August 2007 Archives

The Scout

Chapter 4

By Dwayne MacInnes

The popular joke that passed around from city to city was, "What's the best way to stop Global Warming? Answer: A nuclear winter." It seemed that no matter the number of people who had died, or the tragedies witnessed by everyone. Not even the threat of starvation, wasters, or muties could quash man's desire to crack jokes about his predicament. Scott figured as long as people could still joke and laugh they had a fighting chance for survival.

The governor and his advisors sat around a large table in a conference room. Scott Malice was standing in front of the group. He was not much of a public speaker, but he tended to get the job done in his own frank and honest way.

"Gentlemen, St Paul is of utmost importance to the new United States of America. Other than St Louis, no other Midwestern city survived the Big Bang. We desperately need a northern trade route to the east, and St Paul is the key." Scott looked around the room. Until now the men in the room only thought that they needed the U.S. not that the U.S. needed them.

"You have several factors here that make you one of the most important cities not only in the Midwest, but also in the new United States. Obviously, as I said you are one of two surviving cities in the region that will help tie the two coasts of the country together. However, of great importance is the Ford assembling plant you have. We are hoping that the plant and the hydroelectric dam that operate it are still operational." Scott paused to look over at Mr. Mitchell. The plump man nodded his head in an affirmative gesture.

"Good, you also have some factories in the surrounding area that manufactured mid-caliber ammo that we also hope is operational."

"Yes, they are Mr. Malice. In fact, they are being operated now in order to keep our defense forces armed," Mitchell offered.

Scott resumed, "That is excellent. Another major point is the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant and the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant. I'm assuming that because you still have power one or both of them are still functioning."

"Yes sir, we have military outposts manning them. The warlords would love to get their hands on them," Lt. Reynolds replied. "Prairie is about fifty miles southeast of us so we have the logistical advantage over Minneapolis. However, they still occasionally make raids.

"Unfortunately, the Monticello plant is 40 miles northwest of the Twin Cities so the warlords have the advantage there. Our hold there is tenuous; fortunately the warlords tend to fight more amongst themselves than against us."

"Mr. Reynolds," began the scout "neither of those plants can fall into hostile hands. We'll be able to help you clean up Minneapolis as the trade routes become more secure. However, we cannot allow hostiles to control the power."

"Mr. Malice, I appreciate your admiration of our city," replied Mr. Reynolds sincerely. "However, what you ask cannot happen. We do not have the combat vehicles we need to support both outposts and to secure our borders from the wasters and the warlords."

Scott smiled, "Not yet, but you have the means. You've seen my car. Gentlemen, you have to use your imagination. I know you have several fine engineers in the city let them loose, let them modify some of those cars sitting alongside the road into something formidable.

"Modify that Ford plant so that it can fit armor and weapons onto those vehicles. Make those guns and ammo, and then unleash them onto your opponents."

Governor Trimble jumped up from the table. A laugh broke out from his mouth, "By God, you are right. It won't be easy, but for the first time since the Big Bang, I feel that we can start moving forward."

After the meeting, Scott found a nice room in a local hotel to sleep in. How long was it since he slept in a bed? Scott could not remember. There was even hot water another rare commodity, if only they had some soap. Well, you couldn't have everything, Scott reminded himself.

Although, St Paul did not have any of the new currency consisting of gold Sacagawea dollars or silver Eagle half dollars to give Scott for his services they did offer him food and reloads for his guns and gas for his car. He would soon be heading back toward the west to announce his findings to help secure the new trade route. Scott told the governor that in a few weeks another scout should be heading in from the east to help secure the route that way.

It was only a week after his arrival to St Paul that Scott found himself heading back west. Warlords and wasters would be more alert now. The return trip was always the hardest.

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The Lost Wizard

Jaime the Bard - Second Tale

By Douglas E. Gogerty

At first, I was alone at the bottom of a dark pit. However, three others soon joined me, no women though. At first, I was content to wait for help at the bottom. In fact, the sorcerer put out signs warning of the pit. He also put out glowing signals asking for help. However, when two more people ended up in our predicament, it appeared that competent people were in short supply wandering this forest. If we waited much longer, there would be fifty people sitting at the bottom of this pit.

Luckily, one morning a group of soldiers marched by our camp. The four of us followed them, and missed seeing a grisly battle. We asked the guards to take us to their leader, and they complied.

However, Dwanye, the newest member of our group, must have had too much elvish parsley. The "king" twisted and gyrated his hips to the pleasure of the onlookers. He shouted something like "You ain't nuttin' but a hound dog!" which got a huge reaction. With his bedding in one hand, he grabbed a stone with the other. So, with a rock and a roll, he made his get away. Eventually, some guards told us that he left the building.

The remaining guards took the rest of us into the hall of the mountain king. Dwanye later joined us in an unconscious state. They claimed we were spies for the southern kingdom. Did we look like dwarves to them? I realize that Ranger Rex was a little small and dopey looking, but even he would not be confused for a dwarf. The peach fuzz that he calls a beard is a dead giveaway.

Cyrus spoke for the group, but he could not explain why a member of our group ran away. Furthermore, he was at a loss to explain why this member broke into the house of a former citizen who now lived in the southern city. Those actions to this kingdom seemed very suspicious. However, Dwanye in his state also could not explain his actions.

All except "the king of the north" explained their situations to the King of the North. While he was skeptical of our stories, he would consider what to do with us. A few guards escorted us into a small room outside the throne room. We were not there long. I still had my pants on when we reentered the presence of the Dwarven King.

By a unanimous vote of the king and his advisors, we were to be put to death. So much for telling the truth! I knew I should have made up a terrible tale of woe. If they would have let me tell each story for the group, they would have been weeping and lavishing riches upon us.

The king considered us for a while, and then told us his tale of woe. Naturally, I could have told it much better, but what are you going to do? After all, he was the king.

Centuries ago, there were two small mines run by two brothers. One was south of the great river and one was north. The mines contained abundant veins of gold. The two dwarves recruited others to join them in the mines. Each dwarf that joined them also became wealthy.

They opened up huge caverns beneath the mountains that eventually became thriving underground cities. The brothers proclaimed themselves kings of their underground realms. They were very happy, but they missed each other's company. Thus, they proclaimed that they would throw a festival every year in a town on the surface, so the two kingly brothers could converse.

This practice went on for many many years. However, the surface towns became uneasy about the invasion of the dwarven masses each year. The festivals became very dangerous for the dwarves of the underground mining towns. Further, the two brothers were becoming ancient and it was difficult for them to leave their realms.

The youngest sons of these two kings devised a scheme. Under the great river, they would dig a tunnel and connect the two cities. In the center of this tunnel, a great hall could be constructed for the gathering. Both sides greeted this plan with great enthusiasm and they quickly dug the tunnel.

Every year, they held their festival in this great hall. The kings and their citizens were very happy. The two brothers met at this festival until their deaths. In fact, the towns were so wealthy that they could hold the gathering several times a year.

After the deaths of the two kings, their successors continued the practice. However, the kingly cousins were not as much interested in conversing with their counterpart. Soon, the festival grew into a friendly competition between the two towns.

They had dwarfish beauty pageants and tunnel digging contests. They ran foot races. They had wrestling matches. However, the contests fueled the fire of competition between the towns. The two towns became rivals, and the competitions became much more heated.

Eventually, this rivalry erupted into a riot, which ended the festivals. The towns abandoned the great hall, and stripped it of all finery. Each town erected a strong gate to protect it from invading forces.

Nevertheless, the kingly cousins mounted excursions to test the defenses of the rival city. This resulted in the deaths of many dwarves. The cities spared no expense in the fortification and the armament of the Dwarven armies. Prosperity suffered as a result of their warrior ways. Mining the vast gold reserves took a second seat to proving their metal in battle.

When the cousin kings died, their heirs -- the current king of the northern town was one -- called for a truce. The two kings hired a young wizard who would live in the great hall and mediate disputes. This wizard would also remind the towns that mining was the path to greater wealth -- not war.

This plan was a great success until the wizard left the employ of the two kings. I think he means that the wizard escaped. Thus, the incursions have resumed as we almost witnessed.

The king was anxious to put things back to their peaceful ways. Thus, he gave us a choice. We could die on the chopping block, or we could bring back their wizard. It was quite a difficult choice, but I thought it was a fine bargain. Ranger Rex only thought about getting out of the caves, so he readily agreed.

Cyrus the sorcerer believed there was much more to the story than we were being told. Thus, he was reluctant to turn on one of his brethren. Not withstanding, he did agree to join us.

We offered them to keep Dwanye "king of the north" as a hostage. However, we appeared too eager to rid ourselves of this rogue. Thus, they made us take his unconscious body with us.

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The Scout

Chapter 5

By Dwayne MacInnes

Once again, Scott weaved his way through the labyrinthine streets of Minneapolis. The gangs had obviously moved a few things around since Scott's arrival.

Wrecked vehicles now blocked roads that were once open and roads that once obstructed were now clear of obstacles. His guns were primed and Scott was prepared to meet any car, truck, or van that the warlords decided to send against him.

During his week stay, Governor Trimble and his advisors informed Scott about the local warlords. The several small gangs tended to be more interested in small turf wars amongst each other and posed no real threat to St Paul. However, three major warlords had established clear defined territories in Minneapolis.

The largest was the "Killaz"; they controlled the center and were notorious for exacting revenge on anyone who crossed their path. They had a large cache of military grade arms. A smaller but almost as effective group was the "Death Heads" they favored smaller more maneuverable attack groups. They had a dedicated suicide squad made up of bicyclists that could easily make their way through the debris-ridden metropolis. The third and final group was the "Mikaz". The Mikaz, unlike the Death Heads, favored larger vehicles. They owned several large garbage trucks that they had modified so that they could quickly remove barriers to allow the smaller vehicles to pass by any obstacles. These trucks were also most effective in using their hydraulic forks to lift up the backend of vehicles, either tossing them into the back of the truck or upending them.

Scott hoped that the warlords were still more interested in each other than they were in his small armored vehicle. It had been a week since his surprise entrance so it was possible that the warlords had forgotten him. On the other hand, the warlords had a week in which to prepare a trap for him.

The scout wound his way through the debris and obstacles. Scott itched to get back on the open road where he had room to maneuver, and he could bring the Charger up to a faster speed. As it were, Scott felt that he could make better time if he just got out and walked. Of course, the scout would last about as long as that proverbial snowball in Hell if he did leave his vehicle.

Scott was lost in thought and had been to listening to the droning engine when a loud ‘thump' echoed off the passenger door. Scott quickly glanced out his passenger side port to notice that a bicyclist had smacked his rearview mirror as he passed by. From the way the cyclist held his hand, the reward for his action against the reinforced mirror was a broken hand.

Anger exploded inside Scott's head. He took it very personal when someone tried to damage his car. The scout slammed his foot down onto the accelerator and the Charger leaped after the fleeing cyclist. The white skull on the cyclist black hooded sweatshirt and the bike he rode told Scott whom he was dealing with.

The cyclist weaved back and forth and rode the mountain bike over piles of debris with little problem despite a broken left hand. Scott tried to bring his guns to bear but the small target proved too maneuverable. However, the distance between the bike and the car were quickly evaporating. In a matter of seconds, Scott would feel the satisfying crunch of cyclist and bike under the wheels of his vehicle.

Just before the front bumper could touch the bike's rear tire, the Death Head member sharply turned the bike and shot down a small alley before Scott could react to follow.

Cursing to himself Scott fumed shortly about the cyclist before he glanced down to his monitor to see a large green Waste Management truck barreling down on him from behind. Normally Scott would just accelerate away from the large truck. Unfortunately, the obstacles in the road would not allow that. His second choice would be to wheel the Charger around so that he could bring his weapons to bear. But, the roads were too narrow. As it was Scott was doing everything he could to keep the distance from the garbage truck.

Suddenly, the road in front of the Charger exploded, filling the air with chunks of concrete, smoke, and fire.

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The Lost Wizard

Sorcerer Cyrus - Second Tale

By Douglas E. Gogerty

The Dwarfish king of the northern underground city had manipulated the situation to his favor. We fell into a pit, and now we found ourselves with a difficult choice. Either we could die at the hands of an executioner, or we could search for his missing wizard.

While the death would certainly be honorable, I have decided to join this group of strangers in a quest to search for the lost wizard. My original quest to search for our missing princess will have to wait. I will combine the tasks and ask after her at every opportunity.

While the tale of the battling dwarfish kingdoms is tragic, I have a great suspicion that there is much more to the story of their missing wizard. I have no love loss for the trained wizards, but I feel that this particular one was more prisoner than voluntary help. When we find him, we will determine the rest of the story.

I asked to examine his room for clues. The rest of our party agreed that it would be a good place to start. A few of the king's guard escorted us to the former Great Hall. I could see how it could have been quite a lavish room at one time. However, with time and deterioration, its grandeur had greatly faded.

Upon further inspection of the hall, it appeared that a lack of proper maintenance caused the hole into which we fell. A thin segment of the tunnel had eventually collapsed leaving a hole in the ceiling. Fortunately, it was not under the river or the entire hall would have been flooded.

The wizard's room was a typical jumble of books, scrolls, and potions. Clearly, the dwarves searched the room for clues as well because the disorganization was greater than most wizards' quarters. Things that no wizard would have treated with such disregard were strewn around the floor.

A lonely bed was set in one corner, and no one had disturbed it. The wizard had made the bed before leaving. Next to the bed was a single chest of drawers. Some of the drawers were slightly ajar, but they were all empty.

A range used for heating and cooking was in the corner, and it was stone cold. Upon inspection, someone burned some papers in the stove, and perhaps this same someone stirred the contents to insure that they would not be readable.

There were memory erase potions, fireball scrolls, and the like. To me at least, these items shed some light on some of the mysteries of the forest above. They also somewhat verified some aspects of the dwarfish king's story.

The only notable item in the entire collection of artifacts was a single unlabeled flask with only a trace of liquid left inside. This lost wizard had labeled all of the other flasks with their contents. Without labels, a wizard could not keep track of all of the items in his or her possession. Naturally, this item caught my eye.

I closely examined the remaining liquid in this flask. It was a memory erase potion; however, it was different from the others. It seemed to me that he created this potion for a special purpose, and someone consumed its contents immediately.

Why would he create a special memory erase potion when he had several ready made? I could not quite discern the exact difference of this potion. Perhaps he wanted one that was more effective, but I felt that it was an important clue to the resolution of our story. Nevertheless, I cannot fathom what significance it has at this point.

Other than the potion, if there were any clues, the dwarves had destroyed them in their search. Perhaps if the rogue Dwanye were conscious, he could have found other items. It was apparent to me that the wizard had planned his escape and did well to cover his tracks. A complete search would reveal little else by the way of clues.

Since we had gleaned everything we could from the northern dwarfish kingdom, we asked to meet with the southern king. They were very reluctant to allow us this opportunity, but at least I was very insistent. Rex, naturally, was anxious to get topside, but we needed to gain more information.

The northern guards allowed us to walk to the southern gate. Like its northern counterpart, it was well fortified. A few dwarfish guards confronted the three of us carrying our unconscious fourth. Naturally, the king immediately arrested us as spies and sentenced us to death.

We let Jaime the Bard tell our story, and that added some torture to our sentence. After much formality, the king told a similar story as the northern king's tale. He would allow us to live if we brought back the wizard. We agreed to his terms.

We asked which of the four nearby towns the wizard had been recruited. However, they had never heard of Miz, Kniley, Armizen, or Yansey. They had gone to an important town in the Tiberium Empire. They hired the wizard out of Giland. That was to be our initial topside destination.

Unfortunately, neither dwarfish kingdom had the capability of transporting to Giland. We would have to exit by the entrance in which we fell. The dwarves of the southern kingdom placed a ladder under the hole. We thought about leaving immediately, but we waited for Dwanye to regain his consciousness before setting off.

Each of us had reasons not to visit a city that bordered the Forest of No Return. After a brief discussion, we decided to head for Yansey. That town would more readily forgive the sins of the bard in our midst, and we would be able to pass through town without too much difficulty. Further, the road from Yansey leads easily to Giland. Other routes posed more difficulties.

Since we had first entered the forest, the creatures had become emboldened. Upon our first entrance, they passively watched as we passed, but something had changed. A group of spiders met our first few steps towards the northwest.

For a group of strangers, we worked together quite well. Dwanye's sneak attacks were quite effective. Jaime's sword skills were quite refined for a man such as he. Even the less than mighty ranger Rex proved his worth. We dispatched the spiders after a quick skirmish.

A pack of wolves, a pack of wild dogs, and a large group of rats all challenged our group before we reached Yansey. It was as if the forest had suddenly come alive to protect its secrets. Nevertheless, we handled the challenges with little difficulty.

Yansey presented us with different difficulties. By tradition, when a lost soul had re-entered the town, they threw a celebration welcoming the party back into the community. However, we were different. They did not have a record of us entering the forest. They knew of Jaime's entrance, but he had not been changed as their legend stated. He was the same person with complete memory of his trip into the forest.

The three of us accompanying him also put them on edge. Like many, they thought an evil sorcery was involved. Thus, they were not going to let us leave. We believed that as a team we could defeat the entire town in battle. Thus, we stated as much. The mayor unwilling to test us on our braggadocios claim, allowed us to pass through town with the promise never to return. We accepted the bargain with the full knowledge that we may break it.

Apart from a brief encounter with some highwaymen, our trip to Giland was uneventful. We found a place to stay, and we would begin searching for the wizard the next day.

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The Scout

Chapter 6

By Dwayne MacInnes

The chunks of concrete bounced harmlessly off the three-inch thick windshield. The fireball hid from view the road ahead and Scott felt the Charger slam into a large crater. Fortunately, his forward momentum was enough for the car to plow through the crumbled road to resume its flight from the garbage truck. The green truck had no problem driving over the new pothole.

Scott glanced up through his windshield to spy a person on top a blackened brick building aiming a LAW rocket at his car. A shiver went up his spine. The Charger could withstand small arms fire with no damage and could survive medium arms with slight, but a rocket could very well destroy the vehicle. At the last second before the LAW fired, Scott veered his car onto the sidewalk closest to the rocket armed gang member. The rocket flew past the Charger and slammed into the road where the Charger would have been.

Consequently, the exploding projectile was close enough to blow the front right tire off the Waste Management truck. The huge truck suddenly lurched forward and down as the missing wheel flew in the air. The inertia of the huge vehicle flung the rear of the truck into the air, flipping the vehicle down the road.

The large green truck smashed into the street right behind the fleeing Charger. Steel, concrete, and glass exploded into the air. The ‘ping' of small debris ricocheted off the rear armor of the black muscle car.

Scott was about to sigh in relief before he saw a yellow school bus several yards in front of him suddenly pull out and stop blocking the road. Scott knew that even if he punched through the thin metal skin of the bus the heavy steel chassis would ensnare his car. The Charger would suffer entanglement as effectively as if the LAW had blown away his front tires.

There was only one option left to the scout and it was a long shot. Instead, of slowing down Scott punched the accelerator and the Charger responded like the spurred steed it was named after. The black car leapt forward and the engine roared as if in anger.

Scott aimed the vehicle toward an area of the road where the hot summers had buckled the concrete. With any luck, it would give the heavy scout vehicle the lift it needed.

The front tires bounced up on the concrete and the rear tires dug as for a final leap off the natural ramp. The armored muscle car did not exactly fly through the air, but it did attain enough lift to carry it four feet above the ground before it slammed into the side of the bus. The Charger was heavy enough that its momentum carried it through the side of the bus. Scott fought for control as his car smashed through the yellow metal side and through the green chairs inside. The front of the Charger protruded from the opposite side of the bus as the rear tires came down onto the bus's floor. This gave the car one last spurt of speed to carry it the rest of the way through the wrecked bus.

The Charger bounced as it regained its treading on the road past the bus. One last explosion filled the air as a LAW rocket exploded into the side of the bus. More steel and glass rained down onto the armored vehicle causing no more harm than scratching the black paint on the roof of the car.

The rest of the trip was uneventful as Scott finally reached the open road outside of the Twin Cities. He knew he would need to inspect his .50 machine guns for any damage. Even if both guns suffered damage, it would be a small price to pay for his survival. The escape from Minneapolis was one of the worst gauntlets Scott had ever run.

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Commander Joe

Chapter One

Part 1

Here is something Dwayne and I have been working on for a VERY LONG TIME! Chapter One is finally finished, so I'll post all six parts on Fridays. Enjoy!

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The Lost Wizard

Ranger Rex - Second Tale

By Douglas E. Gogerty

This sucks! I am a Ranger. I should have been out in the forest following this wizards trail before it got cold. Instead, we had to stay in these caves and look for clues. In addition, we were lugging around an unconscious person who calls himself the King of the North, and we had to protect him from the advances of an oversexed bard.

Furthermore, after we searched the lost wizard's room, we did not even leave the tunnels then. We continued on and received another death sentence from the southern dwarven kingdom. Why do we not wander around these tunnels some more? Perhaps someone else would like to sentence us to death! After all, it is not as if we have a ranger in our party who excels at tracking or anything.

In any event, we did eventually make our way out of those forsaken tunnels and into the forest. Naturally, the wizard's trail was cold. I could not determine which way he had gone. We talked it over and decided to head northwest to Yansey. So, once again, we were leaving my element and entering a town.

Before we exited the forest, we had a few minor skirmishes with some creatures. I believe that the wizard we were after put a spell upon them to cover his tracks. They were all more ferocious than they would have been normally. Nevertheless, we dispatched them easily. The others in our party could have been a bit more help, but I was quite capable handling the creatures on my own.

There was a bit of trouble in Yansey, but nothing a little flash of steel could not have handled. They allowed us to be on our way without much fuss. I was glad we did not have to spend too much time in that city. We were on the road again headed towards a major outpost -- Giland.

The trek to Giland was a major undertaking. I was constantly scouting around looking for any indication that the wizard had come this way. While our sorcerer and the bard were aiding in the convalescence of the rogue, I was communicating with the people and creatures along the road.

Eventually, we made our way to the Imperial Highway that led to Giland. This was a well guarded and maintained stretch of road that connects Giland with other Imperial cities. This was a well-traveled road and we met many travelers along the route.

Although the communications with everyone we met did not indicate whether our subject had passed or not, it made the trip much more arduous for me. I was constantly walking hither and yon for signs. I likely walked twice as far as the rest of the party as we journeyed to Giland. I do not think the rest of the group appreciated all that I was doing. We could have got valuable information from what I was doing. Just because we did not obtain anything, does not mean that it was a wasted effort.

Giland is like all of the other cities in the Tiberium Empire. It is large and garish with a large Imperial Palace near the center on a hill. There were shops and stands lining the streets with residences behind those shops. It was a bustling center of commerce.

Moreover, it smelled. I am not talking about it had a quaint urban odor to it. The smell was enough to gag rodents of unusual size. It had a horrific odor about the place. How anyone could live with this stench was beyond me -- let alone a countess. Nevertheless, this was our starting place.

Our first order of business was to seek out the Mages' Guild. If I was a dwarf -- and I am not -- I would contact the guild if I were seeking to hire a sorcerer or wizard. Several citizens were hesitant to tell us where the guildhall was. However, after much inquiry we found it.

The hall was unextraordinary; however, it had a pleasant odor to it. The Mages' Guild, at the very least, was aware of the stench that permeated their town and took steps to obliterate it.

The members were quite reluctant to talk to us. Apparently, there was a bit of trouble in town involving one of their high-ranking members. Thus, they were very wary of strangers lurking about. We attempted to ask some questions, but they would not speak with us about the matter. They would not even speak with one of their own. Our sorcerer, Cyrus Thomas, could not even get any information out of them.

Cyrus claimed to have known a member of this very guild named Brunis. However, upon mentioning this fact, a group of mages escorted us out of the hall.

Everywhere we went we heard rumors involving Brunis, Lady Aversfield, and some guard. I have to assume that Brunis was involved in some sort of trouble. I am sure someone will write it up, but we were on a mission of our own.

We were hoping, at least, to get the name of our lost wizard from the guild. The dwarves neglected to get that vital piece of information. They had a wizard in their employ, but did not bother to note his name. Certainly, it was a wise move on their behalf. They entrust their safety and happiness to a person, but they neglect the niceties -- like calling him by name.

Without a name and only the vaguest of description, we ventured out into the wretched odor-filled town asking questions. It was embarrassing. "Excuse me, but did you ever know of a wizard who lived in this town long ago who went off with some dwarves? His Name? I have no idea," is a conversation no one should have.

The Wizard of Miz -- er -- sorcerer was having a bit of luck with his missing princess quest. She may, or may not have come through with a strange looking man. It was at least a hopeful sign.

We were beginning to discuss looking for the princess when we received a break. An old crone in a shack on the smelliest part of town remembered the event. The dwarves gave her a bit of gold when she pointed them towards the mages' guildhall. She had lived off that gold ever since.

Our wizard's name was Deffrey Jackard. At the time, he was young and a low ranking member in the guild. The idea of making lots of gold led him to volunteering for the job. Also, it was likely he jumped at the chance to get away from the smell. However, most of the other guild members were not interested, and he easily obtained the job.

With this new information, we could canvass the town again. We attempted to speak to some people at the Mages Guild, but they would not allow us in. A brief look at their records would have been nice, but they had other concerns. We were going to get nowhere with them.

It was growing late, and any further research would have to wait. Most citizens had gone to their homes, and thus we retired to one of the inns in town. In the morning our search would continue.

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The Scout

Chapter 7

By Dwayne MacInnes

Once the Twin Cities were far behind him, Scott pulled the Charger over at an abandoned rest stop. The neglected buildings where weathered and battered by time and the elements. The roof of one building was missing; either it had been torn off by a tornado or collapsed from heavy snow. Scott did not bother to investigate; he was more concerned with the state of his vehicle.

A scout's car was his life. It was reminiscent of the days of the old west, where if a cowboy's horse turned up lame while out in the desert his chance of survival were seriously diminished. That was a major reason why cars from the sixties and seventies were preferred to newer cars by the scouts. It was paramount to have a car that could survive a lot of punishment.

In the last couple of decades of the twentieth century, automobile manufacturers started making cars that would purposely absorb the damage with crumple zones so that the passengers would survive while the car would not. That was not the case nowadays. If you lost your car in the Wastes, you were lost as well. It was better to die in a good car than to survive a wreck in a ruined car.

Fortune smiled upon Scott once again. By some divine miracle, his .50s had survived without a scratch. Other than scraped paint, the Charger was in tiptop condition. The scout jumped back into his vehicle and proceeded down the old battered highway.

Rest of the trip through Minnesota was relatively uneventful. While crossing into North Dakota, Scott had to take a wide detour around the ruins of Fargo. His Geiger-counter clicked madly indicating that the radiation from the nuked city was still dangerously high.

On the far side of Fargo as the sun was starting to set, the sky suddenly began to turn green. Scott knew the signs of a tornado well enough. The wind started to pick up and a smattering of rain began to fall. He had once seen a noonday turn as black as moonless midnight as green clouds blocked the sunlight before a tornado ripped through the area. He knew he needed to find shelter quickly before he was caught in one of nature's furies.

Scott quickly scanned the horizon for a depression or an overpass where he could hide. All that he saw was smoke blowing up and rapidly dissipating in the rising wind. Scott inwardly groaned at the sight. It went against his better judgment. Hell, it went against the rules of being a Scout. However, Scott still had a conscience, and he needed to investigate the smoke.

Scott accelerated towards the smoke rising from the ground. As the distance closed, the scout noticed the wreckage of some kind of vehicle burning on the side of the road. This could be a trap by wasters to ambush a scout; it had happened so much in the past that the government did not allow scouts to investigate wrecks. However, Scott could not live with himself if did not try to at least help someone who was in need.

Plus, this was highly unlikely to be a trap. What waster would hide in ambush while a tornado was brewing in the Wastes? As the Charger approached the wreckage, Scott recognized that it was a Subaru Outback lying on its side in flames with a smashed camping trailer burning behind it.

Subaru Outback

Scott pulled the Charger over behind the wreckage. The natural light was rapidly fading and the flickering illumination from the fanning flames revealed the bodies of two adults on the side of the road. Scott ran over to them, but they were now beyond his help. The man and woman thrown from the vehicle left mangled bodies twisted upon the hard packed and uncaring earth.

The scout started to trot back to his car when a muffled noise reached his ears above the rising wind and rain. At first, Scott thought it may be a trick of the wind, but he heard it again. It sounded like a moaning. Not the moaning one heard from a mutie caught in mad fury and agony, but the sound of a person in pain. Scott quickly ran towards the source of the moan.

He was having a hard time locating the source in the little light reaching him from the burning wreckage. The rain pelting him now mercilessly turned the unrelenting ground into a slick surface. The mud sucked his feet into the mire threatening to rip his boots off; fortunately, Scott had securely tied them to his feet.

Scott was about to face the inevitable and leave the poor victim to his or her fate if he could not find him or her. The storm was brewing itself up into a ferocious state and Scott would have to return to his car and find shelter fast.

Then there was one last moan and Scott looked over in the direction it came from. There lying on the ground appeared to be a boy of about ten or eleven his blond hair plastered to his head by the rain. He was unconscious and a quick examination revealed no broken bones. In another time, it was best to leave a victim lay until help arrived. Those days were long gone now.

Scott scooped the boy into his arms and, as quickly as he could in the driving wind and rain on a slick and sticky surface, made his way back to the car. Scott lowered the passenger seat as far back as it would go and laid the boy upon it. Then he quickly jumped into the driver's seat and raced the Charger down the old interstate, hoping to find shelter.

The sky was now completely black; the rain fell upon the vehicle as if it was caught in a waterfall. The wind tried to force the car off the road. Scott turned on the front camera with its low-light amplification. The monitor's black and white image was all Scott had in which to navigate.

Then two things happened almost at the same time. The thump of a small stone fell upon the roof the car and the clicking of the Geiger started to increase. If Scott did not find shelter fast, he would find himself caught in the middle of a radioactive tornado storm.

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Commander Joe

Chapter One

Part 2

This is part 2 of the continuing story of Commander Joe: The Mysterious Killer.

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The Lost Wizard

Dwanye the Rogue - Second Tale

By Douglas E. Gogerty

I am unconscious for a little while, and this group agrees to find this missing wizard. Further, I am included in this quest. Why not agree to find the Fountain of Youth? Perhaps we could also find the bard Jaime's virginity while we are at it. Does a death sentence from two kingdoms mean that they can make us do any fool's errand?

In any event, we found ourselves in Giland. I was actually pleased with how the road led us to this Imperial stronghold. Perhaps in our journey, I would once again run into the Black Arrow. She headed this way, last I had heard. She may still be here.

The fool's errand went as expected for most of the day. We did manage to determine the name of our quarry. We were looking for Deffrey Jackard. However, no one in town had heard of him. The Mages' Guild was most uncooperative, but their vocal cooperation was completely unnecessary.

When the rest of our party retired to the inn, I snuck into the night. People of my skills are more accustomed to working after daylight hours. Thus, it was time for me to do some digging on my own. If some wealth was readjusted during the process, it was all the better.

One of the problems working at night is that most people were in their homes. It is problematic searching through peoples' things when they are there. However, this venture into the night was for informational purposes. If I was going to be part of this silly quest, I could at least play a part.

Mages' are a restful bunch. They need their rest. Thus, those lower ranking mages, who do not have places of their own, will likely be in their rooms in the mages' guildhall. This was my first destination.

While it would not have been unusual for a citizen to be out at night, I did not want to bring attention to myself. Thus, I stayed in the shadows. I did not want anyone seeing me out and about. If something should turn up missing, they may instantly blame me, even if I was not involved.

Luckily, we spent the day wandering the place and speaking to people. Therefore, I had a good understanding of the layout of the city. I skulked my way from the inn to the guildhall without difficulty.

Mages are a funny lot. They put magical locks on all the doors. Thus, you need to know the magical spell to unlock them. However, they do not even lock their windows. Just for the challenge, I climbed up to the second story and crawled into the first window I encountered.

A mage was snoring loudly as I entered through her window. Unfortunately, she was a very low ranking mage as she had little wealth. It did not force me *not* to take some things; it just made me feel a little sorry for her. With the little reward I had gathered, I quietly left her room.

I was in the guildhall with little difficulty. I wanted to find their personnel records and perhaps a daily log if they kept one. They were wizards and sorcerers; thus, they had a library somewhere on the premises. I was hoping they kept their records in this library, and was counting on the library being easily accessible.

I wandered around for a while on the second floor. I opened a few doors and perhaps lifted a gold coin or two. However, it became evident that the library was not on this floor. I headed down the stairs, and I spotted a faint light coming from one of the rooms.

I carefully poked my head into the room, and I spotted a wizard perusing some hefty tome. I thought about heading back up the stairs, but I heard someone stirring up there. I quietly walked past the library opening and entered the kitchen. That was not where I wanted to be.

I went into this room because it gave me a nice view of the library. I was considering waiting out the wizard in this room. However, that was before I discovered it was the kitchen. In many places, the kitchen is often the busiest place at night. When hunger strikes in the middle of the night, they look towards the stores in the kitchen.

Before I could finish my thought, there was a push on the door. In stepped the mage whose room I used to enter the guildhall. I managed to duck behind some sacks of grain before she illuminated the room. With a combination of my presence and the sudden illumination, rodents scurried everywhere.

She ate some bread and some sort of berry. She grabbed some leaves and made some tea with them. After a brief incantation, she left, but her light spell remained. Hopefully, the tea would help with her snoring. However, I was in a bit of a spot. I was hiding behind some sacks of grain in a brightly illuminated room. It was not where I wanted to be.

I heard her exchange words with the mage in the library. She offered him some of her tea to help him sleep. He explained that he was finished, and he was not in the need of a sleep aid. I was afraid that he was going to enter the kitchen, but I heard him climb the stairs.

I had to take a chance. I did not know how long this illumination spell in the kitchen would last, but I was not going to wait and find out. In a quiet, but unstealthy manner, I burst from the kitchen and did a barrel roll into the library. It was quite the graceful maneuver, and thankfully, no one was around to see it.

The mage was reading the Son of Innes's account of Brunis and the Lady Aversfield. It was probably so gripping that he could not put it down. I hear he is an excellent author.

In any event, I searched the library for the member records. There were lots of scrolls and bound volumes on the shelves. It took some time before I found the member records for the period in question.

Before I could peruse the volume, I had to hide in the shadows as another restless wizard entered the kitchen. Eventually, I discovered that Deffrey Jackard was a very low ranking wizard. He knew very little upon his release from guild service. He could create potions of memory erase, and he could create love potions.

The guild released him from service -- not because the dwarves hired him -- but for misconduct. The guild had discovered that he had placed a love spell upon a citizen of a neighboring town for his own benefit. His services to the guild for this rule violation were no longer required.

The same day of his sentence, some dwarves came to town looking for a wizard for hire. They wanted a very long-term commitment. However, every need for this hire would be considered and, if possible, met. The guild had no interested members. There was no note that Deffrey joined them. However, he did have the required skills and he was in need of a home.

After a perusing a few more volumes, I began the exiting process. I listened at the door of the room in which I entered the hall, but she was no longer snoring. I thought of that as a bad indication.

Thus, I went back down the stairs and examined the front door. I could easily pick the lock, but I was unsure what the result would be. I decided that I would risk it. They deserved to be awakened for the poor way they treated us.

I picked the lock of the door, opened it, and rushed outward. The sounds coming from the door spell were harsh and the lights clearly lit up the area. Without hesitation, I hid in the shadows as I made my way into the night. However, no one saw me make my way back to the inn. I had a few coins in my purse, and some information to share with the group. It was a good night.

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The Scout

Chapter 8

By Dwayne MacInnes

The clicking rapidly increased and the stones started pelting the car from above regularly. The black and white image on the monitor only revealed empty road ahead. Nonetheless, Scott continued to race down the interstate. He fought for control of the car as the wind and rain slicked highway tried to force him off onto the muddy earth alongside it.

If Scott lost the surface of the battered highway and wound up in some abandoned field, he was as good as dead. The car's massive weight would sink her into the mud. Scott and his passenger would likely be stuck inside, as the car would sink up to the doors. The scout did not worry about wasters apprehending his vehicle because he had a self-destruct or dead man's switch installed. He just had to push the right combination on the toggle switches below the dash and small explosives would detonate on the huge gas tanks. No, that was not his main worry. But, the slow starvation and dehydration inside his steel coffin would be his main concern, because there would not be any chance of rescue out here.

Then an eerie glow began to manifest itself off into the distance outside the windshield. Fluorescent green lightning flashed and illuminated a sickly green funnel cloud, which was streaked with gray debris, was miles ahead on the horizon. The deep rumble of the thunder forced its way over the thumping rocks and the ferociously clicking Geiger-counter. Scott's situation just got even worse.

The funnel raced toward Scott as if it had a single objective and that was to swallow the small car inside its huge and hungry form. The green lightening flashed angrily around the malevolent funnel cloud revealing the debris swirling maddening inside it.

The rocks pounding on the car were starting to become larger as the storm flung boulders in its fury. The stones were now becoming serious obstacles on the rough road. If one of the larger stones hit the Charger there was a great chance of it doing serious damage. Occasionally a stone the size of a man would crash into the road ahead showering the air with smashed concrete.

Sweat beaded on Scott's brow, he cursed under his breath as he fought for control of the car. He needed to find shelter. There was nothing behind him for many miles. A boulder ripped from a distant mountaintop and the size of the vehicle itself plummeted into the side of the road as the Charger passed. The momentum of the huge stone caused it to bounce over the vehicle as the Charger sped down the rain soaked and debris-ridden road. Mud and dirty water splashed against the passenger's side of the car. The unrelenting rain made visibility out the windshield a near impossibility forcing Scott to rely on the black and white imaging on the monitor.

Lightning struck an old withered tree in front of the Charger on the left hand side of the road. The dead tree quickly flashed into flames as it started to tumble onto the old interstate ahead. Scott accelerated even more in order to beat the burning tree before it blocked his path. The Charger started to fishtail yet Scott continued on his race. The black car shot underneath the tree just before it hit the ground. Its burning branches screeched eerily and snapped in protest across the roof. Orange and yellow sparks rained down upon the windshield and the top of the car.

Scott could not relax, for he was still racing the relentless funnel cloud as it continued onward towards the Charger. The malignant green monstrosity was a combination of nature and manmade fury. Though, the Charger would protect its inhabitants from some radiation it would not help if the funnel cloud approached too close. The radiation level would be deadly even behind these steel encased doors.

The scout glanced down at his monitor once more and noticed the object he was looking for. Up ahead lay an overpass. Scott drove towards it attempting to avoid the debris falling around him. He slowed the car down and pulled it to a stop underneath the overpass's concrete protection.

Scott looked out his windshield to monitor the funnel cloud's progress. By a miracle, the funnel cloud changed direction as if it had lost interest in the little black car. The Geiger-counter started to click less incessantly as the radiation started to lower with the storm moving away.

Scott turned off the car and laid the seat back. He wiped his brow and finally let the sigh trapped in his lungs escape. Exhaustion took hold of Scott and he let himself succumb to its embrace.

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Commander Joe

Chapter One

Part 3

After many trials and tribulations, filming resumed after about a 6 year hiatus. This was the first scene shot under the new director. It was also one of the more complicated scenes to shoot, but I think it turned out well. I hope you enjoy it!

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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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