November 2005 Archives

Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 7

By Dwayne MacInnes

As Sergeant Greene led the lieutenant towards the door, he looked over at the gunner still sitting on the couch and staring at the floor.

"You can come along or you can stay. The choice is yours," Greene said.

"Sergeant, do what you have to. I won�t be a problem," answered Smith without taking his eyes from the floor.

With that, Ronald and William exited the cabin into the blowing snow.

Brady left Nori�s room and walked down the stairs. He looked over at Coop and Smith and saw them both sitting in silence. Neither the boy nor the gunner looked up as Brady walked into the room.

"Where�s Sarge?" Brady inquired.

"He took the pilot outside," Coop answered.

"I think he�s going to execute Bill. I wish I could be the one to pull the trigger myself," added Smith.

"We have to stop him," Nori said from the top of the balcony.

No one had heard her leave her room and walk onto the balcony. They all jumped when they heard her voice come down from above.

"I�ll grab my stuff and go after them," offered Brady.

"I�m coming along," Nori said.

"I don�t think..." Brady started to say before Nori cut him off.

"I�m sick and tired of you guys never letting me go along. I�m sick and tired of always being attacked by psychos. I�m not going to take it anymore got it!" Nori declared.

Then Nori returned to her room slamming the door behind her. Brady stared at the closed door for a couple of minutes before he started gathering some things into his backpack.

"Coop, think you�ll be alright here with Smith?" Brady asked.

"Yes," Cooper said immediately.

Brady was about done getting everything packed when Nori walked down the stairs. She was wearing her usual black leather jacket, pants, and boots. Sitting upon her head there was a riot helmet with faceplate with the words POLICE painted on the front. She had woolen glove liners stuffed into her normal leather gloves. On her back was strapped her katana. An M-16A2 was slung over her right shoulder. Around her slim waist was buckled an army web military belt that holstered a Hello Kittypink .45 P-14 with a Hello Kitty head on the grip.

Brady tossed her a green down winter jacket that once belonged to his mother and a framed backpack loaded with supplies they may need. Brady dressed himself in a similar leather outfit like Nori, but on his head was an olive drab green PSGAT helmet that he fitted over a stocking cap. He had a .45 P-13 on his hip and his grandfather's 12-guage Remington shotgun slung over his right shoulder. On his framed backpack was lashed a wooden Louisville slugger baseball bat. Brady wore his dark blue down winter jacket to protect him from the elements.

"We hopefully should not be too long," Brady said as he and Nori stepped out into the freezing morning wind.

"Be careful," called out Smith before Brady shut the door after Nori.

Brady could see that the snowfall was getting heavier and the wind was starting to pick up. As the cold bit into his exposed flesh, he remembered why he hated the snow. Being from Seattle, he could handle rain, but the snow and cold was something else, especially the damn wind.

Brady picked out Jones and Sarge�s tracks in the snow. Fortunately, the wind and snow hadn�t erased their trail yet. He prayed that Nori and he could find them relatively soon or things could get difficult.

"Stop right there," hissed the sergeant through clenched teeth.

Lieutenant Jones stopped where he was in the woods. He could tell from the sun burning through the overcast sky that it was still before noon. Jones was dressed only in his flight suit and the cold was blowing right through his core.

"Well, at least I won�t freeze to death. I just hope it�s a headshot," thought Jones as the sergeant began to take off the small daypack on his back.

"I am not going to kill you as you deserve," hissed the sergeant.

Lieutenant Jones just stood there dumbfounded. He didn�t know whether to be relieved or upset. On one hand, he wasn�t going to be killed by the sergeant. However, it was obvious that he couldn�t last for long in the elements. Jones looked up at the evergreen treetops to see the snow was starting to fall harder and the wind was even starting pick up.

"I�ve got you some things to help you survive. If you head east, you can try to cross the mountains and see if you can get back over the border. If you head west and I meet you again I will kill you," said Ronald. "Inside this backpack are also your knife and your pistol, dismantled, and one bullet. You can decide how you want to use it."

Greene then threw the pack into some brush past where Jones stood shivering. William didn�t waste any time scrambling over to the brush and retrieving the pack. Jones then turned around and noticed that the sergeant had disappeared. Their tracks were also rapidly disappearing.

Brady was rapidly losing hope that they could find the sergeant and the lieutenant as the tracks were filling in with snow. Any attempt to turn back was foiled by Nori. She made it quite obvious that she would continue with or without Brady. Brady knew if he left her alone, he was condemning her to certain death.

The snow was up to Brady�s mid-calves that was almost up to Nori�s knees. Nori was starting to stumble as she was getting more and more exhausted. The snowstorm quickly transformed itself into a blizzard. Visibility was practically nothing.

Brady went over to Nori and started to assist her along. As they resumed their trek, Brady noticed that all trace of Ronald�s and William�s tracks were gone. Then Brady turned around and noticed that their tracks were also quickly vanishing. Brady finally convinced Nori that they needed to turn around and start to head back to the cabin. If they were lucky, they would find it before it was too late.

Nori was too exhausted to protest. She just followed where Brady led. She had to lift the faceplate on her riot helmet after they left the cabin as it instantly frosted up from her breath. The snow and wind bit directly into her face. Her own tears were even starting to freeze on her cheeks. The feeling in Nori�s fingers and toes were now gone, making it even more difficult for her to move. She was starting to shiver more and more and her movements became more sluggish.

Brady had lost the trail. The snow had completely erased all signs of their tracks. With the wind howling in his ears, the snow plastering his face, and having to practically carry Nori; Brady could only hope that they were heading in the correct direction. Every once in a while he would stop and rub his and Nori�s hands to get the circulation going.

Nori just wanted to sleep. Many times, she thought that she was sleeping as she saw imaginary images flash before her eyes. Once she thought she saw Father Henderson ahead of her.

"Hi, Father what are you doing out here?" Nori asked the apparition.

Fear colder than the weather ran through Brady�s heart as Nori carried on her random and irrational ramblings. Hypothermia was quickly claiming the girl. Brady�s grandfather warned him about the signs of hypothermia and how to treat it. However, it wouldn�t be much longer before she would succumb. Brady needed to find shelter and fast.

The snow was now up to Brady�s knees and Nori�s waist. Hope and time were quickly running out for Brady. He was now completely lost and Nori was slipping even faster away from him. Brady had very little winter experience on the mountain. The closest he�d even be out here in winter was in the fall hunting with his grandfather.

Brady continued trudging his way praying all along. It would take a miracle for them to get out of this one. Nori was rambling less; it wouldn�t be long before unconsciousness set in. Brady was tired and set Nori down, and then he plunked himself next to her and rested his back against a small tree. The wind blew even harder and the snow continued to obscure his vision. Sleepiness brought on by the cold and exhaustion started to consume Brady.

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Iapetus Saves Manhattan

Chapter Four

Dr. LeFleur sat wearily at his desk. He was trying to remember the last time he had slept. Since the baby ultra-yeti walked away from the research station, he had not been in a bed. He managed to catch a couple of catnaps when the opportunity arose, but it had been several days since he had a good nights sleep. As he sat there daydreaming of sleeping, his phone rang.

"Hello this is Dr. LeFleur," he answered.

"I think we have some good news doctor," replied the voice on the other end.

"I could use some," replied the researcher.

"The -- uhh -- monster is still missing, but we have some evidence of -- err -- him."

"What kind of evidence?"

"At first we thought it was some college kids playing some sort of prank."

"Go on..."

"Well, there was this wheat field. It was filled with winter wheat you know."

"And..."

"This young winter wheat field had these interesting patterns put into them."

"What kind of patterns?" asked Dr. LeFleur.

"Uhh -- crop circle type patterns."

"Crop circles? What makes you think this was the baby ultra-yeti?"

"Well you see -- in most of the prank type crop circles they're -- ahh -- circles. But, in this case, the crops were -- ehh -- foot prints."

"Footprints? They could still be a prank. Do you have any other evidence?"

"Umm -- there are also some -- ahh -- droppings."

"Droppings?"

"Yes -- a big pile."

Excellent!" exclaimed Dr. LeFleur as he jumped out of his chair. "Tell me where. I'll be there as quick as I can!"

Dr. LeFleur had been waiting for several days for any indication of the baby ultra-yeti's whereabouts. He grabbed a large flask of coffee, and a couple of cans of caffeinated soda. He had his equipment packed and ready in his aging truck. He jumped in and began driving towards the farm in question. The excitement of a possible yeti sighting had shaken the sleepiness out of him, but it could return at any moment.

The drive was quite a long way from the research station on James Bay. However, the baby had long strides and could cover a great deal of distance. Further, he had been missing for several days. Dr. LeFleur thought it was incredible that the baby could have traveled so far with no one taking notice.

The young ultra-yeti had made it half way to Ottawa, Ontario. If they could not find him and divert him, he could do a great deal of damage in the Canadian Capital. It appeared that he was heading directly for that city. Since they had very little data, they had little to give them an idea of where he may be heading.

Dr. LeFleur was listening to the radio. The local radio station reported several sightings of the baby monster. After several days of silence, the reports of an enormous, white, and bear-like creature came filing in. It was as if large white monsters filled the woods and fields of parts of Canada. Reports came from all over southwestern Quebec and the northwestern part of the province of Ontario.

Some of the reports conflicted, which is common for this type of thing. Descriptions of the spotted creature widely varied. However, there was no doubt that the baby ultra-yeti was now feeding. Reports of damaged crops and animals began pouring in. As Dr. LeFleur suspected, the animal was omnivorous. He was apparently feeding on all types of plants as well as eating cattle and other domesticated animals.

After a few hours of driving, Dr. LeFleur reached the farm that reported the footprints. Several prints went across the field, and it was reminiscent of a crop circle. Dr. LeFleur briefly studied the prints, and deduced that the baby ultra-yeti had grown quite a bit. This baby was probably 25 to 50 meters tall by now. There were reports all over the area of missing animals and damaged crops. At this rate, the baby could be 50 stories tall by the time he reached Ottawa. If this happened, he would cause a great deal of damage.

The professor took all of the local reports and determined a likely location and heading of the giant baby. He wanted to be able to follow the child and perhaps lure him away from the Canadian Capital. He began making calls on his cell phone. He alerted the authorities of the possible dangers coming their way. He wanted to make sure that the city had plenty of warning to evacuate.

Finally, he spotted the enormous white baby eating the young shoots of a farmer's field. He remarked at how interesting the patterns the child ate in the field. He made numerous circles. This was more like the crop circle patterns of various web pages. These were different because a creature ate the crops rather than flattening them.

Dr. LeFleur was admiring the sheer enormity of the baby ultra-yeti when he his cell phone rang.

"Hello this is Dr. LeFleur."

"Hello Dr. LeFleur, this is General Innes MacWayne."

"Hello General. What can I do for you?"

"My sources say you know more about this 'Ultra-Yeti' than anyone."

Dr. LeFleur could hear the quotes around the words as the general spoke them. "Well, I am in charge of the project. I should be the most knowledgeable."

"So, then you would know how to destroy it."

"What? I haven't given that much thought..."

"You realize that we can in no way allow this creature to destroy Ottawa. Thus, we are making contingency plans. We need to know the creature's vulnerabilities."

"Uhhh -- vulnerabilities?"

"Dr. LeFleur, how can we kill it?"

"I don't know what to say..."

"Let me be frank doctor. We don't want to have to resort to any nuclear weapons. Do you think that conventional missiles or bombs would affect the creature?"

"Nuclear weapons? Aren't we Canadians?"

"The creature can also pose a threat to the United States. The U.S. President has agreed that this threat be eliminated before it reaches their soil."

"General, I understand your position, but I don't have any data that would be of any help. I don't know the vulnerabilities of this creature. My team and I have not looked into that particular question at this time."

"That is fine doctor. Tell me, do you know where the creature is?"

"Errr -- I uhhh -- have -- umm -- not caught up to him yet."

"If you do, could you please inform me at this number?"

"Uhhh -- sure."

"Remember doctor, it would be best for all concerned if this dangerous creature were neutralized before it reaches any population centers. The sooner we control this creature, the better it will be for all of Canada. You do understand that do you not?"

"As soon as -- I see the creature -- I will inform you..."

"The sooner we find him, the sooner we can make our tests. If you don't know its vulnerabilities, then we will have to test our defenses against him. We will need to do that before he reaches any major cities."

"I understand."

"Thanks Dr. LeFleur."

"Good bye General."

The doctor felt the conflict grow within himself. He wanted to study the creature for a while. However, the more he delayed the greater the danger for the city centers. He had to decide what was more important -- scientific research or public property. His initial assessment led him to lie to the general, but this decision was putting people and property in danger.

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Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 8

By Dwayne MacInnes

Brady was starting to nod off when he jerked his head back to fight off sleep. His helmet hit the back of the tree and was knocked off his head. Brady picked up his helmet and noticed that his back was against a flat surface. As the thought that trees are usually round slowly registered in Brady�s sluggish brain, Brady came completely to his senses. He jumped to his feet and looked at his "tree". It wasn�t a tree at all, but instead a leg to an old Ranger fire lookout.

Brady could see the steps of the stairs rising up in front of him. He knew that he could not possibly carry both himself and Nori up the 20-foot tall edifice. Brady pulled off his backpack and fished around until he found some rope. He tied one end of the rope under Nori's arms. With that accomplished, Brady put his backpack over his shoulders and started to ascend the stairs as quickly as his frozen limbs could carry him. Every time he passed a support beam, he would have to pass the rope along the outside of the beam in order to keep the rope on the outside of edge of the tower.

Time was now the only factor that mattered to Brady. The climb up the tower seemed to take forever. Only the thought of Nori quickly dying kept Brady going. Sweat was starting to pour out of Brady. He would have to be quick or the sweat itself would freeze and kill him just as sure as the hypothermia was killing Nori.

At last, Brady reached the platform that housed the lookout building itself. Then Brady started to haul Nori�s semiconscious form up the side of the tower. He pulled the rope hand over hand as quickly as he could. Brady�s arms were burning from the exertion, but he had to keep at it or lose Nori if it wasn�t already too late.

Brady saw Nori�s slumping head poke itself up over the edge. Brady tied off the rope, grabbed Nori under her arms, and dragged her up onto the platform. Brady quickly assessed Nori�s condition. She was barely conscious; her ramblings were becoming more infrequent. A quick search of the platform revealed that they were just outside the door to the square house. The door was locked and refused to budge. It looked to be a deadbolt.

Fear and hopelessness started to consume Brady. In an explosive burst of anger, Brady tried to kick-in the door. The door shot open in a shower of wood splinters. The interior was completely dark. The shutters had been lowered over windows for winter.

Brady dragged Nori into the interior of the building. Just getting out of the wind was a great relief. Brady pulled out his compact sleeping bag and unrolled it. He then took off Nori�s gear and stuffed her into the sleeping bag. She would need to get some sugar and heat or she would die.

Brady pulled out a candle from his backpack and lit it. The candlelight lit up the interior. There was a table in the center of the 14x14 foot room, a couple of wooden chairs and very little else. Brady shut the door and pulled a chair in front of it to keep it closed. The interior was barely warmer than the outside temperature, but they were out of the wind and therefore they were warmer.

Brady rummaged through his backpack looking for some sort of candy. He doubted he had any seeing as to how that was a pretty rare commodity. Cans of food were being stacked on the table next to the candle as Brady searched his backpack for any kind of candy. One can rolled over the edge and onto the floor. Brady picked it up and noticed that it was a can of Bartlett pears.

Brady pulled out his Swiss Army knife and opened the can. He poured the sugary liquid into a metal cup from his mess kit. After heating it over the candle, Brady ran over to Nori and started to pour the warm liquid down her throat. Brady prayed that she wouldn�t try to inhale while he was pouring the liquid. Nori instinctively swallowed the fluid without mishap.

Brady then emptied the rest of the contents of the can into his mess kit and grabbed the candle off the table. Brady placed the can next to the sleeping bag and carefully inserted the candle. Brady was hoping that the slight heat from the candle would warm up the can and help warm the interior of the lookout station. The can would also help keep the candle from burning down the wooden structure.

With the first stage accomplished, Brady had to work on warming up the uncontrollably shivering Nori. Brady stripped off Nori�s clothes. He looked over her hands and feet for signs of frostbite. Other than being slightly red, they appeared to be fine. Brady started to rub them briskly to return their circulation. Then Brady stripped himself down and climbed into the sleeping bag with Nori. Her skin was literally as cold as ice as Brady�s bare skin came in contact with hers.

"God, she�s going to kill me in the morning," thought Brady.

Brady started to vigorously rub Nori to warm her up. After five minutes of rubbing to get the circulation flowing, Brady stopped from pure exhaustion. He laid himself back down and let the sleep he staved off finally take him completely.

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Iapetus Saves Manhattan

Chapter Five

Dr. Maland was glad he was a long way from the events occurring in Canada. While he would love to observe the giant ultra-yeti in action, he felt much safer observing the creature from a safe distance. He read reports on the internet with great interest.

The internet was full of conflicting stories, so it was difficult to determine what was accurate and what was fictional. Reports of a giant white bear-like creature became wide spread. There were even some reports of this ultra-yeti making it as far south as South Carolina. Certainly, these were fictitious accounts.

The many sites around the internet labeled the young ultra-yeti "Bob the Bumble." It was likely a take on the abominable snowman legend. "Who can say abominable anyway?" asked Dr. Maland to himself. "Al the Abominable Snowman simply would not work..."

One particular website was tracking the sightings of the young monster. The site tracked him from his birthplace at James Bay to the most current and accurate location that they could obtain. The group running the site had to sift through numerous conflicting reports to track the beast. However, it was a very popular site for those interested in the ultra-yeti.

From his own research on the ultra-yeti, he noticed that the beast did not stray too far from a body of water. He never strayed too far from the various reservoirs that dot the province of Quebec. In the creature's general path was the Canadian capital. Certainly, the Canadian government was aware of the creature's movements. They must have some sort of military plan to prevent the creature from destroying Ottawa.

This thought gave Dr. Maland a queasy feeling in his stomach. The thought of the Royal Canadian Air Force sending their F-18s to strike at the young ultra-yeti did not sit well with the professor. After all, the young animal was just trying to survive.

However, this baby was quite capable of doing much property damage. While he was merely a few weeks old, there were many reports that he was 50 meters tall and growing quickly. He could be taller than many building in a short time. If he were to stumble around a city like a bull in a china shop, that alone could do millions of dollars of damage.

The military of the Canadians would certainly strike at Bob before he reached any major cities. They would also likely attack before he reached some of the smaller towns north of Ottawa. He was getting quite close to those towns. "Perhaps they have already attacked," Dr. Maland muttered to himself when his phone rang.

"Hello," the professor said as he put his cell phone to his ear.

"Dr. Maland please," came the voice on the other end of the phone.

"This is Dr. Maland."

"Hello Dr. Maland, it is me Dr. LeFleur."

"Hello Claude I was just thinking about you."

"Oh? Good thoughts I hope John."

"I was looking at Bob's movements."

"Bob?"

"That is the name they gave the ultra-yeti -- Bob the Bumble."

"Ech! That's terrible."

"Yeah, but what are you gonna do?"

"True. The reason I called was about your research anyway."

"My research?"

"Yes John. How do the Iapetians ask for help from Iapetus?"

"In the usual way. A priest or priestess will go to their shrine on the beach and beseech Iapetus to come and smite their enemies. Why?"

"Do you think they could get their god to help you?"

"Me? Why do I need help?"

"Do you think Iapetus would come as a favor to you?"

"Claude -- Iapetus is a superstition. This god is nothing more than a storm that has helped the natives out of a few tight spots. He is not a creature."

"Are you sure of that?"

"Come on Dr. LeFleur -- I'm sure I have never seen the monster. I've only heard the stories. They are just like all of the other stories of its kind."

"I wouldn't believe in giant monsters either if I wasn't tracking one."

"While you have a point ..."

"Listen John -- the military has moved me away from the area around the baby. He is getting close to some populated areas and they want to end all of this. That can mean only one thing -- military strikes."

"I figured..."

"Well this creature has an extremely tough hide. They won't be able to penetrate it with their conventional weapons. I'm almost sure of it."

"So, how would Iapetus help?"

"I don't know. I'm just grasping at straws. If he gets out of control, they are talking nuclear weapons. I just don't want that type of thing to go on."

"I suppose I could ask, but I don't think it would do any good..."

"It would help your research..."

"It will take me a couple of days. I have classes to teach and papers to grade. I could leave on Friday morning."

"It would make me feel better."

"Okay. I'll talk to you later."

"Good bye Dr. Maland, and thanks."

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Iapetus Saves Manhattan

Chapter Six

The farther south the baby ultra-yeti went, the more difficult it was for Dr. LeFleur to follow. The area of southern Canada where the baby was now wandering was swampy, had many reservoirs, and had few roads. Dr. LeFleur's truck did not have off-road capability, so he had to stick to whatever road he could find. The ultra-yeti was not interested in staying near roads but stayed near bodies of water. Thus, it was becoming a very difficult task to follow him.

A radio-tracking device would have been a big help, but there were no adequate devices available. Any time the professor attempted to fire anything into the thick hide of the young creature, it would bounce right off. Thus, tranquilizer darts and tagging devices were completely useless against the wandering baby.

The baby's route still indicated that he was going to Ottawa. Dr. LeFleur noticed a huge lack of thrill seekers. He expected that there would be throngs of people attempting to see and photograph this unique creature. However, the area was strangely quiet.

Despite his desire to do otherwise, Dr. LeFleur gave General MacWayne regular updates. Even if we wished to hide his movements from the officials, he knew that it would be a wasted effort. Thus, the military was aware of Dr. LeFleur's movements, and he was getting closer to Ottawa.

The giant snow-white creature crossed highway 117 just east of Mont Laurier, Canada, and his follower was just a short distance behind him on highway 309. The baby was a bit farther east, but still heading south. A speckling of small towns along this stretch of highway were eerily quiet.

The weary professor checked his map, and realized that if the baby were going to reach Ottawa, he would have to cross highway 309. "If I wanted to protect Ottawa," he thought to himself. "I would make my stand on this road."

Dr. LeFleur started to get anxious. With the empty small towns, he was unable to fill his tank. His truck was beginning to run low on fuel. He could not track the beast on foot. He shook his weary head and mumbled, "Much further and I won't have to worry about him. The military will handle it."

He kept heading south looking for signs of the baby and for any signs of life. Here and there, he would see glimpses of a huge mound of white moving off in the distance. At the crest of a small hill, he saw a dark creature. It was a dark green. "Am I dreaming?" questioned the sleepy professor to himself. "Could that be Iapetus?"

He kept driving and quickly discovered that the dark green beast he saw was a column of military vehicles. He had reached the end of the line. A roadblock was setup, and they would not let him pass. He came to a stop and greeted the soldier staffing the roadblock. "Hello Soldier. I guess it is the end of the line for me."

"Hello Dr. LeFleur," replied the soldier. "We have been expecting you."

The soldier radioed the arrival of Dr. LeFleur. Soon, there were a number of soldiers marching towards him. A myriad of things went through his mind, but he shook them off. His felt his mind might be playing tricks on him because of his lack of sleep.

"Dr. LeFleur," stated a broad shouldered man as he walked up and put out his hand. "I'm General MacWayne."

"General," replied Claude not knowing whether to salute or take the offered hand.

"We have been expecting you. We appreciate your commitment to this matter; however, your duty is now finished and we'll take it from here."

"What is happening?"

"Come with me," stated the General as he walked back towards a line of tents along the road. "Dr. LeFleur, we have set up a perimeter protecting our Nation's Capital. If that monster crosses this road, he'll sure be sorry."

"General, the hide of that -- the ultra-yeti is very thick. Do you really think your weapons can penetrate it?"

"We won't know that until we have to actually shoot the monster. However, we have to protect Ottawa -- and Montreal. This beast could do tremendous damage to those cities just by walking through. Bull in a China shop and all that!"

"So, what are you going to do?"

"We have detection devices and scouts all along this stretch of highway. If we get a positive identification, we go to work. We've got tanks and jets and rockets. Lots and lots of rockets!"

The general's eyes became wide with excitement. It was obvious that he was looking forward to the confrontation. Dr. LeFleur was feeling a bit queasy when the alarm arrived. The young ultra-yeti had just entered their perimeter. The General took Dr. LeFleur into his command center where they could watch everything. "This is going to be cool," stated the General.

The Royal Canadian Air Force took off in their f-18s from the airport in Ottawa, but the first line of defense was the tanks and artillery. For the days leading up to this event, they had amassed the largest military operation in Canadian history. They had as many C2 Tanks as time allowed and there were lots of them. They also had a collection of C2 and C3 howitzers and several M109A+ mobile howitzers.

Several of the infantry had antitank rockets and many shoulder held rocket launchers. Just in case, they also scrambled some rocket launching ADATS. The General was of the opinion you cannot have to many rockets. Thus, he had as many rocket launching weapons as he could get into that area north of Ottawa.

From the command center, General MacWayne gave the order to move out. The big guns open fired upon the ultra-yeti. For a large animal, the yeti was quite agile. The boom of the big guns startled him and he would flinch at each one. Some of these flinches were enough to make the projectile miss. The hits did not have any effect on the thick hide of young creature. His reactions were like those of a person swatting at mosquitoes.

"Send in the tanks," ordered the General.

The tanks roared to life and moved toward the ultra-yeti. They moved in to surround the beast and force him to move away from the large Canadian cities. When the tanks open fired upon the monster, the baby roared. The sting of the projectiles and the loud boom upset the young one greatly. With great dexterity, the baby monster grabbed one of the tanks and flung it away. He kicked a line of them and destroyed them.

With the creature fighting back and inflicting damage, the tanks retreated. The airplanes were now ready to attack. The jets gathered into several formations and started to fly towards the monster. They were going to keep their distance from young beast and launch their missiles at him.

As wave after wave of missiles came towards the ultra-yeti, the monster became more and more agitated. He had been a docile creature before, but suddenly he was a fierce monster. He grabbed large boulders and threw them at anything that moved. He smashed tanks and artillery. He pulled full-grown trees, roots and all, from the ground and used them as fly swatters.

An f-18 flew too close on its pass, and was smashed to bits by a tree. Rocks and trees began flying. A large swath of destruction was forming, but the beast was still heading south. In fact, instead of driving the beast north, he began moving south at a quicker pace. He wanted to get at those creatures that were causing him pain.

He kicked and scraped and roared as he moved. Tanks and artillery pieces became tangled pieces of junk metal. The ADATS launched their rockets. The soldiers launched their rockets. However, these rockets just angered the beast. Their military action had caused the ultra-yeti to be in full rampage.

The yeti swatted aside the rockets as if they were flies. They just aggravated the monster even more. He ran after a several soldiers and they were no match for the speed of the young beast. He scooped the soldiers by the handful and began putting them in his mouth. The monster chewed several soldiers and spit them out. This caused the infantry to order a full retreat. Panic set in on the soldiers on the ground, and they ran. They ran in every direction yelling and screaming.

In the command center, General MacWayne looked in awe. He saw his highly trained troupes break discipline and scatter like scared rabbits. He could not communicate with the infantry, be he was still in radio contact with the tanks. He ordered them to resume their barrage. He hoped that the attack from the north would change the direction of the southerly moving monster.

Again, the tanks moved toward the enormous white monster. Their guns fired loudly. However, the beast ignored them. He continued his southerly rampage. He tore rocks and trees from places that they have been for centuries. A cloud of dust began swirling around the monster with the occasional rock or tree flying out of it.

The f-18s had run out of missiles and other weaponry so they had to return to the airport. This allowed the young beast to concentrate on the large column of tanks that lined the road towards Ottawa. With the rocks and trees, tanks and howitzers began flying out of the growing dust cloud the creature was stirring.

The monster gradually came closer and closer to Ottawa, and the Canadian military was helpless to stop him. Eventually, the ultra-yeti reached the Ottawa River. He just had to follow the river towards Ottawa and he would cause all kinds of damage. However, he headed towards Montreal. He followed the river to Lac Des Deux Montagnes and vanished.

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Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 9

By Dwayne MacInnes

Food at the Ranger�s cabin was starting to run short. Carl, being the only person with any wilderness skills, decided that he should try to find something to eat. The chances of finding deer, bear, or even a squirrel this late in the season and this high up was very remote, but he had to try.

Ten people back at the station were counting on him. The Ranger cabin itself was more like a one bedroom house. There was a bathroom, living room, dining room and kitchen along with the solitary bedroom. Fortunately, the cabin had a wood burning stove, or there would be no source of heat.

Carl figured that the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks were the only ones who used the station seasonally, more than likely during the summer months. The small building was sparsely furnished. There was a couch, a twin bed, a kitchen table with four chairs, as well as a small desk containing some maps and writing material.

The story of its occupants is interesting to say the least. It turns out that Rabbi Rosenberg and Pastor Brown were on their way to an interfaith conference in Seattle when things started to fall apart. The Rabbi and Pastor were old friends and had decided to carpool from Spokane to the Hilton Hotel holding the meeting in the big city. They only made it to the outskirts of town when the military roadblocks were set up. The army set them away.

The two men of faith decided that they were needed here to help those poor souls trapped in the city. They thought that if they found a remote location and laid low for a while they could sneak in at some future date. That was how they missed the general evacuation.

It turns out that they were in a campground when the word was given. The five days that they spent there was enough for the military to clear out the majority of the populace and retreat back over the Cascades.

When Rosenberg and Brown returned to the roadblock, they were met with a grisly scene. There were the burnt out hulks of vehicles that still held the smoldering remains of their occupants. People who weren�t killed by incineration were littering the grounds around the roadblock. Some were obviously shot, others were crushed from the stampeding mass of humanity fleeing the cities, and yet others had been butchered as if they had been sheep descended upon by ravenous wolves.

The smell was horrific; the stench of burnt human flesh mixed with that of decay permeated the air. Both men had terrible fits of gagging. However, they decided that they needed to see if there was anyone alive. They cautiously approached the concrete barricades that still had a few military vehicles behind it. There was the occasional dead soldier, but there was no sign of life on this end of the barricade.

The two men started to climb over the concrete slabs, slabs that were in another time the barriers between the opposing lanes of traffic, when they saw them. There on the ground mingled in with the human and mechanical wreckage were the zombies and they were feasting. The sound of these ghouls shredding and tearing apart their victims and hungrily chewing the flesh was too much for the two men. They quickly retreated to their car and sped out of there.

Neither man spoke for a long while. They were nearly out of gas in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. Pastor Brown decided that they should try to find a gas station in one of the small towns.

That was where they met the rest of the party. Brown had pulled the sputtering car into the station just before the last drop of gas was consumed. In the lot were parked an army two-ton truck and a school bus. The two men cautiously exited the car when they noticed a man in his late thirties wearing a dirty ball cap and greasy clothes come marching over to them. The name badge on his shirt said George.

This was George MacLaren, the owner of the MacLaren�s Gas and Garage. The two-pump gas station was on the outskirts of a little town that had been evacuated several days before. George was a small business owner and wasn�t about to leave his shop to the hands of looters and vandals. Therefore, despite military orders George stayed behind, he even promised several of his neighbors that he would watch over their homes until they could return. Little did anyone know that no one would be able to return to this dead zone in western Washington ever.

At first, George just looked over the two men of God curiously. The Pastor and Rabbi forgot that they were still dressed in their holy garments. It was like some bad bar joke come to life.

Pastor Brown initiated the conversation.

"Hello, I am John Brown and this is my good friend Rabbi Hershel Rosenberg," greeted the Pastor as he extended his hand.

George hesitantly extended his own grime-covered hand and started to pump Brown�s in a friendly handshake.

"George MacLaren, owner of this garage. How may I help you gentlemen?" asked the stoic faced MacLaren.

"It seems that we have had the misfortune of running out of gas. Do you happen to have any we could either purchase or borrow?" asked the Rabbi as he in turn shook George�s dirty hand.

That seemed to break the tension as MacLaren started busting out laughing, "Borrow? Heh, heh," he ejaculated. "What do I get in return, exhaust fumes?"

Both the Rabbi and the Pastor started laughing in return. It was the first good laugh any of them had had in over a week. The magic of suddenly bursting out into such genuine and heartfelt mirth lifted a great burden off everyone�s spirit.

"You may have what�s ever left in the pumps," offered MacLaren as the trio started to walk towards the station.

Rosenberg suddenly stopped in his tracks holding back his friend, Brown, when he saw the faces looking out at them from the school bus. There were about half a dozen of them. Some were even children and all had puzzled expressions plastered on them.

"Oh, I�m sorry. These are some other stragglers like you who were heading east before they closed down the passes," offered George.

As the three men resumed walking, people started pouring out of the bus. A tall man in late thirties with brown hair and a well-groomed beard walked over to the men. He was dressed in a flannel shirt and blue jeans. Behind him followed a blond woman who had to be in her mid-thirties dressed in purple scrubs. A girl in turn followed her in her late teens or early twenties with her brown hair pulled into a ponytail wearing a t-shirt and a denim skirt. The faces of four children could be seen looking out the window.

"Were you men heading east?" called out the bearded man.

"Why, yes we were, but George says the passes are closed," replied Brown.

"The military has them locked down tight like they did the barricades out of the cities. We are heading for higher ground you are welcome to join us," offered the man.

As the two parties reached each other, handshakes and greetings were exchanged. The bearded man was in fact a veterinarian called "Doc", but his real name was Vernon Stephenson. The blond woman was an RN whose name was Gloria Meyer and the pony-tailed girl was Missy Jensen.

All three and the four children in the bus had been survivors of the stampeding mass fleeing the greater Seattle area. They had witnessed the cold-blooded murder as the U.S. Army blindly opened fire on the helpless people running from the massive horde of undead following them. They were part of those survivors of the military onslaught who were able to climb over the barricades and overwhelm the soldiers just so that they could escape into the surrounding countryside.

Doc started gathering the people he found in the woods into a party. He reasoned that there was safety in numbers. In addition, the veterinarian found an abandoned school bus, loaded the refugees inside, and drove them to a garage where they met George.

George figured with the passes closed no one was going to return and proposed that they seek shelter in a ski lodge up in the Cascades. George had an army two-ton truck that the military abandoned at the garage when it broke down. The mechanic estimated that it would take him two days to fix the truck and another day to load it with all the provisions that they would need.

MacLaren had the metal drums filled with gasoline that he was able to pump thanks to his backup generator. These where then rolled into the truck along with as much food, blankets and other necessities. They were in fact, just about to leave when George heard the car chug up to the pumps.

The Rabbi and Pastor agreed to join the party. It was that night when Seattle was firebombed that the small party started on their journey to the ski lodge. It was the next day when a terrible rainstorm hit them in the mountains. Fortunately, they had found an abandoned Ranger station to sit out the storm. When the weather cleared the next morning George and Doc searched the road ahead only to find that their route to the ski lodged had been blocked by a massive mudslide. So, they all decided to stay at the station.

That was where Carl found them and became a member of their small community. He really enjoyed being with the small group and felt sadden by the prospect of having to say goodbye when the snows melted so that he could resume his mission. A mission that none of his new friends knew about. No his mission was top secret and none had suspected that he came from the east side of the mountains.

The story he told them was that he was a hunter who was living off the land. That he was on his way down following the game when he came upon their homestead. Everyone accepted that and that in of itself pleased Carl.

Now the small party was starting to run low on provisions and it was up to Carl to find something for them to eat. There had to be something out here that he could kill so that they all could survive the cold winter.

The sound of a loud crash and the smoke billowing up from the trees many miles ahead popped Carl back from his musings. Quickly Carl started off for the origin of the black trail of smoke.

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Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 10

By Dwayne MacInnes

It was the morning of the second day after Carl heard the helicopter go down that he arrived at the crash site. The wreckage of the Apache helicopter was amongst the splintered remains of the trees that once shrouded the woods in shade. Carl noticed that the cockpit was open and that both the gunner and pilot were gone. A quick survey revealed the tracks of two men leaving the site. It had to have been in the last 24 hours going by the tracks.

The FBI agent continued to look around and the story revealed itself. It appeared that there was a third person who arrived at the site. One of the crewmembers must have been wounded and the two able bodied people made a makeshift stretcher. They then headed off toward the south. The tracks in the snow, the stripped saplings, and the patch of ground where a body laid gave Carl the clues he needed in order to deduce this.

Carl went back to the helicopter to search for more clues. In the pilot�s seat there was a map that Carl grabbed and stuffed in his backpack. The FBI agent also stuffed a small untouched first-aid kit into his bag.

The morning sun was still low over the eastern peaks. That would give Carl the most amount of sunlight to follow the tracks in the snow. Carl began to hurry along after the trail of footprints. The wind started to pick up and the snow began to fall an hour after the FBI agent set out.

"Great, that�s all I need," grumbled Carl to himself.

Food was the major concern that ran through Carl�s mind. He hadn�t had any success in hunting over the past few days. If he didn�t find any game or someone willing to share their stores, his companions at the Ranger�s cabin would surely starve in a matter of weeks. Doc already had everyone on half rations. How long could those children last?

A shudder ran down the old man�s spine. The four children were the Miltons, Mary age twelve, Adam age eight, and the twins Victoria and Diane both age six. Melissa Jensen, or Missy as the kids called her, was their nanny. Missy had come to Seattle from Iowa last May at the age of eighteen. She was just out of high school when she became the Miltons� nanny. She still watched over the children like a mother. The children themselves listened to her as if she were - in fact - their mother.

Carl shook his head; Missy herself was still a child in his mind. The children�s parents were lost in the last rush over the barricades. Missy was able by extraordinary effort to keep the children together and get them safely over the military blockade and into the surrounding woods. That was where Doc found them hiding in the underbrush.

Everybody seemed to have lost someone during those two weeks in early June. Gloria was fortunate enough to be volunteering at a clinic when the hospitals were being overrun by the undead. She left the clinic as soon as it became obvious that the cities were no longer safe. Gloria tried to return to her neighborhood, but was unable to get far. It was literally crawling with ghouls. Her boyfriend, she feared, was unable to get out of their apartment as the building was burning out of control.

Doc had left his veterinarian clinic just a head of a mob of zombies shambling down the streets. He considered himself fortunate not to have any family inside Seattle. The veterinarian just headed for the city borders hoping to get out alive.

As Carl progressed along after the tracks, the wind continued to build and the snow fell even harder. Carl reckoned he had only an hour or two before all remains of the footprints were lost. He prayed desperately that he would find the men who left them quickly. There obviously had to be a house, cabin, or some other shelter nearby if some Good Samaritan rescued the crew. He also prayed that they would have some extra food and would be willing to part with some of it.

The blizzard was blinding, but Carl pressed on. He had no other choice. Fortunately, Carl always dressed in layers so that he was reasonably warm as he trudged on in the ever-deepening snow. He continued to hike for another couple hours before all signs of the men leaving the crash site were erased by nature.

There had to be a road or some other man made feature to the south reasoned the old agent. Carl had been able to keep his bearings thanks to the many glances at his pocket compass. The snowfall was as heavy as Carl had ever experienced. The cold was biting at his face, the wind howling its haunting song in his ears.

Outside of the wind, the only other noise that Carl experienced as the groaning and creaking of the pine trees overhead. Every once in a while a large clump of snow would drop down from a limb above and land on Carl. This did nothing to ease his troubled mind. He knew he had to find some form of shelter and fast.

The sunlight was nearly gone due to the overcast skies and the blinding white flakes of snow being driven by the rushing wind.

"South... I must remain on a southern course," Carl reminded himself repeatedly.

Exhaustion was finally beginning to win out over the agent. Carl wasn�t a young man anymore, and he didn�t know how much more he could push himself before he would collapse from either exhaustion or a heart attack. But push he did. The alternative was to give up, and Carl was no quitter.

Carl glanced down at his compass one more time to make sure he was still on course. He looked up to see what looked like a western fort through the break in the trees ahead. The FBI agent didn�t know if he was starting to hallucinate or not. Therefore, he approached it cautiously.

It was definitely a wooden palisade. Carl�s heart leaped with joy at the thought of finally finding some shelter to get out of this miserable weather. The blizzard was still in full force, and the snow was now up to mid-thigh on Carl.

Just as the old man was about to step into the clearing around the log barrier he heard a crack like a gunshot. Something struck him with so much force from behind that Carl was flung forward. Pain shot through his shoulder. His mind began to fog as he slipped into unconsciousness. The last thing he saw before he lost consciousness was a figure of a man running toward him in the blizzard.

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