July 2007 Archives

Iapetus Saves Miami

Chapter Twelve

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Iapetus rested in the hole, and prepared to re-engage his cybernetic opponent. However, the machine stood motionless in mid taunt. The Florida National Guard stormed the controlling station just after Cyber-Iapetus gave his roar, and there he stood.

Iapetus warily exited the pit that he and his foe made when they emerged from underground. He sniffed the air and slowly walked over to the stationary weapon system. At the slightest sound, he flinched. Nevertheless, his opponent just stood there.

Finally, he was within reach, and he pushed the metal chest of the machine. Nothing happened. He pushed a little harder with the same result. He sniffed the machine, but smelled nothing of interest.

When he was satisfied that the mechanical device was no longer a threat, he flared his spines and gave a mighty roar. The roar shook buildings several miles away. He gave a few shorter calls and curled up at the feet of his former fighting opponent. With a sigh of exhaustion and perhaps relief, Iapetus fell asleep.

* * * * *

It was early in the evening when Dr. Maland arrived in Florida's capitol city. He had decided to fly directly to Tallahassee rather than his home. He wanted to see if he could help the people in Tallahassee in any way.

Despite the jetlag and the exhaustion that he felt, he rented a car and began the drive to the capitol building. Even though it was well after rush hour, traffic in that area was awful. The destruction Cyber-Iapetus inflicted on that particular area snarled traffic well into the evening.

He faced a few roadblocks, but the governor was expecting him, so he was able to pass. Dr. Maland saw little evidence of the destruction until he got closer to his destination. As he neared the capitol building, he saw the destruction around the building and the huge crater in front.

As he looked east, he saw more evidence of a giant destructive force passing through. Buildings were now heaps of twisted metal, brick, and concrete. He reached a point where the road was no longer passable. The helicopter wreckage was still blocking the road.

The governor had sent one of her assistants to escort Dr. Maland the remaining few blocks to the building. With all the destruction, there was no way to drive the last few blocks. Thus, they crossed that distance on foot. A state trooper took care of parking his rental car.

This part of the city looked as if a major battle occurred there. The damaged military equipment and the rubble were everywhere. Dr. Maland felt sorry for the people of Florida and the businesses around the government buildings. The sorrow increased as the pair walked silently to the governor's office.

"I'm sorry governor," Dr. Maland said as he entered her office. "I thought only of intercepting Iapetus. I neglected to help the people here by giving them vital information."

"Dr. Maland I presume?" replied the governor.

"Yes, I'm sorry. I am Dr. John Maland. I am a professor of anthropology at Florida International University. It is nice to meet you."

"It is my pleasure to meet y'all," replied the governor while shaking Dr. Maland's hand. "Now don't y'all get bent out of shape over this."


"No 'buts'!" insisted the governor. "Everyone was doing what he or she thought was right. The people to blame are those that stole this Cyber-Iapetus."

"Uh, I don't know what to say..."

"Y'all don't have to say anything. I just wanted to thank you for your effort. The Iapetian command center is what did the trick. Even Dr. Roy hadn't thought of that aspect."

"You have spoken to Dr. Roy?"

"Certainly! He has been most helpful. Further, he has agreed to help pay for the repair of the damages. He regretted that someone used his company's resources to inflict such destruction. Further, they did it simply for extortion. He was greatly concerned that it would negatively impact his company's good name."

"I'm glad to hear that he wasn't involved..."

"The men gained access to a few AOENC technologies. They implanted a chip into a Ms. Linda Higher's head. This chip was designed to help people with brain damage. However, someone determined that it had other uses, like controlling people. She was powerless against them."

"Oh, that explains a few things."

"Do you have experience with this device?"

"I'll say! It was what caused me to go to Iapetus Island in the first place. I was powerless to stop Iapetus from leaving. When the chip was discovered and removed, I was completely focused upon intercepting him."

"Y'all weren't all there. See..."

"That is nice of you to say. Am I to understand that you have captured the perpetrators?"

"We believe so. We're working with Dr. Roy to verify this. We owe Iapetus for delaying the cybernetic weapon and giving us time to capture the thieves."

"Where is Iapetus?"

"He is still sleeping at the feet of Cyber-Iapetus."

"Do you need anything else from me?"

"The Iapetian storyteller is waiting for you there. Here are the driving directions. They may seem round-about, but some roads are impassible."

"Thanks governor."

"No -- thank you. Now get going before it gets dark."

Dr. Maland left the governor's office with a spring in his step. The sad thoughts that had plagued him since he was in Scotland were gone. He almost sprinted back to his rental car.

The drive to where Iapetus rested seemed quite short despite the distance. The storyteller was sitting on the great monster's foot. Florida State Troopers and National Guard members kept guard, but they were expecting him. He parked the car and walked towards the great beast.

John and the storyteller embraced. Another crisis had been averted. Miami was saved. The new protector was still functional and Iapetus was free to go to Loch Ness. However, for now, the great beast slept.

"What happens now?" John asked the storyteller.

"In the morning, Iapetus will wake and make his way to his spawning ground. The governor has stated that I can take our mechanical protector to our island."

"So that is it."

"Yes it is."

John asked one of the troopers to return his rental car because he was going to accompany the storyteller on part of the journey to Iapetus Island. He camped out with the storyteller that night next the Iapetus.

In the morning, the now refreshed Iapetus arose and stretched. He shook the chill off, and took a leisurely stroll to the Gulf of Mexico. The storyteller and Dr. Maland entered the cybernetic protector and followed him.

They walked into the water and when Iapetus was in deep enough in the gulf, he dove under the water. He swam a little way, and then breached the surface like a whale. After his little show, he went under the water and vanished.

Cyber-Iapetus piloted by the storyteller swam around the peninsula and emerged from the water in Fort Lauderdale. The mechanical protector walked to Dr. Maland's home and opened up. Dr. Maland emerged. He bid farewell to the storyteller and entered his house. He took a long hot shower and sunk in his easy chair. It had been quite a long time since he had been home. He had plenty of catching up to do.

The storyteller piloted the mechanical protector to its home on Iapetus Island. It had been quite an adventure for him as well. This adventure renewed his distrust of outsiders, and the Iapetian people began closing down their tourist trade. They decided to isolate themselves again. The world was not mature enough, and they had everything they needed.

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Land of the Damned

By Dwayne MacInnes

James briskly walked up the stone path where Peter was waiting. Peter appeared lost in thought as he stroked his long gray beard and did not notice the tanned faced man approach.

"Peter," James said softly. Peter jumped, as he was startled out of his reverie by James's voice. "I have returned from the horsemen. They are ready."

Peter sighed, "I suppose I shall tell him. Maybe I can ask him to postpone the attack. The time is not yet nigh."

James nodded, "You may try. But remember his ways do not always make sense to us."

With that, Peter walked along the cobbled path leading him to the stone walled garden. The wall was low and Peter could see his Lord sitting on a bench staring into a pool surrounded by colorful flowers. The wooden gate opened noiselessly as Peter entered; nonetheless, the sad brown eyes of his Lord looked up and watched Peter approach.

"Messiah, all is ready. But it is not..." Jesus held up his hand stopping Peter in mid sentence.

"I know, Peter, it is not yet our time," the Lord looked again into the still surface of the water.

"Yet these mortals believe they can hasten my return by making prophecies come true. They are mistaken. They do not control events but instead the Father does. They believe they have a place waiting for them in paradise. Yet in their own arrogance, they have forsaken all that I have taught.

"They claim to know my words, yet they do not heed them," Jesus sighed.

"Did you know Peter, I cried when those terrorists flew the planes into the towers and their Pentagon killing thousands of innocent people. Instead of stepping back and trying to bring peace to the world, they said I did it to punish those in their country who did not agree with their politics. Then they went on a rampage of war attacking countries saying it was their fault and they were trying to forestall a second attack."

Peter chuckled, "Lucifer sure was pleased to take the terrorists. Imagine their surprise to find that they were not going to a heaven full of virgins."

"Peter, I cried for them too. They too could have done more to bring peace amongst the world. However, the sword is always easier to wield than the olive branch.

"No, no Peter. These Americans need to have their arrogance revealed. They take pride in their faith. They claim to be the most faithful nation on Earth. They try to make their country a theocracy.

"How do they prove their faith?" the Lord asked rhetorically. Peter knew that he was no longer involved in a conversation. Jesus was now revealing the fiber of which the American cloth was weaved.

"They start wars in my name. My name! They forget I said, 'Love thy enemy'i and 'He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.'ii

"They say, 'God is with us' when they should be saying, 'We are with God'."

Jesus' voice raised as anger began to burn inside him, "Look at how they treat their poor." The Lord flung his arm out towards the pool. Images of people, some composed of individuals and others were of families, all lined up at shelters flashed upon the watery surface.

"They cut programs to help the needy and give tax breaks for the wealthy. They claim the poor are 'lazy' and should not have any assistance at all.iii They want social programs cut or abolished because it takes too much of their precious money. THEIR money! All things belong to the Lord God."

"They have forgotten I am the Living God. I still walk amongst them though they do not know it. I will show up as poor person asking for change only to be denied. Alternatively, I become a homeless person trying to gain admittance into a church only to be turned away at the doors.

"I have dwelled in their shelters, I have stood in their welfare lines, and I have attended their churches.

"I once became an AIDS victim and I approached a Televangelist. The man said my disease was a curse from God.

"I then went to a preacher in a conservative church. He turned me out and said the Father hated my kind.

"I finally went to a homosexual man and he took me to the hospital. He made sure I received the proper care and even paid for my treatments.

"The first two only saw a person who they reviled. They did not know nor did they care how I came about my disease. The gay man showed true compassion and took pity upon me. I ask you to whom will the Father show his love.

"Peter, they build mega churches in my name. Then like the Temple of old, they have shops inside to make money.iv It is quantity and not quality with them, in riches as well as souls.

"Their church leaders teach that I want them to have money. It is my blessing that they should have a new car every year. Their treasures on Earth are my reward for a pious life.v

"Pah! These hypocrites. These modern-day Pharisees! For that is what they have become. I do not care for golden statues made of me. They will learn that the seats in heaven are not built on the works of gold but by deeds.

"They are the wealthiest nation on the planet and yet they have the worse social welfare system. A person needs to have insurance to seek medical attention. The poor elect to stay home and die because they cannot afford to go to a hospital. If they do go, their families are burdened with the cost of their care.

"Peter look at what they are doing to the planet. To their mind, it is of more importance to maintain employment or financial gain at the expense of their environment. They do not look at the long term that when they have finally ravished the planet no amount of money is going to save any of them."

Jesus returned to the bench and looked long into the pool. Peter stood silently off to one side patiently waiting.

"They seem to have a firm grasp on the Old Testament and Revelations, but somehow missed the Gospels and the letters of Paul. They think they can bring about my return by 'fulfilling' the prophecies in Revelations. They are mistaken.vi

"I shall send them a sign. We will see how they will interpret it. If they expect The Rapture let me see how they will react when I begin with the smallest and most insignificant.

"Maybe, just maybe they will turn from their conceited and evil ways for they would all be condemned if I came today."

i Matthew 5:43-48

ii Mathew 26:51-52

iii Proverbs 21:13

iv Mark 11:15-17

v Matthew 6:19-21

vi Matthew 24:36-51

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The Lost Wizard

Jaime the Bard - First Tale

By Douglas E. Gogerty

I am Jaime, entertainer extraordinaire. I learned my craft under the great William Tremblesword. I have played in palaces and in theatres throughout the civilized world. You are probably wondering how I ended up at the bottom of this pit all alone. Let me start at the beginning.

I was born the youngest of 17 children. At least that is what the Monks of Saint Ambrose Monastery told me. Apparently, my parents left me in a basket upon their front door when I was just a few hours old. They had so many children that they could not manage one more, or so the story went. Several children at the orphanage had similar stories, so I have begun to look at my beginnings rather skeptically.

In any event, I learned to fight at the orphanage. I had no choice in the matter. It was either fight or die. However, it has been a useful skill, so in retrospect, I should not complain.

In fact, with the amount of fighting that went on between us boys, the monks decided to channel that fighting into swordplay. I cannot speak on the wisdom of that idea, but there it is. I learned to use a sword in defense of attacks by other orphans.

Further, because of the constant attacks upon my person at the orphanage, I also learned some healing techniques. Being a regular visitor to the healing monk, I could not help but pick up a few things. This is another useful skill I obtained by my rough life at the orphanage.

To reward us for our hard work with the swords, the monks invited the renowned William Tremblesword to put on the play Fred and Ethel the Pirates Daughter. It was a tragic tale full of swordplay.

Ethel was beautiful. She was a lovely young thing with blond hair and striking blue eyes. I was instantly smitten.

Since I was raised in an all male orphanage run by monks, I had never known that there were other creatures in the world other than boys. Ethel was different. She did not appear that she would attack me at first light. With her, I would not have to be constantly vigilant.

When the troupe packed up and left the orphanage, I hid in their wagon. I left the orphanage and joined the great William Tremblesword for the love of a woman.

Naturally, I discovered that Herman Snodgrass played Ethel. The first love of my life was a young dark haired boy in a wig, who gratefully gave up the women's roles to the younger orphan boy -- me.

That is how I ended up studying my craft. While I had hoped the constant barrage of attacks upon my person would subside, this did not happen as of yet. The youngest of the troupe was the whipping boy of the group. Thus, my self-defense skills were continually honed.

In addition, as the youngest, I had the greatest number of chores. Besides learning the necessities as a traveling performer, I also cooked, cleaned, washed, and learned the myriad of other skills to keep a troupe of men happy.

Eventually, as actors moved on, William recruited some young men to join us. For a while, only boys older than I were hired. Thus, my duties as the youngest continued. However, it was inevitable that I would move up in the ranks.

While performing shows, I saw my first real females. They appeared curvy and soft. They were unlike the rough and tumble males that I had spent my entire life with. I fell in love -- many times.

Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to get return affection when you are in a wig and dress. On the other hand, it is easy to get close to them. This is how I discovered much of the anatomical differences between men and women. Further exploration, however, was needed.

When I began playing male roles, I got more attention from the ladies. In fact, this is how I ended up in the town of Yansey.

We had just played Yansey, and we were continuing on our tour. We had a small performance at an inn on the road to Giland. It was just an advertisement to our main performance, and it got us a night's stay at the inn.

I found a person willing to warm my bed. She was a lovely thing, but she was about twice my age. Her name escapes me. Nevertheless, the chemistry between us was quite extraordinary. I did not get to sleep until it was quite late. I slept right through the morning bell.

William discovered me in bed with the woman. It seems that she originally agreed to spend the night with him. However, after a few minutes, she left him. Perhaps his excitement could not be contained. In any event, he kicked me out of the troupe for that.

The woman paid for another night with me, and gave me some money in addition when I went on my way. I walked back to Yansey to see if I could make a living there.

Map of the Town of Yansey

Yansey is a small town with the Grand Old Mountains on the north and the River of Yan on the south. The Yan is a fast moving and treacherous river that disappears into the Forest of No Return.

The forest gets its name from the fact that no one ever comes back from the forest unchanged. Many times, they do not come back at all, but when someone does come back, he or she is completely different. The person would have no memory of anything, and often appeared to be a completely different person.

It is because of the nature of this forest, that the town uses it as a punishment for crimes. The judge would send the convicted into the forest. Often, it may be months or even years later; the convict will emerge but is completely different. They could even go in as a woman and emerge as a man. Often, the convict would resume his or her life as if nothing happened.

I was performing daily, and making a fine living there. I would sing songs for meals. I had an arrangement with a widow for lodging. I was quite comfortable in my life. I only had an occasional fight with someone who refused to pay. It was far from the constant attacks, which I had been accustomed.

However, one day that all came to an end. Apparently, the Mayor's wife, daughter, goat, and dog all became pregnant all at once. Some sort of investigation went on, and they named me the prime suspect. I do not understand why, I would have never slept with the Mayor's wife!

After a sham of a witchcraft trial, a judge convicted me and sentenced me to enter the forest. At least I did not have to enter the forest with nothing. To make the punishment more severe, some convicts are sentenced to enter the forest naked. I was able to keep my clothes and my trusty sword. The widow gave me her husband's leather armor and a few days food ration as a farewell token.

I entered the forest bravely. There was a path of sorts from the previously convicted. I decided to follow it. I heard the rushing waters of the Yan to my left. I would use that as my navigational aid.

The path headed south towards the river, and at one spot, it opened up to a beautiful vista. The River of Yan plunged down into a great waterfall. The roar of the rushing water was immense, and I dare not stay long or go deaf.

The path continued along the river; however, it sloped down considerably. I heard a growl behind me, and a pair of glowing eyes appeared in the shadows. I contemplated battling the creature, but I decided to rush headlong down the hill instead.

At te bottom of the hill was a pit. With the speed I obtained as I rushed down the hill, I was unable to avoid falling into it. That is how I ended up here at the bottom of this dark pit -- all alone. I have not decided on what I am going to do next; however, for now I am going to stay put.

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The Scout

Chapter 1

By Dwayne MacInnes

Scott sped his dirty black muscle car down the battered pockmarked road that used to be Interstate 94. Dirt swirled in the air behind him leaving a telltale cloud resembling smoke from a burning vehicle. A destroyed and burning vehicle was a sight very familiar to Scott. Many of those vehicles were ones he destroyed; others were the victims of the roving packs of wasters.

The sun was high in the sky and its heat beat mercilessly down upon the parched wasteland. Over a decade ago, this all would have been part of the American Breadbasket. Now, it was the Great American Desert or as most people called it -- The Wastes. Scott took a sip from his water bottle as the car bumped down the rough highway. The warm water felt great washing away the dust and dirt coating the inside of his mouth, which was brought on by days of traveling through this sun baked and weathered land. The dead gray skeletal trees passed by in a vast sea of hard packed earth, most of the loose topsoil had blown away long ago.

1970 Dodge Charger

A quick scan of the monitor mounted in the dash told Scott that he had company joining him from the rear. Boiler plating now replaced the rear and side windows of the 1970 Dodge Charger. A modest slit in both the driver and passenger's side steel plated windows allowed Scott to scan his mirrors. The windshield was reinforced bulletproof glass. Other modifications included the steel armor that encased the former muscle car, bulletproof tires, a beefed up suspension, an enclosed environmentally controlled cab, and a larger more powerful turbocharged engine to pull the heavier car. Two huge fifty-gallon self-sealing gas tanks took up the rear seat. There were no fears of gas shortages anymore. Not since the Big Bang that is. Nestled between the tanks were Scott's provisions and his .30-06 hunting rifle.

The camera mounted in the trunk revealed a gang of bikers closing in on Scott's Charger. Chances are that this meant trouble, but there was always the chance that these were Light Scouts escorting a convoy. Scott readied the two .30 caliber machineguns mounted inside the front fenders. The two .50s mounted outside the fenders Scott kept in reserve. He did not like to waste the ammo if he could avoid it. Being a Scout paid well, but .50 ammo still tended to be pricey.

Scott had been driving close to 100 miles per hour before he noticed the bikers. His car could easily do 120 or even 130 if he pushed it. Even with the problems of maneuvering a heavy car like this at high speeds, it would not be a problem on the old straight North Dakota highway as it bisected the horizon, diminishing in the distance. However, Scott did not want to run, he gradually slowed the Charger down. The roar of the engine relaxed to a purr as the vehicle reached 80. The bikers rapidly closed in.

Ding! Ding! Bullets from the light rifles (probably .30-06 hunting rifles) on the bikes told Scott that these were not friends. The small caliber rifle fire could not penetrate the Charger's armor; nonetheless, Scott did not like the idea of someone shooting at him. He waited until the bikers were close to his rear before he slammed on the brakes.

The bikers were caught by surprised. They evidently had never dealt with a Scout before. Two of the cyclists slammed into the trunk crushed between their bikes and the rear armor. Four others shot around the Charger and regrouped in front of it. Scott smiled behind his helmet; these wasters were obviously new to the game. He accelerated and depressed the finger trigger mounted behind the steering wheel. The .30 guns opened up tearing one biker to shreds before the Charger pounced upon the motorcycle's wreckage like a tiger on a deer. There was a slight bump inside the cab as Scott drove over the waster and his bike.

Two bikers peeled off in opposite directions and headed for the open land, the third tried to outrun the Charger on the road. The lighter motorcycle was pretty much stock from its original construction. Whatever modifications done to it was the mounting of a rifle to the front and maybe some engine work. Therefore, it took off like a jackrabbit before a hound.

The bike may be faster and more maneuverable than the modified Charger. However, there is one thing it was not. Scott depressed the trigger again. The .30 guns spat fire and steel at the fleeing waster. Within seconds, driver and cycle were just another smoking pile of broken wreckage on the highway.

These wasters were inexperienced; then again, no one since the Big Bang had decided to scout out the northern roads before. The wasters were more than likely used to preying on helpless nomads or the occasional lightly guarded convoy trying a new and unsecured route. However, once this road was open to trade the Twin Cities could join the rest of the recuperating United States.

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The Lost Wizard

Sorcerer Cyrus - First Tale

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Map of the City of Miz

Because of circumstances beyond my control, I came to be living in Miz. Miz is a small hamlet built upon the Miz River. This turbulent river emerges from the Forest of No Return, whose name is built up upon superstition. However, like many old forests, it hides its mysteries quite well.

The Misty Mountains to the north are the real threat. The locals seem to ignore the rumbling and the sounds emanating from the mountains and worry much more about the forest. Such is the nature of some towns.

Nevertheless, the life of a sorcerer is a difficult one. I have lived in many locations in my lifetime. Because of various incidents with the superstitious, I have been blamed me for a great number of crimes. With each conviction -- no matter how deserved or undeserved -- comes exile. Thus, I have traveled extensively.

I showed an early ability to tap into the aura of all things. Night was a particularly terrifying time for my parents. It was said that household items would fly about the room as I slept. Rumors began to spread about the 'special boy' in the area.

While all was well in my hometown, I was safe. However, when a local farmer's crop failed, a mob formed. My parents died saving my life from this mob by putting me up with relatives.

These relatives felt very put out by my presence. I believe they expected my parents to come for me at some future date. Thus, they treated me terribly. However, eventually, I went off to boarding school. Here I learned to harness my powers. I made several friends, and had many school time adventures.

Upon graduation, I bid my adoptive family and those friends good bye. I was determined to make my own way. I had quite a reputation leaving school, so I thought I would have an easy life.

Needless to say, this was not the case. Sorcerers like myself have limited powers. While we can manipulate our environment and elements therein, we do not control every aspect. There is simply too much to control.

For instance, in my travels, I came upon a town suffering from a terrible drought. The surrounding farmland was dying under the hot sun. They invited me in to bring the rain. I cannot conjure rain out of the ether; it must come from somewhere.

It was difficult and exhausting to bring the water, but I succeeded. It rained for several days and the crops were saved.

The town treated me like a hero. There was a large celebration in my honor. They offered me great riches, wenches, and livestock for my services. They gave me a place to live and offer my services, and the town paid for my every want.

For a brief time, it was a great place to live. However, a powerful neighboring town exhausted their wells. There fresh water had run out which caused them great strife. They noticed the bounty that was occurring at this town and invaded. I received the brunt of the blame, and the townspeople ran me out of town.

I could affect the water supply, but I could not affect the attitudes of the neighboring village. Was it my fault that they invaded? I only brought the rain. Like so many times since, when trouble comes and I cannot stop it, they force me into exile. When my services are no longer wanted, I have to move on. These are some of the harsh lessons that we sorcerers learn.

Because a sorcerer's life is a difficult one, I was constantly on the move. I had a brief stint with a traveling theater. Before the main show, there were numerous 'warm-up' acts. I conjured for the masses. It was a nice job even though it was unfulfilling.

The master of the traveling acting troop eventually learned that I was an actual sorcerer. Thus, he asked me to give him a potion that would make him good with the wenches. I told him that it was out of my area of expertise. However, he was most insistent.

In my travels before joining the troop, I had met some people in the mages' guilds. Guild members train, study and keep secrets. They are typical book learners without street smarts. I got some tips about some herbs from some of these individuals.

I brewed a concoction that would make him irresistible to anyone smelling the cologne. I warned him against drinking it. It was to be used topically and not internally. Apparently, if you ingest this love potion, you will be rather -- premature -- in your -- interactions.

Naturally, he ignored the warning. With his breath, he could then easily attract women to his bed, but his staying power was limited. He did not blame his clumsiness on his condition, but he blamed me. Thus, he kicked me out of the troop. He did not even ask how to counteract the spell.

Nevertheless, he has become quite famous. I feel that I have a bit to do with his current circumstance. However, he may disagree.

In any event, I was visiting a guild member named Brunis in some town. Over the years, I have supplemented my natural sorcerer ability with some wizardry. While Brunis was a bit of a pill, he accepted me as I was, and I him.

While visiting him, he had a falling out with the captain of the city guard, or so I was told. A guard member found the two dead with the captain's sword in Brunis's chest. Brunis managed to cook the captain with a spell before he died, or so the story goes. I did not wait to find out.

In short order, I left Brunis's town and I ended up in Miz, which was in crisis. Their long lost princess had finally emerged from the Forest of No Return. She had no knowledge of entering the forest. I did not probe to get more of the story, so I do not know why she entered the forest either. Nevertheless, she had emerged and the town threw a great feast in her honor.

After days of feasting, she vanished. After hearing the story, I tried to duck out of town, but I did not quite make it. I was tasked with entering the forest and retrieving her. I tried to tell them there was more evidence that she left by the main road, but they would not listen to me. I tried to argue with them, but they had threatened to strip me of my possessions and force me in. Thus, I went in voluntarily as it were.

They gave me several weeks of supplies in a bag and a nice walking staff. It was not magical, but I guess they felt it was wrong to have some representative, magic-user without a staff and robe. Before I entered, I did make it a magic staff to ward off whatever I might encounter in the forest.

For a spooky forest, there was a moderately established trail into the interior. The river rushed on the right, and the trail wound lazily about. Several beasts watched my movements, but did not encroach.

After I walked for a while, I heard the rush of a waterfall ahead, and it distracted me enough to forget to watch my footing. Soon, I found myself falling into a dark pit. At the bottom was a strange man sitting in the dark. I pulled some light in and looked around. The two of us were in the middle of what looked like a long hallway dug out of the rock. With our provisions, we had enough to last for a few weeks. Thus, we made our camp just out of the way of things falling into the pit.

We were hoping that someone would come along, and not fall into the pit. Whoever it was should be able to pull us out, and we could go on our way. I put a warning spell upon some trees above, and I put a message for help on a few other trees. Now, we could only wait.

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The Scout

Chapter 2

By Dwayne MacInnes

Two months before, the U.S. was surprised to hear a message from St Paul, Minnesota. The atmospherics were just right for the message to make its way west. After the Big Bang, the upper atmosphere had dramatically changed. Super windstorms ripped through the air. The raging winds tore planes that flew too high to shreds. Rock storms occurred after the winds ripped stones and boulders off mountain peaks and tossed them to the earth below.

The message was short but it indicated that St Paul was alive and was looking for fellow survivors. The U.S. government desperately needed a secure spot in the Midwest to secure a northern trade route to the eastern seaboard. Scott's job was to secure that route.

Abandoned and wrecked vehicles choked Interstate 94 just before Scott reached Minneapolis. The short radio conversation the new government had with St Paul warned of the various gangs and warlords who now ruled the city west of the Mississippi. Scott had no choice but to turn off and make his way through the unfriendly territory. Years of being a scout trained Scott to be extra cautious in cities. Wasters on the open highway were a lot easier to deal with than combating hostiles in a labyrinthine city. Old maps were of little use as the gangs would have changed the landscape significantly to lure the unsuspecting into a trap.

Scott was not new to this, but he still had very little knowledge of the current layout of Minneapolis. What roads were unblocked? Which one led to St Paul? The map on his monitor was at least twelve years out of date.

The black ‘70 Dodge Charger slowly wound its way through the wreckage and debris of Minneapolis in the morning twilight. Although, the missiles had overlooked it, the plague had done some of its own work here. That fateful day over twelve years ago released the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse upon the Earth. No country no matter how remote was unscathed. If the nukes did not get you, the biological and chemical weapons did

The warring gangs had left Minneapolis a burned-out and shattered city. The ravaged IDS building resembled a mangled and blackened skeletal hand clawing its way up towards the heavens like a drowning person desperately reaching for help. It was as good a representation of the dead city as any monument could ever be.

Scott was surprised that he had made his way onto University Avenue inside Dinky Town without encountering any of the gangs reputed to dwell inside this debris-filled metropolis. The trek here had taken the scout past the destroyed buildings of the University of Minnesota and he spied the burned out husk of the Metrodome in the distance.

Suddenly fire spread across the windshield. Someone had tossed a Molotov cocktail onto the hood of the Charger. Scott instinctively hit the switch for the camera mounted under the hood. The black and white image on the monitor was not that easy to navigate with, but it was a lot better than trying to see through flames.

Nonetheless, Scott put his foot down on the accelerator. The old car rapidly picked up speed. The flames flew backwards over the windshield with its flammable liquid trailing behind. Next, a heavy foam shot onto the bulletproof glass as Scott flipped another switch, dousing the flames. The wipers made easy work cleaning the rest of the mess off the windshield.

A flip of yet another switch returned the view from the trunk-mounted camera onto the monitor. A small red Toyota truck with a half-dozen gang members was trying to catch up with the Charger. Scott smiled, now the cat was out of the bag. Bullets fired from small personal arms dinged off the rear armor inflicting no more damage than some scratched paint.

Scott scanned the road ahead looking for anything that might help him turn the tables on his pursuers. Then he spied the old pitted parking lot outside a burned out Baker's Square. Scott hopped the Charger over the sidewalk and onto the lot, he drove the car past the burned out restaurant and back onto a side road. Without losing speed, Scott pulled the car back onto University, but this time he was heading back towards Minneapolis and the beat-up red Toyota truck.

Red Toyota Pickup

The driver of the truck was clearly surprised to see the Charger now coming towards him. His fellow gang members opened up with everything they had as the muscle car approached them in a high-speed version of "Chicken".

Scott was not interested in playing games with these guys. He did not hesitate to open up with his valuable .50 machine guns. The solid rounds punched through the red truck like a sharp pencil puncturing a sheet of paper. The truck swaggered and black smoke poured out from under the hood. Many of the gang members dropped down inside the truck bed to escape the putrid and oily smoke.

Scott swerved his car onto the sidewalk on his right as he shot past the speeding and nearly out of control truck. As the red vehicle sped past, Scott wrenched the steering wheel hard to his left as he hit the breaks. The Charger's tires squealed in protest as he swung the car behind the truck.

The surprised gang members in the truck bed started to pound on the rear window of the Toyota's cab. The driver, who had remarkably survived the onslaught of .50 bullets, took a quick glance back to see Scott hot on his tail. He tried to make the truck accelerate, but he engine was all but dead. Only more black smoke belched out from under the hood. He then tried to swerve the truck out of way of the Charger's guns.

More deadly projectiles spat out of the .50 guns as Scott depressed the thumb button on his steering wheel. Only a short burst was need to chew up the truck. The speeding wreckage soon lost all control and flew off the road and into a building on its right. Flames shot into the sky as the truck impacted into the side of the old brick building.

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Dwayne's Biography

By Dwayne MacInnes

Dwayne currently lives in Kalispell, Montana (USA) with his wife (Crystal) and cat (Elijah). When he is not defending the small metropolis from evil he spends his free time reading, writing, gardening and a little fencing (with swords not stolen goods).

Dwayne MacInnes


The Lost Wizard

Ranger Rex - First Tale

By Douglas E. Gogerty

This sucks! I am a ranger. I want to be wandering the forest and helping whomever I should happen to meet. I do not want to be sitting at the bottom of this hole with an amorous bard and the "Wizard of Miz." Oh, excuse me -- sorcerer. Alas, it is the story of my life.

I never really knew my father. My mother did not have many kind things to say about him. I imagined that he was a ranger. Their paths crossed and they fell in love. However, him being a ranger, he had to move along. Thus, he upset my mother by breaking her heart.

Nevertheless, the two of us were happy. I remember the game we used to play. Even when I was quite young, she would take me out into a forest and leave me. I would fend for myself for a few days, but I would always make it home to my mother's surprise and delight.

When I was a man grown, perhaps twelve years old, she told me that it was time I left home and made my own way. From our game, I knew the ways of the forest, but I would need martial skills if I were to become a true ranger. Therefore, I went out looking for someone to teach me the way of the sword and bow.

As I wandered from town to town, I would enquire about teachers of the martial arts. Many would not teach me because I could not grow a beard, and others wanted gold to pay for these services. However, some were generous with their attention and time.

I obtained my sword from one such teacher. He offered me the sword named Remalf if I spent the night with him. How could I refuse such an offer? He must have wanted to get some exercise because all he did was chase me around his estate all night long. However, in the morning, Remalf was mine.

With a sword in my hand, I would practice against rats and the like. However, killing rats can get rather tedious. I had spent years wandering trying to get someone to teach me how to properly use a sword and use a bow.

I was thinking of moving to the northlands and performing espionage for the Eskimo peoples there. Such was the state of my desperation when I wandered into Armizen.

Armizen is a small town with the wide and rough river of the same name to the north. The impassible mountains to the south also bare the name of Armizen. They were quite clever in their naming of things, like the Forest of No Return that sat on the eastern edge of the town.

Map of the City of Armizen

When I wandered into town, an ancient dragon had emerged from the mountains and had the townsfolk up in arms. They spotted Remalf and welcomed me kindly as their only hope in defeating the retched worm.

They had attempted to appease the beast with a virgin sacrifice, but the offer was refused. The mighty beast also refused the offer of gold and jewels. Everything the town offered met with the same rejection.

Thus, the town offered a huge reward for the slaying of the beast. They had yet to have any takers when I came into town. In addition to the offered riches, I also demanded training in other martial skills before I would take on the ancient monster. When the town and I had agreed to the terms, they showed me the path to the dragon's lair.

The local smith measured me for armor, and he designed a shield to help protect against the fire-breathing beast. To give him time to finish construction, the town threw a celebration in my honor.

On the third day, I put on the armor, grabbed the shield, and set off to face the dragon. I walked for most of the day until I spotted the ancient beast sleeping in an enormous cave. Instead of facing him at that point, I set up camp to prepare myself for the encounter.

At dawn, I approached the lair of the dragon. Its scaly skin of orange, green, and black had scratches and scars from its many encounters during its long life upon the earth. It was still in the position that it was when I first encountered it. It was upon the ground in front of the cave and not on piles of riches like most dragons.

As I approached, I could smell the sulfur of its fiery breath as it gave a labored exhale. It must have noticed my scent as it awoke with a start. I bravely stood there as it uncurled itself and stood up. It stood on its hind legs and spread its mighty wings. The enormous creature's shadow engulfed me as it stretched itself out, but I still stood my ground.

It took in a large amount of air and exhaled a huge pillar of flame upwards. It then dropped its front feet on the ground with a huge ground-shaking thud. It spied me and it appeared to have a sly smile upon its face.

The skin underneath the jaw of the dragon was gray and gave the appearance of a beard. Despite the apparent smile, its yellow eyes were bloodshot and appeared to be full of sorrow. It folded its wings and awaited my approach.

I braced myself behind the shield for a blast of fire that never came. Thus, I approached slowly and cautiously. With every twitch I was braced, yet no blast of fire. The smell of sulfur grew as I neared the beast and I could feel the heat of its breath.

Suddenly, its tale whipped around me and brought me in close. It all happened so fast, that I do not remember thrusting Remalf into the retched monster's heart. However, that is indeed what happened and the ancient dragon fell in a heap. After a few twitches of agony and some moments of labored breathing, the dragon expired.

I searched the cave, but found nothing. The head of the enormous beast would have been too heavy to carry, so I cut out a tooth and removed a few scales to prove the beast's demise before heading back.

The riches that the town promised were to come from the dragon's lair, so they could not pay. However, I did receive extensive training there. I spent many years training, but I wished to move on, but they would not allow it. I had become the town's protector and they would not allow me to be the ranger that I had always wanted to be.

They blocked my way through the main road, and my only avenue of escape was through the Forest of No Return. Thus, slightly before dawn, I grabbed some provisions and entered the forest to make my escape. I followed a surprisingly obvious path along the river Armizen. I could hear the strong rushing water to my left.

Eventually, two options presented themselves. I could attempt to climb a steep cliff to the top of a large waterfall, or I could cross a makeshift bridge to get to the north side of the river. I spotted some runes on some trees to the north. Thus, I followed that path.

I was attempting to get close enough to the messages to read them when I found myself falling into a pit. I used some of the skills I obtained in Armizen to land softly and ready for combat. That is when I saw the wizard and bard conversing. They were just sitting there.

They greeted me and offered to share their fire. After some discussion of which they were not receptive, I decided to pick a direction and see what adventures hid themselves. That is when another individual joined us. Thus, I decided to wait until morning to move along.

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The Scout

Chapter 3

By Dwayne MacInnes

The black 1970 Charger slowed as it approached the checkpoint on University Avenue leading into Minnesota's old capital. The barricade's construction composed of an old MTCO bus some cement highway medians and two menacing M-2 Browning machineguns each mounted on top of a military humvee.

The soldiers looked in half disbelief to see the modified black muscle car approach. One soldier wearing sergeant stripes on his arm held his hand up ordering Scott to halt. Scott complied and slowly climbed out, took off his helmet, and tossed it onto the driver's seat. His short brown hair was greasy from days of living in his car. Gray dust covered his black leather jacket and pants. A steel star badge with the words U.S. Scout was pinned to his left side of his chest. On his right hip rested a holstered .357 Magnum revolver

"You the scout sent from out west?" asked the sergeant with incredulity.

"That'd be me," Scott smiled. He remembered getting a similar reaction about two years ago when he reached St Louis, Missouri and five years ago when he entered Austin, Texas.

"The governor and his deputies will be waiting to see you at the capitol. Just follow University Avenue you can't miss it."

"Thanks," Scott smiled as he reentered his car. One of the soldiers drove the bus back to allow Scott to pass. The other three soldiers watched in surprise as the scout passed them.

It was before noon when Scott pulled his Charger up to the Capital building. It took him a couple of minutes to drive around the curved road that led around the structure. When he drove up to the front, Scott parked his car in front of a battered "No Parking" sign. Scott chuckled to himself as a small delegation approached the Charger.

The scout climbed out of the car and waited for the small group to approach. He was happy to breathe fresh air again. However, technically the air in his car's cab was more pure than what he could breathe outdoors. There were still traces of radiation and other pollutants floating around.

"Mr. Malice," a smiling older thin man approached with his hand extended. "We are very glad to see you."

Scott accepted the man's grip and pumped his hand in a firm handshake. "Governor Trimble I presume," Scott replied.

"Yes, and these are my chief advisors," Trimble motioned to the men behind him. "The man in the uniform is Security Chief, Lieutenant Reynolds," the man in military battle dress uniform or BDU nodded. "This is my secretary Mr. Malcolm," Trimble pointed to a young man wearing a suit similar to Trimble's suit. "And finally, my economic advisor, Mr. Mitchell," the governor introduced the short round man that appeared a few years older than Scott did.

"Is Malice your real name?" Reynolds asked after the introduction.

"Does it matter?" Scott replied.

"I suppose it doesn't," Reynolds chuckled to himself.

"Anyway, it is the name that was on my birth certificate before it was consumed in a mushroom cloud that destroyed Seattle," Scott said grimly.

The Governor was escorting the small group back towards the capitol building. Two men wearing army fatigues and shouldering M-16s guarded the entrance. "They got Seattle too," Mitchell said sadly.

"Yep, most of the big cities were nuked. The smaller ones were hit with the plague bombs or chemical weapons and those that escaped all of the above felt the effects of radiation and/or the flu. No one got away unscathed," Scott replied.

"We've been mostly in the dark this last decade," Reynolds offered. "We are isolated from the rest of the United States stuck here in the middle of the Wastes. Hell, the only reason we are still here is because we can get some farming done down by the Mississippi and in the surrounding areas close to the cities."

"How about Washington, D.C?" Malcolm asked.

"It got the trifecta, nuclear, biological and chemical. Portland, Oregon is now the Capitol of the United States. It is the largest city still intact to boot."

"Son of a gun, Oregon," Mitchell pronounced the last syllable of the state's name as ‘gone' instead of the correct ‘gen' with a hard ‘g'. Scott would have thought the economic advisor was mocking him except for the astonishment in Mitchell's voice. Scott let it pass, more than likely it was just a local dialect.

"How'd it start?" Reynolds asked grimly.

"Beats me," Scott shrugged his shoulders. "I was a pizza delivery boy trying to make my way through the Vo-Tech when it all came down."

Scott remembered the day. He was in Missoula, Montana driving a delivery for Domino's Pizza when the emergency air raid sirens started to blare around town. Scott did not even know Missoula had such sirens until that moment. The news on his radio reported that a nuclear explosion occurred in Great Falls. The last piece of news was that Spokane went up in a nuclear fireball. Then that was it. All communication across the country broke down.

Fires burning around the world, from both forests and cities, threw enough debris into the air to block the sun out for months. People came down with a mysterious flu that swept through the cities leaving more dead than alive. Those poor pathetic few who survived the Big Bang now had to endure the cold of a nuclear winter and starvation.

It was a good two years before the first scouts reached Missoula. Portland, Oregon was the new seat of the reemerging U.S. of A. Through the efforts of the scouts, they secured routes all along the western coast, through the southwest and on to the eastern seaboard. The ties reuniting the country were tenuous.

Wasters played havoc through the interior of the nation. They would raid and destroy precious convoys of fuel, food, and medical supplies. Many outfits now traveled in convoys escorted by Light Scouts and heavier defensive vehicles.

Scott had joined up with the U.S. Scouts over five years ago. It is one of the best paying jobs out there. Unfortunately, the life expectancy of a scout was a little over one year; the only job that could arguably be worse was being a salvager, they tended to last only a few months. Scott fit naturally into the role. He personally modified the Charger he now drove, he could automatically calculate his gas mileage in his head, handled his guns as if he was born with them in his hands, and he was a loner by nature.

To many, he was a legend and a hero. Wasters had bounties out for him. Many Scouts tried to copy Scott and few succeeded. He was the best there was and that was the reason why the president personally chose him to open up the route to the Twin Cities.

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Doug's Biography

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Doug currently lives in the bustling metropolis of Saint Paul, Minnesota (USA) with his trusty lizard side-kick Hyper Hank. When he is not making the Minnesota capitol city beg for mercy, he partakes in any manner of things including woodworking, writing, and outdoor fun.

Douglas E. Gogerty

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The Lost Wizard

Dwanye The Rogue - First Tale

By Douglas E. Gogerty

I am Dwanye -- King of the North. At least, that is what I told the unfortunate others that found themselves at the bottom of this pit. Otherwise, my tale is not nearly as exciting as the one about the suicidal dragon. I was not exiled into the Forest of No Return because of some deed. In fact, I entered upon my own volition.

A person of my talents does not tend to stay in one place long. I probably started out like so many others in "The Guild." My parents abandoned me when I was a young child, and I found myself in a gang of street urchins. I believe that is where many roguish persons of my persuasion obtain their skills.

My appetites often lead me into trouble -- not only with the town, but also with "The Guild." Thus, I am regularly on the move just ahead of many law enforcement individuals. That is how I ended up in Kniley.

Map of the City of Kniley

Kniley is a quaint little town nestled in between a rough water river they call The Rough Water River and a range of impassible mountains they call The Impassible Mountains. As you enter the town, on the far west end is The Forest of No Return. They were not creative in their naming of things, but it was a nice town.

When my idol The Black Arrow, the Grand Champion of the Imperial arena, retired, I went my separate ways from the towns where the fights were staged. I heard the Black Arrow went north to Giland, but I followed my esthetic, which had never failed me before, and went south.

After several weeks in Kniley, the townspeople began noticing items disappearing from their possession. I cannot imagine how they would conclude that it was me. In any event, they set a trap to catch the theif. They held a festival and left a building unguarded. Within the walls of this building were supposedly great riches. They went out of their way informing me of the great wealth in this unguarded structure.

This warehouse, for lack of a better term, was located on the far side of town next to The Forest of No Return. It had a single entrance. Thus, they did not believe that once any thief -- er -- wealth adjuster -- entered, he or she would be able to escape.

I reveled with the rest at the festival and eventually followed their plan. I did not want to disappoint them. At the proper time, I snuck away from the crowd and entered the building. I was promised riches, but apparently, the wealthy town members were uncertain of the infallibility of the plan.

Apparently, they discovered one of my stashes, as that stuff was included in the irresistible bounty. However, when they were baiting the trap, they did not notice the extra supplies that were included. These were going to aid in my escape, and help me survive several days in the woods.

I grabbed as much wealth as I could put in my pack. I left the faux jewels and fake coins. With my provisions, I pulled up the loose floorboards that I had arranged the day before. I jumped down and replaced the boards above my head. I squeezed out of a gap in the foundation, and I was out the back of the storehouse as the entire town waited at the front door.

Quietly, I made my way to the forest. However, someone spotted me before I entered and I had to run. Not waiting to see if they were following, I kept running. After I entered the forest, I followed a minor trail. I did not pay too much attention to things as I crossed the river. In my hurry, I fell into this pit where I found three others.

With the riches I had purloined, I figured they may believe me when I said I was king of the north. In any event, it could not hurt. They were discussing their plan of action. The sorcerer and the bard wanted to sit and wait for help. The ranger wanted to move on and -- range. I was of no real opinion on the matter even after I heard each of their stories.

The sorcerer treated me like some scruffy-looking nurf herder as he tried to convince me to save some princess. The ranger complained endlessly about how he wanted to get out of this tunnel and out into the open air. I was leaning towards his point of view, just to get him to shut up. Nevertheless, we were going to rest a while before moving on.

We had rested for quite a while when a large group of dwarven soldiers emerged in perfect order from the south tunnel. They chanted to keep time as they marched north. However, they totally ignored our presence and marched on by our location. They disappeared into the darkness of the north tunnel, but we were still able to hear the slap of their boots upon the floor of the tunnel as they continued on their way.

We quickly decided amongst the group to gather our things and follow them. It was dark, and we dare not light the way or attract attention. However, the sounds of the marching soldiers were more than enough guide as we followed them north.

Suddenly the marching ended and there was a brief silence. The tunnel then erupted in loud taunts. We found the west wall and made our way towards the shouts to the north more carefully. After several taunts and much boastful laughter, the sound of metal on metal exploded.

The din of battle soon was a deafening roar. The shouts of the dwarves and their foes, the clang of axe on shield, the sound of the injured, the commands of leaders rang down upon us. It must have been a great sight watching the two forces engage, but we were still in the dark and unable to view the battle.

As the battle wound down, we found ourselves in a large expansive room. The walls glowed from some unknown source, and we could see that it was two dwarven armies battling. The group from the north had successfully defended their domain as some of the southern dwarves rushed by us in retreat.

The last of the southern dwarven soldiers retreated and a shout of victory from the northern group rang through the tunnel. The shadows hid me well, but the bard and sorcerer were glowing beacons and a couple of guards spotted our party. A fight was briefly discussed, but defeated.

We went peacefully with the guards through their gates and into their domain. Past the gates was an immense dwarven city carved into the rock. There were dwellings and shops and all matter of city structures carved out of solid rock. With my keen eyes, I could still see a few rich veins of gold. This was a wealthy underground town.

The obvious wealth was too much for me to continue with the group peacefully. I heard the wealth call and I was unable to resist. I made a run for it. I do not know where I would go; I just had to go. There was no way those little fat dwarven legs could keep up with me. They barely tried to catch me.

I ran down this road and that. I wound my way around this way and went that. I totally lost them. I found a secured dwelling below a large vein of gold. I briefly scanned the area before I picked the lock. With another scan, I opened the door and entered. Once inside, I looked around a bit, I felt a sharp pain in the back of my head, and everything went black.

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Recent Comments

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

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