July 2006 Archives

Roman Slave - Gladiator - Freeman - Hero

The Fight against the Magistrate (Part One)

By Douglas E Gogerty

As I was saying, the former magistrate and soldier with his thirty men surprised the unaware freeman as he returned to the inn from the bath. Upon seeing the enormous man, several men ran away with fear by the sheer size of the man. As I hear it, the man was at least seven feet tall.

The former magistrate began telling his story of woe. He explained his loss of wealth and station when Ptolemy XIII murdered him in Egypt. He exclaimed that if the freed gladiator had come to his aid, the outcome would be very different.

The freeman explained that he had enough of fighting. When he had killed the six men on the road at there first meeting, it was in self-defense. As a gladiator and now as a freeman, he had killed many men, and he grew weary of fighting. He wished to spill no more blood.

With the story of single handedly killing six men, even more of the former magistrate's men deserted him. It was clear to many of them that the fight was a fool's errand.

Nevertheless, the man was facing twelve or more men, and he was unarmed. Some of the men balked at killing an unarmed man; thus, the former magistrate threw him a short sword. "Prepare to die freedman!" the magistrate yelled.

Calmly the freeman replied, "You know my weapon was the trident and not the sword."

The freeman tossed the weapon away. Being a traveler, he had a beautiful walking staff. It had the head of a horse intricately carved at the top. The other end had a bronze tip worn down a bit from much walking. The former gladiator was going to use the staff to defend himself against the Roman swords. The twelve men attempted to surround him, but he backed himself towards a corner of the inn's great room.

"This is your last warning magistrate," the freeman said softly. "You can go peacefully on your way, or you can feed the ravens."

"You are no match for..." started the angry magistrate.

Before he could finish his sentence, with the horse head end of the staff, the gladiator hooked the arm of one of the men who had his hand on the hilt of his sword. With a quick pull, the soldier was off balance. A startled accomplice lurched backward in an attempt to avoid the falling man. He caught the brass tipped end of walking staff in the side of the face.

The two stumbling men had crossed directly in front of the freemen providing him with a brief guard against any further attack. With a quick twirl of the staff, he took hooked the ankle of the stumbling man and gave a yank. This made the former soldier crash to the floor.

By pulling on the ankle, his staff was high in the air, and he brought it crashing down on the head of the second man. He fell with a groan onto the first man.

As each of the men within reach attempted to draw their swords, they received a sharp blow from the staff. The freemen hit knee, hand, and elbow of the closest men, which prevented them from readying their swords. Some men farther away from the freemen were able to draw their swords. With their drawn swords, they were attempting to work their way to make their blows.

One of the men with his sword above his head made a rush at the traveler. Again using the horse head as a hook, the former gladiator hooked the wrist of the charging soldier and pulled the man forward. This distracted the charging soldier enough to cause him to trip over the two bodies between him and the gladiator. Being steered to a degree by the gladiator, he went face first into the wall. His helmet pushed down onto the bridge of his nose and blood began to flow from his nose.

Still hooked to the wrist of the now bloody soldier, the gladiator lifted his staff twisting the arm of the soldier with the now bloodied nose, causing him to drop his sword. Simultaneously, he caught the former magistrate in the mouth with the end of the staff.

The first soldier was trying to push the unconscious second soldier off him to get off the floor. However, before he was able to do so, another pull on the staff from the gladiator and the bloodied nose soldier was on the pile with the other two men. With a backhanded swing of his staff, the gladiator hit the bloodied nose again and rendered the soldier unconscious.

In a brief exchange, the freeman created a very good defensive situation. He had two walls of the inn to protect his back, and there were three men lying on the floor providing some protection from the front.

"Men! Men!" shouted the magistrate from his bloodied mouth. "We need a coordinated attack! Stop acting individually!"

The magistrate and his men backed away from the freeman. They got out of range of his staff, and got together to form a plan. At this point, all the men drew their swords.

"None of your men are seriously hurt," the former gladiator said calmly. "It is not too late to go in peace."

"Quiet slave!" shouted the magistrate.

He quietly gave orders to his men as they prepared to fight the gladiator who did not want to give up his defensive position. The soldiers grabbed their tower shields. With their swords at the ready, they began getting into a defensive line. They lined up shoulder to shoulder with the shields on their left and their swords on the right and at the ready for thrusting.

The men on the floor began to regain consciousness. The first man was still attempting to push the men off him with little success. However, the two men on him were beginning to stir.

The line of men with the magistrate behind began to close in on the traveler armed only with his staff. This was a very small version of a legion encounter. It had been a successful strategy for several centuries, and the freed gladiator would have to find a way to defeat it.

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Just Super - Part 1

By Dwayne MacInnes

Clark sat at his desk at the Daily Planet. He ripped a sheet of paper out of his manual typewriter and placed it on top of a ream of other papers. Clark pushed his black glasses back further onto his nose and leaned back in his leather chair.

"I've finished at last," Clark said as he let out a small whistle.

Clark watched as Jimmy Olson pulled some papers out of a file cabinet and staggered off, dropping a couple of pages as he left the office. "The poor kid must be working himself too hard," Clark thought. "Well, I better get this off to the chief."

Clark made his way through the maze of vacant desks and debris that cluttered the room. With all that had happened over the last few years cleaning the office tended to fall to the wayside. Clark whistled softly as he approached the chief's office. He gently rapped onto the glass door before he entered the room.

Perry White stood with his back toward Clark as the editor looked out the window of his office high up in the Daily Planet building. The glass tinted with dirt and smudges filtered in the bright sunlight. It was the only source of illumination since Metropolis lost all its power. Clark could not help but feel a pang of sadness as he remembered the better times now irretrievably gone.

"Chief, I have finished that project we talked about," Clark said as he cleared his throat.

The chief grunted which Clark took as an acknowledgement.

"I'll leave it here on your desk so you can proof it. As we discussed it covers all that has happened over the last ten years since the plague," Clark finished before exiting the office.

It seemed an eternity now, but there was a time when things were better. Clark would trade anything now to have those days back. Even for the times when Lex Luther held the world for ransom and Clark, as Superman, had to defeat him. Saving the world then was child's play compared to what he had to endure over the last decade.

It all began innocently enough. The Venus probe was returning to Earth with valuable data collected from the distant planet's atmosphere. It was all over the news, the world waited in anticipation for the manmade satellite to make its way back to the ground so that NASA could evaluate the information contained inside. It was the first probe of its kind.

Then without warning, the probe exploded high in the Earth's atmosphere. At first, Clark suspected Lex Luther had something to do with it. The evil genius had probably tried to blackmail the government again, but when they did not give in to his demands, he destroyed the probe. However, as Clark rethought the scenario it did not make sense. If there were a ransom demand, the president would have contacted Superman to protect the probe on its return. Therefore, he dismissed it as an accident without giving it a second thought.

Every reporter scrambled to find the underlying cause of the explosion as the images replayed repeatedly on the television news networks. As usual, Lois was the most forceful, and the chief awarded her the story. Clark would assist her if she needed it and as usual, Lois declared that she would not need any assistance. However, Perry insisted and the two reporters began work with gusto.

Hours of phone calls to every contact Lois and Clark had in the government and scientific community went unanswered. This was not the usual red tape. Lois kept insisting that there was some high-level cover up. This only made Lois that more determined to find out what was happening.

"Are you hungry?" Clark asked rising from his desk.

"No, I'm fine, Clark. Why don't you get some sleep," Lois suggested. "No use both of us being tired in the morning. You can continue if I don't get anywhere tonight."

Clark knew very well, Lois would try everything to break the story while Clark was away so that she could get all the credit. Clark did not mind, but he decided that maybe a visit to the capitol as Superman would loosen some tongues.

"I suppose you are right," Clark replied smiling as he left the room nearly running into Smitty.

"Sorry, Clark I have to get this story to the chief," Smitty exclaimed.

"What's so important?"

"There's been a gruesome murder at Metropolis General Hospital. The victims were devoured by their assailants."

After leaving the office, Clark quickly changed into Superman in the Daily Planet's upper maintenance closet. He had barely flown out the window when his super hearing picked up a familiar signal. Superman sped to the source of the sound. It could only come from one area and that was Gotham City.

Within only a few minutes, Superman had flown from Metropolis to Gotham. He alighted on top a tall gothic building. The pale moon washed the rooftop in its dim blue light. If it were not for his super hearing, Superman would not have noticed Batman move out of the shadows behind him.

"Glad you made it," Batman said in his usual soft gruff voice.

"What is the big news?"

"Robin and I have been responding to some pretty unusual calls."

"Really, how unusual?" Superman's strong voice raised a pitch.

"There has been a rash of murders across the city. We cannot keep up with all the calls." Batman stopped to note the expression on Superman's normally placid face.

"Murders? Nothing new there in the city. Do you think the Joker is involved?"

"Initially yes, except two things. First, the victims are being eaten. All the victims we have come across have been partially consumed by their antagonists." A small smile broke out on Batman's face as Superman opened his mouth in disbelief.

Superman quickly regained his composure, "You mentioned two reasons why it is not the Joker."

"Arkham Sanitarium burned down tonight, there were no survivors. I personally pulled the Joker's body out of the debris along with the Penguin and the Riddler. Clark..." Batman stopped.

Superman paid closer attention. It was indeed serious if Bruce used Superman's alter ego.

"They too were partially consumed."

Superman's mouthed again dropped open in surprise. "Bruce, just before I left one of our reporters brought in a story about a similar incident in Metropolis."

"That's what I thought," Batman replied. "I had just finished talking to Diana before you arrived and a similar outbreak is happening on the west coast. So far, I have been unable to contact any of the others."

"I'm off to Washington to get some answers," Superman said grimly. "They must be covering something up. Lois and I are being stonewalled at the Planet.

"I'll let you know what I find. Be careful, Bruce."

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What was the delay for the recent shuttle launch? I wonder...

Hank on the Shuttle

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Roman Slave - Gladiator - Freeman - Hero

The Fight against the Magistrate (Part Two)

By Douglas E Gogerty

As the "Legion Line" approached, the former gladiator did not wait for them to engage. He jumped upon the pile of three men, and using the horse head once again, hooked the top of one man's shield. The men did not break their ranks; however, the gladiator leaned back from his place and began pulling that soldier's shield down.

That soldier struggled against the pulling weight of the gladiator. Eventually, the gladiator's weight became too much for him to hold, and he went crashing into the pile of men. This also caused the gladiator to lose his balance as he tumbled backward off the fallen soldiers. He tumbled backward, unhooked his staff, and rolled to his feet in one smooth motion. In contrast, the soldier simple fell onto the pile of men.

The fallen man left a gap in the defensive line, which the gladiator used to hook one of the soldiers sword wielding arms. Putting all of his weight forward onto the staff, the hooked soldier could not keep his sword in its thrusting position. With another tug, the soldier stabbed one his fallen comrades in the leg and the blood began to flow from that wound. Immediately upon stabbing a fallen comrade, the soldier dropped his sword.

Another soldier seeing the abandoned sword broke ranks and reached for the weapon. With this, the former gladiator smacked him on the back of the head with his staff, which only managed to knock the helmet off the soldier.

The freed gladiator still had an excellent defensive position, as the line could not maintain discipline, and the magistrate called for a retreat. The pile of three soldiers was now four with a helmet and sword added in front. Furthermore, the pool of blood made the area in front of the pile of men slippery.

The stabbed soldier was writhing in pain and shifting his weight back and forth. Thus, he was making it difficult for the men under him from freeing themselves. However, the magistrate managed to re-form his lines and they began advancing. However, this time, they formed more of a wedge to be able to get closer to the gladiator in the corner. He also quietly gave orders to his men.

Once again, the freeman jumped upon the pile of men, and hooked the center soldier's shield. Expecting the same tactic, the flanking soldiers reinforced the grip of the center soldier. However, instead of pulling the shield, the gladiator pushed the staff into the face of the center soldier and smashed him in nose.

The shock and surprise of this action caused the entire line to lose balance. Most of the soldiers struggled to keep their feet. As they struggle to maintain balance, the gladiator picked out the soldier whose helmet he managed to remove. With the bronzed tip of his staff, he brought down a hard blow to the man's head. With a terrible crack, the man fell into a heap in front of the pile of men. Blood was spilling out his ear, and the blow rendered him unconscious.

Once again, the magistrate called to regroup his men. His tactic was not effective. The freed gladiator was taking advantage of his defensive position. He now had a pile of five men between himself and the seven remaining soldiers. He had the corners of the inn and a slippery floor also to his advantage.

"Magistrate," inquired the gladiator.

"What is it?" required the irritated magistrate.

"A couple of these men should see a healer immediately or they will certainly die."

"That is no concern of yours!"

"I suppose not, but you still have an opportunity to save the rest of your men."

"Your boasting will not aid you in battle, slave!"

"Boasting is for rich men, I speak from experience."

"He has downed five of our men," whispered a soldier.

"Quiet!" the magistrate reprimanded before continuing his conversation with the gladiator, "We are simply testing for your weakness."

"How is that going?" he asked with a wry smile.

"Your impertinence will cost you dearly!"

"Your stubbornness has already cost you a great deal. You can still call this off and save these men."

"The gods have struck down men with greater skill than you because of their hubris."

"The gods know the true heart of men. They know that I have been trying not to kill your men. However, my patience is wearing thin."

"Your patience? I am seeking justice and you speak of impatience!"

"Justice is also for the wealthy, you seek vengeance."

"What benefit are these word games of yours slave?"

"I am simply attempting to save these men's lives."

"Now!" shouted the magistrate.

Upon the signal, two men rushed along the left side of the gladiator. With their swords at the ready, they were able to avoid the strike of the staff. With their surprise attack, they managed to get behind the pile of men on the floor. The remaining soldiers cleared a path for him to exit the inn.

Clearly, the magistrate wanted to flush him from his defensive position. The innkeeper gave the gladiator a pleading glance, and thus the gladiator left the inn, and the magistrate and six of his soldiers followed. The seventh man checked on the men and retrieved his sword. He requested the innkeeper send for a healer.

The crowd followed the last soldier out to view how the fight would progress. The thirty men were now down to eight. The gladiator was confidently waving his staff around. The soldiers were sizing him up to determine an attack strategy.

In the open, the gladiator no longer had two walls protecting his flanks. The soldiers would be able to attack from any side. The magistrate was orchestrating his men to surround the freed slave. Once the soldiers surrounded the gladiator, they could attack from any angle and several at a time. This was going to be a tougher challenge for the experienced fighter.

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Just Super - Part 2

By Dwayne MacInnes

Superman anticipated having no problem seeing the president. None had ever denied Superman access to the Oval office on a moments notice. They knew he would never disturb them if it were not something of utmost importance.

However this time as Superman's feet touched down on the front lawn a squad of marines ran up to him. The men were still in their dress uniforms carrying their M-16s at the ready.

"Sorry, Superman, the president is not able to see anyone right now," a sergeant said in a stoic voice.

"This is of extreme importance. I need to see the president now, sergeant. I am sure he will allow me in if you will just ask him."

"I cannot do that, Superman," the sergeant shot back.

For the first time in a long time, Superman felt his frustration level rising as he became embroiled in governmental red tape. Usually, his blue and red suit magically abolished bureaucracy allowing Superman a certain freedom few possessed.

"I'm sorry sergeant; I have no time for pleasantries. I am going to see the president," Superman said as he began to push his way past the marines toward the White House.

"That'll be impossible," the sergeant said barring Superman's way. "The president and all available congressional members have been evacuated from the city to a secure area."

Superman knew exactly where the top government leaders were hiding out. The fact that they were hiding informed him of how serious the problem was. Superman flew toward the large hotel resort in Maryland. Underneath the structure, there was a secret bunker so that the U.S. government could continue to function in the case of a nuclear holocaust.

Superman knew that there was no way he could enter the bunker without seriously damaging it. Even though the thought of the U.S. government exiling itself and leaving the rest of the country and possibly the world to fend for itself revolted him, Superman could not bring himself to cross the line to break into it. However, he knew a "red-phone" had direct access to the bunker inside the hotel.

Superman marched into the hotel. The hotel manager approached Superman with two bellhops following closely behind. Superman smiled. The secret service members were playing their roles well.

"Can I help you, sir?" the manager offered.

"Yes, you can. I need to speak to the president," Superman replied.

"I'm sorry, he is not here. Have you tried the White House?" the manager said in a flat voice.

"Look, I am not here to play games," Superman's voice began to rise. "I can see the congress and the presidential staff including the president himself below us. Maybe you forgot about my x-ray vision. So please point me to the red phone now or I'll simply break in."

The secret service man/hotel manager cleared his throat, "I'm sorry sir. I did not realize you just wanted to use the phone. Just this way."

The manager ushered Superman to an inconspicuous black phone that sat behind the desk. Superman picked up the receiver and heard a buzz on the other end. "Hello," the familiar voice of the president finally answered.

"Mr. President, this is Superman. What is going on?" the man of steel asked.

There was a long pause before the president began to speak. "Superman, we have a crisis of global proportions. It appears that the Venus probe was carrying a deadly virus. We found out about it too late. That prevented us from destroying the probe before it entered the atmosphere. The resulting radiation and virus have been bringing the recently deceased back too life.

We have our all our top scientist working on a cure. Until then, we have to protect the integrity of this country's leadership. The rest of the world is taking similar actions."

"Mr. President, it is not for me to dictate policy, but you need to mobilize FEMA, the military, and all emergency services if you want to protect the American people."

"We thought maybe this could be handled quietly," president said demurely. "We don't want to create a panic that could result in riots."

"Sir, the situation is worse than you may realize. You have to act now before it is too late," Superman nearly yelled into the receiver.

"You are right, Superman. I'll get on the mobilization right away. Do you think you can rally the rest of the Supers to contain this?"

"I'll do my best Mr. President."

Superman passed the information onto Batman. Batman then passed the news onto the rest of the world's superheroes. Even with the help of the military, the superheroes had a hard time containing the spread of the plague. No one appeared immune to the plague, even those born on other planets bitten turned into the undead. The first few days it appeared all would be lost until Superman received a strange request.

An ultra-high frequency whined into Superman's ear as he was rounding up the undead. Fortunately, his dense skin protected him from bites and scratches the diseased undead could inflict on others. These were always fatal to others which resulted in the now newly deceased in becoming zombies as the public at large called them.

"Superman, you are the only being with less than four legs who can hear this," a familiar voice stated. "We are faced with a grave crisis indeed and it affects us all. Therefore, I propose that we join forces. Until the situation reverses, my cohorts and I agree to help you fight the undead menace facing us all. If you find this proposition agreeable meet with me alone at the Metropolis Public Transportation office tonight at midnight."

Superman noted that this gave him only four hours to meet with the other superheroes and give them Lex Luthor's message. They only had a few hours in which to decide whether these villains could be trusted to help them. If the Supers believed they could not trust the villains, would the Supers be able to fight the hordes of zombies and combat whatever the villains could be planning?

Those valuable four hours that could be used combating the growing army of undead was instead used in heated debate on whether Lex Luthor's offer was genuine or not. Finally, Bruce broke the stalemate by pointing out that the disease did not discriminate between good or evil. It affected all of them. Finally, he pointed out that even their numbers were shrinking and any help at this state could turn the tide in their favor.

Finally, the Supers decided that Superman would meet with Lex Luthor at the Metropolis Public Transportation office at midnight. Superman scanned the area before he landed for any hidden threats. He paid particular attention to anything that was lead lined that could be concealing kryptonite. Superman finally landed after he felt reasonably sure that the area was secure.

Lex watched as Superman landed a few feet from his position. "I'm glad you could make it Superman."

Superman pushed down the desire to punch the smirk off Lex's baldhead. The strain of constant combat was taking its toll. "Look here, Luthor, I am not here for idle chatter. I have a lot of work to do."

"Very well, let's get down to brass tacks. I know we haven't been very trust worthy in the past. But, we really need to work together in order to resolve this thing. I know you do-gooders have been losing some numbers in fighting the menace, as have we. Therefore, we need to coordinate and work together or we will all lose."

Superman hated the reminder of the loss of some of his close friends in the superheroes business. The Flash and Hawkman were lost that day. Fortunately, the dead did not retain their powers after dying. The Supers learned that when the Green Lantern fell in the early stages of the fight. Superman personally eradicated the undead Supers.

"Luthor, my fellow ‘do-gooders' as you call us, reluctantly agree to your terms. We need any and all help," Superman conceded.

"Very well, we are at your disposal. However, do not think that once things get back to normal we will be buddy-buddy," Lex replied the smirk returning to his face.

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What ever happened to that whole y2k thing? Wasn't this dome s'pose to splode? I guess Hank prevented that.

Hank at the MilleniumDome

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Roman Slave - Gladiator - Freeman - Hero

The Fight against the Magistrate (Final)

By Douglas E Gogerty

"We now can have a fair fight!" shouted the magistrate.

"Eight against one, real fair," mumbled the former gladiator.

"What?" asked the magistrate.

"It was not important," stated the gladiator with a little more volume.

"It is now for your lesson slave!"

"It is not too late for you to go your own way!"

"Such bravado! It is time for you to pay."

The magistrate called the name of two men on opposite sides of circle surrounding the former gladiator. The two men, with their swords drawn and their shields at the ready, approached the gladiator in the middle. The two men used their shields to block any blows by the staff of the freeman. They closed in and attempted to thrust their short swords into their target. The gladiator easily parried the blows.

The magistrate recalled the two men to take their position in the circle, and called two more names. These two men used the same tactic. Blocked with their shields and attempted to get a blow against the gladiator. When they were also unsuccessful, they magistrate recalled them and two more men made their attack.

After a few minutes, the pace picked up as the attackers knew their job. They would rush in and try to strike. This forced the gladiator to block against their attack. Eventually, the magistrate sent three in from different sides of the circle surrounding the gladiator. Back and forth the soldiers would go. The men around the circle would prevent the gladiator from making a break. They were methodically testing the skill of the former gladiator and hoping he would make a mistake along the way.

All the while, the magistrate stood outside of the circle barking orders. He directed traffic to make sure the gladiator would remain in the circle. He also called names to give each man enough time to rest between attacks. He chuckled to himself that his plot would certainly work, as the gladiator could not keep up the defense forever. At some point, he would tire and make a mistake. At that point, they would have him.

The gladiator took each attack seriously, but attempted to conserve energy. He quickly learned the plan of the magistrate. He needed to find a solution to his situation, so he would use each attack to learn the weaknesses and strength of each attacker. When the time was right, he would make his move.

The group had been fighting for a while, and the hot sun was beginning to take its toll on everyone. However, it was mostly wearing out the gladiator, as he did not get occasional breaks. He knew he would need to make his move soon. However, what was that move going to be?

"How are you doing?" asked the magistrate with a big smile on his face.

"I'll be warmed up shortly," replied the gladiator.

"I'll help speed up the process," the magistrate added as he sent in four men this time.

That was the moment that the gladiator made his move. He rushed the weakest soldier. The soldier in an effort to protect himself planted his shield on the ground and cowered behind it. The gladiator planted his staff on the ground and vaulted into the shield with his feet.

The force of the blow caused the soldier to fall backwards with his shield on top of him. The gladiator used his momentum to run on top of the shield with the helpless soldier beneath and rush towards the magistrate.

This move caught the magistrate by surprise, and barely had his sword drawn by the time the gladiator was in range. The gladiator did a roll to make an attack of the magistrate's legs. The magistrate bent down to parry the blow, and the gladiator with a quick poke with his staff removed the magistrate's helmet. In addition, with the momentum of his roll, the gladiator put the magistrate between him and the remaining seven soldiers.

He also managed to kick the helmet out of reach of the magistrate during his maneuver. With that, the magistrate tossed his shield aside too. He waved his arms indicating that his soldiers were to stay back.

"Alright slave it is just me and you now," challenged the magistrate.

"It is not to late..."

"Save it slave! I can handle you," the magistrate stated as he passed his short sword from his right hand to his left and back again.

The gladiator shook his head and waved for the magistrate to make his attack. The magistrate rushed at the gladiator with a feeble yell. He hacked at the gladiator with his Roman short sword, and the gladiator easily stepped out of the way of the blow. The magistrate was off balance and the gladiator pushed him down with a push of his foot. He shook his head as the magistrate scrambled to his feet.

"All right slave," started the magistrate. "You die now!"

The gladiator hooked the elbow of the magistrate as he lifted it above his head and began his swing. Using the head of his staff, he gave it a twist. This caused the magistrate to nick the back of his scalp as he attempted to hit the gladiator with a downward swing.

This distracted the magistrate enough for the gladiator to use his staff to push the sword into the chest of the charging magistrate. The sword penetrated the armor of the charging combatant and he fell in a heap.

The shocked soldiers looked at each other trying to decide what to do. One of the men started to charge, but was grabbed by another. The shoulder shook his head and said that the battle was over.

The freed gladiator checked the magistrate, and he was indeed dead. Three men inside the inn were also dead. One died of the stab wound inflicted by one of the soldiers, and the other two could not breathe under the stack of men.

* * * * *

"The conflict ended as quickly as it had begun," continued the storyteller Cassius Laurentius Silvanus. "With four men dead, the gladiator would have to answer to the authorities. However, he is unlikely to have to answer for those deaths. He faced thirty men, killed four, and walked away. If he continues on to Rome, he will likely pass through this town within the next couple of days."

"While meeting a seven foot tall man who could defeat 30 men would be quite a wonder," replied Pervalidus. "I would like to finish my journey. If you meet him, please pass my greeting to him."

"I shall my friend. I am sure I will be able to recognize that gladiator when I spot him. How could anyone not?"

"Indeed. I shall be retiring to my room now. Thank you for your story."

"Until we meet again," replied Cassius.

Pervalidus finished his time at the bath and paid the fees due. He retired to the inn after a good meal. It was the Ides of March, and he would be in Rome late the next day. The gift for Caesar would be helpful for his fight in Parthia. Once he reclined in his room, Pervalidus felt sleep wash quickly over him. It had been a long trip so far.

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Just Super - Part 3

By Dwayne MacInnes

Even with the help of the super villains, the fight against the undead army was a tough one. More Supers and more villains fell, as did an untold number of soldiers and civilians. After months of steady combat, finally the living gained the upper hand. The combined forces of the superheroes and villains were able to barricade the area from Metropolis to Gotham to Washington, D.C. and much of the Northeastern seaboard from the outside threat of the undead.

The Gotham Nuclear Power Plant ensured that the barricaded "safe-zone" had power. The combined team of Supers and villains began the task of transporting the few remnants of living to the safe-zone. Superman found himself working around the clock, only he among all the Supers could work nonstop for days on end.

However, the mental strain began to show in many of the survivors. Denying access to the safety-zone to any wounded and ill weighed particularly heavy upon Superman's mind. The Man of Steel became more and more morose. Not even Batman could elicit more than a few words from Superman's mouth.

It fell upon Wonder Woman to set the surviving humans inside the safe-zone on the task of restarting civilization. She motivated the survivors to begin the tasks of planting fields, fixing and maintaining utilities, emergency services, and law enforcement. Slowly morale began to increase as more and more survivors trickled in and less undead were roaming the continent.

Bruce Wayne worked side by side with Lex Luthor to find a cure or an immunization for the plague. Many theories were put forth and all failed. So far, the spread of the disease appeared checked. An occasional outbreak would happen, but the new emergency response teams were quick in putting it down.

Finally, after over a year of constant combat the combined forces virtually eradicated the undead menace from North America. There were only fifty million living humans, four superheroes; Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, and three villains; Lex Luthor, Metallo, and Solomon Grundy.

Superman began to take a long deserve rest. He had not been to see Lois Lane in months. As far as she knew Clark Kent had disappeared, and she presumed him dead. Therefore, it was with much surprise to the staff of the Daily Planet when Clark suddenly returned to work.

"Great Caesar's Ghost!" Jimmy Olson exclaimed when he saw Clark enter into the main office. Everyone in the room suddenly turned to see the return of a man they all assumed was dead.

Lois ran up to Clark, "My God, Clark! I thought you were dead...or, well you know."

For the first time in a year Clark Kent smiled. Seeing his old friends alive and well greatly warmed his heart. His love for Lois had only increased during his absence. It also appeared that Lois's affection for Kent had also warmed. He grabbed Lois into an embrace and shook hands with Daily Planet staff. Whenever they asked what happened to him he would say that he was helping with the cleansing of the safe-zone.

"Lois, I need to talk to you tonight," Clark whispered.

"Sure Clark, you can drop by my place after work," Lois replied.

* * * * *

Clark was genuinely nervous when he knocked on the door to Lois's apartment. It reminded him of better days. The mental stress of the past grueling months was starting to wash away. Lois opened the door happy to see the geeky looking reporter wearing his usual dress suit and hat in hand.

"Come in Clark. I'd like to get an exclusive of your exploits," Lois said as she ushered Clark into the room.

Clark sat down on the couch Lois offered him. "Sure Lois, but first I need to let you know something."

Clark noticed the look upon Lois's face. It was one of fear and puzzlement. "Clark, I know what you want to say, but..."

"Wait, hear me out first please and then you can say what you will."

Lois sat in a chair across from Clark. She forced a smile as she prepared to listen to Clark.

"I've done a lot of soul searching over the last year. I have been through a lot. Many things I saw and endured still haunt my dreams. Sometimes I even believe I can hear the dead talking to me. Therefore, I feel that I should let you know some things about me.

"First, I am madly in love with you," Clark blurted out, his heart racing in anticipation to Lois's answer.

"That's...uh, nice Clark. But..."

Clark held up his hand to stall her, "Secondly, I believe you should know my secret." Clark removed his glasses and deepened his voice.

"I am Superman."

Lois let out a shocked squeak. She realized that deep in her heart she knew it all the time. The glasses and slouched posture really was a poor disguise.

"Having said that," Clark/Superman continued, "I want you to be my wife."

Lois laughed and launched herself into Clark's arms, "Of course, I accept."

* * * * *

Clark was returning to his apartment after breaking his news to Lois. He felt better than he had in eons. Finally, he was going to join his life with his true love. Maybe in this safe-zone, humankind could flourish again.

As Clark climbed the steps up to his apartment, the familiar signal, of Batman contacting him, reached his ears. A quick change and flight brought Superman to the rooftop to face Batman.

"Clark, good to see you looking so good," Bruce began.

"I'm going to get married next week, and I actually needed to see you to be my best man," Clark laughed.

"I'd be honored. I wish I had good news to give you," Bruce's somber tone alarmed Superman.

"OK, what is it now."

"First, Lex and I have determined that you can't spread the disease because we all carry it."

"How's that?" Superman queried.

"I mean that we are all infected. So, when we die we will turn into one those ghouls. I'm sure that even goes for you. Clark, we need to warn other species to stay away from this planet."

"Damn," Superman cursed under his breath. He sighed deeply, "I can alter some of the surrounding satellites as a warning beacon."

"That is good; however, I have more bad news. The president has not been heard from in days."

Superman's expression belied his sudden concern. Without another word, Superman sped off toward the Maryland hotel. Superman did not even land as his x-ray vision confirmed his fears. The entire exiled government of the United States of America was now a bunch of roaming zombies stuck deep in an underground bunker.

The heavy burden of depression resumed its place on Superman's shoulders. In just a matter of one hour, Superman had descended from the heights of happiness to the depths of darkest despair.

Superman shook his head. There was no way they could change the past. Therefore, he had to focus on the future. His first order of business was to prepare the satellites orbiting the doomed planet.

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Dragons there be at Kilkenny Castle. It's best we let him sleep!

Hank at Kilkenny Castle

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Roman Slave - Gladiator - Freeman - Hero

Et Tu, Brute

By Douglas E Gogerty

"Dead?" enquired former gladiator, Pervalidus. "What happened?"

"Caesar was assassinated by the Senate in the Hall of Pompey," a town official answered.

"Why did not his friend Marcus Junius Brutus stop the plot?"

"He was in on it."

"You to Brutus?" Pervalidus said under his breath.

"There were probably sixty involved. Caesar suffered a great many stab wounds. The Senate did not wish to give up their power."

"Certainly they did not think this through. A group of sixty cannot fend off Consul Marc Antony and his men."

"The sixty are to meet with Marc Antony tomorrow. They will probably make a deal with Marc Antony and go unpunished. You know how these things go."

"The gods will see to justice."

"True words friend. Rumor has it that Caesar left every resident of Rome a large sum of money. They will be hard pressed to keep the outrage from overflowing at the funeral pyre on the 20th."

"What other words from his testament?"

"He probably gave some land to the city for a park. I have not heard any real specifics other than the money."

"Thank you friend."

"Were you a friend of Caesars?"

"I obtained much wealth when he was Pontifex Maximus, I just wished to congratulate him for his victory with a gift."

"You should pay your respects at the funeral."

"Perhaps I will."

The former gladiator silently paid his respects to Gaius Julius Caesar as the crowd erupted with fury. The angry citizens chased the conspirators out of town. However, Pervalidus did not join them. The civil war was not over. More bloodshed was ahead of Rome. He thanked the gods for everything he had and left town with his horses.

He did not know Marc Antony. The speech he gave at the funeral was a shrewd move. Antony appeared to be playing both sides. He appeased the Senators with one move, and turned the crowd against them in the next. "He may be the next dictator," thought Pervalidus. "I wonder what Gaius Octavius will do..."

As Pervalidus returned home, he heard many rumors of the events in Rome. Some people supported what the Senate had done, and some wanted Rome to be at peace. There was much anxiety about the future. Everyone seemed to agree, the fighting was not over.

A few days before he reached his estate, three bandits attempted to rob him. He attempted to scare them away, but they were too desperate. Thus, they insisted on fighting him.

"Three more dead men," prayed the former gladiator to his patron god Neptune. "When will the killing stop? I thought that by paying for my freedom, my fighting days would be over. Does the fighting never end?"

He finally reached his estate and embraced his wife.

"Why the sad face?" she asked.

"The civil war continues," Pervalidus replied.

"We will be fine. With fighting, comes the need for horses."

"I'm not worried that."

"Then what is it?"

"I received an omen on the road."

"What?"

"All my life I have fought. I have fought for and against Romans. I have killed scores of men. I have never gone very long without killing a man. On this short trip to Rome I killed seven men."

"What?"

"Our former magistrate caught up to me at an inn. He would not let me go unless we fought. I killed him and three of his men."

"Thank the gods you were not hurt."

"It was difficult not to kill more of his men."

"How many were there?"

"I do not remember -- seven or eight -- I did not count them."

"I did hear a rumor about a giant taking on one hundred..."

"Okay, it was twelve men. I had a good defensive position."

"Neptune has granted you great skills to take on so many."

"I have thanked him at every turn. I am very grateful. Needless to say, Mars keeps testing those skills."

"Oh yes -- the omen -- please continue."

"After learning the news of Caesar, I stayed quiet in Rome. A mob formed at the funeral and still I resisted the fight. However, on my way home three bandits attacked me. Nothing I said or did frightened them. They would not leave me. Thus, I left them dead beside the road. As I gave thanks to Neptune, a wolf came and scavenged on one of the corpses. It was Mars. He wants me to join Gaius Octavius in the upcoming battles."

"There is going to be war?"

"A civil war has been ongoing for quite some time. I have stayed out. I have not taken sides, but my fighting will never cease unless I do this."

"What of your family?"

"My dearest, I am getting up in age. I cannot continue in fighting three, four, five, or more at a time. I must take a stand now and fight for peace. I am sure that is what we will get in a united Rome. Marc Antony is not to be trusted. He is ambitious and will say and do anything. Only Octavius can bring peace to Rome."

"As you wish. I cannot argue with the gods."

"Octavius is recruiting a force in Apollonia. I will join him there. We will march on Rome."

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Just Super - Part 4

By Dwayne MacInnes

Preparing the satellites took little time. Soon several different satellites were broadcasting interstellar warnings in all know languages. The messages stated for all to stay away from the Earth at the risk of spreading the plague to other worlds.

Superman's return to Earth brought the news that Luthor and his cohorts had seized the Gotham reactors, and they were holding them ransom. If the safe-zone acknowledged them as the new rulers, power would return to all.

Superman touched down outside the nuclear power plant to land next to Batman and Robin. "Where's Diana?" Superman asked.

"Before Luthor took over the reactor, Wonder Woman needed to see if Paradise Island survived the plague. You know she hasn't been home since before the plague."

"Should I just fly in and finish them off before they damage the reactors?"

"Superman wait," Robin grabbed the Man of Steel's arm.

"They have Lois," Batman said flatly. "Robin and I may be able to sneak in..."

However, before the Caped Crusader could finish, Superman had already flown through the steel door barring the entrance to the power plant's interior. The thunderous clap of the steel door busting off its hinges reverberated throughout the power plant.

As Superman entered the power plant's operation room, he saw Luthor and Solomon Grundy holding some kryptonite.

"How predictable," Luthor laughed. "I knew you'd charge in without care."

Waves of weakness washed over Superman's body as the radiation from the glowing green kryptonite reached him. The Man of Steel dropped to his knees; he no longer even had the strength to carry his own weight.

"Solomon Grundy found pretty rock," Solomon Grundy said in his Cajun accent. Grundy was a different sort of zombie from his undead cousins. He could more or less think, react quickly, and move about freely. However, rigor mortis, slow decay and virtually no mental faculties restricted the plague zombies. Nevertheless, many of the undead mimicked duties they did in life, such as trying to drive a car without knowing how to start it.

"Before you die Superman, I want you to notice that Metallo -- even now -- is holding your girlfriend over a catwalk. If you somehow overpower us, you could never reach Lois in time," Luthor laughed again.

Superman looked over Luthor's shoulder to see that Metallo did indeed hold Lois Lane off the edge of the catwalk. It was obvious that he was to die or Lois would die.

Superman lowered his head onto his chest as his strength continued to wane. He gave one last glance up at the laughing Luthor. That was when he noticed the movement behind Metallo.

Suddenly, an object whistled past Superman's head and a batarang embedded itself into Luthor's hand. Lex dropped the kryptonite as he screamed in pain. Before Solomon Grundy could react, Batman burst into the room and slammed his shoulder into Grundy's chest momentarily stunning him. Without slowing down, Batman grabbed the kryptonite and flung it out the window and down the deep cavernous opening the led to the reactors.

Before Metallo could drop Lois, Robin had already flung a rope around her with his batarang. A quick blast in Metallo's face with a gooey compound from his utility belt blinded the cyborg.

Lois hung suspended over the catwalk as the Boy Wonder and Metallo danced around each other. Both swinging at each other, Robin was at a great disadvantage for the robot's steel fists would instantly crush him if any of Metallo's blows landed.

Superman's strength quickly returned and he launched himself into an attack on Metallo. He had to save Robin and Lois before the steel monster killed either or both of them. The Man of Steel flew out the window past the Caped Crusader fighting both Lex Luthor and Solomon Grundy.

Metallo finally grabbed a hold of Robin. He was in mid throw when Superman grabbed his arm. Metallo dropped Robin unceremoniously onto the mezzanine catwalk stunning him. Metallo turned onto Superman both locking each other in a death grip.

Batman continued his attack onto Solomon Grundy. The hulking man was the greatest threat and Batman had to neutralize him quickly. Lex Luthor pulled out a small canister that he sprayed into Batman's face.

The Cape Crusader felled to the ground coughing. Grundy and Luthor quickly left the control room and ran out onto the catwalk. Superman and Metallo were slamming each other into the wall. Huge chunks of concrete showered the room.

Luthor tripped over the cord suspending Lois. He gave an evil smile and produced a knife. He motioned for Grundy to reel in Lois. In a matter of seconds, Luthor held Lois in his arms with a knife to her throat.

"Superman!" Luthor yelled.

Everyone stopped and looked toward Luthor and his hostage. Metallo and Superman released each other. Robin started to rub his head and Batman's cough still echoed from the control room.

"I see once again the advantage is mine," Luthor laughed. "Metallo, finish him off."

The steel grin on Metallo's face opened into an electronic laugh. "Gladly, Luthor."

Superman felt Metallo's metal hands dig deeper into his throat. Superman knew he could not react fast enough to stop Luthor from slitting her throat. Grundy was now trussing up Robin.

"Oh, the hell with it," laughed Luthor as he began to slice Lois's throat. However, before he could begin the cut a black gloved arm reached out from behind him grabbing his arm. Luthor felt pain shoot through his wrist and he released the knife. In a last desperate attempt, he shoved Lois towards the railing of the catwalk.

Lois bounced off the railing and fell onto the catwalk driving the knife into her stomach. Superman watched in horror as Lois pulled her hand away from her belly to see blood flowing from her wound.

A red cloud filled Superman's vision and a manic scream escaped from his lips. In a mad rage, Superman grabbed Metallo's arms and he twisted them off the robotic giant. Before Metallo could register the loss of his appendages, Superman grabbed Metallo's head and he squeezed with all his might. The steel cranium exploded.

Robin quickly took advantage of Grundy's short lapse of attention and kicked him away. Before Grundy could swing around on the Boy Wonder, Robin had already launched into the air aiming a kick towards Grundy's skull. The vegetation-covered zombie grabbed the Boy Wonder out of mid air and slammed him into the concrete wall. The snapping of bones shot through the air.

Batman grappled with Luthor. The Caped Crusader kept one eye on Superman and Robin's conflict as he tried to subdue Lex. It was out of the corner of his eye that he saw Robin, his ward flung against he wall and slide off with a sickening crunch to the ground.

Unconsciously, Batman tossed Luthor over his shoulder and accidentally tossed the bald man over the catwalk and into the reactors below. Luthor screamed until his body landed with a broken thud onto the concrete below. Before Batman could reach Solomon Grundy, Superman flashed over to the last villain. Before Grundy could react, Superman had his head between his hands. With a sickening crack and a shower of splintered wood Superman twisted Grundy's head off and tossed it over the catwalk to join Luthor's broken body below.

Superman lowered himself down to Lois's unconscious body. He held his hand over the wound of Lois's stomach to staunch to flow of blood.

Batman held the Boy Wonder in his arms, tears streaming down his mask.

"Clark, we have to get them to the Bat Cave immediately if we hope to save them," Batman choked.

Superman silently picked Lois's body into one arm and lifted Batman into the other. In no time, the superheroes were back at the Bat Cave. Batman worked feverishly to tend to Lois and Robin's wounds. Superman paced back and forth in the mansion above.

It was hours later when Bruce entered into the darkened library. There still was not any power.

"Clark, I don't think there is anything I do for either one of them," Bruce broke the silence.

"Bruce, you have to!" Superman cried.

"Even I can't bring the dead back to life. For now they are both conscious and Lois has asked to see you."

Superman lost no time in rushing down to the Bat Cave. He was at Lois's side. Lois turned her head towards Superman and a smile broke across her face.

"Clark, Batman...Bruce, Bruce Wayne," Lois said still trying to grasp Batman's alter ego was the famous millionaire playboy.

"Shhh...don't talk. Rest, you need to rest," Superman said soothingly.

"Clark, I'm going to die. But, before I die, I want to marry you. Please hurry and grab a priest," Lois pleaded.

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In honor of this MNSpeak post, Hank Chooses 225 South 6th...

Hank in Minneapolis

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Recent Comments

  • 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
  • Christian: A great story, i remember my first computer with DOS read more
  • Kerry Glasscock: Good story. I love that Dwayne. nice work! read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Susanne. You are correct, the OS of computers has read more
  • Susanne: Nice read, shame computers havent improved several years later (mainly read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Hey Rushan! Sadly no, I do not have one. Thanks read more
  • Rushan: Nice work.do you have that kind of one?thanks.. read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Joyce. I appreciate your kind words. We do have read more
  • Joyce: Douglas, I just want express and my true admiration before read more

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