Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Non-Combatant Chronicles Pt.3: The Waiting Game

The third and final scenario from last Sunday's paintball excursion was a straight-forward elimination game pitting the team of Shack-Fu, Cookies, Tango, and The Sniper against the self-dubbed Team Awesome, comprised of Bravo, Victor, and The Metal Siding Kicker, who winds up with the horribly uninspired nickname of Mike in call-sign speak -- you know what, that's just way too plain a nick for the Metal Siding Kicker, so I shall combine his team name and call-sign name, so that he is now Awesome Mike. To start the game, Team Awesome headed out to their assigned starting point, and once they were set, I, in my newly acquired role as ref, radioed them that the game was on, and then tagged along as Team Fantastic* headed in after them.

I have to say, I enjoyed playing ref, but there's a trick to it I haven't quite mastered, namely being near where the action is without giving away team positions.** I trailed Team Fantastic for a while, trying to stay out of their way, and then wandered around near Team Awesome's home base in hopes of figuring out where they had hidden themselves, but I had no luck. After a bit, Team Fantastic forded the stream by Team Awesome's base, figuring that's where their opponents had set up. Turns out it was a good guess, as Team Awesome opened fire on them pretty quickly.

I held back from crossing the stream for a bit, partially because I didn't want to get in the line of fire (since I was finally able to scope out where one of Team Awesome's shooters was, and crossing at the usual point would have put me right between him and The Sniper), and partially because my feet had just started to dry out from the last time I tried to cross the stream and I didn’t relish giving them another soaking. I spent a couple of minutes walking up and down the bank, keeping an eye on the action while looking for an easier place to cross, but it was for naught. Eventually, Team Fantastic shifted their position, opening up a chance for me to cross the stream without fear of getting hit by friendly fire; unfortunately, my attempt to hop over the stream was even less successful than the first time, as my foot slid in the mud when I braced myself to make the leap, dumping my old, ratty shoes directly in the water, leading to a very uncomfortable and squishy time.

The two teams reached a bit of an impasse, with neither side able to score a hit on the other and neither one being willing to be the first to break cover, so the action died down. Tango's tank had run out of CO2 during the initial exchange, so he decided to make a run for it back to the vehicles to reload, sprinting through the stream and narrowly avoiding Team Awesome's fire. We then settled in for a round of The Waiting Game as neither team felt inclined to make an overly aggressive move. Tango made it back to his team in one piece, informing them that he thought he’d seen motion in Sherwood Forest, so after a little more waiting, they decided it was time to get back into the game. The Sniper had discovered another point at which to cross the stream, so they set off on a course for Sherwood Forest and (they hoped) Team Awesome.

But before they plunged headlong into the woods, Shack-Fu started using his radio to taunt Team Awesome leader Victor, daring him to come after Team Fantastic; Victor, in turn, double_dog dared Shack-Fu to come after Team Awesome instead.*** Shack-Fu made many, many beeping noises with the radio before contacting Victor again to say "Come on, we've made more than enough noise, you've got to know where we are, come and get us!"

Apparently, Victor did, in fact, graduate from elementary school at some point, and thus was able to resist Shack-Fu's insidious psychological warfare tactics; unfortunately, this meant more of The Waiting Game as Team Fantastic crept through the woods.

It was at this point that my rookie ref status was evident, as I was torn on how to proceed; I knew that following them through the woods would more than likely give them away, but we were in a section of the woods that I was unfamiliar with, and I really didn't want to head down one of the paths around me -- not out of fear of getting lost, since pretty much every path winds up connecting with the main one, but out of worry that I would be separated from the action when (or if) it started up again. After a few minutes of inner debate, I finally decided that since Shack-Fu had been so gung-ho about letting Team Awesome know where they were, I may as well follow them -- a decision that almost got me lit up when I tramped up on the alert Team Fantastic members. Shack-Fu requested that I head on ahead into Sherwood Forest so that I wouldn't compromise their position any more than I already had, and I happily complied.

Happily, that is, until more time passed without any sign of action whatsoever, and we moved into over-time of The Waiting Game.

Remember how I said in my last post that I did better with waiting when I wasn't in fear for my life? Well, apparently that flies out the window when my legs hurt, my shoes and socks are drenched, and the sun is going down. How exactly did ol’ Cap'n Squishy-Shoes feel about having to ref The Waiting Game? Wrote a little song about it, like to hear it? Here it goes:

I know all there is to know about The Waiting Game
I've had my fill of The Waiting Game
First your shot misses
So then no one dies
And then before
You shoot anymore
The other team hides

Yeah, I know, it ends on a slant rhyme, not my best work. I suppose I should have just turned to the wit and wisdom of one of the great sages of our time.

I mean, what else needs to be said?

But before the incessant lack of activity made me snap****, Shack-Fu anticipated my impending mental collapse, and suggested that I change the scenario up. So I got out my radio and informed Team Awesome that due to a depressing lack of action, we were now moving to a Capture the Flag scenario.

I'm not sure how fair the switch up was to Team Awesome, since Team Fantastic was already set up with a line of sight on the flag, which was draped over The Filing Cabinet of Sherwood Forest when the call went out, but at that point all I cared about was seeing some killin'. I could see Team Awesome heading our way through the brush, and Team Fantastic soon sprung into action. After shots were exchanged for a minute or two, I finally heard those wonderful words I'd been waiting to hear all game: "Paint check!"

Upon hearing those magical words, it was my time to spring into action, shouting for a cease-fire and holding of positions until I could determine if the player was really out. Upon inspection, I determined that Awesome Mike, who had been point man for his team, was indeed out. As he marched off of the battleground he called out "Hey, Victor - - I found them for you." After Awesome Mike was out of harm's way, I called for the game to resume, and then got to call a halt a couple more times to let eliminated players exit the arena before one team finally emerged victorious.

I guess on that day it was better to be Fantastic than Awesome.

*Hey, I had to come up with something comparable to Awesome, and there were four of them . . . *****
**It all goes back to that whole "not very sneaky" thing

***Personally, I was moments away from triple-dog daring them all to "just freaking do something already!" but I managed to hold my tongue for once.
****Many of you, having just read my weak Weird Al impression, are probably thinking "Don't you mean 'Snap more'?"
*****You know as soon as I made the Fantastic Four connection, I tried to fit each of them into one of the roles – come on, Shack-Fu, say “It’s Clobberin’ Time!”