The UCPO Spoon of Glory

Chapter 3: Confronting evil

They covered a reasonable amount of ground that day, and set up camp again on the edge of a forest within half a day's march of their destination. It was a subdued group that sat around their campfires that night. They had naturally divided into their subject groups: there were the mathematicians, the compscis, the linguists (and armchair linguists), and on the outskirts of the camp, a small group of arts types, and an even smaller group of fierce and loyal boaties.

They were about to call it a night when a sweet and melodious sound filled the air. It was a hunting horn. The gladdened UCPOites turned towards the forest (for that was from whence the joyful music emanated) and saw a handsome fellow wearing a jolly hat scampering towards the mathematicians. They had heard their parents talk of Pedro Bombadil, but they had never been lucky enough to actually see him. Breathlessly they watched Pedro dance around the fire, singing a merry song that lifted their spirits and filled them with hope. When his song was finished, he gave a small bow, a cheeky wink, and scampered back into the forest as quickly as he had appeared from it, and while the UCPOites were very glad he had visited them, they felt his absence keenly the moment he was out of sight.

The UCPOites felt sure that this was a good omen, and took to their beds with light hearts and faint smiles. This mood prevailed the following morning as well, and the army set off with the sole purpose of divesting Daniel of his evil Spoon of Glory. On the way, they met small outposts of the enemy, but were able to reduce them to green smoke by playing a mass rendition of the second flute solo from the first movement of Dvorak 9.

Finally they could see the shiny brass of Daniel's abode and realised that they were nearing the end of their quest. The gates to the palace were built across a natural narrowing of rocky cliffs, and they marched up to them, ready for almost anything. Facing them was a considerable company of grinning clone-minions. The UCPOites formed a large arc and played the opening solo to Bolero. Nothing happened. The grinning minions grinned more widely and began to advance. The UCPOites were a little worried, but sent forward their crack team of soloists, who played the Peter and the Wolf solo at high speed, and at fff. The first few rows of the advancing clones swayed and toppled over, but the ones behind climbed over and continued to advance, stifling their first victims in giant hugs and hence multiplying their number. The UCPOites panicked in the face of these new and more resistant clones, and had no choice but to produce one of their secret weapons. One brave soul near the front of the army, Philosophicus Howitzer, carefully drew out from its case something small and black. The other UCPOites drew away in fear. And Philosophicus played his piccolo. At this kind of range, the results were catastrophic. The clones exploded loudly all over the place, leaving burn marks on the ground where each had stood. The UCPOites rejoiced, and turned their attention to the next challenge: how to get through the gates.

It wasn't long before UCPO's highly trained climbers, Simpatico and Stanleyknife, set about scaling the impossibly high gates. They did so in record time, to the sound of UCPO's cheers, and discovered nothing but burn marks on the other side, so made short work of unlocking and pushing open the gates to admit the many UCPOites who had made it this far.

They proceeded cautiously towards the gleaming palace with its odd wide, asymmetrical 'ear'. Piccolo at the ready, Philosophicus made sure that any stray clones were exploded almost as soon as they were spotted. They became aware that there was some kind of huge, hulking figure in front of the palace. As they approached, they could see it was sort of like a dragon, black with beautiful green hair under a purple crocheted cap. It had a long spiny tail. It regarded them placidly as they walked up to the palace, where they stopped. The creature continued to regard them, and so they attempted to walk past. They were met with a jet of water so plentiful and powerful that they were driven back a few hundred feet, and then met with a hysterical giggle. Having picked themselves up from the ground, the UCPOites looked closely at the dragon, who wore the same placid look, then looked around them in search of another source of the water and the giggle. They saw nothing.

The brave and strong boaties among the UCPOites formed a column, protected by tall shields. Slowly but surely they advanced again on the palace, keeping a close eye on the dragon. It wasn't until they were about twenty feet away that the dragon opened its mouth and belched out the same large volume of water. The boaties were helplessly swept back to join their friends and the same hysterical giggle followed them, this time clearly emanating from the dragon.
'That was so funny!' she chortled. 'Guten tag, ich bin Ameliata Wargrog.'
'May we get past please?' someone said. 'We have important business in the palace.'
'Of course not,' said Ameliata. 'I wouldn't be doing a very good job of guarding it if I let you past, would I?'
All she received in response was silence.
'But because I'm nice, I'll set you a riddle, and if you can solve it, I will allow you to pass unhindered.'
The UCPOites knew that they stood no chance of defeating Ameliata using force, and suspected some kind of trick, but essentially had nothing to lose from trying. That supreme council of UCPOites, the committee, conferred briefly, and decided to attempt the challenge.

The riddle was given as follows: 'Ein sehr großes Gewässer, das plötzlich sehr klein geworden ist, was ist das?' Many UCPOites simply stared blankly in response, but those who understood German thought quickly. Almost immediately, however, a voice called out boldly, 'Oh come on, that's easy!'
All eyes turned towards the speaker: a young UCPOite named Nikolaus, whose glorious red hair was much admired. 'The answer is "Ein Märchen"!'
A grunt of abject frustration escaped Ameliata. 'It is not easy! It took me at least five minutes to come up with that.'
She began to fire giant elastic bands at the army by levering them off the spines of her tail. The UCPO shields went up immediately, but the committee chair shouted, 'Are you going to keep your word and let us pass?'
Ameliata shouted back, 'Yes, but I'm not going to make it easy for you, am I?'
Amid cries of pain, the UCPOites scurried past, some of them brave enough to attempt to fire some of the elastic bands back at her. This enraged her more, and so was universally declared to be a Bad Plan.

Once everyone was inside, the UCPOites set to work. They were met by UCPO's brilliant spy-in-residence, Lizzie Loophole, who imparted some excellent intelligence to the invading army about the exact whereabouts of each of their targets. Once each team had set about their business, a large group made its way towards Daniel's private rooms to confront him.

Chapter 4

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