June 2009 Archives

The God Wars

Chapter Seven:

Flights of Death

By Dwayne MacInnes

Lieutenant Ross continued to lead the remaining six TBF Avengers with their payload of bombs towards the mainland. The protective flight of F6F Hellcats also escorted the torpedo bombers towards their destination.

Captain Ray Walsh was the squadron leader for the Hellcats. Although the planes could also carry a bomb under each wing, this flight was only armed with the ammunition for their six .50 machineguns mounted in their wings. This was done in order for the fighters to remain with the longer range Avengers for the maximum amount of time in the air. Thus, weight had to be restricted.

As the two flights of aircraft approached, in the city that Hodgson's torpedo bomber discovered, the crew could make out that things have not gone well for the humans. This was despite Hodgson's strafing runs. The entire city now appeared to be in flames, the remaining humans were fighting tenaciously near the docks and piers of the harbor as the few remaining boats loaded up with human cargo. The huge minotaurs and cyclopes continued in their annihilation of the citizens and soldiers of the city below. They showed no signs of mercy.

"Okay, boys," Ross said over his intercom. "Let's see if we can help those people down there."

Ross aimed his Avenger towards the lead group of monsters. The muzzle of his .30 machinegun flashed as the steel rounds stitched their way towards the giant creatures. Several of the half-bovine minotaurs fell backwards as the bullets ripped through their torso. Ross's bombardier then released the 500 pound bombs which were residing the in the belly of the aircraft.

The ground shook as the bombs detonated amongst the ruins of the city. Huge clouds of dust, debris, and smoke obscured the view below. The giant monsters halted their onslaught long enough to look towards the sky. They were stunned into inaction to see five more of the torpedo bombers dropping their payload all over the ruined city. The entire city shook as if in a terrible earthquake as the bombs detonated.

Captain Walsh ordered his half-dozen Hellcats to help support the attack on the monsters crowding the city. The six .50 machineguns in each of the Hellcats chewed up any monster that survived the initial bombing raid. This was proving too much for the monsters below.

The few remaining human defenders did not know what to make of the strange mechanical birds in the sky smiting their foes. But, they did not question the fact that maybe some new god had come to take mercy on them. They cheered as the army of minotaurs and cyclopes began to retreat. The humans took rest and tried to restore order to their pitiful army as the few remaining civilian refugees took to the boats.

Both Ross and Walsh continued to press their advantage with continual strafing runs on the inhuman army below them. The constant pressure caused the lead forces to fall back. However, what started as a mere retreat soon became a rout. Soon the forces trying to leave the city were colliding with those trying to enter it. This resulted in massive confusion that rapidly became fear.

The entangled masses of monsters offered too tempting a target for the Avengers and Hellcats. The planes continued to fly in from all directions unleashing their deadly strafing attacks into the creatures below. Several times the aircraft came within feet of colliding with each other.

As with Hodgson's attack, the two wings of aircraft ran out of ammunition all too soon. The torn and mangled bodies of the invading army of monsters now littered the ravaged and burning city. Sadly, there was still a countless horde that was willing to replenish the ranks of the fallen.

However, much of the invaders enthusiasm for blood dampened when they witnessed the broken and shredded bodies of their more unfortunate comrades lying about. Instead of pressing the attack to finish off the remnants of the city's army, the minotaurs and cyclopes started surveying the carnage for any survivors.

Minotaur

The convoy made the best speed possible towards land. The Kingfisher scouts relayed that the best landing for the city would actually be at the city docks. For the moment, the defenders still held that part of the city. Even though the convoy was warned to be careful for there were many boats carrying the fleeing citizenry.

With the report of sea monsters in the area, Captain Arnold ordered all capable ships to use active sonar. The loud pings not only alerted any potential threat to the fleet, but also warned those threats that they better move along or face the consequences.

As the fleet steamed east, the warships only had to drop depth charges twice. One of the attacks not only produced the huge explosive spray, but also brought up some blood and body parts of an unfortunate sea serpent that got too close to the fleet.

The convoy soon encountered the fleeing flotilla of boats from the city. Captain Arnold would have liked to stop and help them out. However, his business with landing troops in the city took precedence because he did not know how much longer the defenders could hold out.

Nonetheless, Arnold had the foresight to have Lt. Greer and Mina on board the bridge. Mina was fascinated with the workings of the ship. Greer tried his best to describe what was going on with his limited vocabulary of Minoan which is what he referred to Mina's language. Mina was mindful to stay out of the way of the working men, especially the men in white lab-coats furiously working on a huge machine near the rear of the bridge.

"Lieutenant," Captain Arnold said as the cruiser sailed towards the ragtag flotilla of uniremes and fishing boats. "I need you tell those people out there that we are going to rescue their home."

Greer repeated the best he could what the captain wanted to tell Mina. Mina nodded her head but only asked, "How?" Captain Arnold handed Greer the microphone for the public address system.

Mina began to speak into the odd instrument and balked when she heard her voice boom out of the speakers like some kind of goddess. Greer urged her to continue. After a few seconds of hesitancy, Mina relayed her message. Captain Arnold requested that she continue the message repeatedly which she did.

General Crist walked over to Arnold when he had finished with the interpreter and the girl. "Captain, I have only four LCVPs or Higgins boats for landing," Crist said. "Each Higgins can only hold 36 soldiers, meaning I can land only about a 144 men at a time."

Arnold frowned, acknowledging Crist's concern. With only about a 140 men landing at a time, they could have a hard time establishing a good beachhead. Arnold paced back and forth for a time. Then he walked over to his radioman and spoke a few minutes with him. After 'Sparky' sent off a message, they all waited for the response.

On hearing the response, Arnold walked back over to Crist. "We are in luck, according to my scouts the city piers are made of stone and should be capable of offloading the Olympus. Our only concern is whether the depth is deep enough. I will send the Blake ahead to get sonar readings."

"Let's hope we can get there before we lose sunlight," Crist said watching as the sun started lowering in the west nearly kissing the ocean.

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Here is a two-fer because there was nothing last week...


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Ralph the Mutant

Part One

By Douglas E. Gogerty

My name is Ralph Horatio Logan IV, and I am a mutant. Now, I do not shoot laser beams from my eyes, or have long claws shoot out of my wrists. I cannot even summon giant killer squids from outer space. Nonetheless I am a mutant, and I am saving the human race. I guess I should start at the beginning.

I was born in Cincinnati Ohio to Jennifer and Ralph H. Logan III. (Imagine that!) I am the oldest of three, but I am the only one still living. My siblings died as a result of the event. Because I am a mutant, I survived. That is the nature of being a mutant I guess.

Prior to this event, I led a pretty average life. For most of my life, no one knew I was a mutant. In fact, I did not even know. It is probably because we are all mutants in one form or another. It is just that most of our mutations do not provide a big advantage over everyone else.

For instance, suppose you had a mutation that made you extra immune to the influenza virus. In normal circumstances, this is not going to give you a big advantage over everyone else. It is just going to save you from suffering from the flu. However, ordinarily no one will notice that you have this mutation, and they will not consider you a mutant. On the other hand, if it does give you a big advantage, then that is a different story.

I guess I am saying that if you have a big advantage over others, you can claim that you are a mutant. Otherwise, your mutations are just run of the mill things. They do not give you any noticeable advantages; hence, you are not a mutant like me.

As you may have guessed, the biggest problem I had to overcome in childhood was my name. It is difficult to go around with such a name. It is a family name as you may have noticed. Many people in my situation go by their middle names. This prevents confusion when father and son have the same name. However, Horatio is worse than Ralph. Also, R.H. does not exactly roll off the tongue. Thus, for a majority of my life I went by Four. It is not a great nickname, but it beats the alternatives.

In any event, my childhood was pretty uneventful. So were my junior high days. That is, apart from people making fun of my name. Come to think of it, high school was pretty quiet. I guess so was college, and the time I moved back in with my folks after that. To be honest, my entire life until that day was mostly uneventful.

That is not to say that things did not happen. Once, I saw a guy lying on the side of the road. From what I could make out, he was biking along and he did not see a bar poking out from a parked dump truck. He was not wearing a helmet, and he hit his head and crashed. Wear your helmet kids! He was on the ground when I walked up, and I called 911. Maybe I saved his life. Probably not, but it could be true. Isn't that you want from a superhero tale?

Anyway, like many superheros in comic books, I struggled with regular life. For most of my life, I had to deal with the mundane. I was just like everyone else. I was just waiting for the moment when I could shine. I was waiting for my powers to become evident. I was living my ordinary life until my time in the sun -- so to speak.

Thus, I had a regular, ordinary, boring life for quite a long time. Sometimes, I miss it. Anyway, I went from a fairly unremarkable child into a fairly unremarkable adult. I was a pudgy, balding adult. Alright, that still describes me. No one would have thought that I would be partially responsible for saving the human race. Actually, if you pointed at me and said that I would have to save the world, many people would collapse in despair. Nevertheless, it is true.

After the uneventful events of my early life, the world changed. We can point to the day that it all changed, but it really had been building for quite some time. It was just on one day when the big change occurred. Everything before that day is often referred to as the before time.

Up until the event, people living in the United States worried about nuclear proliferation in other parts of the world. Specifically, they worried about nuclear weapons falling into the hands of religious extremists abroad. There had been attacks on U.S. interests, and many worried about these escalating. These concerns were well founded. There were a great deal of changes to our way of life to prevent these forces from ruining the American way. No one would have suspected what actually happened.

We were winding down a pretty awful year. The economy was terrible. Unemployment was high. There were abandoned houses all over major cities. Everyone was struggling making a living. It was another year of a tough economy.

Despite all that, we had a very popular president. While some called him the anti-Christ, most people laughed this off. It was just unbalanced people blowing off steam. There were some media outlets proclaiming it as a valid point of view, but most thought they were completely harmless. This kind of talk was becoming common for political rivalries.

While the economy was still struggling, it promised to be a Christmas season like all of the rest. It might have been a bit slow, but still of the season. There was the usual talk of the War on Christmas. However, it was completely in the imaginations of a some conservative crazies. You know, the same group that believed the president was the anti-Christ. At least, a majority of Americans did not give any of that talk any serious consideration. In our wildest dreams we would have never thought that there was a group who took this quite seriously. We all thought it was just a way of the talking heads to build ratings. However, it turns out that they were actually feeding a fire.

For several years, there was talk that we were living in the end of times. There were lots of people waiting for the second coming, and they believed the rapture would occur at any moment. Who would have guessed that they would become tired of waiting? No one thought they would actually attempt to bring forth Armageddon. Nevertheless, this is exactly what they did.

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The God Wars

Chapter Eight:

Beachheads and Bullheads

By Dwayne MacInnes

PFC Daniels did not know what to think. The night before the officers told the soldiers that through some malfunction of a secret weapon, and the entire fleet might have ended up on another world. Most of the troopers figured it was just some sort of joke or initiation on the green troops.

The sun was dipping towards the ocean to the west when the Olympus docked next to a long stone pier. The Pima, still steaming back and forth in the harbor, kept broadcasting the same message in a strange tongue repeatedly. The fact that the speaker was a woman only added more mystery to the strange events.

The officers wasted no time assembling the soldiers and preparing them for combat. Daniels had his rucksack and M1 Garand in hand when Sergeant Jim "Jolly" Rogers barked out the command for his squad to disembark.

The sergeant led his men down the gangplank and over the pier towards a burning, rubble-laden city. The soldiers took quick glances around them as they ran up the stone pier. Daniels had never been to Greece, but from what he remembered in his old school textbooks, the buildings looked Grecian in construction.

Occasionally, the men would spot a human watching them curiously from behind some ruined building. The few people the soldiers saw looked like ancient Greek soldiers as well. They wore polished bronze armor and carried a thick ox-hide shield with various images on them, a short bronze sword, a long heavy hafted spear, and the telltale bronze helmet with a horsehair plume.

"Okay you dogfaces!" roared Sergeant Rogers as the men assembled on the main road on the edge of the city. "If you didn't believe the fairy tale you were told last night you can see for yourself that it is real."

Several soldiers looked around at the burning city and the endless stream of G.I.s issuing from the Olympus. The carcass of a minotaur lay not far from the soldiers. It was half buried in the debris from a collapsed building.

"Sarge, this can't be real," moaned one soldier.

"You better believe it is real or you may get a rude awakening," the sergeant stated pointing to the half-bovine corpse with the barrel of his Thompson submachine gun. "You ain't going to get any steaks from that. In fact, it'll probably have you for dinner if you aren't careful.

"Now, we are going to rid what's left of this town of creatures like these as well as those one-eyed beasts you guys read about in the Odyssey. We will push through this city and anything that is bigger than a man is a target. You will not harm any civvies, you will not harm any half-naked man in golden armor, and you will assist anyone of the above. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yessir!!" the soldiers replied in unison.

"All right let's head out," Rogers said as he led his men through the debris choked roads of the town.

M1 Garand

PFC Daniels held his M1 Garand at ready. He searched the surrounding area anxiously looking for some giant to assail him and his squad. They laboriously worked their way through the debris.

The fires were scattered and there were occasional house still standing. Daniels noted that there was not a house over three storeys tall. There were also many bodies; too many of them were human. He tried not to look at their faces. He was already feeling ill.

Suddenly Sergeant Rogers opened up with his Tommy gun. A giant with one-eye stood towering over the sergeant with a huge wooden club raised. The .45 bullets from the submachine gun ripped a series of bloody holes across the cyclops's naked chest.

Thomson Submachine Gun

The giant gave out a howl of pain before falling backwards into the debris of a burning building. His body writhed in the fire as it consumed the beast's flesh.

A bellow brought Daniels back to his own concerns. A minotaur raised itself out of a pile of broken stones and charged the private while swinging its giant double-headed axe. PFC Daniels took a few steps backwards and opened up with the semi-automatic Garand. Two .30 bullets hit the monster in the upper torso. The shaggy-headed beast shook off the effects and roared in a bull-like cry. The minotaur charged again and Daniels emptied the M1 into the beast's chest and head. He even shot off one of its huge horns.

The minotaur's eyes fell back into their sockets and its tongue lay limp out of its bloody mouth. However the dead carcass of the beast continued to charge towards the private in a lumbering stagger. It finally fell to the ground but its momentum caused the body to tumble onto the soldier. Daniels felt the heavy weight of the brute pin him to the ground.

Under the body of the foul smelling half-bull creature Daniels could hear the combat around him as his squad fought off an ambush. Haskill's BAR fired off small bursts, as did Roger's Tommy gun. The rest of the squad continued to fire their M1s. There was the sound of a couple of explosions resulting in the use of the hand grenades.

Daniels could not see anything and try as he might he could not move the carcass off his body. He had to take shallow breaths for his chest was compressed under the minotaur's weight. The battle raged around him and all he could hear were the screams and roars of men and beast fighting in desperate combat.

"Haskill bring that BAR to bear over there." Sergeant Roger's voice cried over the din of combat. "Jenkins, call up the Pima and see if we can get some support before we lose all the remaining day light.

"Everyone fall back!" Daniels did not like the sound of the sergeant calling the men to pull back. The private tried to call out for help, but he could not manage anything over a hoarse whisper.

Grunts and growls of the beasts radiated around where Daniels was pinned under the body. He no longer heard the voice of his squad mates. Although, he could still hear the sound of automatic and semi-automatic fire in the distance.

Within a few minutes of the squad pulling back, Daniels could hear the whistling of the incoming artillery from all nine of the Pima's 8 inch guns. Daniels said a silent prayer and braced for the inevitable explosions that were about to commence. Though he could not see them, Daniels could imagine the inhuman creatures gathered around looking to the sky at the whistling death about to land on them.

The ground shook in a violent quake as the 8 inch shells exploded around Daniels. The cries of wounded and dying monsters mingled with the crashing shells. By the amount of shells falling around the area, Daniels figured that the heavy cruiser had sent a second volley. Miraculously after a half minute of intense bombardment the explosions finally stopped. More miraculously, Daniels found that not only did he survive unscathed but also the body of the minotaur had been shaken off him.

Daniels picked himself up from the ground. Around him lay the remains of giant monsters. Most were dead, and the rest were dying. Daniels reloaded his M1 and commenced to put the dying beasts out of their misery. The sun now had dipped below the horizon and the only light came from the flickering flames of the fires spread about the ruined city.

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Ralph the Mutant

Part Two

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Wow, would it be cool to shoot lasers from my eyes. Now that is the kind of mutant that I would want to be. Not that my mutation has not had its advantages. I have met thousands of fantastic people all across the globe. However, there is lots of travel involved. London for a month, and then Shanghai for another month. The mutants from the comics always seemed to stay home most of the time. On the other hand, Gotham City no longer exists, so I guess there is that. In any case, I should get back to the story.

It had been a mild winter. There had not been too much inclement weather around the country. Snowfall had been way down. Apparently, this was a sign of the second coming and had nothing to do with Global Warming. Since it was the holidays, I was flying home to Cincinnati to see my family. I did not give one thought about the two hour layover in Minneapolis. It was in the midst of a long drought there -- again a sign of the apocalypse.

I thought it was my bad luck when we approached the Twin Cities. As we landed at the Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport, it was in the midst of a terrible storm. According to locals, it gave the Halloween Storm of 1991 a run for its money. Visibility made the landing difficult, but taking off was out of the question. There was no flying out of there.

To make matters worse, all the interstates coming into and out of the Minneapolis area were closed. If you could get a car, it would be tough traveling anywhere. Not that it mattered because there were no rental cars to be had. Hence, my fellow airline passengers and I were stranded at the Lindbergh terminal on Christmas eve. The storm was getting worse, so the prospects of leaving the airport before New Years Day looked mighty weak.

With my fellow strandees, I found a spot on the floor to stretch out. I intended to get some sleep before the next day's attempt to get home. However, little sleep was to be had. Someone had turned on the news in an effort to see when the storm would subside. This was a mistake. Horrible news was broadcast, and it had nothing to do with the weather. It was even worse than being trapped in the airport on Christmas eve away from family and friends.

The early reports were sketchy. That was because no one close to the incidents had survived. It was only reported that huge mushroom clouds were seen over Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago. There had been no word from anyone in these cities. All communications were out. No one was sure if it was because of the electro-magnetic pulse from the blasts, which would have disabled all electronic devices, or if it was because everyone was dead.

All of the stranded travelers and I became glued to the television monitors to watch the news for developments. All through the night we watched and waited. Naturally, rumors and accusations were abundant and reported; however, evidence was in short supply. Sadly, these detonations killed millions instantly. Further, we watched as the nuclear fallout effected areas hundreds of miles from ground zero. The weather pattern that kept us from spending Christmas with our family's, drove the blast towards those very homes.

Our families were at risk as the winds brought horrible death to people far away from the targeted cities. Cities within a 300 mile radius of the targeted cities were cordoned off. If we could have left, we would not have been able to go home to Ohio. In any event, we were forbidden to leave the airport for many days following the incident. We watched as city after city was abandoned. Further, with all the upheaval, the communication systems were offline. Our only news was from the television. We could not speak with relatives in affected areas. Thus, we did not know what had happened to our families.

Chaos was the state of affairs for months. Everyone looked for the perpetrators and found them behind every corner. The talk radio personalities, those that survived, continued to feed the fire of hate and suspicion. Riots broke out in places everywhere. Everyone tried to bring vengeance upon the perpetrators.

When it was discovered that American Christian fundamentalist were responsible, everyone was dumbfounded. It was unfathomable that these individuals would escalate from killing the symbols of their unrest, such as abortion doctors and other religious authority figures, to destroying millions of innocent civilians including some that agreed with their position. Further, these extremist did not figure on the events that occurred afterwards.

Many of the plotters lived well away from the targeted cities. However, they believed that vengeance was taken out on the offending cities and that their homes would be spared. Nonetheless, the radioactive fallout continued to spread. The weather took the radioactivity all over the globe. Livestock began dieing in every part of the world. Innocent people everywhere lost their livelihood and their food. Starvation became common everywhere. Hundreds of millions began dieing from the aftermath of the blast from hunger as well as radiation poisoning. If starvation did not kill you, then cancer did.

Then there was the killer flu pandemic. Hundreds of millions more died from that. There simply was no way to prevent its outbreak. Authorities were busy dealing with one situation when the next one came along. It almost became a joke as to what would happen next. Those that expected to disappear with the rapture were shocked to find that they too were left behind. They suffered with the rest of us.

So, there we were spending weeks trapped in the airport. We heard about all the horrors going on outside, but could do little about them. The storm had left three feet of snow on the ground. Nonetheless, with all that was happening, no one bothered clearing the roads. It was not business as usual. Further, the uncertainty made us all afraid to leave the airport. Hence, most of us passengers were in some sort of unintentional quarantine.

However, there was only a limited amount of food. Thus, occasionally someone would leave for supplies. Gradually, we had more exposure to the outside world. Our quarantine was short lived. Our happy little airport family was slowly dipping its collective feet in the waters of the new situation.

The airport worker who brought the flu to us was not a welcome person. Did I mention that I had an unusually strong resistance to the influenza virus? Nearly half of my fellow passengers succumbed to the flu. Before I was sitting and watching the news, suddenly I was tending to the ill. I watched people I had befriended in the intervening weeks die in front of me. Me, I never showed a single symptom. My mutancy was slowly becoming apparent. I had to save the world, but how would I do that?

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The God Wars

Chapter Nine:

Lost and Found

By Dwayne MacInnes

General Crist stood in a room of one of the more intact buildings still standing near the harbor of the city. It had been heavy work all morning. However, once the crew unloaded the artillery from one of the cargo ships, it was only a matter of a couple of hours before the soldiers were able to push the army of monsters out of the city.

The LST had to move further south to be outside the city walls in order unload its cargo of tanks, trucks and jeeps. Even if they could have unloaded the vehicles in the city, so much debris blocked the roads that the vehicles would not have been of much use.

Crist looked at the papers before him. He had 15 - M4 Sherman medium tanks, 20 - GMC CCKW 2 1/2-ton trucks and 10 - Willys Jeeps that all came off the LST. He also had 24 - 105mm Howitzer M2A1 artillery pieces, 75 - M1919 .30 machineguns, and 80 - M2 .50 machineguns. Not to mention a yet unspecified number of mortars, bazookas, landmines, and even crates of M1 Garand rifles. Plus, they had tools, metal detectors, some trailers and even bulldozer blades for the Shermans.

105mm Howitzer M2A1

However, even though they had plenty of munitions for the various weapons they did not have an unlimited supply. Nor did they have any fuel other than what they found in the barrels aboard the cargo ships and the oil in the tanker. They also did not have many spare parts for the ships or the vehicles.

General Crist stood looking over the papers with some of his more senior officers. There was a lively debate as to whether they should train the natives in the use of their modern weapons or, show them how to manufacture them on their own. What was the best when the crew left after the scientists repaired the machine? Should they leave any equipment behind from the Pima once they could return home?

Of course, one of the major problems was they did not know how long they would be here. General Crist was still awaiting word from either Dr. Reno or Dr. Berger on the progress of the machine. So far, the scientist's efforts to repair the machine had been undisclosed. With the recent battles, neither General Crist nor Captain Arnold had time to inquire.

As if conjured from Crist's mind, both Dr. Reno and Dr. Berger entered the room. The officers stopped their debate and watched as Berger pushed Reno into the room in a wheelchair. The head scientist was still pale; his torso still wrapped in clean bandages. However, his eyes were alert.

"Ah, doctors," Crist said to the men. "I was just thinking about you."

"Good day general," Reno spoke. "I apologize I have not been up to par lately. I will try to answer any questions you may have."

"As a matter of fact, we all would like to know how long it will take for you to repair the machine," Crist said to the nods of his senior officers.

Crist noticed Berger stare down at his feet. The scientist was obviously not comfortable. Finally, Reno answered, "I'm sorry general. The cloaking machine cannot be repaired."

The officers started to shout and asked questions of the scientists all at the same time. General Crist had to yell for everyone to calm down at the top of his voice. When the officers finally quieted down, Crist turned his intense gaze to the head scientist.

"What do you mean it cannot be repaired," the general said in forced even voice.

"Simply that we do not possess the parts to repair it, nor the means to manufacture those parts," Reno stated in a matter of fact voice.

Before the room could erupt into chaos again, the general looked over every officer in the room. Finally, he spoke, "Gentlemen, what we just heard does not leave this room. We must keep hope up in our men, so until we can think of a solution we keep telling the men the machine is being worked on."

"General," Reno interrupted. "I said we do not possess the means to manufacture the parts we need. However, we do possess the ability to construct the proper factories. It will take time, but I believe we can do it."

General Crist nodded his head in resignation. They would have to bring these Bronze Age people into the modern age rather quickly.

"Okay," the general finally said. "We'll have to look into this. I want you Dr. Reno to make a list of what we are going to need."

"Well, firstly we will need to establish schools. The first will have to deal with language. Others will have to be in physics, chemistry, construction, and even farming to name a few."

"That is a good start," General Crist acknowledged. "Men, I want you to go amongst your men and find anyone who has a background in any of these fields. I also want people with a background in law enforcement and other social programs; we are going to need those too."

The officers nodded and muttered some 'yes sirs', they were still disappointed to hear about the machine not being able to be repaired.

Suddenly, Lt. Greer and Mina entered the room led by one of Crist's aides. The general almost forgot that he had asked the two to meet with him as well. As the two walked in the general made room for the two to sit at the table. The officers looked at the general, the general only glared at the men to tell them to keep quiet about what they had just discussed.

"Well, lieutenant we have a few questions I hope you and the young lady can answer," the general said after the two sat down.

Greer translated the best he could to Mina. Mina nodded that she understood and looked to the general. General Crist noticed her dark brown hair and brown eyes in her smooth olive skin. The woman had to be in her early twenties at best. He noticed that she was wearing her native attire that consisted of a white tunic with a golden scroll-like design embroidered on the hem.

"My first question is: what is the name of the city we just liberated?" Crsit asked.

Mina understood what the general asked and promptly replied, "Zakrostas."

"Good, good," the general nodded. "My second question is: what is the name of the country we are in?"

Mina did not understand what country meant and looked towards Greer with a puzzled expression on her face. The interpreter said a few words in her native language before she smiled and answered, "Atlantis."

"General," Dr. Reno broke the silence. "You better find anyone with a background in history, archaeology, and anthropology as well."

Zakrostas Map

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Ralph the Mutant

Part Three (The Conclusion)

By Douglas E. Gogerty

No one knows how they obtained the nuclear weapons. There was plenty of speculation. It is not unheard of that there were entities sympathetic in high governmental positions. Some of these could have access to the material. Who these sympathizers were and how they got the fissionable material out will likely never be known. What is known is that the perpetrators did not expect the results of their actions.

They certainly expected millions to die in the blast. However, I am sure they did not expect the world-wide devastation that they caused. They did not expect billions to die of starvation. They did not expect the following nuclear winter. They did not expect the flu to be such an effective killer. Most of all, they did not expect to be around to witness the misery and suffering they caused.

While the source of the nuclear material will never be known, the perpetrators did come forward. They made an appearance on the show of one of the conservative radio hosts. After that, many people wanted them killed. However, it was almost universally accepted that they would suffer much more if they had to live with the devastation they caused. Nonetheless, they did not live much longer.

Their high tenet of forgiveness was given to them. Although many did not really forgive them, they just thought they would suffer more if they could see what they had done. The thirteen Christians that killed billions were free to live out their lives how ever they saw fit. They could not take it, and to a person they committed suicide.

They all killed themselves when the biggest thing they did not expect was finally revealed. A year after the event, there was only one birth. I am sure there were plenty of people trying, but only one woman successfully gave birth to a healthy baby boy. There were lots of stillborn children. There were lots of babies that were horribly deformed. There was only one baby who was normal. Only one child that survived for long.

With the radioactivity,the high fevers due to the flu, and all of the other stuff, it was discovered that the surviving men were sterile. Every man who came in for a test, was found to be incapable of having a child. The population of the world went from about seven billion people to less than one billion, but it was going to get a lot smaller. If a species cannot conceive offspring, it is doomed.

Hence, a search for the father of this healthy boy began. Travel during the nine months prior to the birth was difficult; thus, geographically it would be relatively easy to eliminate lots of men. However, there were still lots of men in that particular area. Further, that man may have succumb to one of the many causes of death during that period.

Thus, the search was no easy task. The mother did not always get a name or any other information from many of the men she got close to. It was just one of those things. Fear and uncertainty can make you do things that you would not normally do. Thus, sometimes you seek comfort in the arms of others.

Nevertheless, the search became a worldwide phenomenon. The reporting apparatus that was still in place, gave daily updates on the results of the search. It was as if the entire world stopped to see who the father of the child was.

Weeks went by as the search for the man who could still father children continued. Man after man stepped forward to take the simple DNA test. A call to every man in the city went out. As the interest grew, they wanted results fast. The mother definitely did not have sex with every man in the city, but it is obscure enough that anyone who had been with a stranger eight to ten months previously was asked to come in.

The world watched as test after test was given. Thousands of men stopped in to get their cheek swabbed. Whoever was the father would be an instant celebrity. Who was this mystery man? Who was this -- uh -- mutant?

So, I lived in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul International airport for months. Everyone lived in fear, and we did not know if we were ever going to get out of there. When the killer influenza finally made it to the airport, people started coming and going. The large complex became a makeshift hospital. There was space to tend to those ill with the flu, and most of its infrastructure was still intact. Hence, people would bring friends and loved ones to the airport. While they were there, they would seek comfort with other people doing the same thing. Any encounter would make them feel better, and then they would move on.

I know I make it sound like this type of thing occurred regularly. While it did, I was not involved in that many such couplings. Being mostly immune to the ever changing killer flu, I tended to lots of sick people. I was exhausted most of the time after long days of helping sooth the suffering of those people.

Not to mention that few sought comfort in a pudgy, balding middle-aged man. Mostly, I was looked upon as more of a father figure. Things rarely escalated to -- well -- that type of thing. That is why I did not step forward sooner. I did not think there was any way that it was me.

When my DNA was finally tested, it showed that I was the baby's father. An international day of celebration was held shortly afterward. The human race was not doomed to perpetuate the species by artificial means alone. I was celebrated all over the world.

Now, this mutant travels all over the world to father children. I have lost track to the number of children that I have fathered. However, I have been at it so long that my first child -- that boy -- has started fathering children too. The human race should be able to survive now. They should survive all thanks to me -- Ralph the mutant. I saved the world!

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The God Wars

Chapter Ten:

Council on Olympus

By Dwayne MacInnes

Zeus

An old man with wild white hair and a matching beard sat upon his gilded throne. He wore a simple white toga and a gold crown sat upon his head. He looked around the room at the assembly around him. He still had not heard any word yet about the war.

"What can be keeping my brother?" grumbled the old man.

"Relax, oh king," a beautiful woman lying across the lap of a bronzed skin man wearing armor said. "Your brother knows his job and has never failed you yet."

"Yes, father," the man in the armor added. "I am sure Uncle has performed his duties."

"What do you think daughter?" the king asked the woman sitting by herself wearing armor much like her brothers.

"From Olympus over the sea, men in iron boats shall set us free. The coming fight will split heaven, bringing against us the wrath of seven. In the end, those across the Styx will only number a paltry six. I think that you, Zeus might have much to fear," the woman said. "The prophecy will come true and men will rise against us gods.

"Gods!" spat the woman. "Only to the mortals are we gods. Just because we will not die of age or disease does not mean we are gods,"

"Athena, watch your tongue!" snapped Zeus. "We brought the mortals here to our world to worship us. To be our slaves, our breeding stock, our pawns, whatever we want from them."

"You fear a prophecy that men had made," the man in armor added. "We keep no men here on Olympus. So where are the men in iron boats supposed to come from?

"The mortals have not been giving us our due so we naturally need to remind them of who we are. Even now, Poseidon is leading his forces of sea serpents and cyclopes with father's minotaurs as reinforcements against Zakrostas. The city shall fall and the rest of Atlantis will respect and worship us. Plus, the female slaves from the city shall arrive any day now."

"Ares," Zeus said, "you are correct in many things. Nevertheless, Athena speaks wisdom in being concerned with the prophecy. Even Apollo has confirmed it as much as he can. Although he cannot give us anymore answers than we have now."

"I am sorry father," Apollo replied lightly plucking the strings of his lyre. "The vision is not clear. Even I cannot force things that are beyond my power."

The beautiful woman laughed, "You all sound like old women."

"Aphrodite do not mock father," a man wearing leg braces admonished.

"Sorry, husband," Aphrodite said with heavy sarcasm. "Too bad you are not half the man as your brother, Ares."

Ares smiled as he stroked Aphrodite's soft golden hair. "Hephaestus is only half a man," mocked the God of war.

The blacksmith scowled. It was bad enough his wife warmed Ares' bed instead of his, but having the two mock him made things worse.

"Enough!" roared Zeus, his voice rumbled through the hall like thunder.

"Look, husband," Hera, his queen said from her throne. "Even now I see Hermes returning on winged foot.

The messenger of the gods flew into the great hall. He carried a large bundle in his arms and as he landed lightly upon the floor, he gave Zeus a sorrowful look.

"Hermes, what troubles you?" the king asked.

"I do not know how, but Poseidon has been defeated," Hermes said in a dour voice.

"Defeated? How is that possible? What did you see?" Zeus urged excitedly standing up from his throne.

"I saw your army retreating, if you can call a rout -- a retreat in disarray," Hermes said. "Their numbers were only a third of what set out against Zakrostas."

"Surely my brother can still raise the waves and shake the earth against the city. His sea serpents can destroy their fleet," Zeus countered.

"I'm afraid he cannot," Hermes replied. He then opened the bundle in his arms. In the bundle, the mangled remains of Poseidon rolled to the floor. His legs were missing, as was his left arm. His ribs were exposed through the torn flesh in his side. Even half his face was gone, revealing his grinning skull.

"NO!" screamed the king. His sorrow thundered across mount Olympus. "How can this be? He was immortal."

"Father, we are only immortal against age and disease. We are also impervious to any spear, sword, or bow that can be wielded by man," Athena stated. "However, the humans must have discovered some great weapon that can harm us."

Fear spread through the room. The gods looked at each other seeking answers. If the humans could kill the gods, then their days were numbered.

Ares jumped to his feet, nearly dumping Aphrodite to the ground. "Father, I can lead an army against the humans. Give me Hermes' draco-lords, and his griffins, Hades' Necro-lords, and his dead. I will overwhelm the humans."

"I too can create an army of Talos, my bronze giants to march against the humans," Hephaestus added.

"Not so fast brother dear," Athena cautioned. "You need to plan this out."

"We need action and we need it now!" spat Ares.

"It will take time for me to assemble the Necro-lords and the dead," Hades said to Ares. "As I am sure it will take Hermes some time to assemble his Draco-lords and their mounts as well as the griffins."

"How much time?" scowled Zeus, his thirst for revenge growing ever more in his heart.

"I can have everything ready in three months," Hades replied.

"I too can be ready in that amount of time," Hermes stated.

"How long for your Talos to be ready, Hephaestus?" asked Zeus.

"It will take me much longer, father," the blacksmith said.

Ares

"We do not have the time, father," Ares cried. "We need action now!"

"If you want to move against the humans and be assured their destruction, you would be wise to wait for all components to be readied," Athena counseled.

"I do not need any help. I have my own army of cutthroats and mercenaries," Ares replied. "I will set out immediately and I will finish the job on Zakrostas that my dear uncle was not able to."

"Maybe you should send out spies and see what they are up to," Athena offered.

"Spies? I do not need spies. Am I not the god of war?" cried Ares.

"I will concede that you are the god of bloodlust and murder," Athena added.

"I have had enough of your words. You sound defeatist, sister," Ares said with scorn. "When action is called for, you want to think about it. Well, we don't have time for your precious thinking." Ares grabbed his spear, and shield, and then marched out of the room. As he left he called out, "Victory and glory shall be mine!"

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This is for Michael Jackson...

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The Adventures of Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius

The Young Fighter Incident

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Map of the Appian Way

Gaius had been kept busy on the road to Campania. He was beginning to wonder if he would ever make it. The Appian Way was teeming with travelers and thieves. In fact, he had taken care of many problems, but he had not yet reached the coast. Upon reaching the coast, he would be slightly less than half way through his journey.

He had planned to be gone a month, and he was well behind schedule. Not to mention that every time he had hoped to begin to make up time, something occurred. It would be a struggle to catch up. Gaius was planning on riding hard to make the coast on this day. He arose early, and made it to the first way point by midmorning.

At this stop, his horse was tired and needed some water, so he would have to rest a while. He sat underneath an olive tree while his ride recovered from the morning's ride. He was about to rise and leave when someone approached him.

"I have been following you for quite some time," stated the young stranger.

"Is that so," replied Gaius.

"You make it easy," the stranger added. "There has been a trail of dead bodies for miles."

"What makes you think I am responsible for those deaths?"

"I know!" the young stranger replied confidently. "They have slowed you down enough for me to catch up."

"And you are?"

"My name is Nonus Iuventius Mordanticus. Now, prepare to die."

"Ha ha ha!" laughed Gaius as he continued to sit. "I have no argument with you young one. Now be gone while you still can still walk."

"You have met your match in me Ferrarius!"

"So, you do know me. Well, test your metal somewhere else! You are working in a hotter fire than you realize."

"I have been training my whole life for this moment. I know what I am doing."

"Clearly you do not know enough, or you would not challenge me. For the record, I have not trained since before you were born."

"I am good enough to defeat you!"

"I very much doubt that. You see, every move you know or could ever hope to know, I know how to counter it. Now, if you are fast enough, and strong enough, and you do not make any mistakes, then any fight between you and I could last up to seven moves. I will be impressed if that is the case, which I doubt."

"It will not last that long because you will be dead in three."

"Obviously, you have never killed a man or you would not speak so -- boldly."

"I may have never killed anyone, but I am a match for you."

"Listen," replied Gaius with a very serious look on his face. "I have killed many people, and everyone earned their deaths. Not one of them treated death as cavalierly as you. There are no time outs and no second chances. If you make one mistake against a competent foe, your insides are exposed for all to see."

"I am not afraid."

"You see, that is part of the problem. You should be afraid. You are confident about your own skills; however, you know very little of mine. You do not know how easy or difficult the fights along this trail have been. I am confident that my skills can withstand anything you have to offer. Yet, I am still afraid."

"Stand up and fight!"

"You are not listening. I do not fight -- just to fight. All my fights have purpose. Fighting you will serve no purpose."

"It will serve the purpose of telling people who I am."

"If you went around telling people I am the one who killed Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius, most would ask who?"

"Your reputation is well known."

"You would think so, yet people still try to fight me."

"I can defeat you."

"Even if that were true, it would not help your reputation. Those who had heard of me would speak of how old and tired I was. You would not strike fear into them. Respect has to be earned. The road to respect is long and arduous. There are no shortcuts."

"Get up and fight! Let me worry about the after effects."

"You still do not understand. If we fight, only one will walk away. If you think that I will let you live to challenge me again in the future, you think very lowly of me. If we fight, there is only death. Your death would serve no purpose. Thus, I will not fight you."

"You are a coward."

"Go ahead and spread that around. I will not mind. In fact, it could help me out a bit."

"Is there nothing I can do to make you fight me?"

"Become corrupt and take advantage of average people and the fates may allow us to meet in battle. However, they will likely take you down in some other way, so I do not recommend going down that path."

"If you will not fight, then perhaps you would let me study under you."

"I am not a teacher. Further, at some point you will feel the urge to test yourself against me. That can only end poorly. No, it is best that you join the army. They will teach you what you need to know. Further, your chance of survival -- is by no means assured -- but it is better."

"Very well Ferrarius -- fare well. Perhaps we shall meet again."

"Let us hope that is not the case."

The young Mordanticus walked away as Gaius watched. Cautiously, Gaius got up and mounted his horse and rode off. He hoped that he would not be forced to fight the young man because he saw a bit of himself in the young warrior. However, he would kill him if he had to.

Gaius made it to the second way point without incident. After a brief rest, he pushed on. After a few more hours ride, he made it to the coast. His journey was nearly half over, and he wondered how many more encounters there would be. He was sure he had enough.

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  • 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
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