Thursday, December 30, 2010

31. Death in the Jungle: Turn 13

[Turn Thirteen Begins]

The Natives seemed to sense Lieutenant Frye's frustration, and were set back on their heels because of it.  The Frenchmen were closer to their tainted shrine than they themselves were, yet both refused to give up.  The seemingly immortal brown-shield leader hooted a command, and Lt Frye watched in amazement as the few remaining Pygmies squared their shoulders and advanced threateningly near to the cattle pen just behind the totem.

"Je suis venu trop loin pour abandonner maintenant," - "I've come too far to quit now," - thought Frye.  First things first:  he turned and barked an order to Seejee and Sawjaw, the tirailleurs leading the Native Bearers.  The soldiers acknowledged him and urged their nervous charges off to the side of the clearing, out of the way of immediate danger.

Next Frye called an order to Cane, the senior trooper of 'B' légionnaires squad.  Cane nodded, advanced his men toward the petits hommes, and formed them into a firing line.  Smoke billowed from the ends of their rifles as they fired on his command.  Cane squinted to see the results, muttering in disapproval as he realized their shots had missed.

His muttering changed to a low cry as the fierce cannibals tried to blow their dart guns at his men before realizing they were out of range, and rushing forward instead, closing the distance between them rapidly.

Cane urgently uttered a second command, and his vision was once again obscured by the acrid smoke from eight guns.  This time his diligence was rewarded by seeing two l'indigènes fall.  To his amazement, the brown-shielded leader was unable to command his men forward; instead, they half-heartedly shot their blowguns at the légionnaires before falling back in good order.  Cane was just as amazed that their shots missed.  He could do no more for now.  He and his men stood fast and waited.

There was a heartbeat of a pause.  The jungle was still and quiet. 

Lt Frye motioned an instruction to Caporal Cabot and l'Infanterie des Marines he was leading.  There was a lengthy pause as the inexperienced caporal remembered the correct commands needed to carry out the orders he had received.  Then he formed the marines into open order before advancing his men around to the right of the shrine -- Frye wanted him to get behind the Natives.

Farther back in the French portion of the jungle, the Tirailleurs Sénégalais continued to advance under the command of Caporal Chien, ending their movement in open order as well.

Just as Lt Frye got his men where he wanted them, the vicious cannibalistic Pygmies let out a blood-chilling war cry and charged légionnaires squad 'B.'  "Recevoir la charge!" Frye shouted.  Cane ordered his men to brace themselves, but he thought he saw trooper Pes step behind his mates at the last moment -- had a second run-in with the murderous miniature men unmanned him?

The tiny dark-skinned fanatics crashed into the taller white-skinned Frenchmen with screams and curses, shields thudding into rifle butts, and poison-laced spearheads stabbing unmercifully at unprotected legs.

Though there were hardly any of the left, yet still they refused to quit.  After the initial rush, the heavier weight and longer reach of the légionnaires began to tell on the Pygmies, until the brown-shielded seemingly immortal leader reached deep for one last super-human effort to defeat the invaders and defend his horrid shrine.

He cut, he slashed, he danced out of reach only to dart back in again...but to no avail.  First one, then five! of his brave but terrible men fell to the bayonets and rifles clubbing at them, before he, too, finally succumbed!

With an ear-piercing shriek the remaining pygmées fled, their spirit broken, their morale shaken to its core.  Their fearless leader, the one whom no White could kill, had at last fallen.  Was he truly dead?

Cane wiped a sweat-soaked sleeve across his sweat-soaked forehead.  A quick glance told him his line was intact; his men had held.  What's more, trooper Pes came skulking back to rejoin his squad, shamefaced and pale.  Cane would have to have words with him later:  cowardice was not allowed in La Légion.

Somehow or other, several of l'indigènes were able to return to what remained of their unit -- including, to Frye's absolute bafflement, the brown-shielded leader!  "Incroyable!" he breathed.  "Peut-être qu'il est un fantôme."

Sergent Cur of 'A' légionnaires had finally regained his wits enough to take command from trooper Lupo, but under Lupo's urgings he allowed his men to retire further still.  He was almost out of earshot of le Lieutenant.

Lastly, Frye was pleased to see that, even though the unkillable brown-shield leader had survived and returned, he was unable to prevent his men from retreating, too.

Apparently, no matter how worthy the adversary, all great generals must contend with short-sighted grunts.  Frye grimaced in mutual disgust and admiration.

[Turn Thirteen Ends]

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

30. Zombies and Dinosaurs, Oh My!

So there I was at the dollar store, innocently buying candy for the kids' Christmas stockings, when I come upon the following:  undead Dinosaurs!  Well, dinosaur skeletons, at any rate; probably meant for display in a miniature museum.  But they're scaled perfectly for 28mm, and they were $1 a package!  I bought two packs, and they had two more packs with different dinosaurs in them that I didn't buy (mainly because an undead Duckbill dinosaur just doesn't seem all that scary, nor does an undead Pterodactyl.  Maybe it's just me....).

Here's what the packages look like:

And here's an action shot of a fearless Legionnaire finding out he's gotten more than he bargained for!

On another line of thinking, I've been slowly getting into the Zombie gaming craze.  I bought Two Hour Wargames' "All Things Zombie:  Better Dead than Zed" (otherwise known to the "in" crowd as ATZ:BDTZ) during their Black Friday sale, and I must say it's quite enjoyable.  I'm limited in my number of zombies, so I'm making-do with the 1:72 scale plastic zombie chicks from the Zombies!!! board game by Twilight Creations (they're cheap, and close enough in scale to see me through my zombie-free crisis).

One thing the rules want you to do is place a marker whenever a gun is fired, or other similarly loud noises occur, as that attracts zombies.  I didn't have what I felt were appropriate markers; little pieces of cardboard just didn't do it for me, and dice take up too much room, plus I get them confused with the dice I'm actually using.  So I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up a package of ruby red acrylic gems, normally used for decorating and "blinging" little girls' purses and such.  It was $3.47, but I just happened to get it this week for 50% off.  What luck!

So here's what they look like in action (I should mention that these are not 1:72 scale plastic zombies from Twilight Creations; they are, in fact, Dungeons & Dragons zombie miniatures).  Our fearless heroine blasts away at a hapless zombie shambling toward her.

Uh oh, she missed, and what's worse, she's brought more zombies to the feeding trough that is going to be her!  Zoinks!  Better run, honey!

I also bought some grey felt at the fabric store, and made myself some roads.  Ya gotta have roads in modern zombie gaming, y'know.  I simply cut 8" wide strips, in straights and curves, and then took a white china marker and drew some simple white stripes down the center.  Here's a pic of one road section (I might put up more pictures soon of them all, but I'm not completely finished making the various shapes yet).

They don't look nearly as good as the felt roads from Hotz ArtWorks, but it cost me $5 for 36" by 72" and all I have to do is cut them out.  I can live with myself until the day I can afford the good stuff.

Merry Christmas!