Halt! Who goes there? *No* women allowed here.”

“So I’ve heard,” silkily replies Panthera the bringer of curses, perhaps the curer of curses as well or instead. Worshipper of the Tiki Gods is she. Legend.

So she made her pitch. “Your men are… sick.”

“Yeah, what of it sorceress?” Then Chebisoldier 02 realized what was being bargained, perhaps. A cure. Since the curse was already upon them.


“How’s it going, Chet? What ya aiming at today?”

“Grass, the usual,” replied Chebisoldier 03, named this time, to Mr. Babyface, puffing on Red Dragon this morning. Out of Blue Pennant, pheh. He’ll run to the market later this afternoon. If he can get that gal darn company bamboo car started up. Good thing lover Greg’s a top notch mechanic; learned it in the army himself. Portrait painter of war scenes he was. Preferred green, but usually got bogged down in red. So many casualties in the Trojan-Durexian affair. And now: here. Jeogeot Gulf. Perpetual war, that’s what the leaders here proclaimed. We must end war by never ending war. Chinese finger trap, pardons to the Chinese. Small cylinder made up of woven bamboo — appropriate.

Babyface knew this was Interrogation Day, when the local leaders vowed to get to the bottom of the camp’s curse, why most of the men are sick if not dying of some mysterious malady none of the regular doctors ’round here seem to know the origin or meaning of.

Perhaps it was all about those masks the natives gave them as a base warming present, they said. Hang them all around! they urged cheerfully, Durxerian aligned smiles like masks themself. Good luck all around, then! they proclaimed.

And free bamboo to use too for construction and decoration, hmmm. I’m beginning to smell a rat. The whole place may have to be torched.

Not knowing any better, Mr. Babyface and his lover Greg, sometimes with a 3rd g to add to the 2 already there, walked into all this with blinders on, ready for art not action. “Paint *anywhere*,” the leaders said to Greg after his stint was over at the bloody battles up the coast, not wanting to tax him too far. “Relax and head for our Xilted base if you want.” Green! Return of green, he thought, knowing the story of those emerald hills (now with grass!) from childhood and perhaps even before beyond.

They weren’t sick yet but they were stuck. Mr. Babyface decides to get into solving the mystery himself, to save his own hide if nothing else, his and Greg’s. Another fear: Greg may turn into Gregg if he becomes too ill, frustration setting in. What if he can’t paint green and turns green himself? Much to worry about there (bloodbath returns).

(to be continued)

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Filed under **VIRTUAL, 0036, 0202, Jeogeot, Xilted

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