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Compulsory Duty
by Ersatz Sobriquet

You should try not to be so courageous,

You should try not to be so courageous.

Alien Ant Farm- Courage




This stinks. Here I am, stuck with these fools who think they can take on anyone instead of being at home relaxing by the cool river. My cool river. Boy do I miss those days. Doing nothing all day, eating berries and sipping cool water. Listening to the birds sing songs, the river gurgling along, watching the forest animals do their thing, et cetera, et cetera. But now I’m stuck here with these nuts.


“All right you little babies,” the gray imp yells at us. “Tonight we begin our first raid. Our prey is located in the northern forest. So sharpen your weapons... we fight in twenty minutes!”


Sharpen our weapons?! What weapons?!! These little knives are no match for... for anything!! What do they think they’re going to cut with these little dinky things, much less kill something?!?! This is the dumbest thing I was ever pulled into. How did I get into this mess in the first place? Oh yeah, I remember. It was that day when I was sitting next to my cool, relaxing river soaking up some sun when some human runs through my garden, trampling on my flowers might I add, with these other imps chasing him. Seems like he stole some stuff from some imps and they weren't to happy with that. Of course he got away. Why wouldn’t he get away? I don’t know how imps who are two feet tall expect to catch someone who is twice their size.


During his escape, he ended up killing two imps and injuring three others. And since this was the fifth time a human, the same human too, ‘committed such a great folly, there is nothing more to do but destroy them all!’ Those were the words the great counsel recited. And thus when I was enrolled as one of the human’s practice dummy. The ‘great’ counsel gave us some weapons for us to practice with and now we were to be ‘trained’ in how to use them.


The so-called plan is to practice killing other things first, smaller things before we actually go out and kill a human. Once we killed our first human, we would kill all of the humans and conquer the whole world... that was the plan. Grandiose? Oh yeah. Stupid? Even more so. What’s worse about this whole, quote unquote “mission” is that we’re not even told what our first prey is going to be. What is it, a wolf? A Ogre? A Wizard?? I shudder to think so. I doubt we could even kill ourselves much less anything as big as that.


Our unit is squad 3. There never was a squad “1” or “2”, so I don’t know why we’re even called “3”. Just another example of how stupid this whole thing is. I say we just talk to the humans and establish some sort of trade with them, or should I say him, seeing as how it’s the same guy raiding our supplies. Since he obviously wants whatever it is we have so badly, that would be the perfect way they would be able to keep this imp from losing his life in this silly little “game” the head counsel is playing with us. But then again, this is silly little Rikne talking here, so what do I know...



It’s late, dark, damp and I’m tired. I’d rather be at home resting on my soft fur bed instead of romping through the forest with these slap happy fools. And what are we looking for? A prey whom identity continues to remain in a shroud of mystery. Are we really going to kill this foe with these toy knives? What th…? Is the gold plate on the handle rubbing off on my hand?! This is such a cheap piece of crap. Oh, how I hate this little trek.


Our so called “squad 3” is housed up of five imps, including me all wielding the same weak weapons. Even our armor is weak. The only thing a human has to do is kick one of us, and we would probably die from the shoddy way the armor is constructed. The metal will probably run us through! In fact, if we tripped I bet we would be bruised! Ahh, but I digress.


A captain heads our unit, a gray imp that had supposedly been in a lot of battles in his days. That’s a lot of bull. The only thing that fat imp ever fought was trying to keep a chicken leg in his greasy little paws.


“Okay people,” the gray imp bellows out. As he talks, little bits of food fall off the side of his mouth. “Our target is just over that hill. Over the past couple of nights, he’s been in our sights and it should be noted that this enemy is a very slippery foe. Very fast. Agile as well.”


As he says this, some of the imps start to murmur to themselves.


“Now this foe has been in the same vicinity for the past two days, so tonight we attack! This is the perfect opportunity to hone in all of your fighting skills. A fierce, deadly, and a pure killer is what we’re up against, no doubt. Any questions from any of you little suckers?!”


One of the other imps speaks up, “Yeah, I got a question. What did this creature ever do to us?”


“It continually raids our bushes and continues to steals our vital resources!” the gray imps bellows in a matter-of-factly voice.


We all just look at each other. What the freak is this nut talking about??!! We have vital resources in our bushes? This makes no sense. We don’t even know each other’s name! For some strange reason, we’re not suppose to know each other according to the counsel, because we ‘possibly might become too attached to each other and try to conspire a plan to overthrow the counsel of reason.’ I ain’t ever heard such a big pile of crap like that before I heard that line. You know what the counsel of reason consists of? Some big, lazy middle aged imps lounging around all day, “solving” any problem imps may have. The only one’s who would want to overthrow them is all the imps they gave bad advice to. Which would probably be about 90 percent of the population.


We carefully slide through the forest, trying to avoid any kind of threat that might occur and stir up as little attention to ourselves as we possibly can. Finally when we reach the location, the Sergeant yells ‘attack’ and we all just leap out into the clear and see a figure in the center of the field. Lurching forward, I can see the other guys impaling the poor victim with their jagged little knives. Whatever it is they’re killing, they’re having a hard time. I was to be one of those five guys to kill the “beast”, but I wasn’t about to kill something for no apparent reason. The imps undoubtedly feel power now. Looking at them stabbing that sad little “foe” is ridiculous. Blood is spraying everywhere.


I guess the “foe” is dead. They’re backing away.  Boy, their clothes are stained, faces marred with blood and, what’s that, white fur? Let me see what they slaughtered. What the... a rabbit?? They killed a rabbit? This was our prey? It took four imps to kill a rabbit?!!


“Okay fellas, ya did a great job! This was only our first test. Tomorrow we will be fighting an even bigger prey. Did you feel the blood racing through your body? Did you feel like you could take anything on? Well, I hope you did, cause tomorrow will be one of the big ones. Tomorrow we’ll be going after an even bigger enemy. I know you guys are ready for this. So just...”


They killed a rabbit? A rabbit?? How are we going to kill a, an Ogre, or a Wizard, or even a human if we have trouble killing a rabbit??


“Excuse me,” I interrupted. “ Just what the heck do you think you are trying to pull here?”


“Excuse me?” the sergeant eyes grow wide. “Are you questioning my methods?”


“Yeah, I’m questioning your silly little methods! How the freak do you think we’re going to ‘hone’ our fighting skills huntin’ a little rabbit?”


“Yeah, since when were rabbits deadly killers?” another imp speaks up, trying to remove most of the blood that splashed into his hair.


Walking up to the last imp who spoke, towering a couple of inches over him, he said very slowly “If you ever question my methods again, I will personally kill you.”


“But I ain’t question your methods,” the imp said, shaking a little. “He did, remember?” he finished pointing to me.


The sergeant looked at me through his icy eyes. It seemed like he was staring right through my very soul. He pointed at me, shook his finger and said, “You just watch yourself.”



It’s the following day and we’ve been now marching for six hours trying to find some stupid humans. And it’s dark again. It must be close to midnight. I doubt we’re ever going to find any humans around these parts, especially since this is the northern most part away from Corneria castle. And especially since it’s late at night! Boy I wish I was near my river now. I can just feel the cool water running down the side of my face. The simple enjoyment I get from watching the water flow by... I don’t think anyone could ever understand. Suddenly, the sergeant tells us to get down. I guess he saw something that we didn’t. But, we still oblige.


“Our target is over this clearing,” the sergeant loudly whispers to us. “The group is a little larger than we originally anticipated, but I think that we will be able to wipe these little punks out!” he finishes, pumping his fist in the air.


“Um, just how ‘little’ is little, sergeant?” one of the imps ask.


“About four,” he replies, almost saying it as if we should of known.


A blank look falls across all our faces and at least two of us look back to where we came from, wanting to go back. Really soon.


“Don’t worry bout it, you fools. You can take ‘em on.” he ‘reassures’ us. “For god’s sake, it’s six of us! What, yall little babies think we can’t win??”


Of course no one responds. “Good. Now let’s kill these little fagots!” and with that, he burst through the bushes, with the other four following, and me at the end.




This four was a strange group. One was obviously a fighter of some sorts, dressed in thick, red armor carrying a long sword. The other was a guy who seemed like he studied, um, I think they call it “marital arts” or something. I guess he marries people for a living. He’s wearing a blue shirt and brown pants. The other two are both dressed in robes, one wearing a black one while the other dons white robe. They only barely glanced at us before they took out their weapons. Once they commenced in their fighting stance, I really knew we didn’t have any chance against these guys.


One of our imps is now attacking, yelling a deafening war cry and with his weapon swings violently at the guy with the blue shirt. But he misses and his foe quickly retaliates and strikes him with his bare fists. Before the he could even get up, the fighter stabs him with his sword. I can tell he won’t be getting up.


The sergeant charges right after the imp dies, as if it is his turn and slices a huge wound in the side of the fighter and then in the face, causing the fighter to fall and roll away from the sergeant. Alright, at least we connected. I guess the sergeant thinks that he can finish him off cause he’s now running up to the fighter with his knife raised, ready for the final kill.


Oh my god, lighting just struck him! And it’s a clear night, not a cloud in the sky!! He’s now on the ground, twitching still holding the knife in his hands with the lighting still coursing throughout his body. Humans have this kind of power??!!


The one in the white robe hands’ is now glowing and is pointing to the downed fighter. He’s getting up? What happened to his wounds?? What did she do, heal him??! We are definitely not ready for this. There is now only three of us and four of them. I know that the other imps are thinking about running away, because I sure am.


Mother of the River, one of our imp, the one standing right next to me just burst up in flames. No, no, no, no I am out of here! I have to tell the last one what I am going to do. And since the sergeant can’t stop me, I can actually say what’s on my mind. “Hey, we gotta get out of here,” I yell, “Or they’ll kill us, too!”


He’s laughing. Why is he laughing? “Maybe they’ll kill you, but they won’t live to reap the satisfaction!” he says in his hoarse voice. I guess it makes sense he would say that. He seemed like the only one that was into this whole Let’s-wage-war-with-the-humans thing.


“Watch how easily I kill these little bastards,” he finishes as he spits to the side and begins to run towards them.


He’s charging up with his knife and.... he also misses. The fighter just tripped him and stuck his sword in his back. Hey, that’s not fair fighting... like it really matters now.


Forget this, I’m leaving. Where to, I don’t know. But I have to get out of here, now. I know, I can go back to the counsel of reason and tell them what happened. Maybe tell them to call this crazy little shning-ding off. Yeah, that’s it. Once they find out how powerful humans really are, they’ll have to see reason. I mean, that is what they’re all about, no?




No. The town... It’s up in flames! The fires’ running rampant throughout the town. I can’t do nothin’, either. Who could it have bee..... urk! Sharp pain. My knife, it’s gone... In my back. Someone... musta stuck me wit it. Can’t stand. Gotta... sit. Can’t control myself, gotta fall.


Who, who did this? *Cough*  Blood coming out of my mouth. Who did this? Someone’s going through my pockets. I gotta stop him. Who is it? It’s that thief. He musta done this. Can’t see clearly.  No, he’s... taking my money, and my talisman. No.. stop, I...


Oh, this is strange. It feels like I’m by my river. So cool. So tired. And there’s no more pain. Oh, this feels good. I think I’ll stay here and rest for awhile. So comfortable...





Notes D’ Auteur


I always wondered about those little imps you fought in Final Fantasy I, and why some would just run away from you, even if their whole posse was there. Then I got to thinkin’ that maybe some of the imps didn’t want to even fight, but were forced and then this story developed. Hope you all enjoyed this little short rendition of thoughts a fellow imp may have came across.


Ersatz Sobriquet

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