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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

iain_a_wilson

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I propose attacking the invaders.
It's always about the killing with you, isn't it young man?

Part of your charm I guess :)

But for whom?! We don't know and we're used to putting confidence in your wisdom.

In other words, command and we shall obey. :D
Well, if you want some suggestions my ballot is already up there!

Obviously feel free to put my AARs in there too ;)

Tense stuff. Although surely Van Moordenaar's men will do little more than clip them around the ears if they do indeed manage to capture them. Uhm...well, okay, since this is Van Moordenaar it will likely be considerably more than a mere clip around the ears. I really hope they are not captured.

Very much liked the 'Mmmph' comments!
If I were them I would hope that they aren't captured too. From a historical perspective, the Boer War wasn't exactly a high point in our nation's history where human rights were concerned...

Cliffhanger! :eek:
I know - exciting isn't it?

Oh, damn! I completely forgot about this. So finally return and find that...

They're all going to die! Or be miserable.

Splendid!
Amazing how much joy we take out of other peoples' suffering isn't it? If it wasn't for this fact Reality Television would never have taken off. There's a programme my wife watches called "One Born Every Minute" which is a reality show set in a maternity ward. As well as the miracle of childbirth, viewers are also "treated" to the resultant agony, pain and sweary words that accompany it. And she loves this show. Despite having been through labour twice herself!

Clawing my way through this one, now. Up to page 13, will check back in once caught up. Generally excellent so far, I'm enjoying my 'Star Wars in South Africa' fix. :)
Well, because you've said such nice things I've gone and fixed the index AND updated it to include the most recent entries! Aren't I just a peach? And thanks for taking time to comment!
 

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Part 24


Beru, Owen, Thomas and John sat in a circle and shared the food and water the two soldiers had brought with them. John gestured vaugley in a northerly direction.

"Our people are camped about five miles north of here.", he said between mouthfuls of bread and cheese. "We've made pretty good time, so if we keep up this pace I estimate..."

"Urgh"

The cry came from Thomas who had started to wipe something off his face. John scowled.

"What?"

"Urgh! When you said 'estimate', you spat bread and cheese everywhere. Look at this! Bits everywhere! A load of nasty, cheesy, bready bits hanging from my beard! Eurgh! I feel sick!"

John scowled.

"Are you finished? I'm trying to explain something really rather important to these folks."

"Oh yes. Go ahead. I don't mind and I'm sure these guys don't either. They probably enjoy being showered in cheese and bread..."

John chose to completely disregard Thomas.

"So, as I was saying, if we continue heading north..."

"...Vomit forth strachy, cheesy gobules of phlem..."

"North...if we go north at a steady pace we'll soon reach..."

"...and sit on your backside expecting them to..."

John got to his feet and roared.

"SHUT UP YOU BLITHERING IDIOT!"

This time Beru and Owen joined Thomas in wiping down their faces. John blushed.

"Look. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. The pressure and the heat are just getting to me, that's all. How about we draw a line under this and start again. Thomas?"

He held out his hand. Thomas smiled and shook it.

"Happy to do so. In fact, we've all been a bit tense, so how about I tell a joke to cheer everyone up?"

Owen nodded.

"An excellent idea. Do tell."

Thomas knelt down and grinned.

"Ok, this is one of my favourite jokes and although it's a bit of a longy, you'll find yourself retelling this one again and again (1)
! Trust me it's well worth the wait! Are you ready?"

Everyone nodded.

"Ok. There's a black knight on a black horse and he's riding through the forest and...yes?"

Beru had raised her hand.

"Does this end in his execution?"

Thomas, thrown by this sudden interuption, stared at Beru increduously.

"Wha...?" he offered.

"This joke of yours. At the end is the man you are talking about executed?"

Thomas, now sufficently composed to realise his ears hadn't misled him the first time, shook his head.

"No. No the joke - the funny, humourous joke designed to cheer us up - oddly enough doesn't end in some man's execution."

Beru folded her arms and growled.

"Well, I think your so-called joke should! I'm not sure why you think that humour at the expense of honest farmers is appropriate at this point in time! Not after what we've been through!"

Thomas blinked. This wasn't going like he had planned (2).

"Er...why do you require the joke to end in his death?"

Beru rolled her eyes like she was talking to a stupid child.

"Not his death - his EXECUTION. You are aware of the difference, hmm? EVERYONE dies - only those who have committed a crime and who are brought before the legal system can be executed."

"When did I say he was a criminal? He hasn't committed a crime!"

Beru brightened.

"Ah - so he's a stable boy? Or a farm hand?"

Thomas cast his eyes around frantically, desperatly imploring the others to help him. Owen shook his head in the manner of a man who had witnessed conversations like this many times before, while John stared uncomprehendingly at Beru. Thomas turned back to her and smiled - baring his teeth like a demented Cheshire Cat.

"No. No. He's neither of those things. Like I said..."

"If he is, as you say, neither of those things the state would be remiss if they did not step in, apprehend, try and execute him."

"Why?" Thomas half-screamed.

"He is a horse thief, and the punishment for horse theft is death!" (3)

"I never said that!"

"You didn't have to. I am aware of the law - aren't I Owen? - which states when you steal another's horse..."

"No - I mean I never said he was a horse thief!"
."
"You didn't have to - you implied that he was!"

"What? Where? When?"

"What would a slave or a native be doing with a horse if he had not stolen the animal, hmm?"

"I NEVER said he was a slave or a native!"

"Yes you did - you said he was black!"

Several seconds of brain melting contemplation passed as the others attempted to process this statement and keep up with wherever it was that Beru's unstoppable train of thought was steaming towards. Thomas was the one to break the silence with a rather timid cough.

"I said he was a black KNIGHT."

Beru snorted.

"Don't be ridiculous - I've never heard of such a thing! You only get knights in feudal, European societies. The tribes around here have no such social structure. They're savages - they wouldn't understand such a concept."

"No - I mean the colour of his armour. He was wearing black ARMOUR, therefore he was known as the black knight."

"Ah! You should have explained, rather than spending all that time confusing me!"

"I kind of thought it would be obvious."

"Not to me it wasn't."

Thomas sighed, but before he could speak John stood up.

"Okaaaaaay. Time's getting on people - we should move. Thomas can tell his joke later. Get your things, we're heading out in two minutes."

~~~​

1. People often write stories as a form of escapism. It is often said that the dashing heroes and heroines that litter the anals of literary history all have a little bit of their creator in them. The joke Thomas is going to tell here is one of this author's favourite jokes. The fact that everyone is sitting around nodding enthusiastically, happily awaiting the telling of the joke and the punchline is the escapist part. Note that none of these characters are groaning and saying 'I've heard this one before?' or 'This better be better than you're last one?'

2. Telling a joke to a child, an old person or a drunk can often provide an experience similar to this one.

3. Ludicrous as this sounds, in many countries this was the case until quite recently.
 

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I don't get it.....
 

morningSIDEr

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Good update. I really feel for John having to adapt to travelling with some nice, if very confusing and often mixed up, people. Well, I did feel for him until he splattered my face with cheese and bread...
 
Last edited:

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:D Beru does have a point...
 

iain_a_wilson

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Good update. I really feel for John having to adapt to travelling with some nice, if very confusing and often mixed up, people. Well, I did feel for him until he splattered my face with cheese and bread...
Yeah - I hate people like that. They're fine until the first splatter and then I just completely lose interest in them.

:D Beru does have a point...
Yes - the livestock rustling laws of late Victorian Boer states were very harsh ;)

Apologies about the delay in the update, but thanks for waiting, and thanks for voting in the ACAs! As always I am honoured by your support and readership!

While I'm on my soap box, could I implore you all to take a look at the "Guess the Author" thread. This is an invaluable resource for authors looking for anonymous feedback (indeed, there are four such authors taking part in this round) and I'd ask you all to go and give them a bit of constructive criticism if you have the time.

Cheers!

Iain
 

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Part 25


Lucas, as has already been made abundantly clear, was dogged by ill-fortune. It wasn't just that he was unlucky - because everyone can have a run of misfortune from time to time - but he seemed to naturally repel good luck. Wheras some people might walk down the street, find a twenty pound note blowing in their path, pick it up and count their blessings, Lucas would find himself determinately chasing the same note down the street as the gusting wind kept it tantalisingly out of his reach, only to career into a wall that he didn't see in his haste and then be forced to watch the note flutter into the path of someone else who would pick it up and count their blessings (1).

In short, Lucas suffered from anti-luck.

The thing with anti-luck is that, unlike your normal, run-of-the-mill bad luck, anti-luck is contagious and can snowball. Just as chaos theory (2) has its butterfly effect (3), anti-luck had carriers like Lucas who could inadvertently flap their wings of unluck and bring a screaming tornado of ill fortune crashing into all of those around them. It didn't happen often, because a lot of the time anti-luck would lie dormant, like an incubating, malicious virus or a trapdoor spider, but on the occasions where anti-luck decided to spread, normal people like you and I would be forced to stand - slack-jawed with horror - as the likes of Lucas blundered around, dramatically upsetting the local fortune to misfortune harmonics, and causing the whole place to explode in a Technicolor, visceral orgy of bad luck (4).

Although the people of Groot Slaperig were well acquainted with anti-luck and just how amazingly it could spoil a perfectly good day (5), the Mensevanzand who were camped by the Orange River weren't. Instead, when their leader, a dim-witted lug named Koos who held his position purely by virtue of the fact that he had once escaped from a rampaging hippo by head-butting it so hard that the beast was passed out, observed the mass of limbs and shock of red hair that was Lucas moving at pace hurtling past him, he instead simply smiled, thanked whichever god it was that looked after petty river dwelling vagrants and cut throats (6) for his good fortune, grabbed his rifle and machete and yelled excitedly.

"Ouens! Gryp jou gewere! Ons gaan jag!" (7)

There was the sound of frenzied movement from within the shabby, smelly tents that housed the Mensevanzand as a dozen or so brigands began to tool up and scramble out to meet their leader. Koos rubbed his hands with demented glee. He grinned at his subordinates and jabbed his machete in Lucas' direction.

"Errol!"

A slightly smaller man (8) dressed in dirty trousers that once may have been khaki, a ripped, sleeveless safari jacket and a bushman's hat hurried forward, struggling to load a revolver in the process.

"Ja baas?"

Koos once again waved the machete in Lucas' direction.

"Weet jy wat "nemesis" beteken, Errol?" (9)

Errol shrugged and Koos patted him gently on the shoulder (10)

"Die regverdige toediening van vergelding geopenbaar deur 'n toepaslike agent. Verpersoonlik in hierdie geval deur 'n verskriklike bastard. In hierdie geval, ek. Nou gaan jy hom kry!" (11)

Errol's brow furrowed.

"Wat het hy gedoen het, baas?" (12)

Koos growled.

"Dit is die klein man wat my ontstel hierdie oggend. Ek gaan sy kop afsny!" (13)

Errol nodded, waved his pistol in the air and pointed at Lucas' receding form. With a mighty roar the Mensavanzand set off in pursuit.

Lucas, intently focused on propelling himself back to the homestead didn't notice any of this (14).


~~~​

1. You can almost picture him picking himself up and producing a sign that read "RATS" while blinking owlishly.

2. A field of mathematics that studies the behaviour of mathematical models that are effected by changes in initial conditions. Or something like that.

3. An analogy in chaos theory that states that a butterfly flapping its wings could create tiny changes in the local atmosphere that may or may not alter the path of a nearby hurricane. Or something. A bit like the analogy that states "If mathematicians are not given useful work to do they will eat up research grants by coming up with codswallop like the butterfly effect." Or something.

4. Yes - this IS as horrible as it sounds.

5. ...like the time Lucas was fortunate enough to be the one to find old farmer Blou's runaway prize heifer that had absconded from her pen. Lashing a rope around the creature's neck, Lucas proudly led it back to town. He was almost home when he tripped and ended up face first in the water trough outside of the general store. The almighty and comedy CLAAAAANG! that resulted from Lucas' head impacting on the metal surface caused the poor cow to panic and charge through the town for a good half hour before it could be calmed down. Owen very kindly offered to reimburse his fellow burghers for the substantial property damage, but declined farmer Blou's offer to waive the charges in exchange for physical evidence that Lucas had been shot.

6. Hermes, from Greek mythology, was the god of CUNNING thieves. The closest the Mensevanzand got to cunning was trying to sneak up on potential victims without making a noise. Whatever god looked after them probably dribbled a lot.

7. "I say chaps; anyone for a little sport?"

8. This is all relative. Although Errol looked small next to the monstrous Koos he was still well over six foot tall and built like a pro-wrestler.

9. "Do you know what 'nemesis' means, Errol?"

10. A gentle pat from Koos was generally delivered with the sort of force that could floor a lesser man. Given that a lot of conversation with his subordinates involved a fatherly tip on the shoulder or a friendly bear hug most of the Mensavanzand had extremely well developed upper bodies.

11. If you got the 'nemesis' line you'll know exactly what this one means…

12. "What's my motivation?"

13. "Remember how I came back earlier looking a bit down in the dumps, and I was all ‘OMG’ and said it was all because someone had totally got away from me? Yeah? Well that's him. Go get him for me. I want to have a chat." This is the rough gist of this sentence.

14. Lucas had enough trouble avoiding tripping over his own limbs to be bothered with a trifling detail like a group of bloodthirsty brigands massing behind him.
 

enf91

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Nice of Errol to quote a dictionary. Which raises the question: how would a bushman from the hills of South Africa have access to something like literacy, much less a dictionary?
 

Clydwich

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Hum, him beeing six foot tall and speaking afrikaans, I do not think he is a bushman.....
And if he is of some offshoot of Boer stock, well, the Boers took their learning (especially religious learning) very serious!
Which reminds me: where do the mensevanzand come from????
 

iain_a_wilson

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Nice of Errol to quote a dictionary. Which raises the question: how would a bushman from the hills of South Africa have access to something like literacy, much less a dictionary?
Quote a dictionary???

Hum, him beeing six foot tall and speaking afrikaans, I do not think he is a bushman.....
Well spotted - Errol is indeed an out and out Afrikaaner. I probably made a mistake reffering to a "bushman's hat". I was, obviously, reffering to the style of hat that is normally reffered to as a "bushman's hat" in Australia, but, as you've rightly inferred, a "bushman" in South Africa refers to a complete different ethnic group!

And if he is of some offshoot of Boer stock, well, the Boers took their learning (especially religious learning) very serious!
They did indeed. Prior to their annexation by the British, the three Boer Republics of the Transvaal, the Oranje Vrystaat and Natal were easily as literate as most Western European nations (and more so in some cases!). That being said, Koos is still a complete idiot.

Which reminds me: where do the mensevanzand come from????
They are disaffected Boers who have encampments along the Orange River. I may have made them up ;)
 

enf91

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Hum, him beeing six foot tall and speaking afrikaans, I do not think he is a bushman.....
Calling him a bushman was a mistake. Maybe "barbarian" would have been a better word.

@Iain: Maybe not quoting a dictionary, but he was giving an overly technical description of the word in question. Similar to the kind of wording employed by a dictionary. Like most people would respond to "nemesis" as "enemy", but he goes into a full paragraph-long description.
 

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@Iain: Maybe not quoting a dictionary, but he was giving an overly technical description of the word in question. Similar to the kind of wording employed by a dictionary. Like most people would respond to "nemesis" as "enemy", but he goes into a full paragraph-long description.
Ah! I see what you mean! There's a reason for that wording - it's an "in joke" for people who have seen a certain film (or rather, have seen a certain film and understand Afrikaans!).

If you have seen "Snatch" you'll get the reference. If you haven't, you'll just assume that Koos is a rather over wordy thug trying to sound clever.

And you'd be right :)

(I'm assuming you're a Dutch/Afrikaans speaker?)
 

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A very good update. Considering the one that preceded it, you do know that transforming Aunt Beru from a nice little old lady into a grumpy racist will most likely lessen the emotional impact of her inevitable demise?

Can't say that I was bothered by Errol understanding the word nemesis. He might have sounded a little too similar to the narrator, but that's it.
Besides, he showed off knowing the meaning of a fancy word whilst simultaneously being much too liberal with his use of the phrase "in this case", so it's all good.
 

morningSIDEr

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Good stuff. I rather like the concept of anti-luck, it helps to explain Lucas' seemingly unfailing ability to spread mayhem wherever he goes. Of course since he is speading this ill luck the Mensavanzand's pursuit is likely doomed to failure but so too is his escape!
 

iain_a_wilson

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A very good update. Considering the one that preceded it, you do know that transforming Aunt Beru from a nice little old lady into a grumpy racist will most likely lessen the emotional impact of her inevitable demise?
Who says she's going to die? ;)

Can't say that I was bothered by Errol understanding the word nemesis. He might have sounded a little too similar to the narrator, but that's it.
Besides, he showed off knowing the meaning of a fancy word whilst simultaneously being much too liberal with his use of the phrase "in this case", so it's all good.
*grins*

Besides, if you've seen "Snatch" the quote is too good not to plageri...er...use.

Good stuff. I rather like the concept of anti-luck, it helps to explain Lucas' seemingly unfailing ability to spread mayhem wherever he goes. Of course since he is speading this ill luck the Mensavanzand's pursuit is likely doomed to failure but so too is his escape!
Well, when you consider where he's heading, who's currently there and what effect anti-luck could have on that...well...I won't spoil the update!