“Robin Hood: And who might you be?
Little John: Oh, they call me Little John. But don’t let my name fool you. In real life, I’m very big.
Robin Hood: I’ll take your word for it.” – Robin Hood: Men in Tights
When it started this whole tournament was like a production of Camelot as directed by Riddley Scott, lots of pomp and ceremony with just an underlying hint of cyberpunk. By the end of the tournament it became clear that the script had been adapted by George R. R. Martin.
We survived the first round of challenge duels relatively unscathed, well except for John, and then we entered the jousting contest. This wasn’t your Medieval Times sort of jousting. No, this was done on dragon-back about ten stories up. Thank God I managed to get something called a falling cloud beforehand. When Pete knocked me off my mount in the first round, it allowed me to float down to the ground. John and Steve had to face off against each other, and instead of picking the blunt lances, they decided to go with the sharp ones, because, hey, if you can’t impale your best friend, who can you impale? Amazingly they both survived, but Steve won. I was impressed. He made it as far as the final bout, before Lancelot knocked him on his ass. What are the odds, a guy named “Lance-a lot” winning the jousting contest?
The next morning, while I was eating breakfast, I was struck with a stabbing pain and sparks started flying out of one of my cybereyes. I looked for some help, and it took me quite a while to find someone qualified enough in cyberware to figure out what was wrong. One of King Ban’s cybertechs diagnosed me as having a cyberplague of some sort. My own nanos were attacking my body. Fortunately it is treatable, but not without going back to London. I decided that it would have to wait. We had a tournament to deal with.
My big break came during the falconry contest. I was able to put everything I’d learned about handling raptors at Carrie Murray Nature Center to use. They assigned me a beautiful bird, and when I released her, she swooped in and took down a thirty pound jack-a-lope. I was as amazed as anyone when I won the contest. You should have seen the look on Betty’s face when they placed the champion’s circlet on my head.
Next was the hunt. I was all ready to participate after my win, but when I found out that the prey was a whale, I had second thoughts. Betty, let me know in no uncertain terms that it was barbaric to kill a whale, and I had to agree. Pete and Percival had to go off without me. They actually came pretty close to winning, but were just beaten out by one of the other teams.
Then came the Grand Melee. John was pretty psyched. He entered the field carrying Lady Elaine’s standard. The rest of us, along with about 15 of Pellinore’s men, faced off against the rest of the participants. Once the horns had sounded, John led us into battle. He made a Hell of a general leading us through all that chaos. He outflanked the other forces at almost every turn. At one point, Pete ran headlong into Lamorak. It was an amazing fight between the two of them, both giving it everything they had, but in the end Pete went down. Lamorak retreated to have his wounds tended to, and John used the opportunity to lead us to Pete’s rescue. When we reached him, it became clear that Pete might be down, but he wasn’t out.
At one point, I took a spear right in the chest, but my subdermal armor saved me. Ever since then, John has been calling me Iron John. I kind of like the sound of that. Steve charged headlong into the battle, as usual, and seriously put some fear into the other side. He went up against a three man shield wall formed by Mordred and two of his brothers, and managed to take out all three. He even managed to take Mordred captive. That was a beautiful sight.
I thought I was done for at one point as the enemy spearmen surrounded me. Once again, John came to the rescue with Percival by his side. While all that was going on, Corey entered the fray swinging his bat’leth. He even captured another one of our opponents. Not long after that, Pete managed to capture the enemy’s standard and bring it back to our side.
When it was done, and the sound of blades clashing and men screaming had begun to fade, our side had won. The Brotherhood did ourselves proud. We took a serious pounding, but we all came through without losing a man. I had promised Percival that if he proved himself in battle I would see that he was knighted. He did that and then some. I don’t care if it pisses Lancelot off. I’m keeping my promise. After we’re healed up a bit, we can make some plans to deal with the dragon. Until then, Betty and I have some celebrating to do.