June 2007 Archives
Iapetus Saves Miami
By Douglas E. Gogerty
The six attack helicopters were lying in a flaming heap, and Cyber-Iapetus was standing unharmed in a crater in front of the Capitol building. The governor was attempting to decide her next move when her phone rang. A slightly mechanical voice spoke.
"Governor governor governor... We have only given you a small sample of the capabilities of our mechanical device, and you yourself have discovered a few capabilities on your own. This device is quite capable of defending itself from your puny attacks. How much more convincing do you need? Our demands are now for $150 million."
"We do not negotiate with terrorists!" insisted the governor.
"There are no negotiations involved. We are making demands, and you would be smart to follow them or we will destroy Miami. No negotiations necessary. Just assemble the money and place it in a fire-safe container in front of the device. You have 24 hours."
"It'll take more than that to gather the money."
"You have had plenty of time to begin gathering this money. You should have not wasted that valuable time. Procrastination has gotten the better of you. Have a nice day."
"Wait..." begged the governor but the line was dead. "Did you guys get a trace on that?"
"Sorry governor, it was the same as last time -- a secure encrypted phone. No trace possible."
The governor sat there, quivering with fury, stammering as she tried to come up with a real crusher. All she got out was "Cyberninja!"
Dr. Maland spent the entire day by the inlet detector for Loch Ness. He chatted with the operators and learned about Loch Ness lore. He saw instances where large creatures had entered the loch, but nothing large enough to be Iapetus. He was getting concerned. Where could he be?
Dr. Maland began to wonder if Iapetus took a land route to the loch. Perhaps the enormous beast noticed the activity around the inlet and avoided that situation. After all, Iapetus was quite capable of crossing overland.
It became apparent to John that he should explore other possibilities. However, he wanted to be in continuous contact with the station at the inlet. Fortunately, the station broadcast reports on large creatures entering the loch for the 'Nessie Hunters'. Dr. Maland obtained the communication channel and tuned a radio into that station.
John traveled around the area asking if anyone had sited the monster recently. However, the reports were just the routine sightings. There were no great numbers of people seeing the same thing. It was clear that Iapetus was not here yet.
"General Chever bring all your weapons to bear," order the governor.
"Yes Ma'am," replied the general with a salute.
Tanks and armored vehicles poured out of the bases around the state. Helicopters and airplanes took flight. With the cooperation from the federal government, several naval vessels in the Gulf of Mexico were ready for engagement.
However, before engagement began, Cyber-Iapetus was on the move. The mechanical monster began walking down Apalachee Parkway. It crushed cars and trucks with no regard for vehicles in its path. Occasionally, it would swat its tail at a neighboring building doing minor damage. Clearly, the 24 hours had expired.
The ships launched missiles, the airplanes and helicopters flew to where the beast was walking, and the tanks and armored vehicles made their way along highway 27 to intercept.
Before the weapon could strike the mechanical monster, it turned abruptly and began tearing apart the Governors Square Mall. The missiles from the naval vessels smashed into the walls of the mall rather than striking their target. The various munitions tore apart mall stores.
The helicopters and airplanes coordinated their attacks. Wave after wave of missile and gunfire attacks were made against the mechanical beast. However, the spacious mall took the brunt of the attacks. The clothes stores were torn to shreds. The shoe shops were in tatters. The food places were spoiled. Nevertheless, the attacks continued.
The armored vehicles entered the mall parking lots from all directions. They added to the mayhem as they fired their weapons at the mall and the mechanical creature. The two-level mall was crumbling to the ground with the armaments continuously pounding the area.
As the mall burned and crumbled, Cyber-Iapetus turned its attention from mall destruction to the weapons that attacked. The gun doors in its shoulders opened, and the mini-guns began to fire. As a squadron of airplanes made their run, the guns ripped apart a couple of the planes. The planes crashed into some armored vehicles on the ground.
Cyber-Iapetus picked up some of the rubble, and began throwing it at the vehicles that surrounded it. The tanks that avoided the crashing aircraft were soon covered with the rubble from the mall.
A few missiles launched from the hands of the beast and struck some of the helicopters that crashed into the Little Lambs Preschool a short distance from the mall. Other businesses in the area of the mall were being damaged by the engagement between the military and Cyber-Iapetus. Another wave of naval missiles struck the area causing still more destruction, but the encounter continued.
"Enough!" ordered the governor. "General Chever end this! Disengage your attack."
"But governor..." started the general.
"No General. It is over. Disengage now. Your troops have done more damage than the mechanical monster. I will not stand for any more of this mayhem. We have assembled the money, and I am hoping by ending this conflict, they will contact us, and we can avoid more needless destruction."
"Governor, I am sorry for interrupting," the governor's aide said as he entered the governor's office. "However, there is more trouble. The highway patrol is asking for help from the National Guard. There are reports of some kind of storm or something coming from the south and wreaking havoc on traffic. There are snarls all the way to the Gulf."
"What more can happen today?" replied the governor. "Tell them, the National Guard is currently engaged and cannot assist with traffic problems. Have them do the best they can. Just what we need -- a damaging weather system to pile on this. General, you have your orders."
"Yes Ma'am. I'll have my soldiers stand down."
"I just hope it isn't too late to meet their demands. Otherwise, Miami is doomed!"
By Dwayne MacInnes
The rushing horde was running up the stairs. I would not have time to run out and grab my bow. I briefly toyed with the idea of jumping out and grabbing Brunis's staff, but I did not know if it had any charges left. It looked like I would have to use my short sword after all. I may be able to take a dozen down if I held the doorway, but they would eventually overwhelm me with pure numbers.
I started to pull my hand out of my haversack when I felt something. Then I remembered the wooden wand I found in Brunis's secret lair in the castle. I pulled out the twisted black stick that was about six inches long. I crept to the door and shut it most of the way, but I was in time to see the first score of goblins reach the top of the stairs.
I thrust the wand out of the room and shut the door until only a crack remained and I yelled, "Domo arigato mister roboto!"
There was a flash and I felt the backwash of heat as the fireball launched itself towards the goblins rushing up the stairs. I watched through the crack between the door and the wall as the fireball collided with the first rush of goblins.
There was an explosion of fire. The lead goblins burst into flame; some flew backwards from the impact of the spell and landed on their comrades. Still the goblins rushed on. Either they did not know what was happening ahead of them or they did not care.
"Domo arigato mister roboto!" again another explosion and again another wave of goblins went down in flames. Still they tried to push their way through the burning wreckage of their comrades.
"Domo arigato mister roboto, domo!" this time I thought for sure I could hear in a strange voice from the wand say, "Domo! Domo!" The wand released its fireball a third time and like before the tormented screams of immolated goblins filled the air, not to mention the stench.
I have to say something for goblins, when they get their blood up, they are tenacious. Wave after wave of goblin hordes rushed up those stairs and repeatedly I released a fireball. I did not know how many charges the wand had, but it could not be very many. The smoldering bodies started to form a wall that the oncoming goblins had to overcome. There were flames burning all over the place, the old fort's stone walls blackened and cracked from the blasts of fire.
Still the goblins rushed onward, I started to let them mass up once they climbed over their dead comrades so I could make the most of my remaining spells. Another blast sent the goblins flying in all directions. Finally after what felt like an eternity, but could not be more than half an hour the surviving goblins ran off in terror.
I cautiously poked my head out. The stench was overwhelming. I did not think anything could be worse than the butcher shop. Then I remembered the smell of the crispy Captain Morgan. I thought that was probably the worse smell ever. Again, I found myself corrected when I smelled the charred remains of over one hundred goblins scattered around the tower and down the stairs.
I did a quick search of the chest and table in the mage's room and only produced a flawless diamond and two sapphires. Not bad, but hardly worth the trouble I have been through. I returned to the open tower and surveyed the carnage. Fires still flickered here and there. Black corpses beyond recognition lay twisted upon the scorched and cracked flagstones. Some of the iron weapons and armor were still red from the intense heat from the repeated blasts from the wand.
I traversed my way through the rubble and charred bodies toward the stairs. I started to descend them when my foot kicked something. There on the ground and by some divine miracle sat my bow where I had dropped it. It needed a good cleaning but otherwise it was unharmed.
This little discovery put me in better spirits. I started to whistle as I made my way back to the castle.
When I reached the waterfall in the fort's cellar, I took a few minute to wash the grime and grit off my equipment and myself. I felt refreshed and renewed. I also took the time to open the portcullis.
I had no further adventures on my return to the basement inside the castle. I would occasionally see a goblin scurry away as he heard me whistling down the tunnel. But, that was the extent of my encounters. I would have to advise the Countess to contact the local Fighters Guild to exterminate these pests.
It was just after sunrise when I found myself back in the cellar. I had just finished shutting the hidden door and closing the false panel in the wheat barrel when I heard someone approach behind me.
"Halt right there! I have finally got you and I know all about you," said the voice of Reyn Braxis. I turned to see the predatory smile on his face. I could not fight him here; the Thieves Guild would dismiss me if I did. My heart sank as I looked at the guard.
Iapetus Saves Miami
By Douglas E. Gogerty
Dr. Maland was worried. What was taking Iapetus? He had more than enough time to swim across the ocean to Loch Ness. In fact, the giant monster could have made the crossing since Dr. Maland arrived in Scotland. Was he at the wrong place? Evidence pointed to the females arriving, but could it be something else? Could it just be a coincidence?
John drove around the Loch talking to tourists, natives, and anyone who would talk with him. No one saw anything that matched the description of Iapetus. There were no mass sightings. There was no evidence that Iapetus was here at all.
He returned to the monitoring station, but there were still no major developments. Large numbers of largish aquatic animals were gathering in the loch, but nothing the right size. It had the makings of a spawning ground, but it just did not have a male.
Florida was in great need of Iapetus's services. Cyber-Iapetus was rampaging and inflicting great damage. Dr. Maland did not know if military operations were successful, but during his observations, the mechanical protector appeared to be indestructible. Certainly, Iapetus would be helpful in the protection of Florida, but where was he?
The mechanical monster withstood attacks from several military weapon systems. It emerged from the rubble of the Governor Square Mall without a scratch. Rubble from destroyed tanks and helicopters were burning in the area. Cyber-Iapetus continued along Apalachee Way randomly destroying buildings as he traveled.
The mechanical weapon began tearing through the North Florida Safety Council building when Iapetus suddenly appeared from nowhere. It was not a storm, but Iapetus the Protector emerging from the Gulf to save Florida. He had not traveled to Loch Ness, he came to Florida to help.
The fierce reptile flared the spines on his back and gave a mighty roar in a challenge to the mechanical beast. Cyber-Iapetus turned its head to see what the noise was. Before it could brace itself, Iapetus was flying through the air in a cross-body block. The two giants tumbled along the Apalachee Parkway in a tangle.
Cyber-Iapetus pushed the colorful lizard up into the air and he crashed into a nearby motel. As the building crashed upon him, he flailed around and brought the rest of the building to the ground. As he emerged from the pile of debris, he picked up some of the rubble and tossed it at the mechanical monster. It was making an ungainly attempted to stand when the debris came flying. One large piece of concrete spun Cyber-Iapetus around and it fell back upon the ground on its back.
Grabbing this opportunity to attack the struggling machine, Iapetus again jumped upon it. He began swinging his massive arms and punched the robot numerous times in the head. However, these had no effect upon the mechanical beast and it tossed Iapetus high up into the air. This time before Iapetus landed, Cyber-Iapetus made it to its feet. It rushed the beast as he got to his feet and swung his tail. The tail hit Iapetus in the chest, and the impact threw him far down the street.
Shortly after the great protector landed, missiles launched from the mechanical monster's hands. The missiles hit their mark in the midsection of Iapetus pushing him even farther back. The giant protector shrugged off the impact, and slowly advanced towards the cybernetic beast.
Iapetus walked towards the machine contemplating his next attack. Before he could take action, the gun doors on Cyber-Iapetus were open and firing the mini-gun into the flesh of the encroaching monster. This momentarily stopped his forward progress; however, he once again flared his spines and roared. With a shake of his head, he continued forward.
The cybernetic weapon was not going to wait for Iapetus to reach it. It pressed the attack with a swing of its mechanical tail. The tail hit its mark, but, Iapetus caught the blow between his body and his arm. With a twist, the constructed protector was swept off its feet. Through the air it flew into a nearby tire store. The building instantly collapsed and the monster tumbled in a twisted pile of metal. Steel belted radials flew in every direction.
Before the giant lizard-like creature could continue his attack, Cyber-Iapetus tossed a few tires before it retreated into the Leon County Sanitary Landfill. In the open space, the two monsters grappled. Each one took turns punching the other. Neither of the monsters did much damage to the other with this sort of attack.
The cybernetic beast pushed Iapetus back, and opened its mouth. Flames shot out of the mouth of the monster and hit Iapetus in the chest. Iapetus gave a slight yelp in surprise, and the flames pushed back the lizard. The smell of burnt flesh permeated the air, but it appeared that it had little actual effect on Iapetus. With another roar, he jumped on top of the unsuspecting mechanical creature and they tumbled to the ground.
The tangle of monsters rolled around exchanging blows. After a few moments, in a smooth motion, the mechanical beast tossed Iapetus into the air, rolled to its feet, and swung its tail. Upon impact, the colorful monster flew into the woods and smashed down into some trees. With another breath of fire, the trees were ignited and the entire area was engulfed in a giant fireball.
With the flames, smoke, and trees, Iapetus vanished from view. Cyber-Iapetus looked around and reared back its head and gave a roar of its own in victory.
By Dwayne MacInnes
"That's right," Reyn said as he closed in on me. "You are no Imperial Inspector, or at least you weren't always. I know all about you."
I forced a smile upon my face, "Reyn, heh heh, let me explain." I was stalling for time. *Maybe I could bean the guardsman over the head with a piece of wood or something and make my escape before he regains consciousness*, I thought. Unfortunately, there was nothing at hand.
"Oh no, you are not escaping me this time. I recognized you at the gate," Reyn appeared to be gushing. I suppose I would too if I had just caught one of the top operatives of the Thieves Guild.
Reyn reached into his belt and thrust his arms at me. I was so exhausted from my ordeals over the night that my reflexes were slow. It took a whole five seconds to see that Reyn did not have a sword or dagger pointed at me but, instead a quill and a piece of parchment.
"Oh man! I'm like your biggest fan. The Black Arrow here at this castle I can't believe it. Please, I must have your autograph," Reyn implored.
I smiled, some of it genuine, most of it was relief. Reyn just knew me from the arena he knew nothing about my ‘other' job. I looked at the parchment and sighed. It was one of the last promotional posters made before I retired.
The arena loves to embellish its pit rats. The higher you rise in rank; the liberties taken with your body also grow. Males will find, the higher they go, the image on the posters will show them with bigger and bigger muscles despite the reality. Females on the other hand gain bigger and bigger, uh well you guessed it, breasts. But, that is not all in both case you find that the posters show you in less and less garb until you are the Grand Champion standing over a pile of bodies wearing nothing but a smile.
I would have been better off to pose for a woodcut center spread in a Pageboy circular. Fortunately, the statue in the Hall of Heroes was accurate. Granted, all the statues of the Grand Champions are nudes. It is supposed to glorify the body in an artistic way, like the statues of the gods and goddesses you find in the temples. Plus, the dwarven artists are masters and have an acute eye for detail, not for embellishment.
I took the poster and wrote, "Warmest regards to my biggest fan, Gwendolyn the Black Arrow." Reyn smiled as he read my message.
"Well, I have to return to my duties, looks like these barrels are okay," I tried to sound official. I really wanted to be off when we heard a crash.
Both Reyn and I turned in time to see Sleestak tumble out from behind some crates. He was still wearing the ragged clothes I gave him in the butcher shop. However, now he had a rag wrapped around his head to hide his missing eye. He looked very roguish.
"What are you doing here?" Reyn asked.
Sleestak looked at me, "Sleestak was waiting for..."
"I'm sure your secret will be in my report," I hoped Sleestak caught my emphasis on the optimal word.
"Uh, yeah...I was, er..."Sleestak stammered as he remembered his pledge and still tried to find a good excuse.
"Well, out with it!" snapped Reyn.
"It's not like there's a hidden passage down here," I said sarcastically while I nodded towards the hidden door. Sleestak eyes lit up. Lizard-men cannot really smile so most of their expressions register in their eyes.
"Yeah, Sleestak has just escaped from a torture chamber on the other side of that wall," Sleestak replied.
"I find that hard..."Reyn started to say as I kicked the false panel on the bottom of the barrel.
"Hello!" I exclaimed before Reyn could finish his sentence. "By Jove, Reyn! Look at this."
The guardsman looked down on the open panel; he reached inside and pulled the lever. We all watched as the door slid open.
"I had better get Captain Morgan!" Reyn exclaimed.
"NO!" yelled Sleestak. The Lizard-man grabbed Reyn with his good hand. "It is he and that minister Brunis who took Sleestak down here."
"I don't think I am going to believe some Li..." Reyn started to say with disgust.
However, I interrupted again, "Of course, excellent discovery, guardsman."
Reyn stared at me in confusion.
"It is obvious those two had to know about the entrance. Who knows how many guardsmen are involved in the plot. I will have to write your discovery down in my report," I continued.
Reyn started to perk up as it sank in. I always felt bad about what I did to Reyn and now, that I learned he did not suspect me as part of the Thieves Guild I felt even worse.
"Well, my good Lizard-man, I think you should lead us on to this torture chamber," I offered.
We followed Sleestak to the torture/butcher room. Reyn started to become sick by what he found inside the room. On my subtle advice, we continued down the long tunnel. We found the demon room and the waterfall cellar beneath the tower. The smell of burnt flesh now permeated the chamber and I did not need to lead Reyn upwards. He rushed up the stairs on his own.
He witnessed the carnage above in the tower. The bodies were still smoldering, even that of Morgan. The captain's long sword was still in the chest of Brunis.
By know Reyn was starting to get into his own. The little self-confidence I had reestablished started to take hold and flourished.
"Looks like some sort of falling out between the mage and the captain here," Reyn observed.
"Amazing deduction, guardsman," I said in feigned awe.
"Elementary, my dear Inspector. Elementary," Reyn responded smugly.
Iapetus Saves Miami
By Douglas E. Gogerty
The governor sat at her desk overwhelmed by the recent events. A mechanical beast was tearing apart the capital city, and she had the ransom with her. She was waiting for the extortionists to contact her. She hoped that her order to attack the monster had not cost the state the city of Miami. However, Tallahassee was being torn to shreds.
Further, from reports she had received, there was some sort of event causing problems up from the Gulf. This force of nature headed towards the affected areas. There were two problems converging towards each other.
She sat at her desk with her face in her hands when her chief of staff entered. "What is it now?" she asked herself.
"Ma'am we have some good news."
"What is it?" the governor replied with a bit of hope in her voice.
"Apparently, what was causing traffic problems up from the Gulf was a giant lizard. It has engaged the mechanical beast."
"They are fighting."
"Out in the open and not tearing apart the city I hope."
"Well -- not exactly. However, from the last report I got, they were battling at the landfill."
"At least that is something. Do you have any idea why the lizard is here? Who sent it?"
"No ma'am. However, we are making progress on the extortionists."
"Yes ma'am. Apparently, it was stolen from AOENC Engineering out of Niceville. We have been working with people there to get leads on where they may be controlling the weapon."
"We expect to have results any moment now..." the chief of staff said as his cell phone rang. "This could be a report."
"By all means, answer it."
"Hello," the assistant said into the phone. "A fire? How big? Wow! completely engulfed? Thanks keep a safe distance away and keep me posted."
"What is it?" asked the governor.
"Apparently the extortionist's weapon started a fire just east of the landfill. The fire is big enough to obscure our view. We do not know where the lizard is. We do know that the mechanical monster roared and continued heading towards Miami."
"That good news didn't last very long. Y'all keep working on triangulating the home base."
"Will do. What do you want to tell the press?"
"Tell them all about the giant lizard fighting for us, but nothing about our leads."
The governor was more hopeful, but the situation was still grim. She placed her face back onto her hands, hoping for a break.
The huge fire engulfing the wooded area next to the landfill began to abate, but there still was no sign of Iapetus. Several hundred acres were on fire, and the heat from the flames was intense. There were reports of the heat being felt from 15 miles away.
Cyber-Iapetus did not wait around to see what happened. It left the landfill and continued its journey along Apalachee Parkway. It did not dawdle. It picked up its pace. It was no longer in the urban center, and there were fewer targets for destruction. Thus, the cybernetic beast was no longer picking a building at random to destroy. It was making its way towards Miami along State Highway 27 as fast as it could.
With its fast pace, Iapetus did not catch up with his cyber doppelganger until it was past Lamont Florida. The giant lizard had run away from the fire through the trees. However, it was difficult keeping up with mechanical beast that was running along roads. Eventually, he caught him from behind.
Iapetus grabbed the tail of the running machine, and pulled it to a stop. With a backwards lean and a twist of his mighty torso, Iapetus tossed his foe into the woods. The agile giant jumped upon the tumbling machine. With Cyber-Iapetus trapped beneath his legs, Iapetus uprooted a nearby tree and thrust it into the open mechanical mouth of his opponent.
The cybernetic beast whipped its tail and twisted itself out from beneath Iapetus. It scrambled to its feet and chomped at the tree. The tree broke off, and fell to the ground. The mechanical beast reopened its mouth to shoot some flames at Iapetus. However, the root of the tree had disrupted the mechanism and the flammable liquid just poured down the side of its face.
Suddenly, the mechanical beast was on fire. Iapetus flared his spikes and gave a mighty roar. Citizens of Lamont claimed that the giant lizard did a little jig. However, the fight was not over. From the flaming mechanical beast, missiles launched from its hands.
Iapetus's reflexes were up to the task as it swatted a missile targeted at his eye. However, the explosion temporarily blinded him. He stood their stunned for several seconds.
The still burning Cyber-Iapetus took advantage of the motionless lizard and jumped on him. However, Iapetus had sufficiently recovered to see the mechanical monster heading towards him. He leaned back upon his tail, and put his feet on the chest of the rushing beast. Leaning further back and giving a kick with both feet, he sent his burning nemesis flying.
Without hesitation, Iapetus was stomping on the mechanical beast. However, the machine was still structurally sound. The flames had little effect on the shell of the machine. The weapon was well designed for several forms of attack.
To put out the flames, Iapetus began digging and throwing dirt onto the temporarily prostrate machine. After putting several hundred pounds of dirt upon the weapon, Iapetus extinguished the flames.
Suddenly, Cyber-Iapetus kicked and flailed. The dirt scattered, but Iapetus continued piling on the dirt. It seemed to have some effect on the mechanical device. Its movements slowed and then stopped. It was covered in a huge mound of dirt, and it looked as if it would stay there.
After Iapetus was satisfied with the size of the mound covering his mechanical opponent, he rested. However, his rest was short lived as the mound exploded. The explosion threw Iapetus several feet backwards. When he regained his composure to look at the where the cyborg was, Cyber-Iapetus was gone.
By Dwayne MacInnes
I made my official report to the Countess Aversfield. On my advice, she promoted Reyn to Captain of the Guard and she made Sleestak her new minister. An investigation into the disappearance of the Lizard-folk in the surrounding area began and many a guardsman found himself off to an imperial penal colony.
The Countess had the tunnels beneath the castle cleared out of any remaining goblins. Giland started to look like a model city in the Empire. However, I was unable to stay long before I had to be back at the Imperial City.
On my return, I was surprised to find the Shadow Fox inside my house waiting for me. He was sitting next to a crackling fire in my hearth. He motioned for me to take a chair next to him.
"I hear you did some mighty fine work for the Countess. How successful were you with your primary mission?" the Shadow Fox asked.
I looked at him closely, for some reason he looked familiar. No, not because I saw him previously, I know that somewhere I had seen him without the mask. Anyway, I shook my head to gather my thoughts.
"Sorry, it has been a long and exhausting trip," I reached into my inner pocket of my cloak and handed over the letters. "Here you go. Every last one I could find."
"Good," the master thief said, "You made sure they were authentic right?"
I nodded my head.
"Good, good," the Shadow Fox responded and he tossed the letters into the fire. "I do not know what was in those letters. But, I do know the Lady Tiber confessed everything to the Emperor and he has ordered them destroyed. They are too important for anyone to get their hands on again."
"Was there anything else? It appears that Brunis had his fingers in a lot of pies and nothing should be overlooked."
"The only thing I cannot identify is this," I said as I pulled the green icicle out of my haversack.
The Shadow Fox stared at it in amazement, "Do you know what you have there?"
"Um, I think I established that I did not," I replied a little irreverently. I was tired and maybe a little short tempered.
"That's a memory stick."
"Powerful mages can capture someone's entire memory within it. The person gets amnesia, but will never recover because his memories are trapped inside a memory stick."
"I wonder who was unfortunate enough to have their memory trapped inside this thing," I wondered aloud.
"There is no telling. The only way to restore the memory to the person is to break the stick," the Shadow Fox continued.
I shrugged my shoulders and placed the icicle-like object between my fingers. I started to apply pressure then I stopped.
"How will the memories find their owner?" I asked.
"Memories are part of their owner; as soon as the memories are released the person who lost them will suddenly find them regained."
"Hmm," I said and snapped the green icicle but nothing happened. "I guess it was empty."
"No it wasn't," the Shadow Fox replied. He stood up and headed for the door.
I stood up and cleared my throat, "Um, not to be rude but I thought there was supposed to be some payment for my mission."
"Sorry, it slipped my mind," the Shadow Fox undid a pouch at his belt and tossed it towards me. "This is from the Emperor. The guild will send you its payment later."
Before I could open the pouch, the Shadow Fox had disappeared out the door. Inside the pouch were ten perfect rubies and six large black pearls. It was obvious the Emperor knew something about transferring large sums of wealth discreetly. Coinage makes a lot of noise and is heavy for delivering hefty payments. Gems and jewels were lighter and quieter.
I was beaming with excitement when I heard the knock on my door. I hid my new wealth under a seat cushion and opened the door. On the front step two well-dressed men stood.
"Are you Gwendolyn?" asked one of the men.
"Oh, I'm sorry I belong to a church already," I said reflexively.
"I'm sorry we are not here from any temple. We have the unfortunate business to tell you that the Mages Guild is suing you," one of the men said as the other thrust the summons into my hand.
Iapetus Saves Miami
By Douglas E. Gogerty
The explosion of the pile of dirt left Iapetus confused. His cybernetic opponent had appeared to vanish in the explosion, as if it were destroyed. However, there was no debris in the crater. The mechanical monster did not explode at all.
Upon closer inspection, Iapetus noticed a tunnel leading away from the former dirt mound. Cyber-Iapetus had dug its way away, and attempted to cover its escape by collapsing the tunnel. However, the missiles from its hands caused too great of an explosion.
Iapetus jumped down the hole and followed the tunnel. After a short distance, he caught up with his foe. He grabbed the mechanical tail and thrust it upwards. The machine jerked up. This caused the tunnel to collapse around the grappling monsters. Soon, both monsters arose from the ground leaving a giant crater in the soil. The fight would now continue above ground.
The two monsters were wrestling on the ground when Cyber-Iapetus kicked Iapetus up into the air. The cybernetic monster rolled and knocked his foe several feet away with its tail. It scrambled to its feet, and rushed the tumbling lizard-like monster.
With a kick of its feet, Cyber-Iapetus kept Iapetus rolling. Suddenly, Iapetus rolled into the crater that was created when they emerged from the ground. The mechanical monster now had the high ground. Each time Iapetus would stand up, a giant cybernetic tail would hit him on the head knocking him back down.
After a few blows to the head, Iapetus became dizzy and sat in the hole. He shook his head a few times in an attempt to chase away the birds flying around his head. This also allowed him some time to think about how he was going to get out of the hole.
Cyber-Iapetus seeing his opponent sitting in the hole reared back his head and roared in victory. He bounded around the hole a few times and then stopped cold.
The governor had not left her office in several days. She continued to coordinate the many facets of this emergency. She got regular updates of the fight between Iapetus and his mechanical counterpart. Further, she was regularly briefed upon the search for extortionists and their communication station. She had several conversations with L. Edward Roy, the CEO of the company that built the weapon system. However, right now she was enjoying a rest from commotion that normally plagued her.
"Governor, there is a Dr. John Maland on the phone for you," stated a voice on the intercom.
"What does he want?" the governor asked wearily.
"He says he has information on the two fighting monsters," responded the assistant.
"Okay, I'll talk to him," replied the governor as she picked up the phone. "Dr. Maland, what can I do for you?"
"I'm sorry governor, I should have contacted you sooner. It is just -- that -- I thought..."
"Dr. Maland, I am a very busy person. Thus, I would be most grateful if y'all would get to the point."
"Sorry," replied Dr. Maland. "I attempted to recruit Iapetus to help, but I see from news reports that my help in this matter was unneeded."
"I witnessed the construction of the Cyber-Iapetus. I am aware of several aspects that you may not be aware. However, first and foremost, the mechanical weapon system was designed to protect an island of Iapetus in the Bermuda triangle. Thus, the control of it was designed to be done primarily from that island."
"Are you certain of this?"
"There may be relay stations or remote stations, but the primary control should be situated on this island. Therefore, if you send someone to the island, you may be able to override any commands sent from a remote location. At the very least, you should be able to determine what frequency they are using to control the machine, unless there is someone in the driver seat."
"The device is most certainly empty. How will we be able to find the command center on this island?"
"If you send someone to the island, ask for the storyteller or the priestess. If you tell them the situation, they will most certainly help you if you mention my name. This island is new to us, so you will need a new map in order to find it."
"Can y'all meet someone there?"
"I'm afraid I'm in Scotland. It is a long story... Nevertheless, I'll be back in Florida tomorrow. I assume you will want to take care of this before then."
"Most certainly," replied the governor. "Dr. Maland, thank you for you help with this matter."
The governor hung up the phone and began coordinating the intervention. The envoys from the governor made their way to Iapetus Island. Once there, they quickly found the control station. They were not able to override the commands sent from the much closer remote station, but they had a way to determine where it was located. They had the communication channel.
However, it would take time to find the remote control station. The cybernetic weapon could do a great deal of damage in the mean time. They had to make a decision. They could jam the signal, preventing any further damage. However, this could potentially allow the perpetrators to escape.
The other alternative was to let the two monsters fight while they track down the location where the communication was emanating. Since the two monsters were fighting in a rural area, the governor decided to get the extortionists while letting the monsters fight.
Dr. Maland was sitting in the airport waiting for his flight. He was glad that Iapetus did not come to Loch Ness and fought Cyber-Iapetus. However, he was berating himself for not contacting the Florida authorities immediately.
"How much destruction could I have prevented, if I told them about the control station immediately?" he asked himself. "I had to be the hero!"
He sat there thinking of all the things he could have done differently. He was so single minded about the situation that he did not think things through completely. He had focused so much upon recreating the New York situation; he lost sight of the real problem.
It weighed heavily on his mind as he sat in the airport. He did speak to another passenger as he sat there. He just closed the world off and beat himself up mentally. He was really down upon himself as he boarded the plane towards home.
By Dwayne MacInnes
I sat down in my chair and read the subpoena, the gist of it was that the Mages Guild was suing me for breaking one of its tenants, that of killing another guild member. Somehow, the guild has the power to divine that I was the one who killed Brunis, but was unable to figure out that I did so in self-defense.
Yet, the thing that really burns me is that the Mages Guild will allow its members to partake in any evil scheme out there in the Empire except necromancy. I actually do the Mages Guild some good by removing this blight from their rolls and I am the villain.
Fortunately, I had lawyers already. When you are the Grand Champion, you need good lawyers to protect your good image from slander, libel, and the paparazzi. I know that two Orcs and a Minotaur run the Blud, Gutz, and Gore law firm. Nevertheless, they get results.
I met with Gore; he was the Minotaur in my living room. The large half bovine, half man sat in a large chair. He was immaculately dressed in a black business suit and red silk tie and he was reading the subpoena through his square wire-framed glasses.
"Hmmm, yes I see where they are coming from. You broke one of their rules and they want monetary compensation for the victim's family," he said in a deep calm voice.
"Are you kidding me? Brunis has no family. The jerk was trying to take over the Empire -- well at least Giland," I started to say in a loud voice. "If anything I did the guild a favor by removing this poor excuse of a mage."
"I assume you have proof of this?" Gore said in a calm voice.
"Well, it was kind of a top secret mission from the Emperor which I received through the Thieves Guild," I said sheepishly.
"Yes, that is going to be tough. I doubt the Emperor will involve himself and you know the Thieves Guild has to remain anonymous," Gore sat back in the chair that groaned in protest to his large frame as he stretched out his long cow-like legs. The Minotaur pushed his glasses back up his long muzzle. "But, don't worry. We have dealt with this kind of case before. In the case of Mordor vs. Baggins we were able to get the charges of trespassing dropped."
"So do you think this will have to go to court?" I asked.
"I am pretty sure we can settle this discreetly outside of court," Gore said as he rose from the chair. The Minotaur bent low in order to keep his horns from snagging into the ceiling. He packed up his briefcase, "I am sure we can get the charges lessened if not dropped."
He turned towards me as he headed for the door. "If worse comes to worse we'll say the devil made you do it."
I stared at him for a beat, "How's that going to help?"
"Possession is nine points of the law," the Minotaur's bellowing laugh shook the room. "Seriously, it'll be okay." Gore smiled and exited the house.
I smiled also relieved; very few attorneys will make house calls. Then again, I pay them well and I am the Grand Champion.
Blud, Gutz and Gore were as good as their word. The Mages Guild dropped their lawsuit. However, they still suspended me from the guild, although I could regain membership if I produced ten vampire hearts.
While this nasty business was going on, I was still waiting for my payment from the Thieves Guild. I was starting to worry that I may have to sue the guild, which would probably lead to my expulsion from that as well. I was having a lousy week.
Then one day I received a message from the guild. I was to meet at the secret guildhall down by the docks at midnight. The guild always favored dark for its official business.
Needless to say, I was present at the appointed time. I entered the hall after saying the secret password: Peekaboo. It was strange that the guard and I were the only ones present. The door guard pointed to a room and said, "He is waiting for you in there."
I entered the room to find the Shadow Fox sitting behind his desk. He waved for me to pull up a chair.
"I hear you've been having an interesting week," the Shadow Fox said.
"To say the least, but it is all right now," I answered.
The Shadow Fox sat back in his black leather chair, "You have been probably wondering about your payment."
I nodded my head.
"Well, before I give you that I should tell you that there is a bonus involved."
I sat up straight. A bonus was rare in the Thieves Guild; we usually gave ourselves "bonuses" from whatever we found of use on the missions assigned us.
"We have found the person you restored the memory too and he is most grateful," the Shadow Fox said with a smile.
"You mean it really worked. Out of curiosity who was it?" I asked.
"Haven't you guessed?" the Shadow Fox pulled his mask off to reveal the face of Count Aversfield. "It was me."
My jaw must have dropped into the basement.
"Yes, you are probably wondering about how I came to be here. Let me start from the beginning. I was investigating the rumors of some disappearances in the surrounding villages. My minister Brunis and I were personally looking into it. Brunis, as you have probably discovered was a devious snake.
"Before we reached the first village he hits me with his memory trap spell. I fell from my horse and blacked out. The only thing I remember when I came to was that I was sure I was fully clothed.
"That's right; the villain stole my belongings and left me naked in the wilderness. I walked for a while until I found some rags hanging out to dry. I stole the clothes and was about to leave when an elderly man accosted me.
"'By what right are you stealing my clothes?' he yelled at me. ‘Who do you think you are?' I did not know myself and just told him that I had somehow lost my memory.
"The old man looked at my hands, "Your calluses show that you know how to use a sword. However, the manicure says you are, or I should say were, a man of some wealth.
"It turned out I had stumbled upon the home of one of the former Shadow Foxes. Yes -- that is right -- there have been multiple Shadow Foxes. In any case, the old man taught me the trade. I had little trouble rising through the ranks until I succeeded the last Shadow Fox.
"For the last ten years I have been the master of the Thieves Guild. Now, that my memory has been restored to me in payment I pass the mantle onto you."
I think my jaw dropped into the sub-basement.
The Shadow Fox laughed, "Don't worry the only ones who will know about the transfer of power will be the local guild leaders. They will maintain your secret. Plus, it is time I went home."
I stood up, "How will you explain your absence?"
"Easy, I fell off my horse and got amnesia," the Shadow Fox laughed.
So, that is how I saved the Empire and became master of the Thieves Guild. I did eventually regain my membership into the Mages Guild and save the Empire again from evil, but that is of course, another tale.