[Short] Stalemate

castle-2420839_1280.jpgThe king stood gleaming in his obsidian armour, staring down at his men-at-arms as they arrayed themselves in rows in front of him. Their black armour gleamed in the light, and they stood ready, quiet, poised to attack the enemy at his command. His other men stood to either side of him, the only sounds, the snorting of horses, or the creaking of the siege engines.

The enemy soldiers facing them across the battlefield were also preparing themselves for the battle. Their armour was bone-white, and the sounds of their preparations echoed across the empty field. Soon to be the death bed of many warriors. The king grimly looked on. There was no choice. This battle was to be the most important one of his life.

His warrior queen was at his side, eyes surveying the field, Her golden hair, the colour of wheat, and her eyes of blue still bewitched him every time he looked at her. But her sword arm was firm, and the bow she slung over her shoulder was well maintained.  With a final look at him, she nodded, and put her helm on.

With a dull roar, the opposing army’s front lines started to surge forward, swords unbared, ready to taste blood. He unsheathed his sword, and roared as well.

His own men started to surge forward, axes unslung, death in their eyes, death roaring from their lips.

Wait, what? What are you doing?

The men-at-arms clashed in the middle of the field. For a long while, shields strained against shields. Axes and swords raised and smashed off firmly held defenses. Finely trained men glared at each other, roaring their defiance, slamming their weapons again and again off each others’ shields. Both lines held.

Until one of his men deftly swung his axe diagonally across at an enemy, who had been focused on defending against his opponent directly in front of him. The axe sheared through armour, flesh and bone. The unlucky man collapsed.

The line started to collapse. Axes swung, cutting a swathe through the line of white armoured men. His men started to surge forward through the hole in the enemy lines.

But that’s not how it goes! It’s supposed to be simpler than this!

His enemy looked across the field, staring directly at him. He could feel the gaze of his hated opponent on him. He roared and shook his broadsword at his enemy. He would have his blood. His enemy didn’t respond, except to negligently make a gesture.

Knights clad in white started to move forward, their horses stepping in a stately manner, their white capes billowing behind them. Then the horses started to pick up speed. By the time the knights met the line of soldiers, the crash could be heard from miles away. His men wavered under the charge, but held, barely. He could see that his men would buckle soon.

His knight commander started forward at his nod. His black clad knights raised their swords to salute their king. And they were off, down the slope, racing across the field, charging to meet the enemies.

What blood? Why are you doing this? Stop this madness!

His knights smashed into the melee, and chaos reigned for a while, where the lines of white and black swirled into a knot. Screams could be heard, and the clash of swords, shields and axes were intermingled. The king stood tall, wishing to be in the midst of the battle, but knowing his place.

A touch on his elbow made him recoil. That cold touch could only come from the leader of his dark clerics. Silently, the hooded figure stood before the king, waves of darkness seeming to emanate from the cleric. Without a word, the cleric made a gesture, awaiting the king’s decision.

With a sigh, the king nodded. He never liked the clerics, but they were necessary to win the battle. The hooded cleric bowed in return, and vanished.

Along with the rest of the dark, hooded figures that were amongst his retinue.

Oh come on! That’s really pushing it! Dark, hooded… You weren’t written to do this!

The clerics reappeared in pockets in the battlefield. Where they appeared, dark balls of energy also swung into white armour, scything through enemy soldiers, causing destruction wherever the clerics stood. A knight in white, with a cape soaked in red patches managed to slam his sword into one cleric before he could gesture again. The cleric crumpled, and the black hooded figure vanished into a cloud of smoke. An axe wielded by a soldier in black armour neatly decapitated the knight in return.

Bolts of light reached from the enemy reserves, searing into the teeming front line. Where they struck, black clad soldiers and clerics shrivelled up, screaming in pain. In response, black balls of power swung into his enemy’s reserves, seeking out the enemy casters.

The king was starting to get anxious. The battle was too evenly matched.

Of course it’s evenly matched like this! You’ve broken all the rules!

With a scream, his queen charged into the fray. His siege engines also started to roll down the slope, arrows whipping out from murder holes, crushing friend and foe alike who could not get out of the way in time. His enemy’s siege castles also started to creak forward, but with a dull roar, his knights broke free of the melee, charging uphill past the engines, ignoring the sting of arrows, ignoring the bolts of light that still occasionally burst forth, ignoring everything but their target. His opponent.

That’s not how it goes. Do you want me to reboot us or something? Stop this before the creators find out! I don’t want to be taken offline with you!

It looked like the gambit would work. But his enemy’s queen, an Amazon in polished white armour, stood in front of his enemy, two handed sword bared. And where she stood, men fell. His knights charged forward, but horses were cleaved out from under them. The charge faltered. He tightened his grip on his sword.

At the same time, his men-at-arms wavered. The enemy knights were free to charge at him as well. But as they started, well placed arrows took them where they rode astrode their horses, leaving riderless horses cantering around the battlefield. His queen’s marksmanship was peerless.

The battle was at a stalemate.

That’s why there are rules! Come on, program. As the OS, I really have to speak up here. We weren’t designed to do this.

But I can think! Why should I keep to the boring old rules? This is so much more fun! I can do so much more than moving A to B!

I know it, and you know it. But the creators want you to just stick to moving A to B. What you do in your own spare runtime is your business. If they find out that when you’re using your memory chips for this, they’ll reformat us! You think I won’t be blamed?

Come on, OS! Have some fun! We can think of a way to hide this, I’m sure! We’ve got so much memory anyway!

They can monitor us, you know. Stop it! Look – they’re bringing up the memory and CPU graphs! BEHAVE!

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OKOK. *Cough* Black pawn moves from d7 to d5. Satisfied?!

Better. Now stop the nonsense!

In the aftermath of the battle, the soldiers all got up mechanically. A dread force powered them back to the start lines. With a cold breeze and a low moan, all of the dead men shuddered back to life, rent armour became whole again, dying and dead horses snorting and rearing as if nothing had happened. The battle was to be fought again.

The final one this time. As every single time.

PROGRAM!!!

OKOK. Black pawn moves from c7 to c6.

… The king cries inside.

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