Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cookies' Revenge and the March of Muddy Doom

Earlier this week, while most right-thinking individuals were spending their time huddled in their nice warm homes and offices, I allowed myself to be talked into venturing out into the below-freezing weather to subject myself once again to the torture that is paintball.* I considered trying to weasel my way out of it, but once Ms. "I Should Be Making Cookies" herself committed to going, there was no way I could back out, so I put on multiple layers of clothes underneath my cammo, and headed out with PigPen to the paintball fields.

When we got there, Shack-Fu began parceling out equipment to those of us in need, as well as trying to deal with the minor technical difficulties which were cropping up with the newly acquired equipment of both PigPen and Cookies. After finally getting Cookie's gun slowed down so that its shots wouldn't cut through flesh like a hot knife through butter, Shack-Fu started to get his own gear out -- which is when he realized he had left behind something kind of important: the ammo. He had enough to fill up my gun's hopper, but that was about it, so he set us up on our first scenario and left us to operate unsupervised while he made a paintball run.

The first scenario was basically a hide-and-seek-and-destroy mission; The Ghost and I were sent off to secrete ourselves somewhere in Sherwood Forest, and after we gave the go signal, PigPen, Cookies, and their teammate (who, in keeping with my previous lazy paintball nickname assignments shall be known as Victor) were to hunt us down like dogs. The plus side to this mission was that The Ghost did a really good job of outlining his strategy to me, so that, for once, I actually felt like I knew what I was doing.** The down side was that in order for the strategy to work I had to crouch down, be still, be quiet, and hope to catch the other team unawares -- which would have been fine, except for that whole "be still and be quiet" provision; neither of those are really my thing, y'know? And while I don't know exactly how long it took for the hunting party to get to our position, in my mind it lasted an eternity. Finally, Victor came creeping up the path in-between where The Ghost and I were set up, and the two of them engaged in a firefight, with The Ghost eliminating Victor. He then instructed me to move on Cookies, who was crouched behind a tree on my side of the path. I moved forward and tried to get where I could get a clean shot, but only managed to expose my position to PigPen and Cookies. Lots of shots were exchanged, with most of them detonating on branches, before Cookies managed to nail me right in the right shoulder, eliciting a loud "Ow! I'm out" as I shook off the sting of her souped up machine. She then proceeded to take out The Ghost as well, making her the M.V.P. of her team for that round. We headed back to the cars to wait for Shack-Fu to return so that we could start up another round.

Our second scenario was similar to the first, only this time Shack-Fu joined The Ghost and me in our sneaky movements. The Ghost and Shack-Fu hashed out our plan of action, and we set ourselves up to wait for the others; however, Shack-Fu did some quick scouting and realized they were circling around us, so a quick change of plan was called for as we then cut through the woods to try to head them off at the pass. Shack-Fu instructed me to hang back a bit and make sure they didn't flank us. Cookies got eliminated first, and then PigPen's tank ran out of gas. The decision was made to take a time out and let him go get a replacement.*** After gameplay resumed, The Ghost and Victor played their own game of cat and mouse while Shack-Fu stalked across the road to ambush PigPen; I, taking a bit of initiative, moved up closer to the path so that I could act as a diversion to keep PigPen's attention away from Shack-Fu. I didn't get a chance, however, as Shack-Fu got within range, lined up his shot, fired -- and quickly retreated back to our side of the path due to the fact that the paintball had exploded inside the barrel of his gun. Not long after he got back behind cover on our side of the path, we heard The Ghost call out that he was eliminated thanks to Victor. PigPen was casually firing on our position, and although most of the shots were breaking on the branches, we knew it wouldn’t be long before Victor moved in on us. Shack and I then had the following exchange:

Shack-Fu: Okay, Cap'n, on the count of three we rush Pigpen, all right?
Me: [nod in agreement, glad to be doing something]
Shack-Fu: Okay then. Ready --
Me: [splat!] I'm out!

Yes, instants before we were getting ready to rush him, PigPen managed to sneak a paintball through the trees and into my left shoulder, giving me a matching paintball wound to the one Cookie delivered earlier. After I gave Shack-Fu my gun to replace his malfunctioning one, I headed back to the cars, pausing long enough to holler back "Hey, PigPen?"


"Mega. Loathe."

His laughter followed me back to the cars, until it was drowned out by what I can only assume was the sound of Shack-Fu's suicide run battle cry. Despite the impressive noise he made, Shack-Fu was quickly eliminated.

After regrouping at the cars, we decided to engage in one more scenario. Shack-Fu suggested that the scenario take place around an old junked up car that was in a section PigPen, Cookies, and myself hadn't been before, and so we struck out behind him, past Sherwood Forest, past the area where my horrible first game of paintball occurred, past endless tracts of muddy ground and slippery slopes and water-logged paths, until I finally proclaimed "If I had known we were undergoing 'The Bataan Death March' scenario, I would have stayed back at the cars." The real problem on this extended nature hike stemmed from the fact that neither Cookies nor I were wearing appropriate foot wear for slogging through the mud, which resulted in many, many, many moments of slipping and sliding between us. Cookies had it a little worse than I did, almost falling into the splits at one point and often needing the assistance of PigPen or myself to make it up and down any of the numerous slopes we traversed -- still, she never actually fell on her butt and slid halfway down the slope, unlike some neurotic bloggers I could mention.

In my defense, I was trying to do this while carrying both my gun and hers, which affected my balance.

Plus, I'm a klutz.

Anyway, after what made the eternity of waiting in the first game seem like a nanosecond, we finally made it to the great area Shack-Fu was gung-ho on getting us to -- an area in a little valley which was at least ankle deep in water from all the rain. So, back the way we came, with what I suspect was just a tinge of mega-loathing directed in Shack-Fu's direction.**** We soon came to a fairly nice spot to set up a quick, straight-forward elimination game; Shack-Fu, Victor, and I would set up on one end of the field, PigPen, Cookies, and The Ghost would set up on the other, and when the go signal was given, we would try to pick the other team off. Shack-Fu and Victor bandied about ideas for strategy, with Victor taking the lead:

Victor: I think one guy could go here, one guy could go here and the other guy could go here.
Shack-Fu: Sounds good. [shouting to other team] Are you ready?
Me: Whoa, whoa, whoa! What's the plan?
Shack-Fu: Weren't you listening?
Me: Yeah; "one guy does this, one guy does that," but which guy is which?
Shack-Fu: Oh, yeah.

In the end, it didn't matter, as the strategy shifted, and we wound up just taking up a defensive position on the side of a hill while The Ghost and PigPen tried to advance on us. I did my best to keep The Ghost pinned down, but while trying to reposition myself I once again lost traction, slid down the hill, and was unable to extricate myself before he swung around and popped me in the facemask. The Ghost got Shack-Fu (whose gun had malfunctioned yet again), and PigPen picked off Victor; Cookies, meanwhile, was back at her team's home base, with no idea that her side had emerged victorious yet again.

We trudged back to the cars on a more direct route than before, and most of us headed off to get something to eat; it was on the way to the restaurant that PigPen exclaimed "Hey, I just realized: I didn't get shot today!"

Mega. Loathe.

*Cap’n Cluck’s reaction upon hearing our plan: “Y’all are stupid.”
**Whether this feeling was justified or self-delusion, I will leave up to the audience.
***In retrospect we should have just charged him right then
****After reading the One Crazy Night post, Shack-Fu had expressed some surprise at how positive it painted him; don't think that will be a problem here. . .