Report #00026: The Big Gnomecoming Game
((Warning: I have waited until the end of the week to write this, but some of you may not have played through Operation: Gnomeregan yet and may wish to do so with fresh eyes. Skip this one for now. It will still be here after you’ve seen the story from your own point of view.))
I have never gotten a letter from High Tinker Mekkatorque before in my entire life. His signature was on the Certification of Gnomish Quality and Acceptable Industrial Standards that went with everything I did in the QUARK lab, but those certificates were printed with a machine in the Manuals and Materials Office. Since my brother got the same letter from him this week, and it looks like a bunch of other folks did, I can’t even say this was truly a letter from himself to myself. Someone must have salvaged or rebuilt one of those bloody printing machines.
Mekkatorque’s call for assistance in retaking Gnomeregan is something I suppose I still knew would happen someday. What I mean by that is I’d given up hope on it a long time ago. There was a time when it just didn’t much look like it was ever going to happen. Then I realized I was free of belonging to a culture that had given myself so much pain and suffering due to my not being gnomish enough. I finally made peace with that, but then I made that trip to the Storm Peaks. Every now and then I catch some gnome looking at myself funny, like they almost recognize who I am, but they don’t ask too much of myself now that my looks match my way of living. After all that time being written off as “just as bloody gnome” now it’s the gnomes writing myself off as “just a bloody dwarf”.
Bunch of bloody gits.
I must have known in the back of my mind somewhere that the call would come eventually, though, because I knew what the letter was about as soon as I saw who it was from. I was halfway to Tinker Town before I even finished reading it. Speaking of which, I don’t advise reading while steering a motorcycle around the Great Anvil.
I have to wonder if all that “training” they rushed us through would have seemed more difficult to myself before. If I were about a foot shorter, wearing robes, and trying to keep my braids from falling and little Brann from knocking myself down. If I were a wee mage just stepping outside of Ironforge for the first time in months, instead of being experienced in working with animals twice my size and laying traps to catch the bloody undead. Fizzy Stouthammer rushed through that “training” without breaking a sweat. Could Fizzy Runesprocket have done the same?
I suppose the details of the training have been documented by the ones in charge of it. Same with the strategy and eventual outcome of the operation as a whole. I started writing these reports and sticking them in the library to bring my own personal viewpoint to what is, otherwise, just a collection of faceless facts to be studied by folks who’ve got no bloody clue what it was like to be there. Especially folks who’ve got no bloody clue what it’s like to be looking at the world through one gnomish eye and one dwarven eye. So I may or may not be saying what exactly happened, but I am saying what happened to myself.
The whole bloody operation got thrown off course by one gnome. It’s not the first time that’s happened. To make matters worse, I started getting scared that it was intentional. Tog Rustsprocket is a warlock. I got a couple of pints in myself and started thinking I don’t know too much about him besides that, even though he stands out there next to the tavern in Kharanos all the time. Watching the folks looking for training go back and forth, seeing what sort of armor and weapons they have and how successful their training is. Keeping track of how often they go to the mailbox, seeing what sort of packages and letters arrive for them. And that’s when I thought maybe he’d been an agent of Thermaplugg all along!
It seems he finally decided to cooperate, though. I don’t know what was finally said to him. I was back in Ironforge having a few pints with my brother when we heard Rustsprocket was willing to talk to us.
I drink with my brother when I’ve got something on my mind that weighs too heavily to keep carrying it alone. If whatever you put in front of him isn’t something he can eat, drink, kill, or frustrate he usually just laughs at it. However, while my brother may not be the smartest of Greta Stouthammer’s children, he is the smartest one she gave birth to herself. He knows when it’s best to listen to what I have to say and then put some effort into telling myself why I’m wrong.
I took to thinking again about the first time I heard my brother’s voice. The night I woke up and heard the yelling between himself and Greta downstairs, and Friginne’s voice seemed like it would bring the whole mountain crashing down on us. “They abandoned us! The gnomes are as responsible for Krona’s death as the bloody demons are…” Greta set him straight, and I think that may have been the last time she needed to break a shelf over his head. She threw mugs at him until the day she died, but I just can’t recall any broken shelves after that.
Sitting there in the tavern, waiting on word about Rustsprocket, I tried to tell my brother Greta may have been a bit hard on him over that. Maybe we could have done something different there in Gnomeregan. Maybe we could have made it to Mt. Hyjal, and maybe Krona didn’t have to die. He brushed the idea aside and corrected my identifying myself as a gnome, pointing out that I’d always been more dwarf than gnome and that trip to the Storm Peaks just completed it for myself. I informed him that “analysis of the data applicable to the present situation indicates you are disregarding the fact that the most historically signifcant events in my life took place prior to the exodus from Gnomeregan”.
He laughed at myself. In a loving way, of course, but he laughed at myself. He also warned against living life always looking back and carrying around regrets… something he knows more than a wee bit about himself.
When I headed back down to Kharanos I was thinking this was my chance to make up for all of it. This was my chance to make sure all the folks like Krona, who died at Mt. Hyjal while fighting without our help, didn’t die just so we could lose Gnomeregan. This was my chance to make sure Haggle will have the chance to see Gnomeregan again, not just the same benches and trash cans in Deeprun Tram. This was my chance to make sure all the gnomes we lost weren’t lost for nothing. To avenge the lepergnomes. To not be fooled again!
We had our safety suits this time.
I figure it was Jhordy Lapforge who got us out of there since that’s who Mekkatorque called out for. At least we didn’t end up looking like a bunch of trolls or getting our souls split. For a moment, though, while the transport devices were still in the middle of the process, I could see Gnomeregan even once I was no longer inside. I was fooled.
I was fooled into thinking enough gnomish pride could take down a madman.
I was fooled into thinking Thermaplugg wasn’t ready for us.
I was fooled into thinking the situation couldn’t get any worse than it has been these past several years.
I was fooled into thinking we would win.
This is all a game to Thermaplugg! He’s not fighting for Gnomeregan… he’s already got it! All he has to do is sit in there and keep sending lepergnomes and robots out to do the work for him. Of course he’d fill the place with radiation again! How many of his lepergnomes have we been forced to take down over the years? He’s got to replace them somehow. We went to take back Gnomeregan, and he sat back and played with us like our bloody selves were toys!
How many times do I have to see this happen? How many times do I have to be there for it? I’d just been thinking about that beautiful dwarf who pulled me out the first time, mentioning to my brother before we went down the road that I’ve never gotten to thank her because no one knows who it was and I’ve never seen her again. She was like the Light itself shining into a very dark place. But now the darkness has come back, and all I’ve got is a fancy cloak and Mekkatorque’s word that we’ll retake Gnomeregan. I didn’t get a fancy cloak the first time.
My brother’s right about myself being a dwarf. As right as King Magni himself or anyone else has been about it. But the retaking of Gnomeregan is still a concern of mine, and I was wrong to ever think it wasn’t. It’s a chapter I still need to write the ending to in the story of my life, and what happens in Dun Morogh is bloody well my business.
This is not over.
FOR KHAZ MODAN!