A defeated Queen attempts to bring a victory to her troops
It was never quiet here, but as the Queen observed her troops, the orange glow from the streetlamp overhead glinting off their inky black surface, she supposed this was as close as it would get.
She had lived her whole life here on her stone battlefield next to the 5th street subway listening to the hustle and bustle of the city street during the day, and the babble of drunks and wannabe players as they leave the bars at closing time. Now, like all the evenings before, she sat stationary – poised against the threat across the checkered field, knowing there was slim hope she would prevail.
From her left, her King let out a heavy breath. He did not need to speak for her to know the reason for his melancholy attitude. In all their years together, she had failed to protect him. Though they were forever surrounded by their loyal servants and guards, when it came down to it, it was her job to protect him, and she had failed time and time again. Tonight, she was sure, it would be no different.
At the far end of the battlefield, the Queen watched her opponent survey her own troops. They gleamed an almost translucent white in the dim light and her sworn enemy, the White Queen, towered above them in her powerful, and untouchable, position. She was so full of herself, the Queen thought. The White Queen was surely convinced there was no evil in her pure ivory heart, but from the Black Queen’s side of the field, she knew the repeated insufferable pain the White Queen had inflicted, which had left the Black King inconsolable, and the Black troops demoralized. Tonight would be nothing more than a repeat of the past.
And then she felt it; the presence of a human had settled behind her. With a sigh of her own, the Queen prepared again to watch the ceaseless slaughter of her loyal troops. A shadow over the field signaled the first handshake and the official beginning of the game. With a click, the timer was set and her opponent advanced: pawn B2 to B4.
“Pawn E7 to E5!” The Queen shouted, though she knew her cries would be in vain. She knew that when a player came to their side of the table, they would rarely follow the direction of her entire life’s experience, choosing instead to strike their own path, which ultimately led to the death, again and again, of her soldiers. But amazingly, this time, the hand of the player moved her pawn exactly as she had called.
In shock, the Queen watched her opponent’s move – pawn A2 to A3 – with wide eyes. Careful not to lose focus, the Queen called her move again, praying it wasn’t simply a coincidence that her human player had followed her lead.
“Knight G8 to F6!”
Amazingly, her knight was moved onto the battlefield and the timer was clicked again. Once may have been a fluke, but twice in a row? Impossible.
Ivory moved again – Bishop C1 to B2 – and the Queen felt the fire within her building. She easily tuned out the trash talking of her opponent. It was a ploy to distract the human moving her pieces, and the Queen knew from experience that it usually worked. But tonight was different. She felt the confidence in her human’s hands and knew he was on the same page as she was.
In quick succession, she called her moves, and again and again, the human moved them as she said. Pawn D7 to D6. Bishop F8 to E7. Then, when the path was clear, she sent her frail King to castle, thus hiding him safely behind her left hand rook. She knew he would be safe there, unless of course the human player stopped listening to her wisdom.
It was a necessary evil to sacrifice her frontline soldiers, her pawns, but it still felt like betrayal when she directed her A7 pawn to his death. She did not notice the chortles of the onlookers that had gathered. She did not notice the whoosh of the subway train below the street. She did not even notice the repeated click, click of the timer as her troops strategically advanced down the board. This is how the game was meant to be played. And the Queen reveled in it.
Normal players did not make it to this point in the battle. They either made a grave mistake exposing the Queen’s defensive line to penetration, or their mistake was sitting down in the first place. Most often, the game was over before the Queen herself even had a chance to move, and even if she did, it was always guarded, protected … stifled by her entourage. But this time, the player knew better. When the opening revealed itself, the Queen lunged across the board taking out a member of the White Queen’s inner circle. Of course, this left the Black Queen vulnerable to her own attack by none other than the White Queen herself, but this was of no matter to the Black Queen. She played the long game, and knew that sacrificing herself would put her knight in the perfect position to take out the White Queen from behind.
Now, behind enemy lines and within easy striking distance of the enemy King, the Black Queen watched the remainder of the game unfold. She was no longer able to command her troops herself, but she trusted the human at her side of the battlefield. It was as if he was an embodiment of the Queen and her troops themselves. He knew them as well as they knew themselves, and she entrusted their direction to his capable hands.
And capable they were. Not long after the Queen turned over the reins, the human controlling her soldiers directed her rook from A8 all the way to A2 – the protected inner circle of the White King. This clearly did not sit well with the White Queen, who sneered at the Black Queen from her own purgatory on the other side of the checkered field. The Black Queen had seen this before. A seldom few times in the past, she had managed to direct her ranks to nearly this far in the game – nearly to the point of taking the King, but something always blocked their progress right at this crucial moment. And now, the Queen could see it happening again, though she was powerless to do anything about it.
The human controlling the White Queen’s soldiers did what he always did when the battle was not going in his favor – cheat. A sly slip of the hand that pulled the wool over the eyes of his opponent and ensured his victory. This time was no different, and the Black Queen watched the greedy White Queen’s eyes as she compelled her master to cheat the Black Queen out of her long-deserved win.
The hand came in to remove the first black knight as it was taken by the white pawn. It was easy to see from the Queen’s vantage point how the hand knocked her second black knight from his tile on the board, but she feared, no, she knew that her trusted human would not see this slight-of-hand. Defeated, the Queen hung her head and waited for the rest of her soldiers to meet their fated end, but none of that came. Instead, an unexpected music filled her ears.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! That was right there!”
Impossible. Not only had her trusted human seen the trick, he was calling it out! He put her knight back where he belonged, and finally, the Queen heard the indignation and defeat in her opponent’s voice – something she had never before been privy to. A smile spread under her crown and she stood tall, now finally noticing the crowd that had gathered to watch the match. They were here for her! Cheering on her troops! Her pawns, her knights, bishops, and rooks – they were the underdogs in this New York street chess circus, and finally – finally – they had proven themselves.
Across the board, the White Queen sulked under her pearl earrings and diamond crown as the rest of the game played out and the Black Queen’s troops triumphed over hers. She sulked not because she mourned her loss, but because she knew the unspoken rules their Master played by: he always played with the winning color.
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Written for: "Plot Support - Results announced!"
Word Count: 1,407
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