Part One - Buffer
We brought our All-Vehicle, the Rivitir, to a landing on a broad flat plain. There is a large farm nearby next to a good sized stream that roughly paralleled the gravel road we'd landed on. I'm Rosy Rivitir, Captain of the AV Rivitir and my crew consists of Rover, Brak and Jant, navigator, pilot, and communications specialist in that order. We go everywhere, looking at stuff and trying to do good or maybe rescue people or, well, whatever we can to make our planet, our home, a more amenable place.
We pulled the Riviter over to the side so as to not block traffic, although we couldn't see any, nor any movement at all for that matter, and Rover and I set out to investigate. Something did seem amiss. Brak and Jant stayed with the Rivitir, our standard procedure for mysterious investigations.
When we got to the farmhouse it was eerily silent. I knocked on the door with Rover behind me but could hear no sounds inside. Suddenly ten thousand elves appeared from out of nowhere and surrounded us, except for the door, which slowly opened revealing a cat-like elf with long pointed ears. His facial expression told me that he was no one to mess with, and I stepped back, stepping on Rover's foot, who yelped.
“What do you want?” the cat-elf demanded.
“We're explorers and professional heroes,” I explained, “and when we saw this area it looked darned interesting. Very quiet and still, up 'till now. I don't believe it's ever been discovered, has it?”
“What do you mean, 'discovered'?”
“Discovered by us, of course. Me and my crew. This here's Rover,” I gestured at Rover, “and he's part of the crew. Navigator in fact.”
“Is that so?” the cat-elf asked, sneering at Rover. “You navigated to here, Rover?”
“Uh, well no,” Rover admitted, “First I started with the wrong map, but I didn't know it and when my compass began acting strange, I mean, showing north where I'm pretty sure . . .”
“Quiet!” the cat-elf snapped, “You telling me you're lost Rover?”
“We're all lost,” I interjected, “not just Rover.”
The cat-elf gave me a withering look and I stepped back onto Rover's paw again, Rover yelped again, then an elf in the guard behind Rover yelped then another behind him and on and on. Yelp, yelp, yelp. Everyone backed up a couple steps.
The cat-elf scowled. “Really? You're just lost?” he asked incredulously.
“Well, yes,” I answered, “although to be fair we're always lost. Rare's the time where we know where we're going is the problem. And what happens, usually, is we get curious about wherever we're at and come out have a look around, like we're doing now.”
The cat-elf looked out over our heads, at the horizon. “We thought you was one of Count Snarkey's minions, from over there,” he said solemnly, while holding his gaze on the horizon. Then he looked back at me, then at the multitude surrounding us. “It's okay lads. They ain't Browns. The ten thousand elves relaxed and looking around I was pleased to see that my earlier assessment was off a little. There were now about twenty and they milled about, eyeing us surreptitiously.
“These here are Jondoes, our security team as well as being farmers,” the cat-elf announced beaming at the small group. “and I'm Shpeel Wamos. I'm the boss hereabouts, and these Jondoes are my team.”
“Nice to meet you all,” I answered, “I'm Rosy Rivitir and Rover here, who you've already met, is part of my crew.”
“Crew huh? That your spaceship over there?” Shpeel Wamos asked, pointing at the Rivitir parked out on the lane.
“Yep, that's ours,” I answered, giving the Rivitir a fond look. “I'm the captain and Rover here is the navigator.
“Nice,” he said, smiling. “We're farmers here. Our land is called Buffer, on the border between Utgard and Mish. I'm the boss and the Jondoes, Jaindoes and Dosidoes are who does the actual farming. I mostly do security these days.” I could see the elf guard was dispersing, going to different areas to work. There seemed to be quite a lot already out in the fields. Maybe there had been ten thousand.
Part Two - Utgard
I knew about Utgard, a generally abysmal strip of land with Mish on one side and Joten, the Troll Kingdom, on the other. “What about this Count and the Browns you mentioned,” I asked. “I never heard of them before.” Although Snarkey was a name I knew, I hoped it wasn't the mad Dr. Snarkey.
“They's the raiders,” he answered, scowling at the horizon. “They come from over there.” He pointed at the horizon.
“That's a problem, innit?” I asked, looking at the horizon.
“Me and the team think so,” he answered. “They steal crops, block ditches and destroy equipment.”
“Dang, that is a problem,” I agreed. “Whatever happened to peaceful coexistence anyway? Do you know why they do it?” He shook his head no. “Well, tell me more about this Count, the Browns and over there. Who knows, we might be able to help.”
“Hmmm. Well, okay. Couldn't hurt, I guess. He ushered us into the farmhouse where we sat on comfortable couches. “Jon!” he called.
Soon an elf walked into the room. “Yes boss?”
“Bring us some tea, would you?”
“Yes, boss, I'm onnit!”
“Oh, and Jon? Would you please send Jon in?”
“Yeah, boy!” He ducked out the door.
Mr. Wamos smiled at us. “I've sent for Jon who is our field boss. Now, to begin, Count Snarkey is an evil warlord lurking in a gloomy castle over there.” He gestured in the same direction he'd called over there while outside. “We think he might be a bear, or maybe a giant, or maybe something else, we're just not sure. One thing we do know is he's fearsome.” Just then there was a tapping at the door and Mr. Wamos called out, “Come in!” An elf, identical to the others we'd seen of the Jondoes, entered. “Ah, Jon, there you are. This here's Capt. Rosy and Rover who could maybe help us against the Brown raids.”
“Ah, well that's fine,” Jon said, smiling and nodding at us.
“So tell us about the Browns,” I asked.
“Yeah, the raiders,” Jon began. “Well, these are the notorious brown weasel's from out of the hinterlands of Elvenstead.” Oh my. I knew about these guys. I'd wondered why we haven't heard from them in a while.
“Seems like Count Snarkey,” Mr. Wamos continued, “needs something here, but we don't know what. So he just sends his raiders, always looking, always breaking things.”
“They take some food crops but mostly they just trample them,” Jon said. “They just wanna wreck things I think, but why?”
“I dunno, yet” I answered. “But by golly, we're going to get to the bottom of this.” I stood. “Com'on Rover, let's get back to the Rivitir.” I looked at Mr. Wamos. “We're going to investigate this matter Mr. Wamos . . .”
“Oh you can call me Shpeel,” he broke in.
“Oh, well, Shpeel, we're going to investigate first then we'll get back to you as soon as we know what to do.”
Part Three - Snarkey
When we got back to the Riviter I started checking the country around us with our maps and stuff. We were fairly close to Utgard which was certainly where Count Snarkey was operating from. I think we needed to talk to Count Snarkey, so Brak and I headed over to Utgard.
As Brak and I approached the border the first thing we noticed is how clearly defined it is. There's a straight line that is degradation and decay on one side and life, albeit struggling, on the other. A natural yet perfectly straight line marking the border. Brak and I stared in horrified amazement. Off in the distance I could see the black silhouette of a castle that seemed in perpetual gloom. It was afternoon so perhaps that was why. I pointed to the castle. “That's where we're going,” I said, heroically.
“Gosh,” Brak answered, staring in round eyed horror.
I led the way across the border. It felt instantly colder and a sense of doom fell on us, which seemed to increase as we progressed further into Utgard. We went slowly, cautiously across this malevolent terrain. There were patches of black ice despite it being mid-summer, and sudden marshy areas with lots of slithering things. Something started throwing small pebbles at the back of our heads but no matter how quickly we turned there was no one there, no one ever seen throwing them. By the time we got to the castle we'd both had enough.
“Darn it Count Snarkey!” I yelled. “Get out here and talk to us, 'cause this whole aggravatin' business is out of hand!” I was angry.
“Yeah!” Brak yelled. He was angry too.
Soon this so-called count appeared and sure enough, just as I suspected, it was the mad Dr. Snarkey trying to hide his identity by changing titles. A clever ruse but one that failed. Behind him several brown weasels peered out.
“So, Doctor Snarkey,” I said, drawing out the doctor part. “Just what have you and these horrid brown weasels been up to?”
He glared at me, his nemesis. “Zounds! I cannot believe you have found me Rivitir! Listen, everything I'm doing is perfectly legal here, so go away.” He began waving us away. “Shoo! Shoo!” The weasels were laughing.
“But it's not legal in Mish!” I yelled. “And that's why we're here. Raid all you want in Utgard, villain, but stay out of Mish!”
“Fie you say!” he yelled back. “There's nothing, nay, less than nothing in Utgard and you know it! We must raid Mish to survive.” Now he seemed near to crying.
“Then why don't you clean this place up?” I asked. “Get rid of this dark cloud and plant some crops. It'd take as much energy to do that as it does to raid.”
“But raiding is fun! Breaking things is bliss!”
“That, Doctor Snarkey, is why we must stop you. If you raid Buffer or anywhere in Mish again, we'll use the Rivitir to drop indelible ink balloons on your weasels, making them red instead of brown. They won't be able to do much sneaking around when they're bright red, I think.” He backed up and the weasels glared at me, making hissing noises. “Then we'll bring the Rivitir here, Dr. Snarkey, and I will direct the heroes Brak,” Brak puffed up. “and Jant to break things, your things, using our advanced technologies. The Rivitir is not a war machine, Snarkey, but it can sure break things if necessary.”
“Zounds! Foiled again!” Dr. Snarkey exclaimed angrily. He shook his fist at us then turned to the weasels. “Pack our bags weasels, we're going back to Elvenstead. More pickings back there anyway!” He laughed in his maniacal way as he slammed the door.
Part Four - Peace
When we got back to Mish, we told Shpeel Wamos what had happened. We parked the Rivitir in a field and the Jondoes covered it with brush to hide it and we waited for a couple weeks to make sure the evil Dr. Snarkey was really gone.
After two and a half weeks without disturbances we patrolled the area, including Utgard and the dark castle, but everything was the usual abnormal. Rover and I investigated the castle and found only the ubiquitous Utgard residents; snakes, rats, spiders, and other creepy things, but no brown weasels and no Dr. Snarkey. The place was deserted, ready for the next brigand to show up and take possession. We were all glad when we left Utgard.
There was a big celebration in Buffer and on the Wamos Farm! The Jondoes, Jaindoes and Dosidoes danced, sang, and frolicked in the warm summer sun, and well into the night.
Shpeel Wamos, along with Jon and, well, Jon and Jon came to see us as we were packing up to leave the next day.
“Hey Shpeel, assorted Jons,” I said by way of greeting. Shpeel seemed able to tell them apart but I cannot.
“Hey Rosy, Rover,” Shpeel reliplied, then, “Oh, hey Brak, Jant,” when he saw them in the other room.
Brak and Jant carried their bags in, joining us in the main room where we all stood around our packed bags that we had brought from the Rivitir. And while the farmhouse is quite large there are several Jondoes, Jaindoes and Dosidoes living there, along with Shpeel, so that to us, used to our spacious quarters on the Rivitir, it seemed cramped. It will be good to get home and see where we go next.
“We will always have a place here for you if you ever come this way again,” Shpeel told us. The Jondoes nodded agreement.
“It's been an honor working with you,” Jon said.
“Everyone is so grateful to have the raids stop,” Jon added.
“Yes,” Jon agreed.
“It's been a great pleasure for us,” I told them. “We are heroes after all, so this is just the kind of work we do.” I paused. “But I want to encourage you all to remain vigilant, for you are close to the dreaded Utgard.”
“We shall,” Shpeel Wamos agreed. “And I know that someday” he continued, “even Utgard and Joten will know peace.”
“Thank you Shpeel. I agree, and someday soon, I hope,” I answered. “Meanwhile, we love your farm and I hope we do land here again, only in happier circumstances.”
“Thanks for all your help, Jon,” Rover said to one of the Jons. “And you Jon for so skillfully hiding the Rivitir. It was brilliant.”
One of the Jons nodded, “Thanks Rover. We been hiding stuff for years so we're probably getting good at it.”
“You are.” Brak spoke up, “I needed Jon to show me before I could find the Rivitir again.” One of the Jons smiled and nodded.
“Well, gosh,” Shpeel said, “I wonder if we'll ever see you again?”
“Who knows?” I answered with a chuckle. “Some people we see a lot.” I was thinking of how often we cross paths with the nefarious Dr. Snarkey or the arch-criminal Brad Puffup, so I didn't name anybody. “But mostly we tend to show up in places where we're needed for something or other.”
“Some way to help out,” Rover added.
“Plus we love looking at stuff!” Jant sang out.
With that we headed for the Rivitir with heroic music playing from the Jondoe Orchestra.