Week 2 of the Southend Toy Soldiers Club Malifaux campaign saw my Outcasts take on a Gremlin force, in a battle to take ownership of a large pig wandering through the board. The game was quite absurd, with both sides losing almost every model they fielded to a combination of their own misfiring guns and a cataclysmic chain reaction in the centre of the board described below…
After the slightly embarrassing defeat of two of their number at the hands of a small child, the Mark of the Wolf Mercenary Company retreated a while, licked its wounds and decided to go for smaller jobs to raise some money before challenging the more powerful denizens of this cursed city…
What followed was a peculiar letter…
DEAR WHOM IT MAY CONSERN
THERE R GREMLINS STEELING MY PIGGS AND I AM CONSERNED FORE THE SAFETY OF THE PIGG OF WISDOME WHAT IS THREE TIMES WINNER OF THE BIGGEST PIGG IN MALYFAUX PRIZE IF YU STOP THEM STEELING MY PRIZE PIGG I WILL PAY YOU TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS THE RASCALLS HAVE SENT ME A NOTE SAYING THEY WILL STEEL MY PIGG TONITE
YORE HUMBLE SERVENT
MR. ULYSSES F G HAYSEED ESQ
Thus it was that a truly absurd number of mercenaries were camped out in a rocky field surrounded by farm-buildings, all eyes trained on a colossal, lazy hog that was occupied with eating a mountain of vegetables about the same size as it. Two hundred dollars was two hundred dollars. The afternoon sun was low in the sky and burning red, and there were enough guns trained on the Pig of Wisdom to hold up the mail-train. Silence – save for the odd gaseous rumble from the swine and satisfied oink, prevailed.
Then, with a cry of “Would’ya look at this brother Pere, I’m snipin’ like one o’ them Guildmen! They ain’t never gonna find my hidin’ place!” a bullet was suddenly lodged in the attendant Freikorpsman’s shoulder. Across the field, a veritable horde of raucous green figures bowled towards the oblivious pig, and the mercenaries opened fire with small-arms in return to little effect.
Seeing herself outnumbered, definitely outgunned (for a premature explosion suggested that the enemy had brought dynamite to hunt pigs) and distinctly bewildered, the sun-tanned, oil-stained woman crouching behind a rock decided enough was enough. They would put up enough fight to do their name honour, but two hundred dollars wasn’t enough for this. Signalling her forces forward, she herself hung back, still nursing a wound caused by the stupid brat in the graveyard. To her right, bullets flying around her, a figure in a surprisingly clean labcoat sashayed forward and calmly shot one of the goblin-like creatures. In an instant its arm suddenly fell off, sprouted pseudopods and eyes and stole its fallen owner’s gun.
“Needs work.” Ducking behind a pillar as the enemy returned fire, Alice selected another syringe bullet and loaded it into her pistol. “Maybe the formula needs-”
A combination of intoxicating liquors and seeing his sister, Sue, shot by one of the big people had put Conway Lacroix in a terrible temper, and he decided to take matters into his own hands. With his uncle Raphael making a move towards the pig, he took the six-shooter he’d stolen off the gremlin who’d genuinely stolen it off a dead Guild agent after a heated battle he hadn’t been in and fired, fanning the hammer like he’d seen someone do once at a Wild West show. The poorly-maintained gun worked once, then twice, and then promptly exploded. However, the two bullets it had managed to discharge hit Alice squarely in the knee, and she fell to the ground swearing.
Although numerous small firefights were exploding across the field, nothing – not even a tubby gremlin poking it with a shotgun – seemed to faze the Pig of Wisdom. It simply stood and ate, its straw hat covered in faded rosettes drooping over one beady marble-like eye.
“Damn thing ain’t moving Rami! You got a plan?”
“Aye I do brother Raphael. You know what they say about a pig in heat?”
“Well I did some thinking and had Sue bring down one o’ the hogs from the ranch, for to confuse and distract the mighty beast. It’s done been released now.”
Something happened. The mutant thing Alice’s toxin had made from Sue’s arm tried to engulf the Gremlins’ own pig. The pig proceeded to eat it. Enraged, it looked up, looking for something else to eat.
It saw a mountain of turnips. Truly pig nirvana. It failed to see, in the mess of low rocks, gremlins, bullets and mercenaries, the other pig. Screeching and oinking to raise the dead, it rushed forward.
“That isn’t no lady pig, Rami. That there’s a junior fighting-hog.”
In a fight between an enraged piglet fed up with being shot at and a quarter-ton prize pig defending its trough, there was probably only going to be one winner. The gremlins, excellent pig-farmers by trade (albeit farmers of other peoples’ pigs for the most part), knew this. Raphael lunged for the out-of-control piglet. Pere also ran towards it. Alice, bleeding profusely from a shattered knee but still fearful for the Pig of Wisdom, crawled towards it and in the process shot Raphael. Sue, who it turned out was not actually dead but simply knocked out from the shock of losing an arm, came round and realised her mistake with the pigs. Thus the players for the incident of the Pig of Wisdom came together.
A slow-motion farce ensued – inevitable, inexorable carnage. Raphael, thinking himself to be dying despite only having been shot in the leg, leapt to save his pig. The piglet, well greased for some reason, twisted out of his grasp and smashed into Pere. Pere lost his balance and his lucky bottle of nitroglycerine began to spiral through the air. The gremlins panicked, tried to escape the imminent explosion and tripped over each other. Alice began crawling away from the whole affair.
By some miracle, the bottle landed safely in the pig’s slops. One by one Pere, Raphael, Sue and Alice all nervously opened their eyes and, guns drawn, began edging towards it.
The Pig of Wisdom, in all its infinite wisdom, ate the bottle and exploded. The explosion, in turn, catapulted pork cuts in all directions, one of which hit Rami on the back of the head and sent him falling from his sniping spot into a pile of manure.
When the smoke cleared in the field, somehow, most of the mercenaries were injured or unconscious. Taelor vaguely remembered fighting a dangerously excited gremlin in a huge stetson about the same time as the massive explosion.
“Alice? Can you hear me?” The red-haired doctor looked not quite dead, but definitely unwell. More unwell than normal. “What happened? Where’s the pig?”
“The big pig, Alice. The one we were protecting?”
“Let’s just leave. Very quietly. We were never here.”
Two Days Later
Where the stream that runs past the Hayseed Ranch’s fields terminates is a lurid, polluted pool rich in pig-slurry, mine run-off and so on. Its bilious water sits stagnantly, and nobody fishes it.
Thus nobody noticed the gremlin girl washed up on its shore for quite some time. Nor the piglet nestled in her one arm.
She opened her eyes, put the pig down to wipe the water and weed from them, and looked about.
“Gee, Toto, I don’t think we’re in Malifaux any more.”
It is known that pigs have quite well-developed brains. This particular one had seen explosions, bullets, a bigger pig and a fat gremlin. Those images swirled around its head, and like an overworn mineshaft cable, something snapped. Deep within its coal-black eyes, a red fire began to burn. It would be avenged, one day, on whoever had done this.