Everyone likes to win in melee. Everyone wants to be the hero. Be the guy or gal who d’Artagnan’s their way through the opposition, slicing them up like bread to be handed out at dinner time.
The Calivers, of course, want this as well. We work hard to try to be that group. But there’s something else we teach. Something we work on and love to celebrate — a glorious death.
A couple of months back we handed out the first Bomb-Kitty Award for “melee prowess.” It went to Eon, one of our newer members, but well deserving of the award.
The award requirement itself can be summed up with the phrase “Your life meant nothing, but your death meant everything.”
Hold the Gates!
It was Monday of War Week and we’re in the middle of the Ruins Battle. The Handsome Calivers were up by the La Rochelle in a highly competitive scrum with the Thieves of Hearts and other Midrealmers.
The Mid has set up a kill pocket in the castle to defend the flag, but the East is pushing hard. Eventually, we break through, swarming through the gate with steel blazing in the oppressive sun, cutting down anyone unfortunate enough to be wearing red tape.
But the small victory was fledgling. Per the norm for kill pocket busting, there was a high attrition rate. The East was scrambling to form up into their own kill pocket and raise their standard, but Midrealm reinforcements were rushing forward to snuff out the East’s efforts.
Into the gate jumped Eon armed with sword and dagger. He parried and beat blade after blade, windmilling to fend off death as best he could. Just ten seconds went by before a thrust found it’s mark, but it was long enough. Eon had delayed the reinforcements off until the East formed a kill pocket and secured the castle’s flag.
Eon’s death meant everything in that moment. His story is a perfect representation of what we strive for. He could’ve kept running through the gate to try to form up with the rest of the team, but instead he selflessly slowed the Mid down.
So where did the idea of the Bomb-Kitty Award come from?
The story has two parts so get ready.
It starts back about a year or so ago. I was hosting another Central Region Rapier Practice. We were working on kill pocket busting (a fav, clearly), and Sorcha was leading the charge to break the kill pocket and capture the house.
Her troops were inching forward and fighting, but not pushing hard or fast enough for her liking. In a classic moment she bellowed, “Move forward! Your lives mean nothing!”
It got a good chuckle from her troops who redoubled their efforts and took the house. I also had never been so proud of her commanding in my life.
That line became a little bit of an inside joke among the Calivers. One we repeat often during melee drills and over drinks.
So where does the bomb kitty come into all this?
Fast forward to just a couple of months ago. A bunch of us were down at the Smoking Rocks Investiture. Dr. Deth was running rapier and had a bunch of melee scenarios for us to run through.
One of these involved shooting RBGs at empty bottles, knocking them off cardboard boxes to get the dynamite needed to blow open the castle gate (so a twist on Pennsic’s La Rochelle battle). One box had the dynamite; the other two had stuffed animals.
So before it was our turn to siege the castle, I had the brilliant idea of taping the dynamite to the cat and using that to blow open the gate.
(Note: I have a dark form of gallows humor sometimes)
(Double note: I’d never do this in real life)
So we get to the box that has the dynamite and I run behind one of the covers and scramble to duct tape the dynamite to a stuffed cat. It took a little bit, but I got it and sprinted to blow open the gate.
…we lost that battle by about :30 — or roughly the length it took me to tape the damned dynamite to the cat.
I totally fudged that one up for us, but it was hilarious and people got a good laugh out of the gag… mostly.
I kept bomb-kitty. I had amused myself too much by the gag. And talking with folks after, more ideas came along like adding an eye patch to bomb-kitty, and then someone (maybe Sorcha?) threw out the idea that it could be a Caliver award.
An award that goes out to a Caliver who did something great in melee. Better yet — someone who died nobly for the squad or the kingdom.
That’s where the second half of the award’s slogan came in.
Bomb-Kitty is period… kinda
Amusingly enough, bomb-kitty is period. Or better yet — “rocket cat.”
In the 1584 “Feuer Buech” manuscript, there’s a drawing of a cat with a rocket pack strapped to it’s back. In fact, there are several images from the Renaissance era of rocket cats.
The accompanying text to one of the images says, “To set fire to a castle or city which you can’t get at otherwise.
“Create a small sack like a fire-arrow … if you would like to get at a town or castle, seek to obtain a cat from that place. And bind the sack to the back of the cat, ignite it, let it glow well and thereafter let the cat go, so it runs to the nearest castle or town, and out of fear it thinks to hide itself where it ends up in barn hay or straw it will be ignited.”
Sounds pretty close to what we were going for with Bomb-Kitty. Funny when life imitates art…