January 2010 Archives

Reunited...

Chapter Eleven

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Prince William spent much of his time exploring the ancient city. Once the intense daytime heat got to him, he would duck into one of the ancient buildings. Inside some of the larger building was a scene similar to the one he saw in the first hotel. There was the sound of a strange language being spoken and people sitting in front of these strange machines.

The people at the machines appeared to be having a good time. The Prince marveled at the number of people visiting this ancient city in the Forbidden Zone. It appeared that many people from across the ocean visited this city. The influence King Jonathan wielded must be great overseas. At least, the number of people enjoying themselves in one of his cities was large.

The Prince spent most of his day wandering along the strip of hotels. As the day wore on, the heat of the day began to lessen a bit. Nonetheless, it was still stifling hot outside of the air-conditioned buildings. With the sun far from its zenith, his thoughts turned to where he would spend the night. He was sure he could stay at one of the hotels, but that would mean he was like everyone else. He was royalty. He should have some special accommodations. At least, that is what he thought.

He pondered the question when he wandered off the main thoroughfare. He wondered what was beyond the glitzy main strip. Thus, as he wandered around, he found part of an ancient and abandoned commercial district. He saw boarded up shopping centers and stores of all kinds. This was once a thriving city with all the amenities.

He continued to walk looking around. He did not care where he was going. He was just exploring the ancient city. He wanted to see what was beyond the beaten path. Thus, he would come to a street and turn onto it. He headed left and right at random. He had become thoroughly lost.

After one particular turn, the area he had entered was much more residential. There were crumbling residential apartments all along where he walked. After a bit more walking, he came to empty lots. It was apparent to him that there were once structures on these empty stretches, but they were demolished. There were also vast stretches of crumbling asphalt.

As the road on which he was walking came to an end, there was a stretch of demolished buildings directly in front of him. However, behind them, he could see some houses. One that caught his eye was walled off from the direction he was going. It was on a cul-de-sac and sat somewhat isolated from the surrounding buildings. It had a wall, which ran along three sides. However, it was not a defensive wall. It was more of a privacy wall or an architectural accent. It would not keep out any invaders, as it was not particularly high and it had no spikes on top. It was just a wall to separate this particular house from the apartments and the neighboring houses.

Behind the wall was a very large single story building with a red tiled roof. Like many of the buildings in the city, it had an earth toned stucco exterior. It looked somewhat like a southwestern-style villa. It had a pergola along the front, which likely had some water hungry plants clinging to them at some point. Those had long since died off. However, it did provide shade for a front porch.

In addition, there was a circular stretch of long abandoned concrete in front of the house. It encircled a small bit of sandy soil which may have been a lawn of some sort or a garden. The once lush garden had been long abandoned and was thoroughly dead. Further, there was a large dead palm tree on one side of the house, and some dead trees along the entryway.

Prince William walked along the circular path towards the front door. The dead trees practically fell over as he walked by. They had been dead quite a long time and the elements had not quite destroyed them. The front door of this elaborate structure was boarded up. This house had stood up to the elements well, but it was clear that no one had looked after it for quite some time.

Furthermore, this house was not boarded up recently. The wood barring the door was brittle from being exposed to years of intense heat. It nearly disintegrated at the touch when Prince William pulled on it. Despite the neglect, the house was still impressive.

Once inside the building, the Prince found the house dark and barren. The former residents had taken all of their possessions with them. At least, someone took them. Thus, the rooms were empty. However, each room retained a certain luxury about them. There was no expense spared in the creation of this structure. Prince William thought that perhaps the luxury was the reason the building was boarded up. The owner borrowed too much and could not pay for such an elegant home. Furthermore, no one else could afford the extravagance to buy the building from the owners.

As the Prince walked around he noticed that the marble floors were covered with a thick layer of dust. Nonetheless, the house's grandeur still showed through. Even the bathroom had a sense of elegance. While the structure was not as large as the castles he had lived in or visited, it was still fit for royalty. It would be fit for royalty even as a prison. He thought that he could make a home of it.

He flipped a few switches, but they had no effect. This structure was not connected to the power system. Despite not having any power, the interior was surprisingly cool. Not hotel cool, but cooler than the outside. He wondered how that was possible. He tried a few other things, but the house was not connected to any services. The house had no water, no electricity, and no cooling.

The Prince continued to explore the house. He walked out the back door and wedged into one corner was a small pit. Perhaps it was a swimming pool. How decadent. In the middle of the desert, this home had a pool of water. No wonder there were wars over water with people willing to waste it in such a manner.

Prince William was happily considering staying at the home. He would ask Princess Angelina if services could be connected. It would be a perfect place for him. It was then that he realized that he did not know where he was. How could he consider living there where he did not know where there was?

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Reunited...

Chapter Twelve

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Princess Angelina enjoyed her meal in the kitchen of the ancient hotel. The chefs outdid themselves. They brought her item after item for her to enjoy. She let them completely pamper her. With a look, she would get more of this or have that taken away. She easily got her fill. She got more than her fill. She could eat no more. She had determined her limit. However, they kept bringing her food.

"I simply could not eat a single thing more," she explained to the chef.

"How about a thin mint?" he asked.

"Nothing. Not a thing," she replied.

"It is wafer thin..."

"I would simply explode if I ate it," she answered. "I thank you for your hospitality though."

"Not at all," the chef replied with a bow. "You may join us any time."

The Princess got up and left the kitchen. She felt as she was waddling around, but she wanted to find the guard she left in charge of Prince William. She found the guard at his post.

"Do you have any idea where I could find Prince William?" she asked him.

"You did not ask me to follow him," he replied. "I was tasked to watch him while he was in the building."

"At ease. You did your task well," she responded. "I was asking if he remarked about where he was going or anything."

"He did not mention anything; however, if you wait for a moment I can check with the staff."

"Very good," the Princess replied with a wave.

The guard led her to a waiting room and she took her seat on one of the overstuffed chairs in the room. She was glad that it was not too far and that she had the opportunity to sit for a while. Her overindulgence was greatly affecting her. She sat patiently waiting for the guard to return while languishing in her over eating. It was not long before the guard returned.

"The Prince is not in any of our properties," the guard said upon his return.

"Does anyone have an idea of where he is?"

"According to our head of security, the Prince is in one of the abandoned houses just to the southwest of here,"

"How could he possibly know that?" she asked.

"I am not at liberty to discuss it."

"I am the daughter of King Jonathan of Calmondak. He is your king, and I order you to answer my question."

"I have my orders."

"You have disclosed much in that statement. These orders must originate from the King himself. What is it?"

"I will not discuss it," the guard replied.

"Could I get a hint?" the Princess asked with a wink.

"Please do not pursue this any more," replied the guard with a sigh. "I do not wish to lose my situation."

"It must be quite top secret then."

"I will not say another thing on the topic."

"From your reaction and the pinpoint precision of the Prince's whereabouts, it must be some sort of tracking device."

"Your highness, please..."

"Do not worry I will vouch for your silence. Wait!"

"Princess?"

"If someone placed a tracking device upon the Prince without his knowledge, that means..."

"Your words will not help to exonerate me."

"That bastard! That dirty rotten conniving -- nerfherder!"

"Your highness?"

"My father has known where I was all along. He has a radio tracker on me! Is that right?"

"I cannot answer your questions," replied the guard attempting to put on his best poker face.

"This has all been a big sham. The wedding. The untrackable suncar. The easily bribed guard. He wanted me to run away."

"Honestly Princess, I know nothing about what you are speaking."

"I am sure of that, but you do know about the tracking device."

"Yes -- I mean no! Ah! you tricked me. I will be exiled to the desert for sure." "How?"

"Mistress?"

"How did we get them implanted?"

"Get what implanted?" the guard replied obstinately.

"Perhaps it was in the food somehow. It was ingested and stayed with us."

"I have no idea of what you are speaking."

"It could have attached itself to the stomach in some way. That way -- it would not need to be continuously replaced. I wonder if they use our own stomach acid to power them."

"Hum de dum dum," replied the guard looking around the room.

"I will have to check with the google to see if this was possible in ancient times."

"Did you say something? Will there be anything else?"

"Could you draw me a map to where I could find the Prince?"

"I will have the head of security provide you with a map."

"You are a sweetheart," the Princess replied to the guard with a kiss on the cheek.

The guard stood there for a moment surprised by the kiss. The Princess gave him a sideways glance, which snapped him out of it. He rushed to the head of security and obtained a map to the house where the Prince was staying.

The guard returned with a surprisingly detailed map. The Princess was expecting a hand drawn thing, but it appeared like the maps she had seen on one of the internets. Someone had circled the location of the Prince in red pen, but the most convenient route was highlighted in yellow. It was a bit of a walk, but the Princess was used to walking.

It would take a bit, and the Princess hoped that Prince William would still be there when she arrived. The long walk would help with the bloated feeling she still had from the meal she just ate. However, her thoughts returned to the tracking device. How long would they last? Did she just eat another one? Perhaps she would return to the chef to probe him for more information.

The sun had been up briefly, but it was already hot. It was going to be another scorching day. The Princess began to long for the cool mornings of her home. She had lots to discuss with her father. She almost forgot why she was looking for the Prince when she arrived at the stately ancient home marked on her map. The Prince was very surprised when she walked into his improvised home.

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The God Wars

Chapter Thirty-seven:

Wall of Fire

By Dwayne MacInnes

Ares' temper again started to flare. These Otherworlders always seemed to be able to guess his mind. Hermes' Draco-lords were only a remnant of what they were before. The griffins were long gone; however, Hermes was able to rally a few hundred of the remaining dragons. The gods scrapped their air assault on the city. Even though there were a few fires burning, it was not the great conflagration the gods wanted.

Hermes and his remaining air troops were in a heated exchange with the Otherworlders' aircraft. The numbers of the Draco-lords equaled out the advantage of speed, maneuverability and range of the aircrafts. As long as Hermes was able to sacrifice his precious air troops, Ares could march his forces unmolested by the planes. There was even the occasional downed plane as a dragon belched a lucky ball of fire into an attacking fighter or torpedo bomber.

The lakes of fire from the initial air assault were now behind the relentlessly advancing undead and bronze soldiers. Ares could now see the towers and the trenches before him. However, before he could reach the first trenches the army would have to cross a wide and shallow moat. The water was amber colored and had a tangy smell. When Ares looked closely at the water, he noticed that some kind of liquid floated on the surface that gave it the rainbow effect of mother-of-pearl.

The chariot easily rolled down the gentle slope into the moat. The water only reached to the marching troops' knees and it was only two yards wide. The opposite slope was just as gentle as the first and the black horses pulled the chariot up the incline. Ares noticed that he only had to cross another two-hundred yards to the first trenches and then he could mete out his own vengeance.

The undead army splashed through the moat and reached the opposite slope. Then they continued to march towards the trench works and towers ahead of them. They left a muddy trail behind them as they left the moat, their lower body still soaked from the crossing.

A thought nagged at Ares' mind. The last time he attacked the humans they opened up with their artillery making his forward progress difficult. However, this time no thunderous and whistling death rained down on him and his army. In addition, the ground before the trenches outside Zakrostas contained landmines that detonated every time one of his soldiers stepped on one. So far, with the exception of the air assault his army was unmolested in their advance on the city of Atlantis.

* * * * *

General Crist remembered the story he read about army ants in South America in a National Geographic journal. The insects would mindlessly march through plantations destroying all in their way. The plantation owners often resorted to desperate measures to protect their plantation.

The general was about to use one of those tactics now. When he noticed the seemingly endless mass of undead warriors advancing halfway between the moat and the first trenches the general nodded his head to one of his soldiers. The man then fired a flare into the air.

As the red glowing flare parachuted slowly back to earth, several soldiers standing near the mouth of the moat several hundred yards away threw their fiery torches into the ditch. Instantly the gasoline floating on the surface of the water flamed to life. The fire quickly raced down the moat and shot huge flames into the air. Any undead in the moat were suddenly cremated.

The flames also leapt out of the moat and trailed up the muddy banks towards the advancing army. Soon, even the undead on the far side of the trenches were catching on fire as the flames licked up their legs. Ares quickly jumped from his chariot before the inferno incinerated the vehicle and the black horse pulling it. The chariot blazed up into a bright inferno. The horses were unharmed by the flames but were spooked by the sudden fire burning all around them. They stampeded carrying off the burning chariot into the distance.

Ares stamped upon the ground in anger. A wall of flames separated the advanced troops from the rest of his army. The undead warriors that followed him were also burning and the foul stench of scorched rotted human flesh permeated the air. The thick black smoke billowed into the air before a slight breeze blew it towards Atlantis.

The smoke would shift upon the ground allowing Ares to catch a glimpse of the still undamaged Talos. The giant bronze statues not hindered by the fire continued forward through flaming moat towards the trench works.

* * * * *

General Crist ordered the artillery and mortar teams to fire at their prearranged distances. The black smoke milling around the battleground reminded Crist something one would expect to see in Hell. It was just as well that the distances for the great guns were already calculated.

The thunder of the artillery pieces added their weight to the chaos breaking out around them. Crist could hear the distant explosions of the shells. They were exploding behind the firewall. However, the lack of visibility did not allow Crist to ascertain the effectiveness of his guns.

Even the men in the towers connected by the trenches could not make out much in the choking black fog. Nonetheless, when the mighty fists of the bronze giants collided with the stone walls of the towers the men could feel it. As the mist swirled in the moving air, the defending soldiers could get a glimpse of the Talos.

Machineguns opened up as well as the M1 Garands and muzzle loading rifles of the men in the trenches. The bullets ricocheted harmlessly off the bronze bodies of the giants. A soldier with a bazooka fired it pointblank at the Talos assaulting a nearby tower. The body of the giant exploded simultaneously as the tower collapsed.

More bazookas fired and more bronze giants fell. However, the relentless giants also kept up their attacks on the towers and trenches. The defenders fought valiantly but many of them were crushed under the feet of the Talos. More were killed when the tower they were in collapsed in a heap of broken stones.

Men started to retreat towards the second line of trenches. Some stumbled and fell, for they could not see very well in the inky black fog created by the burning moat. The flames of the moat were also starting to die down. Soon the fire would consume the flammable liquid that the tanker had brought south.

General Crist ran up and down the second line of trenches ordering the men to stand firm. With the flames dying down, visibility started to improve. The general could see that another endless wave of undead marching mindlessly towards him. Bodies of the fallen covered the ground. Some were charred, others crushed and more than a few broken bronze giants littered the ground.

However, mixed amongst the dead marching towards the new trench works were more Talos advancing. Their numbers were still great and many of the valuable bazookas had already expended there rounds.

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Reunited...

Chapter Thirteen

By Douglas E. Gogerty

It was getting dark, and it had been a long day for Prince William. However, with the darkness came the realization that he was not that far from the strip. The bright lights he had seen while in the desert came from those hotels. He would just have to head north and east to get back from where he came. He was not as lost as he thought.

He did wish that he had thought about eating before this very moment. Nonetheless, his journey back to the hotels would have to wait. He was more tired than he was hungry, but that situation would reverse in the morning.

The Prince was accustomed to roughing it. When on the trail, one does not find much in the way of luxury. In fact, this house was more luxurious than most of his camping experiences. He would have no problems sleeping in the abandoned house. In fact, the emptied bathtub seemed quite inviting. Thus, he stretched out in the enormous tub and quickly fell fast asleep.

While the fancy tub was by no means soft, it was comfortable enough to provide the Prince with a sleeping spot. Further, its cool marble surface afforded a better night's sleep in the heat of the desert. The sun was peeking over the horizon when he awoke. He had slept quite soundly despite the sleeping conditions.

He slowly got up and looked around further. Perhaps something around would be edible. His stomach had been growling for a bit. Having found nothing to eat, he resigned himself to walking back to the hotel for food. It was at that moment that Princess Angelina walked into the ancient home. He was quite surprised to see her, and he wondered how she had found him.

"It is a long story," replied the Princess.

"You can tell me it over breakfast," responded the Prince as he headed for the door.

"Oh please! I could not eat another thing."

"But, you will tell me?"

"I have not decided yet."

"What?"

"I understand that you have a right to know, but I do not know if you are in a state to handle more shocks."

"I have a tracking device on me..."

"I am afraid so."

"Why am I not surprised?"

"I had nothing to do with it."

"Sure."

"I did not!"

"Whatever you say. Can we -- er -- I get something to eat now?"

"I am sorry to keep you," the Princess replied waving towards the door.

The pair walked west along the cul-de-sac before they could begin their northeasterly trek. They were silent for a portion of the walk. Each did not know what to say to the other. They just walked in their own thoughts.

"So, you are tracking me to make sure I do not leave," began the Prince after a long silence.

"That is not it at all," replied the Princess. "I was unaware of the tracking device until this very morning."

"And you expect me to believe that?"

"It matters little what you believe; however, it is the truth."

"But, you show up at my door in the middle of nowhere..."

"Because I asked around. That is how I found out about the tracker."

"And subsequently my position."

"True, but I came because we have much to discuss."

"Why would I discuss anything with you? I do not know if I can trust you."

The silence between them returned. They walked and the tall hotels came into view. They were almost back to civilization -- such as it was. The Princess gave out a small sigh.

"Do you have the power to have services restored to that house back there?"

"That small place? Why do you ask?"

"These hotels are nice, but are filled with common people. They are not fit for a man of my situation."

"You -- you are just a minor prince..."

"I am still royalty. I feel I have the right to live in better accommodations."

"These are the finest hotels in all of Morica."

"While that may be true, they are not filled with royalty such as myself."

"So you believe you deserve special treatment because of it."

"Naturally."

"What have you done in your lifetime to deserve this treatment?"

"I -- I -- I came looking for you."

"As my knight in shining armor. You came to save me from some unknown evil..."

"Something like that," the Prince said with a sigh. "Anyway, do you have the authority or ability?"

"I do, but it will not be necessary."

"What!?!! Why?"

"Things have come to light that has made me re-evaluate your position -- and mine."

"Things? What things?"

"The tracking device for one."

"And...?

"And what?"

"Are you going to tell me more?"

"What would you like to know?"

"These things that have come to light."

"There is very little need to explain it further."

"And just why is that?"

"You know enough now for my father to kill you on sight," sighed the Princess. "That is if you leave the Forbidden Zone. Why would you like even more reasons?"

"Would he come for me here?"

"He may."

"How likely is that?"

"There are plenty of people here that will do his bidding. You may not be as safe as you think. After all, you are already considered dead outside of here."

"However, I am certainly more safe here than I would be outside."

"So what are you trying to say?"

"I am not sure I wish to leave this place."

"Is living in that house your wish?"

"If services could be restored, it would be a fine residence."

"You would not even leave to have a kingdom of your own?"

"What do you mean?"

"In my reconsiderations, I have given some thought to the kingdom by the gulf."

"Do you know what that entails?"

"It would not entail what you think."

"My father would not cede that land to you unless we got -- married."

"I believe I could convince him otherwise."

"But what about the pirates and raiders?"

"Is it your intention to learn my entire plan?"

"Well yes..."

"That is too bad because we are here. I have no intention of watching you eat. Thus, you will have to wait."

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The God Wars

Chapter Thirty-eight:

Barrage

By Dwayne MacInnes

General Crist watched as the unrelenting army of undead marched towards the trenches. The men had to hold these trench works because after that there would only be the city walls and the three canals to hinder Ares' advance.

The defenders fired their weapons at the advancing troops lumbering towards them. The stench of the half-decayed men may have been one of the more effective weapons of the undead. Nonetheless, the defenders were determined not to give up.

The crack of the rifles and the constant thumping of the machineguns sounded down the trenches. Mortars and artillery pieces from behind the trenches fired round after round into the advancing army. Occasionally, a remaining wisp of smoke would obscure the approaching undead. However, once the wind shifted the army would be that much closer.

The reanimated warriors would fall as a bullet would tear a leg or head off. The explosions of the mortars and artillery shells flung rotted body parts through the air. Yet the undead marched steadily onward oblivious to the carnage.

* * * * *

Ares smiled, these troops would not run. The dead did not fear anything. Their only purpose was to obey Ares' commands and to kill the living. Ares figured that the sheer numbers of the undead would easily overwhelm the trenches.

Hades, still in his chariot, advanced towards the god of war. "What are your orders?"

"Have your Necro-lords prepare to enter the trenches once the warriors flood the defenders," Ares laughed. "We will be in Atlantis by nightfall."

Hades summoned his Necro-lords, Thanatos and Charon. Death still rode his sickly looking horse and the boatman still held a harnessed Cerberus at bay. Hades started to give his orders when suddenly a new sound exploded upon the landscape.

105mm Howitzer M2A1

General Crist hung up the field phone on the backpack of one of his soldiers. The order for a rolling artillery barrage started. The initial artillery assault would begin yards in front of the trenches and then advance towards Ares' army. The 105-mm Howitzer M2A1 artillery pieces and the mortars now had the added strength of the nine 8 inch guns onboard the Pima.

The ground outside the trench-works suddenly exploded in a shower of earth and shrapnel. The artillery shells continued to fall relentlessly. Even the undead warriors could not make much headway in this rain of steel.

Entire lines of warriors would suddenly disintegrate as multiple shells fell upon them. The burst of fire and steel would send body parts flying in all directions. The explosions continued to advance through the advancing undead.

The Talos mixed in with the undead army did not escape the wrath of the bursting shells. The steam stored inside them would rupture forth as shrapnel tore through their bronze hide. The hot red ichors that functioned as the giants' blood would splash onto the ravaged ground.

Crist then grabbed the field phone again and gave another order while the barrage continued. Instantly, the ten M4 Sherman tanks Crist had held back raced past the trenches and entered the combat. The tanks would stop only to fire their main guns.

* * * * *

Ares again caught unprepared by the latest tactic of the Otherworlders ordered Hades and his Necro-lords back before the barrage caught them in its deadly explosions. Ares looked across the broken landscape to see tanks fire their guns into the 10-foot bronze giants.

A few of the giants were able to overcome one of the Shermans flipping it onto its side. However, it cost them dearly for the other tanks quickly reduced their numbers. The giants and tanks jockeyed around the battlefield oblivious to the undead warriors still advancing towards the trenches or the artillery barrage still detonating around them.

To make matters worse the smoke had finally cleared enough that the remaining fighter planes and torpedo bombers were now strafing the field. The undead were being mowed down in such great numbers even Ares wondered if he had enough warriors to conquer Atlantis.

Ares did not like the fact that the aircraft were now able to assault his ground forces. For that meant that the Otherworlders' planes had finally destroyed Hermes' Draco-lords. The god of war did not have time to worry about whether Hermes himself had survived.

Ares also reasoned that the defenders could not continue such an intense counterattack indefinitely. Therefore, the god of war continued to feed his undead warriors into the battle. The ranks of undead fell before the onslaught of the combined arms of General Crist's forces.

White smoke, shattered bronze limbs, and random body parts filled the broken black field. However, the undead warriors continued to attempt to cross the no-man's-land. The artillery fire began to slacken and the aircraft finally retreated from the field, as did the tanks.

Ares army suffered greatly from the assault. However, he still possessed a huge army. The numbers of Ares forces were finally starting to tell. The defenders would not be able to last much longer.

"Hades!" Ares yelled. "Prepare to send out the Necro-lords. They are faltering."

"Nay, my lord," Hades sadly replied. "We have tarried too long and now the sun is sinking into the ocean. We cannot hope to fight in the dark."

Ares so caught up in the combat did not notice that the sun had started to dip into the western sea. With a mighty curse, Ares ordered his forces back to the first line of trenches. Tomorrow, Ares promised himself the mortals shall fall.

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Reunited...

Chapter Fourteen

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Princess Angelina made preparations to return to her father's kingdom. She gathered provisions and placed them into her suncar. She had a technician recondition the batteries. At a moderate speed, it would take about fourteen hours to make it back to her father's castle. Thus, there was a need to camp somewhere along the way. She wanted to be in the cooler mountain areas before the need to stop. Further, she did not want to breakdown before reaching her father's castle in Calmondak. The car was going to travel through some pretty harsh areas, and there would be no help available. Thus, preparations were important.

Once the car was prepared, the Princess left the hotel and went back to her library home. She looked up tracking devices on the google. She found out about ancient radio ID tags for pets. While they were not exactly the same thing, the technology could have progressed to the point it was now. It could have become smaller and more powerful. Likely, it was another technology obtained from the ancients but refined by her father's people.

She did more looking at things on the internets. From some of the things she learned, she was certain her father had access to this technology in his castle. However, he clearly hid it from other people in and out of the kingdom. She would force him to reveal it to her. Thus, she could continue looking up things that interested her. When she left this ancient city, there would be many more wonders she would want to study. The she learned the more she realized that the ancients were more advanced than anyone was taught in the schools. There was probably a reason for that, but she would not let her father interfere with her search for knowledge.

After her searches were finished and after she gathered her things, she went to the hotel where she left Prince William. She found him wandering around the casino area. She could tell that the machines intrigued him greatly. However, she wished to get to the mountains before it got too late. Thus, she urged him to come along.

"Why should I?" asked the Prince.

"Can we talk about it in the car?" she replied. "I want to get going before it gets too late in the day."

"Again, why should I?"

"The temperatures in the mountains will be much more comfortable for our camp out."

"You are not listening," asserted the Prince. "Why should I leave the Forbidden Zone?

"Because I want you to," she replied with a pouty look.

"Uhhh..." he replied.

He could not resist that look. Thus, he followed her out of the hotel. She walked directly to the waiting suncar.

"I am driving," the Prince insisted.

"What?" she asked with a glare.

"At least let me drive," he said softening his tone.

"What...?" she added.

"Please!" he replied with a sigh.

She waited by the passenger door. The Prince taking the hint opened the door for the Princess. She got in, and the Prince ran around the car and got into the driving position. The pair headed out on the ancient road towards Calmondak.

"So...," he began after a brief pause.

"So what?" she answered.

"You said we could talk about your plans in the car."

"We are not even out of the city. You sure are anxious to discuss it."

"It does involve my future..."

"Very well," the Princess replied with a sigh. "I will talk to my father and convince him to let you live."

"Wait!" he said as he slammed on the brakes.

"I will be successful," she replied bracing herself.

"How can you be certain?"

"I know my father."

"What if you are wrong?"

"I am certain that I am not," replied the Princess with confidence. "I have enough on him, and he would not dare deny me -- anything."

"What assurances do I have?"

"You will simply have to trust me."

"I am sooooo dead," he replied as he began driving again.

After fairly long stretch of silence the Prince asked, "After you have insisted upon my survival, what then?"

"What do you mean?"

"How do you intend to get my father to agree to giving me the land without a wedding?"

"Oh that?" replied the Princess with a giggle. "I will throw the prophecy in his face."

"I thought you did not believe in it...."

"I do not, but that does not mean that it will not be useful to me. This Prophecy just mentions you rescuing me. Clearly, you have done that, which is all that is required."

"But there is an assumption there..."

"The assumption that I will be so grateful, that I will marry you..."

"Yeah that!"

"You can forget it."

"I think my father will insist."

"Your father is in no position to insist on this."

"But, he can still deny me the land."

"And go against the Prophecy? I do not think so."

After another brief silence, the Prince asked, "How does all this benefit you?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean," replied the Prince with a thoughtful look, "You do not need me to get back home. You simply do not need me for anything. Why did you save me from spending the rest of my life back there."

"Oh that -- are sure you want to know?"

"Are you sure you are fourteen?"

"I am pretty sure," replied the Princess. "My reasons are complicated..."

"We have plenty of time."

"Okay, I will tell you the truth."

"What?"

"I was going to ask your father to cede the land to me -- without you."

"I think that would be even harder to do."

"Not when he realizes that I rescued you, and not the other way around."

"You would use my father's prophecy against him?"

"It was the plan."

"Where do I fit in?"

" You know, there is an ancient saying -- Curiosity killed the cat."

"I have a right to know."

"You can do whatever you like."

"You promised me my own kingdom."

"I lied."

"I do not think you are fourteen at all!"

The pair drove for quite a while in silence. They would occasionally speak, but it was more reminiscences of their youth than the talk of the future. Eventually, they arrived at the place where Prince William had camped what seemed like ages ago. It was a good camping location, and they made a fire and had a nice meal. They would easily make it to the Castle the next day.

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The God Wars

Chapter Thirty-nine:

To the Wall

By Dwayne MacInnes

Just after the sunset, Hermes returned to the trenches where Ares set up camp. The chewed up ground contained bodies from both sides that lay strewn across the landscape. Jagged scraps of bronze and heaping piles of stone told of the combat that took place earlier in the day. The god of thieves looked the worse for wear. His tunic usually clean and white was now torn and dirty. His well kempt hair was in disarray.

"I hope you have faired better on ground than I did in the air," Hermes said.

"I fear not," Ares grumbled. "However, tomorrow we will gain the city. I am sure of it."

"I believe you have said that before," Hermes mumbled under his breath.

"What was that?" snapped the god of war.

"Nothing," Hermes lied. "I was wondering if you had seen Zeus."

Ares forgot about Zeus. The king of the gods was free to do as he pleased. However, Ares was certain that Zeus would have had a hand in the combat. But the god of war had not seen Zeus since that morning.

"I have not. Maybe he has returned to Olympus."

Hades now walked over to his companions. "I have not seen Zeus either. Perhaps the Otherworlders have killed him as well," Hades replied grimly.

"If that is so then it is imperative that we destroy these mortals before they kill the rest of us," Ares stated coldly.

After Ares thought for a bit, he finally spoke again, "Tomorrow when the sun rises we will hit them with everything we have. We must take the city tomorrow!"

M4 Sherman Tank

As the sun broke over the Dragonspine Mountains, the defenders in the trenches outside the city wall could see a sea of undead soldiers marching towards them in the dawn mist. Amongst the reanimated corpses of fallen warriors, the 10-foot tall bronze Talos towered over their companions.

General Crist had not spent the night in idleness. He knew that Ares would push for one major assault on the trenches. The sad realization is that Crist also knew that he could not prevent Ares from taking them. He only hoped he could make it as costly as possible.

The artillery pieces General Crist had ordered moved into Atlantis itself in order to keep them from falling into enemy hands. It was unlikely that Ares would be able to use them against the defenders but he could not afford to lose them. Crist also had to contend with the fact that he had used a lot of the ammunition for the guns in the previous day's rolling barrage.

King Podaistas came to the trenches in the night. The general and the monarch made plans and prepared defenses well into the early predawn hours. Now the king awaited back on the city walls. He would have to give a good account of himself once Ares took the trenches.

The advancing undead did cover half the distance between the two trench works when the familiar hum of aircraft broke the still air. General Crist was saddened to learn that the previous day's battle had cost him five of his fighters and seven of the torpedo bombers. The aircraft laden with bombs flew low towards the encroaching army. They did not worry about dragons or griffins anymore. The beasts of Hermes were vanquished the day before by the aircraft.

* * * * *

Ares was not surprised to see the planes fly towards his army, there was nothing he could do to prevent their attack. He had to rely on his numbers to withstand the air assault. There would be no retreats today, just the order to move onward and forward.

The bombs tumbled down through the air whistling on their descent. As the impacted with the earth, great geysers of dirt and body parts erupted into the air. The undead just closed ranks around the gaping holes created by the explosions.

Soon the artillery began to rain their ordinance upon the undead. The barrage was not as devastating as the day before. However, the damage was still considerable. But like with the bombing run the undead pushed onward heedless of the damage being inflicted on them.

The aircraft then began to dive and fire their machineguns into the oncoming army. The .30 and .50 rounds chewed up the warriors and left the Talos undamaged. When the undaunted dead were within range, the men in the trenches opened up with their guns. Bullets flew through the air and ripped into the reanimated soldiers.

Ares deliberately held Hermes and Hades with his Necro-lords back. He wanted to release them when the time was right. Plus, he did not want to risk losing another god to these humans.

The Sherman tanks fired the guns from outside the city walls. They aimed their shells specifically at the bronze giants. The Shermans were able to shoot many arms and legs off resulting in huge explosions of steam and hot ichor flying into the air. The stricken giants stopped in their tracks and would simply topple over often crushing some undead beneath them.

* * * * *

The defenders kept up a hail of fire as the undead army marched closer toward the trenches. The lead elements would fall only to have their companions trample them. The waves of reanimated warriors crept ever closer to the trenches.

General Crist knew that the holding the trenches any longer against Ares undead would be futile. The number of soldiers he had were nowhere near the numbers Ares had available. Therefore, as the advanced elements of Ares' soldiers reached the trenches Crist ordered a pull back to the city walls.

* * * * *

Ares smiled to see the defenders pulling out of the trenches. The god of war looked over at his fellow gods. He raised his bladed-left hand and pointed towards the trenches.

"Now!" Ares cried to his companions. "Now, we will take the city!"

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Reunited...

Chapter Fifteen

By Douglas E. Gogerty

It was shortly before dawn when Prince William awoke. He looked over at the beautiful sleeping princess. As silently as he could, he grabbed his things and headed to the suncar. Because he was the driver, he had the keys. He quietly opened the doors and packed all of his things. As soon as the sun peeked over the horizon, he drove off.

Leaving his childhood friend behind, Prince William drove off in the suncar. He was not sure where he was going to go. Since he was close to the ancient highway, he would begin driving upon it. Nevertheless, he was certain he could not go back to where this journey began.

However, where would he go? When he got there, would he be safe? He was currently in the middle of what could be considered enemy territory. Could he make it to his father's kingdom? Further, he did not have any navigation aid to get him home. When he left, he had only consulted the map of Calmondak. It was all he needed when he first left on this adventure. Without navigational help, he knew that if he headed east, he would eventually reach his father's kingdom. In any event, the Prince wondered what obstacles he would encounter on his journey.

He continued driving for a while, but his thoughts kept returning to the stranded Princess Angelina. Despite being well into the mountains, it was still going to be a hot day. How was she doing? Had she panicked? What was she doing?

Further, how was she going to get back home? Did leaving her at the camp sentence her to death? After all, she let him drive. Thus, she trusted him with the keys. She did not even consider that he would run, so she did not even ask for the keys when the bed down for the night. Further, she did not protect herself from any advances he might make. She completely trusted him. Hence, by his actions, he had completely betrayed her trust.

After much debate with himself, the Prince turned around. The guilt was too much for him. He could not abandon her like that. She was far away from civilization in both directions that she would not survive the trip on foot. He would have to improve his situation in some other manner.

When the Prince returned to the camping spot, he found the Princess cooking breakfast over an open fire. She did not even looked surprised as he drove up. He got out of the suncar and walked over to where the Princess sat.

"Breakfast?" she asked nonchalantly.

"You knew I could never abandon you out here..."

"You can never tell with some people, but I can read you pretty well."

"You do know my life is at stake here."

"Of course."

"How could you be sure that I would find your life more valuable than my own?"

"I do not really look at it that way," replied the Princess. "I have given you plenty of assurances that you would live."

"You by no means can assure that."

"While that is true, you knew that I would not survive out here by myself."

"Sure death vs. possible death -- that is a pretty big chance."

"I also had one more thing going for me. I trusted you."

"Guilt. You knew that I would feel guilty about abandoning you."

"It is an ancient emotion that has plenty of power."

"What is for breakfast?" asked the Prince with a sigh.

The pair ate a fine meal. For a pampered daughter of a wealthy aristocrat, the Princess had surprising good cooking skills. She probably had only made herself a handful of meals, yet she somehow learned to be a competent cook. In her youth, she had garnered numerous skills. The surprisingly good meal calmed the Prince's guilty conscience. He quietly ate his meal.

When they both had their fill, the pair packed the remaining supplies in the car and drove off. Because of the incident that occurred earlier, they were behind schedule. Nonetheless, they still had plenty of daylight to make it back to King Jonathan's castle. The Prince drove a little faster, but he knew he could not get lost during this stretch of the journey. He remembered that there were very few turnoffs off the ancient road. He had driven slowly across this stretch the last time, but he was no longer tracking anyone. He could just go.

After several hours of driving and pleasant conversation, the Prince William noticed a roadblock up ahead. It had been the first sign of life they had encountered since they left the ancient city. There were a good number of people attending this obstacle.

"I will handle this," asserted Prince William as he stopped the car and got out.

The Princess attempted to stop him, but he was out of the car before she could warn him. The Prince strutted towards the front of the car, but before he could say a word, the guards fired their tasers at him. In a painful convulsion, everything went black for the Prince. He tumbled to the ground as the group approached. One of the guards drew his long knife as the group made their way to the convulsing Prince.

"Wait!" exclaimed the Princess as she jumped out of the car.

"Pardon us your highness," replied the guard who appeared to be in charge. "But, we are under strict orders to not let the Prince pass."

"You know that I am the Princess and he is Prince William then."

"Yes Miss."

"How would you know that?"

"I am not at liberty to discuss it."

"The tracking device..."

"I do know not of what you speak," lied the guard.

"In any event, you do not have all the required information."

"Is that so?"

"Prince William and myself have additional information that the King will wish to hear."

"I am sorry your highness, but we do have our orders."

"The King will be quite upset when I get to him."

"There is no way to override the King's orders. We cannot disobey."

"I am telling you that you will be in greater trouble if you do not disobey his orders than if you obey them."

"We will take that chance," replied the guard as the one with the knife approached the Prince.

"I know you have long distance communication," asserted the Princess. "I demand you let me speak to him."

"Please your highness, we have our orders."

"We were just following orders is a poor excuse. I am positive my father would want to hear what I have to say."

"What does that have to do with Prince William?"

"Everything."

"I am sorry mistress..."

The guard with the knife walked right to the Prince. The Princess lied across him to block the way. However, another guard removed her from the still quivering Prince. Thus the one with the knife had full access to the vital parts of the Prince.

"Please..." begged the Princess.

"We have our orders," replied the head guard.

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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
  • Kerry Glasscock: Good story. I love that Dwayne. nice work! read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Susanne. You are correct, the OS of computers has read more
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