Tears of Liberty: Chapter 7: Veterans

Teleportation can either be smooth or rough, and this time our faithful hedgehog felt like someone ripped his stomach out and put it back upside down.  He was laying on a grassy area and had released the contents of his tummy when he appeared.    Pudgy weakly sat up, and looked around trying to figure out just where he wound up to?  In the distance, he could see a huge stone castle with white stone.  There was a big flagpole on the top, flying the British flag.  “Oh, must have been castle Pudgy saw.  Uh oh, where did Mister Angel go?”  Looking quickly around, the angel statue had disappeared. 

The blue sapphire gemstone was laying in the grass beside him and had changed shape.  Originally it was rectangular, and almost too big for Pudgy to hold.  Now it resembled the crystal he used to carry on his adventures, being long and cylindrical.  The color now had lightened considerably too, no longer the deep blue hue.   Picking up the crystal, it glowed faintly.  “Mister stone, can you tell Pudgy where to go?”  As he spoke, the crystal went dark, so he moved it to the left and right.  The object did not react at first, until a faint light appeared when he pointed it towards a larger tower.  Pudgy was in luck, it could act like a compass.  He still had his spiffy travelling vest, so he started to tuck the crystal into it.  It was taller than he would have liked, but it would make things easier for using the crystal.  He gathered his pack and put on his helmet, and then scampered forward towards the castle. 

The ground was uneven, but he was easily able to traverse the ground, reaching the outer castle wall.  There was a sign, “this way to time tower.”  Pudgy pondered what that meant, so he followed the signs.  And sure, enough he found a huge wooden door open.  As he crossed the threshold, the crystal lit up again.  Pudgy nodded and scooted across the smooth gray stone floor.  There were humans around, all touring the castle, and not paying attention to the floor.  So Pudgy knew he would have to be careful not to get stepped on.  While bored school children were listening to the guide, a few spotted Pudgy crawling along the floor and pointed.  Their teacher did not acknowledge their comments, sticking to the lesson plan. 

Reaching what appeared to be a service entrance, he checked his crystal.  It blinked twice when he started to cross, and each step the glow was strengthening.  This hallway was much less decorated, and was bare stacked stone, with the occasional service light to illuminate the dark hallways.  A loud murmur of talking developed to something audible, which drew the hedgehog’s attention.  “I can’t believe the nerve of that lot.  They booked the castle for a month, and then told us where we can and cannot go.  We have been caring for this castle, since before they were even born.”  Pudgy could see two older workers in uniforms talking.  The other one just listened and nodded, while working on a security camera.  “and what’s with all of these cameras all of a sudden?”  Pudgy nodded to himself, and scooted past as quietly as he could, so to not attract attention.  When he wanted to, he could be very stealthy. 

It took him hours of wandering the castle hallways and searching with the help of the crystal.  The glow was strengthening and increasing in warmth.  It was not so hot that the hedgehog could not hold it but was a sign he was using it a bit too much.   Crossing through another open doorway, a huge chapel appeared.  The ornate decorations stretched from floor to ceiling, with huge stained-glass windows stretching taller than Cobalt’s house.  Golden chandeliers were hanging from the ceiling, and mahogany wooden benches were everywhere.    The pulpit was made of the same wood, dark brown stained, and covered in ornate carvings of woodland creatures.   It was clear this ornate chapel was not for normal people: it was for a king.  

The crystal was vibrating, which drew the hedgehog’s attention.  Crawling along the floor, trying to be stealthy, he peeked up at the altar.  A man was standing there, in a black suit.  The man was excited, but annoyed, which was kind of hard to tell what mood he actually was in. “What do you mean a hedgehog arrived at the museum?  He had the stone.  What did it look like? Where is it now?  Did you get it?”  The man grew quiet again, but Pudgy knew there could only be one hedgehog he was talking about.  Bloody hell!  What do you mean you lost it?  Wait, the second was found?”  Pudgy could not hear the other end of the conversation, so this did not make a lot of sense to him.   “So, you are telling me the second stone was in that painting’s frame this entire time?  I should have just bought it from the museum. Oh well, live and learn.  Can you make a scene and obtain the stones from the hedgehog and his friends?”  The man turned to face the church pews, and Pudgy watched his face contort.  He listened intently and did not blink.  The man was tall and lean, with a pinstriped black suit.  He was possibly in his thirties, as he looked younger than Cobalt.  

The man’s intense blue eyes were almost burning, and he started to shout. “you lost the bloody stone!”  The man grew quiet and adjusted his thin silver glasses.  “So, the angel turned, the stones glowed, there was a misty scene of a castle, and then the hedgehog and angel disappeared in a blinding flash?  Great, do you know how many castles are in Great Britain alone?  Goodbye!”  The man ended his call, tucking the black phone into a pants pocket.  Turning to the crucifix hanging on the wall, “Lord, give me strength.  All I wanted is to control the world, is that too much to ask?  Perhaps my crystal can assist with this task.”  The man nodded to himself, and exited the altar, and headed past Pudgy’s pew.  The hedgehog watched as mirror polished black shoes past him.  This was his chance, he would need to follow the man, and he could find the other stone. 

Pudgy started to scamper underneath the benches, and along the wall, trying to follow as quickly as he could.  The problem is, human speed is much faster than hedgehog speed, so in a short period of time he was gone.  The hedgehog realized that this was good, as the other stone would be here.  He could find the stone, and then merge them like the first two.  But that line of thinking led to worries, what would happen if her merged all three stones?   The hedgehog continued through the chapel, to reach the hallway which the man exited through.  Another bare stone hallway stretched for a distance, with occasional historical displays along the wall.  This was the section of the castle which the tour groups would come through, so displays were set up.  Pudgy read the various histories of religious figures, and how the chapel was used throughout the centuries. 

The castle originally started as a wooden fort in 1068, and throughout the centuries, the castle was built, destroyed, and rebuilt accordingly.  That meant some parts were almost 950 years old, though this section was only 780 years old.  Pudgy pondered that in hedgehog live spans, and that was way too many generations to count.  Upon reaching the end of the hallway, there was a series of stairs, and the hedgehog looked up.  “So many stairs….” Pudgy mumbled, but felt the gemstone vibrate again, signaling her had to go up.  “Ok mister stone, Pudgy go up.”  The hedgehog began to climb the stone stairs, though had to rest frequently.  When Pudgy reached the halfway mark, he could see they were curving, and followed the tower walls.  “If Pudgy ever build castle, no stairs, all one level!”  He continued his ascent, and in an hour had reached the landing.  The floors changed to that of dark hardwood floors, with a heavy coat of polyurethane. 

“My word, Master Tryon is in a foul mood today.”  Pudgy wiggled against a doorway threshold, to peek around.  Two castle workers were busy repairing a section of wall that had crumbled.  The two workers spoke with a heavy Irish accent and was hard to understand the one.  They were both men, one younger and one older.  The older man was troweling plaster on, with arthritic riddled hands.  “Aye lad, an ya donna have to call him master.  We free men, aye?”  Pudgy had to listen intently and was sure he missed something.  The younger man nodded, as he held a small trough for plaster.  “I call him that to make him go away, there is something wrong with him. “The critter scooted through the doorway, and ran to a nearby heavy table, hiding behind a table leg.    The workers did not see him, which allowed him to maneuver around the various furniture to reach the next doorway. 

The next room was a grand ball room, with crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.  There was a long table set up, which Pudgy nodded, “must be the dining room.  This is longer than Cobalt’s house!”  The castle was beautiful, opulent, gigantic, and many other words that signified big.  He could feel there was history in the floors, and this place probably held a secret or two, but there was nothing off with the actual structure.  When the hedgehog was in Kennesaw, the land felt sad, as so many had passed away there.  There were probably areas like that somewhere, but here the sheer magnificence of the rooms was enough to keep the hedgehog occupied.   Although, the man in the black suit was seen in the next room.   He was standing beside an ornate marble fireplace, that could hold a dining room table inside of it.  He was looking into a golden square mirror, adjusting his tie.   Pudgy looked at him, and quickly scurried to an ornate side table, still a distance away, and peeked around the pedestal base.

“I could get used to a place like this.  I will reclaim my family’s legacy, and that which was stolen from us.”  He opened a pocket within his coat, and took out a blue sapphire gemstone, also on a silver chain clasp.  “This is the key, and once I find the other stones ….. “The man trailed off, as he looked through the stone.  The man’s face contorted, and he looked around the room frantically. “What, why am I seeing myself?”  His other eye opened wide, “So …. Hedgehog… welcome to Warwick castle.  I am glad you found me, will save a lot of trouble.”  As General Washington told Pudgy in Valley Forge, the stones could see through one another.  Pudgy looked down, and his stone was staring to glow, brightly.  He tried to douse the light with his paws, but the British man was walking over to his table.  “Come now, I already know you are here, why don’t you come out.” 

Pudgy realized that he was found out, so he left the safety of the table pedestal, and scampered out to the open floor.  “Pudgy here, Mister.  Why do you want the stones?”   His foot stomped hard, sending a vibration through the floor, “you dare to address me as an equal?  You will show the proper respect rodent and give to me that which is mine!”  The hedgehog shook his head, “no, Pudgy keep stone, have to find other.  Will destroy it.”  It was almost slow motion, when the foot connected with his body, and Pudgy rolled across the floor.  “You are going to destroy the stones?  Are you mad?  These offer true power, that which was granted to my family by King George the Third.  My ancestor William Tryon was bequeathed the colony of New York.  Those treasonous colonists stole my family’s rightful property and legacy.” 

The critter sat up, rubbing his sides.  “Pudgy confused, William Tyron was the governor of New York, not the owner of it?”  Mister Tyron looked at him, “my name is Edgar Tryon, and my family name is Tryon!  Get it right.”  Pudgy wondered if those signs, and documents Pudgy read had typos on them, he would check that later.  The hedgehog nodded, with his quills standing up, holding onto the sapphire.  “Pudgy never give you stone.  New York is free from tyranny, Pudgy promise General Washington to keep stones safe.”  Edgar’s lips turned to a sneer, and he held onto his stone. “Is that so?  Did your General also tell you what power these stones have?  Not only can you see great distances, you can influence the outcome of things.  For example, the first time I used the stone, I saw the granite boulder where the stone was hidden.  I was able to call lightning down to crack the stone.  I also saw your fox and bear friends.  I was able to call upon the ghost soldiers, though I can clearly see the limitations of such assistance.”

Pudgy started to realize, just what sort of power he was holding onto.  If the one stone separated from the others, could call long deceased ghosts of British soldiers back to this world, what else could they do?”  The hedgehog stood up defiantly, “Pudgy will keep friends safe, no matter what.  Pudgy will not give you stone!”  Edgar adjusted his silver rimmed glasses, “I was hoping you would say that, traitor.  With your stone, I will have the power to do that which I want.”  As the hedgehog started to maneuver slowly backwards, he listened to the gloating man, “I will take back my family’s lands, and cast out those who do not belong.  The queen will give my family the proper respect we deserve.”  The stone he was holding over his eye was glowing stronger, “Now hedgehog, perish!” 

Pudgy could feel his stone radiating with heat, which he held onto though it was burning his paw. “Mister stone, can you help?”  Hecate’s daughter appeared in the stone, mouthing something.  Pudgy investigated the stone, and she was speaking quickly.  “Pudgy, use stone, ask for help.”  The hedgehog nodded, “Ok Hecate’s, Mister stone, please bring someone here to help!”  The stone immediately flashed, and suddenly a confused man in an olive-green grab uniform appeared, holding a M1 rifle.  The man held the rifle pointed, at Edgar.   Pudgy scampered up and tugged at the ghost’s pant leg, which he could just barely touch.  “Mister solider, this man is trying to take New York from us, can you help?”  The solider smirked, “limey bastard, I’m from New York.”  The solider said and put his finger on the trigger.  Edgar laughed, “Oh, I see, you summoned a member of your armed forces.  He must have been stationed here during the blitz.  This makes me wonder then?” 

The man held his stone, and in the same manner as Pudgy, ghosts started to form in a line in front of him.  They were dressed in period specific attire, as well as several in heavy plate armor.  “Knights of this castle, these two have defiled our land.”  The ghosts looked confused, but they were clearly home, and started to advance.  The army solider started to fire the rifle, causing bullets to ricochet off the armor.  The solider looked down at the hedgehog, “what the hell, a hedgehog is the Lieutenant?  Orders sir, my rifle is not able to punch that armor.”  Pudgy nodded, “Can you pick up Pudgy, and get us out of here?”  The solider nodded and knelt to let Pudgy climb up to his shoulder.  The soldier stood, and then started to run.    The other ghosts chased after him, with Edgar following.  “Don’t let them escape!”

Pudgy looked up at the unshaven face of the solider, “My name is Pudgy. “The solider chuckled, “Sergeant Michael.”   Of course, the armed solider immediate drew the attention of the castle staff.  The Irish plasterers stood up, “Hey ladies, you aren’t allowed in here!”  They ducked behind a bureau when the sergeant turned and started to fire rounds through the hallway.  As the workers peeked up, the knight came walking in, with swords drawn.   The bullets ricocheted again, damaging more parts of the plaster. “Darn it, I just fixed those spots!”  The older man said, which drew the attention of the retainers who accompanied the knights.  “That’s ok, we’ll fix it later!” The younger man said, while pulling his older friend back down to hide.   As Michael was backing up, he disappeared when he crossed the threshold into the next room. 

Pudgy landed on the ground, and then started to run as fast as his little legs could carry him.  The ghosts apparently could only manifest for so long, and only in certain areas.  This led him to wonder who else could help him here in the castle?  As the hedgehog turned to look back, the knights were still following, though the retainers had disappeared.  The good news, knight speed was slower than hedgehog speed, so he had a slight lead.  Ducking down a service hatch through the wall, Pudgy scooted into a grand bed chamber.  Looking into the gemstone once more, “Hecate’s Daughter, can you come help Pudgy?”  The woman immediate appeared in the room, dressed in her white gown with blue feathers.  She looked confused, “Pudgy what have you done?  You have to send me back!”  Pudgy shook his head, “What is going on?  Pudgy need your help!”  The woman was agitated, “you have disturbed the stones of far sight.  Things long buried have now been revealed, and things that you do not know of are stirring.  This is worse than an eldritch god.” 

Looking up at her, “How can Pudgy use the stone?”  The woman calmed a bit and knelt to pat his head. “The stone can do whatever you ask of it.  You summoned the solider, you brought me here.  I will tell you, and then you need to send me back.”  Pudgy nodded and listened intently to the woman as she explained how to use the stone.  By merging the two stones, the hedgehog had opened several doors to various places, and had resulted in the Goddess Hecate sending her daughter off to various parts of the world.  The combined stones were much more powerful, and once all three were merged, a calamity could form if in the wrong hands.    Like the Xanadoom crystals, Pudgy would be able to teleport once again.  He could also bring things and people to help him.  As the woman wrapped things up, the door to the bedroom started to shake as the pursuers were trying to gain entry.  Hecate’s daughter patted his head and smiled at him, “Now send me back.”  The hedgehog nodded, “mister stone, can you send Hecate’s Daughter back to where Pudgy brought her from?”  The stone flashed, and soon she was gone.

Holding onto the stone, “Pudgy need to be outside, in front of castle.”  In a flash, the hedgehog was teleported to the castle grounds in front of the main entrance.  As the hedgehog appeared in a flash, the various tour groups all started to point at the hedgehog.  As Edgar exited through the front of the castle, he was flanked by rows of silver armor clad knights.  Along the way, he had picked up reinforcements, and pointed at Pudgy.  “Get the hedgehog, I want him by any means necessary!”    Pudgy stood defiantly, trying to remember his British history, but the one movie was all he had seen.  “Mister stone, bring Pudgy some Scotland braves!”  Soon a couple confused looking men in various colors of kilt appeared and dressed in war paint.   “Aye lad, I don’t know where we are?” The one brave looked at the other.  Pudgy scampered to the man’s deer skin covered foot, “Mister, can you help Pudgy?  Those knights want to hurt me.”   The two looked down, and saw the gemstone, “Hedgehogs are now our nobles?”

As the knights approached, the two men drew their swords, “I’m in the mood for a fight. How about you Alastair?”  The other man was missing his lower jaw but nodded with a glint in his eyes.  The two ran forth screaming, and started to annihilate the knights, ripping them limb from limb.  The armor was hollow, and the parts landed everywhere.  The scots were not in heavy armor and fought in a style the hedgehog had never seen.  Edgar approached from afar, and holding onto his stone, waved his hand causing the knights to all form into white mist and float away.   The two Scottish warriors were standing in front of Pudgy, “look at this one?  You do not even have a sword?  There’s not gonna be much fun in that?”   As the approaching man adjusted his cufflinks, and held onto his stone, “Oh I see hedgehog, you bring these worthless scots to the fight?”  Pudgy raised paw, “they just took on your knights, and ripped apart.”  The two scots nodded, and listened to Edgar, “I see, I guess you have won?  Oh … I think not.”   He whispered into the stone, and soon German soldiers started to appear on the castle grounds. 

Pudgy blinked and watched as the green uniforms with the red armbands were clearly visible.  The SS insignia was prominent, with the iron cross.  Pudgy mouth opened, “why would you bring them, they are the bad guys!  They hurt Britain, as well as the USA!”  Edgar laughed, and approached the soldiers he had summoned.  Making an extremely specific hand gesture, Pudgy watched and listened as Edgar began to speak German.  The soldiers nodded, and all raised their rifles towards the scots as well as Pudgy.   Edgar turned, “I care little for this country, and once my family legacy has been secured once more, I will cast this nation into the sea.  I will finish the Kaiser’s work, once and for all.” 

Pudgy nodded, “Pudgy love the United States, and Britain is a wonderful place too.  Pudgy no let you hurt people!”  The hedgehog had been so focused on what was in front of him, that he had not paid attention to what was behind him.  Several elderly men were approaching and started to flank the hedgehog and ghosts.   The men were dressed in blue uniforms, with golden wings on the chest.  They had their medals on, and some were leaning on a cane.  They held up well aged Webley revolvers and pointed them at Edgar.   Pudgy looked up, “Mister soldiers, can you help Pudgy?”  The closest one smiled, “it’s been 75 years since we last saw you bloody bastards here.”  The other solider beside Pudgy nodded, “and we will send you back again.”  The stone had not summoned them, and it was incredibly lucky for the hedgehog a tour group of world war 2 veterans were on tour that day.  Although, most in the group did not realize they had come armed to the castle. 

Edgar sneered, “two Scottish ghosts, and 4 old farts from the RAF is your army?  Voranbringen!”  He shouted, and the German soldiers started to march forward in lock step. The Scottish warriors charged forward again, though were cut down by the German rifles.  They dropped hard onto the ground and melted away into mist.  The RAF soldiers started to advance hobbling on the uneven ground and began to fire their pistols one by one.   The German soldiers were cut down and fell though they did not disappear.  Instead they started to stumble back up.  Pudgy realizing that the bullets were passing through them, he needed to summon something else?  “Sergeant Michael, do you have any friends outside that can help?”  The stone was quiet, but the glowing was still in full display.  “Mister stone, can you make the other stone come here?”    Suddenly Edgar was flung forward, until he landed back on the ground. “Foul play, hedgehog, two can play at that game.”    

Pudgy was suddenly flung forward, and since he was so light, flew right into Edgar’s hands.  He looked down at the hedgehog and squeezed his hands tight around his body.  Pudgy started to fell sick again, and a stream of stuff came out of him which landed right on his shoes.  “my shoes….” The man said, while pulling out the gemstone from Pudgy’s vest.  “Now, to merge the stones.”  He placed the two stones together in his hand and watched as they melted into one another.    The stones hissed, and a bright light shot up into the skies.  That drew everyone’s attention: alive, dead, or otherwise.   Pudgy watched as the stones flew into the air slowly and continued their merging.  Hecate’s Daughter’s warning was floating in his mind, about a calamity forming. 

The sapphire dropped down in front of the man, who dropped Pudgy.  As the hedgehog fell to the ground, the man knelt and snatched up the gemstone.  “I can command unstoppable legions of ghostly soldiers; from no matter which era I deem fit.  Nothing can stop me: no man, no army, no queen, no president, no one!  I am lord of the world now.”  The veterans looked at him, and Pudgy looked up at him as well.  Rubbing his sides with his paws, he stood up on his hind legs, and pointed. “Mister Tryon, what happens to the people who live in New York?”  Edgar looked down at the inquisitive hedgehog, “why I would send them away, to the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  The traitorous lot can live at the bottom of the ocean, or pass on, I do not care.”    The veterans all aimed their pistols at Edgar, and in unison cried out, “GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!”  They started firing, and the bullets all started to strike him one by one.  The man started to laugh insidiously and pointed the combined gemstone towards them.  “I hear antarctica is nice this time of year…”

Pudgy raced forward, and bared his teeth, biting hard into the evil man’s ankle.  Edgar yelled, “would you stop that!”  And kicked his foot, sending Pudgy rolling away.  The hedgehog leapt back up, and started to rush forward again, while bullets whizzed overhead.    The German troops had recovered and started to fire once more on the veterans.  The bullets had begun to strike the elderly men, who fell to their knees.  Once the fighting had started, any sane person got out of the castle grounds.  But once a solider, always a solider, and they were still fighting.    The one veteran with an epic handlebar mustache, had pulled out his cell phone, “Son, are you still at RAF Fairford?  We need help at Warwick!  Bill’s hurt… and we’re running out of ammunition.”    Bill pointed at the hedgehog, who was rushing forward, and was attacking the lunatic in the suit.  “I’m glad the hedgehog is on our side!”

The hedgehog had ducked under the suit, and was scratching, biting, and clawing whatever he could to try to hurt the evil man.  Edgar was furiously trying to swat away and get the hedgehog out of his clothing.  Not realizing where he was pointing the crystal, he pointed it at the castle and a light beam shot out.  The castle began to crack and moan, with horrible wails of agony.  Cracks began to form, some a meter wide in places, as black mist started to pour out of the mortar joints.    The Germans all stopped firing, and looked around, ignoring the RAF vets for a moment.  The cries filled the air, as the skies darkened above.  As Pudgy peeked out of Edgar’s vest, he saw the display around him. This was the calamity, and he must stop the man.  Edgar looked down, “will you stop that, and let me just dispatch you in peace?”  He grabbed Pudgy by the back of his neck, but the quills stabbed his hands.  “Darn you,” he cursed, while Pudgy broke free, and slide down, biting his hand.  Dropping the stone, Pudgy let got and started to fall, with his paws outstretched.

Pudgy caught the stone, and it immediately started to glow in his paws.  Rolling into a ball, when he landed, he rolled forward, and then took off running as he held the crystal.  The ghosts wailed overhead, pouring out of the castle, like water from a dam that had started to fail along the river.  Pudgy pointed the crystal at the German soldiers, “you go home now!”  The ghostly soldiers immediately evaporated into mist and disappeared.   As Pudgy reached the RAF veterans, he turned towards the castle.  “Mister Stone, what is going on?”  He investigated the stone; there was a rip of some sort throughout the building.  The castle was glowing, and the thousands of people that had been there over the centuries were now being summoned.  Pointing the crystal at the tear, “Please seal the breach, and send everyone back!”  The crystal shot forth a beam of pure white light, and the cracks started to heal. 

The youngest of the veterans looked down, a spry man with silver hair in his 70’s, “Hedgehog, keep doing whatever you are doing, we called in help.”  Pudgy nodded, “Ok Mister Solider.”  The other older vets laughed and reloaded their pistols.  “Jacob, when you said we were going to Warwick for a get together, I did not expect to fight the Germans again!”  A blood curdling scream could be heard from overhead.  A poltergeist had been flying around, of a woman dressed in a translucent dress, with blood red eyes.  Pudgy did not look up, instead continuing to try to guide the light beam to heal the castle.  Edgar had recovered, and started to run forward, “give me back the stone you pest!”  One veteran aimed his pistol, and shot out the man’s knee, causing him to promptly fall to the ground roaring in pain.  “Enough of that, Edgar.”  The one solider said, using his cane to try to get back to his feet. 

The ghostly woman flew down and grabbed one of the vets and picked him up into the air, flying around.  “Bill!” The soldiers cried out, trying to figure out what to do, looking down at the hedgehog.  “Laddie, speed it up, we need to get Bill back from the banshee!”   Jacob turned and pointed at a gunmetal colored willy’s jeep approaching up the driveway, with the RAF insignia on it.  Waving, the jeep cut up through the grass, and drove up to them.  The round headlights were on and cast forth a beam of light towards the castle.   Three men were in the jeep and started to get out marveling at the sight before them.  Ghosts, demons, banshees were flying overhead.  A gigantic crack was in the castle, with darkness pouring out, and a man wailing in paint having been shot in the knee was now floating over the grass.  There was a British RAF officer dressed in a proper uniform, with two Military Police with him.  One had an American flag on his uniform and looked down at the hedgehog shooting a light beam into the castle. 

The officer saluted the veterans, who all stood as best they could at attention and saluted back.  “ok, what is going on?”  The veterans all started to explain what was going on, which drew a wide-eyed look from the three much younger active duty soldiers.    The American MP knelt beside Pudgy, “and who might you be?”  Pudgy looked up, “my name is Pudgy, trying to fix damage in castle with gemstone!”  The man was in his twenties and looked over the scene.  The hedgehog was wearing a mining helmet and had a backpack.  He was starting to smoke, and his paws were crackling from holding the stone.  There was a noticeable amount of heat being cast from the hedgehog, which drew a look of concern.  “I think you should let go of that.”  Pudgy shook his head, “have to stop calamity, General Washington told Pudgy have to keep safe!”

Edgar was still floating in front of Pudgy, and his head snapped back, with glowing red eyes.  A voice that was not his started to come out of his slack jawed mouth. “PUDDDDGGGGYYYY!  You will give back the stone…….”  Pudgy looked up, “No, Pudgy have to fix the damage!”  Edgar started to flail with his arms and legs bending backwards.  As the lifeless body floated, it danced along the ground, almost as if being controlled like a marionette.    The veterans all turned from their officers and watched in horror at the scene with Edgar.  He had been alive, and now his neck was bent backwards.  Bill was still flying overheard, trying to break free from the banshee, who continued to wail.   The evil voice called out again, “This is far bigger than you are even aware of.  You will not stop us, so give up now.  Give me the stone, and I will send you home.”  Pudgy shook his head, “No, Pudgy never give you stone!  Pudgy is member of Continental Army!”

The demonic voice grew much louder, “then you will perish with the rest of the world.  We will have our revenge and rule this world once again!”  Pudgy looked at the lifeless body of Edgar and pointed the stone at the man.  “Whatever is in Edgar, you go away now!”  The stone blasted a wide angled beam of blue light at the floating man.  The demonic voice roared in paint, making the very ground shake below them.  The group assembled watch as Edgar’s body fell and landed hard on the ground in front of the hedgehog.  However, a dark shadow remained, and lifeless red orbs formed.   “You have won nothing, Hedgehog.”  The demonic voice said as a cackling laugh echoed throughout the land.  The shadow started to dissipate, but not without one final act of violence.  The black mass turned its attention to the castle, and set it ablaze, with the towers catching first on fire, before spreading all throughout.  It dissolved away into nothingness, without a further cackle. 

Pudgy blinked, and looked up, the Banshee started to disappear, as well as the other ghosts.  They were being sucked back into the crack in the castle.  Pudgy turned his attention back to the structure and pointed the red-hot gemstone at the building. “Please, put out the fires and make the ghosts go home!”    The beam of light widened, and slowly the fires dissipated, as well as the cracks sealed throughout the castle.  Bill was falling from the sky, as the two military police officers were trying to get into position to catch him.  As the elderly veteran fell, he landed on top of the two soldiers, “oi lads, sorry about that!”    The men laughed, and started to stand up, they helped Bill get to his feet as well.  The soldiers one by one started to walk over to surround Pudgy, who was finishing the repairs, and watched the light beam slowly fade away.  The hedgehog’s quills were on fire, his fur was burnt off, and his little paws were starting to bleed.  The one officer stood with his hands behind his back, “well now, I expect a full explanation of this.  I need it for my report.”  Pudgy dropped onto his rear, still clutching the gemstone, which was slowly shrinking into a hedgehog sized trinket. 

Pudgy began to tell his story to the officers, as well as the RAF veterans.  All stared in wide eyed amazement as the hedgehog told his story.  The American officer nodded and took furious amounts of notes and asked Pudgy to repeat certain sections.  The description of the British soldiers chasing Cobalt and Pudgy throughout Pennsylvania, as well as Brenda and Pudgy in New Jersey, drew much attention.  While the hedgehog explained about his activities in the country, he saw movement behind the veterans.  It was subtle at first, just a faint shimmer, but soon he could see the angel statue from before.  The statue’s bronze coating was flaking off and revealing the angel from within.  A male angel was smiling there, with long blonde hair.  He pointed to the castle, which Pudgy turned immediately.  He looked through the crystal, and saw the spirits floating up one by one into the skies above.    “Ghosts all going to heaven now.”  Pudgy said, which drew a look from the veterans.  Bill snorted, “even the Germans?”  Pudgy turned, and the spot where the German SS troops were originally.  The hedgehog saw a pit open, and they were sucked into it. “No, Germans went to other place.”

The British officer nodded and asked the American officer to read back his notes, which he was doing so.  His British counterpart was checking, and double checking what he had written down.   Nodding, “all right, this sounds like everything is in order.  The last part is, that we need the gemstone.”  The soldiers turned to Pudgy, who was still clutching onto the stone.  He shook his head, “stone is too dangerous, Pudgy have to keep safe.  Pudgy sorry, have to go now.”  The American officer nodded, “I understand Pudgy, but this would be much safer in the United States, we have secure facilities.  No one would ever use the stone again.”  His British counterparts shot him a look, “why American control, your government lost the moon rocks, from the same secure facilities.  That stone is the property of Great Britain. The hedgehog will return it forthwith.”    

Pudgy heard the soldiers arguing and realized that this was going to take a while.  The critter waved at the RAF veterans, and weakly saluted.  Several saluted back with a smile and watched as the hedgehog disappeared in a quick flash of light.  The exasperated officers looked at one another, “Ok, how do we really explain this to our superiors?”  The American officer nodded, “swamp gas … causing mass hallucination.”  The British officers, “No that has been done so much it is cliché now.  I know, how about a training accident that went wrong?”  The RAF veterans laughed, “we’re going to the pub.”  The elderly men saluted and holstered their pistols.  The officer in charge looked up, “if I might ask, which group were you gentlemen with?”  Jacob smiled, “Number 13 Group.”  The OIC nodded, and saluted.  The elderly airmen saluted back and turned walking away. 

By Cobalt

Cobalt is a normal guy that goes to work. Pudgy is his hedgehog friend who lives in a hobbit style home nearby, and goes on epic adventures. All Pudgy stories are copyrighted to Cobalt. Doomcock, Harvey Cthulhu, and Xanadoom is copyrighted to Overlord DVD.

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