July 2008 Archives

The Captives of the Lost City of Alhassar

Chapter 11

By Dwayne MacInnes


In a manner of minutes, I had the robe and cloak off, and stuffed so that Mobius had the semblance of studying a book. It would have helped immensely if there happened to be a skeleton around. Unfortunately, it appears that the dwarves had thoroughly cleaned Alhassar after they sacked it. I ended up using whatever I could scrounge up like dirt, wood, fabric, and paper. An old pair of boots and gloves finished the appearance. I then grabbed a few lanterns and some flasks of oil and secured them in a tattered tapestry I found on the wall. A quick glance at my Manacle of Time showed me that I still had an hour before sunrise.

Thankfully, the deep shadows that permeated the cavern assisted my departure from the ruined city. I easily made my way past the sentries guarding the cavern's entrance and quietly and quickly made my way down the corridor. I located Mogutz and party concealed in a side tunnel not too far away.

"Here," I whispered to Mogutz as I handed her the lanterns and oil flasks. "This should help us out." I then gave Gandelf the book I found in the library. He quickly began to study it.

"How much time do we have?" the orc inquired.

A quick glance at my Manacle of Time revealed the answer to me, "In half an hour the sun will rise, that should send the vampires beddy-bye."

"What good is that?" moaned Gandelf in his usual high-and-mighty manner as he closed the book. "Sunrise and sunset don't mean much down here."

"Look," I lectured, it was now my time to teach. "Vampires are helpless while the sun is up no matter how deep underground they are. Liches do not sleep and there will still be dark mages and necromancers. But at least we will have cut the odds down against us."

"Hmmm," Nanoc nodded in approval. He unsheathed Biter and looked at the dark blade. "We should like to hack us some evil."

"Athena, goddess of strategy and battle is smiling upon you, Gwendolyn. Your plan is sound and the forces of light will prevail over the darkness," Treena added confidently. If only I was as sure as she sounded. Nonetheless, I did not betray my own doubts. It was bad enough Gandelf was being a downer.

Quint only smiled with a glimmer in his eye before he muttered in low voice that only my keen hearing picked up. "There should be lots of valuable loot in there."

"Alright, I am heading back now," I said to the amateur group. "Wait for the signal and stick to the plan. Our best hope is too cause as much chaos as possible."

Mogutz grasped my forearm in hers as she gave her parting blessing, "May Uranus blow your enemies away."

It took a fraction of second to remember the name of her god. "Oh yeah, right," I replied.

* * * * *

I made my way back to Alhassar without any difficulty. With any luck, Mogutz had her party already in position and awaiting my signal. I was at the base of the pyramid temple when looked at my Manacle of Time. Twenty minutes, plenty of time I assured myself.

No sooner had I registered that thought than a loud gong sounded above the temple. I looked up and noted Cadwey standing at the pyramid's flattened apex. Next to him and bound between two stout iron poles a small stout figure struggled.

"Friends of Darkness," boomed the steady voice of Cadwey. "When the sun sets this day we shall raise the remains of the great lich-mage Zormandus."

I noticed that a large group of the evil residences of Alhassar was beginning to gather around the base of the pyramid. I quickly concealed myself in a broken-down structure. Through a large hole in the wall, I could see Cadwey above me. I also could see the growing crowd gathering at the base of the temple.

"Before the sun rises I will offer a small sacrifice. Brothers of the nosferatu, please part-take in this feast to sate your appetite until the setting of the sun."

I watched in horror as this unforeseen turn of events unfolded before me. A quick glance at the Manacle of Time told me I had fifteen minutes before the sun rose and that poor victim above me did not have that long to live. Several forms were making their way up the pyramid now. Obviously, they were the vampires in anticipation of their feast.

I looked up and saw Cadwey holding an evil looking knife in his skeletal hand poised over the struggling victim. I had only seconds to act so I did the only thing I could. In less time that it takes to explain it, I had an incendiary arrow arcing up toward the unsuspecting lich.

As the ash shaft embedded itself into one of the lich's ribs, the incendiary spell literally exploded into being. This set off several frenzied events at once. First, Cadwey fell backwards in a flaming heap over the side of the pyramid granting his victim a short reprieve from death. Second, the vampires upon the pyramid began to look around them frantically for the one who had torched their leader. Third and forth, the dark mages summoned demons from the netherworld and the necromancers called to life the long dead residence of Alhassar. The fifth, final, and probably the best thing to happen, was that the only entrance out of Alhassar suddenly became engulf in high rising flames.

This latter event brought me some peace of mind. This indicated that Mogutz and her party were already prepared and when the incendiary arrow exploded, they noticed my signal. Their job had been to block the exit out of Alhassar with a bonfire fed by all the debris they could find. The oil from the lamps and flasks greatly assisted this. I now only hoped that they could keep the fires blazing.

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Pax Roboto

Section Four

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Term Paper: The Rise of the Robotic Empire
Fourth Section
Class: History 1085
Student: Jennifer Evangeline Naismith
ID Number: JEN-8675-309

"Borders are scratched across the hearts of men
By strangers with a calm, judicial pen,
And when the borders bleed we watch with dread
The lines of ink across the map turn red."10

The people living under robot rule in the former United States began rebuilding with the help of the robots. Because of the nature of the Emperor Dextre and his robot aides, the government ran vastly more efficiently. Thus, those living under robot rule found their lives greatly improved. However, those former allies of the U.S. were very distrustful of the government. In this section, we will explore how this mistrust would eventually lead to war.

When the last of the insurgents in the former U.S. were defeated, the process of housing the remaining population began in earnest. Everyone who agreed to live under the new government's Terms of Agreement would be given a standard amount of living space. Further, they were allowed to seek employment and aid in the rebuilding of the country.

Meanwhile, Emperor Dextre continued the attempt at establishing relations with other governments. However, most countries refused to negotiate with non-human diplomats. Fortunately, Emperor Dextre was not programmed to get angry; thus, these refusals did not immediately result in military conflict.

With the efficiency of robots, the former U.S. quickly had great surpluses of food, energy, and other goods. Those in need in other nations could benefit from access to these surpluses. However, if their government did not normalize relations with Emperor Dextre they could not negotiate trade for these surpluses.

At this time, the country formerly known as Mexico was in great need of food. Under these circumstances, their government agreed to establish relations. Thus, they had access to the great wealth of food being generated by the robots. They allowed the robots to enter their realm and establish more efficient use of agricultural space in their country.

This did result in some internal strife, but not as much strife as would be caused by large numbers of hungry people. In fact, despite the tension, this nation became somewhat more prosperous. However, as their access to wealth grew, so did corruption. It was a common occurrence with human governments. Some of the citizens were no longer willing to live with such an inequitable arrangement. "Out of the license and lawlessness which are generated by this type of regime, mob rule comes into being and completes the cycle."11

However, not this time. Once the coup d'etat was complete, the rebels voluntarily joined the empire of the robots. The robots removed any border distinctions, entered their provinces peacefully, and began rebuilding their country. Almost instantaneously the standard of living of its citizens improved.

In a similar manner, many other countries decided to peacefully join the empire. They could see the great advantages of joining, and they could lose the yoke of corrupt human influence on their government. These countries peacefully allowed their governments to be run by Emperor Dextre and his local robotic governors.

The other way that states joined the empire can be illustrated by the country formerly known as Canadia. This country that once bordered the U.S. to the north, refused to recognized the computer run government. However, they too wished access to the surpluses. The government was stuck in a difficult situation. Thus, they attempted the infamous Captain Kirk Maneuver.12

Using some convoluted logic, they attempted to explain that what Emperor Dextre was doing was not helping humans but harming them. They also asked Emperor Dextre to compute the exact value of pi. Similarly, they asked the emperor to contemplate a great number of difficult or impossible puzzles. The Canadian government hoped that these questions would either distract or destroy the emperor. Meanwhile, they would attempt to forcibly acquire the food they wanted.

This was government sponsored thievery. Once again, the police robots could consider each and every Canadian citizen a thief. Hence, the robots could use force against every citizen of Canadia. Therefore, the robot forces entered that country and began incarcerating the citizenry. Naturally, the governmental forces attempted to prevent this invasion. However, they were no match for the impeccably designed robots. Soon the governmental forces fell to the robot forces. The incarcerated felt that they had a higher standard of living than before. Thus, the Canadian people soon agreed to live under robot rule.

Other countries attempted to distract or destroy the space-bound emperor; however, they were all unsuccessful in their attempts. The lack of space programs made the emperors position relatively safe. Thus, many felt that he may fall to a page-fault or other communication type error. However, the computer had many back-up systems and fail-over protocols that prevented disruption of his computing powers.

Further, the attempts to create a computer viruses to interfere with his proper running capacity were failures. No program could not penetrate Emperor Dextre's operating system. It was soon clear to these other countries that the Emperor was impervious to the so-called logic traps common in the Captain Kirk Maneuver and any external malicious software.

Eventually, many other countries fell under robot rule. They fell into one of the two categories outlined above. They either voluntarily joined to receive the benefits of robot rule, or they attempted to obtain those benefits by force. It should be noted that some countries did neither and are still under self rule.

Nevertheless, most humans are now living in the empire of the robots. Most of the troubles that result from human nature are greatly reduced. Humans are reluctant to receive harsh robot justice, so they follow the laws. Because it appears to be human nature to attempt to find loopholes and push the limits, there are still problems.

However, many of the problems of inequity have been removed. Thus, those crimes involving need or want, such as stealing, have become far less common. For most, they welcomed the Pax Roboto, or Robot Peace and all that it entailed.

With the humans freed from many of the drudgeries of common tasks which they have continuously shown no aptitude, most humans are happy with the current human condition. In the next section, we will explore what living under the robot empire is like. There will also be a recap and some conclusions.

10. Mannes, Marya. Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times. New York: Braziller, 1959. p.10

11. Scott-Kilvert, Ian:Trans. Polybius: The Rise of the Roman Empire. Penguin Books. New York, NY. 1979. p. 304

12. Larsen, Thomas G. The History of Emperor Dextre. London: Cambridge University Press, 2204. pp. 57-59.

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The Captives of the Lost City of Alhassar

Chapter 12

By Dwayne MacInnes

The blazing obstruction blocking the egress and entrance to the cavern only slightly eased my mind. This was only part of the plan, and it came about prematurely because of the incendiary arrow I used against the lich. I was, by no means, where I would have liked to be. Further, I am sure the victim above me staked helplessly between two iron poles would have loved to be anywhere else.

I hid the best I could in the tumbled-down structure as liches began to cast their evil spells, newly raised skeletons of elves and dwarves ran around menacing with rusty swords, axes, and hammers, and demons from the various Nine Hells rampaged through Alhassar.

I heard the great cacophony of battle begin. I mildly cursed myself. Battle could only be ensuing if Mogutz had foolishly tried to battle her way into the ruined city. This was not part of the plan, and it was fool hardy.

I raised my head over the edge of the gaping hole in the wall anticipating watching in horror as the evil cabal annihilated Mogutz and party. To my amazement, this is not what I saw. Instead, I noticed that the summoned minions were battling each other as well as other liches, mages, vampires, and necromancers. It was a frenzied and confusing barroom brawl!

Lightning and fireballs exploded everywhere. Bone fragments flew in the air as well as parts belonging to netherworld beings. The noise and smell of combat echoed throughout the cavern. I am sure that not even during the height of the elven-dwarven wars did Alhassar witness such a battle.

The explanation was simple once I thought it through and that was not until much later. For now, I just huddled in my ruined dwelling praying that in the ongoing battle that a passing fireball would not obliterate my sanctuary. In any account, none in the evil cabal realized that they all tended to work alone, or only with others of their own kind. Therefore, when they summoned their evil managerie from the dead and the Nine Hells the unthinking minions naturally attacked anyone who did not participate in summoning them.

For the moment, I witnessed a brutal and relentless combat. Outside my window, I watched as an army of stout dwarven skeletons attacked and overwhelmed a demon lord. The demon lord swung his mighty and unearthly blade and cleaved skull from neck and arms from shoulders. However the undead where too numerous and even their rusted weapons inflicted enough damage that the demon puffed into a ball of smoke as it returned to the netherworld.

I saw a vampire cast spell after spell into an on rushing stone demon. The rock giant only staggered slightly as the lightning spell collided with its mineral body. When it came into arms reach of the vampire, it grabbed the undead bloodsucker in a lethal embrace. Though technically undead, even a vampire that has been smashed into jelly does not pose much of a threat to anyone.

I learned later that Mogutz and her party were busy at their end as well. Not only did they have to tend the huge inferno but any creature that tried to escape that way had to be dealt with. Fortunately, they were few and after they passed through the fire they were pretty much dead already.

The entire cavern shook and dirt fell from the shaking ceiling and dust swirled in the air. Even my small hiding place threatened to topple down upon me. However, I could only watch in morbid fascination as the armies of the evil cabal fought amongst themselves.

The battle began to take on a more serious tone when a few necromancers started summoning more powerful undead to avenge the death of one of their members to a mistakenly fired lightning bolt from a lich mage. Now the battle became personal as groups were deliberately fighting amongst themselves.

There is the saying of "honor amongst thieves" which is highly inaccurate. However, I think the saying should be "honor amongst evil". Evil beings tend not to trust anyone, especially other evil beings.

The battle had hardly started to heat up when the vampires, a numerous faction itself began to run for cover. Many did not make it, as the battle was too widespread and furious. I almost felt pity for the undead as they suddenly slumped down to the ground utterly powerless with the rising sun above the earth. The mortal servants of the vampires tried to do their best to help their evil masters. But, they were only mortal without much skill in arms or magic and easily fell victim to the chaos around them.

The furious battle seemed to last for an eternity. It had been only an hour after the commencement of hostilities when the battle started to die down. Everyone had expended their magical spells and those few still itching for a fight picked up one of the numerous weapons upon the ground and started hacking at each other.

There could only be a score of combatants left in any fighting condition by now. I gave a big yell as I exited the stone ruin from which I had taken refuge. I quickly crossed swords with a dark mage. It was easy pickings for mages do not tend to study melee combat much. The remaining evil members of the dark cabal all stopped their fighting with each other and looked towards me in wonderment. They must have thought this was some avenging elven spirit from the ruins of Alhassar coming to kill them all.

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Pax Roboto


By Douglas E. Gogerty

Term Paper: The Rise of the Robotic Empire

Class: History 1085
Student: Jennifer Evangeline Naismith
ID Number: JEN-8675-309

"Why does this magnificent applied science which saves work and makes life easier bring us so little happiness? The simple answer runs: Because we have not yet learned to make sensible use of it."13

Humans have always attempted to make life easier for themselves. Since early times, the creation of tools and machines have allowed humans to complete more tasks. In some cases, machines began to do tasks that humans were incapable or ill equipped to perform. In this paper we have seen how the humans failed in their duties in the realm of government and how the robot empire got its start. This section will discuss the success of the Robot Empire and make some conclusions about its continued existence.

Since it has been repeatedly shown that humans cannot sustain an equitable government, a new paradigm needed to be established. Thus, with the proper machines in place, the task of running the governmental institutions could be accomplished in a far more efficient and equitable manner by computers and robots. Emperor Dextre and his ruling councilors have repeatedly shown this to be true.

Those that live under computer rule have seen a highly extended period of peace and prosperity. Those that break the laws of the land have experienced some harsh robot justice, but those that live within the rules are content and productive. The days of corrupt political officials are over for a majority of the world.

The countries that are not part of the Robot Empire have repeatedly fallen into chaos through various governmental problems. Many times after some governmental upheaval, the country would declare war upon the empire. Thus, some of the original human run countries could not retain their neutrality and have succumbed to the superiority of robot rule.

The remaining countries outside the empire will likely join the empire and unite the planet. Human nature will eventually prevail in those places, and they will either willingly or unwillingly have their governments run by computers. It is only a matter of when.

With their time freed from political involvement, many human endeavors have prospered greatly. Since computers have little comprehension of human created arts, the creative sector has seen unprecedented growth. A large collection of artists have gathered in every city in the empire.

Further, Many of the sciences have also seen incredible progress. Much of the human created obstacles for these pursuits have been eradicated. Thus, exploration of biology, virology, chronology, and other sciences has greatly increased. It seems that new breakthroughs occur daily.

While anything in connection to human pursuit is fraught with problems, the Robot Empire has been particularly stable and successful. The Pax Roboto has continued for quite a long period, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Since improvement to tools and machines is a normal side effect of progress, one wonders if Emperor Dextre or any of his cohorts will receive any upgraded computer components. This situation could be catastrophic if someone with nefarious motives attempted to upgrade the governmental computer programs. I see this as the biggest threat to our current way of life. Succession has always been a problem with governments and Emperor Dextre was ancient when the empire began. Thus, it is hard to conceive what would happen if our emperor was no more.

Personally, I think Emperor Dextre will continue for quite a while, and thus most humans will prosper under computer leadership. Everyone I know is content living under robot rule. I cannot foresee anything that will change this situation. I really appreciate everything that Emperor Dextre has done for me and the human race. Long live Emperor Dextre.

13. Mannes, Marya. Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times. New York: Braziller, 1959. p.10

* * * * *

Term Paper Professorial Review
for Student: Jennifer Evangeline Naismith
ID Number: JEN-8675-309

Grade: C+

While the paper is well researched, you should use more contemporary sources than the ancient ones. The only modern source you used was the required text by Thomas Larsen.

I have corrected all of your 1337-speak. That is, I replaced all of your 'R's with their corresponding 'are's. All of your 'teh's with corresponding 'the's. You will need to watch this in the future. You are not text-messaging your friends, this is a term paper. Please be aware of the difference.

The leader of the former United States was the President and not the Vice President. It is a common mistake from this particular time period. Please review your U.S. history text for more information.

It is Canada and not Canadia -- another common mistake.

"Chronology"? I do not think that means what you think it means.

You picked some very apropos quotes, and you used proper footnoting procedures. Well done with this.

As the ancients used to say, "Justice is Blind." Thus, your use of the phrase Harsh Robot Justice is not required. The government strives for justice, but if the punishment seems harsh it is a result of centuries of law. Justice is justice and should not be considered harsh. The punishment fits the crime.

In your conclusion, you spent too much time praising the Emperor. I would potentially call it 'sucking up' to our leader. Since I am grading your paper rather than our emperor, this type of language is not fruitful.

There are many interesting ideas here, and you should have explored them further. I am sure you were afraid that your loyalty to the leadership might be questioned if you explored the problems of upgrading the emperor. However, it might be interesting to explore this further.

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The Captives of the Lost City of Alhassar

Chapter 13

By Dwayne MacInnes

I did not wait for them to collect their senses before I rushed into their midst. I easily hacked into them. Their feeble and exhausted attempts to attack me were easily parried. I noticed a few survivors who had hidden themselves during the chaotic main battle now began to join the new combat. A few remaining spells were sent my way. All the good it did them. My shield merely consumed the magic.

I blocked, parried, swirled, jumped, slashed, and stabbed as I danced amongst the couple of dozen evil combatants. Though I had an easy time killing my opponents I knew that I could not keep up this level of attack forever. Even I, the champion of the arena, have limits to my endurance. Plus, many a novice can sneak in a lucky shot to take out the best of masters.

Soon another yell punctuated the melee in the cavern and a few of my opponents turned to meet the new threat. It was Mogutz and Nanoc leading the way with Treena, Quint and Gandelf rushing close behind. The bonfire that blocked the entrance to the cavern had burned itself low enough to allow the party to pass without damage.

"By the blood of Uranus!" Mogutz hollered a challenge our foes.

Many of the cabal stopped fighting in order to try to figure out what kind of threat that exactly was. It was too bad for them because that pause cost many their lives. The next ten minutes saw a heated exchange of combat and though we were out numbered three to one, we soon had the entire cabal of evil dispatched with nothing more than some minor cuts on our side.

Silence suddenly descended upon the cavern. It was almost as deafening as the combat had been. Only the crackling of the torches and the small-scattered fires left from the intense combat disturbed the quiet.

"We are going to have to make sure there aren't any survivors," Mogutz finally said while she searched the bodies of our fallen opponents.

I nodded my head in agreement. I had to take a breather, even though the battle was short in duration it was very intense. In the arena, I only had to deal with at the most three well-trained adversaries. Here, I had at one time been trying to attack over twenty. Alhough they were not very proficient with melee weapons, their sheer numbers kept me busy.

I moved away from the party and began my own search. I was looking for vampires. I still needed nine more hearts to collect. Most were dead just lying on the ground broken, burned, or just plainly smashed in vampire goo. However, I did encounter a few who just feebly stared up at me completely powerless to resist my attacks. With the rising of the sun, the undead bloodsuckers lost all their dark powers. Therefore, I just hacked off a head and then proceeded to gather my grisly trophies.

I had been in the process of collecting my hearts (as well as pocketing any money or valuables I noticed, I am sure the vampires would not mind) when I thought I heard something. I stopped and cocked my ear, listening intently.

Yes, there it was the sound of someone crying out for help. I looked around for the faint cry that echoed off the cavern's wall and ceilings. Finally, I was able to locate the source of the noise. It was the poor victim on top of the pyramid temple!

In the excitement, I had completely forgotten about the person shackled to the iron poles. I was frankly surprised to hear the voice. It was no small miracle that the victim was able to survive the intense battle that raged around the cavern.

I wasted no time in making my way up the steps of the pyramids. I had to be careful because there were some areas where the bodies of the fallen sprawled over the steps in grotesque angles. This, added to the pools of slippery blood and gore made the ascent quite treacherous.

I finally reached the plateau at the apex of the temple and saw the short stocky victim viciously struggling with his bonds. At first glance, I thought it was a dwarf. However, as I neared the victim, I realized it was in fact a gnome.

Now gnomes are like distant cousins to dwarves. They are not as broad as the dwarf is nor are they as tall. They also do not tend to have as full beards as the dwarves do, though they make up for the lack of hearty facial hair with long pronounced noses. In addition, they are also very adept at making intricate objects and many are in fact inventors. They also tend to live above the earth and dwell in workshops.

"Hail," I shouted to the struggling gnome.

"Get these blasted things off me!" the small creature cried as he swung back and forth between his outstretched arms.

"Not a problem," I replied as I quickly picked the locks to his steel manacles.

Once I had his hands free, the gnome sat upon the ground rubbing his raw wrists. I sat down next to him and stretched my hand to him.

"I am Gwendolyn."

"I am master Aly Eska," the gnome said as he tentatively gripped my hand. "I suppose I owe you and your party my life."

"Well," I said a little modestly, "I did send that lich over the edge with my arrow."

"That was an arrow?" the gnome looked at me in surprise. "I was sure it was a spell. Where did you shoot it from?"

I pointed down to the tumbled-down ruin of the building I had taken refuge in at the base of the pyramid. The gnome shook his head in wonder. "Only a Wood Elf could make that shot. Now if I had my latest invention I could have done the same...

"Hey! Whatever happened to that lich you shot?" Aly asked interrupting himself.

"Well, after he burst into flames he fell over the side there," I pointed towards the back of the pyramid.

As we both turned in the direction I indicated, the two of us sucked in a breath of surprise in unison as we watched the skeletal head of the lich begin to ascend over the edge.

"Get behind me," I ordered as I jumped to my feet with an arrow instantly nocked in my bow.

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Iapetus Saves Albuquerque

Chapter One

By Douglas E. Gogerty

The adventures were getting to be too much for Dr. John Maland, the humble anthropology professor. After the adventures where he helped the great monster Iapetus save Manhattan, and the scrape in Florida with the Cyber-Iapetus, Dr. Maland was ready for routine. He eagerly fell into a normal class schedule.

Life at Florida International University was back tonormal. The Spring session had just begun and all of the students talked about their Christmas break, and were discussing what they would do for spring break. Dr. Maland had a full course load, and it was going to be a busy semester for him. He hoped there would be no more giant monsters in his future.

The mighty Iapetus had spawned in Loch Ness, and was raising his heir in the waters near Iapetus Island. The massive Cyber-Iapetus had been repaired and continued to watch over the island, while the great animal looked after his son. His many daughters were being raised by their mothers.

The islanders had retreated from the tourist business and returned to their isolationist ways. No longer were ships allowed to land at the island, and this was enforced by the mechanical Iapetus. Yes, it appeared that everything was back in its proper order.

People continued to report the sight of strange lights in the Bermuda Triangle. The regular reports of UFO's did not seem out of the ordinary for the area. The night that most of south Florida, Bermuda, and the Caribbean inexplicably lost power for 15 minutes did raise some questions, but did nothing to raise any major flags.

However, the Quadrantid meteor shower that resulted in actual meteorites striking the ground in the deserts of New Mexico made headlines everywhere. Astronomers and scientists from around the country headed to Santa Fe to study the objects from space. Dr. Maland read their accounts in newspapers and journals, but was thankful that he did not have to be involved.

That thankfulness, however, was short lived. A few days after the meteorites hit, the Iapetian Storyteller was in Dr. Maland's office. Unlike his last visit, he was not in a business suit. With his fellow islanders, he had thrown away the modern and returned to the native ways. He stood there in his native garb, but still carried a briefcase.

"What's wrong?" asked Dr. Maland reflexively.

"Greetings my good friend," replied the storyteller. "Yes there is trouble about."

"What is it?"

"There is a problem with our mechanical protector."

"Cyber-Iapetus?" asked Dr. Maland. "What's it doing?"

"It may be simply a mechanical malfunction, but my fellow islanders sense there is more to it."

"Perhaps you should start at the beginning."

"Very well," replied the storyteller. "For the last several weeks, there have been unusual sightings around our island."

"What kind of sightings?"

"Strange objects flying around the island with flashing lights."



"You know -- Unidentified Flying Objects -- flying saucers -- alien spacecraft..."

"They are flying objects that we have not identified, but we have no evidence that they are anything but terrestrial."

"These sightings have been common for the Bermuda Triangle for a long time, what makes you think there is some connection with Cyber-Iapetus?"

"Shortly after the appearance of these objects, our mechanical protector's power indicator lights went out for a short period of time."

"That must have occurred when we lost power."

"You experienced a power loss as well?"

"I read in the paper that most of south Florida, Bermuda, and the Caribbean lost power for about 15 minutes. They didn't know what caused it, but no one has reported any problems since then."

"Perhaps they are related."

"So, has Cyber-Iapetus been affected in some other way?"

"Since the outage, we have had an increasingly difficult time controlling our mechanical protector."

"In what way?"

"Some of our commands result in instant action, some the action is delayed, and some are completely ignored."

"That is odd."

"We have not been able to pinpoint the problem. We have been over its programming several times and have found nothing out of the ordinary."

"You are far more knowledgeable of the workings of its systems, what do you want from me?"

"You are much more knowing of the world outside of our island. We thought you may be able to give us information. That is, what are the technical possibilities that we have no experience with."

"Wow!" said Dr. Maland scratching his head. "Where would I begin?"

"First, what would cause the power outage?"

"The papers said that an low yield electromagnetic pulse knocked out the power."

"Did they explain it in English?"

"I have read that a low-level electromagnetic pulse or EMP would temporarily jam electronics systems. However, I do not know how they work. They were discovered during atomic bomb tests. It is basically a wide spread, very strong, radio signal."

"A sudden spike in the electromagnetic field would induce a current flow spike. Yes that could explain it."

"Did I say that?"

"In a sense," laughed the storyteller. "I was not aware that such technology existed."

"There are rumors that such weapons are part of the U.S. arsenal, but it is naturally classified if they do exist or not. However, why would they use it in range of their own territory?"

"There is much we do not understand about this situation."

"In any event, an EMP could disrupt and even destroy integrated circuits. Perhaps Cyber-Iapetus could be due for a major computer overhaul."

"Perhaps you are correct -- if we could find it."


"As of this morning, we have been unable to locate or communicate with our mechanical protector."

"Cyber-Iapetus is missing?"

"We are hoping it is just a malfunction due to this EMP which you describe."

"How could this happen?"

"With Iapetus raising his heir, we were simply not prepared for his mechanical counterpart swimming off."

"So, one of the most powerful weapon systems ever created is somewhere in the ocean, and no one has any control over it? It could surface anywhere in the world and without much effort destroy a city! I didn't need to hear that!"

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The Captives of the Lost City of Alhassar

Chapter 14

By Dwayne MacInnes

"Hold your fire!" the skull screamed. I then looked closer and noticed the glowing red orbs of Mobius. I had totally forgotten that I had left him alone in the library! I lowered my bow and replaced the arrow into the quiver on my back.

"Why did the wizard enter the employee break room naked?" the skull queried. "Because the door said 'Staff Only'." Mobius began to laugh, "Get it? Staff only. So he couldn't take in the clothes."

"Yeah, I get it," I replied dryly.

"Looks like we really wiped this community out," Mobius said seriously, as he floated around the pyramid.

"Did you happen to see any survivors?" I asked.

"No, though I did escape a minor skirmish in the library by the skin of my teeth," Mobius began to laugh. "Get it? Skin of my teeth."

"Yeah, I get it," I replied dryly.

I then turned to Aly who was still quivering behind me. "Don't worry," I assured the gnome. "This is just Mobius, he's a friend."

Mobius dipped his floating skull in friendship.

Aly still had a hard time regaining his tongue so I made his introduction. "This is gnome Aly Eska."

"So whatever happened to that chap, Cadwey?" Mobius asked turning away from the gnome.

"I sent him over the side there on fire," I again indicated the back of the pyramid.

"Really?" probed Mobius. "Because I did not see any remains down there."

"Great," I growled. "We have a deadly lich on the loose."

I put my fingers to my lips and whistled shrilly across the cavern. The party of adventures below us looked up and noticed me waving them to join us on the pyramid. I watched as Mogutz gathered her party together. She did have to do some extra prodding with Quint. The novice thief was too busy looting the corpses to pay heed to my whistle.

Within five minutes, the entire group of adventurers assembled on top of the pyramid. Mogutz was making her way towards me while I watched Nanoc repeatedly tug on his sword as if it was wedged in the sheath.

"Come on," the barbarian moaned, "I just said the blade look to be of good quality."

I did not have time to inquire what was going on when Mogutz asked, "What is the problem?"

"We need to search this city for any remaining bad guys," I stated.

"Should we divide up?" Treena asked her brow wrinkled in concern.

"No, we need to stick together," I cautioned. "There may be a lich still at large and we will probably need every one of us to bring him down."

* * * * *

First, we scoured the base of the pyramid. Other than a burned cloak, there were no signs of Cadwey. I studied the ground looking for any spoor I could use to track him. Unfortunately, most liches prefer to hover when they can. Nonetheless, we continued our search around Alhassar.

I observed the party as we made our way over and through the debris and ruins of the dead city. I was not too surprised to see that many of the new adventurers would stumble now and again as they crossed the rough terrain. I was surprised however to see that Quint was having a particularly hard time of it. The small man constantly stumbled and would have to grab on to someone in order to check his fall.

I made my way up to Quint in order to be of service if he indeed needed it. I already knew what his game was and I suspected he would not mind me being near him. Sure enough, the poor clumsy oaf stepped upon some loose scrabble and swung his arms around me in support.

"Sorry," Quint mumbled. "I can't seem to get my balance."

"Well, it looks like we should be on some flat ground here soon enough," I consoled him.

I suppressed a laugh. I know there are many thieves out there who do not belong to the Guild and therefore do not follow any of its rules. Therefore, a long time ago I started carrying a large visible pouch containing a small heavy bag inside. If one were to lift it, it would have the heft of being full of gems. If one were to shake it, it would clink with the sound of coin.

In all actuality, it just contains some small river stones and a few steel discs. Plus, a note suggesting maybe it would be wise to join the Guild instead of robbing it. In this case, however, I used Quint's trick against him. As he relieved me of my bag of rocks and discs, I removed his pouch of ill-gotten goods.

I did my best in the search to return to everyone what was taken without their being the wiser. In some cases, I had to make a good guess because I did not know exactly who found the large red ruby and who had the onyx statuette. In addition, I had to distribute everything Quint found as a form of punishment. Of course, I kept a percentage to pay for the lesson I just imparted. I also made sure to keep and eye on Quint in case he wanted to continue his larceny.

* * * * *

We had been searching for hours before we found the ancient crypt that the vampires had made their lair. Fortunately, the sun was at its zenith in the sky so the poor undead were utterly helpless as we helped them move on to the netherworld. Unfortunately, we still did not find any signs of Cadwey.

After dispatching the last of the vampires, we made our way out of the crypt and began the search of Alhassar again. We soon had to light up our lamps and torches as the fires burning around the city were starting to die off. Not to mention that the torches the cabal scattered about had consumed themselves long ago.

We did not have much left to search anyway, just a last circuit to the ruined library where Mobius and I had parted ways earlier. We were surprised as we started up the cracked and broken stone steps of the library to see a small group of necromancers exiting the building. They quickly began to summon the undead.

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Iapetus Saves Albuquerque

Chapter Two

By Douglas E. Gogerty

"Holy -- er -- hole!" exclaimed Dr. Plate.

Dr. Philadelphia M. Plate was a noted astronomy professor from New Mexico State University. He spent years studying the sky, but now something from the sky landed in his home state. He was quite excited to study the meteoroids. However, there wasn't any object in the small crater in the desert he was currently observing.

"I was told there were meteorites in the meteor craters," Dr. Plate said to a state patrol officer at the scene.

"There isn't a black rock in the middle there?" asked the officer.

"No. Nothing," replied Dr. Plate. "With the size of this crater, I wouldn't expect anything. However, I was told that there were some meteorites from these events, but I haven't seen any evidence of that."

"I will investigate," replied the officer.


As the patrol officer asked around, Dr. Plate examined the crater from the rim. He expected to see some glass formed from the intense heat, but it was absent. This would not be unusual for an icy object, but some eye-witnesses described a flaming object. Thus, he didn't know who to believe.

Further, some of the other tell-tale signs were missing. Apart from it not being hot, the impact did not create a very large crater. At least, not large enough for the size of object reported to have hit the ground. The crater should have been deeper and wider. It was strange.

"No one has gotten close to the crater," reported the officer interrupting Dr. Plate's train of thought.

"What? Oh!" replied the astronomy professor.

"The object should be in there."

"I'll look closer. Thanks!"

Despite his misgivings of destroying the evidence, Dr. Plate crawled carefully over the rim and into the crater. The sand was soft inside the crater. He tried not to disturb anything, but he found himself sliding slightly to the bottom.

Once at the bottom, he discovered a tunnel. It was deep, and he stuck his entire arm into it.

"Damn prairie dogs!" he whispered to himself.

He carefully crawled out of the crater; however, it was clear that he was there.

"What did you find out?" ask the highway patrol officer.

"There is some sort of tunnel at the bottom -- probably an animal burrow."

"So, what now?"

"Keep it cordoned it off, and I'll head over to the next one."

"Yes sir."

The next impact site was only 10 miles away. It was 20 miles if he stuck to roads. This part of New Mexico, a little southwest of the small town of Vaughn, saw all of the impacts. From the reported pattern, it appeared that large object broke apart in the upper atmosphere and scattered across this section of desert.

After the quick drive across the desert, Dr. Plate found himself at the next site. It was almost identical to the first one. Once again, there was no object in the crater. The same story was told at this site. No one had been near the crater, and the object was there last time anyone looked.

Instead of crawling into this crater, the astronomy professor decided to go to another site. It was only 2 miles away. He made sure that this site was secured, and off he drove.

The next site was a mess. It was clear that someone clumsily climbed into the crater. The sides had all collapsed, and there were clear foot marks leading out of the crater.

"It was like that when we got here," explained the local sheriff.

"No use guarding it then," explained Professor Plate.

"Very good. I'll check on my men up the road."

"Thanks Sheriff. I'll be right there in a few minutes."

Dr. Plate climbed into the crater. There was no tunnel at the bottom of this one. The size was roughly the same as the others. The sand was soft. It was clear that someone had taken the object away. He climbed out and headed down the road.

This crater was not disturbed, but still no meteorite at the bottom. Like the first one, the astronomy professor decided to investigate this crater. Once again, there was some sort of tunnel at the bottom.

"Perhaps something about them attracts prairie dogs," speculated the sheriff.

"You might be right," replied the professor as he climbed out of the crater. "Hand me those containers will you?"

"Sure," replied the sheriff handing him three plastic containers.

This time, he was going to take some samples of the sand. Perhaps he would find something to analyze in the sand. He dug at the top, middle, and bottom of the crater. Since no objects were found, perhaps some residue would be left.

"I wish I would have gotten here sooner," began the professor. "However, it takes time to drive from Albuquerque."

"We watched them closely for you, but we didn't bank on tunneling," replied the sheriff.

"Did you see any of the meteorites?"

"I saw a few -- yes."

"Would you mind describing them to me?"

"No -- let me think. It was up the road a piece -- closer to Vaughn."

"Go on."

"The first actual meteor I saw was about a foot and a half maybe two feet across."

"Wait! The first one you saw was half a meter in diameter?"

'There abouts..."

"Hold on! An object that large would have made a crater much larger than the 2 meter craters I've seen."

"Funny thing is," replied the sheriff "the next thing I know is that it shrunk to about 6 inches. Like a balloon deflating or something."

"Did you see it deflate?"

"Nah, I was talking to one of my deputies. When I looked back at the meteor, it was about 6 inches across. It was the darnedest thing."

"Interesting! Were the rest of the ones you saw about 10 centimeters in diameter?"

"Yup. The big one -- I saw hit. I was at the crater in less than 2 minutes after it landed."

"Landed -- you said landed?"

"I suppose I did. That is what I thought of it. It seemed more like a landing than a crash, but I was a ways away."

"How far is 'a ways'...?"

"A mile maybe. It was all flaming like, but not like you see in the movies."

"How so?"

"In the movies the flames are at the back, but these flames were towards the ground."

"Like re-entry rockets?" Dr. Plate said mostly to himself.

"I reckon so," replied the sheriff with a quizzical look upon his face. "Anyways, at about 6 feet or so -- the fire stopped and it hit the ground. I rushed over, and it was like I said."

"What color was it then?"

"All that I have seen were black as coal."

"Even the one you just described?"

"Yup -- even the big one."

"This is very strange. This is not like anything I have ever heard of. I suppose if they were icy, they would have just melted. However, that doesn't explain the flames. It almost sounds like some sort of space probe landing on earth."

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The Captives of the Lost City of Alhassar

Chapter 15

By Dwayne MacInnes

Skeletons of the elves and dwarves of Alhassar began to rise from the ground. Not to mention that now there were a few fresh new zombies. They were supplied courtesy of the battle earlier in the day. The party quickly readied themselves for battle, except for Nanoc who still had a hard time removing his sword from his sheath.

"Come on!" growled the barbarian. "This is no time for your bruised ego!"

Mobius floated over to the barbarian who was yanking on his stuck blade.

"I say old chap," the skull began speaking to the sword, "if you don't behave, you will find yourself in the hands of a more ghastly master."

Once Mobius said that, Nanoc pulled Biter out of his sheath. Once freed, the blade released a crack of blue lightning that resounded throughout the cavern. The skull certainly did know how to motivate the blade.

The party of adventurers flung themselves into the fray. Skeletal and undead mages were no match for this band of adventurers. I almost stood back and let them handle it all. In fact, I was quite proud to see how far Mogutz and her party had come along in the last few hours.

"Once more into the breeches, dear friends, once more!" quoted Mobius.

I too flung myself headlong into the fight. As I passed the skull, I yelled over my shoulder, "I believe it is 'unto the breach'."

"I told you I did mostly parodies and comedies," Mobius countered. The skull did not have any weapons so he would knock heads with the necromancers interrupting any further spells they would try to conjure.

I soon made my way past the undead and concentrated on the necromancers themselves. As each one fell before my blade, the group of undead that that particular necromancer summoned would crumple to the earth devoid of further animation. It was not long before Mogutz and Nanoc were at my side cutting down the last of the necromancers.

The fight could not have lasted more than ten furious minutes before the last of the necromancers fell to our weapons. I searched around us as Mogutz and Nanoc caught their breath. For the most part everyone appeared to have weathered the combat in one piece. Treena would cast a heal spell here and there for the few minor cuts that the party received.

"Good job!" I crowed. "Good job. I'm proud of you."

"Thanks," Mogutz replied. "That looks like it was their last stand."

Mobius floated over. "I didn't do too bad myself seeing as how I don't have any arms and therefore no arms." The skull began to laughed, "Get it? No arms and therefore no arms as in weapons."

"Yeah, I get it," I replied dryly.

"Well, if everyone is done with this self-appreciation society. I think we should secure this building," Gandelf ordered.

Now some of you more astute readers may be wondering how killing more mages who may be possible members of the Mages Guild was going to help me reconcile myself with the guild. Well the answer is rather quite simple. Firstly, even in the Mages Guild necromancy is illegal. Secondly, to be a member of the guild you have to be alive and that leaves out liches and vampires. Finally, having been suspended, I was technically no longer a member of the Mages Guild. However, I suppose that last argument is splitting hairs. Nonetheless, the mere fact the dark mages were working with necromancers makes them fair game.

* * * * *

After searching the library, we did not encounter any more members of the dark cabal. Gandelf, upon seeing the ancient texts and scrolls, immediately set a lit lamp upon the table and began to search through the material. He looked like cat in an aviary. He could not determine where to begin. I suggested that he should make sure we had stopped the gate between the worlds from opening.

The rest of the party did one more search of Alhassar. But, we could not find any trace of Cadwey. We did stumble upon the cache of equipment and goods that belonged to the previous victims of the cabal. Amongst them Aly was reunited with his goods, including a strange device he called a 'rifle'. It looked like it was a crossbow with a steel tube attached.

He demonstrated his invention to us. Once the thunderclap stopped resounding off the cavern's walls and the foul smelling acrid smoke cleared, we could see that he had indeed put a hole in his intended target. I do not think this weapon will be very practical to a thief. It draws too much attention to whoever fires it. I can appreciate its military significance. Fortunately, gnomes take decades perfecting their inventions, and I do not think we will see them in large numbers anytime soon.

The party spent one more night in Alhassar before we made our way topside. It was during this night Quint noticed his loss of goods. I walked over to the novice thief and told him I could recommend him to the guild. At first, he pretended not to know about what I was speaking. At least that was until I produced the dagger I had pick-pocketed from him. His eyes gleamed and he whispered, "I didn't think thieves were supposed to rob from fellow thieves."

"We don't rob from fellow members. I think it would be best if you joined just so we don't get the rest of your stuff," I returned softly.

With that, Quint smiled and nodded his head. Then a great laughter racked his small frame. Everyone looked over to us wondering what was going on.

"I'll have to make sure I get that joke you told," Mobius said.

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