I know we haven’t spoken in what feels like years. I’ve been gone. I was stuck somewhere. Typically I get to talk to you before I head out to an interview, but this time was different. Combo (my Vault verse guide) didn’t give me a warning, nor did it even bother to ask me if I was ready for another assignment. One day it just started making its normal ringing before I picked it up. When I did, the portal into the Vault-Verse opened and pulled me in. Before I could even protest, my shoes were sinking into the shoreline of a great battle.
I’ve been at this journalism stuff for some time now, so luckily, I’ve had some light combat training from that barbaric man Owen and his Axe, some hand-to-hand fighting with Yonna, and learned to wield a staff from the family who ate the bugs. All of those lessons helped me pick up a weapon and get into battle. I won’t lie to you and say it wasn’t a little fun throwing a spear through some weird purple firefly bug monster before swinging an axe to chop another in half. It was a great time other than, ya know, the whole death on the horizon thing.
But at the end of the skirmish, I found myself sitting around a fire with some of the warriors. One of them was an older portly little fairy man with incredible facial hair. In between the musky pillowing pipe smoking, he was spewing out, he let me chat with him for a bit about this place.
Dan: I don’t think I caught your name, sir. What should I call you?
Little Fairy Man: Not so fast, laddie. I already have m’self a charge, that fairly useless fellow over there. Oh, yer not lookin’ for help? Well, why didn’t ye say so! Pass that mug over here, and I’ll be more’n pleased to answer what ev’r ye want! Call me Grink!
Dan: Grink, I try to always ease people in, and after what I witnessed here today…I think we both need to start with something fun. What’s your favorite sandwich?
Grink: Why, do ye have one? Honestly, m’boy, I’ll eat just about anything. Not much left here that ye’d be calling tasty. See many farmers around ‘ere? No? Lesson number eight: if th’ stew be hot, don’t ask what’s in it.
Dan: Where are we exactly?
Grink: This ‘ere’s the End After End. The place we’ve always lived but ye only visit after ye bite the dust. Good thing, too! We need all the help we can get. Most of ye aren’t worth the clothes ye show up in, but ye know what they say ‘When a dozen arrows come at ye, it’s good to have twelve friends with ye’. Har har!
Dan: Oh, does anyone ever leave this place?
Grink: Through the dirt, they do. For yer kind, th’ final death. Maybe for me and mine…someplace…peaceful.
Dan: I’ve been seeing what looks like warriors from all different time periods and from different places. Do you see a lot of different characters arrive in the EAE?
Grink: Son, I’ve been guiding yer kind for longer than ye can imagine. I’ve seen all different sizes an’ shapes. Most don’t last more than a couple breaths. Sometimes ye get lucky and stick around for a while, like my new one did today.
Dan: Who was that beautiful breathtaking woman flying overhead earlier?
Grink: Watch how you address th’ miss! That’s The Catha, one of only a few remaining great warriors of her kind. She’s on a mission, this one. Gatherin’ up relics of some sort. Somethin’ to help in the war.
Dan: Do you truly believe that Catha can make a difference?
Grink: Lesson number fourteen: only believe in what you can drink, eat or kill.
Dan: What’s your weapon of choice?
Grink: Har har…about ten warriors in front of me! My job’s to guide, not to fight.
Dan: How do you stay hopeful in a place where all hope almost feels lost at the immeasurable odds I’ve seen?
Grink: Who the hell said I was hopeful? Pass me another mug, ye damned fool.
Dan: Thanks for your time Grink, I hope we meet again soon.
After sitting by the fire with a group of warriors till later in the night, I decided to take my leave. My Combo device being my way home…it is not my place to change the fate of those here on the beach. I’m only an observer in the long run, as much as I wish I could do more. Moments before I open my portal to depart, I see her. Catha standing alone, looking out at her comrades in arms. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask her at least something.
Dan: Ma’am, I just want to know…are they going to be alright? Are you going to be alright?
The Catha looks at you with hard eyes, a long stare that reflects the countless deaths she has seen and she herself has caused. She takes a moment to look around at the ruined countryside, the torn and destroyed once beautiful land. She looks back at you, expression hard and determined, but you can see the hint of a tear in her eye.
Catha: You ask as though that is something I can choose. We will fight until there is no more fighting to do. One way or the other.
We stood in silence for a few moments as I let what she said wash over me. They don’t have a choice. They have to fight. It never ends. I’m so sorry…