December 2005 Archives

Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 11

By Dwayne MacInnes

The morning after the blizzard revealed a clear and bright sky. The sun was out and the temperature had risen to around forty degrees Fahrenheit. The few birds that stayed year around sang their greeting to the morning. There was no wind howling nor was there any snow falling.

Nori was sleeping in a light slumber dreaming of being in her warm bed back at the cabin. As she rolled around, she realized that she wasn’t in bed alone. Nori’s eyes nearly bulged out of her head as she instantly awoke with this realization.

She wasn’t in any bed, but a sleeping bag. She wasn’t in the cabin, but in some strange room lit faintly by the sunlight stealing in through the cracks in the boarded-up windows. Further, she wasn’t just sharing her bag with someone, but both of them were naked.

Nori shot her head towards her sleeping companion. Only the back of Brady’s head was visible. He was still soundly sleeping. His short brown hair was all disarrayed and his glasses lay on the floor next to their boots.

Nori couldn’t remember anything from the previous day. She felt very exhausted and panic began to consume her being. What was going on? What happened? Where are we? All flashed through her mind at once. However, what came out of her mouth was a blood-curdling scream.

Brady instantly awoke and jumped out of the bag. He managed to grab his glasses and threw them on his face as he scrambled for his shotgun. It all happened so fast that he didn’t even notice that the metal frame of his glasses were freezing as it came in contact with his skin nor that he was standing in the middle of the room holding a shotgun totally nude.

"YOU... YOU PERVERT!!!" Nori screeched.

Brady was still half asleep as he stared down at Nori who was sitting up and quivering with rage inside her sleeping bag. The puzzled expression on his face did nothing to calm her down.

"You took advantage of me," Nori said angrily before she started to sob into her hands.

"Wha...?" was all Brady got out.

The lookout station’s interior though warmer than it was outside was still cold. Brady then realized that he was standing in front of Nori with nothing on. That is when the memories of the previous day flooded back to him. Brady went to retrieve his clothes from where he had stuffed them into the sleeping bag when Nori violently pushed him away.

Brady found his coat and wrapped it around his waist. He then seated himself down next to Noriko who was still crying into her hands.

"Nori, calm down," Brady said soothingly. "Nothing happened."

"What do you mean nothing happened," she replied between sobs. "We were sleeping together in a sleeping bag NAKED!"

"Nori, what do you remember from yesterday?" Brady asked in a calm voice. "Do you know where we are or how we got her?"

Nori shook her head in the negative not looking up at Brady.

"OK. Nori, tell me what you do remember," Brady prodded.

"We went out after Sarge to stop him from murdering the pilot. It was snowing very hard and I was getting very cold," Nori started.

"Go on."

"Then we...I don’t remember. I must have fallen asleep or something," Nori finally said.

"Nori, you had hypothermia. That’s when your body’s core temperature goes below 95 degrees," Brady began.

Nori just sat there looking at the floor sniffling occasionally, but never saying anything.

"You were rambling incoherently, shivering uncontrollably and moving very sluggishly. These are the signs of hypothermia. If you body temperature drops below the mid 70s you die.

"Fortunately, for us both I stumbled upon this fire lookout and was able to get you up here. The best way to warm-up another person with hypothermia is to share body heat and that means bare skin to bare skin. You have my word nothing happened. Hell, I was so tired nothing could have happened," Brady concluded.

Nori looked up at Brady sheepishly. Then she began to chuckle, which then became a hearty laugh.

Brady stared at her not comprehending what brought on the laughter. Maybe she was still suffering from the hypothermia.

Still laughing Nori fished around in the bottom of the sleeping bag and pulled out some clothes that she flung at Brady.

"Man, you had to see yourself standing there totally naked with your shotgun in your hand," laughed Nori.

Brady’s face must have turned three shades of red as he hurriedly dressed himself in his warm clothes.

* * * * *

Carl woke up in a twin bed in a small bedroom. He must have made it to a cabin. His shoulder still hurt and he reached for it instinctively. It was bandaged, but nothing appeared to be broken. Obviously, someone must have found him.

The FBI agent looked around the room. The sunlight flooding in from the single window revealed a large black man in military BDU’s sleeping in a chair next to him.

Carl reached over and shook the man awake. The soldier came awake with a start. He looked over at Carl and then smiled.

"Good morning, Mr. Roger’s," greeted the black man.

"Uh...Hello? You seem to have me at a disadvantage," Carl returned.

"I’m Master Sergeant Ronald Greene. I found you in the snow outside the gate to the palisade. It appears that a tree limb broke with the weight of the snow and fell on top of you. Thank goodness nothing was broken," offered Ronald.

"I saw the crash and followed the trail that led me here. You did rescue the Apache crewmen didn’t you?" asked Carl.

Ronald’s face turned sour at the mention of the Apache crewmembers. Carl then saw sadness and worry flash across the sergeant’s face before it became impassive.

"What brings the FBI over the mountains to Terra Mortis as we call our new world over here?" returned Ronald.

It was obvious that the sergeant didn’t want to talk about the helicopter crew. In addition, Carl was interested in knowing how the soldier knew he came over the mountains.

"I’m sorry, I’ve been trapped on this side of the mountain like you when everything hit the fan," answered Carl.

"OK. Let’s place our cards on the table. I found your ID in your wallet nothing to hide there. But you also had a state quarter that wasn’t in circulation when the passes were closed down. So you had to come in from the other side," replied Ronald deadpan.

"That’s pretty good deduction. Looks like you are in the wrong line of work there sergeant," began Carl with a slight smirk on his face. "Things are little better on the other side as you put it. What do you know about what’s happening over there?"

"I heard from the pilot, yes, I rescued the crew, that the passes are nearly impenetrable and that we are a hair’s breath of going to war with Iran over something they had nothing to do with."

Many questions flooded the FBI agent’s head with Ronald’s single sentenced. However, he decided to paint the picture for the soldier before asking his own questions.

"First of all things are bad. You probably know that the economy is in shambles. But did you know that the draft has been reinstated? Every able-bodied boy and girl between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two is in the military. The Patriot Act has been strengthened and the CIA is acting like the president’s secret police. The FBI has been taking a shelling for this president for years and it looks like we are about to be the sacrificial lamb again.

"Martial law is the reality on the other side. The president has been hinting that he’ll have to suspend the elections until things can be returned to normal.

"What about the congress? They have given the president carte blanche on nearly everything. This is ten times worse than 9/11.

"Both parties in congress are starting to realize that they have lost their power to the executive branch. But what can they do. The people are scared and angry and they want someone to blame. The president has given them their scapegoat...Iran.

"So it is my mission to try and get to the ColTech pharmaceuticals plant in Marysville and to find some evidence that someone else was involved instead of Iran."

Ronald just sat their staring at the FBI agent for a while not saying anything. This news was overwhelming.

"Now I have a couple of questions for you. How do you know that Iran isn’t involved and what’s the story with the helicopter crew?" asked Carl.

"I can help you with your mission. I have the evidence that you seek here downstairs," Ronald said to Carl, whose jaw nearly hit the ground. "I have a CD-Rom and papers stating who was involved in the ColTech project. There is proof that Washington and this administration in particular is knee deep in this crap."

Then Ronald went into the story of the helicopter crew, their rescue, Lt. Jones attempted rape of Nori and his banishment. Then how when he returned to the cabin Coop and Smith told him that Nori and Brady had went out looking for him. Now the two are lost out there and even possibly dead from the blizzard.

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Iapetus Saves Manhattan

Chapter Seven

"Vanished?" thought Dr. John Maland to himself. "How can an enormous snow-white monster vanish like that?"

Dr. Maland was gathering all the information about the ultra-yeti that he could get. If he were going to ask Iapetus to help with their problem, he was going to have to know where to send him.

The last report Dr. Maland read was that "Bob the Bumble" vanished somewhere in the Ottawa River basin. If he got into the St. Lawrence Seaway, the young ultra-yeti could end up anywhere along the Great Lakes. He could menace anywhere from upstate New York, to northern Minnesota. That was a long stretch. It was not enough information to give to the mythical creature Iapetus.

"Why am I doing this?" he asked himself. "Iapetus doesn't exist. All of this work for a silly notion. I have finals to score. I shouldn't be wasting my time fetching mythical beasts."

Dr. Maland scratched his head and paced the floor for a few minutes. He did not like all of the pressure that was suddenly put upon him. With this pressure of this sort, he often found himself talking to himself. "On the other hand," he continued. "It would be a great opportunity to see their summoning ritual. It would be worth that."

"But, where do I tell them to go?" he continued in his internal debate. "How do I tell them to send their protector there?"

Dr. Maland paced some more and internally debated himself over the merits of the trip. The deciding factor to go on this journey was the ritual. However, he was going to need to find out where the creature was. Without this information, his trip would be useless. He decided to call Dr. Claude LeFleur to see if he had any more information.

"Hello?" enquired Dr. LeFleur as he answered his phone.

"Hello Claude. This is Dr. John Maland calling."

"Hello John. How are you?"

"Fine thanks. The reason I'm calling is that I'm going to need to know more about the young ultra-yeti's whereabouts. I can't go summon Iapetus without some knowledge of where I'm sending him."

"He vanished in the river. We don't know where he is..."

"You don't have any ideas? You can't even guess where he is going?"

"Your guess is as good as mine. I've been put out of the loop. I now get my information from the same place that you do."

"I'm sorry. OK then, I guess I will talk to you later."

"I'm sorry too. Thanks for your help on this."

"Sure thing. Good bye Claude."

"Talk to you later John."

"That wasn't much help," John thought to himself. Then he realized it did not really matter where to send the creature. "This is a mythical beast! I'm only here to see the ritual. It isn't like he's real or anything. This trip isn't going to affect anything."

"So, where do I send him?" John continued with his internal debate. "I shouldn't make it too hard. Something easy. I know. I'll send him up the Hudson River. New York should be easy to find!"

Dr. Maland created a map of the eastern U.S. He made sure that the Iapetian Island was included. That way, he could direct the natives on where to send Iapetus.

"That is..." Dr. Maland continued. "If they wish to do us this favor."

John gathered up his supplies and filled his sailboat. His finals were going to have to wait. His research was going to come first this time. His students would understand.

Dr. Maland sailed into the heart of the Bermuda Triangle, and did not have trouble. He arrived at the island, and he was greeting in the usual fashion. It was an unscheduled visit, but it appeared that they expected him to come. A couple of the Iapetians met him at the beach as he arrived.

He asked to be taken to the tribal leaders. He wanted to initiate the plea for help as soon as possible. There was no need wasting time. After his meeting, the village came to life. They agreed to ask their deity for help.

The preparations began on the beach. There were two massive carved pillars sunk deeply on the beach. They almost looked like two highly tattooed legs sticking out of the sand.

Between these pillars, they began digging a deep trench. The natives lined the trench with palm leaves. Once the trench was fully lined with leaves, they began filling it up with fruits of all types.

The native trees produced plenty of fruits. It was a major element of the Iapetian diet. They were using their excess as an offering to Iapetus their god. "This is pretty standard sacrifice," Dr. Maland noted. "It is generous of them to perform their ceremony for someone else's benefit."

Once the Iapetians had filled the pit, they built a fire farther up the beach. Around the fire, they placed their drumming equipment. "They are going to use dance and song to bring their deity to them," Dr. Maland continued in his notes. "I hope I can follow the ceremony as I assume it will be in their native language."

"When the sun touches the distant waters the ceremony will begin." Dr. Maland learned from the tribal leaders.

Just as the sun began to set, the drumming began. The islanders began their chants. They were chanting the word for "join us" in their language. It was a very hypnotic chant. The drumbeat was very deep and rhythmic. It was as if the entire island shook with the beat of the music.

After several minutes of drumming and chanting, it stopped. From a nearby hut, out stepped a Priestess in ceremonial garb. She had a dress made from woven leaf fibers. They had taken the fibers and made a thread of them. They took this thread and wove it into an intricate cloth. It was surprisingly strong and soft. The cloth was very time consuming to create, and they used it only in ceremonial clothing.

The Priestess began dancing closer and closer to the pillars. The drummers played softly. She was gyrating and waving her hands in a fashion similar to a hula. "It is very reminiscent of Polynesian dancing," Dr. Maland wrote in his notebook.

She danced closer and closer to the pillars on the beach. The drummers played louder and louder. A rhythmic pulse began pounding and pounding throughout the beach. The entire party was rocking back and forth with the beat. She got closer and closer to the pit. When she reached the side of the pit at the farthest point from the sea, it all stopped. Dr. Maland noted that the rhythms and the sound were very hypnotic. At every point when the drumming stopped, he felt himself jerk.

The Priestess dropped to her knees at the mouth of the pit. She began bowing to the sea. Up and down she went. The drummers let her proceed in silence. After a few bows in silence, she sat on her knees and began her song. Dr. Maland struggled with the language, but he wrote his notes in short hand. He tried to get as much as he could understand, and this is what he noted.


Oh oh great Iapetus
Thankful are each of us
We give you this offering
On this fine day of spring

Oh oh kind Iapetus
You are so good to us
Such a kind protector
We hate to ask of ya

Oh oh fine Iapetus
You are very generous
My sister has a friend
Help could you send

Oh oh good Iapetus
Our love is strong and such
Trouble is in the north
We ask you to sally forth

Oh oh strong Iapetus
We count on you so much
The fruits of your island
Are here for your hand

Oh oh hungry Iapetus
If it is not to too much fuss
Come snack on our beach
You tongue can take what's in reach

Oh oh our Iapetus
You are strong and stuff
We shant forget-tie
Your slaying the ultra-yeti

Dr. Maland had difficulty understanding the rest of the chant. He just did not have enough grasp of the language. However, it did sound as if she was inviting Iapetus for a date. Much of what he translated sounded very silly to him, and he tried to take the ceremony seriously. However, occasionally he had to suppress a laugh.

At one point, he was suppressing a laugh when the waves around the beach became very choppy. They looked very different from a regular tide coming in. When the strange waves began reaching the shore at a regular interval, the priestess stopped her chant. She sat in a prostrated position and the drums began playing softly again.

Out of the corner of his eye, Dr. Maland thought he spotted something in the water. The darkness was growing slowly, and he thought he was imagining things. The hypnotic drumbeats slowly grew in intensity. Dr. Maland thought he saw something in the water again. "Are some whales passing by?" Dr. Maland asked himself silently.

The steady drumbeat became louder and louder. Dr. Maland felt himself swaying with the beat like the natives. Another passing image from the sea caught Dr. Maland's attention. "Am I hypnotized?" he asked himself. "Does this ceremony create some sort of mass hypnotic field that causes ships to run aground?"

As the intensity of the drums grows, the Priestess begins her dance again. The sea becomes dark. The irregular waves continue but the water becomes white with foam. Off the coast, the water is very dark.

Suddenly the drums stop. Dr. Maland is startled again, and notices the creature. The enormous lizard-like creature emerges from the water and consumes the offering in one gulp. "Iapetus is real!" Dr. Maland screams. With that rush of emotion, Dr. Maland fell unconscious.

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Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 12

By Dwayne MacInnes

After Ronald finished his story, Carl got out of bed and dressed himself. His shoulder was tender, and he winched as he put on his shirt. There was much to do. Carl owed Ronald his life and decided that he would try to repay the soldier by helping him search for his friends.

"Sergeant, I do have another favor to ask you," the old man began.

"Sure, whatever I can do," returned the grim-faced sergeant.

"I’m not alone. I left ten people at a Ranger’s cabin two days from here. They are nearly out of food. They won’t make it through the winter unless you can spare some of your food," Carl stated. "There are children, sergeant."

Ronald looked up at the FBI agent and nodded.

"We have plenty of food. If we can get the truck on the road, you can show me where to deliver the goods. First, we’ll spend the day looking for any sign of Nori and Brady they couldn’t have gotten too far in the blizzard."

"One last thing, Sergeant, there is a map in my pack that I obtained from the helicopter. It looked to contain the location of some munitions dump. I believe that you could use that information," stated Carl.

The two men descended the stairs to the living room. Coop and Smith were making breakfast in the kitchen/dining room. The smell of eggs and game meat wafted up throughout the house. Carl didn’t know when the last time he had meat. His stomach rumbled in anticipation.

"Morning, Sarge," the gunner said as he hopped around with his crutch.

Coop was setting the dining room table as he looked over at the sergeant. The young boy’s eyes were blood shot and his face wore a downcast expression. Ronald knew that Thomas Cooper had been crying all night long. Nori, Brady, Coop, and Sarge over the last few months had become very close. They all thought of themselves as a family.

"Sarge, do you think I could go with you and look for Nori and Brady?" asked Coop.

"Sorry son, I need you to help out Greg here," Ronald looked over at the gunner who in turn nodded understanding. It was very likely that if Ronald found the two they would be lying under the snow frozen to death. It was bad enough to think of them dead without have the young boy see their rigid bodies contorted in death.

Greg set the food upon the table as everyone started to seat themselves. The clinking of utensils on plates was the only sound that could be heard as everyone ate their breakfast. Carl felt that he was being rude as he ravenously consumed his breakfast. He didn’t realize how hungry he really was until he started eating.

After breakfast, Carl and Ronald entered the living room. Ronald sat the FBI agent on the couch. He then produced a briefcase and sat it upon the coffee table. The sergeant then undid the clasps and opened the top.

Carl peered inside with anticipation. He saw papers and the CD-Rom the sergeant talked about. A quick glance of the papers revealed all that Ronald had told Carl.

"Sarge, everything appears to be as you said. I’ll make of copy of these and take it with me; I have a laptop in my backpack. I want you to keep the originals over here. I don’t want there to be any accidents on the other side without having a backup. I believe everything should be fine here for now, let’s begin our search," the old man said.

Ronald dreaded searching for his friends, but he knew it was better to be done with it as soon as possible. The soldier got up and went over to a closet. He pulled out two backpacks and started stuffing them with the supplies. He only brought the things that he believed that they would need. Carl assisted Ronald in his packing as Coop and Smith cleaned up after their breakfast.

*****

The two figures marched through the snow. They had been walking for two hours. The snow was still deep, but because the temperature was in the forties the snow was wet, slushy, and generally uncomfortable. It clung to the bottom of their boots and got inside to turn their socks wet.

Brady glanced at his watch it was 10:45 am. The cabin couldn’t be much further. Brady knew exactly where they had been at the lookout station. On his hunting excursions with his grandfather, they had passed the lookout many times. The cabin wasn’t more than a few miles away from it.

However, because Brady had to blaze the trail for Nori to follow, their progression was excruciating slow. He was wet and miserable. This was probably the worse type of snow he’d ever experienced. The fact that he lived all his winter months in Seattle, Brady’s encounter with snow was extremely limited. Brady knew that it was just as bad if not worse for Nori.

Nori was still weakened by her recent encounter with hypothermia. Brady wanted to stay at the lookout, but she insisted that they head for the cabin. She stumbled along behind Brady. The only thing that kept her going was the knowledge that Sarge and Coop awaited them at the cabin.

Brady was weaving his way between some evergreens when he noticed two men walking in their general direction. It took a moment for Brady to realize that they were indeed men.

Nori bumped into Brady not realizing that he had stopped in his tracks. She looked up and saw the men herself. Nori bumping into Brady brought him back to his senses.

Brady raised his arms and started waving them as he yelled. The two men stopped and looked over toward them. One of them began running towards them. As he got closer, Brady saw that it was Sarge. The other man he had never seen before.

Ronald picked Brady up in a bear-hug cracking the young man’s back in the process. Then the sergeant ran over to Nori and picked her up into his arms. He could see that she was greatly fatigued and began to carry her, weapons, pack and all.

On the way back to the cabin, introductions were exchanged and stories were swapped. There was much laughing and relief. Even Nori would break out into her infectious laugh.

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Iapetus Saves Manhattan

Chapter Eight

General Innes MacWayne had scouts searching all along the Ottawa River looking for the baby ultra-yeti. He did not want it to get into the St. Lawrence Seaway or the monster would be very difficult to track. His Canadian military search teams had searched for quite some time, and they had not come up with anything.

"Finding a 100 meter tall, snow-white monster shouldn't be this hard," he mumbled to himself.

"Sir!" shouted one of the search team leaders as he saluted the general. "Still no sign. Sir!"

"Alright soldier," replied the general after returning the salute. He turned to one of the commanders and continued. "Colonel, take your brigade towards Ottawa. If the monster heads that way, we need to head him off. I'll send another brigade towards Montreal. This search is fruitless, so we had better protect our towns. I'll notify the U.S. secretary of defense about this."

The Colonel took his troops and their vehicles towards Ottawa. It was a long column of tanks, rocket launchers, and personnel carriers. A similar caravan headed towards Montreal. The creature's whereabouts were still unknown, but they did not want to leave their major cities unguarded. It was still possible that the monster could surface and destroy one of those towns.

The call between General MacWayne and the Secretary of Defense of the United States did not go well for the Canadian military man. The secretary was fuming mad that the Canadian military did not stop the beast. Further, the news that they did not know where the monster was located also did not go over well.

The U.S. had mobilized some units to deal with the beast, but now they did not know if they properly deployed the units. The Secretary strengthened the military's position along the Canadian border. He also ordered regular Recon missions over the northern states where the monster could emerge. He demanded that they find this monster before causing damage to any American city.

They knew now that the Canadian tanks and rockets were no match for the young monster. The Secretary asked the states to mobilize the National Guard of the affected areas. As much military might, as could be mustered at such short notice, was going to face the beast. The President even allowed the use of nuclear force.

After several very tense days, a reconnaissance plane spotted the creature in the Adirondack Mountains. He had crossed into upstate New York and appeared still to be on the rampage. He had destroyed several vacation spots and smashed some buildings of some small New York towns. His path was much more erratic than when he was in Canada. He was going up and down mountains and sometimes saying in valleys.

General Kenneth "Kit" R. Mann was in charge of the task force to destroy the monster. Canadian General MacWayne briefed him on all of the information that he could provide. After the briefing, he called for Dr. LeFleur to join him at task force headquarters in Albany, New York. He wanted the expert on this ultra-yeti beside him to determine the best strategy for destroying this menace.

Dr. LeFleur arrived by special jet early the next day and met with General Mann.

"Good Morning Dr. LeFleur," the General spoke as the two men shook hands.

"General," replied Dr. LeFleur.

"Thanks for flying out here on such short notice. I'm General Kenneth Mann, but you can call me Kit."

"General," replied Dr. LeFleur curtly.

"Very well, General works too. I know you are somewhat attached to this -- er -- animal. I can respect that. However, we cannot allow -- uh -- him to continue on his rampage. He is causing quite a stir upstate. He's caused quite a lot of damage already."

"The barrage of missiles and what-not has upset him."

"Quite! Be that as it may, this creature was riled up by Canadian forces but is taking it out on American property."

"I guess so."

"Do you have any ideas on how to calm him down? Does music have charms to calm this savage beast?"

"The quote is ... never mind. He will calm down on his own when he gets tired. Or, when he gets hungry."

"Using a carrot rather than a stick eh? I like it. We should air drop in some food for this -- em -- animal."

"That might be a good idea! You could use food to lure him away from populated areas."

"Fair enough Dr. LeFleur. What does this -- ah -- animal eat?"

"From my brief studies, his diet is very similar to that of a bear. He is capable of catching large animals like moose and deer. Plus, he has eaten lots of plant material like wheat."

"It is your opinion that we could lure him with food away from populated areas."

"I believe it could be fruitful. However, he does seem to be migrating southward. I cannot say where his final destination will take him. His kind may have had a hunting and grazing ground somewhere that he is trying to get. He is the first of his kind that we are aware of, and much of his behavior is still a mystery."

"That is valuable information for us doctor. Now, for a bit of unpleasant talk... How do you suppose we could kill it?"

"I haven't the foggiest. His hide is very thick and the munitions that the Canadian military used on him had little effect -- other than making him mad."

"Very good doctor. I appreciate your candor and hope you're wrong about that. Thanks for coming, and I'm sure I will want more information from you later. Make yourself at home here. If you need anything, ask the soldier outside. We'll keep you posted."

"Am I a prisoner?"

"Not at all! It is just that we don't want you getting in the way. You will be kept safe. We'll feed all of the information we get to you from this computer. You can monitor our progress and continue your study of this -- er -- animal."

General Mann left Dr. Lefleur in the tent and started making some plans. He determined that an excellent course of action would be to lure the monster to a remote location with some food. The U.S. military would attack the creature at this location. It was determined that with the prevailing winds, the location of the creature, and the large population centers, it would be a very bad idea to use nuclear weapons.

A few miles northwest of Herkimer Landing, New York the military began stockpiling food. It was a very remote part of the Adirondack Park Preserve. It was difficult to reach from the ground, so the General could not put much of a land force in the area. However, plenty of airpower was available.

When the young ultra-yeti came upon the food, he lingered. There was a lot of food there, and a few airdrops of more food occurred while he was still there. He feasted mightily, and once his stomach was full, the young beast rested. Since his emergence from James Bay, he had never lingered long in one place. He had been like a fugitive. He would rest briefly at one place or another, but not for long stretches. This spot he found to his liking.

The enormous creature for the first time since his birth, stretched out to sleep. He flattened out a large section of forest, and went to sleep. He looked quite content. He was no longer in a rampage.

The general let him rest. He had time to move later. He may even make a few more airdrops for the creature. In this way, he would have time to mobilize his forces more effectively. If he could convince the creature to stay there for a few days, he could bring down a large amount of firepower.

The young ultra-yeti did like his spot in the woods. There was plenty to eat from the airdrops and drink from nearby West Canada Lake and other lakes. He lingered. He was much calmer now. He was almost leisurely. After a night of restful sleep, he still lingered. He basked in the sunshine of that spring morning. He even spent a second night at the spot. He had found a peaceful spot.

All the while plans were being made. Plans that were not in the ultra-yeti's best interest. If he had known what things were in the works, he would have not lingered. He would have left with all due haste. General Mann organized a night strike. He would hit the beast as it slept. He would hit this monster hard while it was still resting. Strike while it was at his most vulnerable.

While the ultra-yeti was sleeping in his makeshift nest, several F-111s took off from their base. Along with these, several F-117 stealth fighters with a full compliment of smart bombs started their sortie. Off the coast, the navy launched several cruise missiles. The attack was coordinated to strike the beast and the surrounding area simultaneously.

At precisely 23:30 EST, the area around the ultra-yeti erupted in huge fireball. Smart bombs were exploding and cruise missiles were striking their target. The peaceful slumber that the young ultra-yeti enjoyed had erupted into a massive coordinated strike.

Fire and smoke surrounded the area. A recon team had placed their lasers on the beast and guided the munitions to their target. Once the smoke cleared, a huge crater remained. The beast was gone.

However, he did not vanish in the ball of fire. He had jumped up just before the first bomb hit. Perhaps it was the faint whistle, or perhaps it was just instinct. In any event, the young monster jumped from his nest before it exploded and ran. With his long legs, he could cover ground quickly. The recon troops could not keep up with him. However, he was headed across the mountains towards New York's state capital, Albany. He was once again in full rampage.

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Terra Mortis II

Chapter 13

By Dwayne MacInnes

The band of survivors at the Ranger's cabin had given up all hope of seeing Carl alive. Everyone believed that he had died during the blizzard. The loss was doubly troubling because Carl was also the only one amongst those at the cabin who knew how to hunt. With their food supply dwindling every day, the outlook of any of them being alive in the spring was grim.

Vernon had already cut everyone down to a minimal daily food ration in order to sustain life. Gloria was of immense help to Vernon. Though he was only a veterinarian he was the closest thing they had to a real doctor. Gloria was able to assist the vet in assessing and prescribing for humans.

Doc worried mostly about the children. The poor kids had suffered so much already and now he had to watch them slowly waste away. Fortunately, no major cold or flu outbreak had swept through the cabin. He doubted if the children would have been able to survive a sickness especially the young twins.

Doc was also impressed with how well behaved the children were. They obeyed Missy's orders without any complaint or protest. He also never heard the children openly complain about being hungry. Maybe Missy pointed out to them that everyone was starving or maybe it was just that the children had already endured such grievous conditions that no child should ever have to witness.

The dynamics of the group had already taken shape. Pastor Brown and Rabbi Rosenberg acted as the group's leaders. Their sound wisdom kept the party alive. In fact, it was probably their unpopular decision not to search for Carl that may have prevented further loss. None of them had any real wilderness skills and George carried their only remaining firearm, his Browning BLR .358 rifle. It was after a couple days that everyone came around to the holy men's line of thinking.

Doc and Gloria of course acted for the group's welfare. They had set up the location of the latrine away from the cabin and away from their water source to prevent any disease. They monitored everyone's condition to make sure that no one was ill from the lack of food. The calorie calculation was very fine. Nevertheless, even with them eating next to nothing the food supply would run out long before spring.

Missy, a mere nineteen years of age, acted as mother for the four children. By no means was this an easy task under ideal conditions. However, she took over the role naturally. The children reacted to her as if she had always been a member of their family.

The four children still acted as normal children for the most part. They played and joked around. This did a lot to relieve the tensions that everyone was undergoing. Adam was the only one who seemed to have been adversely affected by their experiences. The young boy would still wake up from nightmares of ghouls chasing him or of seeing his parents gunned down by soldiers. Missy's presence always calmed the boy back down, and he would resume his slumber usually to her soft humming.

George was the mechanic. He kept the party's two vehicles in operating condition. George suggested that if the snow should melt enough he could drive down to the nearest town, house, gas station, or whatever and find food. Everyone knew that it was risky. The weather, the dead, and even the living could all pose fatal problems.

Fortune seemed to smile on the group when the temperature had risen to over 40 degrees over the past few days. The snows had receded enough for the attempt to be made. Doc insisted that he go along with George to help with the search, loading of supplies, and help with any problems. The big decision was whether they should take the rifle or not. Both Doc and George insisted that the group at the cabin keep their only weapon. Doc and George would have to make the run unarmed.

Doc sat there at the dining room table pondering in the dark of the night. Everyone else was asleep. Missy and Gloria slept with the children in the small bedroom while the men slept in the living room area. Doc couldn't sleep tonight. So he sat in the dining room at the table worrying over their many problems.

Vernon didn't really like the idea of splitting up the group again. They had already lost one party member. But was it more of a risk to split the party again or bring everyone along? This discussion went on for a while. Finally, the decision was that it would be better just to send the two men, and everyone else would stay in the relative safety of the cabin.

Doc should really be sleeping, but he was nervous. Even after all he had endured over the last few months, he still didn't relish the idea of running into potential problems. He knew that the zombies could barely function in the cold of winter, but the gangs of the living predators were often more of a threat than the undead. There was no telling how far they have spread, or in what place they may be laying in ambush to rob and murder unsuspecting victims.

Doc stood up from the table. He really should get some rest. Maybe things would go their way. It may only take them a few hours to get to town and back with all the supplies they would need without encountering anyone or anything. Doc smiled sardonically in the darkness thinking maybe he was becoming an optimist.

The wind started to howl. The smile evaporated from Doc's face. It was apparent that their troubles weren't over. It looked like they were doomed to slow starvation after all. Doc looked over at the men sleeping in the living room to see George fly out of his sleeping bag.

George ran over to the door and flung it open. Doc stood there dumbfounded not comprehending what was going on. The crisp air flooded into the room. The other men in the room awoke in bewilderment.

"George, what is it?" asked the groggy Rabbi.

"There's a truck heading up the road," George said pulling his rifle from where it rested against the wall.

"A truck!" Doc exclaimed. So it wasn't the wind he heard. In the very least, it looked like starvation may not be what does them in, but instead raiders. With that realization, Doc ran over towards George.

"Shut the damn door. Looks like the raiders finally found us," growled Doc.

George shut the door and blocked it. Brown ran into the bedroom. The other three men went over to the window and crouched behind it. Looking out the frosted panes they could see the headlights of truck slowly driving up the tree lined road.

All they could make out was that it was a pickup. The truck stopped a few yards from the two-ton truck and bus. The beams from the headlights flooded the interior of the cabin. Doc and the Rabbi ducked down below the window. Only George continued his vigil out the window his knuckles white from gripping his BLR.

The Pastor crawled over to the men at the window.

"I told the women to keep themselves and the children low. If the raiders break into the cabin they are to get themselves and the children out the rear window and head for the woods," hissed the Pastor.

A creaking door could be heard opening on the truck. No one could see anything because of the glaring lights. George opened the window and lifted the rifle up to his shoulder. He levered a cartridge into the chamber and sighted down the barrel towards the lights.

Just as suddenly as it all began, the lights blinked out. George blinked his eyes. He was just as blind as he was when the lights were shining in his eyes. Doc peered over the ledge of the window and because his eyes were more adjusted to the dark than George's he could see a man slowly approaching them.

"Give me the gun," whispered Doc.

George obediently passed the rifle over the vet still blinking and rubbing his eyes. Doc had never fired a firearm before. However, George had given everyone lessons in the operation of the rifle. Doc lined up the gun's front and back sites onto the man approaching the cabin. He slowly started to squeeze the trigger.

"Pastor Brown, Rabbi Rosenberg, Doc, George are you guys in there?" the darkened shape called out.

Doc lowered the rifle to the floor and stood up in front of the window.

"Carl?" replied the bewildered vet.

"It's all right. I've brought help and supplies," called out the old man.

The four men flew out the cabin's door and ran up to Carl. They could not believe their eyes. Simultaneously they began to pelt the man with questions.

Carl just laughed and hugged them all in turn.

"Looks like I'm the 'Prodigal Son'. Right Pastor," laughed the FBI agent.

"Maybe you guys didn't notice that it is the 25th, so I'd say you are more of a Christmas miracle. Merry Christmas everyone!" the pastor cried.

"Maybe there is something to be said for your Santa Claus," smiled the Rabbi as he pointed out the red 1955 Dodge truck. "I guess he traded in the sleigh for a truck."

By this time, the women and the children being curious had flocked out of the cabin bringing a lit oil lamp with them. That was when they noticed the three people hanging back by the truck.

There was a tall stocky black man dressed as a soldier, a petite Asian girl with short black hair dressed in a black leather outfit with a pink pistol on her hip, and a young man in glasses also dressed in black leather holding a Louisville slugger bat. They all leaned back against the hood of the red Dodge smiling at the reunion.

"Please, let me introduce our saviors," smiled Carl motioning for the trio to approach.

"This is Sergeant Greene the man who saved me. I'll give you the details later."

Ronald started exchanging handshakes with everyone as they slapped him on the back.

"Hi, I'm Noriko Fubuki, but everyone just calls me Nori," Nori said without further prompting.

"I'm Vernon Stephenson, but everyone calls me Doc. So I guess we are both nicknamed after dwarves," laughed Doc.

Nori shot Brady in the ribs with her elbow as he groaned at Doc's joke.

After everyone was introduced, they all moved into the cabin to get out of the cold. Carl then told them his story of how he saw the helicopter crash and followed the trail to the cabin. The FBI agent finally let everyone in on the secret of what he and his mission were.

"So after the supplies are unloaded I'm heading back east. I'm sorry to leave you guys, but many lives are at stake," Carl said.

"I've been thinking that we should bring everyone back with us. We can't all stay at Brady's cabin, of course, but we can locate you guys into cabins in the area," offered Sarge.

"It would be a shame to leave our happy camp here, but you are probably right," Pastor Brown smiled.

"Of course ... that's it!" Brady yelled as he stood up.

Everyone looked at him as if he was a lunatic. As Brady realized that he was the focus of everyone's attention, he sat back down.

"Sorry, it's just that I totally forgot all about it," the young man said.

"Son, could you please let us all in on your revelation," Sarge prodded.

"Look there is this summer camp about twenty miles west of our cabin. It should have some supplies because they were getting it ready for the summer before everything happened."

Brady went over to a map on the wall and started tracing out a route to the summer camp for the group. "There's a lake, several buildings, cabins, a great lodge and it already has a fence around most of it to prevent the average homesick kid from running away."

"What's the name of our new home?" asked Gloria.

"Camp Crystal Lake," returned Brady.

"You've got to be kidding me? Is it haunted by someone in a hockey mask?" laughed Nori in her usual bubbly laugh.

Everyone else started to laugh. Brady looked around the room and smiled and then he went over to Nori and whispered in her ear, "Am I missing something?"

"Man, didn't you watch any movies?" Nori said a bit too loud.

The whole household except Brady started to laugh even harder. Brady just sat down and turned a deeper shade of red.

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Iapetus Saves Manhattan

Chapter Nine

Dr. Maland slowly came to consciousness. He did not know how long he had been out, but to him he felt he was out for days. In fact, he was not out for more than a couple of minutes. The building excitement and the sudden and unexpected site of the giant monster overwhelmed his senses.

After coming aware of his surroundings, he began to take in the giant beast. Iapetus was lying on his stomach next to a fire the natives built in the pit. The aquatic creature tucked his hands back, and they rested besides his waist. A young native was relaxing in the palm of one hand and she was leaning back upon the webbing between his fingers.

Many of the members of the Iapetian community were patting the enormous creature on the head, and he looked quite at peace. He had his eyes closed, and he had fully retracted the spines upon his back.

Dr. Maland estimated that Iapetus was at least 200 meters long. However, he noted that a good percentage of that was tail. While on his hind legs, the giant beast was probably between 75 and 100 meters tall. He was somewhat reminiscent of a green iguana, but Dr. Maland did not believe he was a reptile. His legs pulled up under him more like a bird while reptile legs stick straight out from the hips.

Thus, when Iapetus stood, he balanced himself upon the seesaw of his hips. He would use his tail as a balance. His spines were retractable and there was a membrane between each spine. The spines would aid in swimming and make him look more menacing. "With his spines retracted and him resting upon the beach," noted Dr. Maland. "The giant monster is almost cute."

"While Iapetus was mostly a dark forest green," wrote in his journal. "He does have stripes of various colors."

Upon close review, Dr. Maland noticed several colors. He noticed red, blue, and orange in some of the stripes. These markings -- Dr. Maland guessed -- allowed the creature to hide from predators. Perhaps they were to attract females. The thought of more creatures like Iapetus or predators of him almost made Dr. Maland faint again.

Dr. Maland continued to observe the giant beast and even got the nerve to put his hand upon him. The creature was cold to his touch. "He's cold blooded," he noted.

The more he observed the beast, the more he became curious about how he came about. Who were his ancestors? Is he the last of his kind? How old was he? These questions he could not answer. "This kind of stuff is more suited for Dr. LeFleur..." Dr. Maland mumbled to himself. "Dr. LeFleur!"

He shook himself as if he had just awakened from some strange dream. He scrambled to find the priestess. She was lying upon a bed upon the beach. She was fast asleep. All of his efforts to wake her failed. His mind then turned to some of the tribe elders. He found them telling stories around the fire.

"What do we do from here?" the professor asked them.

"Nothing will happen until morning," replied one of the elders. "We rest and revel."

"Rest? How can we rest?"

"Iapetus will not be moved until the sunrise. There is no need for anything but rest."

"But..."

"Sit. Listen to our stories. He has done us -- and you -- a great favor. Take heart in that. The sun will renew your worries soon enough."

Dr. Maland sat and listened to the elders speak. It all hit him in a huge wave and he did not take notes. He heard the tribal stories and the gratefulness they felt towards the giant beast that now sat upon their beach. The concern for what was happening in the north began to fade. He relaxed.

The waves washing against the shore was a soothing sound to John. He was swaying to the waves. Back and forth he rocked. He was at peace. He was calm. He heard a soft voice calling his name. His mind struggled against the scene. Up he jumped in a start. "What? What is it?" John grunted as he awoke.

It was the priestess, and she said, "It is time."

"Time for what?" John asked trying to clear his head.

"The generous Iapetus cannot read your maps," explained the priestess.

"Iapetus? Maps?"

"You must take him to your need."

"Right! Right! The ultra-yeti."

"Come."

The sun was just beginning to rise. Dr. Maland's boat had been loaded with supplies and was resting upon the beach next to Iapetus. The priestess took Dr. Maland over to Iapetus's head so he could see John when he awoke. After the priestess said a few words, the giant eye of the beast opened.

Dr. Maland felt he could fall into the deep pupil of monster. The pupil dilated and focused upon John. He suddenly felt like he was going to be breakfast, but as his knees were about to fail, the monster gave a snort. John almost felt insulted. "Wasn't I good enough to eat?" he thought to himself.

After a few more words from the priestess, John boarded his vessel. With a nudge from Iapetus's nose, he was launched. He unfurled his sails and headed north. "Where am I going to go?" he mumbled to himself. "The last I knew the ultra-yeti had disappeared."

Dr. Maland decided that when he got in range of North America, he could use his cell phone to call Dr. LeFleur. That should take care of that problem. The only other problem was speed. At his current rate of travel, it would take several days just to reach Florida. It was the calmest John had ever experienced sailing around the Caribbean.

Suddenly, that became a moot point. Iapetus nudged John northward. He almost fell out of the boat as it suddenly accelerated. John had gone from slow going to the fastest he had ever sailed in a manner of moments.

Iapetus pushed him farther north. He used the sail as a rudder to steer the boat. He would move the sail a little towards the starboard or port to change directions. Otherwise, the sail was straight back as it flapped in the breeze as they sped along.

John had to make sure they got close enough to the shore to get a cell phone signal or they would end up in the Arctic Ocean before he could determine where he needed to go. After a few hours of sailing, John found himself coming quickly upon the coast of North Carolina. "How fast are we going?" John asked himself. "And how do I stop?"

John got a signal and quickly called his colleague Dr. LeFleur.

"Hello John. How are you doing?" Dr. LeFleur said as he answered his phone.

"Well -- we're on our way..."

"What? Who's we?"

"I'm on my boat -- being pushed by Iapetus.."

"What?"

"It was a shock to me to -- but we need to know where to go..."

"Go?"

"Snap out of it Claude! I don't know how long I'll have a signal. Where is -- Bob -- er -- the young ultra-yeti?"

"Albany..."

"Alban.."

"He is almost to Albany... John??? Hello?"

John lost his signal, but he knew enough. He would try to steer Iapetus into the Hudson River. However, before that, he needed to go hard to starboard or, they were about to crash right into the North Carolina shore. He could not push hard enough against the sail to make any headway. He could not budge the rudder either. They were simply moving to fast.

John began waving frantically at his impromptu motor. He caught the attention of the beast and the propulsion halted, but he was still traveling very quickly. The monster stuck his head out of the water, and observed the obstacle ahead. He nudged the boat and it made a wide right turn. The two barely missed some rocks in the shallows and headed farther out to sea.

John checked his GPS and mapped out a course. After the narrow escape, they returned to their previous speed. "This guy can really go," John noted. "I wonder how long it would take for him to swim around the world."

John snapped out of his curiosity. He needed to concentrate on sailing. He did not want to smash into some rocks or the shore again. It took the pair another couple of hours to reach the mouth of the Hudson River. John had learned that Iapetus was quite responsive to his hand signals. Therefore, they managed to go along the coast swiftly and safely.

The area around Manhattan Island was quite busy. There were ships and traffic of all sorts. Without any prompting from John, the pair navigated the congested water with quite a bit of ease. He managed to communicate to Iapetus that they needed to go up stream on the Hudson River. The two entered the river and headed upstream. Their speed had dropped off considerably.

It took the two a scant amount of time to go from the Caribbean to New York City, but it took them almost the same amount of time to go from New York City to Albany. It was much harder for them to go against the current of the river and avoid the obstacles. Thus, Iapetus was quite cautious.

The closer they got to the Capital of New York State, the more debris they encountered in the water. There were boat fragments, and even a few docks were floating down the river. All manner of floating objects were coming down the river.

The going became so hazardous that Dr. Maland signaled for Iapetus to stop. They could no longer safely make their way upriver. The debris coming down the river was just getting too thick.

Dr. Maland beached his boat along the shore and wondered what to do next. That is when a large white fuzzy ball caught his eye. The rampaging ultra-yeti was responsible for the debris in the river. John pointed at the white bear-like creature. Iapetus understood the hand signal and walked along the riverbank towards the giant monster. John just sat on the bank and watched him go.

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Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 14

By Dwayne MacInnes

Brady sat on the water’s edge looking at the spring’s morning sunlight sparkle off the surface of the lake like a million gems. He inhaled the myriad of fragrances from the plant life awakening from its winter slumber. The birds singing and the insects buzzing with the wind rustling through the trees were like the sounds of a fine symphony to his ears.

"Life," Brady mused inwardly. "This is life."

It was hard to believe that only eleven months ago, death had taken over the land. Now with the sights, sounds and smells of spring in the air, it was hard to believe any of it had happened, but it did. In fact, death was still running rampant. There were pockets like this old summer camp converted into a safe-haven where death was held at bay.

The camp didn’t resemble a summer camp anymore. It looked more like an old colonial fortified town. The log palisade surrounded the twenty plus cabins and various administrative buildings. It looked like pictures of colonial Jamestown out of the history books.

The Pastor and Rabbi motivated their small band to begin converting the barrack like log cabins into individual homes. Doc and Gloria had found the medical building and set up making it into a small clinic. Fortunately, there were plenty of the basic pain relievers and first aid supplies on hand. Everyone ate in the dining hall of the main lodge that the Pastor and Rabbi had also utilized as a meeting hall.

Brady, Nori, and Coop were kept busy with gathering what supplies they could from the military depots on the map that Carl had picked up from the helicopter. Ronald, himself escorted Carl back towards the border so that the FBI agent could complete his task. Carl was optimistic that he could sneak back over the barricades with the information he was sent to get. The old agent figured that his chief would be surprised by how quickly he had finished his mission.

The night before Carl set off, the entire community held a going away party. There wasn’t a dry eye as Carl and Ronald departed. This would be the last time the group from the Ranger cabin would see Carl. Over the last couple of months, he had almost always been with them, and they had all become very close.

Chief Warrant Officer Greg Smith was also proving his worth. He limped around because of his broken leg, which never healed correctly due to the lack of proper medical facilities. Nonetheless, the Apache gunner threw himself into any task with full gusto. It was as if he was trying to work off any sin that may have been attributed to him because of his association with Lt. William Jones.

Over the winter as Brady, Nori, and Coop began gathering the supplies from the abandoned depots, they ran across other pockets of survivors hiding out in the wilderness. Almost all were on the brink of starvation when they were found. The scavenging party would then gather up the survivors and escort them back to the summer camp. By winter’s end, the camp had grown to over one hundred souls.

The sole exception to the starving survivors was an old farmer that Ronald came across after he returned from his escorting mission. The sergeant was now helping with gathering supplies from the military depots when he ran across a farm a few miles south of the old summer camp.

Ronald at first couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw that there were cattle and horses grazing out in a field of thawing snow. Ronald stopped the two-ton military truck and just stared for a couple of minutes. After gathering his wits, the sergeant decided to drive up the muddy road to the farmhouse.

Ronald wasn’t even out of the truck when he was greeted by a graying farmer who must have been in his early sixties with a shotgun in his hands.

"Whadya want?" enquired the old man leveling his shotgun at the sergeant.

"Whoa, slow down. I’m not here to cause trouble," Ronald responded raising his hands to show that he wasn’t a threat.

"You’re with the military and you're going to shoo me off my land," shouted the excited man as he pumped a shell into the chamber. "It didn’t work last time and it won’t this time!"

Sergeant Greene’s eyes widen in surprise as he instinctively raised his hands even higher.

"I’m not here to take you off your land. In fact, I’m kind of stuck here myself!"

The old farmer looked at Greene quizzically and lowered the shotgun a little.

"I don’t know what you're talking about," the farmer replied. "I’ve been in the dark after the power went out."

With that, Ronald quickly spelled out the situation and began to tell the tale of his and his companions’ adventures after the quarantine. The farmer in turn introduced himself as Henry Rhodes. He had refused to leave his land or let the military take his livestock when they were evacuating everyone. After that, Henry didn’t leave his land. He was pretty self-sufficient and had been able to run the farm on his own.

The two men talked and discussed their various problems well into the night. Henry confided that he was low on fuel and would likely need hands to help farm his land if he had to use traditional methods. Ronald promised him help if he would feed the growing community to the north. An agreement was struck and Henry was soon in charge of farm hands and a few men acting as security for the farm.

Now spring was in full bloom. Sarge had set up a local militia that included everyone over the age of fourteen. Every militia person had a rifle and sidearm for which he or she was responsible. Some with prior military experience were in charge of the heavier hardware. They were constantly in a state of training, which was included into their daily chores. Only a certain number of the militia was activated at one time on a rotating basis, but if there was trouble, they all could be called up in a moments notice.

By now, many of the depots that hadn’t been destroyed by the military were now stripped of everything of value. Much of it was now being stored in various buildings at the camp. However, Brady, Nori, and Coop were still being sent out on gathering missions. Now they would be looking for other supplies. Supplies one can only find in towns. Towns that could be occupied by trigger happy survivors, power hungry gangs, and/or the dreaded undead.

"Hey, Brady!" yelled Nori as she ran up to Brady as he was sitting on the lake’s bank.

"Yeah," responded the young man as he craned his head around to look at Nori.

"We’ve got work to do you know," giggled the Japanese girl. "We are supposed to head down to that town and raid the library."

Brady shuddered. That town was the very same one they entered less than a year ago. This was the same town where Brady feared that a zombie bit Nori. He came very close to killing her that day. The only name that Brady could remember was the one spray painted on the welcoming sign that said, "Terra Mortis, pop. Dead."

Brady was driving the 1955 Red Dodge truck. He was now much better at driving a stick now. He took pride in how he could now shift gears without the annoying sound of him grinding the gears. That was something that would get him a dirty look from George whenever the mechanic heard it. This was then generally followed by a lecture on how scarce spare parts were for old trucks.

Coop sat in the middle between Nori and Brady. The young boy, now eleven, was as valuable to the team as anyone was. Brady and Nori insisted that Coop be allowed to come along on their scavenging raids when at first Ronald suggested maybe Coop should stay behind. This, of course made Thomas Cooper beam with pride as he was beginning to feel ostracized when he was constantly being left behind to "baby sit" Greg at the cabin. Consequently, Coop and Greg became pretty close. Greg reminded Coop a lot of his big brother.

Nori, as usual chatted about anything that came to her head on the drive to the town. As they passed the charred remains of the old farmhouse where a large group of zombies attacked them nearly a year ago everyone fell silent. Brady unconsciously slowed down to look as they passed.

The old farmhouse had burned itself down to its foundation. The old barn still had its doors open, but the most surprising thing was what wasn’t there. There were no human remains. Brady, Sarge, and Coop had killed scores of the undead and there should have been something of their remains even now. Not even scavengers would touch the tainted remains of a zombie according to the report that Ronald had retrieved. Only humans could completely dispose of all the remains, which meant living people had been here after them.

That wasn’t surprising seeing as how they found so many people hiding in the woods this last winter. However, that meant that the town may be occupied and that called for greater caution. There was no telling what kind of reception they could expect.

"Nori, keep a sharp lookout. You too Coop."

Everyone in the truck kept his or her eyes pealed as Brady continued driving down the abandoned road. Brady slowed down so that they could spot trouble before they ran into it. He glanced down at the fuel gauge; he had plenty of gas. Gas was strictly rationed at the camp for use only on scavenging raids. Even Henry Rhodes would have to use his horses to pull the old plow he still had in his barn.

"Look over there!" shouted Coop as he pointed down the road.

Brady and Nori saw it almost as quickly as Coop. There hanging off a telephone pole along the side of the road was a person crucified to the crossbeams. Brady stopped the truck and everyone jumped out. As they approached the pole, they noticed that further down the road was another body this time hanging from the neck slightly swaying in the wind. There was another further down; this one also hanging and another. The ravens were already starting to peck the decaying flesh from their bones.

Brady was aghast as he counted about twenty people hanging from the telephone poles. Only one was crucified and that was the one above them. All the victims appeared to be young men and women all in their twenties.

"Brady this one is alive!" Coop shouted as he pointed up at the crucified young man.

Brady looked up and could see that the young man was struggling to breathe. He would eventually die from fluids filling his own lungs. Brady studied Roman history and knew all about their torture methods. Crucifixions was a tortuous death, and it could take days to die. This one must have been the leader, and he was meant to watch his companions die from strangulation by being hung.

Quickly Brady scrambled up the steel pins pounded into the pole’s side that were to help utility people climb for repairs. He doubted that any repairperson would have thought a year ago that these very poles would be used for a barbaric execution.

As Brady reached the top, he could hear the man’s laborious breathing. At least he was breathing and that meant life Brady noted.

"Everything is going to be all right," Brady consoled the man as he began to tie a rope around the young man’s torso. He tossed the other side over the crossbeams.

"Coop, Nori grab the rope and prepare to lower him down after I untie his legs and arms," ordered Brady.

After five minutes, Brady was back down on the ground next to the young man. Nori and Brady lifted the young man into the bed of the truck. Nori and Coop climbed into the bed next to the barely conscious man.

"What’s your name? What happened?" asked Nori.

"Nathan Perl," the young man hoarsely choked out. "It was the hoard."

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Iapetus Saves Manhattan

Chapter Ten

The first strike against the ultra-yeti had missed. The beast moved quickly eastward. His pace was faster than the recon soldiers could run by a long shot. The hurriedly called in for support and an Apache helicopter with night vision capability took over tracking the monsters erratic easterly run. It appeared that the ultra-yeti was going to go well north of Albany as he altered his route toward Lake George.

His path did not lead towards Lake George for long. He altered his path and headed northeast. Before the helicopter navigator could radio their heading, the ultra-yeti changed direction again. Once again, he ran eastward towards Lake George. The enormous monster changed directions several times, but it appeared that his destination was Lake George.

"Perhaps he plans on doing his disappearing act in Lake George like he did up north," speculated the co-pilot of the helicopter as he reported to base.

"Lake George is pretty long," replied the pilot. "He probably doesn't even know its there."

The two men in the helicopter continued tracking the beast as he made an erratic run eastward.

"His serpentine needs some work," joked the co-pilot.

Before the pilot could respond, the ultra-yeti reached Interstate 87. Upon reaching that thoroughfare, the beast made a quick turn southward. He began running down the road, and he abandoned his strange path. He was keeping right on the interstate. He knocked over lampposts. Bridges and overpasses collapsed under his immense weight. The ground shook violently as he ran and some buildings along the road crumbled with the violent vibrations that he created. The monster was once again headed for Albany. However, there were a few other towns also in his path.

General Mann threw all he had at Interstate 87. His priority was to stop the beast. He wanted to prevent as much destruction as possible, but with the location and heading of the monster, that was going to be difficult.

The sun was just beginning to rise as the beast entered Glens Falls, NY. General Mann was able to secure much military firepower for the battle against the ultra-yeti. His first order was to send in several waves of various attack helicopters to attack the monster south of Glens Falls. He ordered them to strike as soon as the beast crossed the Hudson River.

Unfortunately, as the monster ran up to the bridge it began crumbling with the shaking of the ground. When the giant creature stepped upon the bridge, the southbound lane collapsed. The collapse tripped up the monster and he tumbled into the Hudson River. Some of the pilots hesitated, but others took the opportunity to strike. Hellfire missiles came roaring from the south towards the fallen monster. The explosions ripped the part of the bridge that had remained, and several missiles struck the ultra-yeti. However, the water of the river prevented the beast fur from catching fire, and the missiles did not harm him to any noticeable degree.

A second wave a missiles came from the helicopters, but these just finished tearing up the bridge as the monster had recovered from his fall and began running along the river. The helicopters followed attempting to get further strikes upon him. Some of the helicopters had not yet fired any of their armaments. Bullets and missiles began flying from the aircrafts. However, they succeeded in destroying nearby buildings more than they succeeded in stopping the beast.

No longer was the monster following the interstate. He was now following the Hudson River. While this did slow his pace, it did not remove Albany from the path of destruction. Further, if the beast continued to follow the river downstream, he could eventually reach Manhattan. This would be a devastating blow if the U.S. were to lose New York City to this rampaging beast.

The helicopters were running low on fuel and ammunition so General Mann ordered the A-10 Thunderbolt IIs into battle. The A-10s could linger longer around the beast, and with their maneuverability, they hoped to distract the monster. The General ordered the A-10 pilots to get as close to the monster as safety allowed. Albany and Manhattan depended upon them to change the giant monster's path.

The plan of attack for these tank killers was to fly in single file along the river valley. Each plane would fire a maverick missile and follow the missile in towards the target. When the airplane was as close to the monster as the pilot felt comfortable, they would open up their GAU-8 avenger cannons put a line of fire across the beast's chest as they banked eastward. The idea was to either destroy the ultra-yeti or have him follow the planes to the east.

Some of the A-10s had cluster bombs and other ground destroying weapons. However, most were simply equipped with mavericks. They also had a full load of the depleted uranium tank busting ammunition for the A-10's cannon.

The young ultra-yeti continued to follow the Hudson River and was only momentarily side tracked by a small town here and there. He would briefly leave the river's waters to stomp on a building that happened to catch the young monster's eye.

When the tank killing airplanes finally reached their target, the monster was destroying a bridge that passed over the river. The small town of Schuylerville was about to experience a rude awakening. Luckily, the military had evacuated the civilians in the path of the monster. The distinct whine of the A-10s caught the ear of the white monster, but it did little to distract him from the destruction of the bridge, which blocked his path.

The attack aircraft swooped in upon the wary animal and began their assault. Missile after missile struck the beast and many bullets flew at him. The entire town erupted in a massive fireball. One missile missed the beast and struck a gas station that caused a change reaction of explosions. Flames engulfed the small town.

Still the planes pressed on and so did the giant monster. The bridge that had once blocked his path was no longer, and thus, he pressed forward. He would occasionally swat at the approaching planes, but they were too maneuverable. A few had broken off their attack and gained some altitude. These planes dropped their bombs upon the monster. The river began to widen with the craters left by the attacking A-10s, but they could not steer the monster from his course of following the river.

Wave after wave of airplane fired upon the mighty monster, but it had little effect on him. It was as if he was caught in a swarm of mosquitoes. They were simply an annoyance, and he pressed on. Without warning, he rushed at one of the A-10s. The lead pilot banked quickly eastward, but the following A-10 was too slow. The monster was upon him and grabbed his jet. The engine whined and the pilot lunged forward as the ultra-yeti stopped the planes forward progress.

The young monster shook the plane as if it were a rattle and then threw the plane to one side. The rest of the A-10 pilots avoided crashing into the enormous creature, but they had to break off their attack.

The tough aircraft withstood shaking, but the pilot lost consciousness. The plane crashed a bit off in the distance, but by some miracle, the pilot survived the ordeal. The plane had a few stress cracks, but it did not break apart.

However, the weapons were ineffective against the thick hide of the monster. The bullets would penetrate the outer layer of skin, but they would be absorbed and pressed out again. They did no damage to the creature. The missiles did not even faze him. He pressed on along the river and the A-10s admitted defeat and headed home.

Once the long line of evacuation vehicles had left the stretch of river north of Albany, General Mann sent in the tanks. His last line of defense before the beast reached Albany was going to be a long column of Abrams M1A2 Tanks. They were now speeding along highway 4 north of Albany.

The attack of the airplanes did not steer him clear of the river. He continued to follow its course. Those attacks did manage to irritate him the more and he stomped more buildings than he did in the previous stretch of river. This did give the tanks the opportunity to get farther north as he had slowed his pace to destroy.

Small town after small town was laid to waste in the wake of the monsters path. He crushed homes and businesses. Gas stations exploded and fires broke out all along the river. Upon each demolished building, the giant creature gave out a roar of victory. He would then run to the next town for more wanton destruction.

The tanks finally caught up to the monster in Mechanicville. Several tanks stopped upon a bridge crossing the river, and turned to face the oncoming beast. Others went fully across in an effort to surround the rampaging monster. They had him nearly surrounded when the open fired.

The entire town shook with the exploding shells of the tanks. The monster charged the bridge and with one swing of his mighty hand, the bridge collapsed. They fired another volley, and the monster pounded the bridge again. Huge chunks of concrete crumbled into the water.

He grabbed one of the tanks and threw it at one of the columns of tanks. He pounded the bridge again, and the missing span was large enough for him to get through. He grabbed the bridge and pulled. Another huge chunk came off and he tossed it at the other column of tanks.

The fire from the tanks was more erratic now. The drivers attempted to avoid the flying debris. The gunners had difficulty aiming, as the beast and the tanks were moving in odd directions. The shells began hitting the surrounding buildings more than the creature. After several large explosions, the young beast roared and ran farther down the river.

Some of the tanks were trapped on one side of the river and could not rejoin the column. The monster had destroyed a few tanks but some managed to follow him down river. However, the tanks could not keep up as the beast ran very quickly now. He was no longer interested in playing with the tanks.

At his run, he reached the outskirts of Albany in a short time. General Mann had thrown everything he had at the monster, but was unsuccessful in stopping him. He turned his attention to evacuating Albany. He would worry about saving New York City afterward.

The rampaging monster had won the first battle against the U.S. military. Albany was his for the destroying. The young beast walked through the suburbs destroying houses and businesses as he went. Occasionally, he would pick up a vehicle and throw it as far as he could. He was going to enjoy his victory.

After a few miles of destroying the outskirts of Albany, the young ultra-yeti headed for the tall buildings of down town. He had grown bored of destroying the small houses and businesses. He was ready to tackle something bigger. Then he spotted an enormous green creature headed up the river towards him.

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Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 15

By Dwayne MacInnes

Few of his companions knew Barry Vanders real name. None knew that before the Marysville incident he was nothing more than a third-rate history professor at the University of Washington. How many times did the dean of the history department remind Barry that the only reason he still had a job was because he was tenured. Few students shared his enthusiasm for Inner-Asian history, even less passed his class with an A.

The short and stocky man always felt that he was strict but fair even if his students and colleagues accused him of running off on tangents during the lecture and then testing the students on stuff that he never covered. The students would call Barry Vanders the "Barbarian Vandal" which did get under his skin. Sure the Vandals and Tar Tars had their moment in the sun by sacking Rome, but it was the Mongolians under Genghis Khan who really conquered the world. Through all this Barry persisted.

His job may have been dismal but his home life was even worse. Barry was married to a shrewish woman who hoarded every penny that was brought into the house. Granted they tended to be in debt up to their eyeballs, but there was no reason why they couldn’t splurge every now and again. The woman he used to love, if it really ever was love, had turned into some old banshee along the way. When Barry hit his "mid-life crisis," he started dreaming of being an outlaw biker. His fantasies would often include himself as the leader of a gang like the Hell’s Angels and then "conquering" one of the beautiful female students in his class.

The professor would secretly buy Easy Rider, Outlaw Biker, or any magazine dealing with motorcycles and their gangs. That’s when Barry started secretly stashing away some money whenever he could. It wasn’t easy at first, but Barry finally succumbed to the temptation that all professors eventually face: the bribe.

At first, it was just some smart-ass jock trying to buy a C. Then it was the straight 4.0 honor’s student who didn’t want a B to blight her transcript. Barry was always smart about it. He never initiated the sale, but if a twenty or fifty found itself stuck to a test or homework assignment, it would be pocketed and the student would get the desired grade. The student never said anything and the professor acted as if nothing had happened. Even though Barry had been tempted by some of his female students to sleep with them for a grade, Barry remained cash only.

The rumors inevitably began to circulate around campus that he could be bought. The dean investigated the allegations, but Barry always covered his tracks well. After all, it was common practice to give the football star a C even if he never showed up for class and an A+ honor’s student getting another A wasn’t so unusual. The research was the key. Students would receive only a certain grade based on their performances in other classes. The best part most of the students were going to get the grade assigned them whether they paid for it or not.

The payoff came when after years of hoarding and saving his own pennies that Barry could afford a Vulcan 800 motorcycle. After this point, Barry wasn’t for sale anymore. He vehemently denied ever being paid a bribe. At times money fell out onto the floor when he was gathering the papers. If this wasn’t, in fact, some scheme to get him canned he would always tell the dean.

The University could not prove anything and many students didn’t want their names involved to testify against him. Therefore, life went on as usual. A dreary day at work followed by the constant nagging and financial lectures at home. However, now Barry had a bike that he secretly kept stashed at a storage unit he rented.

Renting the storage unit wasn’t anything new, Barry had already been renting one for years to store the heirlooms, junk, and sundry of other possessions that his wife and he accumulated over the years. His wife, Betty never concerned herself with the storage unit and probably just forgot what exactly all the stuff they had stored away.

The college professor began making excuses to get out of the house for the weekends. He would tell his wife that there was some important history seminar in Spokane or Portland that he had to attend. Once free, he would don his alter-ego "Khan".

Khan was a hard-core biker. Many bikers didn’t question Barry’s other persona. He looked the part and when Barry became Khan, he wasn’t afraid to let years of restraint and frustration come through in drinking, fighting, and the occasional hooker. He started gathering a following and soon had a half-dozen friends that he would hangout with on the weekends. They started calling themselves the Horde.

So it was on his fiftieth birthday that Barry forever became Khan. Barry’s wife was planning a special birthday party for Barry while Seattle was coming under siege by the living dead. She had spent more money than usual to make this day extra special for her husband. There was going to be a few special guests and close friends and fine food and drink.

However, the curfew and the quarantine kept everyone home that night. Thus, it was just Barry and Betty sitting at a table with lots of food and drink. Betty was trying her best to make a go of it despite the situation. Barry was more grim than usual. He didn’t know if it was whether he was turning fifty or that he was stuck with a person he loathed or that the world was falling apart around them or even if it was a combination of all three.

It was that same night that their neighborhood was under attack by the zombies. Somehow, these ghouls knew where people were hiding. They would surround a house and break in either by pushing in a door or breaking a window. When their house was surrounded, Betty frantically started searching for an escape route. The poor woman was in tears sobbing uncontrollable from fear. Barry was calm. His grim mood lifted.

"Come dear, I think we can get out of here," he said in a calm voice to his wife.

Betty went over to Barry and embraced him for comfort. Maybe she still loved him, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. He started walking towards the front door.

"B-B-Barry, what are you doing?" Betty stammered between sobs.

"I have a plan to get us out of here," Barry replied in a soothing voice stroking her gray hair as they neared the front door.

"But they are just outside, if you open the door it will be suicide," she shrieked.

"Calm down, I have a plan and it’ll work. Trust me," Barry smiled as he looked into his wife’s tear soaked eyes.

As they reached the front door, the pounding became increasingly strong. The undead would soon be able to break in. Barry reached out with his free hand never losing the smile on his face and flung the door open. Then he pushed his shocked and screaming wife into the waiting arms and teeth of the undead crowd.

"You’ll go out the front, my dear, and I’ll go out the back."

Barry then ran towards the back door still smiling as zombies filed into the house through the open front door to partake in the feast. The cries and screams of his wife filled his ears as he ran out into the now cleared out backyard. Barry was too elated to feel any regret over his actions. For the first time in a long time, he felt free. He jumped into his sedan and drove to his storage unit surprisingly with little mishap. Barry was gone forever; Khan was here to stay.

Khan had driven his Vulcan through the barricade arriving just after the initial rush of humanity stormed the checkpoint and before the zombies relentlessly shambling along behind. Khan didn’t bother to deal with injured or helpless people; he just continued to drive along into the night. He had a destination in mind.

A colleague of his was a World War II professor and had over the last few years acquired and repaired an M-16 multiple gun motor carriage. In other words, he had rebuilt the famous half-track that housed four .50 Browning M-2 machine guns for anti-aircraft use. What Khan had in mind would entail a little alteration, but he knew that he would find the people who would be able to do it.

Khan found the half-track where his colleague had told him. His fellow professor either was dead or had been evacuated. Over the next few weeks, Khan began gathering a core group of bikers around him. Three were of the original Horde. The small gang began raiding the surrounding towns stealing from the dead and living alike. The half-track finally had four working M-2s and was able to lower them to aim toward the ground instead of the air.

Clashes with entrenched and armed survivors and other gangs were a given. Khan started using tactics that his namesake used so successfully in his conquest of Asia and Europe. Khan would surround his opponents send in light forces for a feigned attack, and then they would retreat as if they were broken. The defenders would often break ranks to pursue the light forces only to be caught off guard by the main force that would sweep in and wipe out the defenders. Khan was able to defeat vastly superior forces this way.

The half-track was Khan’s strategic reserve. The few times he was overwhelmed and it looked like he would be defeated, Khan would send in the WWII vehicle with devastating effect. Survivors were often given the choice of joining the Horde or be killed. In this way, the Horde grew and thus Khan’s empire was built in less than six months.

The towns under the Horde’s protection were left relatively unmolested. Khan knew that if the people of the towns feared the Horde more than they did rival gangs or the undead, there would be uprisings. So by order of Khan the people would be left alone as long as they paid their tribute and obeyed the local warlord.

The crowning achievement was Khan’s capital, Vice-City. Both punished and rewarded were sent to Vice-City. The former to work in the brothels or to partake in the various games that Khan devised, the most feared and popular was the Labyrinth. Gas generators had been set up around the small town and provided the power. Fuel was obtained from the numerous fuel-trucks that Khan had accumulated in his conquest. Cameras were set up all over the game spots so that the local TV station could broadcast the various games to the populace of Vice-City.

With Khan’s success, of course came a growing resistance force. Though Khan could easily defeat any gang or defended city or town the resistance force was very successful in using hit and run tactics. Most of the resistance force was comprised of young adults, most of them former college students.

Khan sat back in his chair watching the latest runner in the Labyrinth smiling as he thought about how he had finally dealt the resistance a deathblow. He was able to trick the resistance into an attack that netted him large number of captives including the leader. Most of the captives he had executed in public fashion leaving their remains as a warning to others. Of course, the females that caught his eye were now working in his brothel. Their spirit was subdued by keeping them drugged up. Yes, his empire would soon be completely secured.

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