February 2006 Archives

The Curse of Agnar Sun

Part One

By Dwayne MacInnes

It was in the year of 1930 that I was working at the Metropolitan Science Museum under the curator Randal Foor. I was only one of several archaeologists on staff and the most junior at that. Yet, I found that I was able to excel thanks in large part to the mentorship of Randy. I soon found that I was on par with my more senior peers.

Randy -- he refused to let us call him Randal -- was slightly over six feet tall and tipped the scale at three hundred pounds. The curator's massive physique had more to do to his corpulent life than to any physical exertions. Yet despite this, Randy was a busy and energetic man. He was determined to find a sensation to fill his museum's hall. He wanted it to be equal to what Howard Carter had discovered in Egypt in 1922.

This search landed us a treasure of ancient Egyptian origin -- found in all places the Punjab region of India. The telegram from our field operatives informing Randy of their find, unleashed an explosion of laughter and excitement amongst us all.

"This is it!" exclaimed Randy. His face flushed red with his delight from his neatly trimmed black beard to his bald head. He excitedly waved the telegram above his head. "We finally have it. Years of searching and false leads have finally landed us the treasure of the century."

"How soon will it arrive?" I asked.

"A mere three weeks, my boy. I am having it sent by an express train and a fast steamer. In three weeks, we shall finally have the legendary treasure of Agnar Sun -- High Priest of Osiris."

The large curator danced a happy little jig there amongst his laughing staff. We were all beside ourselves with joy and excitement. Randy suddenly stopped in mid-dance and grabbed one of the graduate students from the university who had an internship at the museum.

"Quick, my boy," Randy ordered with a laugh, "to the telegraph office and send off a gram reinstating that under no circumstances shall the treasure be opened until we have it here in the museum."

"Just what exactly is it that we found?" asked my colleague Hornsby a linguistic anthropologist.

Randy laughed and reread the telegram. "It appears to be a small red chest about one foot by one foot bound by blackened iron. There is a red ruby on the top of the lid and a scarab beetle latch on the front of the lid. Nothing more is stated."

* * * * *

I at first believed that the weeks of waiting for the arrival of the red chest would linger on tortuously. However, Randy found ways to occupy our time constructively. Little did we know how much we had to accomplish before the arrival of the treasure of Agnar Sun. The museum staff had to plan and build a completely new exhibit around the high priest. Randy himself was busy building up the public anticipation for the new exhibit in the press.

The day the crate finally arrived; all work in the museum came to a halt. We all gathered in the main hall while the workmen wheeled in the famed treasure. Randy walked up to the deliverymen and began signing the papers. I found myself fortunate enough to be leading the two workmen and their freight to small workroom we had assigned for the chest. As I marched quickly down the hall, I heard the workmen whispering in hushed tones to each other.

"Did you hear about it?" asked the first.

"Hear about what?"

"I was talking to some of the crew from the ship, and they said that there were some strange things going on with this crate."

"Ah, they were just telling you a yarn."

"No, I swear that this is the truth. Couldn't you see how anxious they were to be done with it?"

"Yeah, they were a little squirrelly." The second workman conceded.

"They were saying that on the first day out to sea they could hear something banging around inside the crate."

The second workman almost dropped his load as he heard this.

"That's not all. The knocking continued on for days until it finally subsided to nothing."

A shiver ran down my spine as I heard the men talk in their muted voices. Much to my relief I finally arrived at the small workroom. The two men were very happy to place the crate next to our preparation table. The table sat in front of a small window high in the wall. The window could not be opened, but it did let in plenty of light. There was a single chair placed in front of the table, but the room was otherwise empty. Only a small vent in the far wall allowed for air circulation.

As we departed the room, I made sure to lock the only door into the room before we returned to Randy and the rest of the crew in the main hall.

"Ok, we have much work to do," Randy instructed. "We have only a few days before the public unveiling of the treasure of Agnar Sun the High Priest of Osiris."

Randy thrust two scrolls into my hand on my return. "You must have these translated as soon as possible. Hornsby, you are to stand guard over the chest tonight. You may take it out of the crate and place it on the table, but you must not open the chest itself."

I quickly opened up the scrolls to see what I had to decipher. The first was made of papyrus and had the familiar Egyptian hieroglyphics that any good Egyptologist, like myself, could easily decipher. The second was on parchment in ancient Punjabi. For this, I would have to enlist the help of Dr. Mayes. He was one of my former professors at the university. It was evening before I returned to my small office at the museum to begin work on the Egyptian scroll.

I was excited about this task, so I immediately started work on the scroll. The deciphering quickly consumed me. The hours flew past like birds on the wing, and the sun had long set before I had finished my work. In the end, I had part of the story of the treasure of Agnar Sun. It roughly ran like this:

* * * * *

In the third year of Pharaoh Set II, a strange man walked out of the desert. The man's head was unshorn and he had paintings on his face. He was in the raiment of one of the priests of Osiris. The man called himself Agnar Sun, and he demanded an audience with the pharaoh. His majestic deity reluctantly allowed the stranger into his court.

"I am Agnar Sun and I can make the pharaoh a very powerful ruler," the stranger boasted.

The pharaoh laughed and replied, "I am the most powerful man on earth! What can you do my priest?"

Agnar Sun looked over at a huge stone and raised it just with his gaze. He then lowered it gently back to the ground.

"That is wonderful!" Set II replied.

"Wait I can do more." Agnar Sun looked into the eyes of one of the servant girls and commanded her to dance.

The young girl dropped her serving tray and began to dance as gracefully as one of the dancing girls.

"This is indeed useful. Agnar Sun you are to be my chief advisor, and I pronounce you high priest."

Over the years, Set II expanded his boundaries. His enemies fled at the mere rumor of his advance. Egypt could have covered the entire world if not for the unfortunate and untimely death of Set II in a chariot accident. Agnar Sun was to join his pharaoh in the journey to the underworld.

The other priests and advisors being full of jealousy and fear of Agnar Sun decided that they would take the high priest while he slept and prepare him for the journey to the next world with the dead Pharaoh. However, Set II left a very young son to rule. It was apparent that Pharaoh's enemies would soon attack the kingdom. The young pharaoh needed a weapon. Thus, the advisors decided that Agnar Sun could still serve both the new and old pharaoh. Agnar Sun's heart would remain with Set II to accompany the Pharaoh on his journey, and his...

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The Carbon Pirates

Part 1

"The Captain had ordered us to dock with the ship and take her cargo," continued the Pirate. "So, that's what we does. She was now just a sitting there drifting. Her crew put up a bit of a fuss in the whole boarding process, but they settled down quickly. We were about to start packing up the cargo when out of nowhere we were attacked by an Izanian ship. We were just doing business as normal, and this Izanian ship swoops down from who knows where. The Captain was all in a panic. He ordered us to get off that ship. We does what he says because he is the Captain. With the Izanian attack, we had to disconnect the other ship. Once we released the ship and began to pull away, the Izanian vessel went right after our quarry. In a flash, they destroyed it with all the crew onboard. I watched it happen on the view screen. We were sure they was all dead. How could our eyes deceive us so? Well, two weeks later, I see the Captain of that ship in Galactic court testifying against my Captain. I don't know how it happened. We had there ship and cargo, but them Izanians came. It was destroyed. I saw it! It was the Izanians that done it. I don't understand it."

"It's simple," explained Yarnspinner. "You're entire vessel depends heavily upon its computer. If an outside force can gain access to your computer, he or she can make you see anything. If he or she runs a program that has your computer tell you that an Izanian ship is attacking, you have nothing to double check the validity of the report."

"What alternatives do we have?"

"First, you could increase your computers security. However, that is a great deal more difficult than it sounds. The other solution is to get yourself an old fashioned window."

"A window! Nobody has a window on a space ship. Either they are way too thick or they are way too fragile. Either way, you can't make one big enough to make it worthwhile."

"You can have one made out of carbon. It can be as big as you like, and one of the toughest materials anywhere."

"Carbon?"

"The molecules in their translucent arrangement are sometimes called diamonds. This form of carbon has a multitude of uses including cutting silicon dioxide panes. You can use carbon to cut these panes to be used for windows for instance. However, for space flight these windows would be too fragile."

"Nobody has carbon windows..."

"The Iguana II has."

"Eagle Douglass' ship?"

"That would be it. He is probably the person that assured that your Captain was put away."

"Aaaaaaarrrrrggggh! I'm leaving!"

"Pardon me Yarnspinner, I don't mean to interrupt here, but I'd like to hear the story about Eagle's window. I hear it is a good story. I have already taken care of your fee."


It all started on the carbon-processing world of 09.72.45.11.30.66. Sometimes I hate unnamed worlds. Anyway, this planet is one of the largest importers of carbon. This world has plenty of iron, and they are the galactic commonwealth's greatest steel producer. It is mostly a manufacturing world, as it has no inhabitants of its own. Individuals from all over the commonwealth work in the manufacturing centers on this planet. They use the natural elements of the planet, import others, and make a great deal of useful products that they sell.

They are a very successful enterprise, but Pirates were plaguing them. They had received a large order and they needed a large amount of carbon to fill the order. However, a group of pirates intercepted the shipment and it was going to cost the factories millions of credits. They called upon Eagle to stop the pirates and retrieve their latest shipment. It was going to be a difficult task.

Eagle did some investigating, and the clues pointed towards Sennicam. The Emperor there had been attempting to procure a great deal of carbon, but his treasury did not have the funds to pay for a shipment. Thus, Eagle believed that the Emperor simply had some of his people steal this shipment. Therefore, Eagle paid the Sennicam a visit.

This planet is hot. It is really hot. If it had ice caps in its past, they had long since melted away. The atmosphere was full of carbon dioxide. The Sennicam people were burning fuels for electrical generation. Imagine! They were burning things for electricity in a space age society!

The amount of CO2 in their atmosphere had long caused numerous problems besides just the heat. However, the planet's scientists had come up with many solutions to deal with the various problems. For instance, the inhabitants of the planet lived in large domed cities. Rarely did they venture out into their own planet's atmosphere. Those, that occasionally had to work outside the domes, earned hazard pay. They would wear specially designed suits for this purpose.

Nonetheless, the Sennicamian scientists never worked on a solution to their biggest problem. They did not use the power of their sun. They did not use wind or nuclear power either. With all of their work, their solutions did not eliminate the cause, nor did it increase the amount of oxygen in their atmosphere.

They had incased a large proportion of their landmasses with structures. This meant that most of their plants and animals had to adapt to an indoor environment. It also meant that the bio-diversity was low which also added to their problems. The atmosphere outside of their encased cities became more and more choked with CO2.

Eagle arrived at their port, but found nothing suspicious there. He looked around and asked some people about their electrical generation. He determined that something needed to be done about the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in their atmosphere or they would be in serious trouble.

He decided to break one of his primary rules. This planet's citizens needed some technology to help with their atmospheric problems. However, what was he going to give them? The Arijog had the perfect technology. It would strip CO2 from the air, and convert it into oxygen and carbon. Better yet, the Arijog technology obtained its power from the sun. Where I come from, we call them plants and trees. On this planet however, exterior plant life had died off long ago. The only plants that survived live in their domed cities.

Nonetheless, these mechanical trees would fit the bill perfectly. The carbon could then be sold, or even burned for fuel -- space forbid. The solar technology could help them with their energy problems. At least it would be a good start for them.

Eagle used up all of his available credit to purchase 2 of these mechanical trees. He planned to use one as a working model, and one to show them how to build their own. Eagle was hoping that this could be a very unprofitable venture. If the Sennicamian people were not interested in a technology, then he may not be able to gain any contacts to see if they indeed had stolen the carbon. He was going to use the technology exchange for bait. It was going to be the best thing for their civilization.

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Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 21

By Dwayne MacInnes

Nori had positioned the groups very well by her reckoning. They all had good concealment and cover. The main road into town lay open and led straight into the middle of the trap that the rebels had set. Now all that needed to be done was to wait for the Horde to ride into to town and to spring the trap. God willing casualties would be kept to a minimum.

Nori was sitting inside an abandoned building where the Rogue group lay concealed. Next to her was the group's captain Laurie who was peering over a window ledge to peak outside.

"I guess that if you are in charge of all of us that would make you a major or colonel or something. I really don't understand these things," Laurie said.

"No, I'm just here on loan. I'm just a lieutenant with the Misfits," Nori replied. "I don't know why Nathan sent me here instead of himself."

"Scuttlebutt has it that it was Lisa's idea," Laurie answered.

"What? Why would she suggest that? She doesn't even like me. Lisa would only send me out if she knew it would get me..."

"Runner!" Laurie interrupted.

Nori stuck her head around the door and looked outside to see a lone person running straight down the middle of the road.

"What idiot would run right down the street? Everyone knows better than that," Nori grumbled angrily.

"It's Nathan!" Laurie answered.

They watched as Nathan ran down the road and then jumped behind a small red Toyota. Nori was about to jump out of her hiding place, march over to Nathan and give him a piece of her mind when she heard it. They all heard it, the sound of a score of motorcycles rumbling down the road.

"Everyone, get ready," Nori called out.

The bikers began to pour into town. They were running right down the middle of Main Street just as planned. Nori was getting ready to yell out the order to open fire when she heard Nathan's shouting voice. Nori peered out the doorway to see Nathan standing up behind the Toyota defiantly.

"You will pay for all that you have done to us and the peaceful people you are now holding under your tyranny!"

"Great," mumbled Nori. "Open fire!"

No further prompting was needed. Close to eighty rifles and assault weapons started pouring lead into the bikers and the U-Haul that had just pulled in behind them. Nori was pleased to see the bikers fall near their bikes. It would soon be over and then she would tell Nathan what he could do with his damn ego.

The last biker fell, only a couple had time enough to return fire, but now there were over twenty bodies lying in the road. Nori called the cease-fire and prepared to exit the building. It was strange how little blood there was amongst the bikers. She thought for sure that after all the firing from the rebels the streets would literally run with blood.

Suddenly an explosion filled the air. Nori ran out into the road and looked up the street toward the hill where the Misfits were lying in support. The entire hillside looked like it was being blown apart. Trees were tumbling and a giant plume of dirt obscured the view of the steep hill. Nevertheless, it didn't hide the old World War II half-track that was firing its machine guns into the hillside nonstop.

"Dear God..." Nori began as she felt someone tugging on her arm.

Nori spun around to see Jennings there next to her.

"Message from Captain West: Get everyone out of the town now!" the winded boy yelled over the noise.

The crack of a handgun brought Nori's attention back to the bikers. There were about a dozen of them getting up from the ground drawing their weapons and firing it towards the buildings. The bikers were wearing body armor. That was why there wasn't much blood. Nori cursed herself momentarily. Nori then pulled Jennings into the building with her.

"Laurie have Rogue group cover us as we pull out!" Nori ordered.

"Yes ma'am," Laurie answered. Then the captain began yelling orders to her group.

"Everyone pull out, pass the word!" Nori shouted again.

The pull out went off much better than expected. Nori doubted that the bikers would follow them far into the woods. She regrouped her small army of rebels in a clearing not far from the town. The sounds of gunfire had long since stopped, even that of the half-track.

"Oh, my God. The Misfits," Nori thought to herself. She was about to cry when she noticed a group of late comers enter the clearing. It was Sergeant Miller. The small lieutenant ran over to her with a grim look on his face.

"Thank God, you guys made," Nori began.

"Sorry, but Captain West, Coop and Akira stayed behind to take out that half-track and save Lisa," Miller said looking towards the ground.

"We didn't want to leave, but he gave us the order. Ma'am we have to go back," Miller pleaded.

"You are right, everyone get ready to go back," Nori shouted.

"Everyone stop. We are staying put until things calm down," Nathan shouted.

"What?!?" was all Nori could choke out as she spun on Nathan.

"We'll wait a couple days, let things calm down. Then we'll see what happens," reasoned Nathan.

Nori stood there trembling just staring at Nathan as if she saw him for the first time. The rage and loathing for him finally was bubbling to the surface just waiting to explode in a burst of violence.

"Calm down now. We can't do anything for that so called Captain West. Hell, he blew the whole operation," Nathan smiled.

A red cloud filled Nori's vision. The dam of suppressed emotion inside her finally broke.

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The Curse of Agnar Sun

Part Two

By Dwayne MacInnes

Unfortunately the scroll ended here, and the rest of the papyrus had been destroyed long ago. I pushed myself up from the desk and began to rub my eyes. It was past midnight and weariness had quickly descended upon me. I kept a small cot in the back of the office for long nights like this. However, I finally resolved to walk to my apartment a few blocks away where I could get a good night's sleep. I had some important news to give to Randy in the morning and I wanted to be in top form.

* * * * *

The next morning I met Randy at the museum's door as he was unlocking it. Everyone else would arrive in the next few minutes. We were both very excited to continue our work. I hinted at my discoveries to Randy as we went to relieve Hornsby in the workroom.

As Randy began to unlock the door, I noticed that there was something slightly wrong. I could not quite put my finger on it. Maybe it was the complete quiet, but Hornsby could easily be asleep. Alternatively, it could be the strange smell of death, but that too was familiar in the workroom for we have removed the wrappings of numerous mummies. We have worked on human remains in there many times in the past in that room. Yet I felt that something was not right.

The door swung noiselessly inward and revealed a ghastly scene. The sunlight poured through the small window and beamed down upon the small red wooden chest bound in black iron bands. The red ruby refracted the sunlight into the room tinting it in a crimson light. The scarab clasp remained sealed; nothing seemed to be wrong except poor Hornsby who lay in the corner of the room ripped to shreds as if a pack of ravenous wolves had descended upon him. Whatever it was splattered much of Hornsby's blood upon the wall behind him. The remaining blood had pooled and coagulated underneath his rigid body. There was an expression of abject terror frozen upon his face. His eyes were wide and staring forward and his mouth open as if stuck in a rigid scream.

"Dear God!" I gasped covering my mouth with my hand.

"How could this happen?" Randy thought aloud. "The window is too small for admittance, and the door can only be locked on the outside and I have the only key."

* * * * *

By the time the police arrived, Randy had regained his composure. He was fuming over the senseless assassination of a promising anthropologist. Surely, someone had somehow broken into the workroom with the intent of stealing the treasure of Agnar Sun. Hornsby must have put up a good fight, and the assailant or assailants left without their intended prize. At least, this is the story Randy told the press who arrived shortly after the police.

It was noon as I was walking back to my office when the phone outside it on the hallway wall began ringing. I picked up the receiver to hear Dr. Mayes voice.

"Hello, Montgomery. I've been trying to call you all morning." Mayes cheerful voice boomed.

"Yes," I responded a bit sullen.

"You sound a little out of it," the professor said in a more subdued tone.

"We've had some rather ghastly business here."

"Sorry, to hear that. I just wanted to call to tell you that I have finished the translation. I had a student slip it under your door a few hours ago. I wanted to make sure you had received it. I don't mean to pry..."

"I'm sorry, Dr. Mayes. I must go." I quickly responded as I hung up the phone. The excitement over the prospect of the translation washed the sordid scene from my mind. I would quickly forget the scene that had previously lay before me.

I was now anxious to begin work on the translations again. I quickly opened my door to find the envelope upon the floor. I picked it up and seated myself behind my desk. My fingers rapidly ripped open the envelope and the letter inside consumed my total being. The Punjabi translation ran as follows:

* * * * *

When Alexander entered Egypt (the year would be 332 B.C. in our calendar) he heard rumor of a great weapon used by the ancient Pharaohs to help them in their conquests. He had his soldiers search for the great weapon while he occupied himself with the founding of the city of Alexandria. By good fortune, one of the soldiers had discovered the weapon and presented it to the general.

The Pharaoh's had called this weapon the Curse of Agnar Sun. Alexander put the weapon to great use. Mesopotamia, Persia and northern India all fell in short order. Alexander's power grew and so did his wealth. Armies would flee before the Macedonian's approach just on the rumor of the dreaded weapon.

By his sheer willpower and the security of knowing that Agnar Sun was on their side did his army march through the desert. The army eventually reached Susa when Alexander returned from India. It was a year later that some say he died of fever. However, a few closest to the general say it was from the cursed weapon itself. Nonetheless, Alexander's generals decided that they would have nothing to do with the dreaded weapon. They determined to dispose of the cursed weapon in a far away and secret location.

A courier took an item to the Punjab region. The item was a red wooden box bound in black iron and topped with a ruby recharger. Further, this item had a latch in the shape of a scarab beetle. It is here that he hid the evil head of High Priest of Osiris, the Curse of Agnar Sun. For this is a most deadly weapon. Legend has it that even now the soul of Agnar Sun inhabits the decapitated head. If you find this weapon, please read and take heed of this warning and have nothing to do with it.

* * * * *

My hands were shaking as I lowered the letter. This could not be true. Before I presented my findings to Randy, I had to make sure myself. I opened my desk drawer inside was a .38 revolver. I pulled it out and opened the cylinder. It was fully loaded. I pushed the revolver into my satchel and started looking for Randy. Surely, he will want to post another guard tonight. Tomorrow would be the official public opening.

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The Carbon Pirates

Part 2

Essdy continued his story:

He visited the Arijog world and loaded two mechanical trees onto the Iguana II and headed to Sennicam. The governmental structure of Sennicam was remarkable. They had been coalesced under a single government for a thousand years before joining the Galactic Commonwealth. But, more remarkable was the fact that an emperor managed them. They were the only empire in the commonwealth. Apart from the Izanian Empire, they were the only known empire that reached the space age.

Eagle arranged a meeting with the Emperor Enyawd Sennicam. He was a jolly fellow, but very aware that something must be done about the situation of his minor empire. He was always looking for new technology that he could exploit. However, it was generally against commonwealth policy to hand out new technology. However, Eagle needed the leverage, and it would be beneficial to this empire.

Eagle set up one of these machines in the square outside the palace. It was not large, and it fit in nicely with the sculpture garden. It was in a large domed space with plenty of sun exposure. He let it run for several hours before his meeting with Emperor Enyawd. It sat there silently, but working very efficiently turning the carbon dioxide in the air into usable raw materials. Upon his meeting with the Emperor, he offered to share the technology. However, he was not going to give the Sennicamian people the technology for free; it had to be paid for. He could wait for these carbon-producing machines to produce enough carbon to meet his price, or if they could obtain the carbon before hand, his price would be lower.

He gave a demonstration. He took the few milligrams of carbon out of the machine and demonstrated the purity of the oxygen it produced. He also informed them that the only thing needed to run this machine was setting it in sunlight. Thus, not only would it give them a lower concentration of greenhouse gasses, but it would also give them the added technology of turning sunlight into energy.

The Emperor's council was amazed at the simplicity of the device. They saw the benefit of an alternative to their burning of carbon for fuel. However, they were curious as to what Eagle was going to do with the carbon that he gathered. He gave a forthright answer. He was going turn the carbon into a transparent screen in which to view out of his ship. He was going to have a carbon window. He was going to have a strong transparent substance that would hold up to the rigors of space. If he could get the proper quantity quick enough, he told them, he could have it installed right away.

The Emperor enquired about the amount of carbon they had available. They determined that they had a vast shipment that just arrived. However, this would leave them short of energy reserves. Eagle told them that it is understandable, and he was willing to wait for the greater quantity. He would even help them unlock the key to solar energy while he waited for his payment.

He was given free range of the world during his stay. He used the time to describe how these solar cells turned light into electricity to the native engineers. He also showed them how to build their own mechanical trees. The native engineers learned very quickly. They set up a factory to produce the mechanical trees. The Sennicamian people would place these trees all over their world. They would place them on the tops of buildings, and on flotillas on the water, and any locations exposed to enough sunlight whether they were inside the domes or out.

They devised several schemes to collect the carbon. They were still of the mindset that they were going to burn the carbon. Old habits die hard I suppose. As they were creating forests of the mechanical trees, Eagle took the opportunity to explore their world. He was looking for the stolen carbon shipment, and trying to learn as much as he could about the Sennicamian people.

He was beginning to hope that he would not find the cargo containers. He began to admire the Sennicamian ingenuity, and their culture. He was greatly saddened when he discovered the cargo containers in a warehouse. Many of them were empty, so he was forced to confront Emperor Enyawd. He told the emperor that some of his subjects had committed a crime against another Commonwealth nation. If the Galactic Commonwealth discovered that it was government sactioned, it could cost your people its membership. Moreover, it could possibly end your leadership of this planet.

Enyawd took a dim view of these threats; however, he enquired as to how this situation could be best resolved. Eagle apologized for his tone. He stated that the carbon must be returned to its rightful owner. He had some pull with the leadership of the world where the carbon was going to go, but the entire amount must be restored to its rightful owners. The mechanical trees in sum were producing quite a bit of carbon, and it would just be a matter of time before they had enough carbon to make up the difference. However, in doing this, it would take Eagle a longer amount of time to get his pay.

Emperor Enyawd was placed in a very difficult situation. He decided to expand the use of solar energy and asked Eagle if there were any other forms of energy that which they could take advantage. Eagle replied there are several forms of energy production available. However, this information would cost the Sennicam people greatly. They could never afford to pay for such knowledge.

The emperor acquiesced to this explanation and doubled the production of the solar generating stations. They were going to cut way back on their use of carbon-based fuels. It was going to be a painful step in the evolution of their culture, but it was a very necessary one. Disenfranchisement from the Galactic Commonwealth would mean that they would be on the same footing with the Izanian. They would be hard pressed to compete with that civilization on any front. The Sennicamians relied on the Commonwealth for their galactic livelihood.

When Eagle left, he assured the emperor that the Commonwealth would ask no questions on where he obtained the carbon. He also set a date when he could return for his payment. Although he was never going to get the amount that he deserved, as he did a great service to the people of Sennicam, he really wanted that carbon. He was greatly desirous to obtain his new window.

Eagle arrived at 09.72.45.11.30.66 with the cargo of carbon. He told the carbon processing manager, that he must have been getting close, as the carbon containers were abandoned on an asteroid just on the other side of a hypergate. It was well hidden, but he informed the manager, that his sources led him right to the proper asteroid. He explained to the factory manager that all the carbon containers were there, and they still had their cargo.

The manager pressed him for more information, but Eagle did not give him any information. He reminded the manager that he would return soon with a load of carbon, and that he was looking forward to obtaining his new window. He left and returned to Sennicam to claim the carbon he had been promised by the Emperor.

When he returned to Sennicam, it was raining. Emperor Enyawd greeted him at the landing port. He was standing in the rain, and was soaked to the skin. It was the first time it had rained on Sennicam in 12 years. The people were rejoicing in the change in their environment. Many of the citizens were dancing in the falling showers, and the Emperor loved the rain. The emperor doubled the amount of carbon he had promised Eagle because he was so grateful for what Eagle had done.

Eagle graciously accepted the reward. Any increase in revenue was always welcome. He would sell the extra to the carbon to the highest bidder or perhaps use it all for a deluxe window.

With his large carbon stockpile, Eagle returned to 09.72.45.11.30.66. He had the windscreen plans for years. It was going to be one this sheet of carbon with a titanium blast shield for emergencies. Eagle very much disliked trusting his computer for every bit of information. He wanted to see where he was going and what he was up against.

After several weeks of processing, the grateful manager installed the windscreen on the Iguana II. Eagle was thrilled!

That was a good story Yarnspinner! Is it true?"

You should see it the next time Eagle lands here. He'll be happy to show you!

Maybe I'll just do that...

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Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 22

By Dwayne MacInnes

Brady came to in the back of a truck. The U-Haul had pulled in behind the bikers. The door was open and two bikers stood guard over him. However, any idea of escape was out as he realized that he was chained to the wall. As Brady started to test his chains, fire began to shoot through his left shoulder.

"Take it easy," said a hoarse voice next to him.

Brady looked over to the speaker to see that it was Lisa. At least the blurry image resembled her; he had lost his glasses in the battle. Fortunately, she was close enough that he could make out most of her features. Her face was red and her eyes were swollen from continuous crying. She too was chained to the wall.

"I'm glad you are alive," Coop said on the other side of Brady.

"Coop! I gave you orders to fall back," Brady said.

"Akira and I couldn't leave you by yourself to take out the half-track," Coop said in a low voice.

"Where's Akira?" Brady asked before he could catch himself. He half remembered seeing him lying on the side of the hill dead. His torso all torn up.

"He took a bullet, you are lucky you just got a big sliver in your shoulder," Coop responded sadly.

"It's my fault," Lisa began to cry again.

The men at the back of the truck started laughing as Lisa sobbed uncontrollably.

"Now, now," Brady began. "It's not your fault. How'd you know that they would bring the half-track to the town?"

Lisa only started crying harder.

Brady never cared for Lisa one way or the other. He had always seen her as a threat only to Nori. So he kept a close eye on Lisa, but she was always pleasant around Brady or anyone else. Seeing her so distraught pained his heart almost as much as the wound in his shoulder.

"Please, Lisa. If it was anyone's fault it was mine," Brady comforted.

"You don't understand. It is my fault. I told them," Lisa looked up at Brady's surprised face through her puffy eyes.

"I told them where to hit us and how. It was for the greater good," Lisa sobbed out in a choked voice.

"What? I don't understand..." Brady stammered trying to comprehend what Lisa was saying.

"I had to get rid of her and his damn army," Lisa said.

Brady just stared up at her unbelieving what he was hearing.

"Don't look at me like that. You don't understand," Lisa said as she tried to wipe the tears from her eyes with her chained arms. But she had to settle for wiping them on her shoulder.

"I'm pregnant with Nathan's child," Lisa finally said.

Brady didn't think he could stand any more surprises. Nevertheless, they just kept bombarding him. His head was already spinning from the firefight, his wound, and the jarring of the truck going over the rough road. Clearly, the roads were falling into disrepair already.

"How long have you known?"

Lisa sniffled, "About two weeks."

They all sat in silence for a while as it sunk in. The truck drove steadily down the road and the guards would just watch the three occasionally cracking a crude joke at their expense.

"If I could have gotten rid of Nori and the army, Nathan would have given up his little crusade. We could have melted away into the mountains and lived out a happy life," Lisa said to no one in particular.

"Did you tell Nathan about his child?"

"I tried so many times, but all he would talk about was his army or Nori this or Nori that," Lisa sobbed again. "I was desperate to do something."

Lisa started to cry uncontrollably again. Brady could only slump his head down against his chest. The sounds of Lisa's crying, the taunting and laughing of the guards seemed to accompany his throbbing and burning shoulder in some kind of ghoulish symphony as they continued on their trip to hell.

The guards made no secret that the prisoners were going to see Khan in Vice-City. They assured Brady he was going to the Labyrinth. But maybe the kid and girl would wind up in one of the brothels. Only Khan could decide.

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The Curse of Agnar Sun

Part Three

By Dwayne MacInnes

That night I found myself standing guard with a fellow archaeologist Winston. Neither one of us was fond of the idea of being locked alone in the workroom with the small red chest. Winston worried about what could get in. I worried about what was already in.

"You know," Winston began looking up at the ceiling, "there's an air duct up there. I bet you that is how the assassin got to Hornsby."

"Possibly." was all I could murmur, never taking my eyes off the red chest.

The lone light bulb swung slightly from the long wire that hung from the ceiling. The swaying shadows that played off the walls only added to the eeriness of the small workroom. I constantly scolded myself mentally for my academic curiosity that sent me to Randy in order to volunteer for guard duty. Randy insisted that two would stand guard tonight in case the thieves returned to the scene of the crime. The company was small consolation.

The sun had set hours before and still nothing stirred in the room except Winston and me. Winston would half heartily try to joke about our situation, but he could not lift the heavy tension. My companion started to pace back and forth. Every two minutes he would look up at the clock on the wall above the locked door.

It was slightly after one in the morning when I thought I heard a distinctive click. Winston also heard the noise and spun around to look at me. I was behind the table looking at Winston over the red box. His jaw hung open and it took a second or two before he found his voice.

"Did you hear that?" he asked in a quivering whisper.

I slowly nodded my head. I could not tell who was more frightened Winston or me. Then I saw Winston's eyes slowly drop toward the box. He took a step back and the expression of fear took total possession of his face. I followed his wide eyes down toward the box.

At first, I thought my eyes were deceiving me. Was the box opening on its own? Surely, it was impossible. Yet the lid continued to lift on its own.

As the lid swung completely back, a silky black object began to rise. Winston began to open his mouth to scream. However, it never escaped his mouth it only gurgled in the back of his throat. I took a step backwards and hit the wall. The low thump was enough to make the silky object turn slowly towards me.

I could make out the profile of a face as the head of Agnar Sun spun in my direction. The disembodied head had hair that was long and black. The long leathery tan face contained blue, Pictish-style tattoos on each cheek. The slate grey eyes looked into mine and his mouth moved in the soundless speech of ancient Egypt.

I could feel Agnar Sun slowly mesmerizing me. I had only a moment in which to act. My right hand instinctively reached into my satchel and pulled out the .38. Without further thought, I began to fire at the head. The bullets bounced off some invisible barrier that Agnar Sun must have conjured up.

Fortunately, the summoning of the barrier also released my mind from Agnar Sun's mesmerism. I ran past the table as fast as I could and in the process knocked the red box onto the floor. Poor Winston still stood there staring straight towards the cursed head never moving. I fired my last two shots into the lock and swung the door open as I ran out of the room.

I looked back to see the head of Agnar Sun sink its teeth into Winston. My unfortunate colleague did not even utter a scream as the ghoul continued to gouge out his flesh in bite size chunks. How far I ran I do not remember. My memory is blank from the time I left the workroom to the time I awoke in my office with Randy shaking me.

I was incoherent until Randy was able to push some brandy past my lips. The alcohol warmed my chest and brought my senses back to me.

"Montgomery, what happened?" Randy implored excitedly.

"The head..." was all I could get out.

"Head? Is that what was in the box. Well, those assassins not only killed Winston they also made away with their prize this time."

I shook my head and grabbed the translations off my desk. I pushed them into Randy's hand as I took the brandy bottle from his and sat down onto my cot. I took a long hard pull from the bottle.

I sat there on my cot watching Randy closely. As he began to read Dr. Mayes's letter, I watched him shake his head. Randy lowered the letter when he finished and looked over at me.

"Is this true?"

I could only nod yes.

"Come we have work to do." Randy said as he grabbed my arm.

We went back to the wrecked workroom. Winston lay slumped against the wall where I left him. Blood covered his body and the surrounding wall and floor. The small red chest lay in a far dark corner on its back. However, the head of Agnar Sun was nowhere in sight.

"The head can't be far from the box." Randy stated.

I looked at Randy in askance.

"The ruby is a recharger. Agnar Sun draws his energy from Ra or the sun. It appears that the chest has been in the dark all morning so I can only surmise that Agnar Sun is low on energy and will not want to stray too far from the box."

My Egyptian mythology was starting to come back to me. Of course, what Randy said made sense.

"We need to find that head before we contact the police."

I nodded in agreement.

"But, where could he be hiding?"

I looked up at the air duct.

A thought hit me and brought me completely back to my senses.

"Stay here I have an idea and I know where -- and how we can get him." I said excitedly as I ran out of the museum.

I always fed a stray tomcat outside my apartment. The animal was big fellow easily twenty pounds and from the time I have spent playing with him I knew him to be quite frisky. I knew that this cat would be our ally in apprehending Agnar Sun. An ancient Egyptian would never attack a cat.

I was only gone fifteen minutes before I returned with the white and grey tomcat. With the help of Randy, I was able to climb onto the table and had inserted the cat into the air duct. Within minutes, we could hear a banging around in the metal duct. It was soon after that that Agnar Sun's head rolled out of the duct followed by the playful tomcat.

It thudded onto the table and then rolled onto the floor. I quickly grabbed it by the back of the head. I could feel the ebbing power as it tried to pull free. The long night had nearly drained the evil power of Agnar Sun.

Randy stood there with a grim look as he held the cat who was purring in his arms. "I believe our feline friend here deserves a permanent position here. Now I believe we need to call the police."

* * * * *

The next day Randy had set up an exhibit where the red box was contained in a glass case far away from any natural light. Further, he housed Agnar Sun's head in another glass case near the front of the museum. Visitors to the museum reported that they saw Agnar Sun winking and moving his mouth. In fact, some claimed they could feel a slight mesmerizing effect if they looked deeply into his eyes. However, we would never place Agnar Sun in the box nor would we let the ruby recharger come into direct contact with sunlight. To do so would be to invite a terrible calamity.

* * * * *

Jim finished reading from the journal and looked at the curator.

"Look here, Jim I've been over this with you before. Randal Foor was well known for his theatrics. You could say he had a touch of P.T. Barnum in him. He was always adding in the occult angle during those times to sensationalize his exhibits even more. That was how you made your museum a success seventy-five years ago.

"However, today we deal with science and facts. We will show the exhibit as it was meant to be. The head in the box and the box radiating the ruby's light in the natural sunlight as it must have done in some temple in ancient Egypt."

"Mr. Roberts even you have to admit that Montgomery's journal is independent from Foor's own journal that contains a similar story."

"Jim, I'll make this blunt. You'll either drop it or you can find work somewhere else."

Jim hunched his shoulders in defeat. He looked up at the workers moving around the exhibit. Tomorrow with the rise of the morning sun, the museum will open to large and expectant public.

The End.

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Ninja in a Wheelchair

by Douglas E Gogerty

Brian O'Reilly was sitting in his wheelchair in his cell on death row. The state would execute him in an hour from now, and he had just finished his last meal. He was sitting quietly when the guard came followed by a priest.

"Brian O'Reilly, this is Father Dwayne McGuinness. He is here to prepare you for your execution."

"Hello Father"

"Greetings my son. That will be all guard. Now Brian is there anything that you want to tell me?"

"Father, I deserve the sentence I am about to receive. I have not been a good person, and I have lived far longer than I should have."

"Tell me about it my son."

* * * * *

I was the oldest of six kids. We were very poor. So, when I was 11 years old, I began my life of crime. It was more important to me to get food to eat than to go to school. I would spend my class time figuring out how to put food on our table, and the teachers let me.

I had been stealing and fighting regularly. While I wasn't making a great deal of money, I was putting food in our mouths. I had a few scrapes, but there wasn't anything I couldn't handle.

One day, I stole from an Asian grocery, and a gang of 10 guys jumped me. They said that this grocery was protected by Hung Lo. They told me that I would have to pay for my theft.

I didn't know Hung Lo from nothing. I was just a kid. They tried all of their chop socki on me, but they didn't know how to fight. I was an everything-goes street fighter. I didn't know any rules. So, I held my own until the cops came and we scrammed.

As has it, they had a spy follow me home. The next day, a note comes addressed to my mom from Hung Lo. He wanted to see me. Ma was getting upset with my behavior and she made me go see him. I thought for sure I was done for.

I was shaking like a leaf when Ma and me went to see him. I was more afraid of the wrath of Ma than some Asian dude. Ma drug me into this guy's office and tossed me into a seat.

"What's this all about?" she asked.

"I would like to give your son a job," he replied.

I was stunned. He was going to make me pay for what I had stole by making me work for it. Ma agreed to the deal, and I began working for Mr. Lo at nights and on weekends.

At first, it was all legit. I hung flyers. I swept floors. I delivered messages. I did the usual young kid jobs. I got paid in cash, and I put some food on the table.

I would occasionally have scrapes with his young muscle. They were all about testing me. The kids my age were all a head shorter than me. I would clean their clocks easy. The kids my size were a few years older, and a little more difficult, but I still held my ground.

After a year or so of these odd jobs, Mr. Lo started to give me free Hopkido lessons. It was some martial arts training, and I really dug it. It started out all joint locks and pressure points. Eventually, we learned about how to use a person's own weight and energy against them.

I took to it quite naturally. I would still get tested now and again, but I was quite a bit more fluid. Someone would rush me and before they knew what was happening they were flying into the ground.

I began walking with a bit of a swagger. I started looking for fights. Whenever I was challenged, it took a couple of seconds and it was over. They would be lying on the ground with this or that bone broken. I was a tough guy now.

Eventually, Mr. Lo called me into his office with a task. Someone was behind in their payments on something or other. I was like 14 or 15. I would walk into some store and ask for the payment. The guy would come back with this or that excuse, and I would insist.

Of course, the storeowner would laugh at me and end up bleeding. They all paid. I got a big raise after a couple of these jobs. Later, all I would have to do was walk in. "The Kid is here for the money," I would proclaim.

I trained and worked. I even managed to graduate from high school. Well, I barely graduated. I had to make a big decision. What was I going to do with my life. I told Mr. Lo that I was moving on.

I joined the military. I am not allowed to tell you what I did, but let us say that I was good at my job. Lots of people felt the sting of 'The Kid'. I really enjoyed the work, but I hated the politics of it all. I would do a job according to plan, and some yahoo somewhere would complain about this or that aspect.

When my tour was up, I left. I was a first class killing machine without a job. I was a fry cook for a while. I stocked the shelves at this and that store. I never could make a job stick. They were all boring. So, after a while, I looked up Hung Lo again.

He didn't have a job for anyone with my talents, but he said he would check around. He sent me to a guy named K.W. Kitterman. Mr. Kitterman could put my skills to work.

I did the same work that I did in the military, but without the politics. It was the perfect job for me. I began taking Ninjitsu lessons because they helped me do my job. 'The Kid' soon became a Ninja.

I disappeared into the world of the Ninja. I only appeared to inflict death. The only ones to see me were soon no longer capable of reporting what they saw. I was a ghost. I was a shadow in the night.

I had many missions and was making a great deal of money fulfilling those missions. However, that was all to end when Mr. Kitterman contracted me to kill Mr. Long Wang. He is why I am here.

Mr. Wang was a very powerful man. In fact, he was acquainted with Hung Lo. If I wanted to do my job without worrying about politics, I didn't question why I was to do this job. It wasn't my place to ask why he was to be killed. It was just a job.

I easily infiltrated Mr. Wang's estate, and I waited for him in his bedroom. I made a minor mistake, and I alerted him to my presence. Those cursed squeaky floors!

Mr. Wang was a very skilled fighter. He had a great deal of training. He took my sword away from me quite easily. It was going to be unarmed combat for a while. I would strike and he would block. He would strike, I would counter, and he would block. It was a back and forth fight for quite a while.

He knew several styles of Kung Fu. He was obviously an accomplished teacher of the martial arts. He knew a vast array of techniques. He knew some techniques that I thought were only legends. Stories they tell others so they fear you and you don't have to fight. He knew of those kinds of techniques.

We had been going back and forth for a while, and he begins telling me the technique he is using. He is yelling "Flying Monkey Fist" and "Striking Snake" and the like. To me it is all gibberish. I just take his move and counter it like I was trained in Hopkido.

I was getting tired. I had never fought anyone for so long before. I decided I was going to end it by going for my sword. We exchange attacks, and in doing so, I work towards my sword. A few more moves, and I will have it. Again, he is yelling "Hammering Jaguar Claw" and "Crane Fish Strike"!

At this point in the fight, I make my first mistake. I take my eyes off him and look at my sword. He yells "Five Point Palm Exploding Heart!" and lands it on my chest. I manage to grab the sword and open him up. He stops and laughs.

I thought how strange it was that a man would get nearly cut in two and laugh. So I asked him what was so funny.

He said, "We are both dead. I landed my last ditch technique. After you take five steps, your heart will explode."

I took a step to lop off his head and finish the job, and I took one step back, but I haven't taken one since. The police found me sitting there with the bloody sword in my hand. I was just sitting on the floor. They asked me to get up, but I said that I couldn't. They dragged me out, and I have been in this wheelchair ever since.

* * * * *

"Father, I don't know if the good Lord will forgive what I have done..."

"My son, if you truly repent your sins, the good Lord will forgive you."

"Thanks Father. I am truly sorry for the pain that I have inflicted."

"It is time to go now."

The guard came and opened the cell. The priest arose and began praying for Brian's soul. The guard worked his way behind the wheelchair and began to push it out of the cell. Brian waved to have him stop, and he got up. He took three steps and fell over dead. The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart technique finally took Brian O'Reilly after a lengthy trial and several years on death row.

* * * * *

Inspired by Kill Bill Vol. 2 by Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman

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Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 23

By Dwayne MacInnes

It was already night by the time the Horde with its prisoners pulled into Vice-City. The noise was practically unbearable to Brady after a year of relative quiet. People were laughing, screaming, and singing as they drove down the main road. The flashing of a multitude of different colored lights added to the surreal surroundings.

The small gang with its human cargo pulled into a fenced-off parking area and stopped. A chain-linked fencing topped with coils of barbed wire surrounded it. The guards then unchained their prisoners from the wall of the U-Haul and led them into what was once the town's police station. Brady and his two companions were then roughly pushed and pulled down the white hallway. At the end of the hall, they were literally tossed into a cell.

The guards laughed as they slammed the cell door shut.

"Hey, sweetheart maybe we'll meet you at one of the brothels later," joked a bearded burly man dressed in black leather chaps and matching vest.

His companion started to laugh even harder. The two men then turned and exited the cellblock. The clanging of the block's main door shutting echoed down the corridor with a hollow clang.

Brady blinked his eyes. Even without his glasses, the artificial light took some getting used to. He looked around the room, but he couldn't make out too much. "I guess it's time to get a cane and dog," Brady thought.

"Welcome strangers," a man's forlorn voice said softly. "I was getting a little lonely being shut up all by myself. As you can see even the other cells are empty."

"Hi," Brady responded as he shuffled his way towards the voice and what he hoped was a bed against the far wall.

Cooper grabbed Brady's right arm and led him over to the bunk beds. Lisa retreated to a corner and continued to sob.

"Looks like you have a little wound there," the man continued. "We should take a look at that injury."

"Thanks," was all Brady could say before his leather jacket was pulled off his torso and fire shot through his left shoulder again. Brady hissed as the pain force him to intake air between his clenched teeth.

"I don't have any real tools but I think I can pull this splinter out."

Brady cried out in pain as the prisoner pulled the inch long splinter quickly from his shoulder with his dirty blunt fingers. The intense explosion of pain nearly made Brady lose consciousness. Then Brady felt real fire burn onto his shoulder.

"Now hold still I need to cauterize it. Too much blood pouring out," the stranger explained.

Soon Brady's shoulder was cleaned and patched up with bandages made from torn bed sheets. After this last ordeal, Brady felt overwhelmingly tired. He lay down on the bed and started to drift off.

* * * * *

Brady instantly came awake when he heard the block's main door creak open. The sounds of three sets of footsteps could be heard stomping down the corridor. It was amazing how quickly one started to become more attuned to their other senses when one of them wasn't working properly, Brady mused inwardly. It wasn't that the other senses became more acute it was that you now paid more attention to them.

"These are them, sir," the same burly man from before said as the new comers approached the cell door.

"Ah, excellent. So this is our little rebellious army and I see it had found another leader," mocked a voice, a voice that Brady recognized.

Brady sat up abruptly and turned toward the new voice.

"Dr. Vanders?" asked Brady.

Khan, formerly know as Barry Vanders jumped back with surprise. The two biker guardsmen and the other prisoners all noticed how Brady's question seemed to affect Khan as if he had been slammed in the chest with a heavy object.

"Wha...what do you mean?" Khan stammered off balanced.

"Yes, of course. It all makes sense now," Brady said thinking out loud. "You taught Inner-Asian history at U of W and Genghis Khan was a favorite topic of yours. You'd always seem to go on some tangent that led one way or the other to Genghis Khan."

"SILENCE!" yelled Khan as he regained his composure. "Dr. Vanders died in Seattle during the incident. Khan was born like a phoenix from the ashes of a dead world to create a new empire..."

"You still have a touch for theatrics, Doc," Brady interrupted.

The burly man quickly pulled out a short club and jumped toward the cell, "Shut-up boy, or I'll ram this nightstick up your..."

"Enough, Seth. I'm sure my former student will find that he's not so brave when he's running the Labyrinth."

"Look, Dr. Vanders I've faced death many times before and this is just one more," Brady bluffed hoping that his face did not betray his bravado.

"I am sure you are a very brave young man. But how about if you are a guest watching the show as your friends here run it. It is a shame, I was hoping to add them both to the brothels. My men's appetite for ...um, ‘pleasures of the flesh' runs the whole gambit."

Coop and Lisa both looked in horror at Brady and then Khan. They both had heard all about the Labyrinth. The best thing to hope for was that you broke your neck as they threw you down the manhole.

"We'll start the games tomorrow morning," Khan added as he and his two companions turned and exited the corridor. The sounds of the two bikers resonated down the hall in accompaniment to the retreating footsteps.

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Adventure in the Night

by Linda Heuer

Katie looked around at the brown walls of a tiny room. She was lying on the hard brown floor, and nothing seemed right. The last thing she remembered was snuggling down in her cozy green comforter in her bed while listening to Stravinsky on the radio. She had formed a nice little dream of meeting an exotic prince at college in the fall, and the two of them were riding off towards the sunset together on magnificent black horses. That is it. Then, all of a sudden, she is here in a cold, tiny, brown room.

"Is someone there?" Katie said with her eyes wide open.

"Please, someone. Answer me!" Katie said as she jumped up. She smoothed down her purple nightgown that had bunched up around her waist.

Katie walked around the tiny room, which looked to be only about 6 feet by 6 feet. She felt the walls, and it all seemed solid; no cracks, no doors, nothing but brown walls.

Katie tried knocking on the wall and then the floor, but nothing happened. She sat down and cried for a bit. When she was done, she rubbed her eyes and nose on the hem of her purple gown.

"Please, where am I?" Katie asked the room. She started fidgeting with her long brunette hair. Braiding it and rebraiding it until at last she started to become calm.

"Why am I here?" Katie asked the room

"Ah. You have stopped your hysterics. Good," A low throbbing voice resonated in the tiny room.

Katie shuddered. "Why am I here?" She asked again.

"You have come in your sleep, but are not sleeping now. You must help me if you are to return home," the deep voice continued.

"What on Earth do you mean? I've gotta be still sleeping, and all I need to do is wake up, then," Katie said.

"No you stupid girl!" the voice in the room boomed. "You are no longer sleeping!"

"So then, Mr. Room, where am I?" Katie said.

"You're in my house in the middle of Dreamland, so just shut up and let me explain and all will be well," the voice continued in mellow tones.

"Alright, I'm shutting up now," Katie said.

There was a pause.

"Alright, if you are calm now, I'll resume. To get out of here, we have to sneak through the night watchman's house past his gate into the realm of waking -- your realm. This is the only way that you can get back to your little bed. Now wasn't that simple now that you let me finish?" the room said.

"Yes, but..." Katie said.

"Good, then we'll be off," the voice said.

"Now wait just one second, Mr. Room. I'm not going anywhere until you tell me exactly what is going on here! The last thing I remember was falling to sleep at home, and you didn't explain anything." Katie said, jumping up and stomping her left foot.

"Easy there, kid. Fine, I'll try to explain it, but that's it. Then you have to take me with you to the realm of waking," the voice said.

"Fair enough," Katie replied.

"Describe to me everything you did when you went to sleep. Everything you were thinking," the voice said.

"Well, I like to make nice dreams for myself to fall asleep to, so this time, I envisioned a dashing prince astride a beautiful black stallion. I had a gorgeous black mare for myself and then fell asleep as we rode together into the sunset," Katie said.

"Ah. That explains it, then," the voice said.

The room fell silent.

"Explains what?" Katie asked as she wrinkled her eyebrows.

"A nightmare: you rode a nightmare back here to the realm of sleeping and now you are stuck," the voice said.

"Why am I stuck? I've ridden horses before in my dreams and this certainly has never happened before," Katie said.

"Not surprising. Most people don't daydream black mares, but when they do, the mares don't like it. Nightmares have to work all night long, and they only get to rest in the daytime. They don't like to be made to work a second shift. As a result, they sometimes bring back those who woke them up back into the realm of sleeping as a sort of payment for their time," the voice said.

"That seems rude," Katie said.

"So's being woken up to go to work on your time off," the voice said.

"Well, I suppose, but..." Katie said.

"You'll understand that better when you grow up, I'm sure," the voice said. "So are you satisfied yet? Can we get going? We don't have a lot of time left to get to the Night Watchman's house before sunrise," the voice said.

"What happens at sunrise," Katie asked.

"If you are still here by then, you will forever become a thing of dreams, and never more able to fully exist in the waking world," the voice said.

"I see. Then we'd better get going," Katie said.

A door suddenly appeared in the wall in front of Katie.

"Just step through the door and our journey will begin," the voice said.

Katie stepped through the door, and came out in the middle of a forest.

"Now you need to disguise yourself," the voice said.

"Disguise myself as what?" Katie asked.

"Oh, anything, really. But you must not be yourself as that is obviously something of the real world, and this is the land of dreams," the voice said.

"What should I be," Katie mused to herself. Her mind stumbled on her favorite comic book character. "Wonder Woman, that's who I'll be!" and Katie became Wonder Woman.

"Wow! I've never been anywhere near in this good of shape in my life!" Katie exclaimed as she examined her now well-toned legs and arms. She reached up and felt the tiara on her head, the girdle on her waist, and the golden lasso at her hip. She was the very image of the old style wonder woman doll Dan, a friend from pep band, had given her for her birthday the week before.

Katie twirled around.

"Good. Now then pick me up." The voice said from by her feet.

They were all of a sudden standing upon a hill in the middle of a forest in the nighttime. Katie stood as the image of Wonder Woman, and a tiny brown mouse stood at her feet.

"Wow, you're small!" Katie exclaimed.

"I'm small now so you can carry me, stupid girl," The tiny brown mouse said with the same booming deep voice she heard in the room.

"I see," Katie said, though she didn't really see.

"Pick me up!" The mouse stomped its left foot.

"Ok, already," Katie said and reached down to pick up the mouse.

"Where should I put you? This outfit has no pockets and I'm not putting you in my cleavage," Katie said.

"Think something up, then! By the night, you sure are daft!" the voice said.

Katie concentrated, and on the hip opposite the lasso, there appeared a blue pouch with white stars. It perfectly matched Katie's skirt. She dropped the mouse in the pouch and said "Where to now?"

"To the tower, of course, you stupid girl. Where else would the night watchman be?" the voice echoed from Katie's pouch.

"Alright, where's that? All I see are trees," Katie said.

"Go straight ahead on this path till you come out of the woods. Then you'll see the tower," the mouse said.

So through the forest went Katie Wonder Woman carrying in her pouch the rather grumpy mouse. Though it was very dark in the woods, she managed to stay on the path and eventually broke free of the forest. Rolling fields reached for miles and miles around. She was able to make off in the distance a tower.

"I see it," Katie said to the mouse in her pouch.

"Good. Now go towards it. If you don't look suspicious, no one will be alarmed. Then you need to go through the tower to get to the other side of the wall. Then we can both get back to your reality," The mouse said.

"There's a wall?" Katie asked.

"Of course. You don't think they just let anything past the borders of sleep and waking, do you, girl?" the mouse said.

"Well, I suppose not," Katie said. She then started walking through the fields and hills toward the tower. As she started getting close, she was able to see a great wall. The tower indeed seemed to grow up out of the wall, and was the only means of getting though to the other side.

When Katie was almost to the tower, the mouse cried out, "Now be careful in the tower. Never let on for a moment that I'm here, or all will be lost, and I cannot get you back home."

"I'll be careful," Katie said.

She went up to the big oaken door at the tower entrance and knocked.

There was no answer.

As she reached up to knock again, the mouse in her pouch cried out, "Please, no! You'll make them suspect something. Here in the land of Dreams, if no one answers a knocked door, it is an invitation to enter."

That seemed rather odd to Katie, but she just shrugged and pulled on the wire ring hanging from the door. It swung open and inside Katie saw a chamber lit by a candelabra hanging from the ceiling.

She shuddered a little, then patted her lasso and entered the room. There was no one there. She followed the streaming light into yet another chamber. This one was even bigger than the first. Again, no one was there. Hence, she went into a third chamber, all the while, the light was getting stronger, but the rooms seemed to lead nowhere.

Katie stopped and picked up a single candle that was sitting upon a writing desk. She walked out of the lit center of the room to the far wall. She felt along the wall until she found an opening. It looked just like the rest of the wall, but when she moved through it, she found it was really a passageway. This passage she followed until she came to a large chamber with only a small circle illuminated by moonlight in the center of the room.

A chain rattled.

"Who goes there?" A dainty feminine voice called.

"It is I, Ka... Wonder Woman," Katie called.

"Please, fellow woman, rescue me!" the dainty voice called out.

"Oh please do give her a hand," the mouse called out from the pouch.

"Who's that you have with you? Rusty, is that you?" the dainty voice cried. "Please listen to Rusty. Free me!"

Katie stepped into the illuminated center of the room when she heard an ominous creaking like what she heard when her tree house had blown down in the great Windstorm of '05. Katie stopped moving. She held out her candle, but its feeble light failed to penetrate the darkness of the chamber.

"Now look here, Mr. Voice Mouse, Rusty, or who ever you are! I'm not going in there where I can't see!" Katie hissed at the mouse in her pouch.

"You will if you ever want to see you're family again!" the mouse boomed. "Let me out of this pouch at once!"

Katie reached into the pouch and brought out the little brown mouse. He bit her hand and she dropped him onto the illuminated floor. As the rays of the moonlight hit his body, the mouse began growing. Katie watched with her mouth agape as the tiny brown mouse transformed into a giant shiny copper dragon. The dragon more than filled the lit portion of the chamber.

"Coral! We will be free at last to terrorize men again!" The copper dragon said.

"Darling! To be free of dreams and back in the real realms again! Ah how I have longed for the day." The dainty voice replied.

"We shall feast upon flesh this day, no more fear for us!" The copper dragon took a step towards his chained mate. Then he froze.

"Not so fast," Katie said. Her golden lasso was around the copper dragon's tail. "You are now under the influence of the Lasso of Truth."

The copper dragon looked around wildly, but did not move.

"I'm not as stupid as you thought, I guess," Katie said. "This is dreamland and now, I have become Wonder Woman, with all that being her entails, including her Lasso of Truth that compels people to tell me whatever I want, and once you are bound by a promise while the lasso is around you, you are forever bound by that promise. And now you will promise to never again plot to destroy humans, and to always and forever remain in the dream world."

"I do so promise to never again plot to destroy humans and to always and forever remain in the dream world," the copper dragon pledged.

"Bravo!" A voice called out from behind Katie. In strode a man dressed in full chain mail armor. "I couldn't have done it better myself," he said sheathing his silver sword.

"And you are?" Katie asked.

"The night watchman Daniel," The man said. Then he bowed to Katie. "That was some trick with the lasso."

"It's nothing. If you read as many comics as I do, you're bound to pick up a thing or two," Katie replied.

"Well, if you give Rusty over to me, I'll chain him up with his Coral until he simmers down a bit. Then I can take you home," Night Watchman Daniel said.

"You can do that?" Katie asked.

"Of course," Daniel said. "Some guardian of sleep and waking I'd be if I couldn't restore a citizen to his or her realm when they go astray."

As Katie gave him the lasso and Daniel bound the dragon Rusty to the wall next to Coral, Katie looked at him puzzled.

"You sure remind me of someone," Katie said.

"What was that?" Night Watchman Daniel said.

"I said you look a lot like a friend, is all," Katie said.

"Ah. Well, that happens a lot here, you know, seeing as how there's not much difference between there and here," Daniel said, looking directly towards Katie.

"What?" Katie said, looking even more confused.

"You'll figure it out someday," Daniel said smiling. "For now, let me bring you back home. It's almost morning."

Katie stretched and yawned. Her purple nightgown had ridden up to her waist again. She would really have to do something about that one of these days. She glanced at her desk where her new Wonder Woman doll sat.

"I think I'll give Dan a call..." Katie said.

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Roman Slave - Gladiator - Freeman - Hero

The Walk Home

By Douglas E Gogerty

I had dined at Claudius Flavius Agrippa's estate. It was about two thousand paces from my home and I went on foot. It was a very ample banquet and I had left just before dusk as I wished to get home before it got too dark.

I had walked down the road for a short while when a man came from behind some brush along the road. He asked for all of my valuables. I could not help but laugh. This did not go over well with him and he jumped at me. I casually stepped aside, and I see a couple of arrows whisk by me. This bandit was not alone.

The first bandit had gained his footing and rushed towards me once again. I ducked behind the brush from which he emerged. I could not see his compatriots, so I had to be careful. I removed my cloak to protect myself from any small weapon the first bandit may have been carrying. I saw his knife glint in the fading light.

As he rushed at me, I grabbed his arm and launched him in the air with a little hitch in my hip. He hit the ground hard, but only enough to make him angrier. Once again, he charged at me, and I held my cloak to one side. I jumped out of the way in time and draped my cloak over him. I did not let go of cloak as it closed around my assailant. With my grasp of the cloak, I dropped to the ground and put my foot into the small of his back; thus, launching him above the cover of the brush.

In the failing light, his accomplices mistook him for me and launched a salvo of arrows. However, one of the archers gave himself away in this attack. The two arrows shot from this bandit's accomplices struck him. He started bleeding profusely, so I let him keep my cloak. He was still alive, but he would not be for long.

I did not know the position of one of the archers, so I carefully made my way to the archer's position that I had spotted. I saw that he had another arrow ready for flight. I jumped over the bush he was using for cover and knocked his bow. The arrow flew across the road. The second archer yelled in surprise as the arrow just missed him.

I grabbed the first archer from behind and used my greatest weapon on the second. I glared at him with the first archer held tightly in my grasp. Without breaking my stare, I snapped the neck of the first archer with my bare hands. My weapon was successful, and the second archer dropped his weapon and ran off.

I gathered up the two dead men and piled them on the brush beside the road. I checked for any identifying items, and gathered their valuables in a bit of cloth. I headed back towards home leaving the corpses for the scavengers.

After a bit of walking, I overhear some men talking. I cannot quite make it out, but it sounded like an exciting story about a 7-foot man killing Antonius with his bare hands. As I approach, I can see one of the men is enraged by the tale being told. He shouts, "He killed my brother, so he must die!"

I was in a bit of a spot because they were between my home and me. I was not looking for any more trouble, but the brother had spotted me. He came rushing towards me with knife in his hand. As he got closer, he began to shout wildly. Fear was not going to override his anger. However, for my benefit his anger impaired his judgment. When he was close enough, I side stepped him and grabbed his arm. Using his own hand with his own knife, I plunged the blade between his ribs. He fell in a heap. He attempted to get up, but his strength had left him.

Nevertheless, there were three remaining men standing besides a small cart filled with goods. The second archer was standing with his eyes wide with fear.

"That's him! That's him!" he nervously shouted.

"He's not seven feet tall," the second man said with a confused look on his face.

The third man I assumed was the ringleader. He ordered the two men to spread out and attack me on each side, but the two men hesitated. The ringleaders eyes flared and he shouted, "Move it!"

With a start, the two men tried to flank me. I leaned against a close by tree to watch my back. Slowly the three men closed in upon me. The two men on my left and right drew their knives.

I assumed that the ringleader was a deserter from the army who was now making his living as a bandit. He was going to be difficult to take down as he was wearing Roman armor and I just had my knife.

The two conspirators were not wearing any protection against sharp implements, but their cloaks did make them difficult to see. This was all more the true with the greatly fading light.

Closer and closer, the three men became. Eventually, the two men on my flanks lunged towards me. In an effort to dodge their attacks, I spun and kicked the ringleader in the face. Once again, the weapon of fear worked well on the second archer. With my action, he hesitated. This gave me enough time to grab the other bandit by the arm and twist it. The pain pushed him towards the ground and he dropped his knife.

By this time, the ringleader had shaken off his surprise and managed to draw a short sword. He made a clumsy attempt to stab me. It was quite apparent that despite his armor, he was not a well-trained soldier.

With his comrade still somewhat under my control, I pushed him in the way of this awkward stab. Unfortunately for this poor bandit, this thrust went directly into his throat and severed part of his neck. With a little shout, I popped his head right off.

The second archer fainted dead away upon the sight of his decapitated friend. With the head freed of encumbrance of a body, I swung it by the hair and smacked the ringleader with it. With an awful thwack, the head crashed into the helmet of the ringleader.

While the damage was clearly minimal, the scene left him a bit stunned as well. With this momentary hesitation, I thrust my knife in his eye. It is the most vulnerable spot on a man in armor. I quickly removed my knife and a scream of pain came out of his mouth as he clutched his eye.

If the wound is deep enough, it will eventually be fatal. However, it can take a bit of time. With a fury of pain and the loss of vision, the ringleader began swinging his short sword wildly. With one of his swings, he cut a large chunk out of the second archer's leg. Blood began to pour out of this wound but the lead bandit continued to swing his sword with shouts of anger. The new wound would be certainly fatal, but it did not rouse the second archer.

The head bandit was yelling and swearing. He waved his sword about wildly, but I was not going to get anywhere close to him. It was only a matter of time before the loss of blood would do its work. After a short time, the ringleader fell to the ground with a thud. He writhed with pain and gradually sank into unconsciousness.

It was dark now, but I could not leave these men in the middle of the road. However, I did not wish to take any chances that these men were still able to lash out at me. Thus, I made my thanks to my patron Neptune. My ritual took a few minutes as I burnt some blood of my fallen foes in thanks. I also included the decapitated head in my ritual of thanks.

I made certain that the four men were dead as I piled the bandits in a heap beside the road. Like their other fallen comrades, I obtained their valuables and put them all in their own wagon. From the looks of the booty these men had collected in their wagon, they were quite successful highwaymen.

Once I arrived home, I once again made sacrifices to Neptune. My tunic was soaked with the blood of these men. I took the opportunity to visit the bath before turning in for the night.

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Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 24

By Dwayne MacInnes

"Look here," began the stranger. "There is way out of the Labyrinth. I helped build it in the old storm sewers. There was a small army of us working on it, so I doubt they even knew they put you in a cell with someone with my knowledge."

"Why should we trust you?" Brady asked.

"You don't have to, but I do have information that could help you whether you believe me or not. I'm Jesse by the way," the prisoner said as he offered his hand.

Brady hesitantly reached out and shook it. He still didn't know if he could trust this man or not. "My name is Brady West."

"Good, good. Man, I've never seen Khan at a loss for words like that. You really burned him good there," chuckled Jesse.

Coop and Lisa then introduced themselves. Neither was in very high spirits but both wanted to know the secret to escaping the Labyrinth, as they would shortly be running it.

"Now as I was saying there is a way out. Many of the side passages are boarded off. We couldn't have zombies and victims just bumbling around passing each other in the dark. So Khan decided to make a game out of it. Lights and cameras were installed and as I said, many side passages were boarded up. But every once in a while a bulb will burn out, or a camera will need adjusting so we builders have to sneak in without the undead making a meal of us. We also need a way back out.

"So that we can easily find our way in and out, we have secret doors set up. Khan and the Horde don't even know about them. No one watches the repairmen doing their work, so the secret is still sound as far as I know."

"How do we find the secret door?" Coop asked anxiously.

"That's the beauty of it. It's so simple. As I said, we boarded up many side passages. Some of these are boxed in so that we can enter from a manhole above and sneak in and out. But in order to find which boarded up wall is in fact a door, all you have to do is look for a white wall. The lighting is terrible and the cameras all tend to be black and white. So it doesn't show up too well on television, but you can see it easily enough in the sewers."

"Couldn't we just climb up through another manhole in the main passages?" Lisa enquired now starting to regain some of her former self.

"Oh, no. They've been either welded or cemented shut from up above. No, the only way out is through the maintenance doors and then out the manhole. Then you better run like hell."

"Say Jesse, what are you in for?" Brady asked.

"I picked a fight with one of the Horde, and I beat him up pretty good too. But Khan decided that instead of feeding me to the zombies he'd let me sit it out for a few days here."

* * * * *

The next morning Brady, Lisa and Coop were all rounded up and escorted out of the jail. A slight rain was falling on them, the roads were damp with the collecting water, and small streams flowed down into the storm sewers. As they entered the street, Lisa and Coop were led away and Brady was taken to a casino. The guards pushed Brady past the many gamblers who rarely looked up from their card games or slot machines as Brady went by. He was then shoved through a door into a large studio editing room with a wall of monitors against the wall. None of them were on at the moment.

"You know it took me all night," Khan said as he turned to face Brady in his swivel chair. "But I remember you now Mr. West. You always did so well on your tests, however you could never bring yourself to hand in your homework. I came so close to failing you. In any event, I remember you used to have glasses. But no need to fear, you won't miss a thing. You can sit up close to that 26 inch television in the next room."

Brady was then manhandled into a side room that only housed the single 26 inch television and a single metal chair bolted to the floor. The two bikers then strapped Brady into the chair in such a way that he had to watch the TV. After strapping in their prisoner, the bikers left the dark room leaving Brady to himself.

The huge TV screen then came to life and Brady saw clear enough to recognize Vanders's face on the tube.

"Lady's and gentlemen we have a special treat today. We have two convicts found guilty of sedition that will try their luck in running the gauntlet we call the Labyrinth," Khan was smiling as the guards on a monitor in the background led the young boy and pregnant woman to a manhole cover.

"Will these be the lucky ones to escape the Labyrinth like Theseus and thus to freedom or will they join the rank and file of our undead friends."

On the screen, an image of a horde of undead milling about in the sewer system all in different states of decomposition appeared. Some were once women, some men, some children, and some old. But all were now beyond life and death.

The TV picture returned to the bikers over the manhole. The cover was now off and they started to push Lisa and Coop into the opening.

"Now let the games begin!" Khan's voice shouted with glee.

Inside the sewer, Lisa and Cooper fell into a small puddle inside the sewer. The only sound on the TV was some eerie background music. There were no undead in the immediate area. Lisa and Coop both looked around, but they were in a tunnel with concrete walls. Lisa pointed in a direction and both of them hurried down the corridor.

"Please, God," Brady prayed. His head was bound so that he couldn't turn away from the TV. He could close his eyes, but needed to see if they made it. He just hoped that they could find one of those maintenance doors.

The image now jumped to the crowd of undead. They started sniffing the air. They could smell food and they started shambling off toward the source of the scent.

The image returned to the two unfortunate prisoners. By now, Lisa had found a sturdy branch that she hefted as a weapon. Coop followed closely behind turning his head one way and then the other.

They came upon a boarded up corridor. Lisa pushed against the boards but they wouldn't budge. Coop pointed to them and said something to Lisa who nodded her head and began down the dank tunnel again.

The view changed again to the undead. The zombies silently moaned and slowly trekked their way down the tunnel. They were following the smell to the source of their game.

Again, the view changed back to Lisa and Thomas Cooper. They both looked terribly unnerved as they cocked their heads in a direction that they apparently heard moans coming from. Lisa started to gag; the smell must have been unbearable. Lisa grabbed Coop's arm and pulled him down another passage that led to another boarded up area.

This time Lisa and Coop broke into a smile. They began pushing on the boards when they suddenly turned around. A body entered into the frame shuffling toward the two. Lisa pushed Coop behind her as she started to swing the branch at the zombie.

As Lisa knocked the first zombie down with a well-aimed swing to the head, another entered the frame and another. Coop still pushed on the boards. It looked like the boards started to budge a little.

"They made it, they made it," Brady started to say over and over.

Lisa continued to swing her club as more and more undead crowded around them. She was becoming visibly tired. A zombie in a nurse's outfit grabbed Lisa's arm and sunk its teeth into her. From Brady's view, Lisa silently screamed in pain as another zombie bit into her neck. The tree branch tumbled from her open hands as more zombies began to descend upon her.

Coop was starting to slip around the barricade when a zombie grabbed his denim jacket. The young boy was sliding his arms out of the jacket when the zombie of an old man chomped into Coops exposed arm.

"NO!" Brady screamed as he watched his two companions fall underneath the crowd of walking dead.

The zombies started to feast upon the remains. Brady couldn't see much except the undead tearing clothing and bloody gobbets of flesh from their victims as they crowded and milled around the unseen bodies. Brady closed his eyes and cried, tears flowing freely from his eyes.

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Recent Comments

  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Timmy. It was a fun one for sure! read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Larry! It is definitely some of Dwayne's best writing! read more
  • Larry: Pretty intense chapter. I feel bad for Brady having to read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks John! I hope you enjoyed the many stories on read more
  • john: I love zombies stories so much! read more
  • Timmy Hawk: That's a nice story. Keep it up! read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thank Ejaz! I am glad you enjoyed it. read more
  • Ejaz Alam: Interesting story, really enjoyed it . Regards read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks for the kind words Kerry. I too am very read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Christian! I too had a DOS computer. read more

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