March 2010 Archives

The God Wars

Chapter Forty-four:

Fight of the Gods

By Dwayne MacInnes

Greek God Athena

Both King Podaistas and General Crist from opposite sides of the tent held their bleeding stomachs as they witnessed a fight like no one had ever seen before. Ares sneered and attacked Athena. The goddess stepped back and parried every attack. Even though rage burned across her face, she never once let it affect her fight.

Sparks flew from the blades as they connected and the smell of ozone soon filled the large tent. Ares' attacks were full of fury and strength; whereas Athena dodged and parried the onslaught waiting for the right moment, the right opening. Ares used both sword and his bladed hand in his attacks and Athena used only her sword.

"Your boyfriend lays dying dear sister," Ares taunted.

Athena merely narrowed her eyes, but she never responded. She would not let Ares bait her. She would not allow her anger to cloud her judgment. In fact, if Ares continued to talk he could very well give her an opening.

From the back of the tent, Hades started to cough. Blood spilled from his mouth as he looked towards the combat. His eyes narrowed on the goddess and then widened in anger.

"The javelin that pierced my torso came from your hand!" Hades cried hoarsely. "You betrayed the gods for these mortals."

Hermes sat next to Hades as the god of the underworld began a coughing fit. More blood poured from his mouth and flew across the tent. Hermes tunic became soaked with Hades blood as Hermes tried to comfort the dying god. However, in mid-cough Hades' eyes glazed over and the god went limp.

* * * * *

The running soldiers halted as the huge army of undead warriors began to advance towards them. The warriors positioned themselves between the soldiers and the tent. Even with the combined armies, it would still be a costly and lengthy fight to force their way past the undead.

Suddenly, without warning the undead warriors fell limply to the ground. Their bodies began to decay at an accelerated rate until only the bones mingled with armor remained. The soldiers stared in bewilderment hardly noticing the golden chariot pull up to the tent and its occupants enter the structure.

* * * * *

Athena and Ares paid the passing of Hades little notice as they continued to circle each other. Ares launched another series of forceful attacks. Athena turned his blade utilizing the god's strength against him. As Ares sword was pushed to the side, Athena reposted and scored a hit upon Ares' torso. The god roared in rage and shot his bladed hand out towards Athena's mid-section. However, Athena's blade was there to deflect the hand as she twisted her body out of its path.

Hermes laid Hades back down on the cot. This was not what was supposed to happen. These humans were killing off the gods. For millennia after millennia, mortals had never killed the gods. The gods killed mortals. These Otherworlders had disrupted the balance of power.

Hermes' mind started to seethe in anger. He pulled out his black dagger and maneuvered himself into the shadows. If Athena wanted to join the humans, very well she could join them in death.

Athena's concentration was solely on Ares. The god was so wild in his attacks that she could not spare any attention to anything other than her fight. Therefore, she did not notice Hermes sneaking up behind her in the shadows of the tent.

Hermes smiled as he raised the dagger. He was right behind Athena and she did not notice him because she was too intent on Ares. Hermes was about to bring the blade down between Athena's shoulder blades when he heard two distinct hisses.

Before Hermes could commence his attack, he felt a sudden pain spread from his back to his chest. Hermes looked down and noticed two hunter's arrows protruding from his chest. The feathered shafts stuck out his back. Hermes dropped his dagger and turned around to see who had killed him.

The god of thieves noticed Apollo standing next to a woman. The woman wore a green hunter's cloak and she still held the bow that had released the arrows. On her back was a quiver full of more arrows. However, she only pulled back the hood revealing her golden hair pulled back into a ponytail.

Hermes dropped to his knees. "Artemis, you bitch," was all he could say before he fell forward onto his face dead.

* * * * *

Ares thrust his left-hand composed of a serrated blade at Athena again. However, this time Ares overextended and Athena chopped the metal appendage off at the arm. The blade crashed to the ground and Ares momentarily paused in disbelief.

That was all Athena needed as she drove her sword through Ares' armor and into his chest. The sword pierced Ares heart and before the god realized that anything had happened, he too fell to the ground dead.

Athena spun around and noticed Apollo. "You have to save the general!" she cried.

Apollo knelt down next to Crist. The general waved him off and stated, "I'm not important. Save the king."

"I may not have time to come back to save you," Apollo protested.

"Damn it," Crist grunted as a wave of pain flashed across his midsection. "You are wasting time. Just do it!"

Apollo quickly crossed the tent and laid his hands upon the unconscious monarch. At his touch, the king's stomach instantly healed. The king remained unconscious as Apollo crossed the tent again towards the general.

General Crist's head now rested in Athena's lap. Crist looked up at the goddess, "I knew it was you. It figures I'd fall in love with a goddess."

Athena sniffed fighting back the tears, "Who would have ever thought I'd fall in love with a mortal."

Crist smiled weakly before he went limp. Apollo laid his hands upon the general's belly as Athena gave out a mournful scream.

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Reunited...

Chapter Twenty

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Princess Angelina followed her father to a nearby control room. The King attempted to slip into the room, but the Princess got her foot in the door. Following that was a quick argument outside the door; however, the Princess prevailed. The Princess was not going to be denied access to this very important -- but secret -- room.

Inside the room was a large computer screen. It was larger than any she had seen before. On the screen, there was a map like the ones she had seen on the Google. There were a large number of markers at various locations on the screen. King Jonathan whispered into the ear of one of the technicians. The operator typed on his keyboard, and it zeroed in on a particular marker.

"He is in the infirmary," remarked the King.

"What?" asked the Princess.

"It appears," the King began in an innocent voice "that Prince William is in the hospital."

"And how did he end up there?" asked the Princess in an accusatory tone.

"Honestly dear, I have no idea."

"Uh huh..."

"I am telling the truth," the King replied with a shrug. "Perhaps, you should go to the Prince and hear what he has to say."

"I will do just that," the Princess remarked as she left the room.

Princess Angelina walked the corridors towards the infirmary. From the command center, there was not a direct route -- without exiting the building. Thus, she had to wind through several corridors. That gave her time to formulate what she was going to ask the Prince.

When she arrived at the infirmary, the staff was reluctant to let her see Prince William. He had a nasty fall and needs his rest was the phrase she heard from numerous individuals. However, her rank overrode those concerns. Hence, she was allowed into Prince William's room.

When she entered, the Prince was asleep. Her attempts to wake him were unsuccessful. The suspicions of her father increased when she noticed that he was strapped to the bed. In fact, her trust of everyone in the castle complex decreased. She did not know whom she could trust.

She ordered a chair from an orderly. She was going to wait by the Prince's side. She sat for a bit, but the Prince did not stir. She decided that she could not just sit. She needed something to do while she waited. She gave orders to anyone who would listen that the Prince was not to be disturbed. Further, if he were to wake, she should be informed immediately.

With that, she walked through the corridors to her quarters. This was a much more direct route. She grabbed a few books. At this time, she wondered if there were any internets in the hospital. She found that they were a great way to pass the time. Nevertheless, the books on paper were going have to do for now.

When she returned to the Prince, someone was looking over him with a clipboard.

"Excuse me?" the Princess stated with her anger in control as much as possible.

"Oh..." replied the nurse innocently.

"Do my words hold no weight anywhere around her anymore?" the Princess asked.

"What do you mean?"

"I left orders that the Prince was not to be disturbed, and not 15 minutes later..."

"I was just checking on him."

"For what purpose?"

"He needs his rest, and I was checking his IV."

"This IV is keeping him asleep?"

"Naturally."

"How long will he be asleep?"

"Probably for the rest of the day."

"Then shut it off, or I will yank it out!"

"I -- uh -- I cannot do that."

"You do know that it is within my powers to have you flogged..."

"But..."

"Flogged!"

"I will go get the doctor."

"You do that."

The nurse rushed away. Princess Angelina watched as he had an animated discussion with presumably the doctor who was caring for Prince William. After much arm flailing by the nurse, the doctor rushed over to the Princess.

"Do not touch that IV," exclaimed the doctor.

"As I explained to your nurse, it is within my powers to have you flogged."

"But..."

"Flogged!"

"The Prince needs his rest."

"As I have been informed on numerous occasions."

"Well -- it is in his best interest to remain here."

"While I am sure you are concerned for his health, you had better disconnect him and allow him to awake immediately. Otherwise, there will be an inordinately large amount of hell to pay!"

"But..."

"No buts! Disconnect him now, or as I have warned, I will do it myself."

The doctor removed the needle in Prince William's arm. He moved the stand away from the bedside, and remarked, "It will still be a few hours before he wakes up."

"Bring me a wheel chair."

"What?"

"He may be unconscious, but he will still be able to travel. I am taking him away from this place!"

"But..."

"He can stay here in this bed, or he can sleep in the rear seat of a suncar. What is the difference?"

"He will have care..."

"He will have care in his home castle as well."

"Very well," replied the doctor with a sigh.

The doctor brought a gurney instead of a wheel chair. With the help of an orderly, he lifted the Prince onto it. The orderly pushed the bed to the lobby and out the door. At this time, the Princess went to the location where she had left the suncar. She brought it over, and the orderly gently placed the Prince in the back seat.

The Princess drove to the gate. She jumped out, and spoke to the guard.

"Open the gate."

"Can I see your authorization?" replied the guard.

"I owe you a flogging from last time..."

"Sorry ma'am," the guard said with a bow.

The gate opened immediately and the Princess drove through it. She checked to see if the Prince was still there, and he was. This had been more difficult than she anticipated. She hoped it would be different in Lakeland. However, she was not hopeful.

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The God Wars

Chapter Forty-five:

Legends (The End)

By Dwayne MacInnes

Greek Goddess Artemis

The three gods looked down at the general. His pale face was at peace and his body lay limp upon the lap of Athena. The goddess's tears splashed upon General Crist's motionless face.

Apollo and his twin sister Artemis watched in silence. Neither god wanted to interfere with the goddess of wisdom. She would have to come to reason on her own. However, Apollo realized that not even Aphrodite could have witnessed such love as between this mortal and this goddess.

Athena wiped the tears from her eyes as she gently removed Crist's head from her lap. She stood up and looked at Apollo and his sister, Artemis maiden of the hunt.

"Take him to Mount Olympus," Athena said softly.

"Such a thing has never been done before," Apollo stated in mild shock. "Father would be upset if we brought a mortal, no matter how great, to his palace."

"Zeus is dead," Athena said matter-of-factly. "He was killed trying to slay innocent civilians fleeing for their lives. He listened to the wrong counsel and now he too is dead."

Apollo swallowed hard. The news Athena just told him did not surprise him as much as the lack of emotion over the loss of their father. Finally, Apollo put a hand to his forehead covering his eyes. "If we are taking roll, then I must confess that Hephaestus too is dead."

Artemis and Athena both looked at Apollo. The mortals never reached Mount Olympus and as far as they knew, Hephaestus never had ventured from the realm of the gods.

"How, dear brother, did it come to pass," Artemis said gently. She put a supporting arm around her twin brother.

Apollo stared into Artemis's eyes as he spoke, "Something changed him. He took great delight in the torment and torture of the humans."

The god stopped and tears came to his eyes in the remembrance of the long ordeal with Hephaestus and Reno. "He had this mortal, Reno," Apollo choked. "He would do... unspeakable things to this poor mortal. If the man came close to dying, he would have me heal him. I did this for him at first because I too feared the prophecy. Then, after the man's mind broke and Hephaestus continued his cruel treatment, I could barely stand it.

"Finally, Reno became lucid enough to beg me to end it. He did not blame me; it was like he forgave me for my part in his torment!" Apollo sobbed uncontrollably for a few seconds before continuing. "Hephaestus wanted to continue his ghastly game, I snapped and killed him. Now Aphrodite has finally found that she had always loved her husband. She too has come to terms with coexisting with the humans and is now waiting at Olympus for our return."

Athena and Artemis looked at each other for a brief second before returning to Apollo. The god wiped his eyes with the back of his hands. "I will never cause the death of a mortal again. I have dedicated myself to their betterment. So, Athena, sword maiden, I will take Crist to Olympus."

"In the end, those across the Styx will only number a paltry six," the goddess of the hunt quoted. "That leaves just us six gods from the twelve." Artemis grabbed Apollo's arm as the god reached for Crist's body lying peacefully upon the ground. "Brother, let me carry him. But, Athena, what do we tell the mortals. Their wrath could easily turn against us."

Athena stood up straight and transformed herself back into General Theena the Amazon of Knopso. "I will tell them. They will listen to me for to them I am one of them. Artemis you will have to pretend to be me when we leave."

Greek God Apollo

The entire combined army stood stunned as the scream full of sadness tore through the air. None of the soldiers had ever heard such a mournful and terrible cry. Many of the soldiers felt tears run down their face as they started to cry themselves for the feeling of loss filled them.

The men watched from a distance for some time when they noticed two figures leave the tent. It was the chariot driver and the woman in the green cloak. In her hands, she bore the limp body of General Crist. The two entered the bright golden chariot with the dazzling white horses. The man picked up the reigns and snapped them across the horses' backs. The chariot sped off at speed that even amazed the Otherworlders.

Next out of the tent came General Theena supporting the weakened King Podaistas. Tears ran down both of their dirty faces as they approached the men. The soldiers stood transfixed not daring to move as the two neared.

"What happened?" Lieutenant Rogers of the Jolly Rogers asked.

"We have won," King Podaistas answered weakly. "However, we have also lost. We lost the greatest man amongst us, General Crist."

The soldiers all now started to sob. The weight of the cost of battle was already too great, but now it was even greater.

"No!" Theena cried. "General Crist has been taken up by the gods Apollo and Athena. He will dwell in the halls of Mount Olympus with the six compassionate gods as a champion and will return to Atlantis when her need is greatest."

The men felt hope return to their hearts when Theena spoke. If any man could rise to dwell amongst the gods, it would be General Crist. Even the king looked up at the general and stared into her eyes.

"If I didn't know any better," King Podaistas said. "I'd say you could dwell with the gods."

"Your highness," Theena replied. "You are still weak from your injuries."

"Your highness, begging your pardon," Corporal Daniels spoke up. "What did you see?"

King Podaistas shook his head, "I don't remember much before I lost consciousness. However, I think Athena defeated Ares and Hermes. I believe that the gods were truly of two minds as to how to relate to us. Some wanted to eradicate us, and the others to live with us.

"It appears that the good gods won out. We should send emissaries to speak with them and establish formal communication."

Theena gently placed the king onto the ground. "Your highness, from what I saw the gods who wish peace with us mortals won the day. Being that I have the outpost closest to Mount Olympus I will personally make sure that we send emissaries to the gods.

"However, while you were unconscious I spoke to Apollo. He is of the mind that the gods and humans can coexist. It was he and Athena who after witnessing the valor of General Crist decided to take him to Mount Olympus to dwell with the gods. For great heroes deserve a special place of honor. What can be a greater honor than being allowed to dwell with the gods?"

The soldiers on the field smiled, nodded, and remembered a new prophecy spoken that day: A champion will return to Atlantis when her need is greatest.

The End

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Reunited...

Chapter Twenty-One

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Prince William dreamed that he was flying. He was soaring like a bird. Over the hills and valleys he flew. He went swooping left and right. Occasionally, a bird would attack his head, but he flew on. It was an exhilarating feeling even with the intermittent head pain. Eventually, he realized that he had no control over his flight. He would swoop and swerve, but he was not controlling the flight.

Hence, he morphed from a bird like flyer to a passenger of a plane. He still soared, but his flight was dependent on the whims of the pilot. The Prince, at various points, would hit his head on the plane's ceiling. After a while, he became airsick. He began searching for an airsick bag. Finding none, he just let it go.

He awoke vomiting on the floor of the suncar.

"Are you alright?" asked the Princess with concern.

"Spare car flee?" the Prince answered trying to piece things together.

"We are about a quarter of the way to Lakeland Castle."

"Cow song have I spleen bout?"

"We have been driving about eight hours. I do not know how long you were asleep before I got you out of the infirmary."

The Prince felt a wave a nausea come at him as the Princess pulled to the side of the road. He tried to open the door, but he was unable. He was conscious, but not quite in control of his functions. He felt that the door handle kept moving. Thus, he vomited on the suncar's floor again.

"Can you make it a little more?" asked the Princess.

"Floor?"

"There is a good place to camp and spend the night just a few miles down the road -- if you can make it."

"More beets have cows," replied the Prince.

"While that makes no sense, I will take that as a yes."

The Prince lied back and tried to recapture the feeling of flight. It worked briefly, but the nausea kept interfering. He was not sure if it were the movement or the smell of vomit that was causing it. Perhaps it was a bit of both. Nonetheless, he managed to fight back the urge as the Princess pulled off the ancient roadway.

There was a small parking area with a few small concrete block buildings. Further, there was a small amount of open space, and a few crumbling gazebos. It was a perfect place to stop and rest.

The Princess stopped the car and immediately got to work. She set up a tent and inflated a mattress for the bottom. The Prince tried to get up and help, but he could not move. Every time he attempted to get up, the nausea would return.

When the campsite was set, the Princess came over and helped the Prince get out of the car. The Prince thought she was quite strong. He was surprised how easily she got him to mattress in the tent.

The feeling of flight gave way to spins. Around and around the Prince felt he was going. No matter how he tried, he was unable to change the feeling. He noticed that it was always clockwise. Odd, he thought.

He concentrated upon why he was spinning. He thought that maybe he could actually feel the earth's rotation. Perhaps he had been disconnected with the earth's gravity. He pursued this line of reasoning until he fell asleep.

The Prince welcomed the dreamless sleep in which he found himself. The strange disconnection he felt with the world around him was disturbing. The flight, the spinning, and all that accompanied those dreams did not make for restful slumber. The dreamless night was most welcome.

The blackness changed to blueness. The Prince opened his eyes to notice that the tent was a bright blue. The sun was up. It had been up for a while. It was already midmorning. He felt pretty good -- until he tried to get up. He let out a gasp, and the Princess came running.

"Do not try to get up stupid!" insisted the Princess.

"I thought I could..." replied the Prince.

"It appears that the drugs have worn off."

"Drugs?"

"You were on some medications that made you sleep. It sounded like you were having some fantastic dreams for a while."

"Did I mention beets and cows?" asked the Prince.

"Not that I recall," lied the Princess.

"I do feel much better."

"You did sleep all night and most of the morning."

"Sorry."

"Not to worry, I do not wish to push you too hard."

"Is there any food?"

"You are hungry?"

"Famished!"

"That is a good sign. Now, do not move and I will bring you something."

The Princess brought some simple food. The Prince did not care what it was and ate it hungrily. He washed it down, and ate some more. He tried to think when he ate last, and he could not remember. It had been quite the couple of days.

When the meal was finished, once again the Prince attempted to get up. His head was not allowing that to happen without help. This time, the Princess came and supported him. He made it to the suncar. She tried to put him in the rear where he could lie down, but he would not allow that. He would sit in the passenger seat next to her.

His ears rang as he sat in the car. He was surprised how sweet the interior smelled. He had vague recollections that he got sick, but there was no evidence of that now. With each passing moment, he felt stronger and stronger.

The Princess broke camp, and repacked the gear as the Prince looked on. There were a few moments when he thought he should help, but he was not up to it. It was all he could do to sit up. He hoped to be able to walk by the time they reached his father's castle, but he would have to wait and see if that were possible.

Once the car was packed, they were back on the road. There would probably be two more nights of camping before they arrived. He had slept valuable daylight away, and they would be lucky to get to the border that day. Perhaps the next day would go better.

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Speeding

By Michael-John J. Davis

Illegal Alien Monitoring and Interception Bureau Agent Thomas Garfield


When I saw the flashing lights turn on in my rear view mirror, I realized the shit could very well hit the fan. Although I had made it through almost all of the US highway 2 corridor without trouble. I was traveling in a federal vehicle that all police departments between the site in New York and the facility in Southern Nevada had been given. Further, everyone was under strict notice not to interfere with my vehicle. They were informed more than twenty-four hours in advance. However, here at the western edge of Glacier National Park, it was apparent that a Montana Highway Patrol Man had not got the memo.

I gestured to my partner, and he picked up our radio. Into it he said, "Attention Montana State Trooper currently attempting a traffic stop on the western edge of Glacier Park. This is Agent Scott Beaufort of the Department of Homeland Security, Badge Number 451985215001. The vehicle you are attempting to stop is currently transporting a dangerous federal prisoner and has received authorization from the Department of Homeland Security and the State of Montana to violate any necessary traffic laws in the transportation of this prisoner. Please break off pursuit immediately!"

We listened to the crackle of the radio as we waited for him to verify this by running our plate and Scott's badge number. It was something he probably would do from now on before he attempted to pull over federal vehicles. This was because when he got back to his station he was going to get ripped a new one for this stunt. It is true; our strings are that good.

A few seconds later the patrol car's lights went off and Scott's head turned into a bloody mist. The thing with illegals is that they're really good at hiding weapons on their person. Further, they're really good at escaping from any restraints you put on them. That's why we sedate them during travel. This one must not have got enough of the night-night drug. He was awake and he was angry.

I slammed on my brakes and rolled out of the car. I knew the illegal would attempt to take the car to make it's escape. Further, I knew it didn't know how to drive and would give up on that plan quickly. I grabbed my hand held radio and flipped it to the state troopers channel. I needed help now and the closest backup available was a chase car about ten minutes behind. By the time they got here, this would be finished.

The state trooper was already out of his car with his service pistol pointed at my car, which was now sitting sideways in the middle of the road. I hit the transmit button.

"Trooper, you will not believe what I am about to tell you. Nonetheless, I expect you to do exactly as I say because any second now your worst nightmare is about to explode out of that car. He's eight feet tall, walks on four legs and has armored skin like an armadillo. He's faster and stronger than you or I could ever hope to be. He's armed with a disintegration gun capable of turning any square foot of your body into nothing more than a bloody mist. If you have one, you are going to want to trade that pistol for an AR-15 rifle."

I took my eye off the car long enough to glance over at the trooper but he still had his pistol trained on the car. My radio cackled with his reply "If this is some kind of joke or it's just some Joe in that car, I'm hauling you in and drug testing you federal agent or not!"

I moved deeper in the trees, waiting for the Alpha-centenarian to make his move. It took fifteen seconds. Bursting out of the car door he surprised me by jumping on the roof of my explorer. From there he somersaulted backwards off of it, and fired not at me but the trees I was hiding in.

He knew where I was and that his chance of hitting me in the dark night was slim but he had a different plan. Cursing my stupidity, I broke into a run firing randomly in the direction of the explorer as I tried to get out of the trees falling around me. However, it was too late; as I dove out of the way of a tree heading to crush me, a second tree did just that. It hit my legs and pinned them to the ground. The pain told me they were broken. At least they were still there. Frantic I tried to bring my own disintegrator up to aim at the illegal; only to realize that it wasn't in my hand anymore. I looked up to see the illegal within five feet. He was bearing down on me and I braced myself for the end.

* * * * *

I woke up at the Hospital in Kalispell with both my legs in casts. The agents from the chase car, Murphy and Rodriguez; were sitting at the side of my bed. I was Drowsy from whatever was in the IV drip, which was currently in my arm. I asked "Am I dead?"

Rodriguez took the lead in answering. "No, but you came damn close. Both of your legs are shattered and the Doctors thought about Medivacing you to Missoula. But, they decided they could piece em back together here."

I didn't fully follow. I was alive and I didn't understand how, so I asked "But how? The uh" I remembered I was in a civilian facility and continued "The prisoner had me dead to rights. So how am I alive?"

This time Murphy answered "That State Trooper is insane man! When he realized that you were trapped, he charged the prisoner. Shot him dead right through his eye socket as the alien turned his head. The prisoner didn't even have time to get a shot off. Guess you can take them down with a .45 -- not that I'd want to try. Crazy fool saved your life though. He's being held by containment while the boss decides what to do with him."

* * * * *

Montana State Trooper Daniel Madison


After what I thought was a routine traffic stop, it turned into the craziest night of my life. I had apparently shot and killed an ET, and I figured I was in trouble. When more and more agents starting showing up and none of them was talking to me, I started to think that if I could make it to my patrol car and radio HQ I'd have a chance of not disappearing. However, as I approached my car one of the Agents finally approached me.

"Trooper Madison? If your going to radio in we've already taken care that for you. My name is Carter Fallon. I'm the special agent in charge of the Illegal Alien Monitoring and Interception Bureau. I'm afraid that until we get this mess a little clearer you are temporarily going to have to consider yourself under federal custody. If you'll step over to my car I can explain what is going on here for you."

We walked over to his car and he began "The EBE you shot and killed earlier was violating intergalactic law by visiting earth. Section 1,033,569,168,240,987 Paragraph A - Y of the treaty on interstellar relations forbids Civilian visitation of Planets where the general populace is still unaware of Extra-terrestrial existence. We at the IA-MIB hunt down the visitors and then remand them into the custody of the Interstellar Marshall's Force or IMF at a predetermined location. Based on what I've seen here tonight if you want a job with us you've got it."

I'm unmarried so it was a no brainer. Three months later I graduated and was assigned no other than Agent Thomas Garfield as my partner. We still joke to this day about the most exciting speeding ticket I ever tried to write.

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Reunited...

Chapter Twenty-Two

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Prince William's head throbbed as he and the Princess made their way towards his father's castle. It was difficult for him to keep his head from wobbling around, and this made things worse. He believed that perhaps he should have been reclining in the back seat instead of sitting in the front. However, his pride was preventing that.

He managed not to get carsick, so he was grateful for that. The throbbing headache was bad enough, that it would have really hurt his pride. He tried to keep up his appearance, but the Princess knew he was not doing well. She stopped often which helped his well-being but not his pride.

The second night, the pair camped just inside of the Lakeland borders. There were no incidences crossing the frontier. The Prince was instantly recognized and got the respect he expected. This upset the Princess to no end, but that was the way things were. The Prince had no control over such things. Nevertheless, it was a much-needed boost for the Prince's ego.

Upon lying on the tent mattress, the spins returned. The Prince actually welcomed them. It sure beat the way he felt in the suncar. He just rode the spins into the night. He fell asleep quickly.

Once again, the black turned to blue as he awoke in the tent. To him, it seemed like a short night. However, he had once again slept well into midmorning. It almost felt that he closed his eyes and when he opened them, it was morning. It was quite a fitful sleep. So much so, that he thought he could just get up and walk out of the tent. He was once again wrong.

Princess Angelina, hearing him stir, brought him some food. He accepted it readily, but he was tired of being treated like an invalid. The Princess had made camp, drove, and fixed the meals. He did nothing but sit around. The least he could do was walk to the car unaided.

He insisted that the Princess leave him alone. His attempts to stand were difficult, but he was determined to make it on his own. The Princess could do nothing but stand by and watch. Thus, instead of watching him stumble along, she cleaned up things around the camp.

It was quite a struggle, but the Prince made it to the suncar. He ended up crawling more than walking, but he made it. Further, he needed no help. He was quite proud of himself for that accomplishment.

Daylight was again the mitigating factor in their travel. The suncar's batteries could only store so much power. Further, as the left the dry southern stretches of Calmondak, they were entering the farming areas of Lakeland. Hence, there were more clouds and even rain. Hence, the suncar was hampered by the less than ideal weather conditions.

Nonetheless, the Prince and Princess managed to get within a couple of hours drive of the castle of the Prince. The Prince attempted to help in the construction of the camp, but he was more of a burden than a help. Hence, the Princess insisted that he not help. He reluctantly obliged her.

While the Princess was setting up the camp, the Prince went for a walk. He had gained a great deal of strength. He took several steps before he had to rest. After a brief rest, he could take a few more steps. He had taken maybe 30 steps before he could go no further. He sat down in the grass, but sitting was not going to do the trick. Therefore, he had to lie down. His old friend spin joined him.

From his reclining position, the Prince glanced over to the Princess building the camp. With every action she took on the trip, the Prince gained more fondness for the Princess. He was already quite fond of her, but the way she cared for him on the trip endeared her to him even more.

Things would be a great deal simpler if she would just agree to marry him. There would be no need to convince the King that she was the target of The Prophecy. King Thorbjorn would give the pair of them the land without conditions. There would be no reason to make up anything.

Furthermore, they got along quite well. Obviously, thought the Prince, she cared enough about me to care for me on this trip.

He tried to get up and help set up the camp again, but had not regained enough strength. The Prince would wait until the evening meal was ready before getting up.

"Are you strong enough to come to eat?" asked the Princess after the camp was finished.

"I will be right there," replied the Prince.

The Prince gathered up all his strength to arise from his resting spot. He stood up, but could not straighten himself. In his stoop, he took several steps. Once again, he had to rest.

"I can bring food to you," insisted the Princess.

"I can make it," gasped the Prince.

"The doctor said you needed rest," insisted the Princess.

"I can make it," repeated the Prince holding his hand in the air.

The Prince took several more steps, and felt a little better with each step. Nonetheless, he still had to rest before continuing.

"It is no trouble for me to just bring the food there," assured the Princess.

"I can make it," the out-of-breath Prince repeated.

"It may be cold before you get here," joked the Princess with a shy smile.

"I can make it," responded the Prince with more confidence.

It seemed that with each step and exchange he gained strength and confidence. He almost stood up straight rather than the stooping position in which he walked, but he thought better of that.

"You are almost here," stated the Princess.

"I can make it," responded the Prince with pride in his voice.

"Aren't we the Little Engine that Could" the Princess said.

"I can make it," replied the Prince as he fell into a heap.

The Princess ran over to the pile that was the Prince. His head was throbbing and the world was spinning. He had tried as hard as he could, but he just could not make it any farther.

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Texas Wildfire

(Inspired from an idea by Michael-John Davis)

Chapter 1

By Dwayne MacInnes

September 2040


T.J. Murdock sat at the head of a long desk in the conference room on the Lone Star Skyways airship Zephyr. Half a dozen men sat around the table watching the projected presentation on the screen at the other end of the room. Murdock hated traveling on these airships, but his old man the founder and CEO of Texicorp Oil, George Murdock insisted on doing business this way.

When most of the major airlines collapsed twenty years before entrepreneurs again looked towards the airship to transport people across the globe. They were not as fast as a jet; however, the emerging industry billed them as the cruise ships of the skies. With modern lightweight materials, the use of helium, and larger gondolas than those their ancestors used over a hundred years ago, the airships proved to be quite cost effective and popular

Murdock looked out the tinted window of the conference room. Once the presentation was over the windows would lose its tinting to allow the sunlight to flood the room. However, for now T.J. would have to endure another boring meeting that he knew by heart.

The airship gently banked high in the air. The hybrid diesel-electric motors located in six pods situated around the semi-rigid gasbag hummed quietly as they propelled the ship through the bright blue sky. Solar panels located on the top of the gasbag helped keep the batteries charged thus making the operations of the airship more economical. The gasbag was comprised of helium-filled cells that helped contain leaks and therefore reduce the cost of refilling the helium at each stop.

However, if T.J. had his way he would still travel by jet. Of course, the well-to-do could only afford the cost of flying this way, and the Murdock family was very well-to-do. T.J. was happy in the fact that the major oil industries of the world were still considered an "old boy's club". His preferred way of conducting business was to take his clients out to an exclusive Gentlemen's club outside Texicorp's corporate headquarters in Houston called the Texas Hold 'Em.

The club had a private boardroom that could be rented for a premium that ensured plenty of privacy, liquor, and beautiful young hostesses. T.J. found that most of the time the clients were so inebriated with alcohol and distracted by the sight of nude women working the room that he could easily cut deals that heavily favored Texicorp.

Unfortunately, George Murdock did not approve of T.J's business practices. So lately, the old man started to dictate where and how business meetings would be held. This galled the younger Murdock to no end.

Of course, there were many things these days that galled the younger Murdock. The current recession looked to change radically the direction the country ran. After the recession in the first decade of the 21st century, many people felt that plans for recovery allowed too much government intervention. Even though the plans succeeded in pulling the U.S. out of the recession, it was not long before resurgence in the conservative movement took over the country. Their rise to power was fueled by the fears of too much government in business, work, and people's lives.

Over the years, Congress repealed the government regulations over Wall Street, business, and labor practices to the point where there was virtually no oversight. A truly laisez-faire economy came into existence. During the first twenty years, many people made a lot of money. As their successes became public, more people jumped on board hoping for their share of the wealth.

With the collapse of Social Security facing the country, the conservatives were able to privatize the government-run benefit program. Now, the private citizen could invest in one or more of the many booming companies out there. Many people felt that they had secured their future.

However, by 2038 the house of cards began to collapse. First, the stock market crashed as multiple ponzi schemes emerged. Without any regulations, the frauds went unnoticed for decades. The economic bubble burst, retirement plans under the privatization plan instantly dried-up. Businesses started to go under as capital dwindled and banks closed.

With unemployment at 13.5% and rising, the country was nearing another great depression. President Roberts, a man who balked at instituting any government intervention plans, kept cutting taxes on the wealthy in the hopes the well-to-do would help spend their way out of the recession. It failed miserably. The wealthy hoarded their capital. They squirreled it away in overseas accounts.

Now, the country's infrastructure was starting to fail. With the loss of tax dollars, many of the remaining federal and state government programs were bankrupt. Charities too were feeling the pinch as the hard-pressed American worker could no longer afford to give to worthy causes. The situation was spiraling out of control.

2040 brought new hope as the election arrived. The Republican Party's choice was Senator Victor Newland of Louisiana, a man who claimed to be a moderate Republican and claimed to march to his own drummer. The Democrats fielded California Senator Ramón Ramirez, the first Hispanic to make it through the primaries.

Like many white Texans, Murdock feared having a Hispanic in the Whitehouse. Even now, the population of Texas was about half Hispanic. However, the rest of the county looked to electing Ramirez in a landslide election based on the promise of taking the country in a new direction. A direction Ramirez based on new regulations to forestall corporate corruption, raising taxes on the wealthy to cover the expenses of the previous decades, and the creation of multiple government programs to promote job creation and economic growth.

These sounded great to the average American; however, it meant a loss in revenue to large companies like Texicorp through new taxes and regulations. The old man did not seem overly concerned but it bothered T.J. a lot. The younger Murdock feared a slippery slope towards a government takeover of his father’s company before T.J could inherit it.

Murdock returned his attention to the meeting. The presentation was nearly over and that meant Murdock could return to his cabin and relax before the airship docked in Houston.

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Reunited...

Chapter Twenty-Three

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Lakeland/Calmondak Treaty Map

King Thorbjorn of Lakeland had several sons. His wives had always been able to produce heirs - that is male children. Thus, there was never any question that one of his sons would inherit the kingdom. However, it was not likely to be Prince William. Something quite catastrophic would have to happen first. This particular prince was well down the list of sons.

Further, the King had just heard the news that his new wife had just conceived another child. Hence, there was due to be an increase in the bounty of children in the Thorbjorn household. Depending on the Queen's disposition, the new child (if it were a boy) could, in fact, out rank William.

Thus, the King began to regret mentioning the prophecy to Prince William. While the piece of land he would be granting the Prince was small, his siblings would be greatly jealous of the King's action. It would make a valuable strategic alliance for Lakeland, but that still would not sit well with his other sons.

The King took heart that Prince William always suffered from bad luck. The pirates and the raiders that roamed the gulf would likely wreak havoc on the newly founded kingdom. Therefore, the new king and queen of this parcel would have to cede back the land to Lakeland when their kingdom failed.

He hated to set up his son to fail, but he had several others. He just had to forestall their jealousy until Prince William and Princess Angelina returned from the kingdom with their plans destroyed. Then all would return to normal in his kingdom.

On the other hand, perhaps Prince William would not return. After all, the Forbidden Zone had claimed several lives. Further, King Jonathan could simply kill Prince William at any time and blame it on the journey. It was quite possible that Prince William would never come back.

He had pondered the events he set in motion since the Prince left on the mission. He would sit and look out the window of his observation tower. He would sit there for hours and ponder the situation. The newly crowned Queen would come in and try to understand, but she had no experience with the weighty issues with which her husband had to cope.

On this particular day, the King saw a suncar approach. A wave of mixed emotions came over him. On one hand, he wanted it to be Prince William. In his way, the King missed his son. On the other hand, the return could very easily set in motion a great conflict within his family.

His heart wanted the suncar to pass by the castle. He could deal with Prince William not returning, but he was not ready for him to return.

Keep going. Keep going..., the King thought to himself.

Nonetheless, he felt his heart sink a little bit as the car pulled up to the castle gate. He watched as the gate opened up and the suncar drove into the courtyard.

Just be a messenger, the King thought.

A crowd gathered around the car. The crowd grew bigger, and they began to cheer. He could hear the shouts that Prince William had returned. More and more people gathered around the car. The crowd became so large that the suncar had to stop well away from the entrance to castle complex. This made it easier for King Thorbjorn to watch the action.

He watched as Princess Angelina exited the driver's side of the vehicle. The cheers went up as the beautiful young woman waved to the crowd. A second figure exited but stayed hunched-over. A few members of the crowd rushed over to support the obviously ill passenger. The injured individual waved to the crowd and another cheer erupted. It was obvious to the King from the cheer that Prince William had returned.

He called for his servants to usher the pair into the main dining room. He ordered a large feast to be prepared. The return of the Prince was a cause for much celebration. He did not have anything planned, as he did not know when (or if) his son would return. However, the castle was always ready for an impromptu celebration. Thus, the King set the wheels in motion.

The King put on some celebratory clothes and made his way to the large dining hall. He entered and saw the Prince sitting at the table with his head on his hands. It was obvious at first glance that the Prince was in no shape for celebration.

"I can make it," insisted the Prince as he looked up with a droop in his eyes.

"He has been saying that quite a bit," added the Princess.

"If it is too much," the King said in an assuring tone. "We can have this event later."

"I can make it," replied the Prince confidently yet wearily.

"He cannot," added the Princess. "However, if you bring in some sort of hospital-type bed, he would have a better chance."

"What is wrong with him?" asked the King.

"I can make it," the Prince said putting his head back down on his hands.

"He hit his head pretty hard," the Princess informed the King, "The doctor said he needs his rest."

"Why did you bring him here?" asked the King. "Why did you not let him rest?"

"It is a long story," the Princess answered. "He will be fine. It is likely just a concussion."

"I can make it," the Prince whimpered.

The King ordered a servant to bring a bed into the dining hall. The King himself lifted Prince William onto the bed. The Prince was immediately asleep. He stayed that way for most of the feast. This was all the better for the King. He did not have to delve into The Prophecy, or any of the future for the Prince and Princess. He could simply enjoy the party. He would deal with the ramifications later.

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Texas Wildfire

Chapter 2

By Dwayne MacInnes

The meeting lasted longer than Murdock expected. Negotiating the rights for joint oil extraction with the various Mexican oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico proved more difficult than expected. Texicorp had the technology and the means the Mexicans only had to agree to an equitable share of the profits and the funds for construction for the oil platforms.

Once the negotiations concluded, T.J. returned to his cabin. He walked over to the small wet bar and prepared himself a drink and then punched a button on his 4 inch by 3 inch computer-phone on a nearby desk. He figured he still had some time left before the airship docked to relax.

T.J. Murdock leaned back in the soft leather chair. He held a Scotch in one hand and stared at the holographic program emanating from his small compu-phone sitting on the small aluminum desk in the small cabin. Murdock lifted the glass with the amber liquid that contained two small ice cubes to his lips. He took a sip, placed the glass of Scotch on the desk next to the computer and closed his eyes. This was how he liked to relax after a long day of negotiations.

T.J. pushed the volume button on the computer to increase the sound in his remote ear buds. This was his favorite webcast, The Flash Limbeck Show. John "Flash" Limbeck was the most popular pundit broadcasting today and everyone had an opinion of him. You either loved or hated him there was no middle ground.

"So now the liberals are saying that our current economic meltdown is because of the last twenty years of conservatism," snorted Flash. "This is their own fault going back to the Obama administration and even the Clinton years last century. If they allowed the market place to perform without Big Brother watching over every Wall Street transaction the economy would be able to perform in a more natural state.

"It has taken the last 20 years just to roll back those artificial constraints...or should I say restraints. If we were allowed to continue the Reagan laisez-faire practices and stopped bailing out every business that failed, we would be a lot stronger now than we currently are.

"I see we have a caller. Hello Jack from Detroit."

"Hello, Flash. Do you really think that by letting companies fail our unemployment figures of 14 percent would be less?" a caller queried Flash.

"In the long term yes. Because a new and stronger company would move into the vacuum and replace these dinosaurs that were only around because Obama bailed them out thirty years ago."

T.J. smiled to himself. These liberals were always thinking that they could pull one over on Limbeck. However, before T.J. could enjoy more of the webcast the steward broke in over the intercom located in each cabin.

"Attention, Zephyr guests. We will be pulling into the Houston Aerodrome in 15 minutes. Please prepare to disembark if this is your stop. The captain and crew of Lone Star Skyways would like to thank you for flying aboard the Zephyr."

T.J. groaned. He turned off the computer and took a big swig of his Scotch.

* * * * *

People were bustling to exit down the gangway into the glass-dome of the Houston Aerodrome from the secured airship. Several other airships with a variety of logos from different airship airlines circled the spacious structure and were either taking on or disgorging passengers.

T.J. glanced at his watch and waited for the crowd to thin so that he could disembark. The oilman looked out a window and observed various crewmembers swarming over a nearby airship preparing it for takeoff.

"Excuse me," familiar voice said in a heavy Mexican accent.

T.J. turned to the familiar sound to see one of the representatives from the Tigre Petro oil company standing in front of him. Murdock put on a friendly smile and held out a hand.

"Señ or Vargas, correct?" T.J. asked shaking the Latino’s hand.

"Sí! sí!" exclaimed the smaller man with dark hair and a matching mustache. "Our company looks forward to working with yours Mr. Murdock."

"T.J., please," laughed Murdock. "Mr. Murdock is my father."

"Sí, T.J.," smiled Mr. Vargas. "However, some of my colleagues are concerned that the recent wave of anti-Latino sentiment in your country could endanger our relationship."

T.J. laughed, "Oh, that! That is nothing to worry about; it is just politics and the concern over illegal immigrants. It is nothing that concerns us."

Vargas's face turned sour shortly and then brightened. "Sí, of course, then the rumors of Texas seceding from the United States if Ramirez becomes president are not true."

It was now T.J’s turn to frown momentarily. He had heard these rumors and many in Texas believed they had the right to leave the union whenever they wanted. The state legislature even voted in certain language in its constitution to give it strength. With the anxiety over illegals and the growing number of Hispanics in the state helped fan the flames of fear amongst the white population. They felt that in a few years they would find themselves as a minority.

"I would not let that concern you," T.J. tried to reassure Vargas. "My father would never let politics overshadow business."

"Claro que Sí!" laughed Vargas unintentionally slipping into Spanish.

The crowd of passengers leaving the airship was now starting to thin. T.J. motioned for Mr. Vargas to follow him towards the gangway.

Vargas shook his head and said, "Sorry, I am continuing on to New Mexico and then south. However, I will be in Houston for some business in a few weeks. Maybe we could continue our conversation then."

T.J. gave the smaller man a wolfish grin, "I know just the place where we can meet. It is not too far from our corporate headquarters here in Houston. Give me a call and we can set up an appointment."

The two men shook hands before departing their separate ways.

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