Buzz Jelly looked at the world’s map with light in his tiny eyes. The Empire’s territories were painted gold because it was the best color, and everything else in silver, because they weren’t rich enough.
The Empire was so small… but it glittered true. One day, Prydain would belong to the Empire.
One day, the whole world would be the Empire!
Buzz Jelly couldn’t wait to invade everyone else, especially Gardemagne. Excalidad would be so proud to see a slime leap over their castle in triumph!
Its curiosity satisfied, the [Cosmonaut] leaped down from the map table and joined the other minions inside the war tent. They were the Kobold Rangers, war heroes of the Empire; they were so huge compared to the tiny slime, although not as huge as a dragon!
Together, they formed an elite squadron under the orders of the imperial princess Jolie Dragon, niece of the good Emperor Vainqueur. Their regiment would soon rejoin the main army, and conquer the castle of the evil fairy Mell Odieuse.
But today… they had been chosen for a special mission.
A cloaked undead entered the tent, the minions forming a line before their superior officer. Jules Rapace was the ghoul commander overseeing their unit, the imperial princess’ personal aide-de-camp, and chief of staff of substitution. The Ghoulmander General.
“Thank you for coming,” the Ghoulmander said to the gathered minions. “You are the best minions we have on hand, and this is a sensitive mission.”
“What is the matter, commander?” Red Ranger asked, the most experienced of the group.
“This is a rescue mission, but I won’t lie,” the ghoul replied, putting some drawings on the table, “odds do not favor us.”
The minions looked at the table and the animated pictures on it. Buzz Jelly immediately recognized its fellow slime on one of the drawings, having been born during the same [Slime Rain]. “Molester! Pink Molester!”
“Its name is Private Molesty.” Ghoulmander Jules nodded, showing the group a picture of a pink slime and a dodo watching the sunset. “Father and mother of hundreds, Private Molesty is one of our best breeders and in a committed relationship with a dodo harem on Daltonia. Yet it didn’t hesitate to answer the V&V draft, leaving its family behind to protect its homeland from fairy invaders.”
“So cute…” Pink Ranger said since she and the slime shared the same color.
The Ghoulmander showed them a photo of Molesty, its cheeks painted green, and a bandana around its tiny head. Another showed the slime boarding a Sword Rocket; Buzz Jelly was still sour about not having been granted its own to pilot during the invasion.
“During Operation Hoard Landfall, Private Molesty was Isekai’ed with a dwarf rocket called the Rambo Warrior behind enemy lines,” the Ghoulmander explained. “Its mission was to commit savage acts of sabotage and to terrify the fomor warbeasts through breeding warfare. We believed that as a veteran of the Daltonia campaign, Private Molesty could operate unsupervised and rejoin the main army. We were wrong.”
The Ghoulmander showed them a new drawing, this time representing a devastated herd of fairy hounds, broken and defeated; it appeared a tornado had walked through the camp. “We lost trace of Private Molesty at a warbeast pack lair east of our location, where it single-handedly incapacitated a fighting force of thirty and seeded them with its brood.”
“What is his level?” Red Ranger asked, impressed by the slaughter.
“He used to be thirty, mostly in Endurance and Agility-focused classes, but he received a Crest before boarding the rocket,” the Ghoulmander explained. “War being a quick source of exp, he probably reached level forty and accessed a Riding-focused class.”
“Forty,” Buzz Jelly repeated, having surpassed that level not too long ago. Although it would have loved to gain more [Cosmonaut] levels, it had to settle on [Artillerist]. So many firearms had been pointed at Buzz during the invasion, the slime had to spit out bullets for hours afterward.
Ghoulmander Jules showed them a point on the map, and then the drawing of an orc in silly armor. “We believe Private Molesty has been cornered and, if not captured, trapped in the eastern region. Unfortunately, according to our vampire intel, the area is under the control of Frank the Anark, a minor [Chronomancer] and [Priest] of Sablar.”
“He steals princesses!” Pink Ranger snarled, incensed.
“And now he stole our slime,” Blue Ranger said gravely.
“His Majesty asked that no minion be left behind,” the Ghoulmander said. “As his commander, it is my duty to rescue Molesty; nothing forces you to follow. I’m warning you, this may very well be a suicide mission. Princess Jolie is on a timer to rejoin His Majesty, and so we will have no reinforcements.”
“We Kobold Rangers will die for our country.” Red Ranger nodded. “And half of us did.”
“Good, because death is but a step in the right direction,” the Ghoulmander said, his undead eyes glancing at each minion in turn. “Will you help me return Private Molesty to his family?”
“Yes, sir!” all Rangers said at once.
“For Empire!” Buzz Jelly vowed. “Molesty return home!”
Having made their way through the forest until nightfall, alongside the Rangers’ pet dinosaur, the minions stopped under the shadow of trees and rested around a campfire. Ghoulmander Jules had retired into the darkness, praying to his goddess Camilla for success, while the Kobold Rangers roasted a feline.
“Do you want a cockroach with your cat?” The cook, Yellow Ranger, offered Buzz Jelly.
The slime shaking its tiny head, for it only fed on the crushed hopes of the Empire’s enemies. Yellow Ranger shrugged and offered a leg to Pink Ranger. The bard receded in disgust. “I’m not eating Squeakie,” the [Bard] complained. “I would rather starve!”
“Oh come on, it’s like, the third time we ate your cat,” the cook protested. “You’re going to become skinny and frail if you keep skipping meals.”
“Do you want another sixth ranger situation?” Blue Ranger asked the minstrel.
“We don’t talk about the sixth ranger,” Black Ranger replied, glaring at his teammate. “There has never been a sixth ranger.”
“Sixth?” Buzz Jelly asked, all the reptiles looking away in shame. So mysterious! “But you five!”
“It’s…” Red Ranger shook his head, paling as his breathing accelerated. “It’s a terrible story.”
“It wasn’t our fault.” Black Ranger shook his head, apparently lost in a flashback. “It was war!”
“He was silver,” Pink Ranger said. “He was cute, but…”
“He was annoying,” Blue Ranger cut in. “You can say it, he’s dead.”
“His name was Scrappy,” Red Ranger told Buzz Jelly. “At El Goldorado, Lady Jolie trusted us with protecting the Princess Wildlife Reserve, but knights kept coming. So we recruited a new Kobold to help in our scouting. I thought he had the attitude and the right color.”
“We told him he should change his minion name to Silver to fit the team’s theme, but he refused!” Yellow Ranger shouted, shaking. “He was insufferable! Obnoxious! Always trying to take the spotlight!”
“It was an accident!” Black Ranger, meanwhile, was still lost in his flashback. “I didn’t mean… I didn’t mean it!”
“At a point, a vicious human squire trapped us in a cave, closing the exit with a boulder so he could abscond with a princess,” Red Ranger said, his eyes looking at the roasted cat. “We couldn’t get out.”
“We spent days inside the cave, trying to dig our way out,” Blue Ranger continued. “Pink had to sing us terrible songs to make sure we didn’t fall unconscious from exhaustion. But Scrappy… Scrappy didn’t help, he just complained!”
“You know about the food chain,” Red Ranger asked Buzz Jelly, who nodded religiously. “We made a list between us. Who would sacrifice themselves first for the good of the Emperor. We never thought we would apply it ourselves, but… we were starving. We all looked at Scrappy, and he knew.”
“As an undead, I didn’t need to eat him to survive,” Blue Ranger admitted. “But I hated him. I hated him.”
“I always wanted to know how I tasted, yet I was too afraid to try. He tasted like veal.” Yellow Ranger looked deep into Buzz Jelly’s eyes, his gaze full of horror. “We taste like veal! Like cattle!”
“He was cute,” Pink Ranger had tears in her eyes. “But he didn’t run fast enough.”
“It was war,” Black Ranger kept repeating. “It was war!”
“When Lord Grandrake excavated us days afterward, there was nothing left to raise Scrappy with,” Red Ranger said grimly. “Not even bones.”
“That all?” Buzz Jelly asked, having expected something more impressive. That was part of the course in Murmurin, with no pun intended; Chocolatine had told the slime so many of these stories. “Was princess saved?”
“Oh?” Red Ranger nodded. “Oh yes, yes, she was. Lord Grandrake trapped the squire with a fake legendary sword in a stone. They just can’t resist those.”
“Like Excalidad?” Buzz Jelly asked, immediately entranced by this part of the story.
“It was a bit different,” Red Ranger explained. “Imagine a mousetrap, but with a sword replacing the cheese. The squire tried to pull it out and then—”
The sound of something being dumped next to the campfire interrupted the discussion.
“Gentleliving, gentledead,” the Ghoulmander said, tossing a paralyzed, white-skinned humanoid amidst the minions. “Look at what I caught spying on us.”
“I won’t talk!” the captive Doppelganger shouted, bound by tight ropes and kneeling on the grass.
“We know that you know the location of the fairy resistance’s base,” the Ghoulmander told the faceless prisoner. “We have ways of making you talk.”
“I won’t! Whatever you do to me, Frank will do it double!”
“Tickle him,” Red Ranger ordered, Blue and Black Rangers brandishing Dodo feathers. They ferociously tickled the doppelganger’s feet, to break his will.
But thirty minutes later, the humanoid hadn’t laughed even once!
“Moon!” Buzz Jelly showed the doppelganger a drawing it had scribbled with its mouth and crayons, trying its glue at interrogating that enemy of the state. “Moon!”
“What is this, a lead-colored landscape?” The shapeshifter shrugged it off. The sight of the Moon didn’t affect him.
“Damn, he has been trained against interrogation techniques.” Red Ranger shook his head. “We have no choice. Pink, brings out the banjo.”
“You sure?” Black Ranger asked his leader, a bit afraid. “He may not survive!”
“I will take full responsibility,” the Ghoulmander said. “Besides, we can raise him as an undead if he dies from the shock. Pink Ranger, make him talk.”
“Which songs do I play?” the bard asked, raising a banjo threateningly at the fairy thrall.
“[Requiem for a Lich], [The Passion of the Wyrm], [Vainquorio and Victoria]. If he doesn’t speak afterward, he never will.”
Pink Ranger cleared her throat, her fellow minions protecting their ears with their hands. Buzz Jelly didn’t, because it had no arms.
The slime listened, as the bard began a trio of songs: complex music, with complicated words that Buzz Jelly was too young to understand. Not familiar with mammalian nor reptilian biology, the slime didn’t catch most of the references.
They sounded disgusting though.
|Charisma check successful! [Madness], [Terror] and [Puking] negated! Ignorance is bliss!|
Even as the songs cast the world in a blanket of gloomy darkness, the doppelganger resisted defiantly, remaining as silent as a tomb. Pink Ranger ended up finishing her performance without any victims.
A first in the history of her music.
“He can resist Pink’s singing,” Blue Ranger commented, astonished by the thrall’s mental resistance. “What an iron will.”
“I believe he just removed his sense of hearing,” the Ghoulmander noted. “That’s the problem with shapeshifters…”
Buzz Jelly thought about it, then found a solution: one of its least used Perks. “[Eldritch Probe]!”
A rift in space opened, an alien, egg-shaped machine floating through. The creature reminded Buzz Jelly of a squid, with metal tentacles swirling beneath its underside; each of the appendages ending up in blades or sharp claws. A single glass eye blinked at the center of the construct, scanning the group.
|You summoned an [Eldritch Probe] by sacrificing half your SP. It will obey your orders, but serve as a beacon for the Great Old Ones!|
“Entering inferior creature communication mode.” The probe’s voice tweaked into a cheery recording. “Subtle condescension: good morning carbon lifeforms! We come in peace!”
“Can you make this doppelganger talk?” Red Ranger asked, surprised by the creature’s strange appearance.
“Joy: probe location detection. Inserting probe through opening.” The machine’s egg body opened a metal arm with a sharp, pointy object at the end emerging. It attempted to shove it into the doppelganger’s face, to no avail. “Disappointment: primary opening rejected. Enthusiasm: second opening detected, please assume the position.”
“Hey, what are you—” The probe’s tentacles flipped the doppelganger on his chest, his behind exposed.
“Barely-restrained sadism: position assumed,” the [Eldritch Probe] buzzed, aligning his strange machinery with the useless, empty space between the doppelganger’s legs. “Unrestrained sadism: preparing insertion.”
“Wait, wait, stop!” the doppelganger panicked. “I am a prisoner, I have rights!”
“Commander, did we sign any minion prisoner of war convention?” Red Ranged asked, clearly disturbed by the interrogation process. Clearly, he did not understand that rebels didn’t have rights!
“Yes, but we don’t respect it,” the ghoul replied casually. If anything, he seemed curious about what would happen next.
“Cruel glee: starting forceful insertion.”
“No, wait, I’ll tell you!” the doppelganger pleaded before the probe could touch him. “I will tell you everything!”
“Stop!” Buzz Jelly ordered, the machine interrupting its probing process.
“Frustration: procedure interrupted?” the probe changed its tune, dangling the sharp object like candy. “Blatant lies: it won’t hurt at all.”
“Frank cornered the slime in an old temple!” The doppelganger shouted even harder after this last comment, “Problem is, the slime took a sniper position with a stolen arsenal, and we can’t approach without getting shot; and when we send summons to scout, it makes babies with them! Knowing Frank, he’s probably going to firebomb the place soon!”
“There’s no time to waste then,” Red Ranger said, showing a rough map of the region to the fairy thrall. “Where is that temple?”
As the doppelganger told them everything, the probe hanged back, clearly disappointed. Buzz Jelly decided to cheer it up. “Big battle soon!” the slime said. “Need help!”
“Hope: killing inferior lifeforms is my joy in life. Politically correct apology: I do not believe carbon-lifeforms are inherently inferior. Some of my best friends are carbon-based.”
“Thank you for your help, Mr. Jelly,” the Ghoulmander thanked the slime as the Rangers continued the interrogation, making the slime swoon with pride. “Tell me, why did you join the V-Army?”
“I patriot!” Buzz Jelly shouted with nationalism. “Empire best!”
“You’re a good slime,” Jules replied. “It is true the V&V Empire is the most progressive country in the world. It made me dare to dream again. After Vainqueur allowed undead labor, I could no longer sit back and watch Gardemagne’s [Paladins] spread their Negative conspiracy, you know.”
“Negative conspiracy?” Buzz Jelly asked. This sounded very serious!
“They try to libel the Undeathstrial Revolution by releasing vast amounts of Negative Energy into the atmosphere,” the Ghoulmander explained. “They say it’s us undead who negatively affect the environment because we threaten their monopoly over life essence.”
“[Paladins] can only heal living creatures; instead they harm the undead. Now, when the majority of people and adventurers are alive, this makes them invaluable. But what happens when everyone is undead? Have you thought of this?”
Buzz Jelly shook its tiny head. This sounded so complicated, and Jelly was a soldier, not a thinker. Maybe it was linked to the ‘elf-capitalo-bourgeois-conspiracy’ the dwarves kept ranting about.
“The [Paladins] did,” the ghoul said. “Lady Camilla saw it too. Do like she did; when a [Paladin] offers you their life essence, deny them. Say no.”
“[Paladin] no.” Buzz Jelly nodded. “Undead yes.”
The Ghoulmander patted the slime on the head, like a good soldier.
Hiding behind trees and bushes, the minions observed the enemy camp.
Since the approach required stealth, the imperial soldiers had left the dinozord behind, Ghoulmander Jules protecting them with illusion spells. After abandoning the doppelganger, they had stealthily advanced through the forest, reaching the outskirts of an old stone temple built in the middle of a clearing.
Private Molesty had established a barricade in front of the building, made from trees and the corpses of fomor warbeasts. A group of two dozen orcs laid siege to the area, armed to the teeth and carrying the symbols of the worm god Sablar.
“That’s Frank the Anark.” Red Ranger pointed at the orcs’ leader, a tall humanoid in heavy armor. He was big and scary, as all rebel scum were. “We can take him.”
“We have to,” the Ghoulmander replied, observing the camp’s soldiers acting up. “They’re clearly going to launch an assault.”
The [Eldritch Probe], which had followed Buzz Jelly, cheered them up. “Passive aggressiveness: you are wonderful people, it would be a shame if any of you died tragically.”
Meanwhile, the orcs lost patience, Frank the Anark pushing one of his minions forward. The weaker enemy minion cleared his throat, Private Molesty peeking above the barricade.
“Give up, slime!” the orc minion shouted at the temple. “You’re surrounded!”
“Never surrender!” Molesty leaped over the barricade and fired a bullet at the army, somehow wielding a rifle although it had no hands. The orc minion was forced to take cover. “Draw first blood! Draw first blood!”
The orcs retaliated with arrows, Private Molesty hiding back behind the barricades.
“How do you keep getting delayed by a slime?” Frank the Anark thundered at his subordinate. “We have to board the [Crom Cruach] within six hours, or we’ll all be stranded behind! Do you want to miss the firework from the VIP seats?!”
“I, I don’t know, sir!”
“Well, I won’t!” The leader snarled and vanished inside a large tent. “Screw this, I’m bringing out the tank!”
Buzz Jelly didn’t know what a tank was, but it sounded awesome.
“This is bad,” Ranger Red said, turning to Ghoulmander Jules. “What do we do, commander? We won’t make it without casualties.”
“Buzz Jelly, you rescue and evacuate Private Molesty,” the Ghoulmander ordered, before turning to the Rangers. “Bring the dinosaur; I will distract them in the meantime. Come what it may.”
“Save Molesty!” Buzz Jelly leaped out of cover. “[SpaceZ]!”
His Perk activating, the slime accelerated, transforming into an unstoppable cannonball. Before the orcs could react to the newcomer, Buzz Jelly flew through them at the speed of a bullet, tearing one humanoid apart into a bloody smear, before going through the barricades. He landed right behind, having made a small hole in the protection.
“Jelly!” Private Molesty rejoiced at the sight of its friend. The [Pink Molester] breathed a strange, fiery stick with its little mouth, keeping a rifle close. “Came!”
“Friend!” the [Cosmonaut] replied happily, glancing at the stick. “What this?”
“Last cigarette,” Molesty replied sadly, releasing smoke from its tiny mouth. “Low HP. Not make it.”
“Family waiting!” Buzz Jelly tried to encourage its fellow slime. “Fight for them! Fight with you!”
“Not your battle!” Molesty protested, ready to make a last stand for his country. “Delay you! Save Jelly!”
“No! You friend!”
A mighty explosion blasted the barricade apart, propelling both slimes backward.
When Buzz Jelly regained consciousness, the defensive barrier had collapsed, the enemy orcs moving out to give way to an enormous machine. It looked like a cube of metal with strange, rounded wheels, and a trunk of steel coming out from above.
An iron elephant!
“Say hello to my little friend!” Frank the Anark’s voice came from within the machine. “[Agility Up], [Accelerated Hasten]!”
The enormous vehicle charged straight at them, moving at an incredible speed for something so big.
“Leave Jelly!” Molesty panicked, unable to leap away. The pink slime had turned all puddly from the shock!
“Bring you home!” Buzz Jelly insisted, forcefully carrying the other slime on its back. “To Dodoland!”
The [Cosmonaut] leaped away, dodging another projectile and escaping from the temple into the clearing. The tank pursued them at high speed, crushing trees and minions alike in its mad rampage while its metal trunk fired projectiles at the escaping slimes.
As if taking cues from the chaos, the Ghoulmander courageously entered the fray, unleashing a necromantic storm in the middle of the enemy encampment. Orcs fell dead, only to rise again as undead, forming a defense around the necromancer, while the [Eldritch Probe] joined the fray.
“Fake affability,” Buzz Jelly’s summoned ally stated, threatening the enemy minions with its tentacles. “I look forward to probing you intimately today.”
The orcish minions immediately encircled them, and the camp erupted into chaos.
Buzz Jelly continued its mad dash forward, as explosions detonated all around the Moon veteran. Trees were blasted apart, the earth below turning into smoking craters as shells fell from the skies. The vehicle ignored the Ghoulmander’s distraction, focused entirely on killing the jellies.
But no matter how quickly Buzz leaped, it couldn’t outspeed the tank while carrying another slime. “Not fast enough!” Private Molesty panicked. “Jelly leave!”
“Never!” Buzz replied, switching tactics. it reached a tree still standing, and moved Molesty behind it for cover. “Stay there! Beat it!”
“Heroes never die! Dine in Happyland!” Buzz Jelly boasted. The tiny slime closed its eyes, thinking about Excalidad and its gluelike siblings waiting at home, and then leapt into battle.
The jelly faced the metal monster, as it dashed straight forward. “[SpaceZ]!” the slime shouted, transforming into a bullet. The world flashed bright, as the [Cosmonaut] launched itself at full speed against the tank’s thick hide.
What happens when a metal slime bullet hits a machine two hundred times its size?
It bounced back.
Buzz Jelly hit the ground like a bouncing ball, while two tiny openings at the forefront of the tank unleashed streams of fire. The metal slime swelled to protect the tree behind which his fellow slime hid, absorbing the heat.
|[Fire] damage reduced by [Blue Ozone].|
The tank blasted the jelly once, then twice, the shells inflicting heavy damage. Yet the slime endured the pain with bravery.
|Physical damage halved by [Starshotted].|
The mission was to save Private Molesty, and Buzz Jelly wouldn’t fail! The V&V Army counted on it!
As the tank prepared to blast it once more with its trunk, the cosmonaut finally saw an opportunity. Using [SpaceZ], Buzz Jelly once again launched itself at the bigger machine. This time though, it targeted the cannon, plugging it.
The blast propelled Buzz Jelly against a tree’s bark, as the tank’s projectile exploded in the middle of its cannon. The metal trunk turned into steel scraps, the vehicle reeling from the damage.
Buzz Jelly slithered on the grass, heavily wounded and struggling to move.
“Roll him over!” Frank the Anark ordered from within the machine. “Roll him over and send him to his Japan afterlife!”
Buzz Jelly looked up helplessly, as a seventy ton machine charged straight at it. After so many adventures and so many worlds left unexplored, this was the end. A family photo of its slime family flashed in his mind, as the [Cosmonaut] prepared to close his eyes and await the fatal crash.
A pink slime leaped in front of Buzz Jelly, struggling against its own wounds, but refusing to cower.
“No!” Buzz Jelly shouted. “Flee!”
“Protect you!” Private Molesty replied, glaring courageously at the tank while shielding his fellow slime. “For Empire!”
Both slimes faced death, a titan of metal preparing to roll them over.
The triumphant shout of a dinosaur’s voice echoed across the forest, like the trumpets of victory.
Smashing trees below its enormous legs, a golden brachiosaurus trampled all trees in its path, ridden by the Kobold Rangers. The beast charged straight at the tank from the side, while Pink Ranger sang the Hoardnational to give it strength.
The dinosaur hit the tank at full speed and pulverized into scraps! Metal parts and the orc crew flew as their vehicle exploded into nothing.
The dinosaur grabbed Frank the Anark with his mouth midflight before the orc could finish his sentence, gathered momentum with his long neck, and then tossed the [Chronomancer] towards the horizon.
The orc flew towards the heavens like a Sword Rocket, but he wasn’t swordy enough to reach the moon. Instead, he fell down and crashed down farther in Prydain’s forest.
Meanwhile, the Ghoulmander had single-handedly sent the orcs packing with necrotic blasts, raising the dead as undead. The [Eldritch Probe] pursued the cowardly thralls, pointing its pointy thing at them. “Objective statement: you exist to die!”
Feeling the strain of its wounds and the adrenaline leaving its body, Private Molesty collapsed on his back.
“Molesty!” Buzz Jelly rushed to support its fellow slime, preventing the [Pink Molester] from turning into a puddle. “You alright?”
“Alive,” the other slime replied, smiling. “Need cigarette. And hookers.”
In the end, only Ghoulmander Jules seemed unhappy with the result.
“This was a suicide mission,” the Ghoulmander said, crossing his arms in disappointment. “But nobody died!”