Damsel in Distress versus the Knight in Shiny Armor
Chapter 1 - Nothing Is More Important Than Wenching
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there were two beautiful princesses and their father. And, of course, a dragon. Dragons can usually be found where there are beautiful princesses and this story is no exception. And, naturally, where there are beautiful princesses and dragons, there are knights in shining armor to rescue them. Though, come to think of it, this particular knight would probably have preferred to dispense with the armor and just shoot the dragon, and possibly one or more of the princesses while he was at it. The dragon hasn't expressed an opinion.
King Howard slouched down in his throne and crossed his eyes. He was bored, bored, bored, bored. And, come to think of it, bored. He could be lying on a beach, a wrench in one hand, a wench in the other. Now that was his idea of fun. Maybe, if he got her drunk enough, she'd even show him her ass. His mind started running through the various ladies in waiting that had accumulated around his daughters to pick a likely candidate. Dorothy? No, no, she was evil. She regularly dumped out the liquor cabinet and he had to keep sending G to get more. Sally? No, she had some crazy ideas about a boy no one had ever heard of. It would have been nice to have a boy around the palace, so he could teach him all the best drinking songs. Zechs? No, he actually was a boy. Pretty hair, but he didn't look a thing like a girl. He didn't care for drinking songs, either. Hil--
King Howard glared at his advisor. "Not now, I'm busy."
G was not put off. "It is important."
"Nothing is more important than wenching."
G sighed. "It's about your daughter."
"The one that you sacrificed to the dragon last year."
"Oh, yeah. What about her? Did it eat her yet? She probably gave it indigestion."
"No. She's fine. The dragon threw her out of the turret last week, but she managed to hang on to the battlements and climb back up."
King Howard scratched his head. "Why does a dragon have battlements?"
G closed his eyes and refrained from smacking the king. "Remember, sire? It's keeping her in the old castle at the foot of the mountains. The one that's falling apart."
"Smart dragon," King Howard muttered.
"I'm afraid the situation has gotten dire. She may not last much longer if something isn't done."
"We sent it wenches. It didn't want wenches. How could it not want wenches? Wenches are almost as good as ale. Ale covered wenches are the best. I wonder what Dorothy would look like covered in ale."
"Sire, I have taken the liberty of letting it be known that whomever saves the princess from the dragon will have the princess's hand in marriage and half the kingdom when you die."
"The one that you sacrificed to the dragon. Just think of it, you'll have a son-in-law."
King Howard brightened up. "A son. I could teach him all the best drinking songs and we could go wenching together."
"Several likely candidates have arrived, you need to greet them."
King Howard frowned thoughtfully. "Only if they like wenching."
Several months later....
King Howard snorted, slapped his lips together, slid further down into his throne, then resumed snoring.
G poked him in the ribs. "Sire!"
King Howard jerked upright. "That wasn't my hand, Dorothy!"
"Sire, we have another suitor for your daughter."
"Right. First, I want you to send the guards to Dorothy's room and have them remove all sharp objects. Maybe lock her up for a day or two."
G sighed. "Sire, your daughter."
"The one you sacrificed to the dragon. Someone is here to see you about saving her."
"Did it eat her yet?"
G slid his fists into the sleeves of his robe so he looked more mysteriously wise and less like he wanted to smack the king. "I don't know, sire. It did toss her in the moat three times this month. She was displeased with this, but appeared unhurt."
"Why does a dragon have a moat?"
"It's keeping her in the old castle by the mountains." G closed his eyes and counted to ten.
"Smart dragon," King Howard muttered.
"Baron J has brought his son, or at least I think it's his son, to save the princess."
"J? Good man, he can hold his liquor. No taste in wenches. I wonder if he'd like Dorothy."
G stared piously at the wall behind the king and wondered if he could pad his resume enough to get a job down at the stables. At least he could put bridles on the asses there.
"Well, bring him in! And have Dorothy bring in some ale. If J likes Dorothy, he can have her."
"Sire, Dorothy is the princess's favorite lady in waiting."
"The one you kept."
One of the castle stewards ushered the Baron and his boy into the throne room.
"J!" King Howard boomed, "come drink with me y'old bastard!"
J frowned. At least it looked like a frown, no telling with those goggles. "I don't have time for that, Howard. We've got a princess to save."
G glanced at the boy standing at attention two paces behind and one pace to the right of the Baron. The boy's eyes roved the room as if he were calculating how to take it over, but beyond that, there were no signs of life. G was reminded of the machines that Baron J liked to tinker with.
"Which one?" King Howard was asking.
G jolted back to attention. "The one you sacrificed to the dragon, sire."
"Oh." King Howard leaned back in his chair and yanked at his Hawaiian print royal robes. "It hasn't eaten her yet?"
J plastered what appeared to be a semi-respectful expression on the parts of his face that showed around his goggles. "The reports I've read indicate that the beast is particularly tough. It apparently ate some of the best knights in the land. 01 can handle it, but not for a piddly half a kingdom when you die."
"We want all of it. Half when 01 successfully completes the mission and the other half when you die. If he has to, he'll marry the princess and I get whatever's left from the dragon."
"He has to marry the princess!" King Howard yelled. "That way I can teach him all the best drinking songs."
G narrowed his eyes. The boy known as 01 didn't seem remotely interested in either the kingdom, the princess, or the drinking songs.
"Deal!" J clapped his hands together and smirked.
King Howard looked suddenly panicked. "No, wait, you have to take Dorothy, too. I don't care what you do with the wench, but she goes with you."
The Princess exploded from her hiding place behind the throne in a flurry of pink, gold hair, and ear drum piercing shrieks. "Daddy! Dorothy is my best friend! You can't give her away! She is--oh my. Who is this?"
G winced, but resisted the urge to cover his ears. 01 was staring at the princess as if he'd never seen one before. If G wasn't mistaken, he didn't want to see another one again, either. The princess was staring at 01 as if she'd never seen a male before. If G wasn't mistaken, she wanted to see the rest of him, preferably collared and leashed.
"He's here to marry the princess, Princess," King Howard said kindly, patting her hand with a smile.
The princess squealed in delight. "He's perfect! Just what I've always wanted! Oh, Daddy, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
"Your sister," G pointed out, before the bridal magazines started flying.
She pouted. "But I want him. Get him for me, Daddy!"
"He has to save your sister, Relena." G gave up and rubbed his temples delicately. "The dragon will probably kill her pretty soon. Once he saves her, he's duty-bound to marry her. You know, the Knight and the Damsel in Distress thing that you're always going on and on about."
"Can't we find someone else to save her?"
"I'm afraid not, we've already got a contract with the Baron."
Princess Relena glared at 01 as if this were all his fault. "He doesn't look like a Knight in Shiny Armor. He can't save her, only Knights in Shiny Armor can save princesses from dragons."
King Howard looked vaguely disturbed at this. "He doesn't look much like a knight."
J simply smiled. "01 is the perfect soldier."
Princess Relena nodded sagely. "Then he is not a knight. He cannot rescue my sister from the dragon unless he's a knight. It's simply not done."
To G's dismay, King Howard was nodding. "Gotta be a Knight in Shiny Armor that saves the princess. It's in all the books, G."
"So we knight him, what's the problem?" J said. "You're the king, get out your sword."
Relena squared her shoulders and gave J her haughtiest look. "There's more to it than that. First, he must have armor. Then he has to have a horse. Since he's rescuing a princess, it must be a white stallion. And we don't have any white stallions in the country. They're all brown."
"And if not, you'll be certain they're brown by nightfall," G muttered.
Relena ignored that. "Then, of course, there is chivalry, manners, and how to behave in court. And the jousts. He simply cannot be a proper knight if he hasn't jousted. And of course, he will have a token of my favor when he jousts. He is a guest, after all." Relena beamed at 01. "I'll help with his training in all of the refinements a knight must know."
01 didn't even twitch.
King Howard beamed. "Wonderful, Princess."
G didn't buy her innocent tone a bit. "How long will this take, Relena? Your sister has been tossed in the moat three times this month. The dragon is losing patience."
"He looks quite bright, perhaps a year."
"I will not have my sister dishonored!" Relena yelled. She pointed to 01. "Would you want a dishonored bride? I didn't think so. He is in agreement."
"He'll marry her if she's nine-hundred pounds and slept with everything between here and Crete. Twice even," J said. "Her honor is not an issue. He can't marry her if the dragon eats her."
"If the dragon eats her, he can marry me." Relena clasped her hands to her bosoms, which had begun heaving anew. "I am willing to sacrifice for my sister's honor."
King Howard scratched his head. "He can't marry you. You're betrothed."
"Well, you are. You can teach him that chivalry stuff while we find him a white stallion and some armor. Then he gets knighted if I have to do the knighting myself!" King Howard nodded once, just to show he meant business.
"You have to do the knighting yourself, you're the king," G pointed out.
G thought that it was rather clear that he did not.
"We should take the lad wenching before he goes and slays the dragon and meets up with my daughter. Poor boy."
"Daddy, you promised that I could teach him chivalry."
"Fine, fine. G, fetch us some ale. We have to go see a man about a horse."
Relena flounced over to the boy, who seemed even less interested in chivalry than he had in kingdoms, princesses, or drinking songs. She smiled at him and delivered her best curtsey. "Hello. I'm Princess Relena."
The boy stared at her.
She smiled wider. "What's your name."
"I am 01."
"That's not a name. Haven't you got a name?"
01 shook his head.
"Heero Yuy," Baron J said. "We prefer 01."
"Well 01 is silly. Heero, my Heero," she sighed dreamily. "It's a perfect name."
Heero didn't seem to care either way.
"Go with the princess, 01."
Heero didn't take his eyes off the princess. He rather reminded G of a mouse standing before a frothy, pink cobra.
"Intelligence gathering," J added.
"After that, you save the princess." J's goggles flicked in Relena's direction with pure annoyance. "The other princess. And then you have to marry her before Howard changes his mind and tries to weasel out of it."
Two weeks later (and none too soon)....
It was Heero's opinion that armor, no matter how shiny, was unsuitable for combat. From the available information on the subject, dragons were reported to breathe fire. The metal armor, while not highly flammable, would certainly roast him with one shot. Additionally, the armor was heavy and difficult to move in. It clanked and creaked, which made any form of stealth impossible. Data on a dragon's hearing capabilities had been unavailable, though the Princess Relena had assured him they were mostly deaf, however, he was uncertain as to the accuracy of anything Princess Relena said. Finally, it was impossible to mount the white horse that someone had managed to find. He determined that tradition was inappropriate for the mission. Baron J had readily agreed. Unfortunately, he could not simply leave the armor behind, he had to take it with him so as not to excite the Princess Relena.
Heero had developed a new, side-mission in the two weeks it had taken the king's advisor to find the horse and then scrub at the large, heart-shaped spots someone had applied to its hide with pink shoe polish--Do Not Excite Princess Relena. He'd accepted this mission when he was informed that he was not permitted to shoot her.
Despite his distaste in wearing armor that was detrimental to the mission's success, Heero stood in the courtyard, freshly knighted, and waited for the horse. G had taken it back to the stables for another scrubbing that morning. Perhaps, when he returned, someone would explain what this marry business was.
"See, Daddy!" Relena poked her father when G came back with the horse. "My Heero can't go. The horse isn't white!"
"It was white, Princess," G pointed out, "until y--er, someone painted it."
Heero looked at the horse and frowned. While faded pink hearts on the horse's glossy white hide had no effect on the outcome of the mission, they did make the horse look rather stupid. He reminded himself that dragons were essentially large lizards and that lizards were color blind so there would be no discernable consequences in the upcoming battle.
"Perhaps your sister will think it's romantic," Dorothy said smoothly.
Princess Relena shrieked, "Romantic! Noooooooooo! He's my Heero!"
Dorothy smirked at King Howard who slouched lower into his robes.
G sighed and stared longingly toward the stables. "Relena, he's going to rescue your sister from the dragon. You don't want her to get eaten do you?"
Relena pouted. "No."
G smiled. "It threw her into the moat again just last week. Heero has to hurry if he's going to save her."
"Why does she get to get saved by my Heero?"
"Because your father is marrying you off to Treize Khushrenada," Dorothy said. She tossed King Howard another evil smirk when Relena burst into tears.
"I can't even say his name!" Relena wailed.
King Howard tugged the collar of his shirt up and pulled his crown down farther onto his head.
"Enough!" Baron J snapped. "Someone help 01 onto that stupid horse!"
"It's not stupid!" Relena slapped at her eyes. "Wing is the best horse ever! Wing is Heero's horse!"
G sighed again. "Let's get him onto the horse so he can go save the princess."
King Howard looked at G suspiciously. "Which one?"
"The one you sacrificed to the dragon."
"Didn't it eat her?"
"And no one has ever bothered to find out why not," Dorothy muttered. She smiled brightly at Relena. "Well, now we have the Knight in Shiny Armor and his," she gave the horse that evil smirk, "white stallion off to save the day."
Relena clasped her hands to her bosom, which was heaving. Heero had been alarmed the first few times she'd done it, thinking she was hyperventilating. After repeated exposure, he decided that it wasn't life-threatening and ignored it. "Oh, how romantic!"
Romantic. Heero had already added that term to the long list of words to look up in the dictionary upon returning to base. While his two week training session with Princess Relena--a session he considered proper training should he ever be captured and tortured by a particularly sadistic enemy--had been packed full of information, it hadn't been very educational. She'd given him a list of instructions that explained chivalry; his favorites were "Die with valor, Destroy evil in all of its monstrous forms, and Exhibit self control." Some of them made no sense, such as "Never use a weapon on an opponent not equal to the attack" or "Never attack an unarmed foe." These were not what he considered an efficient means of accomplishing missions. He could not accept the mission parameters defined by the Code of Chivalry, he concluded.
Even more confusing had been Princess Relena's ongoing lectures on The Art of Courtly Love. He had asked her what love was, but the resulting answer had been incomprehensible gibberish that ended with an attempt to have him place his lips on her hand. He had not seen the purpose of such an exercise and had, instead, requested the use of a dictionary. Princess Relena had not spoken to him for several hours after that. Repeated requests for the use of a dictionary had reduced the effectiveness of the ploy. In order to successfully accomplish the Do Not Excite Princess Relena mission, he had dutifully memorized the list of instructions on the Art of Courtly Love that Princess Relena had supplied. Baron J had removed the Art of Courtly Love from the mission parameters after a mission briefing on the subject.
Relena smiled at him, apparently intending to offer the pink thing in her hand to him again. He turned away quickly, reminding himself that he was not permitted to shoot her.
While two large men-at-arms utilized a crane and hook affair to settle him on the horse, Heero permitted himself a few moments to note that once the other princess had been safely rescued and married, he wouldn't have to deal with these princess creatures and their incomprehensible notions again.
Several minutes later, around the bend ....
Though it had taken two people to get this armor on him, Heero hadn't thought that they would be required to remove it. He jerked at the plate on his chest, but it simply would not come off. The mail stays that held it in place groaned under the strain from the muscles Baron J had enhanced, but the stays did not break. He couldn't reach the buckles in the back, either. With a silent glare between the horse's ears, Heero put the horse into a walk and settled into the saddle to alter the mission plans.
The original plans had been to kill the dragon, then fetch the princess from the castle. No one was certain why the dragon lived in one spot and kept the princess in another, but that was the intelligence he'd been given. Killing the dragon had been defined as a requirement for the mission to succeed, however, mission parameters did not mention an actual need to kill the dragon. The mission was to rescue the princess and then marry her. The dragon had been omitted. It was assumed that the dragon would object to the rescue efforts, but no actual data had been collected on the matter. Logically, if the dragon was not present, he could reasonably collect the princess from the old castle by the mountains and simply bring her back. Mission accomplished.
Heero and Wing arrived at the old castle at the edge of the mountains a day and a half later. Most of the armor did not arrive with them. He'd managed to remove the helmet, gloves and the metal plates that had been fastened to his legs, but the chest plate and back plate still openly defied him. Losing the other pieces made it possible for him to actually get on and off the horse as bodily functions and reconnaissance needs dictated, so he wasn't as irritated as he would have been. As he settled into a secured location to observe the castle and collect intelligence, Heero decided that "romantic", whatever that was, was inefficient as a means of planning missions.