Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Part 14, Chapter 4 - A Brief Respite, an Unlikable New Character

Enough of the drone for a moment.

The small boy sped on feet of fire through the underground passages of the dungeons of the castle. He was soaked with the rain that fell outside. His bonnet was askew. His eyes were glowing with the urgency of a message he had carried for a two-mile sprint through the dawn twilight.

We're in Scotland, where besides temporary, easy-to-pack-up-in-case-of-attack villages by the lake, there's a castle. The ruins above are kept pristine while the dungeons have been expanded into an underground base. Yes, ruins that were already centuries old have survived another thousand years. This is Battlefield Earth, where things last as long as they have to.

Dunneldeen had come home, gathered the chiefs, and announced that the Cornwall minesite was destroyed meaning that the Scots were free to inva... explore the rest of England. After that 'deen had gone up to "a lass" to propose. "Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Oh, yes, Dunneldeen!" Then he'd gone home to bed.


This flame-footed messenger is Bittie MacLeod, who barges into "Prince" Dunneldeen's room to rouse him. Turns out 'deen's uncle, Clanfearghus' chief, is also the last Stewart and the rightful king of Scotland, though nobody makes a big deal about this. So why is it even in the story?

Anyway. Bittie says that 'deen's "squire" - why is it that the apocalypse brings back feudalism in certain places? Do all Scots secretly crave a social structure built around land rights? And why doesn't this ever happen in America? Anyway, Dwight passed a message to Bittie, who impatiently waits for 'deen to get dressed, even insisting that they bring along a five-foot "claidheamhmor." 'deen lets the brat carry it if he wants it so badly, even though it's a foot taller than Bittie is. Suddenly I like Dunneldeen.

They move at a leisurely pace until Bittie remembers the second half of Dwight's message, or rather, doesn't quite. He adds that Dwight wanted 'deen to "squiggle," or something that sounded like it. 'deen asks if he meant "scramble." Bittie says yes. Then they take off at full speed.


Dwight's been on watch listening to the radio, and picked up a conversation about Nup, Zzt, Snit, and a drone. He'd even flown up to 200,000 feet ("Almost tore my heart and lungs out with gravity") and saw a distant explosion and a ship crashing into the sea. Dwight wants to go back up to patrol, but 'deen is confident they won't find anything. The chapter ends with them both wondering what's going on.

Back to Chapter Three

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