November 2010 Archives

Texas Wildfire

Chapter 29

By Dwayne MacInnes

F-105 Thunderchief

The U.S. army pushed its way south through the panhandle region now known as the state of North Texas. Many bridges were sabotaged and demolition teams had to work constantly to disarm the IEDs. The New Republic of Texas soldiers had left these as they retreated back across their new border.

This caused the U.S. military to move at a snail's pace. There were some opportunities for the U.S. forces to rush forward, but General Davis always ordered the military to continue its slower rate. Many officers doubted if Davis really wanted to win this war because the slower advance was allowing the Texans to reform and gain more reinforcements.

The combat tended to be one sided with the better-trained and equipped U.S. forces easily pushing aside the Texans. Davis also warned against the harsh treatment of civilians. Only if there was solid proof that a civilian was aiding and abetting the enemy could the military make an arrest

There were a few partisan forces; however, most of the citizens of North Texas looked upon the U.S. as liberators. It meant a return to stability, something that Texas lacked every since it seceded.

At night when most of the combatants on both side opted to rest, many U.S. G.I.s would listen to some old radios that they found along their trek south. The music was a mixture of rock and country, the popular hits from the last half a century. It originated from Austin.

The voice of Flash Limbeck played on the radios as he introduced the music. Limbeck knew that the U.S. forces listened to his broadcasts so he always tried to make it something personal for them.

"Hello there, to our aggressors from the north," Limbeck broadcast. "It appears that your government is forcing you to fight in a futile war against the peace-loving people of Texas. We are not your foes but your friends. I have a special song here for you. It's that old classic tune from last decade called, 'A Soldier's Dear John' performed by Billy Jackson. As you enjoy the music, please listen to the lyrics and remember that your sweetheart could right now be in the arms of another man."

No one really paid much heed to Limbeck's propaganda. In fact, the music selection was so good that many soldiers looked forward to the nightly broadcast. The officers allowed the men and women to listen to it because it actually raised morale instead of lowering it.

F-104 Starfighter

The old governor's office again was crowded with aides, top military advisors, and fellow politicians. President Tucker looked at an old highway map laid out on his desk. It was irritating that they had to resort to using old style maps because there was not a single computer available in Texas that could project the usual 3D holographic ones everyone knew.

"General," Tucker asked as he pointed to the new border of the New Republic and North Texas with an unlit cigar. "How are the reinforcements coming along?"

"As best as could be expected, sir," General West replied. "We are still forced to use old radios for communication. Plus, there are still some pockets of rioters and protesters that we are dealing with.

"We are damn lucky that General Davis appears to be in no great hurry to head into Texas. That may be our one advantage. It is allowing us to mass our forces for one climatic battle."

"General, I want all the stops out," Tucker said in a stern voice. "I want every available piece of military hardware that can be spare thrown into the fray. I want anything that may offer us an advantage available. This will be the last showdown and we have to win." Tucker emphasized his last point by slamming a fist onto the map.

"Do we have any aircraft left at all?" Tucker asked.

"Yes sir," an aide replied. "We have a handful of F-105 Thunderchiefs and F-104 Starfighters. They weren't ready for combat when we assaulted the military bases. However, they are ready now and hidden away for the moment we need them."

"Good," Tucker said. "I want any volunteers to fly anything that can get airborne across the country. Be it a civilian plane, a blimp, a flipping kite -- I don't care. I just want the U.S. Air Force distracted so that those fighters have a chance to aid in the final assault."

General West nodded his head, "We will start recruiting immediately."

"General, I will leave the timetable to the assault in your hands," Tucker gravely stated. "However, General, do not wait too long or all is lost. Is that understood?"

"Yes sir," West replied.

"Do we have any intelligence on what the U.S. is planning?" Tucker turned to an aide who was holding a briefcase.

"I'm sorry sir. But, the U.S. military has closed down all borders and with the loss of the computers we can’t get any reliable information. However, it appears that from our spies in North Texas that General Davis is going to continue his drive south towards Austin."

"Well, let's hope he continues to move slowly and predictably. If we can continue to lull them into a false sense of invulnerability they will let there guard down. That, gentlemen, may be the chance we need to end this war once and for all."

General West did not want to correct the president about his forces lulling the U.S. military into a false sense of invulnerability. The truth of the matter was that the United States simply outclassed them in military hardware and experienced soldiers.

However, there was a chance that Davis may become careless and that would be the best time to strike. General West knew that as soon as this meeting was over, he would need to head north and prepare his troops for the last assault President Tucker wanted.

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Reunited...

Chapter Forty-Four

By Douglas E. Gogerty

"I told you that we would not be able to count on her," King Thorbjorn told Prince William.

"We do not really need to," replied the Prince. "We just need to follow her. That should provide enough security for our purposes."

"I suppose," grumbled the King.

"Now let us get the suncar and go," said the Prince as he ran to the waiting vehicle.

The King followed the Prince to the suncar. They had been conserving the suncar's power during the day for just such an occurrence. They had been saving power just in cast they needed to leave in the middle of the night. They were saving for an emergency, but it was not in this case. They just needed to get going.

Further, they would not have to hurry. This was because the Princess's caravan was moving very slowly. Thus, they could use minimal suncar power. Therefore, they did not have to press the batteries of the vehicle.

About an hour after dawn, the entire caravan came to a stop. They did this to switch from animal power to solar power. They would bed down the animals in the wagons and hook up their suncars. The process took a little while, so it was also time for the morning meal.

King Thorbjorn and Prince William took the time to eat as well. This also allowed the suncar's batteries to charge. They would soon reach the Princess's kingdom. After that, the King and his son would simply need to leave the caravan and head toward Lakeland. The pair continued following the caravan into the Princess's kingdom.

After a fair amount of travel, the King and the Prince would break off from the caravan. There was a fork in the road, and the Princess would likely head to her new castle complex. The two stragglers would split from the caravan at this time. Nonetheless, they would be well within the borders of the former treaty land. It would be in somewhat friendly territory.

As they were about to depart ways with the Princess they sought an audience with her. However, she did not allow it. Thus, they had to leave her without saying their good-byes. This was just as well for the King, but Prince William would have liked to say farewell. As always, he did not know when he would see her again.

Even without the audience, they continued to stay with the caravan. The sun was beginning to set before they reached the split towards Lakeland. They thought they may spend a little more time with the caravan. Fortunately, the slow pace allowed the royal suncar to once again save power. The King and the Prince would be able to travel for a while as it got dark. Further, if they ran into trouble during the night, they would be able to make a getaway.

Since it was getting dark, the caravan once again made its switch. A meal was eaten, and the animals were once again pulling the Princess's wagons. It was at this point that the King noticed the road heading towards the north. It was here that the King and his son would leave the relative safety of the caravan.

With darkness coming on, they would not be able to travel far. Hence, they simply looked for an out of the way place to camp in that area. With darkness falling, they did not want to waste power looking for a well protected camping area. Thus, they found a spot byt the crossroads and pulled off. While there was a multiple ways that trouble could come after them, they also had multiple options for escape.

Prince William took the first watch. It was dark. It was hard for him to believe that this was once a busy intersection. However, the nearby ruins indicated that this place was busy both day and night. The lights and buildings were long destroyed during the ancient conflict. Now, it was quite dark and very quiet. The Prince marveled at all of the stars.

Despite the conditions, Prince William remained awake during his watch. However, King Thorbjorn did not do so well. He awoke with a start as the sun struck his face. It was well past dawn. He looked around in panic, but there was no one around. The roads were deserted in every direction. He let out a sigh, and began preparing the morning meal.

It was later in the morning than they would have liked, but they were happy to be heading towards Lakeland. Even with the late start, they would be close to Lakeland at then end of the day's travel. In fact, the father and son should be able to make their home kingdom early on the next morning.

Furthermore, the roads were quiet. It did not appear that anyone was watching the road they were traveling. It was quiet and empty. This did not make the men anxious because this was fairly normal for this part of Morica. Hence, they pushed forward.

In fact, they went so fast that they did not save any batteries for reserve. As night fell and they neared Lakeland, the suncar stopped. They were simply excited to get home, and they were caught off guard by the stopping vehicle. They stopped completely unprepared for making camp.

Nonetheless, they did not panic. The two simply made camp next to the road where they stopped. They could almost feel how close to Lakeland they were. They both felt that they would make it home. It was the last leg of an arduous journey and they were almost there. All they had to do was make it through one more night.

This time, King Thorbjorn took the first watch. At this spot, it was also dark and quiet. However, the excitement of making it to Lakeland kept the King awake. He was vigilant and even paced for a while. He kept a good watch. As with all of the other nights, he did not see or hear anything other than the sleeping Prince.

When morning came, the King had not slept much during the Prince's watch. King Thorbjorn had a lot on his mind. The excitement of making it to Lakeland after all he had went through prevented any sleep. He could not believe he was so close. He simply tossed and turned during Prince William's watch. He was anxious to get home.

With the sun up and the morning meal taken, the suncar made its way towards Lakeland. They reached the boarder after a short drive. They had reached Lakeland without incident. After a brief cheer in the car, they spotted a small dust cloud heading their way. They thought it was the entourage sent to retrieve the King from the Pirate Peninsula.

Relief that they had finally reached their home kingdom became evident in the suncar. They both thought they were going to be safe. They were wrong. The road exploded in front of them and they crashed into the ditch.

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Texas Wildfire

Chapter 30

By Dwayne MacInnes

T.J. ran from one ruined building to another. A heavy rain fell from the night sky The clouds obstructed any moonlight that normally would have filtered down onto Houston. This was both a blessing and a curse. The blessing because the city had a strict curfew and anyone found outside after 9:00 P.M. would be arrested. It was a curse because T.J. could not see much in the darkness.

To make matters worse, all lights had to be blacked-out by nightfall as well. The military was not taking any chances in allowing the rebels any aid in assaulting the city. The city was now completely cut-off from the surrounding countryside.

T.J's foot splashed into a large puddle. The former oil executive cursed under his breath. He dearly needed stealth. The U.S. military were not the only ones after his hide. The Venezuelans were also interested in him. He owed them a lot of money and now he was sure that they were tracking him.

The soaked man dressed only in a dirty and torn business suit shivered as he finally huddled inside an old overturned dumpster. The U.S. military and local law enforcement were able to reestablish law and order only a few days ago. However, by that time, many buildings had been set ablaze. It was in these ruins that T.J. had stayed. He was hiding amongst the debris and constantly on the move. He had to stay ahead of the Venezuelan hit squad that Mr. Vargas had after him.

T.J. buried himself inside the garbage that was still partially inside the dumpster. He shoved wads of paper down his wet shirt to help towel himself off. Then he wrapped himself inside a mysterious fabric. It could have been a tablecloth or even a bed sheet at one time. It mattered little to T.J. he only wanted to use it to help keep warm.

Sleep did not come easy anymore. Between the shivering cold, the fear of a hit squad shooting him, and the U.S. armed forces arresting him, T.J. could only close his eyes after extreme exhaustion finally overcame him.

In a fitful dream, T.J. could hear voices speaking in Spanish. T.J. awoke shuddering in fear. He listened intently praying it was only his mind messing with him. Then he heard something fall over and crash onto the ground.

"Maldita sea!" a voice swore above a whisper.

"Cállate!" a second voice whispered harshly.

A third man's voice whispered, "Dónde esta el hombre?"

"No sé"

T.J. cautiously poked his head out of the dumpster. He could see three men in the early dawn light working their way through the burned-out building. They were carefully walking towards his hiding spot.

Fright overtook T.J. and he bolted from the dumpster. He ran through the soggy charcoal littering the street. He did not have any idea of where he was going to go, but he needed to flee before the three men captured him.

"Allí!" one man shouted as he pointed towards the fleeing oilman.

T.J. did not waste time to look over his shoulder. He let the adrenaline in his system carry him onward. He heard a pistol fire behind him. The bullet slammed into a steel girder near T.J's head with a metallic clank.

Another shot whistled past T.J's head as he ducked behind a brick building. T.J. gained the street and wasted no time in crossing it. He could hear the footsteps of the men pursuing him. T.J. ran down an alley.

As he passed broken wooden crates and dented garbage cans, T.J. found himself in a dead-end alley. A tall brick wall prevented him from exiting the far end. Another shot flew past and lodged itself into the brick wall. Chips of broken brick pelted T.J. as he stopped in his tracks.

T.J. raised his hands and quickly turned towards his pursuers. The three men laughed as they slowly walked towards the younger Murdock.

"Señor Murdock," one of the assassins spoke with a heavy accent. "You owe our employer a lot of money. I do not suppose you have it on you. Because if you do and you hand it over to us we might let you go for another day."

The assassin's companions laughed at this. T.J. slumped to the ground on his knees. His hands shook in fear above his head.

"Please," Murdock begged. "I do not have the money. It is utter chaos out there. Once things return to normal, I'll get the money."

"That is enough Señor Murdock," the man said with a sneer as he took another slow step towards T.J. "Your begging only sickens us. However, I suppose Señor Vargas would enjoy it."

The man turned towards a companion and spoke in rapid Spanish. The companion laughed and pulled out his compu-phone. Then he proceeded to record T.J. on his knees shaking.

"One more time with the begging, por favor, for the camera."

T.J's mind went blank. A cold dread seized his heart. He knew that he had finally reached the end. These men would finally kill him and he was utterly helpless to prevent it. Tears began to roll down his cheeks.

"Sirs," T.J. sobbed. "Show some mercy. If you let me go I'll give you more money than you can imagine."

The leader laughed, "I do not know. Señor Vargas, you see, has paid us a lot of dinero. This we have, you have nothing to offer us in exchange. Muy triste, Señor Murdock," the assassins raised and pointed their pistols towards T.J's head.

T.J. was thankful that his clothes were still soaked as he wet his pants. He closed his eyes and turned his head away with his hands shaking uncontrollably above his head. He flinched as three shots rang out in the alley.

It took a few seconds for T.J. to realize that he did not feel any pain. His brain raced for an answer and the only one that came to mind was that the assassins were toying with him.

"Mr. Thomas Jefferson Murdock?" a voice asked in an American accent.

T.J. opened his eyes and looked up at a squad of soldiers with smoking rifles. A sergeant walked forward and stepped over the bodies of the dead assassins.

"I am Staff Sergeant Murphy," the man said. "I am here to place you under arrest."

T.J. smiled and then he laughed as he lowered his hands. "Sergeant, those are the most beautiful words I have ever heard."

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Reunited...

Chapter Forty-Five

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Prince William awoke behind the wheel of the suncar. He shook his head to clear away the stars. He looked around, and spotted a group of people on a nearby hill. Still groggy, he wondered who they were.

Before he could determine who they were, he saw a flash. Instinctively, he jumped out of the car. He stumbled away as best he could. The explosion knocked him further away. He collapsed and lost consciousness.

He awoke surrounded by a small army. He did not know how long he had been out. He was not even sure where he was. Slowly it all came back to him.

Was the King dead? he wondered.

He stayed there on his back trying to clear his head. He still was unclear as to what had happened. It started to come back to him as he looked at the faces of the men that surrounded him. They all seemed somewhat familiar. However, his head was not quite clear enough to know who they were. After looking for a bit, one face stood out.

"Bjorn?" Prince William asked.

"It is I dear brother," replied Bjorn.

"What -- in the name of all things sacred -- is going on?"

"Father is dead," Bjorn replied with a self-satisfied smirk on his face.

"What?"

"King Thorbjorn is dead -- long live King Bjorn!" he replied raising his hand triumphantly as his army cheered.

"You killed father?" asked Prince William.

"Well not me directly. I am not an expert with the rocket propelled grenade."

"And, you are claiming the throne."

"Of course! I am the king's eldest. I am the most likely heir to the throne."

"Well -- uh -- I guess congratulations are in order -- your highness."

"Thank you!"

"Very well then, what are you going to do with me?"

"What? I have not given it much thought."

"So...can I go then?"

"Where are you going to go?"

"I was just bringing the King -- well..." muttered Prince William. "Anyway, now that my job with the King is finished, I have business with Princess Angelina."

"You have always had a thing for her."

"That is true, but I should be going."

"She is quite a lovely young thing; however, we are headed back towards the castle."

"I can find my own way."

"You would have to."

"So, I can still go then?"

"Yes you may. It is just too bad that your transport is currently non-functional."

"That is fine -- my Lord."

"Wait! You are not going to cause trouble for me are you?"

"I am so far down the line in succession. What could I do?"

"I do not know...."

"You have more to fear from the older boys than you do from me."

"Do I have your word on that?"

"I guarantee it," Prince William stated while remembering the sibling rivalries.

"Regardless," responded the new King. "You are far from -- well everywhere. You will be fortunate to survive the day out here by yourself."

"It is quite dangerous out here."

"You may go."

The Prince walked away from his brother's army. He gave a tentative wave at his brother. He decided to bow deeply at the waist before he turned and walked away. The new king gave a gracious wave of his hand as he turned.

Prince William was still a bit unclear about what had happened. Naturally, he knew that his brother had ambushed them, but how did he know which road the King and Prince would take? He had been very watchful during his watch. He would have noticed any scouts. Had the King missed something?

He began to go over the possibilities. He did not think that anyone had bugged his suncar. However, it could have been. He recalled how Princess Angelina's father had installed tracking devices on his kingdom's vehicles. However, who would have the foresight to keep track of him? Certainly, no one could keep that a secret from the King. No, he concluded that his vehicle was clean. It must have been something else.

He continued to walk and ponder the question. He went over the previous events of the recent past. He could not have missed anyone in the dark of night. How could Prince Bjorn know when and where the suncar was headed. It weighed heavily upon his mind. He walked for quite a while before he stumbled and fell. It was not until that moment did he realize how unsteady he was.

With all that had happened to him in the past several months, he was getting used to feeling a bit off. He remembered that he was just in a car accident. The crash knocked him about pretty good. In fact, he was lucky to be alive. He could see his brother's caravan way off to the north. He was happy that Bjorn did not find him a threat. Otherwise, Bjorn would have killed him on the spot. Although he was walking away, he was not out of trouble yet. Bjorn could turn and eliminate him at any moment. If the rolls were reversed, he is not sure he would not have killed his brother. He was a rival no matter how remote.

As the day wore on, Prince William became more confident that he was safe from Bjorn. However, he became less confident that he would still survive. He had to stop and rest on regular intervals. His thirst was getting great. His only supply of water was destroyed in the suncar.

However, Prince William remembered a bridge they had crossed earlier in the day. He just had to make it to that river. If he could make it, that river would provide the Prince with drinking water at the very least. Moreover, he was planning to use the river as transportation.

The Prince remembered reading a story about a young man rafting down a river. He remembered the great adventure this young man had on the river. If some school-aged kid could raft down a river, so could the Prince. That is, if he could make it to the river.

He walked and rested and walked and rested for a couple of hours. Eventually, he made it to the bridge. He scrambled down to the water. He took in a big drink. The water was cool and refreshing. After a bit of rest, the Prince would look into building himself a raft.

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Texas Wildfire

Chapter 31

By Dwayne MacInnes

George Murdock entered the sterile hospital room. There were guards outside guarding the room as well as some inside. The man in the bed with I.V. tubes in his arm was barely recognizable. The gaunt and unshaven man in the bed vaguely resembled his son.

George would not have known his son was at the hospital if it was not for Staff Sergeant Murphy. The sergeant stood near the bed where T.J. lay recovering from his excursions.

Murphy nodded towards George and stepped away from the bed. "We were close to losing him to some Venezuelan assassins."

"Thank you," George responded sincerely as he approached the bed.

T.J. looked up at his father with hollow, haunted eyes. Although the hospital staff had cleaned him up, T.J. still showed the effects of being on the run for days. He was a lot thinner than the last time the two had met and he sported a four-day scruff of beard on his face.

"Father," T.J. smiled when he recognized his dad standing next to him.

"Take it easy, son," George gently assured his son. "You have had quite an adventure I hear."

T.J. chuckled a bit before replying, "More like a damned fool of a mistake. You are too kind."

"Well, some of life's lessons we have to learn the hard way."

"It looks like I'll have plenty of time to continue my education," T.J. smirked as he nodded his head towards the soldiers.

"Did you talk to the lawyer I sent down here?" George inquired.

"Yeah, if I cooperate with the feds on Venezuela's involvement in arming the Texans, they'll cut me a sweet deal. Probably only have to do a year or two."

"I pray you took the deal."

"Maybe a couple of weeks ago I would have laughed the man out of the room, but not today. The past week really drove home some harsh lessons. You'll find me a changed man from now on. I'm sure you'll even say I've grown up.

George smiled again as he squeezed T.J's shoulder, "You'll have your old job back when you get out."

"Wow, it must be my lucky day," T.J. joked. "I am rescued in the nick of time, I may get off lightly for my stupid mistakes, and now I'm reinstated back in the family and the business."

"Well, we've both learned a couple of things," George acknowledged. "Hopefully, this madness will end soon. There are some nut-jobs out there who are bombing the properties of any business they think is cooperating with the United States. That is what happened to our headquarters. Thank God, no one was there."

"I was," T.J. said frowning as he remembered the suicide pilot plunging his aircraft into the building.

George Murdock looked down at his son with a puzzled expression on his face.

"I'll tell you about it later," T.J. said. "But right now I need some sleep. I haven't been in a real bed for nearly a week."

* * * * *

Military vehicles rushed by the armored command vehicle where General Davis made his headquarters. Around the cramped compartment, officers stood staring at a 3D holographic image of Texas.

"Okay, it looks like the Republican forces are gathering here near San Angelo," Davis stated as he pointed at the city with his laser pointer. "If our intel is correct they have rushed nearly every piece of equipment and personnel they could spare to stop us at this location."

A colonel spoke up, "Sir, if we know that they are there, certainly, we could move around them leaving a token force to tie them down."

"No, colonel. We are going to hit them with everything we have with us."

Several officers broke into small conversations. They could not believe what they were hearing.

"Sir,"a major broke in. "We need to move swiftly to get to Austin. We should not tie ourselves down with a battle that could last for days or even weeks."

General Davis smiled, "I can personally assure that it won't last quite that long."

* * * * *

The scouts came back to announce that the U.S. military were taking the bait. It would not be long now before battle commenced between the United States and the New Republic of Texas. General West only prayed that the ancient museum pieces they were using would be enough to slow down and even defeat the U.S. military.

Soon small arms fire broke out in the distance. That would be the advance guards firing on the advanced elements of the U.S. forces. Shortly there after, artillery pieces from both forces started firing at each other.

General West was in a reinforced command post dug into the ground a few miles back from the front lines. He had his officers assembled and ready to relay any orders that they needed to send. Malware from the United States still infected most of the computers in Texas. Therefore, the Texans relied on ancient radios for most of their communications. Very few of these had scramblers.

"The air units from the United States are headed towards us," the communications officer stated.

"It's now or never," West sighed. "Send in all of our air units."

* * * * *

In the air above the battlefield outside San Angelo, old Cobras, Apaches, Little Birds and UH-1 Hueys battled against the more modern U.S. helicopters. Missiles streaked across the air as the choppers dove and jinked to gain an advantage over their opponents. Soon, the sky was ablaze with helicopters and missiles exploding sending the burning debris crashing into the ground below.

Higher in the sky the F-104s and 105s battled the U.S. F-22s and 35s. The older jets were no match for their more nimble and modern adversaries. However, they did not go down with out taking a few of the newer fighters with them. Fire, scrap metal and bodies rained down from the heavens into San Angelo and the surrounding area.

On the ground, the infantry fought each other. The defenders were greatly outnumbered. However, they had laid down some stout defenses and they took a heavy toll on the invading U.S. forces. Both sides brought in support vehicles, tanks, and artillery fire.

The final battle for Texas independence had begun.

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Reunited...

Chapter Forty-Six

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Naturally, Princess Angelina heard about the death of King Thorbjorn. Since that day, she got reports of the civil war that raged in Lakeland. While Prince Bjorn claimed the throne, his many siblings were angry at his actions. They did not appreciate the fact that he had taken it upon himself to kill the King. Moreover, many would like to be in his position. Thus, the various children of Thorbjorn broke into various factions. It seemed that each son, no matter where in the line of succession, wanted the kingdom for himself.

When she heard about the ambush, she was impressed with Bjorn's foresight to wait until the King entered Lakeland. If the ambush had occurred on her land, she could consider that an attack on her sovereignty. It could have drawn her kingdom into the war. However, the restraint made the incident an internal affair for Lakeland.

In addition, the Princess did not hear what happened to Prince William. She knew he was traveling with the King at the time. Of the reports she received, none mentioned Prince William. She thought that perhaps he had also died in the ambush. She felt bad about not granting him an audience. Further, her harsh actions made her sad -- about not seeing the Prince. She did not feel the same for the King. In fact, she was somewhat glad that King Thorbjorn was dead.

However, she would now need to negotiate with whomever ended up reigning over Lakeland. Naturally, she could not get any treaty signed until a successor was determined. This could take quite some time. The brothers would not yield to each other easily.

Another worry was that the civil war could spill across Lakeland's borders. With the fighting raging, one of the armies may wish to reclaim her kingdom. With the unpredictability of the situation, she did not wish to see the war spill into her lands. Thus, she would have to do the prudent thing and mobilize a force along the border. The task of this force would be to prevent incursions into her land. They would also handle the refugees.

Thus, once again, she let the unimportant aspects slide. She did not fill in minor posts, and she had not named her kingdom. Those things would have to wait. There were much more important things to worry about.

She immediately appointed some trusted advisors to command the army she would raise. She gave them strict orders on what to do with those seeking asylum. The refugees would swear allegiance to Angelina and be welcomed. However, the army had full reign to deal with anyone who caused trouble.

She allowed her advisors the ability to decide what to do with the stream of people crossing the boarder. However, she did not want them to wander far from the Lakeland border. She knew that they remained Lakelanders despite the war in their lands. They would likely wish to return home.

In her efforts to recruit more for the protective service, she went to the citizenry. In each town she visited, the townspeople gathered around her. Without much trouble, she could raise a substantial fighting force. In fact, she turned many down so they could continue to raise food.

Moreover, it seemed that her entire kingdom was willing to fight for her. She enjoyed such support from her people, that they appeared ready to do anything for her. However, she knew that maintaining such a large standing army would be expensive. She knew that someone had to continue to raise food to keep them fed. Hence, she rationed out the honor of service.

She did note to the ones that remained out of active service that their rolls were just as important -- if not more so. She had read that an army travels on its stomach. Hence, she emphasized that growing food was just as important as fighting. She promised that there would be great rewards for providing a bounty to the army.

She knew that without peace in home, there would be no need for a military to worry about other kingdoms. Thus, she assured everyone that they were an important part of her kingdom. It appeared that her people were grateful to have such a generous leader.

Occasionally during her recruiting tour, she would visit the already gathered troupes. During these visits she received dire reports from Lakeland. She would hear of the atrocities going on in the north. She learned of Prince Bjorn's cruelty. The reports told how he would punish harshly anyone who disobeyed him. Further, with every defeat, the refugees would report of great retaliation. They told stories of how Prince Bjorn was not only harsh to one of his enemies, but was cruel to his own army. Everyone spoke of the would-be-king's tirades.

Many of the soldiers remarked that there leaders were not incredibly bright. In fact, they said that Prince Bjorn's own incompetence caused many of his own defeats. He would rush into battle when his men were not ready. He would call for battle when his opponent had a far superior position. He gave little credence to tactics.

These former soldiers believed that Prince Bjorn felt that he was infallible. Thus, any defeat, he believed, was his army's fault. He believed that his soldiers did not fight hard enough. He would harshly punish his army upon any major or minor defeat. Thus, the soldiers deserted in vast numbers.

However, they reported that it was not much better for the other armies. If a soldier would surrender to one of the other armies, they would never be trusted. Even if they swore fealty to the leader, they would be assigned to POW camps. The conditions at these camps were awful. The fighting men received most of the food. Thus, the prisoners had very little from which to survive. Starvation was common.

Therefore, instead of surrendering to another army, the soldiers would come south. In addition, with rumors of the welcome in the south, soldiers, farmers, and many others and their families began streaming across the border. The Princess did her best to accept anyone crossing the border.

After a few visits with the refugees, she realized that food was going to be an issue. Hence, her recruiting tours turned into pep talks to the farmers. She wanted to make sure everyone knew that their parts were just as important. She wanted to keep morale up for those behind the lines. The Princess did her best to make sure that as much food could be sent to the refugee camps. She wanted everyone to be happy.

However, there was a down side for all of this. The sons of Thorbjorn noticed the increasing army on the boarder of Lakeland. The army had more than doubled in a very short time. This type of thing would not go unnoticed.

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Texas Wildfire

Chapter 32

By Dwayne MacInnes

The night sky was pitch-black as the heavy rain clouds still obscured the moon. The cargo planes continued to make their runs to resupply the U.S. forces still garrisoned in Texas. Fighters, as well as radar jamming planes, always escorted the cargo planes. The Texans learned long ago never to try to shoot down the crafts. They never could hit any planes with their antiaircraft guns and rockets. Furthermore, the projectiles from the guns and launchers tended to fall back to earth inflicting more damage to the Texans than the U.S. forces.

So, it was without the knowledge of the Texans that these planes were actually dropping off paratroopers. These soldiers were sent to reinforce the garrisons at the military bases as well as those guarding the oilfields. All night long airborne troops parachuted into Texas in the black of night. They were carrying some arms and ammunition, but little else.

M1-A1 Abrams Tank

The next morning General West witnessed another of his venerable M1A1 Abrams tanks go up in flames as an M-3 Schwarzkopf fired upon it with the plasma Gatling gun atop its turret. The main gauss-gun fired its projectile at an armored vehicle. The solid shot from the gauss-gun penetrated the light armor of the vehicle and proceeded to exit out the other side. The vehicle, other than two gaping holes in its side, was relatively undamaged.

Some sappers from the New Republic of Texas managed to disable the M-3 by knocking off one of its tread with an old RPG-29 Vampir. However, the tank could still fire its guns and it did. At least, until another round from the Vampir penetrated the reactive armor near the tanks fuel tank. Soon smoke and flames were now billowing from the M-3 Schwarzkopf.

West adjusted his field glasses and surveyed the carnage around him. Trees were felled and burning amongst the wreckage of vehicles, homes, and bodies. Much of San Angelo was burning and there was little either side could do to contain the conflagration. Fortunately, the wiser inhabitants had left the city before the battle began.

"Sir," interrupted a major. "Our left flank is starting to falter. Do you think we should send in some reserves?"

General West frowned as he shook his head. He had committed all the reserves he could spare earlier that day to strengthen his center. Only his right so far seemed to be holding its own. He did not dare ask for more forces from the garrisons remaining in the south.

The general cursed when he thought about it; he had lost all of the remaining combat aircraft that Texas had in the air battle the previous day. He was down to a handful of helicopters, and his tank forces were dwindling rapidly. The only bright spot was that the U.S. forces were not trying to outflank his troops and instead opted to fight the final battle here.

West turned towards the major, "See if General Howe can spare some troops on the right flank to help out the left. We will need the remaining reserves to plug any holes or to use in a break out if the enemy surrounds us."

The major saluted and hurried off. The officers did not dare use their radios with the U.S. forces so close. Thus, they had to resort to couriers. West yearned for an old-fashioned telephone -- or better -- military grade radios.

But, he knew he had to make due with what he had. San Angelo was at the hub of U.S. Highways 67, 87, and 277 as well as State Highway 208, the Houston Harte Expressway, Loop 306 and FM 2288. This strategic significance alone determined San Angelo as the place of the battle.

It was important that the Texans did not lose 87 southern route so that if worse came to worse they could pull back and set up another defensive position. Another point of fortune was that the U.S. forces were either not mindful of this or just did not care.

Map Showing San Angelo

An aide ran up the stairs and arrived into President Tucker's office winded. The man took a few deep breaths before he began to speak. However, even with those breaths the man still huffed and wheezed before he could make his report.

"Calm down, lad," said the president from behind his desk.

He was pleased that the tech-boys had finally fixed his desk computer. A few others were now functioning as well. Nevertheless, the process was taking longer than anyone would have liked -- except the United States of course.

"Sir, the Americans are headed towards us," the aide finally said between deep breaths.

"What?" exclaimed Tucker. "I just got off the radio with General West and he claims that he has them tied up in San Angelo. In fact, I've ordered some more troops and materiel to San Angelo to offer assistance."

The man shook his head as he finally brought his breathing under control. "No sir, these troops are flowing in from West Texas. There are also rumors that the United States is moving troops in from the occupied port cities as well as Louisiana."

Tucker put his head in his hands. This was always a possibility that they considered, but they figured that the United States would like to minimize their impact in Texas and only send one force. "We better get West on the line," Tucker said in a demoralized voice.

"Sir, all of our radio signals are being jammed," the aide continued with his bad news.

"What about that superstation that we have Limbeck broadcasting from. Certainly the megawatts that are coming out of there could blast through anything."

"I'm sorry sir, we are completely cut-off."

"Do we have any eyewitness accounts of these armies moving through Texas?" asked the president.

"Yes sir, but we don't know which ones to believe. We are getting hundreds of accounts. Some say the forces will be here in an hour, and some say in a day."

"How about our garrisons? Are they not putting up a fight?"

"Some are. But they are easily overwhelmed. The sad thing is that most are simply surrendering their entire forces."

Tucker did not know if he could take any more bad news. He would have to hurry if he wanted to get out of Austin before the United States military entered the city.

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Reunited...

Chapter Forty-Seven

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Prince William learned that building a simple raft was more difficult than he expected. The first problem arose from the fact that he had no tools. Cutting down trees was impossible without some sort of axe or saw. He looked around for quite a while looking for something, but was unable to locate anything suitable.

Thus, unless he could figure out how to make some workable tools, he had to find his raft materials. Fortunately, for him, there were plenty of resources. He picked a spot near the river to construct his raft. He began placing his materials at this spot.

It was a small clearing and it has ready access to the water. Thus, once his raft was finished, he had a clear path to the water for launch. Furthermore, it was hidden away from the main roads. Thus, he could work in relative secret if anyone should happen to wander by. At least, that is what he hoped he could do.

Despite everything, it was going to take longer than he anticipated. It also did not help that he was still experiencing the effects of the crash. Resting was a frequent necessity. He could not carry (or drag) his logs to his construction place without several rests.

Originally, he had hoped to use 4 or 5 big logs for his raft. This was what he remembered from the story. Unfortunately, he could not find many. Those he found were still attached to more tree. Therefore, even if he could move them, he could not clear off the remaining branches without a saw or axe. Thus, he had to use smaller pieces. This also complicated matters. He would have to make a couple of layers to keep him out of the water.

This is not to mention that he had no idea actually how to build a raft. He had only the vaguest ideas of how a raft would work. He had not thought about actually how to attach the pieces together. Again, the lack of materials was thwarting his efforts.

It took quite a lot of time to find everything. However, his searching was proving well worth the time. He would find some rope here, and a hammer there. He would find a knfie, some nails, some screws, a screwdriver, and many of the things that he could use in building his raft. The down side was that he had no experience with any of these things.

He would find a tool, and think it could be useful. He would not always be certain how to work it. For instance, he was baffled by phillips head screws for quite a while. He wondered why the screws would not work with the standard screwdriver that he had found. It was not until he found a screwdriver with the proper head, did he discover how to use them.

Slowly and methodically, Prince William's raft began to take shape. He took his time in an effort to make it as seaworthy as possible. It was not going to look like much, but he was hopeful that it would take him down the river. He was hoping to avoid the long walk into Princess Angelina's territory.

The raft was made from three levels of medium sized branches. They were lashed, nailed, and screwed together. He found a nice piece of plywood to place on top to give it a deck. He was really glad for that find. He had a rudder made from a single long branch that was flat on one side.

He built a box on the deck for him to sit in. He wanted this to prevent him from sliding off. Further, he could hide in it if it was required. It would also be a place to store things that he did not wish to lose into the river.

However, this deck box would not protect him from any weapon fire. It was not thick enough to repel any bullets. It was fashioned from some small branches, and attached to the deck.

The box had a slot in the back to receive the rudder. Thus, Prince William could sit in the box, and lean against a side and steer the raft. He was quite proud of this portion of the raft. He could navigate down the river in relative comfort. However, just in case, he put the tools in this sitting area. If he needed to make any repairs on his trip he would be ready.

He was not certain where the river led. But, he believed that a civil war was inevitable, and he did not want to be a victim. It was the way of these things. Anyone who may have even a minor claim on the throne was usually killed. Thus, anywhere out of Lakeland would be safer than in the country.

The Prince was happy that Prince Bjorn allowed him to get away. He hoped to ride out the war in hiding. He did not even need to go to Princess Angelina's castle and ask for asylum. There was enough space in her kingdom to hide. He just needed to finish the raft and be off.

He dragged his raft to the river and prepared to launch. The river was deep and wide, and he worried about his craftsmanship. However, it felt solid as he pulled it to the river. He was going to perform a small ceremony, but he heard gunfire in the distance. In a rush, he pushed off. Out into the flowing river he went. He was relieved that the raft performed pretty well.

He wondered how the war was going as he drifted south. The river moved steadily but not swiftly. He hoped that he would make it out of Lakeland. He was reminded how glad he was to make it into Lakeland just a short while ago. Now, he could not wait to get back out.

He really wished he had his suncar as shots rang out close to the river. He wished it had not taken so long to construct his raft because the war was in full swing. The fighting was close by, and he was still far from the border.

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June 2013

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Recent Comments

  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks for the kind words Kerry. I too am very read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Christian! I too had a DOS computer. read more
  • Christian: A great story, i remember my first computer with DOS read more
  • Kerry Glasscock: Good story. I love that Dwayne. nice work! read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Susanne. You are correct, the OS of computers has read more
  • Susanne: Nice read, shame computers havent improved several years later (mainly read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Hey Rushan! Sadly no, I do not have one. Thanks read more
  • Rushan: Nice work.do you have that kind of one?thanks.. read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Joyce. I appreciate your kind words. We do have read more
  • Joyce: Douglas, I just want express and my true admiration before read more

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