May 2007 Archives

Tiberium Letters

Part Ten

By Dwayne MacInnes

The demon was unaware that I could see it in the darkness. I grabbed my sword in a reverse grip. I acted as if I could not see the hell-spawned beast approaching me.

The room had many glyphs of warding on the walls around it. Obviously, they were for containing the demon and not me. I tried the door with my left hand. It had locked as it closed, much as I suspected. I did not have the time to try to pick a lock with a demon sneaking up on me, and I had less than a minute of sight before the spell failed. I would have to act soon.

I turned my back to the demon as if I was going to try the door. I heard it take in a breath of air as it started to lunge for me. At the last moment, I dodged to the right in a tumble and sprung up as the demon smacked against the wooden door. The door shook and threatened to splinter and the demon took a couple of dazed steps back turning towards me.

I stepped into the seven-foot tall beast and slashed upward from right to left with my reversed gripped short sword. Before the demon could grab its bleeding belly, I now slashed the beast's throat from left to right. Hot red blood spurted out from its new wound while I tumbled between its spread legs.

As I jumped up behind it, I changed my grip to the standard form and jabbed upwards striking the demon in the exposed back. An enraged and gurgled roar shook the room. I thought my head would explode from the agonizing scream of pain the beast from the netherworld released.

The beast fell to its knees after it turned towards me. I backed away staying outside the reach of its claws. With one hand, it held its gaping throat with the other it weakly tried to swipe at me.

I crouched low before I vaulted myself towards the demon. As I passed over its left shoulder, I swung my sword from left to right severing its head from its torso. I landed on the blood slick floor and tumbled to a stop as my spell ended simultaneously with the head dropping onto the floor.

I quickly uttered my spell again and my sight returned. There on the floor flopping in a pool of its own blood lay the headless body of the demon. The head had rolled to a far wall and now stared sightlessly at me.

Still amazed by my victory I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard a loud pounding on the door.

"You keep quiet," the gruff voice of a goblin shouted, "or the master will teach you to keep quiet."

It was no surprise the goblin was not about to check in on a demon in a containment cell. The bad thing about demons and containment cells is that they contain nothing of value. Sure, I could have harvested the various organs and horns of the demon, but I saw enough butchering for one night.

I listened intently until I heard the goblin walk away. I returned to the door and had it picked open before my spell failed again. I finally expelled the breath I had been holding. I was now alone in the tunnel and I started to think again.

That was when it hit me. Trumpets blared in my head alerting me to my stupidity and I anxiously pulled a book out of my haversack. The Hubbard book Dire-nectics was not about helping you move past your problems. No, Elrond Hubbard according to the back of the book was a conjurer of the dark arts and not a self-help guru as I initially suspected.

To add to everything else, Brunis was also trying to control a demon. I prayed there were no more demons that Brunis had socked away. I also vowed not to enter dark rooms where the doors opened of their own accord again.

Cautiously I continued my travel up the tunnel, there were no more side doors and there were never any connecting hallways. It finally ended at a large portcullis. The large iron gate sealed the entrance and on the other side were the remains of Fort Abysmal's cellar.

I tested the portcullis for any signs of weakness. A heavy coat of rust covered the gate and the sturdiness of it was in doubt. I pushed and pulled upon the various bars all but one resisted my efforts. Although the one iron bar I could move did not pull free from the gate it did bend enough to allow me to pass through.

A large waterfall had broken its way into the cellar and the lower chambers were now the source of an underground river. The thundering of the fall obscured any noise I made while exerting myself on the gate. However, it also hid any noise that may alert me to danger.

I snuck around the cellar's interior, there were many doors and passages I could take. But, I knew that if Brunis was the wizard of any worth he would be found in a tower. So, the only logical choice would be up.

I was about to head for the only set of stone steps that led upwards when my ears picked up a rhythmic beat against the thunder of the waterfall. I quickly jumped behind a fallen column and watched as a squad of goblins marching in formation exited a side tunnel, and entered the cellar heading in my direction.

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Iapetus Saves Miami

Chapter Four

By Douglas E. Gogerty

The construction of the enormous Cyber-Iapetus had taken five years, but it was finally complete. All of its vital components were in place and protected. They filled its tank with water and its batteries were fully charged. Once started, the mechanical beast would be able to operate for several days before it needed more water.

AOENC Engineering isolated Dr. John Maland in a securely locked room when they initiated the start sequence. The batteries initiated the electrolysis to separate the oxygen and hydrogen of the water supply. The hydrogen was fed into the fusion chamber and the giant cybernetic monster came to life.

Slowly, it raised itself from its prone position and made its way to its feet. The computer took the information from the many inputs to stabilize itself. Shortly afterwards, it took its first step -- and then its second.

Slowly and cautiously, the individuals controlling the mechanical monster worked its way out the doors and into the warm Florida summer. Once out of the enormous building, they put the beast through its paces. The monster ran, walked, swung its arms and its tail, kicked its legs, and tested its various defensive maneuvers.

Once the defensive measures were performed to Ms. Higher's satisfaction, they continued with the newly implemented offensive weapons. The laser in Cyber-Iapetus's head would select a target and the missiles would fire from its hands and impact the selected target. That operation performed as implemented.

The testers put the mini-guns in its shoulders through their paces. These were somewhat difficult to control, as the beast's torso would have to move to aim the guns. However, they were quite lethal on the areas around the targets. The bullets sprayed with devastating results.

Finally, the Cybernetic beast opened its mouth and fire erupted out of its open maw. The head could move up and down and side to side to spray fire in a variety of directions.

Ms. Higher was satisfied with the results of the tests and ordered the beast reloaded. The guns and missile launchers were quickly reloaded, and the fuel reservoir for fire breathing was filled to the top. The mechanical nightmare was completely operational.

Next, Ms. Higher ordered the technicians to direct the beast into nearby Choctawhatchee Bay to test its seaworthiness. The mechanical monster swam on the surface as designed. It used its tail to propel itself and with its hands tucked under its torso could change its direction.

The beast dove into the depths with equal agility. It swam around the bay and erupted to the surface. It opened its weapon doors and was immediately ready to fight upon emerging out of the water. Apart from a few minor leaks, which they quickly caulked on the spot, the mechanical Iapetus pasted all of its tests.

Ms. Higher dismissed the technicians and entered the beast's interior control compartment. Using the controls within the machine, she took over the control of the beast and steered it into the Gulf of Mexico. Once in the Gulf she dove deep under the water and vanished.

* * * * *

Dr. Maland, still locked in the secure room, heard a slightly mechanical voice emanating from somewhere, "Dr. Maland you have interfered with our plans."

"Dr. Roy you'll never get away with this!"

"Silly man! I am not Dr. Roy and you do not even know our plans."

"Well..." stumbled Dr. Maland. "Whatever you are planning will certainly fail."

"We shall see," replied the voice. "In any event, you would have remained unaltered if you had not interfered."

"Unaltered?"

"We still have need for you, but you are unlikely to cooperate knowing what you know."

"No! I'll do whatever you say."

"That is not likely and we cannot take any chances with the important task that only you can perform."

"What task?"

"We need you to tell the Iapetians that Cyber-Iapetus is complete."

"Why is that important?"

"We do not wish to cause unwanted destruction."

"Huh?" asked Dr. Maland as he began feeling dizzy.

"Pleasant dreams," replied the voice as Dr. Maland fell unconscious from the gas they piped into his room.

* * * * *

From Goose Creek Bay, south of Tallahassee, Cyber-Iapetus emerged from the water. It headed due north until it encountered the Coastal Highway and headed east.

Chaos erupted as cars on the highway scattered away from the enormous mechanical beast. The monster did not kick or swing at anything. Drivers scattered just to avoid confrontation and created their own mess.

With the snarled traffic on the Coastal Highway, authorities investigated and quickly discovered the giant mechanical device heading east on the highway. The Florida State Patrol sent several squad cars to intercept.

However, before the troopers could reach the troublemaker, it had left the highway and had gone into the nearby groves. A similar event occurred when Cyber-Iapetus reappeared on the northbound Woodville Highway.

With snarled traffic, the State Patrol asked the governor for assistance dealing with the enormous menace. Before the governor could reply, he received a mysterious message. The note read:


Dear Governor:

A large mechanical device is headed towards the Capital. This device is capable of much destruction. Anything you do to prevent the device from reaching its goal could result in total annihilation but will not stop the device. This mechanism will stop by the capital building for your inspection, and a demonstration of the power can be arranged. You will be notified of other demands at a later time.

Signed: A Friend

The governor immediately informed the Department of Homeland Security. They recommended sending three attack helicopters to meet the beast. The governor complied. The three helicopters from the national guard headed south along Woodville Highway; however, the mechanical beast had left that highway before they could reach it.

Cyber-Iapetus had turned. The helicopters altered their course to cut off the beast on Bloxham Cutoff Road. They intercepted the monster in an unpopulated and tree laden stretch of that road. On the first pass, the helicopters fired guns only, which had no effect upon the mechanical device.

The laser on the head of the cybernetic animal pointed at the far left helicopter as it passed, and a single missile launched from its left hand. The missile impacted with its target and exploded. The helicopter smashed into a stand of trees and burst into flames as the remaining made their turns for a second pass.

The helicopters launched their hellfire missiles at their foe, but they had no effect upon the monster. The doors for the mini-guns opened, the guns emerged, and the bullets began to fly. A second helicopter received a great amount damage and crashed onto the road leaving the final attack helicopter to make a third pass.

The final helicopter made its pass using both missiles and bullets. As it passed, the mechanical monster raised its hand and swatted at the helicopter. The force sent the helicopter spinning, but the pilot managed to regain control and prevented a crash.

However, before it could make another pass, a missile came from the right hand and the helicopter exploded in a huge fireball. The first attempt at stopping the cybernetic monster had failed, and it continued on its way.

As if it were using an online map service, the enormous mechanical beast turned right on Wakulla Springs Road and continued north past the Leon County Fairgrounds. Eventually, it reached the State Capitol building and stopped out front. There it stood for everyone to see.

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Tiberium Letters

Part Eleven

By Dwayne MacInnes

There were six goblins, and they were heading in my direction. I ducked down behind the pillar again. I could hear their clinking iron boots and their armor rattling as they marched into the cellar. In my quick glance, I noticed that they all were armed with a sword on their left hip and had a spear resting on their right shoulder. Their armor was motley but they all had some sort of helm and a shield.

I listened as they advanced ever closer to my position. The column I hid behind was large, but if they were to look over it, they would easily see me trying as hard as I could to blend in with the shadows. I silently pulled my bow from my back and readied an arrow. I know I could have taken out three of them before the rest fell upon me. I hoped that I would have enough time to ready my sword.

Then quite unexpectedly, they changed course. I snuck a quick peak over the collapsed column. The goblins were now heading for the stairs I was about to make for. They were also now marching more or less perpendicular to me.

I smiled; this was an unforeseen opportunity. I fired my bow. I hit the first goblin, or more accurately the last goblin for he was the last in line, in the back of the head. Before he could squeak, he tumbled off the steps and landed into the pool. The waterfall masked any noise the goblin made as he died.

I fired off another and another arrow, each finding their mark under the helmet and through the head. As expected, every goblin fell off the steps and landed in the pool beneath the waterfall. In this manner, I worked my way from back to front killing every goblin before the leader made it to the top step.

Unfortunately, the weight of their armor pulled every goblin beneath the surface of the subterranean river. Therefore, I could not search their carcasses for any loot. However, I figured that with the paltry amount I have been finding on these goblins and the fact that any trace of what I did, lay at the bottom of the river -- in the end -- balanced out.

I resumed my trek up the staircase. When I reached the landing, I was at the entrance of some sort. The fort had definitely seen better days. Stone bricks and wooden beams lay collapsed upon the ground. Weak moonlight filtered in from the gaping holes in the ceiling. There were no more stairs upward but there was a doublewide wooden door in front of me.

Again, I did my standard check at the door. Again, I heard and found nothing. To my relief the door was unlocked. It did not open or close of its own free will when I exited it and found myself outdoors. Well, I was sort of outdoors. I was actually in the middle of the crumbling and hollowed out remains of a tower. There were stairs leading upward and a set of doublewide iron doors that sat upon the far side of me. I assumed they truly led to the open outdoors.

By deduction, I knew my way led upwards. Well, I should say deduction because of the fact that I heard Brunis's laugh somewhere above me. I made sure that I was so far undetected. I could find no guards or sentries, so I started my way up the stairs.

It was dark and though there was a full moon, the shadows were deep. The occasional torch flared upon the wall. The smell of fresh air was the sweetest scent I ever experienced especially after the offal I encountered in the butcher room.

Brunis was in conversation with someone, I could hear his end of the conversation as I crept stealthily upwards bow ready.

"Soon, very soon my plans will come to fruition," he laughed.

"What's that? Of course, you'll be at my side," he reassured someone.

"With the Empress bankrolling us and the goblin army growing everyday I'll soon be in position to take over Giland."

I do not know why these villain types feel the need to reveal their nefarious plans but they do. Maybe it is because they are all secretly insecure. Nonetheless, it makes my job easier and I appreciate it.

Brunis's jubilant voice continued, "I am sure I can even assert some power through the Empress over the Emperor to facilitate things. Plus, my demon is almost fully trained."

I was near the top of the stairs when I saw Brunis on the opposite side of the room. He stood in the doorway perfectly framed in the moonlight and I quietly drew back my bowstring. However, before I could release my arrow someone yelled, "HALT! ASSASSIN!"

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Iapetus Saves Miami

Chapter Five

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Dr. John Maland awakened to find himself in his own bed. He had a vague recollection of going to bed, but it seemed like that happened days ago. He tried to recall what had he did to make him feel this way, but nothing came to mind. He had the feeling he was going to do something, but he could not recall what it was. He felt out of sorts, and he thought he might be coming down with something.

He crawled out of bed and staggered his way to the bathroom. He looked into the mirror and his reflection seemed normal yet strangely different. He opened the medicine chest and took a couple of aspirins.

When he was finished in the bathroom, he made his way to the kitchen. He opened his refrigerator and found it unremarkably empty. He thought that perhaps that nagging feeling about something he was going to do was a trip to the grocery store. He could do that.

He cobbled something together for breakfast, and got ready to face the day. After a nice hot shower, his confidence that a trip to the grocery store would strip him of that feeling of needing to do something began to fade. He became more convinced that it was something more important, but what?

Upon leaving the house, he was overcome with this feeling that he was being watched. However, he could not put his finger on why he felt that way. As he walked to the store, each time he looked back, no one was there. The only strange person he encountered was an odd man who looked a little like Peter Lorre. The man was berating a couple of squirrels for fighting and not sharing.

The trip to the store was uneventful, and he saw "Peter Lorre" on his trip back. This time, the man was trying to determine which foot was his left. He did not accost Dr. Maland, so John walked by without incident. Nevertheless, John still felt that someone was watching him or following him. He thought that perhaps this is how the strange man got started talking to squirrels.

When he returned home, he had a voicemail message. It was from Dr. L. Edward Roy. He called to inform him that the Cyber-Iapetus was completed. The CEO of AOENC Engineering wanted John to inform the Iapetians as soon as possible, so he could receive the final payment.

Dr. Maland had an odd feeling that he already knew that the Cyber-Iapetus was completed. However, he could not place why he would know such a thing. After such a long time, he wished that he could have made his way to Niceville to watch the final construction. This thought made his head throb, so he took some more aspirin.

He still had the feeling he wanted to do something, but he could not think of what it was. Thus, he tried not to think about it and got things ready to make the trip to the Iapetian Island. He could not think of any reason to delay the trip. He was sure they would be happy to hear the news.

Dr. Maland decided to make this an extended trip. With the strange feelings he was having, he thought that the getaway would do him some good. Thus, he prepared everything to give him an extra-long stay.

Once his preparations were complete, John made his trip into the Bermuda Triangle to the Island of the Iapetians. They were excited about the completion of their mechanical guardian. They decided to hold their ceremony immediately. John had the vague feeling that he should tell them something else, but he could not think of what he wanted to tell them.

Some natives began digging their ceremonial trench between the pillars upon the beach. Others gathered fruit for the great send-off of their protector. Dr. Maland even participated in the preparations. He was still nagged by a feeling that he was forgetting something, but he felt good about helping.

When the sun hit the water, the drums began and the priestess began her song. In the tongue of the Iapetian people, she invited the great beast to share with their bounty. Dr. Maland still found the lyrics to be slightly amusing, but he knew that they would convey the message to the mighty beast.

Upon emerging from the water, Iapetus looked strikingly different than he did when he helped defeat the ultra-yeti. Much of his forest green color had been replaced with colors that were more vibrant. He had red, orange, and even blue patches. It was clear that he changed into his full mating colors. The change would make him more desirable to the females.

The great beast reclined on the beach, and the crowds gathered around him. Each of the natives bid their great protector a good and prosperous journey. Several tourists were also lucky to see the great beast; however, local officials kept them from getting close.

The storyteller gathered the natives together. They all sat next to their protector while he began his tale. Because this was an official ceremony, it was performed in their native language. Dr. Maland took notes and translated the tale.

* * * * *

There are stories of our protector in this deep northern lake. It is even said that they have their own name for the great Iapetus. They call him the monster of their lake. We all know that he is a great creature, but he is no monster. He has protected us for centuries. How could you call that a monster? Now, he will briefly depart us to pass the torch to the next generation. Every beast needs to continue its line. The mighty Iapetus is no exception. Even now, the females gather in the depths of this dark, cold lake. Our protector must join them soon, and word has come that our replacement protector -- the Cyber-Iapetus -- has been completed. We should have no troubles between now and the delivery of our mechanical replacement. Thus, we will bid our protector, our friend, our beloved a fond farewell.

Mighty Iapetus, it is time for you to join with the females and continue your line. You have already put on your finery, and never have you look more striking. The females will not be able to resist such beauty. We will be protected. Thus, you should concentrate on the task at hand. Produce your heir. Worry not about us. We shall be fine. Enjoy your time with the females, and give us no second thoughts. Go to the place with the strange name. Go to your Loch Ness!

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Tiberium Letters

Part Twelve

By Dwayne MacInnes

My arrow flew erratically through the air as Brunis ducked safely behind the wall. I then notice Captain Morgan of the city guard also in the room. The good or more accurately ‘evil' captain noticed my silhouette at the head of the stairs and warned Brunis in time.

I had hardly any time to drop my bow and draw my sword before the captain fell upon me. I blocked his initial swing with my shield. I tried to push the captain's long sword away so I could expose his vitals for a thrust with my short sword. However, the guardsman had been practicing and knew my tactics.

The long sword disengaged and Captain Morgan stepped back. This gave me the time I needed to tumble past his next swing. I was now behind the captain. Unfortunately, I was now between Morgan and Brunis.

I caught the sight of the mage leveling a staff at me. I turned quickly in time to catch the electric bolt upon my shield. Brunis swore an oath as my shield absorbed the bolt without any ill effects. I dodged to the side as Morgan thrust his sword at me barely missing.

I was not in an enviable position. I needed to find some defensive position. Alas, none was forthcoming. Therefore, I worked my way backwards so that now the wizard and the warrior were both in front of me.

Things improved a bit, but only a little. For I now did not have to watch my back and front simultaneously. However, I now had both an angry mage and guardsman attacking me. They worked quietly as a team.

Captain Morgan would try to expose me to a blast from Brunis's staff. I would block or dodge his sword swing, but I always kept my shield in front of Brunis. For my part, I would try to maneuver Morgan in such a way as to place the guardsman in front of the wizard.

We jockeyed like this for some time before Brunis pulled back. I tried to double my attacks on Morgan in the hopes of dispatching the guard before the mage could conjure up some nasty new spell.

Unfortunately, Morgan was a good swordsman and even worse Brunis conjured up a spell my shield could not prevent. He summoned a stone demon from the netherworld. However, worse still was that the demon materialized behind me.

The stone giant stood ten feet tall. His body was completely made of rocks. One smash with his rocky fists and it would be like having an avalanche pulverize you. You have heard the expression "He came down on me like a ton of bricks." In this case, it would be far too literal.

Two other things to note about summoned stone demons. The first is that they do not rely solely on their fists. No, for some insane reason they can also shoot blasts of electric bolts at you. Secondly, is that the summoned beast lasts as long as the summoner wants or until the beast or the summoner dies.

Suddenly there descended upon us one of those uncomfortable pauses in combat. It is the same as often happens in conversations. Everyone is talking until all at once everyone forgets what he or she was going to say or just has nothing to say. Everyone looks at everyone else uncomfortably until someone restarts the conversation.

The only difference in this case was that I was the only one uncomfortable. For, as I glanced around I noticed the evil smiles on Brunis and Morgan's face. The stone demon just looked at me impassively, which by the way is their only expression.

"Well, my dear inspector it looks like you were unable to finish the task the Emperor commissioned you for. But, do not fear he will still pay. Just not in the manner he was hoping. Bwa ha ha ha!"

Oh, great I was about to die and one of the last things I would hear is a clichéd evil laugh.

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Iapetus Saves Miami

Chapter Six

By Douglas E. Gogerty

For several days, the gigantic Cyber-Iapetus stood motionless in front of the Florida State Capitol building. Like a giant statue of Iapetus himself, the impressive weapon system stood for everyone to see. The Florida National Guard cordoned off the area, and no one was allowed to get within 100 yards of it.

After being on display, a compartment upon the chest of the machine opened up. Out stepped a figure covered from head to toe in black. Only the eyes of the mysterious figure showed through eyeholes in a black, shiny, plastic mask. The only object the ninja-like figure carried was a briefcase.

The ninja pulled an envelope out of the briefcase and handed it to one of the soldiers guarding the perimeter. It was addressed to the governor. The soldier radioed his commander, who arrived and took the package from the guard. He regarded the black encased person, and delivered the envelope to the governor.

While the person in black stood by the open Cyber-Iapetus, the governor opened the envelope. Inside the envelope were details on the destructive capabilities of the mechanical weapon system standing in front of the capitol building. Further, there were demands for $100 million, or the weapon would destroy several Florida cities.

* * * * *

After seeing Iapetus off, the Iapetian people had several days of festivals. There was music, dancing, story telling, and much feasting. With each passing day, Dr. Maland struggled with something. He did not know what it was, but he was sure there was something.

Several days of revelry had passed, but the festivities continued. On one of the days, John was listening to the rhythmic drumming. He sat on a log and began swaying with the music. He struggled to keep conscious as the hypnotic sounds surrounded him. He remembered experiencing this feeling during his first encounter with Iapetus. The drums got louder and louder, and Dr. Maland continued to struggle with remaining awake.

Suddenly, he felt lightheaded and tumbled backwards off the log, smacking his head hard on the ground behind him. A sharp pain shot through him, and he smelled a faint aroma of ozone. In an instant, he is out cold.

* * * * *

After a brief consultation with several officials, the governor ordered the soldiers to open fire upon the weapon and its former occupant. Once the gunfire began, the door to Cyber-Iapetus closed trapping the black clad individual outside. The person was riddled with bullets and fell to the ground. A small fire broke out in the back of the individual's skull. It melted a part of the costume and revealed a now burnt out circuit board.

Even without its pilot, the Cyber-Iapetus walked over to the nearby Plaza Tower in Kleman Plaza. With a few swipes of its mighty hydraulic arms, bricks flew off the tower and windows shattered. The mechanical beast turned with a quick swipe of the tail and more bricks crumbled and more windows broke.

Plaza Tower photo courtesy of www.plazatower.net

For several minutes, Cyber-Iapetus pounded on the building. It pushed and swiped. Eventually, the building crumbled to the ground. The giant machine stepped upon the rubble, raised its arms in the air, and gave a mighty roar.

Shortly after the roar, the governor's phone rang. Upon answering the phone, a slightly mechanical voice said, "Ms. Higher, the ninja-cyborg you shot, was merely our messenger. As you may be aware, you have not hindered our ability to do massive amounts of destruction to property in your fair city and state. Thus, our demands remain. Please, do not force us to do more damage or increase the amount of our demands."

The call ended at that point. "Trace that call!" demanded the governor.

Meanwhile, Cyber-Iapetus walked off the rubble and returned to its previous spot inside the cordoned off area.

"Sorry governor," replied the chief of security after several minutes of work. "The call was made on a secure untraceable cell phone. The call could have originated anywhere."

* * * * *

Dr. Maland woke up in a soft bed. He looked around, but did not know where he was. His head throbbed, and he reached up to feel his head. It was wrapped up in bandages.

Someone entered the room, and said, "You're awake, I'll get the doctor."

"Doctor?" John wondered. "What happened? Where am I?"

The doctor entered. "I am glad to see you're awake. What can you tell me?"

"Nothing," replied John helplessly.

"What is the last thing you remember? Do you know who you are?"

Dr. Maland wrinkled his brow and thought hard. "Nothing," was all he said.

"Relax," assured the doctor. "Let it come naturally. You hit your head. Do you know where you are?"

"The hospital..." John replied.

"That is a good sign," laughed the doctor. He held up a small circuit board and asked, "Do you know what this is?"

John looked at it a while and shook his head no.

"Does the name Iapetus mean anything to you?"

The word 'Iapetus' resonated through his entire body. It meant something to him, but what? He thought and thought. He was beginning to get dizzy and his eyes began to roll back into his head.

"Relax," the doctor said in a soothing tone. "There is someone who wants to see you. Is that alright?"

John let Iapetus go, and remained conscious. "Who is it?"

"A friend," replied the doctor.

"Sure, let them in," John responded still trying to remain conscious.

The doctor left and brought back the Iapetian storyteller. A flood of thoughts and memories rushed back into John's mind. It was too much for John and he blacked out.

Dr. Maland did not know how long he was out, but he awoke with the storyteller at his side. The Iapetian smiled at him and asked, "How are you doing?"

"Iapetus!" John blurted out.

"He's gone to his spawning ground."

"Cyber-Iapetus..."

"Has not arrived," asserted the storyteller.

"No," John responded trying to think, but all he got out was, "mighty weapon."

"Yes, he should be a great protector for us."

"No -- altered -- rockets -- guns..."

"What?" asked the storyteller.

"Florida -- in danger..."

"You're not making any sense my good friend."

John tried to speak in complete sentences, but it was too much of a struggle. Too much was coming at once, but he could only get out a few words. He tried again, but all he could get out was, "Iapetus -- save..."

"Relax," the Iapetian told John as he lightly touched his arm. "Now, tell me slowly."

John took a deep breath, and closed his eyes. He let the words come to him. He took a few more deep breaths and said, "AOENC Engineering altered the design of Cyber-Iapetus."

"Go on," the storyteller said in a soothing tone.

John kept his eyes closed and took a few more breaths. "They made him a terrible weapon by adding rockets and guns."

"Oh dear..."

John struggled to stay relaxed, but he had to focus. He took a few shallow breaths and then a deep one. Finally he got out, "I fear that the state of Florida is in great danger, and only Iapetus can save them."

"It is too late," replied the storyteller. "Iapetus is gone!"

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Tiberium Letters

Part Thirteen

By Dwayne MacInnes

Combat resumed shortly after this. I tried to remain out of reach of the stone demon and still block whatever Brunis and Morgan threw at me. The lightning blasts flew through the air like some kind of AC/DC concert.

In case you have never had that experience, before the Alteration College and the Diviner College at the Arcane University, there is a get together once a year in Imperial City for a concert. The music is great. However, the lightshow at the AC/DC concert you cannot miss and I mean that literally. You can be in any neighborhood, in a surrounding district, or even in the village. You can see the lightning and colored flashes shooting into the sky.

Anyway, as I was relating, lightning was shooting back and forth and both the stone demon and Brunis had one object in mind and that was me. I did learn a couple of important things in this exchange. First is that it is impossible to dodge lightning. It is extremely fast. Secondly, I do not need to block the blasts with my shield.

What no one has ever chronicled about my shield, Spell-eater, is that merely having it on your person protects you from hostile magic. Imagine everyone's surprise when the stone demon fired off a blast and hit me square in the back and the bolt fizzled away into nothing. I can assure you no one was more surprised that I was.

Again all combat paused. However, this time I was the one smiling. Sure, the advantage was still in Morgan and Brunis's favor. After all, I still had the stone demon at my back. However, my shield nullified the effect of magic.

Captain Morgan took the initiative and restarted the melee by charging at me. However, it was not quite what he had anticipated. As the guardsman flew at me with his sword flashing in the moonlight, I simply stepped to my right and tripped the captain as he ran harmlessly by. I should not say harmlessly because he had the misfortune of colliding with the stone demon.

There is one other thing about stone demons I forgot to mention. They are extremely stupid. I mean there simply is no other denizen of the netherworld that is literally as dumb as a box of rocks. Not iron demons, not imps, I mean nothing.

Sadly, for Morgan the demon felt that the captain was attacking it. Even sadder for the captain was that he did not have a shield to protect him from the electric bolts. Still even sadder was that all the steel the captain wore only made things worse.

The stone demon fired off a blast of electricity at the poor captain. The lightning literally fried the captain to a blacken crisp. Steam and smoke poured out of his armor before his blackened sword clattered upon the stone floor followed shortly thereafter by the recently deceased captain of the guard.

While this was happening, I flipped my short sword in the air, grabbed it by the blade, and in one fluid motion threw it at Brunis. It is unwise to throw away one's only weapon unless of course it is in a time of desperation. Desperate the times certainly were.

I watched as if time had slowed as the short sword tumbled end over end flying towards Brunis. I watched the mage slowly recognize what was happening, the surprise break out upon his face, and his attempt to try to turn. However, before he could turn completely around the short sword found his chest and buried itself up to the hilt.

There was a puff of smoke as the stone demon dematerialized behind me. Simultaneously, the mage collapsed upon the flagstones in dead heap. I slowly walked toward the mage. Slowly was the only speed I had available at the time as the adrenaline started to wear off. I was completely exhausted.

It took some effort but I was able to tug my short sword out of Brunis's carcass. I was just going to leave him there when a thought occurred to me. I ran over to Morgan's still smoking and disgustingly smelling body and grabbed his long sword. I returned to Brunis and placed the long sword into his wound. Now, if anyone came upon the bodies it looked like a falling out between wizard and warrior.

Unfortunately, that meant I would have to leave the lightning staff still clutched in Brunis's dead hand. But, I figured no one really knew what Brunis carried on his person so I searched him. I found a couple of rings, two keys, fifty Gold Eagles and a small object that resembled a green icicle about three inches long.

There was no way I was going to return to the barbequed guard and search his remains. I figured all the gold and silver he may have had on him would have melted and fused with everything else in one nasty mess. I could still hear the sizzling and popping of the cooked Morgan.

With all the lightning flashing, I figured I had a limited amount of time left. I ran into the room that Morgan and Brunis came out. Inside the room were a bunk, a table, and a chest. It appeared the wizard would occasionally sleep here. The ceiling was still whole above. Further, the door still opened and closed on its hinges on the doorframe. In this case, it was open.

I quickly searched the chest. One of the keys I found on Brunis's body opened it with a click (I learned later that the other key was to the castle, so I kept it). Inside I found a bundle of papers.

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Iapetus Saves Miami

Chapter Seven

By Douglas E. Gogerty

John sat up in his bed while the words Iapetus is gone echoed in his brain. How could Florida be saved without the aid of the giant beast? Everything disappeared from his thoughts except ways to save his home state. After a few moments lost in thought, John said, "You said Loch Ness in your farewell speech."

"Yes..." replied the Iapetian storyteller.

"Is that the place where Iapetus will spawn?"

"The priestess informed us that that is the name of the place our protector goes."

"So, the priestess is of the opinion that Iapetus is headed for Loch Ness?"

"I believe that is what I said."

"Then I must head for Inverness Scotland," John said getting out of bed.

"You are in no shape..." the storyteller began as John crumpled to the floor.

The storyteller grabbed John by the arm to help him back into bed, but John said, "I am all right. I must save Florida."

Dr. Maland sailed his boat back to Florida, and booked a flight to Inverness Scotland. He would try to communicate with the Iapetus and convince him to leave the spawning ground and help the people of Florida.

* * * * *

The governor of Florida sat behind a desk in the emergency bunker. The room was small and windowless, but it was protected from forces of nature and other potential disasters. The governor would be safe from whatever was to come.

She reread the demand. The treasure would pay $100 million or the mechanical monster would destroy Miami. In a demonstration of the power of the beast, it had easily destroyed a residential tower near the capitol. However, the rules of engagement in this type of situation were clear, "Do not negotiate with the terrorists."

After several minutes lost in thought, the governor's office assistant entered. "Madame Governor your requested officials are here."

"Please send them in."

The General from the National Guard, the state treasurer, the Lieutenant Governor, and a few other state officials entered the bunker.

"Ladies and gentlemen," started the governor. "We're in a difficult position with very few options. I invited y'all here to get opinions, but I have made my decision. As a politician, I could make a moving speech, but I'll save it for another time. Y'all know the situation, so here is what we're going to do."

"Madame Governor," interrupted General Chever of the National Guard. "If I may offer..."

"Do not interrupt me General," replied the governor sternly. "As I was about to say, we have been given a brief reprieve from the destructive power of the mechanical weapon sitting outside our fair capitol building. Clearly, some sort of remote command center controls this device. Thus, we should be able to detect these signals -- perhaps even jam them. Thus, I have ordered that a radio detection station be set up in an attempt to determine how the terrorists communicate with their weapon."

"That has been established as per your order," added the Lieutenant Governor.

"Excellent," replied the Governor. "Thus, the only thing to do now is force them to communicate with their weapon. General, we need you to bring some weapons to bear on this device. I'll leave it to your discretion to determine the best way to wake the beast but minimize collateral damage."

"Yes Ma'am!" replied General Chever.

"Any other order of business?"

"There is some sort of disturbance along the coastal highway," reported the Lieutenant Governor.

"That'll have to wait. This has full priority. All our resources must be placed on this immediate menace. If there is nothing else, y'all are dismissed."

* * * * *

Dr. Maland arrived in Scotland after a long flight. Fortunately, he slept during most of it. His head was throbbing, but his duty to his state and nation drove him on. He must contact Iapetus and convince the mighty protector to fight Cyber-Iapetus and prevent the destruction of Florida and beyond.

The Loch Ness legend had spawned several tourist traps; however, John knew where he had to go. He rented a car and headed to The Original Loch Ness Exhibition on the Beauly Road. He wanted to know if there was an increase in Nessie sightings, and this was the best place to start.

Dr. Maland talked around and spoke to several people. There were several reports of increased activity, but the experts believed the animals were just sturgeon. "There hadn't ne'er been no credible sightings," insisted local historian Dougal MacInnes in a thick Scottish accent. "We've got a detector a goin'. The Sturgeon are a runnin' in an' out, but nuttin' unusually big has gone through."

"Can you take me to the inlet?" asked Dr. Maland.

"Aye, I could be a doin' that fer ya."

Dougal and John got into his rental car and went to the Loch's inlet from the sea. With the support of local interests, some scientists set up and monitored a detector. The device was set to look for large animals entering the loch. According to the attending scientist John had spoken to, several large animals had entered. He asked if any creature in the range of 200 meters had passed recently. None had.

John had beat Iapetus to Loch Ness. He had seen the giant monster swim. With its speed capabilities, Iapetus should have entered the loch by now. Was this not the spawning ground? Where could Iapetus be? The only thing that John could do was sit and wait for the beast to show up, and hope it would happen soon.

* * * * *

A formation of six AH-64 Apache helicopters headed towards the capitol building. They were fully armed and ready. Attendants continuously monitored the radio and cell communication detectors in an attempt to find where the communication signals guiding the mechanical monster originated. Only regular signals had been detected up to this point.

The enormous Cyber-Iapetus stood silently near the capitol building. It stood waiting as the apache helicopters approached from the south. Keeping the government buildings to their left, the helicopter pilots approached their stationary target.

The order went out and the helicopters began launching their Hellfire missiles. Wave after wave a missile were fired at Cyber-Iapetus. Each helicopter had its full compliment of 16 missiles. One after another, the missiles flew at the intended target and exploded. The missiles struck the beast high and low. They looked for a weakness.

All 96 missiles struck their target and created a continuous explosive fireball for several minutes. When the smoke cleared, Cyber-Iapetus stood there. It turned toward the helicopters and roared. It turned and moved towards the hovering helicopters. It slowly closed the gap, and the apache helicopters began firing their 30mm guns at the approaching beast.

The bullets bounced off the approaching Cyber-Iapetus. Eventually, the monster opened its mouth and a stream of fire streamed out. It shook its head, and before the helicopter pilots could react, the six helicopters were on fire. The helicopters fell out of the sky with a flaming crash. Cyber-Iapetus gave another roar and returned to the spot, which was now a crater, where it had stood before the attack.

Once the encounter had ended, the governor requested the communication findings. The experts poured over the collected data, and double-checked it. Wishing not to be mistaken, they went over everything a third time. They found nothing out of the ordinary. They were unable to detect signal guiding Cyber-Iapetus's actions.

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Tiberium Letters

Part Fourteen

By Dwayne MacInnes

A quick glance at the papers revealed that they were what I was looking for. It is interesting to note that Brunis was not blackmailing the Lady Tiber for anything she had done wrong. In fact, it was the opposite.

The story about the Lady Tiber's father's assassination turns out not to be completely correct. The Empress hired an investigator so that she may try to remember her youth. The investigator succeeded far beyond anyone's imagination.

The papers I held in my hand are the correspondence from the investigator to the Empress. I have already related the well-known tale of the assassination of the Baron Rhem decades ago by his ambitious younger brother.

However, there are corrections and additions to the tale. The Baron had a loyal minister. The minister was the one who insisted that the young Lady Rhem remain in the temple under the care of the priests in the hope she may remember her past.

The minister would come in, relate the family history, and teach her on whom her relatives were. She started to learn about courtly manners and practices. Essentially the minister was teaching Lady Rhem how to run a barony.

Meanwhile, the story of the scullery maid is not complete either. It turns out the young girl survived her plunge into the lake. She stripped off her dress in order to help her swim to shore. On reaching the shore the young girl clothed only in a wet and dirty shirt climbed into a hay cart to warm-up.

Unknown to her, the cart belonged to a poor farmer who was traveling back to his village. It took two days before the farmer returned to his village with his hay. Imagine his surprise when he started to unload it and he found a half-clothed unconscious girl.

The farmer woke the girl up, who had been sleeping two days, but she could not remember her past either. Further, she did not even know how she climbed into the cart. The farmer had no idea where his stow-away came from it could have been a dozen hamlets or villages he passed.

The girl begged the farmer not to turn her out. The kindhearted man had neither wife nor heir but he took pity upon the lass and adopted her as his daughter. As she grew to maturity, the young woman wed one of the villagers that had land adjacent to her adopted father's farm. When her adopted father died, her husband inherited the small farm willed to him by her adopted father.

The two prospered on the combined farm and had five children. This is where the investigator found them.

Now that I have filled in the gaps, I will now correct the story. I am sure some of you have already guessed it. When the investigator presented his tale to the young farm wife her memories unlocked immediately. There was something wrong.

She -- not the woman running the barony -- was Lady Rhem. She remembered her fall over the balcony and the gown that she shed which was of the finest quality and a gift from her late father. Nonetheless, she was happily married to the farmer. Her children were happy and content she felt a sense of accomplishment and did not desire to rule a barony or an empire.

Surprised -- the investigator presented his evidence to Lady Tiber. Again when presented with the evidence, the Lady Tiber's memory miraculously reappeared. She corroborated the farm wife's story. Lady Tiber felt unworthy to be the Empress and wanted to confide the truth to her husband. However, the investigator pointed out that by doing so would move the farm wife from her content life to a place where she knew little and the reverse would happen to Lady Tiber.

The two women began a correspondence and the two agreed that Lady Tiber would remain as the baroness and Empress. It was because the loyal minister feared bloodshed by civil war that he put a pretender (albeit unknown to Lady Tiber) onto the throne. First, he destroyed the tattered remains of the dress found on the lakeshore. The girls looked remarkably alike and after a few years in the temple away from the public, no one would know that the Lady Rhem was actually a scullery maid.

Unfortunately, the mage Brunis somehow learned about their secret. He stole the letters he needed to blackmail the Empress. He threatened to reveal the truth and ruin both women's lives if the Lady Tiber did not pay his ransom demands.

After reading the papers, I shoved them into my haversack. I was about to check the other contents of the chest and table when I heard the chinking and clanking of a troop of goblins running up the stairs. I looked at my sword and realized in all the excitement I left my elven longbow on the stairs outside the room.

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