Lying up against the trunk of a tree, the skin of Albert’s green tormentor smouldered from heavy burns. Albert had been too mesmerised to be scared as the goblin’s expertly wielded light sword deflected the first volley of laser beams into the swamp. When one of the second batch sneaked through the defensive parries making contact with the shoulder of the goblin, Albert’s focus came back with 20:20 accuracy.
“I’m next,” he’d thought, and rather than his whole life flashing before his eyes, Albert’s brain chose to focus in on the memory of his tutor Professor Webber at the Jud Space Institute telling him and his assembled classmates that the only reason they would ever amount to anything was because of their lineage—the irony wasn’t lost on Albert, he’d desperately wanted to escape the life of privilege on Jud that destiny had handed him and all that his adventurous spirit had given him so far was one disaster after the next. But then, miraculously, the shooting stopped and even more miraculously, the furry little rabbit-cum-teddy bear creature tied to his chest opened its eyes and started chattering with a sequence of clicks, grunts, squeaks and squeals.
In a matter of seconds, Albert’s furry companion had been freed and the green smouldering goblin was put in its place as a host of other little rabbity teddy bears appeared from nowhere scampering about, excitedly chattering away with each other.
“Oh bollocks,” said Albert. The furry creatures all jumped back, clearly alarmed. “What the fuck is going on?” asked Albert, this time to the barely conscious green goblin now tied to his chest.
The goblin, however, didn’t respond as Albert would have expected or indeed hoped. Instead, he proceeded to chatter away to the new captors in a manner that they clearly understood. Though, when one of the larger of creatures started to stab the goblin repeatedly in the backside with the point of his spear Albert concluded that whatever he was saying to the furry warriors was not having the desired effect.
“Bunnies they are,” said the goblin, this time to Albert. “But live not they in The Village.”
“The Village in The Forest.”
“The Forest of Nob.”
The assembled Bunnies were now standing around their prisoners with looks of quizzical awe. The one that had been tied to Albert squeaked.
“What know you of the dragon?” asked the goblin.
“I don’t know any dragons, and I don’t know any fucking Vimtos or Dale Hardens,”
“The dragon, the small one calls you,” said the goblin, “argue among themselves they do.”
“Do you mean to say, you can understand them?” asked Albert.
“Them. You. All the same sounds it to Skoda.”
“Skoda of Nob, Skoda of the Workplace, Skoda of Jud. Same-same only different.”
Skoda then started chattering at double pace with the Bunnies. This time though, rather than poke him in the bum with their spears, they remained silent. With a smile creeping across his face, Skoda turned to Albert, “tell them your name strange dragon,” he said.
“I’m Captain Flash Albert, Jud Space Cadet Extraordinaire. I left Jud in the Year 281071. My mission is to discover new and exciting planets with excellent parking,” said Albert.
“Now, Space Cadet Flash Albert of the planet Jud, louder say it if you could? And this time, if manage you can, important a bit more will you try to sound?” requested Skoda.
“I AM CAPTAIN FLASH ALBERT, JUD SPACE CADET EXTRAORDINAIRE,” announced Albert self-importantly.
The Bunnies to a, er, Bunny, fell silent, eyes widening by the second. Skoda talked once again to the Bunnies in as reverential a tone as it’s possible to manage when chattering using a sequence of clicks, grunts, squeaks and squeals.
“A God they think you,” said Skoda to Albert, “Dragon Dragonson, son of Dragon Dragonson. To save them you come, into salvation you will lead them.”
“Where are we?” asked Albert.
“The Forest of Nob. The Workplace of Earth.”
“Nob? The Workplace? What are you talking about?”
“Same-same. Sleep you long time Flash Albert Space Cadet. Things change. Things stay the same. Evolution, revolution.”
“But I’m not Dragon Dragonson son of Dragon Dragonson, things don’t change that much.”
“They think, therefore you are,” said Skoda, “help you, I can. But help me you will also.”
“Why should I help you, if they think I’m a God?”
“Speak you Bunny all of a sudden Space Cadet Flash Albert of Jud? Forget you not, you are no God. Broken can reputations be made, as quickly as they’re gained. Great things these Bunnies expect from you. Alone, perish you will. Join me though and together we will rule The Forest.”
“NEVER!” shouted Albert sending a good number of the Bunnies scattering into the undergrowth.
“Then you will die,” leered Skoda somewhat melodramatically.
Albert remained silent for a moment or two. “Really?” he asked.
“As sure as eggs is eggs,” replied Skoda.
“Well, OK, since you put it that way, I will join you. But if we’re going to rule this place, I’m going to need to recover my rocket from the swamp.”