PPC Snowfight 2005

Prologue
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Interlude
Section Two

Prologue: From Little Acorns

It was a quiet day on the PPC Board, or as quiet as things ever get in that haven of insanity. No one expected it to be a particularly special day, but it was destined to be remembered throughout the ages. Follow us now, to see how the events that shook the Board came to pass...

It was an innocent enough beginning, a single snowball thrown by Leto Haven. "Snowball fight!" he called, as the ball hurtled towards the nearest Boarder. "It's snowing, yay!"

Moonburst, in the line of fire, yelped, "Ack!" and ducked, the snowball striking the ground some distance behind her. And there it might have ended, save for the fateful coincidence that brought Luthien onto the Board. Taking one look at the situation, she grinned. "Yes!"

"You always start snowball fights," she explained, dancing in the snow, "and I always somehow miss the beginning of them. But now I am in! Woo!" Coming to a stop, she began to prepare a large pile of well-packed and artistically-created snowballs. As she worked, she glanced up at Leto. "I'm joining your side."

Soon, the pile was finished, and Luthien straightened up. "May our opponents die a snowy mock-death! To battle!"

"My army is growing!" gloated Leto. Setting to work, he swiftly constructed a snow fortress with ten foot walls and fifteen foot towers. Safe in his castle, he cried out a message to the Board at large. "Keep out, you rebel scum. I, Emperor Leto Haven the First, will RULE THE PLAY YARD!" It was a challenge of immense proportions, and it was answered.

First came Kitsune106, a newcomer to the board. "Nice," he commented. "Count me in for the snowball fight." Even as he knelt down to begin preparing snowballs, Tungsten_Monk charged past him, heading for the fortress.

"Prepare to die!" yelled that brave warrior, hurling a snowball at Leto. "Yes!" she exclaimed. "It's snowed here in Chicago, too, so I am able to fight back!" As her projectile struck at Leto, she turned to the Board at large and called, "Beware, ye all. I am the person who created the Snow Balrog back in winter of 2002. I know how to combine shameless fandom with snow. MWAAHAHAHA!" So saying, she struck off into the snowy wastes and began to build Snow!Moria.

As the great Dwarrowdelf grew, Rath entered the scene. "Excellent!" she said, and dusted off her Catapult o' Doom™. As she began to stockpile snowballs, she hummed a song. "There's children throwing snowballs instead of throwing heads..." Suddenly she stopped, frowning down at the pile. In a few moments, however, she resumed her song, her hands quickly sculpting a range of snow-heads.

On finishing, she wandered over to the gates of Snow!Moria, where Tungsten_Monk was making some finishing touches to the dιcor. A short conversation ensued, after which the two were agreed to fight together against Leto's evil. "Because Snow!Balrogs and Snow!Moria are Teh Awesome. Yes," said Rath, overjoyed.

At that moment, a manic cackle came from the other side of the Board. "Nyahahaha!" cried Alania, who had, unnoticed by all, constructed a replica of Helm's Deep in snow. As Rath ran towards her, she poured water over it so that it would freeze overnight. "It's my first PPC snowball fight," she said, grinning. "I am invincible. Ph34r my 5n0w 5k1llz!"

Rath arrived, slightly out of breath, but still enthusiastic. "Wanna join?" she asked Alania. "We've got a Snow Moria, too."

Alania grinned, and nodded, pledging her allegiance to Rath's side with that gesture. "Now all we need is for someone to make Snow!Orthanc," she commented.

Techno-Dann walked over to them. "I was going to make Minas Tirith," he said, "but then it didn't snow here, so I can't. Oh, well," he finished, and launched a wet-leaf ball at Leto's fortress. Before he could prepare another, a great fall of snow, straight from Utah, fell on his head.

Rath, who had sent the snow, beamed. "'Cause we Right-Wing nutjobs need to stick together," she explained, and began to assist him in constructing Snow!Minas Tirith.

Far away from the construction, Tungsten_Monk stood before Leto's fortress, brandishing a crossbow loaded with icicles. "Stand back, fiendish foul villain! For I am the tungsten monk, the fifteenth-century ambiguously gendered humanoid/metallic creature with too much time on her hands and a shameless devotion to snowball fights! Your attacks are useless!" Firing off a volley of icicles, she let out a mighty cry. "Join me, all of ye! Snow!Moria will withstand any attack by any foe. Join me, and win the snowball fight!" Her crossbow exhausted, she threw it to the snow and placed a Rohirric helm on her head. "DEEEEAAATH!" she cried, and charged.


Chapter One: Lines In The Sand


While the allies were gathering their forces, Leto had not been idle. The relatively small fortress Tungsten_Monk had been expecting to assault was transformed into a mighty citadel, wrought in the likeness of Minas Morgul. Standing on the great wall, Leto watched T_M's futile attacks. "Fear my place in dominance of the Play Ground!" he gloated. Nevertheless, he knew that, should the allies gather their strength, he could not withstand it. Raising his signal banner, he called to all who would aid him. "To me! We must repel this horde of good and light for darkness and despair!"

T_M saw this. Turning back to her own fortress of Snow!Moria, she swung the gates wide. "And so it begins," she intoned, as the mighty Snowrog emerged, breathing a blizzard wind. "Destroy the usurper, my pet!" she commanded. "A full flask of Orcish hot chocolate to the first man (woman, Elf, Dwarf, Orc, Goblin, Balrog, mini-Balrog, Flower That Is) to topple the tower!"

"Attack!" called Leto, summoning his own troops. "Come, my wargs, drop snow from on high!" Gazing out at his opponent, he sneered. "Orcs are cold-blooded, you fool. They will not be able to fight."

"Hah!" responded T_M. "Yes, Orcs are cold-blooded – doubtless why they have such a concoction as the warming Orc-draught." Turning to her allies, now surging forth from their own fortresses, she explained. "Mix Orc-draught with milk, sugar, cocoa, and a little peppermint, and you get Orcish hot chocolate – perfect for surviving in cold climates!"

The Snowrog struck the walls of the enemy city, and T_M grinned viciously. "Aaaaattaaaaack, my Snowrog! I may be morally ambiguous and insane to boot, but this is WAR!"

Leto snarled as he saw the damage the creature was doing to his walls. "I want her alive!" he yelled, his voice carrying over the noise of battle. "For there will be snow down back of shirts and in face. Bwahahahahaha!"

On the far side of the battlefield, Rohirric Monkey looked up at the sound of his voice. Seeing it did not concern her, she turned back to her snow barricade, complete with overturned snow omnibus. Raising her red flag above it, she began to sing. "Will you join in our crusade?..."

Heedless of this, Tungsten_Monk scowled at Leto where he stood proudly on the walls of Minas Morgul. "Bringest it oneth, foul fiend!" she called, throwing a snowball at the cruel enemy who taunted her.

The ball struck Leto in the face, and he hissed in displeasure. "I will get you back for that, you artificial element_Monk," he vowed, and launched the snowball back. It raced towards T_M, but was intercepted by Alania, wielding an icicle sabre.

"I will duel thee to the death!" cried the valiant warrior. Then she frowned. "Well... make that 'to the pain'," she amended. She shook her head. "Or maybe 'to the humiliation'... yeah... I kinda like that!" Challenge issued, she stood waiting for the attack.

At that moment there came an exultant shout from behind Leto: "Finally!" Starwind Rohana, who had been sneaking up behind the adversary, threw a tight-packed snowball at his back. Unfortunately for her, it was too hard-packed to have much effect, and she was forced to flee to the temporary safety of Snow!Moria. Nevertheless, her skill in gaining access even to the outer wall of Minas Morgul brought new hope to the attackers, and the siege endured.

In time, more joined Tungsten_Monk's forces. Techno-Dann built a Snow!Warwolf – one of the largest trebuchets ever made, he was heard to explain earnestly – and Starwind returned to the field, lending her Maiarin powers to call up a blizzard and smash one of Minas Morgul's towers. Nevertheless, the ferocity of the fighting began to subside into a state of low-level siege. The Gates of Snow!Moria held off all of Leto's assaults, and Snow!Minas Morgul's walls were adequate defence even against the Snowrog. The other bastions of Good – Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith – were too far from the battle to be of much assistance, save only a few soldiers. So it went, and so it might have ended save for the late arrival of Huinesoron.

Heeding not the snowball war, for at that time all was still, hS walked through the Board. He was almost through when a whistling sound made him look round, and then throw himself to the ground to avoid the incoming snowball. "Ayt!" he cried, racing for a nearby drift as snowballs burst around him. "To me, o my kinsfolk!"

Reaching the snowdrift, he dove for cover behind it, and began to plan. Though other fortresses were available, he chose to delve his own, and immediately began work on Snow!Nargothrond. "And this time," he muttered, "we're not going to be tricked into building a stupid bridge."


Chapter Two: The Gathering Storm


Seeing that Huinesoron was hopelessly overwhelmed by the prospect of digging out an entire city, Starwind Rohana picked up a shovel and came to his aid. As she first set shovel to snow, she blinked. "Hang on, yesterday I got turned into a Maia." Dropping the shovel, she transformed into a creature best described as 'a large foxy-mole thing' and began to dig. Turning her head, she asked, "Um... how many tunnels?"

Huinesoron grinned. "Lots. We may not have Finrod's artistic genius, but we can match him in scale, at least."

"Certainly!" replied Starwind, and burrowed off furiously into the snow. Huinesoron watched the growth of his citadel for a moment, and then turned back to the main battle.

"Hmm," he mused. Although a fortress was necessary, it could not stand by itself. Moving a little way from the drift, he set to work sculpting a huge beast. When it was finished, he stepped back and watched as Snow!Glaurung began to pace back and forth before the walls of the city. "Somewhat ironic justice," he said to no one in particular, "to have the Wyrm defending the city this time... oh, well." Gazing out at the battlefield, he ran over his memories of his arrival. It seemed to him that the first snowball had come from Moria, and that was something that could not be tolerated. Gesturing to the great snow dragon, he sent it forth to attack the Dwarven city and crush it to dust.

As he watched the beast depart, a figure popped up beside him. It was Rath, who had been picking her way over the battlefield since she saw him arrive. Looking at his city, she nodded approvingly. "Care to join with the rest of Snow!Arda?"

Huinesoron raised an eyebrow. "Aren't various bits of it on opposing sides?" he asked.

Rath shrugged. "It depends on who you want to fight against: Snow!Minas Morgul, or Snow!Moria, Snow!Helm's Deep, and Snow!Minas Tirith."

"Hmm." The elf looked out at the battlefield for a moment, and then came to a decision. With a gesture, he diverted Glaurung from his approach to Snow!Moria and sent him to harry Snow!Minas Morgul instead. "Never liked that city anyway," he commented to Rath.

She grinned. "Welcome to the team."

"Glad to be here," Huinesoron replied, and was about to say more when he heard a shout from Minas Morgul.

~

Within the citadel, Leto was gazing out at the battlefield. His own mighty city was faced with no fewer than four others. "Wow," he said, "I didn't expect us to recreate Middle-earth here." He thought for a moment, and then grinned. "But 'tis fun, especially since I am taking the part of the Witch-King!" Jumping up onto the outer wall, he gave a great cry. "Let loose the snowballs of war!"

~

Huinesoron glared at his adversary, invulnerable atop his fortress. He knew that the foul Leto had to be defeated, and that it was up to him to do it. Jumping to the top of the snowdrift under which Starwind was still digging his city, he lifted the three standards of Felagund high in the air. "Forth, my legions!" he exhorted. "Assault the cruel Leto and end his witchly ways!"

Nothing moved, and after a few moments Huinesoron looked round. "- I don't have any legions, do I?" he asked of the empty air. "Blast it, where's Barahir when you need him?"

Beside him, Rath smiled grimly. Lifting the flags of Rohan and Gondor up beside those of Nargothrond, she said, "Who says we can't make some legions?" and began to sculpt them. The Snow Legions, on completion, raced to Minas Tirith and began to use its Trebuchets o' Doom™ to pummel Leto's Snow!Minas Morgul hordes.

Huinesoron nodded approvingly. "A good point," he said, and made for himself some Snow!Edain. "Not quite as good as the originals," he commented, "but nevertheless... attack!"

The Snow!Beorings surged forth onto the battlefield, a mixture of foot soldiers and cavalry. Huinesoron watched in satisfaction, and murmured, "I wonder if I could build a Snow!Huan..."

"No, he'd attack Snow!Carcharoth," said a familiar voice, and he turned to look. Unknown to him, Starwind Rohana had exited the city some time earlier, and had been making a weapon of her own. From the other side of the dune, Snow!Carcharoth surged forth into the enemy horde. "Whaa?" she said, grinning up at hS. "Okay, you've got mini legions... and a whole horde of allies..." She dived back into the tunnels before he could respond.

"Bah. Okay," Huinesoron said to the absent Maia, "I guess the Red Maw is scarier anyway..." Frowning, he tried to think of something else Nargothrond-related to sculpt, and came to an unpleasant realisation. "... we didn't do anything, did we? The whole purpose of our existence was to be a backdrop for Finrod... and I can't Snowify him."

~

From his tower, Leto watched the attack with scorn. "No Son of Snow can kill me," he scoffed. "I am ruler of all!" In an impossible cameo, Sauron smote him, and Leto looked apologetic. "Oops, only after you..." Raising his Witch-King sword made from snow, he hurled snowballs at his enemies.

~

Starwind Rohana popped up beside Huinesoron. "Um...hS?" she said uncertainly. "I've just dug us half a square mile of tunnels... do we have anyone to put in them?" She paused for a moment, and then added, "And can I have a map?"

"Knew there was something we needed," Huinesoron muttered. "I'm afraid we're kinda lacking in the population department right now," he admitted to his ally. Then a thought struck him, and he said, "Hey, here's an idea, could you dig under Snow!Minas Morgul?"

Starwind beamed. "Right away, sir!" she said enthusiastically, and tunnelled away at a speed only a Maia could manage.


Chapter Three: Forth Rode The King


Huinesoron stood atop the drift over Nargothrond, waiting for Starwind to return. At the sound of a small cough he turned to see Kitsune106 standing behind him. "hS," said the new Boarder, "do you need help? Would be willing to offer my services to help you."

Huinesoron smiled. "But of course," he replied. "You can be Orodreth to my Finrod. Come, let us destroy this evil once and for all!" He pointed dramatically at Minas Morgul, and then frowned. "I... don't really know how, but let's do it anyway. Snowballs away!" From Snow!Minas Tirith, the Snow Legions unleashed a volley. Huinesoron turned to Kitsune. "Come, my brother, aid me in etc!"

Kitsune ran to the single trebuchet atop Nargothrond and began to launch snowballs of his own. "Well," he commented, "to take it out, you could always use a snowplough."

"Aha!" exclaimed Huinesoron, and, "Eureka!" Catching his breath, he continued. "Good job, o loyal Kitsune106! Now, go forth and find for us a snowplough, that we may end this threat once and for all!"

Kitsune grinned, pleased at the praise, and ran off. Simultaneously, there came a rumble from the direction of Minas Morgul. Starwind came up beside hS and watched a cloud of snow billow up over the enemy city. "Now for the armoury," she said, and then, glancing at hS, "or would you prefer to attack via the dining hall?"

"Hmmmm," Huinesoron mused, trying to decide. Eventually, he decided not to. "Collapse whatever you think would annoy Leto most," he advised.

"Hrm... throne room?" suggested Starwind, and then remembered something else. "By the way, there is now a tunnel leading to the courtyard. What say we come up inside?"

Huinesoron grinned. "An excellent plan," he said, and then was drowned out by a growing rumble. Turning, the pair saw that Kitsune had quite surpassed expectations, and was now driving up in a monster truck with a K-car duct-taped to the front of it to act as a snowplough blade. hS walked over and looked up at his ally.

"Got this idea from a nice program," Kitsune called down. "It might not be a real snowplough, but think it might do the trick." Gesturing to the controls, he added, "You want to drive?"

hS looked back at the doors of Nargothrond. "No," he said, "you can drive. In fact, take Glaurung and the Snow!Beorings and attack the walls. While you distract the outer defences - and hopefully do a great deal of damage - I'll be sneaking in through our new tunnel with Starwind to see if we can take down Leto." He nodded thoughtfully. "A two-pronged attack, just like we didn't do at the Bragollach!" Trusting his ally to do his part, hS strode back to where Starwind was waiting.

"I've got Kitsune106 attacking the walls with the army," he said conversationally, "so shall we sneak in and take out Leto himself?" Before she could answer, he shook his head. "I'm coordinating a snowball fight, for crying out loud," he muttered.

"YES!" exclaimed Starwind, grinning wildly. Then she registered his final words and added, "Anyway, you need to keep in practice, so what's wrong with snow?"

Huinesoron stared at her, and she frowned. "... okay, so it's snow... anyway, yes, let's." Her outline blurred, and a moment later she stood up in human form once more. Walking into the city, hS in tow, she looked around, brow furrowed. "Uh... here it is," she said at last, pointing to a hole in the floor. "Got your gloves?"

"Gloves, hat, and scarf," replied Huinesoron with some measure of pride. "Let's get a move on so we can finish this war before Leto even notices he's under attack." So saying, he strode forth towards the tunnel, and then stopped striding. "It's all white. You lead the way."

~

Leto Haven returned from his class and frowned at the hole in his floor. That wasn't meant to be there. For a moment, he wondered where it had come from, but then realised there was only one possible source – his enemies from without. "Off with you," he muttered, setting up an automated snowball machine gun at the hole.

Ascending to the top of the highest tower, he looked out over the battlefield. To put it simply, it wasn't going his way – not at all. "Where are my allies?" he fumed, and then remembered. "Oh, yes, they were all coerced into fighting for me." He sighed, and shook his head. "As long as none of my enemies are female, I should be fine." He fired a couple of shots at Kitsune, and was struck by the unpleasant memory that Starwind Rohana, currently attacking his fortress, was indeed female.

~

Beyond the wall, Kitsune106 watched in satisfaction as Leto's shots hit the snowplough window. "Distraction a success," he muttered, stopping the vehicle to get out and hide behind a tire. He threw a volley of snowballs at the distant figure of Leto, but nevertheless called out, "Think you'll be safe from me – pretty sure I'm a male."

~

As the snowballs streamed out of the tunnel and struck the wall behind him, Huinesoron dove for the floor. "Quick! Starwind!" he called. "Arm yourself, he has anticipated our tactics!"

Without delay, Starwind picked up a Snow!Rifle and flashlight. "Just follow me," she said. "It's this way." With no more words, she headed off down the tunnel, directly into the stream of snow-bullets.

hS followed her, dragging a snow-bomb behind him. "If we can't destroy this place from the outside," he muttered, shifting wildly between Noldo and Englishman, "we'll jolly well blow it to smithereens from within!"

"Why not do both?" asked Starwind reasonably. Grabbing the other side of the snow-bomb, she hauled it up onto the floor. "Here," she said, "I think if we just drag it up this hole, you'll see that our ceiling is his floor...now, shall we blow up this room or the next one along?" While waiting for an answer, she absentmindedly smashed the snow-machine gun, even though it was no longer a threat, and glanced up at the ceiling. "Hurry up, Kitsune," she thought.

~

Beyond the walls, Kitsune was trapped. How could he aid his comrades when Leto had him pinned down with a machine gun? "What do you want me to do?" he asked the world at large.

"Lob a grenade?" said Starwind's voice, faint but clear. "We'll shoot him from behind," it added, "you can get the 'plough started again while he's distracted, and if you could throw a grenade that would really help..."

~

Back inside, Huinesoron nodded to Starwind. "Glad you agree," he said, and then asked, "Which rooms have supporting walls? And yet we could blow them up without getting squishied?"

"Ah, I think... that one does," replied Starwind, nodding through a door. "Now," she mused, "if we set it here, we can give ourselves three seconds to get under cover, right? Actually," she added, "no, you set it." Ducking out of the tower, she fired her rifle at Leto's back.

"Thanks for the assist," called Kitsune over the wall. His armies had apparently reached a point right next to Minas Morgul, so Starwind and Huinesoron could hear him perfectly. "The snow machine gun was pinning me down." He paused, and then asked, "Do you think someone should attempt to drive the monster truck snowplough through the supporting walls? Or else we can use hot water bottles to melt through supporting walls and pillars."

"Ooh, we've got a smart one here," said Huinesoron. "Yes, by all means, bring out the hot water bottles. I have a habit of forgetting simple solutions," he muttered to himself.

Starwind improved on the idea. "Hot water and then snowplough," she said, "or better yet, attach radiators to the plough."

"You can do that if you want," called Kitsune, "and drive the plough as well if you want. There might be some radiators in the back of the snowplough, and there are several rolls of duct tape in the cabin."

Starwind exchanged an amused look with Huinesoron. "Sorry, can't, I'm inside," she called back. "You're free to do as you please." Looking back at hS, she nodded.

Glancing up at Leto, Huinesoron called, "Your walls are under attack by the legions of Nargothrond! I'm sure my loyal aide Kitsune106 will destroy your fortress and grind it to dust... er, powder." When the enemy ran from the wall to the nearest tower, the elf nodded in satisfaction. "Right!" he said, pushing the bomb against the wall. Setting the timer, he ran for cover. "Three... two... one..."

Boom.


Chapter Four: Let It All Come Crumbling Down


Starwind Rohana hid from the chunks of falling snow that flew from the ruined lower floors of Minas Morgul. "Ow..." she said, "my ears... that hurt."

"Sor-ry," replied Huinesoron testily. "Didn't think it would be quite that big, however..." He shook his head and started throwing pieces of rubble – well, snow – at Leto, who was still standing on the wall. "What sweeter irony," he asked, "than to destroy our enemy with his own fortress?"

"Oh, none," agreed Starwind, firing a few more shots of her own at Leto. "Shall we smash through a few more walls?" she asked, adding, "Even though we've destroyed a goodly portion?"

"Yes!" exclaimed hS. "More destruction! – wait," he interrupted himself, "didn't we have Snow!Carcharoth on our side a while back? He'd be useful for this..."

"I think he attacked Snow!Beor," said Starwind regretfully. "Oh, well," she added, making a Snow!Huan. As the replica Hound of Valinor charged out to wreak havoc, she looked at hS. "Oops, didn't you want to do that...?" Not waiting for an answer, she hopped up onto the rubble and called to Carcharoth.

~

Beyond the wall, Kitsune was preparing another assault on the fortress. Getting as close to the area that had just been blown sky high as he could, he called out, "I've got the hot water bottles. Where should we set them?"

"Hey, don't ask us," called Huinesoron from inside, "We're currently hiding from the destruction we wrought in one section. You're on your own for this bit, kid – try not to bring anything down on yourself."

"Like we did," added Starwind's voice. "Buried in snow is not fun."

Kitsune grinned, and placed hot water bottles on the outer wall to make more breaches. Climbing back into the snowplough, he rammed the towering structure of snow, but after only two holes, the plough sputtered to a stop. "Oops," he muttered, jumping out, and called over the wall again. "Well, we got additional exits now. The bad news is that the plough is out of gas."

"Oh dear," Starwind called back. After a moment, she said, "Hey, I'm a Maia," and a pile of containers appeared by the snowplough. "Thanks for the exits!"

"Thanks for the gas," replied Kitsune, picking up the first container. "Will just need to pour it in and we can continue with the ramming. By the way, any idea where the best place to use the plough will be?"

"There's a weak wall around the back," Starwind called back. "Try there."

~

There came a great crashing from the outer wall, and Starwind looked up. "I think that's him," she commented. A moment later, the great grey shape of Carcharoth charged past them. Huinesoron grinned.

"And there was much rejoicing. Having the Wolf of Angband on my side is kinda refreshing," he admitted.

Starwind grinned back. "Let's wreak destruction in another section," she suggested. "Only it will, unfortunately, not be so destructive, owing to a shortage of explosives."

"Curse this lack of explosives!" exclaimed Huinesoron.

"Yet applaud this great supply of... pickaxes!" retorted Starwind, adding, "Okay, so I'd prefer explosives."

Kitsune's voice floated over the wall, amplified by a megaphone. "Stupid question," he said, "but if Starwind Rohana is a Maia and can conjure up gas, can she not conjure up explosives as well?"

Huinesoron blinked. "... er... yeah, she probably could," he said. "But," he added, brightly, "we've got the Red Maw now, who's far more efficient at demolishing things."

"For some peculiar reason," Starwind corrected, "explosives are... let's just say they're not my forte. Tend to implode instead, I can't figure them out."

Huinesoron shrugged. "I don't think we're really needed anyway. Hey, since there's so many holes in the outer wall, should we make our escape and leave the mopping up to Kitsune?"

"Oh, fine," agreed Starwind reluctantly. "Or how about we lay low?" she suggested. "Just outside the destruction zone? And then when we get chased we can lure the chasers out to meet our forces, and they shall be annihilated."

"A good plan," said hS approvingly. Choosing the direction that seemed the least blocked, he picked his way out over the ruin of some of the walls. Reaching the outer wall, he straightened up. "Right, time to make a run for cover!" He sped off, but made a quick diversion to pass Kitsune. As he did, he called out, "We two have to go behind the lines for some rest now, so you hold the fort here until the morning, okay? We may have some allies coming along, so you shouldn't be all by yourself, but if you can wipe out Leto, please do."

"Will attempt to hold out against Leto," Kitsune replied, grabbing a Snow!Rocket launcher and firing at the few remaining fortress walls. Huinesoron grinned.

"Ta-ta now," he said. "I'll be back to see how you've held up on the morrow!" With those words, he was gone, Starwind running close behind him.

"Crazy elves," the Maia panted, drawing close to Huinesoron. "Why do you have to be so fast?"

"Because we're wonderful," hS replied, diving over the snowdrift that held Snow!Nargothrond and settling down against it. A few moments later, Starwind joined him.

"Well, that was fun," she commented, after catching her breath. "Do you think he's lying low himself?" She looked at the fortress, entirely ruined, and shook her head. "No, maybe not."

"He might be," hS said. "Very, very low." With that, he stood and walked through the doors of Nargothrond, trying to find a place to sleep.

Starwind was just about to follow suit when a great crash made her look up. What little remained of the gates of Minas Morgul had fallen to the ground, revealing Leto striding out. "You have destroyed my base," he called in a voice like thunder, "but you have not destroyed me!" With those words, he launched a volley of snowballs in Starwind's direction, but she avoided them easily.

"No, we haven't, have we?" she called back. "But me and hS are in bed." Turning to enter Nargothrond, she was met by the sniggering face of VixenMage. "Apart," she growled, stalking into the city.


Interlude: When The Cats Are Away


Some distance away, inside the PPC Board's main building – made of good old-fashioned Generic Surface, and not of snow – Ella Darcy snuggled up with a cat and a steaming mug of hot chocolate. The door opened, and she pulled a blanket around her as Neshomeh and Spoofmaster walked in. "If anyone wants any," said Ella, "I'll share. And keep making more. I hate being cold."

Accepting the drink, the newcomers found spots by the fire. Neshomeh looked out the window. "I'd love to help," she commented, "but snow is cold, and when it melts it's cold and wet and cold. And cold. And I don't warm up easily."

Back at the battle, Leto was still being pummelled mercilessly by pieces of his own fort. "This is not what I had in mind!" he fumed. Turning back to where his fortress had stood, he bellowed, "Bring on the Oliphaunts!" Unfortunately for him, there were no Oliphaunts, and no one to answer his call. Heedless of this, he charged into battle, swinging his Witch King sword as he struck at Kitsune's forces.

The two great enemies clashed in the valley. The ruthless Leto was driven to and fro, harried from all sides, his allies' forces shattering, his fort falling. It seemed that things were hopeless.

But they had forgotten Snow!Moria! A part of the great snow wall, moved by levers, fell outward into the battleground with a crash. Out leapt a stocky female figure, clad in incredibly incongruous black hiking boots, green down-filled parka, puce sweater, and menacing black pom-pom cap. It was the Tungsten Monk, and her forces of snow creations- which she had absented herself from the main force to spend all night creating- followed behind her. The Icerogs were following at her heels, and the Snowatchers and Sneezeguls brought up the rear.

"To me! To me! PPCers and Agents! To me, o my grammar freaks!" she cried, and her hoarse voice made everybody in a fifty-mile radius cover the ears. Some contraltos just weren't made for heroic proclamations. But never mind, all this commentary is spoiling the moment. She carried the Legendary Icicle Noe-Freeyze in one hand, and its grim dribbly tip pointed towards Leto.

And that was when Leto saw her evil, utterly, utterly insane grin. She hadn't planned to let just anybody kill him. She had waited until the other forces had turned the battle against him, planning to sweep down and take revenge for not yet having heard back about her PPC application. Hell hath no fury like an impatient teenager.

"KIIIIILLLLLL!" She roared, and Noe-Freeyze glimmering menacingly in the dim Chicago winter sunlight.

Leto fled. Well, it was the only sensible option. He retreated to the ruins of his fortress, and though construction noises were heard over the next few hours, the night was too dark for any to see his actions.

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