Beauty and Exoskeletons, Interlude

Victoria Swansoncrop


Victoria’s luminescent yellow-green eyes were now curiously staring at Whartleburg. Having recently arrived via Channel Teleporter, thanks to June, she was expecting Whartleburg to take her under his wing.

“Who are you supposed to be?” asked Whartleburg. But he knew already; His instinct told him so.

“I’m June’s sister.”

Whartleburg didn’t know how to handle the revelation.

“I’m Whartleburg.”

The two stared at each other. For ten seconds, the world was frozen in time and nothing else mattered. Whartleburg suddenly could not move. He was transfixed in place, only able to see Victoria’s luminescent green and yellow eyes. Instinct told him it was a common trap that praying mantis type Enzectozoids used to catch their prey.

But then another image entered his mind. Salyria, tall and pale, her lavish gown, a wedding gift from Spider King Ahab, the same color as her sapphire eyes. Her long dark hair danced in the winds that endlessly chase at the height of her window outside the granite prison walls.

Her eyes were saddened, yet strong, determined to wait, knowing in her heart that Whartleburg would save her. At that moment her eyes met his. She saw Whartleburg from afar and her inward gaze was turned outward.

Salyria while in her prison was not helpless. Though not built for combat, she could still encourage the heart. She spoke briefly and the vision was gone:

Remember Salyria. Should Whartleburg give up now, all his efforts to oppose Spider King Ahab would be in vain.

Whatever huntress’ charm Victoria unknowingly had sent out shattered like glass, and Whartleburg was no longer smitten. He no longer saw the great beauty in the exoskeleton of Victoria Swanson, June’s sister. Instead he saw a confused, scared Enzectozoid woman. She needed training.

Whartleburg woke up and sprang to his feet.

“Hey, you’re alive! Thank God you’re alive!” Victoria was saying.

“You thought I was dead?” asked Whartleburg.

Victoria nodded.

“You were unaware of what you did? It’s called a Hunter’s Glare trap.”

“Hunter’s what?!”

“Lady, I cannot train you,” said Whartleburg, “Only a master in the Maantisazian school of Enzectozoid marshal arts can do that now.”

“What’s that?”

“The Maantisazian school is for Enzectozoids who are mantis, wheel bug, or other assassin types.”

“Who, me?” exclaimed Victoria, “I’m no killer.”

“Then show me,” said Whartleburg, “Put your hands up. Like you are praying.”

Victoria reluctantly put her hands up in front of her.

“Now close your eyes.”

At first she refused but Whartleburg convinced her it would be ok.
Whartleburg then picked up a rock and threw it right at Victoria.

Victoria quickly shot out her hand and snatched the rock out of the air. She looked at the stone, amazed she caught it. But then she realized the rock had been perfectly cut into three pieces.

“How’d I do that?”

“Your instincts make you attack anything that comes near. Until you can train, you cannot be yourself without causing violence,” said Whartleburg.

Just then, a swirling blue storm cloud boiled forth out of nothing six feet from the ground. From out of the swirling tempest emerged a giant. Muscular, white beard, light blue skinned and balding, The giant was sent to destroy the stronghold.

“My liege!” ran Whevelbor panting. “Reports have come in. The enemy knows the fortress is taken.”

“That explains why the giant is here,” said Whartleburg.

“My army has provided us transportation,” said Whevelbor.

Close to the fortress were several old military Jeeps.

“All we need to do is not get caught,” said Victoria.

“Can you still fight, my liege?” asked Whevelbor.

“It’s been a long day,” said Whartleburg, “But we must escape.”

Whartleburg raised his arms to summon his battle axes, but he knew already that he still did not have the strength to use them fully. The axes appeared, but then faded and returned whence they came.

“Alas, I need more strength,” said Whartleburg.

“What if I helped?” asked Victoria, “All we need is a distraction, right?”

“You’re not trained yet,” argued Whartleburg.

“Perhaps I can help,” said Whevelbor, “I happen to know the instructor for Maantisazian school of Enzectozoid marshal arts. I cannot use his instruction myself, but let me pass on what I know.”

Excerpt from “Enzectozoid Chronicles: The Legacy of Whartleburg the Whalloper” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

To the next page (stay tuned!)

Previous page


Violent Cartoon Based Interlude


Whartleburg the Whalloper, part of the “Enzectozoid” toy line, a ripoff generic toy from more popular ones in the past. It was a humanoid beetle-man with purple rippling muscular anatomy, held in it hands a double axe bigger than the figure. The best feature of the toy was a button on the back that when pressed opened and closed a set of functional large pincers where its mouth should be, just under its bulging green eyes, able to firmly grip simple objects. Or, according to the back of the packaging, to crush guns, knives, swords, dino jaws, helicopter blades, or whatever the wicked Spider King Ahab had in mind to send to destroy his most hated nemesis.

Eddy’s mother, June, thought it looked hideous. It exploited violence in an already over active six-year-old boy; he didn’t need it. But Eddy’s pleas had gotten to where his mother dreaded taking her son to the store, simply because she knew that particularly hideous action figure would be there waiting.

Now the wait was over. Eddy could not believe he held Whartleburg the Whalloper in his hands. His whining had ceased, and his expression of awe had not changed since he and his mom had exited the store. He just could not take his eyes off the new toy still in its package. June his mother would not let him open it until after dinner. As Eddy was staring at his new toy, it suddenly looked up at him.

“Hello, Boy,” said the toy.

“Um, hi,” said Eddy in a whisper.

“What do you call yourself?”

“I’m Eddy.”

“Greeting, Eddy,” said the toy. “I am Whartleburg, sole heir to the Mandaublian School of Marshal Arts.”

“Really?” said Eddy, “Mom says I can’t play with you right now.”

“Your mother is wise and you should listen to her,” said Whartleburg, “But you may need to release me sooner. Both you and your mother are in grave danger.”

“Why is that?” asked Eddy.

“Because I’m not really a toy. And Spider King Ahab’s minions have followed me to your universe.”

“Son, what do you want for dinner tonight?” said Eddy’s mother.

Little Eddy was hesitant at first.

“Whartleburg says he’s alive and he needs out.”

“Oh, he did, did he?” said the boy’s mother. “You can play with him after you help me with dinner, ok?”

“No, it isn’t that.”

“Then what is it, son?”

“He says there are dinosaurs following us!”

As soon as Eddy had said it, an unearthly roar was heard. She had been hearing a stomp, stomp for the last few minutes, but thought it had been the stereo in the car in front. In the rear view mirror were three very large bipedal reptilian predators. They were singling out her car and knocking out of the way other cars in their way, roaring as they pursued. This was not computer graphics. And they were at least as big as a house.

To make matters worse, four cyclists raced past the dinos and surrounded the car. They were whooping and hollering as they gunned their engines, which had no muffler. VROOM VROOM!

They were knocking on the door and shouting, “Hey, babe! Pull over! We wanna talk to you! Yeah, we just want the kid’s toy!”

Dinos and bikers. They said they want the toy, after I paid a whopping six dollars? thought June. She dug into her purse, told Eddy to call 911.

“Who are you calling?” asked Whartleburg.

“The police,” said Eddy.

“They will not help you. It will only get worse. I will stop them, but you must first release me.”

“911, how may I direct your call?” said the dispatch.

“We’re being chased by bikers and dinosaurs!” said Eddy.

“Yeah, right. You’re using a cell phone to make this call. If a police officer finds you made this up, then you’re in serious trouble, young man.” The dispatcher hung up.

“They hung up, didn’t they? asked June.

“Whartleburg says to let him out,” said Eddy, “He says he’ll save us, can I let him out?”

“Oh, Eddy, not now. Whoa! Hey!”

Sling BANG sling BANG Whoo hoo!

The bikers were now slinging heavy chains and every now again were banging the roof of the car.

“Please? Can I open him now?” said Eddy.

One more bang from the biker, this one breaking the glass nearest Eddy’s window.

This time Eddy didn’t heed his mother’s advice. He opened the packaging with his teeth, ripping apart the plastic. Once the toy was out, Eddy was disappointed.

“You said you would help us,” he said to the toy.

“You must first shout the words, ‘Up Mandib Inzecto.’ Then I will no longer be a toy.”

“Up Mandib Inzecto!” screamed Eddy at the top of his voice, unnerving his mother.

“What did I tell you about screaming in the car—-ah! Who are you?!”

A full size, extremely muscular man with purple skin now sat in the back seat next to Eddy. He had huge metallic mandibles where a mouth should have been. He had only a stub where a nose should have been, but his antennae above his huge compound eyes were moving franticly. He stared out the window at the bikers. He then looked out the back window at the three T-Rexes who were in hot pursuit.

“My name is Whartleburg. Sorry to have startled you. I will handle your problem right now,” he said as he opened the door and kicked the nearest biker, swinging as he did so onto the roof of the car.

The bikers were jeering now that their target had finally revealed himself. Whartleburg raised both hands and with foreign tongue and clicks of mandible summoned his twin giant axes. But they didn’t stay in his hands long, soon becoming as whirring discs of light, shot into the air, addressed their targets, and in a single instant the dinosaurs fell to pieces. The axes returned to the hands of their master and vanished in a flash of light.

Then Whartleburg addressed the bikers. He jumped off the car onto the median of the road where they focused on him. They rode around and around him, whooping and hollering at what they would do. But though motorcycles are tough, their balance is fragile. One good kick offset one cyclist, but it also offset the balance of all the others. Without their bikes, they were as scared children. Whartleburg dispatched them quick, but did not kill them.

He grabbed the nearest biker.

“What is your master’s plan?” demanded Whartleburg.

“As if I’d tell you,” said the biker, “We’re just the distraction. The real fun was planned when you and your new family got home from the store!”

Whartleburg looked and saw the car was long gone. June had sped away as soon as she was free of trouble. Yet his antennae could detect the car’s heat signature. After examining the bikes, one of them was in good enough shape to ride. Whartleburg rode away toward the house of his now sworn charges.

Up in the distance, were large white puffy clouds. His antennae warned him that those were no ordinary clouds. They would be settling directly over the house of June and Eddy. Once that happened it would be too late. He urged the motorbike faster. Spider King Ahab had really spared no expense in sending his most devastating minion to destroy the people that Whartleburg was sworn to protect, the people who had been predicted would release him from the seventeen year slumber.

It had gotten very stormy by the time Whartleburg arrived at the house of June and Eddy. Unnatural towering cloud cover hovered and rotated directly overhead, while other houses were virtually cloud free. No one could see the personality behind the clouds, but he was there, slowly gathering. The temperature became more humid by the minute, as if someone was taking a great deep breath, getting ready, and at the right time deliver a terrible power that none could survive. Such was the temperament of Balaub, Spider King Ahab’s Storm Liege.

Whartleburg had dealt with Balaub before. It wasn’t easy but could be done. In the past, Balaub would go after the metal in Whartleburg’s mandibles. Climbing to the roof of the house, Whartleburg summoned his axes but with different clicks of his mandibles. This time they had on a rubber padding.

“It’s been a long time, Balaub,” said Whartleburg, “I’m sure you remember our fight last time.”

A giant man turned around where a gray blue storm cloud had been. He appeared like a Greek god, pale white skin, white hair, long beard, but had sunken eyes whose pupils were orbs of ball lightening. He saw his master’s enemy, but remembered his orders. Still, if he could take his enemy out as well as two innocents, perhaps then the reward would be all the greater. Balaub opened his mouth and inhaled audibly, making the wind blow, and the trees around the property start to bend and sway. A great hand was reaching out toward Whartleburg.

Thunder great and terrible erupted that shook the house down to its foundations. To the trained listener, it was the language of Storm Lieges.

“You have been judged. The air finds you guilty. Now ends your existence, you who have released mine enemy.”

“How mighty you forget,” shouted Whartleburg as he threw his axes. The weapons spun around like discs and distracted the lightening that would have struck the house. “You’ve only got one good shot in you. Because lightning never strikes twice, you can no longer destroy the house.”

More thunder. More shaking. Now the massive hands were getting closer. Wind was picking up.

“Oh ye of little faith,” said Balaub, “I’ve become far more vast since we last fought. And because of your slumber, you are the same as when we fought last. Hooow? Oh hooow, dear Whartleburg, will you best me?”

Excerpt from “Enzectozoid Chronicles: The Legacy of Whartleburg the Whalloper” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

Next chapter: “Insurmountable Odds”