Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Non-Combatant Chronicles Pt.1: Just Call Me "General Confusion"

This past Sunday was earmarked for yet another paintball excursion. Unfortunately, PigPen had to opt out since he had come down with something, and since he wasn't playing, I figured I wouldn't either -- after all, without the possibility of being able to shoot him repeatedly in the head*, where's the appeal?

Actually, my decision not to play had less to do with PigPen's absence, and more to do with the fact that I had screwed up my legs so much from the Muddy March of Doom and constant racquetball play in worn out shoes that I blanched at the thought of walking up and down stairs, let alone running for my life through the underbrush from the vicious likes of killer Cookies and psycho Shack-Fu. But, while I didn't feel up to full-scale involvement, I also didn't want to miss out completely, so I suited up and tagged along as a non-combatant again; however, since I was a veteran of a few campaigns, Shack-Fu put me to work almost immediately this time around.

The first scenario was similar to my first ill-fated game, only this time I was the one playing a stranded officer in need of a rescue instead of The Sarge. Also, this time both three-person teams were in a race to take possession of me and return me to their home base, with one team being my would-be rescuers, and the other being my would-be captors. Of course, since the team assignments were made after Shack-Fu had sequestered me, I had no idea who was on which team, let alone what their allegiances were. Shack-Fu had planned on giving me a radio so I could keep in contact with the Good Guys, but after he gave the go signal the two teams took off so quickly that by the time he got to me, I had already been taken into custody by The Sniper and the lazily-nicknamed** Bravo; where their third member was, and whether they were good or bad***, I hadn’t a clue.

Bravo tried to take me up the side of a hill rather than taking the main path, but we were stymied by a barbed wire fence at the crest of the hill; we headed back down, while I managed to get tangled in more brambles than I thought humanly possible. The Sniper took point as we headed towards the path; when he encountered fire, Bravo decided to head back up the hillside after all, following the fence line until we got to the path. Or at least, that was the plan, until our progress was halted by the appearance of a truck tooling around on the premises on the opposite side of the fence. Shack-Fu slipped into Official Mode and went to tell them they had to get off the land, while Bravo and I held our position and waited for game play to resume . . . except, play had never officially stopped, as Bravo learned when a voice cried from behind us "Surrender, Bravo!"

It was Tango, who had crept up on us all unawares while we were distracted by Shack-Fu trying to direct the joy-riders off of the land. After Bravo surrendered, Tango called out "General, follow me quickly," which was when I realized two things: (1) Shack-Fu had apparently decided to make me a general between the time he hid me and the time he briefed the teams and (2) up until that point I'd been in the possession of the bad guys. So, now that I had been "rescued,' I made my way back down the hill, managing to get caught and tangled on even more brambles than before.

What can I say -- it's a gift.

Tango and I made it to the edge of the path, which is when referee Shack-Fu confirmed that there was only one player left on each team: Tango and Cookies. Shack-Fu decided to allow all of the deceased players to spawn back in in order to spice things up, since nobody had made it very far past the extraction point with me. Soon, I was being led through the brush parallel to the main path by Tango and newly resurrected Victor. We ran into an ambush right before our attempt to ford the stream cutting across our path, so Victor ordered a strategic withdrawal. **** We then cut back into the woods to approach Sherwood Forest from a more circuitous route.

Victor led us to a grouping of felled trees lying amidst a bog of decomposing leaves, limbs, and other detritus. Victor, mindful of my shaky legs, asked if I thought I could traverse the logs, which were to serve as our bridge over the stream; I, foolishly, said "Sure." I then stepped onto what looked like a fairly solid mass of material, but really, really wasn't -- I felt like I had stumbled into one of those mythical swamps from Princess Bride or Krull, and had a brief vision of myself being sucked down into the Bog of Eternal Stench. Victor scrambled onto one of the dead trees and zipped across with no problem; I clambered onto it, and watched it crumble beneath me; apparently, the tree hadn't been cleared for my excessive weight load.***** Once I was able to make it onto a sturdier section of the tree, I did fine -- until I had to maneuver onto a different tree trunk, at which point my feet slipped and I banged the heck out of my shins.

It was around this time I began to wonder why I had thought playing a non-combatant role was a good idea.

We were able to make it past the bog with no further mishaps on my part, and continued our trek to the home base. We soon ran into the enemy forces again; I was placed behind some cover at the back of the unit while the skirmish took place, so I’m afraid I can't provide any details about the engagement outside of the fact that the Good Guys won in the end, and General Confusion was delivered safely home.

We then moved on to our second scenario, which was less strenuous for me, but much screwier -- and thus much more fun.

*Yes, PigPen, I know that I haven’t even come close to shooting you yet, but hope springs eternal.
**To the paintball crew: I am notoriously bad at coming up with nicknames for folks, so if you want to be referred to as something other than a basic call sign, either come up with one yourself, or at least do something horribly embarrassing I can build on.
***If PigPen had been with them, I would have known instantly that they were Eeeeeeeeevil.
****My attempt to cross the stream earlier had resulted in soggy shoes and socks; Tango’s attempt to cross the stream during our retreat resulted in soggy pants as he discovered that the water was much deeper than it appeared at first glance.
*****We’ll try not to think about the fact that Victor was loaded down with gun, tank, and extra ammo and made it across fine, while I only had my dainty self to blame.