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Wil Wheaton and Scalzi of Johnstown

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The Cursed Clown Sweater of Constitution

By Douglas E. Gogerty

John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton organized a Fan Fiction Contest to Benefit the Lupus Alliance of America. The target of this contest was to create a story which would describie the picture below. Naturally, I took part, and this is that story. Enjoy!

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who lived in the great kingdom of Maplevania. In this kingdom, there was a long-standing tradition of naming the first daughter after a great-grandmother of the parent's choosing. Sadly, because of the great plague of 4211, most of the first-born daughters had only two names to choose from -- Hortense and Dorcas. Thus, Princess Hortense was the loveliest child ever to carry that name.

In fact, Princess Hortense was, by far, the most lovely creature to ever inhabit the kingdom. Men (and even a few women) came from far and wide to court the lovely young lady. However, before the king could choose a suitable mate for his daughter, she was kidnapped. This was not an unusual occurrence in Maplevania as most citizens obtained their spouses through some form of capture. In fact, the beastly orc Scalzi of Johnstown obtained his lovely wife in this manner. We will get to him a little later.

The unusual circumstance around Princess Hortense was that the king actually sought to get his daughter back. He went so far as to offer a reward -- a cash reward. Furthermore, there were no aristocratic restrictions. Hence, any young adventurer who wished to take on the quest was allowed. He (or she) did not need to be member of the aristocracy.

Further, the possibility of marrying the most beautiful young woman was not out of the question; however, most likely just eternal gratitude from the saved princess was all that could be promised. However, just getting the attention of the most beautiful woman in the kingdom was not enough for most.

For months, there were no takers in the quest to bring back the princess. However, one day a bard and his company were entertaining at the castle. This particular bard spied crude paintings of the princess done by school age children. He was immediately smitten. When he heard of her plight, he decided to see if he could save her from the clutches of whatever villain.

After questioning the staff, one name kept arising. Nearly everyone in the castle believed that the great wizard Douglas abducted Princess Hortense. This wizard was once in the employ of the king. However, a few years ago they had a falling out.

Recently, some objects of this much-maligned wizard were discovered in the castle, and the king demanded that he come and retrieve them. Thus, he was in the castle at the time of the abduction. The wizard Douglas was the most likely suspect.

However, the wizard lived outside the kingdom in the land of Doomville. It was a dreadful place. The surrounding mountains would frequently erupt into massive lava flows. It was a dark and menacing place. It was just the kind of place evil wizards like to call home.

Thus, our heroic bard, Wil of Wheaton, decided to depart for the tower of the great wizard Douglas. However, it was a going to be a long journey and the bard decided he would obtain a party of adventurers. His fellow bards, Paul and Storm, volunteered to join him. However, Wil declined their invitation. After all, a party of bards was surly doomed to failure. Having a bard at all on an adventure was bad enough. The young bard needed adventurers. People with skills.

The only problem with gathering a group of individuals with skills was most of those with actual skills had jobs. Even if they did not have employment, they were generally intelligent enough not to go to a place called Doomville. At the very least, anyone willing to go on such a dangerous journey wanted to get paid. Money was not something a bard had in great abundance. Wil of Wheaton attempted to use his charm and charisma, but he rolled miserably. Thus, after a lengthy search of Maplevania, he only managed to get Savage Adam in his group.

While Savage Adam was a powerful wizard in his own right, no one believed that the two of them would be enough to take on the forces deployed from Doomville. However, no one else from the town would join them. Without being able to convince anyone else to join them, the small party began the arduous journey to Doomville. The pair hoped to pick up some additional adventurers on the way.

The two ended up in Johnstown. While this small village is kind of between Maplevania and Doomville, it is well out of the way. The only reason the two men went there was their propensity for getting distracted by shiny things and cool things they could blow up. They ended up leaving the main road and getting lost.

The pair should have stuck to the main road. Just about anything an adventuring party would need could be found along that route. After all, the only thing Wil of Wheaton had with him was a staff. His armor consisted of a pair of blue shorts and a witty t-shirt. Savage Adam needed very little. After all, he could use a couple of sticks, some dirt, a few choice plants, and some spit to make an impressive explosion. Nonetheless, if trouble arose, they could find themselves in great distress.

As they entered the village, they were confronted by the orc Scalzi of Johnstown. Now, Scalzi was once a kind and gentle creature (for an orc anyway.) However, when his wife and child disappeared, he had grown quite cantankerous. This was the wife we alluded to earlier. The great orc had no hope of doing any better than her. Thus, he was gruff to anyone who stumbled into Johnstown.

Having eaten all of the residents of Johnstown, Scalzi the Orc was not someone a Bard and Wizard should take on alone. This was particularly true with how Wil was equipped. However, what were they to do? They had not been able to recruit any additional people.

Savage Adam made some things explode. This distracted Scalzi enough for Wil to break out his secret weapon. Well, his secret weapon was telling the story about the time he worked with the world-renowned actor Sir Patrick of Stewart. He explained that at the time they worked together he had a fancier cart than Sir Patrick. The story had the desired effect of confusing Scalzi further. In his confusion, a falcon flying overhead also distracted Savage Adam. Hence, the adventuring party inflicted no damage to Scalzi.

Thus, Scalzi could have taken his axe of smiting and chopped the two adventurers into little pieces. Instead, the mighty fighter decided to join the sad duo in their adventure. The distracting tactics would work well to give Scalzi an opportunity to chop whatever they were confronting into little pieces. This, the orc thought, would make the trip a bunch of fun. After all, to an orc, Doomville sounds like the place to be.

Before they would go any further, Scalzi believed that Wil should have better equipment. Thus, Wil obtained a spear of stabbing from Scalzi who obtained it from some adventurer he had eaten. Sadly, there was no decent armor to be had. However, Scalzi knew of a stash of arcane magic items that could be obtained not far from Johnstown.

The party entered the strange and mystical town of Minneapple. However, they did not have any money to purchase items. As any bard would do in this situation, a show was organized. It was scheduled to last for 3 hours, but so much fun was had that, it lasted for five. Even Scalzi performed. After the show was finished, they had managed to raise three copper pieces.

However, a longtime fan of Wil's gave him a present (in exchange for his witty t-shirt.) The fan gave strict instructions that the present was not to be opened inside the town's borders. If it were, it would inflict a curse upon the recipient. The fan did ensure Wil that the item would protect him with its magical properties. Needless to say, Wil wanted to open the present immediately. He did not want to wait.

In his way was Savage Adam. His bloody nose notwithstanding, Adam did not wish to leave. The wizard fell in love with the town. This put great strain on Wil, who could not stand the suspense of the unopened gift. Adam could not be moved. The pair argued, but Adam refused to budge. Wil begged and pleaded to no avail.

Wil explained that they would not make it over the mountains without Adam's help. Thus, Adam conjured up a mount for the pair. It was supposed to be a pegasus for them to ride above the clouds. However, a last minute distraction altered the spell. Thus, Savage Adam conjured up a unicorn pegasus kitten as their mount.

Wil of Wheaton and Scalzi of Johnstown bid a fond farewell to Savage Adam as the flew off on their unicorn pegasus kitten towards Doomville. Wil was once again unable to procure more help, even for three copper pieces.

The flight over the mountains to Doomville was uneventful. The pair of adventurers landed just outside of the city limits. Scalzi immediately dismounted the mighty steed. However, Wil remained on the unicorn pegasus kitten, and there Wil opened up his gift. To his surprise, it was the Cursed Clown Sweater of Constitution. It was such a thoughtful gift, that Wil immediately put it on.

Immediately, Scalzi noticed a change in Wil. It was as if the affable Wil had become an evil twin. With the beard, no one could notice if a goatee had magically appeared on Wil's face. Suddenly, Wil wanted the princess all to himself. He would let nothing stand in his way -- not even his orc friend. The two began arguing. This quickly escalated into actual combat. Immediately, Scalzi knew that Wil had opened the present early, and received the curse of the garment. However, the only thing he could do was fight the enraged bard who was wearing the clown sweater and riding the unicorn pegasus kitten.

Meanwhile, Princess Hortense and the great wizard Douglas held a quiet civil marriage ceremony at the Doomville city hall. The reception was held at the Doomville Ski Resort and Lodge, which had a great view of the surrounding erupting mountains. This event will be remembered forever afterwards for the spectacle of the orc and bard fighting. In fact, Douglas and Hortense commissioned a painting of the fight. It now hangs in a place of honor in the happy couple's tower. No one knows what happened to the combatants; but naturally, Douglas and Hortense lived happily ever after.

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Reunited...

Chapter Forty

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Upon leaving the Capitol building, Princess Angelina explored the area. After some wandering, she came upon a large group of people waving signs and chanting slogans. She walked up to one of the protesters.

"What is going on?" she asked.

"Princess Angelina!" the protester responded.

"Yes," replied the Princess with a slight bow. "Would you tell me what is happening here?"

"I really cannot believe it is really you."

"It is. Thanks. So...?"

"I cannot believe that Princess Angelina is speaking to me."

"Yes I am. Now about my question..."

"I am so envious of your position. I mean, to be a princess with all the pageantry and elegance, it would be just so, so, so much like a fairy tale."

"You are very kind, so what is happening here?"

"I have always dreamed of being a princess -- living in a castle -- riding around in majestic carriages."

"Thank you very much," the Princess stated as she began to walk away.

"Oh!" the protester stated with some urgency. "We are protesting tyranny."

"You are experiencing tyranny here?"

"Oh no! We are quite free. However, some king attempted to hire some of our citizens to raid another kingdom. Such is the way of kingdoms."

"But you said -- never mind -- go on."

"This dreadful king is in the jail there for his crimes. We want him to be aware that we will no longer put up with his type of shenanigans here."

"The stuff kingdoms do..."

"Right! We support democracy. The right to have a say in the government is important to us. That is why we are protesting."

"I thank you very much for your time."

"Wait! Could you sign my sign?"

"Sure," stated the Princess as she wrote her name on the citizen's protest sign.

The Princess spoke to others, and they confirmed what the first protester told her. They were protesting her way of life. Further, some were quite angry about the situation. In fact, many were more upset about it than she was. Which she found remarkable because King Thorbjorn was going to attack her. The Princess had every right to be irate. However, the involvement of their citizenry greatly angered the crowd.

She wandered through the crowd some more and shook hands with a few protesters. Everyone she meet was happy to see her. They seemed quite friendly and welcomed her warmly. She did not encounter anyone who could see the disconnect from the life of a princess and the kingdom system they were protesting.

In fact, the Princess's life was nothing like a fairy tale princess. The people in this crowd had choices. They could choose whom they would marry. They could choose what job they would have. They had freedoms of which the Princess could only dream. However, having her own kingdom was a step in the right direction for her.

Her thoughts drifted to Prince William. After all, he had always been friendly toward her. Even when they were kids, they got along well. She had strong feelings for him, but she could never marry him. The conflicts would be too great. She wanted to be in charge, but he was the man. Thus, Prince William would have to be in charge or have his position challenged regularly. She did not want him to be thought of as a weakling. Thus, a marriage to him was not something the Princess would or could allow.

There were many other thoughts that ran through her head. Up to this point, she did not have many choices in her life. In fact, she could have been married to the man that these people were protesting. Moreover, her running away as she did resulted in him being in prison -- eventually. None of this would have happened if they had been married. The Princess thought that that decision was the first she had made in her life.

The Princess was considering her life when she stumbled into a man.

"Oh! Excuse me," she said not even looking at the man.

"Princess?"

"Yes," she replied in an almost exasperated voice. "I am Princess Angelina."

"I know silly!"

"Ha! Prince William! What are you doing here?"

"My father is in prison there."

"Oh yeah, I know."

"You seem a little preoccupied. Is something wrong?"

"No, nothing. This crowd has just got me thinking about things."

"I know how you feel."

"It is weird how that kind of thing can happen."

"I know that!"

"You do not realize how each moment could open a new door into your life. If you go one way, things would be totally different."

"It is like we are always standing at a crossroads," replied the Prince. "Our future happiness depends upon taking the right road."

"But, how do we choose?"

"My father chose poorly."

"That is why he is in jail, but there is a chance it will still work out for the best."

"Let us hope so. A lot rides on him getting back to Lakeland safely."

"I suppose for you it does."

"Not just me! My father, ruling in the manner that he does, has many benefits for many people."

"I suppose..."

"No! He controls the people. Most of the kingdom lives in relative peace. If you remove him, there will be chaos."

"However, those very same people do not have much in the way of freedom."

"What is more important -- peace or freedom?"

"Why not both?"

"No! Think about it! The people here live in total chaos. They are in a constant state of battle. To make even the simplest decision of state, they have to argue and fight to come to a conclusion."

"But..."

"No buts!" interrupted the Prince. "They need leadership. They need someone to lead them out of the chaos."

"A strong elected leader can do that."

"Can he?"

"He or she!" insisted the Princess.

"Is that what this is about?"

"I guess it is!"

"You do not know how good you have it."

"That may be true, but why must it be the way it is? Could it not be better with more freedom?"

"Freedom for you!"

"That would be a start."

"Are you sure you are fourteen?"

"I just turned fifteen!"

"I missed your birthday...."

"Do not worry about it."

"Oh! Speaking of which, you need to get out of here!"

"What? Why?"

"Have you not noticed? This place is a powder keg. It could go off at any moment."

"What are you planning?"

"Nothing! But you should really leave."

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Texas Wildfire

Chapter 22

By Dwayne MacInnes

Fred Wilson was not pleased. General Davis was not at the Army Reserve Center when the bombs fell. In fact, the very person, who Mr. Wilson had instructed to make sure the General arrive on time, foiled the whole plan by trying to kill the General on his own.

Wilson stayed inside his hotel room the entire day. He was so upset he did not want to leave. The news was playing up the destruction of the grade school, and the residential area hit hardest by the bombs. So now, the populace had lost all appetite for the Oath Keepers.

Only a handful of people called up Wilson to gloat about the bombing of the Army Reserve Center. However, far more people called up to say that, they were no longer going to support or be in the organization. A few even cursed the organization and held him personally responsible for the deaths of the children.

How little did any of them really know how involved Wilson really was. Wilson went to the little refrigerator in the hotel room and grabbed a beer. He was about to take a long drink from the bottle when he heard a knock on the door.

Wilson, now displeased that someone had disturbed him while he was trying to drink, marched over to the door and swung it open without even looking out the little peephole.

"Yeah," he grumbled as the doorway revealed a man in a uniform with arm in a sling.

Wilson broke into an instant smile, "Sorry about that Lieutenant. My nerves are a little raw right now."

The soldier stepped into the room and shut the door.

"I have some very important news that we need to get to the rebels."

Fred Wilson offered the lieutenant a chair and a beer. The soldier gratefully accepted both.

"Okay, this must be big. What is it?"

"This could easily make up for the bombing disaster," the lieutenant stated.

Wilson sat down on a couch and drank his beer as the officer related everything he knew of Operation Texas Wildfire.

"This is big. Very big," Wilson said after the Lieutenant finished his story. "I'll need to get this off ASAP."

The officer stood up and put the empty beer bottle on the coffee table.

"I have to be getting back before I am missed," the lieutenant stated as he headed towards the door.

Wilson stood up and smiled genuinely towards the lieutenant.

"You know you will be remembered as quite the hero after all of this is over. First, the successful ambush you miraculously survived. Second, the information on General Davis. Finally, the data about Operation Wildfire. Yes sir, when Texas is finally free from the United States tyranny, everyone will remember the great service provided by Lt. White."

White smiled in return before he exited the room. After the officer left, Wilson wasted no time contacting the rebels and relaying all that White had told him about Operation Wildfire. The rebels were excited to receive the news.

Feeling much better, Wilson grabbed another beer and was prepared to drink it when another knock on the door interrupted him. Wilson still smiling opened the door to see Sheriff Gracen standing in the hall.

"Come in," Wilson said excitedly. "I am glad you are here."

However, Wilson's smile disappeared when Gracen did not return his affection. Before he could ask what was wrong Gracen reached out with a pair of handcuffs.

"Fred Wilson, you are under arrest for the bombing and the murders of many of the citizens of Littleton," Gracen said as he spun the stunned man around.

The cuffs were on before Wilson could inquire what was happening.

"Are you crazy?" Wilson finally blurted out. "You are part of the Oath Keepers."

"Yes, I was," the sheriff replied. "However, I never planned to partake in any terrorist or treasonable acts. You can count on this as my resignation."

"You'll never get away with this!" screamed Wilson as Gracen handed him off to two deputies waiting in the hallway.

"You may be right. I may even end up in a cell with you. However, I will have you arrested first and I have already been talking to a lawyer about what I should do next."

Gracen knew that there would be an investigation. He prayed that the fact he thought he was joining a neutral organization, whose only purpose was to protect the Constitution, would come to light. He also knew that there were many other law enforcement officers in Littleton and across the United States in a similar situation.

* * * * *

As Lieutenant White left the hotel, he planned on heading back towards the officer's quarters located in a motel further down the road. However, White did not even get the keys in his car when he noticed two Sheriff patrol cars with their emergency lights flashing. They pulled up in the parking lot next to him.

All the blood ran from White's face as he stood there watching as deputies stepped out of the car. White recognized Sheriff Gracen as he walked past the soldier. The deputies were close behind the sheriff and none of them seemed to take much notice of White.

White wiped his brow and was about to unlock his car again when a man walked up behind him.

"Lieutenant White?" the man said.

White spun around to notice four Military Policemen behind him.

"Yes," White said sheepishly as he knew what was coming next.

"You are under arrest for treason and the attempted assassination of General Davis."

Lieutenant White dropped his keys and put his one good arm on his head. The MPs roughly cuffed him and White yelped in pain. His shoulder protested as it was still sore from the old bullet wound he took when the rebels ambushed his convoy.

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Caution, it is a little violent, bloody, gross... but it is two great tastes that go great together.

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Texas Wildfire

Chapter 23

By Dwayne MacInnes

President Tucker stormed around his office. He glared at his cabinet who had assembled in the room. Even the fly that was a constant irritant, with its buzzing around the room, seemed to fall silent.

"We could do nothing about last night?" Tucker spat out towards the men and women in the room. "Almost every city was hit with those damned Easter eggs and we could not even scramble one jet to stop them."

"Sir, practically every plane we had we used in the assault on the U.S. military bases yesterday and they were almost completely lost," said one aide.

"Do you think I want excuses?" Tucker yelled.

He stomped over to his desk and pulled a pile of papers off its top.

"Do you know what this is?" he asked.

No one ventured to speak up.

"I'll tell you. These are the reports from the northern counties. They are returning to the United States and our military is so shaken that we can do nothing to stop it."

"Sir, what about Operation Texas Wildfire?" a woman asked.

"Oh great! We know when and how General Davis is going to hit us. We could have really done some damage on their advance if we now didn't have to worry about reclaiming the north!"

"Sir," a man wearing the uniform of the New Republic of Texas army said. "I have a plan."

Tucker sat down at his desk and nodded towards the soldier.

"General West if you can salvage our plans from this fiasco I will grant you everything you need."

"Good sir, we will need it," the general stated. "Losing the northern territories may not be so bad. Our army is stretched thin as it is. If we can recall all available units from the north, we can prepare for the United States assault. Plus, it may buy us some time if the U.S. army is tied up trying to restore order to the north."

President Tucker nodded his head as General West returned to his seat. His anger had lessened with the hope that West could work some kind of miracle. Tucker then looked around the room and his eyes locked with Vice President Watson. The two could barely stand each other and it was quite obvious to all in the room that there was no love lost between them.

"Why don't we hit the United States hard," Watson chimed in.

Tucker heard it all before and he did not really want to hear it again.

"We can assemble a dirty bomb or launch a chemical attack on the states bordering us."

"We wouldn't stand a chance," Tucker said in an exhausted voice. "The U.S. could retaliate and wipe us off the map. We have to be careful in our response. Our best bet is to win international recognition or wait until Ramirez exhausts the terms of the War Powers Act."

As Tucker was speaking, a soldier quietly entered the room and he went over to General West and spoke softly in his ear. The general then left the room with the soldier. It was a few minutes later when an obviously agitated West returned to the room.

"Sir," General West interrupted. "I have some very grave news to share."

Tucker could not begin to think what could be even graver than their situation now. However, he nodded for the general to continue.

"Sir, there is chaos breaking out across the country. It appears that the midnight bombing has shaken up the populace. Some are rioting, some are planning anti-government protests and some are just trying to flee."

Tucker sighed deeply. How ironic that nearly two months before these same people were holding anti-government protests against the United States. Now, they were protesting against their new government.

"How are the police and the military handling it?" Tucker asked.

"It is almost beyond our control," West replied. "This will greatly hinder our plans against the U.S. advance from the north."

Tucker wiped his brow, "Okay, this should have been expected. Try to retrieve as many troops as possible from the northern counties and have them begin setting up defenses."

"I'm afraid that there is more news, sir," General West continued. "The panhandle and the northern counties next to the southern border of Oklahoma to the eastern border of New Mexico have proclaimed themselves the new state of North Texas and they have been readmitted into the Union."

Everyone in the room shared the surprised look on Tucker's face. Normally it would take longer for the Congress to admit a new state. Even West Texas had to wait a couple of weeks. This was unheard of, yet it was not a complete surprise.

"Okay, we expected to lose 'North Texas' as they are calling themselves. General West we must get those troops moved ASAP before any other territories decide to break off. If only they could have waited a little longer before voting in a new state," Tucker mused aloud.

"Ah, sir," General West began in a solemn voice. Tucker's eyes widened, he could not believe there was more yet to come. "The United States Congress has declared war on the New Republic of Texas half an hour ago."

Everyone broke into shouts of disbelief and panic as chaos spread across the room. Tucker slammed his fist upon his desk in renewed anger; his last major hope for independence had just vanished up in smoke. They should have never tried to bomb the Army Reserve Center in Littleton, New Mexico. With the deaths of the schoolchildren, the wrath of a nation had instantly turned against Texas. Even those people in the United States sympathetic to the New Republic's cause were now demanding blood.

President Tucker knew that Texas's only hope of independence would be to defeat the United States military in battle. It would have to be a complete and crushing defeat. The only problem was that the army of the New Republic stood a very slim chance of success.

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Texas Wildfire

Chapter 24

By Dwayne MacInnes

President Ramirez stood in the dark room deep inside Malmstrom's Air Force Base. Officers surrounded him as he watched the sergeant at the terminal deftly move some controls. The image on the screen in front of the audience showed the interior of the old state governor's office in Austin.

"Amazing," Ramirez said fascinated by the image playing out before him. "You can pick up audio as well?"

"Yes sir," Captain Richardson answered.

"Don't they sweep the room for bugs?"

"Three to four times a day," Richardson replied. "However, our device, which resembles and acts like a fly has a very low electronic signature that can switch frequencies randomly. This makes counter-surveillance very difficult. In fact, only the very best sweeping devices have a slight chance of detecting it.

"The main source of power is in the internal battery. It is charged from the wings , which happen to be solar panels. The eyes are micro-cameras and the body acts like a microphone picking up any surrounding sounds."

"Impressive, very impressive," Ramirez repeated. "How many of these do we have in operation?"

The captain looked towards General Lowell who was in charge of the project. He nodded his head allowing the captain to answer the president's question. "Well, sir we only have the one."

"One, really?" Ramirez asked incredulously.

"Yes sir, this was only a prototype for testing before the whole war broke out. So, we received authorization to 'test' it out over in the governor's office."

Ramirez turned towards the general and asked him straight out, "What other little devices do you have like this?"

"I'm afraid at this time all other research is still highly classified, sir. I do not even rank high enough to know," he replied.

Ramirez arched an eyebrow as he studied the general. The man remained stone-faced so Ramirez dropped the line of questioning.

"Does this thing have any internal recording devices?"

"Yes, sir," Captain Richardson continued. "The fly can store up to 72 hours worth of images and sounds that we can dump later into the mainframe via the satellite in geosynchronous orbit above Texas. Once there, we can set teams working on the recordings and in a matter of hours have it broken down and readied for further intelligence work."

The president nodded his head in acknowledgement. "Have there been many cyber attacks on this installation?"

General Lowell smiled, "No sir. Very few people know of this. There have been some attacks on other military computers. However, we have been leading the hackers into false files allowing us to back track to their base of attack."

"You make it sound easy," Ramirez said with a smile.

"It is actually very complicated and involved, sir," Lowell continued. "However, this has allowed us to place some viruses into their network. When the word is given, we'll activate the viruses which will essentially shut down all communication in Texas. It is called Operation Whiteout."

"That is getting above my head, general," the president laughed.

President Ramirez continued his tour of the top-secret installation. As far as the world knew, Malmstrom's Air Force Base was the main hub for the nuclear missiles dotting across the plains of eastern Montana. As far as the world knew, President Ramirez was still in Washington, D.C.

With the recent bombing of Littleton, Ramirez's popularity soared to a 95% approval rating. Most people wanted Texas to pay for the deaths of the schoolchildren whose bodies the rescue workers were still pulling out of the rubble. The fringe elements of the right and left were the only ones who did not approve of the President. The right felt that Ramirez had orchestrated the bombing in order to gain approval for the war and the left thought the war with Texas was a waste of resources and lives.

After another half hour of touring the base, Ramirez felt it was time to leave. The president and his retinue left for the trip back to D.C. General Lowell, Captain Richardson and Sergeant Wilcox had the dark room to themselves. They continued to monitor the governor's office even though Tucker and his staff had long ago left.

* * * * *

Vice President Watson entered the president's office. She knew everyone was now gone and she and one aide had the room to themselves. She went over to Tucker's desk and activated the computer built into the desk.

"Ma'am, should we be doing this?" the young aide said with a slight quiver in his voice.

"Yes," she replied. "I need to find those raiders near the New Mexico border. I have a very important mission for them to perform." Watson continued to search through the president's files on the computer until she found what she needed. She then gave the command to the computer that in turn put her through to the raiders.

The holographic image of the cowboy with the .45 Colt Peacemaker came into view. "Yeah?" the man said in a slow drawl.

"Is this Cobb?" Watson asked.

"What if it is? Who are you?"

"I'm your vice president and I have an important mission for you," snapped Watson.

"Yes'm!" Cobb said forcefully as he regained his composure.

"You are to follow Plan Stampede," Watson said. "Repeat, Plan Stampede."

"Immediately," Cobb said.

"That is all!" Watson said in conclusion before shutting down the computer.

"Ma'am, what is Plan Stampede?" the aide asked.

"They are to cross the border into New Mexico and terrorize the populace."

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Texas Wildfire

Chapter 25

By Dwayne MacInnes

General Lowell watched between Captain Richardson and Sergeant Wilcox's shoulders at the conversation between Watson and Cobb. He had Wilcox replay it again so that he could make sure he heard everything correctly. The room was deathly silent for a few minutes before General Lowell finally cleared his throat.

"Sergeant," Lowell said in a firm voice. "This may take us some time. Please, go get us some coffee."

The sergeant knew that the general wanted to speak to Richardson alone so he stood up and left the room to get three coffees. After the noncommissioned officer left the room, the general walked over towards the terminal. He looked toward the captain and motioned for her to take the chair recently vacated by Wilcox.

As the captain took the chair, General Lowell typed a code into the terminal. Displayed on the screen was "RK-1: Activate (Y) (N)". Captain Richardson looked at the general with surprise on her face. She had heard of RK-1 but did not know that it actually existed. The official title was for 'Remote Killer'; however, the true name was for Rimsky-Korsakov, a little black humor from the engineers.

General Lowell reached over and punched the 'Y' key. A new image came to replace the one transmitted by the fly on the screen. The images of a mob of people protesting and being contained by police. Also in the image were New Republican soldiers which keyed Richardson in to the fact that the RK-1 was located outdoors.

"I assume you know how to handle the controls," General Lowell stated.

"Yes sir," Captain Richardson replied. She wiped the sweat gathering on her palms onto her uniform before gripping the controls.

"The RK-1 is located outside the governor's office. You will wait until Watson leaves the capital building before you commence your attack," the general ordered.

The captain swallowed hard before issuing a, "yes sir."

Richardson sent the RK-1 into flight and had it maneuver around so that she could watch the front door to the governor's office. People were jostling and chanting while waving protest signs as police and soldiers kept the entryway to the governor's office clear. In all the chaos, Richardson thought she would miss catching Watson exiting the building.

However, Captain Richardson did not have to wait long before the vice president of the New Republic of Texas walked out with the aide still in tow. A police officer escorted the pair down the steps. Richardson flipped a switch and then activated the automatic targeting system. With the crosshairs locked in place, the captain only had to make minute adjustments as the RK-1 moved in.

* * * * *

The aide listened to Watson, as she again expounded on how weak President Tucker was. Further, she stated that if she were president, the United States would have already been negotiating a peace treaty. The aide only listened with half an ear for he had heard it all before. He knew that Watson tended to be egotistical and often over inflated her accomplishments.

As they exited the building and started to walk down the steps towards the sidewalk the aide noticed a large bumblebee float through the crowd of protesters. Suddenly it buzzed by him. As Watson made her way through the escorting soldiers, she absentmindedly brushed at the flying insect that headed towards her. She was in midsentence when the large bee landed on her neck and instantly stung her in the jugular. Before Watson could swat the bee, it was already flying away.

"Ouch!" Kimberly Watson exclaimed as she collapsed onto the sidewalk.

The aide and several soldiers quickly knelt down next to the vice president and noticed the large welt where the bee had stung her. The aide realized that Watson had stopped breathing.

"Get help!" the aide yelled towards the crowd gathering around the vice president. He immediately began to administer CPR. However, Kimberly Watson was already dead. The RK-1 contained a super-concentrated venom that it had injected into the vice president. She was dead before she hit the ground.

* * * * *

Captain Richardson's hands shook uncontrollably. She had never killed anyone in her life. She trained for it, but now that she did it, she felt cold and numb.

General Lowell then proceeded to shut down the RK-1. Immediately the screen and controls returned to the fly in the governor's office.

"Well, done soldier," the general said in a flat voice. "You did your country a service."

A few minutes later Sergeant Wilcox returned to the room with three hot cups of coffee. The general took one and sipped at it. However, Captain Richardson only stared at her cup. Wilcox noticed even in the dim light that she had lost her color and was slightly shaking.

"Captain, are you okay?" Wilcox asked.

"Captain you look ill," General Lowell stated noticing for the first time how faint she appear. "Return to you room and take the rest of the day off."

Without saying a word, Richardson left the room. As she slowly made her way to her quarters, she played and replayed the assassination she had committed only moments before through her mind.

Once she was in her room, Captain Richardson found a bottle of wine and proceeded to drink two glasses before she made her way into the bathroom. She turned on the shower and let the hot water steam up the small room.

Richardson looked down at her hands and noticed how they shook uncontrollably. She made them into fists and tried to will them to stop. However, they continued to shake.

As if in a trance, Richardson left the bathroom with the shower still running and proceeded to gather up her pajamas, a robe, towel and a few other things. She then returned to the bathroom.

She surveyed herself in the fog free mirror and barely recognized the wraithlike visage that returned her gaze. The captain then undressed. She neatly folded her uniform and placed it on the counter next to the sink alongside her large fluffy bath towel.

As if for the first time, Richardson noticed her small travel bag also on the countertop. She always took it with her and she kept all the necessities she needed because the military could send her on a trip in a moments notice.

The captain unzipped the bag and pulled out the .45 automatic Colt pistol. It used to belong to her grandfather and she always traveled with it. Like a salve it had always soothed away her fears and worries in the past.

Richardson looked at the black pistol and then looked at her naked form in the mirror once again. Then in one smooth motion, she pulled back the slide and placed the gun under her chin.

* * * * *

An alarm sounded in the barracks shortly after the pistol shot echoed down the hall. It took the security detail less than two minutes to have the door kicked in. The airmen found Captain Richardson's twitching body on the moist bathroom floor. The condensation in the room mingled with the blood pouring out the back of Richardson's head.

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