Just Like 2012 But Not

I guess it was inevitable that things would take a turn for the worse. Even though it seemed unlikely to begin with, somehow the Girl and I managed to at last cross paths. Yet no sooner were we finally starting to entertain the notion of a conversation (or smooches) than our first (and hopefully not last) opportunity vanished. And when I say vanished, I actually mean "was eaten". But I get ahead of myself.

I've gotten ahead of myself before. Never drink and time travel.

Let's rewind a bit: we're on top of the tower. I'd just said, "Hey" and was grinning like a big doofus (no, that doesn't mean what you think it means. The doofus is a noble creature; I specifically imitated its grin because I knew the Girl was some sort of Druid, and thus I needed to impress her with my knowledge of animal lore), when suddenly we heard the unmistakable beeping of an electromagnetic pulse grenade. A platoon of bowelbears was hut-hut-huting their way up the stairs, and one had just chucked the bomb around the corner. It rolled up to our feet.

I immediately shouted for the Girl to take cover, and mumbled a spell to activate my absorptive shield. It should've allowed me to drain the energy from the blast and transform it into mana. Unfortunately, the lone EMP grenade was soon among friends; the bowelbears tossed a few more explosives into the room, probably for good measure. I didn't recognize the others.

Time for plan B. I grabbed the Girl's hand--she already seemed to know what I was thinking. The vine coiled itself around her like a belt, and we jumped.

But we jumped too late. The EMP went first, and although I deflected and consumed its energy, the vacuum it created pulled the other grenades toward us, which--if you know anything about grenades--is seriously not good. Whatever was in them knocked us flying at high speed, and off we went.

The sounds of battle faded rapidly, for obvious reasons. Our salvation from a splattery demise on the dragon floor turned out to be the faithful vine. As we tumbled head over heels into love (and through the air), we passed by a number of dangling structures. The vine lashed out, snagging one and immediately slowing our flight. But alas! The poor vine became lodged against whatever it'd grabbed, and we lost it. The Girl and I continued forward, crashing through a few membranes before finally coming to a halt.

I'll accelerate the tale from here. The vine didn't return, so I assumed it injured or lost. I couldn't go looking for it because the Girl had taken the brunt of an influenza grenade and was desperately ill. Instead I fortified the area as best I could, made a fire, and tended to her. A nearby treasure deposit provided clothing and supplies--did you know I almost went to the Occult University? They were shut down at the last minute. Something about vampiric cucumbers filled with sunlight. Can't remember now.

Three days went by. The Girl and I had numerous meaningful conversations, or at least we did in my head, because all she could do was murmur "fair-trade" and "organic" in reply to any query. But it was enough to be near her. Her hair was long and tangled. She wore simple pirate garb, and looked healthy considering the artificial disease that had incapacitated her.

She woke up free of infection on the third day, as I slept. I found her curled up against me.

It was a pretty nice moment.

But as I said, this perfect opportunity slipped away in an instant. I'd finally concocted the perfect opening line--"So, what's a nice girl like you doing in a dragon like this?"--and was about to say it, when suddenly the hot air shook with an all-too-familiar roar. A dragon's roar.

The flap of massive wings. A flash of scales. Huge teeth. A warm tongue, and a steaming mouth. Tumbling, turning, spinning, sliding. Darker darkness than the darkness to which I'd already become accustomed. The Girl shouting, and her hand slipping from mine.

Ugh, not again.