat made him feel safer to be in such a crowd. He thought he was going to make it. All of those safe feelings left him when the traffic began to slow. Eventually, all the traffic stopped. He noticed that the opposite lane had a trickle of cars going in the other direction. He considered joining them, but he really needed to keep going. Thus, he stayed with the rest of the drivers.
Slowly -- very slowly -- the line of cars inched along. Hours passed. He ate another meal in his car. More hours passed. He cursed himself for stopping and eating the meal beside the road. Moreover, he cursed himself for the nap. He wondered why all these terrible things kept happening to him. He watched as the trickle of cars going the other way became a more steady stream.
He wondered what was happening. Why was traffic stopped? Was there a big accident up ahead? Was he running into some sort of military action? Again, he hated himself for his meal and nap. He was ahead of all of these cars at one point. He was driving along fine. If only he had... he thought to himself. It was all too late. He would find out soon enough. He began to resign himself to whatever fate was ahead.
Eventually, he saw the roadblock. A couple of guards interrogated each driver. Sometimes they searched the car. Sometimes the driver was assaulted. Most drivers were instructed to turn around and head back. Only a few were allowed through into the peninsula. He did not want this.
It was almost dark when he reached the roadblock.
"Name?" the guard asked.
"My name is Pri -- er -- William Thorbjornson."
"What is your business here?"
"I have been planning this trip for quite some time."
"You are telling me that you are vacationing here -- at a time like this?"
"Like I said, I have been planning this for quite some time."
"What is your place of residency?"
"I am from Calmondak."
"Where in Calmondak?"
"I live in the capitol city."
"Friend of the king's I suspect."
"As a matter of fact..."
"Turn around and go back."
"Listen, I have been at this all day. Do you think I enjoy this?"
"Well -- no."
"Then turn around and go back."
"I have to get in."
"You have to?"
"It is not often that your vacation destination is closed when you get there."
"Do you think this is some sort of theme park?"
"Then turn around and go back."
"But I have incurred great hardship just getting here."
"I am not in the mood to hear your sob story."
"Please. What can I do to get in."
"You will not find it any better inside than it is here."
"Can I be the judge of that?"
"Please. Just turn around and go back."
"I have money."
"Your Calmondak money is no good here."
"I have gold."
"Naturally. I always carry a small amount when traveling."
"I have a couple of ounces. My pile is worth quite a bit in your native currency."
"I am telling you that you do not want to go past here."
"I will give you all of it."
"Please turn around."
"If you treat me right, I can get you some more."
"I am trying to treat you right."
"The governor was killed. We are in civil war."
"But I thought...."
"Were you trying to get away from the Lakeland and Kaanfed war?"
"I guess you could say that."
"Well -- it is over. You can safely return to your home."
"The King of Kaanfed was killed today. It is only a matter of time."
"How do you know this?"
"We have a formidable news gathering service -- um -- we did until the governor was killed."
"So, you are turning away all comers."
"Except our own citizens."
"Will you let me in?"
"Is there is no way for me to change your mind?"
"I really do not have anywhere else to go."
"Then you may enter, but please do not cause trouble."
For Dwayne via io9: Yes, that Blue Beetle. At the time, the Blue Beetle was owned by Charlton Comics, so it was no big deal for him to go on The Electric Company and have Spider-Man make him look like a chump.
By Douglas E. Gogerty
Princess Angelina's army continued to march towards the capitol of the Kingdom of Nunu. There were occasional skirmishes, but the main Nunu force was nowhere to be found. Hence, the Lakeland army continued their march. However, they were really uneasy about the situation.
Scouts continued to fan out in every direction. The generals continued to worry about being surrounded. Thus, they had many soldiers looking on the roads in front of them, behind them, and in every direction. They did not want to assume that the entire Nunu army would be waiting for them at the capitol. Nonetheless, the closer they got to that city, the more apparent it became that this was the situation.
Nunu was the weakest of the allied kingdoms. Traditionally, they had more trouble with internal strife than with anything else. Thus, they could never garner a strong army. Their armies were generally split in two and fought each other. The surrounding kingdoms were fine with this situation. Kaanfed and the Maritime Kingdoms enjoyed the buffer as long as the internal strife did not spill into their own kingdoms.
Therefore, it became more and more apparent that the King of Nunu pulled all of his troops back in an effort to protect him. This was a common occurrence with the Nunu forces. The Lakeland generals became more confident of this with each report from the scouts. It appeared that the Lakeland forces would have to siege the capitol city. The Lakeland army would not have to meet Nunu on some field of battle, and this suited them fine.
After weeks of marching, they made it to the capitol city. They continued to scout around for any encampments of soldiers. They wanted to be sure they would not be outflanked. As they approached the city, it was clear that it was bustling with soldiers. The generals gave the order to the Lakeland army to keep their distance. They did not want to get too close to the city's defenses. It would not do to slowly lose soldiers. At least, they did not want this until they were ready.
The capitol city was ancient. Legend has it, which the king fully supported, that the city's inhabitants used to hunt the leviathans of the sea. The town prospered on such hunts. Thus, the people claimed to be descended from great hunters and warriors. There was a history of a great seafaring prowess. The generals informed the Princess that even if this legend was true, Nunu had long abandoned such practices. The Princess and the generals believed that the sea would not pose a great threat to the Lakeland forces.
Nonetheless, if the Nunu citizens could get supplies from the sea, the siege would be a long one. The Lakeland army closed off all overland supply lines into the city. This was the first step in the siege. There would be no supplies entering the city by the roads. Those citizens and soldiers in the city would have to survive on any rations that were gathered before the Lakeland army arrived.
Once the guard was set for watching the roads, the construction of siege equipment began. Once again, if it were not necessary, the Lakeland army would not use gunpowder. Those watching the roads would be free to use any weapon at their disposal. However, there would be a limited supply of gunpowder. Thus, other weapons would be used to push the siege.
The Princess told her generals to start the gunpowder manufacture process as soon as feasible. If the siege took a long time, they would need it. If it were a short siege, then they could use the new supply of gunpowder against the Maritime Kingdom. Hence, some of the soldiers were sent on gathering the supplies for gunpowder manufacture.
The first weapons constructed were the trebuchets. These could throw items into the town square. Further, they could be set well outside the range of the city's small arms fire. The arrows and bullets were very inaccurate at that range. It was unknown what type of defenses the city would use. However, the trebuchet was an effective weapon of terror and could be constructed on the spot. Hence, after a few days Lakeland had a few of these weapons hurling items into the city. They tossed rocks and bales of dry grass which had been set ablaze.
No one would know if these items did any damage until after the Lakeland army entered the city. However, the generals assured the Princess that these weapons would frighten the city's inhabitants. Further, if the siege drug on, these weapons could be used to toss gunpowder bombs. Thus, these trebuchets would be a very effective long range weapon no matter the circumstance.
The Princess ordered the scouts to bring back reports of items that could be thrown. Thus, the collection of projectiles began in earnest. Rocks, logs, grass, and other items could be tossed into the town square. If the siege worked as planned, the city would surrender with little bloodshed. The citizens would give up when they realized there was little their army could do against these types of attacks. Further, as the food dwindled, the townspeople would get restless.
The Princess believed that Lakeland had plenty of time to press the siege. From every indication, the entire Nunu army was in the city. Thus, the supplies of the city would be stretched even further. Hence, it should not be too long for unrest to build in the city. However, the Lakeland soldiers were kept busy collecting items. There were also drills and scouting to be done. The watch on the road was also important. Thus, the Lakeland army settled into a routine of sorts.
This all came to an end when one of the scouts returned with a report of a large army marching from the north. It appeared that the Maritime Kingdom was going to come to the aid of the besieged Nunu people. Time which was in such abundance a few days before, suddenly grew short.