It was spring break and where did this Floridian academic go during spring break? Certainly he wasn't about to go anywhere near Ft Lauderdale. No, Dr. John Maland went to a far more exotic location. He was on board his small wooden sailing vessel somewhere between Miami and Bermuda. His destination wasn't on the map, which is very unusual for inhabited islands. However, this was no ordinary island.
What initially drew this island to the attention of Dr. Maland was the fact that their culture was unaffected by the "Age of Discovery." The pirates that lived around the Caribbean did not touch the inhabitants of this island. There are no records of any encounters with the islands natives. All of the sailors left this island alone. It had no contact even as explorers were exploiting surrounding islands. In his research, Dr. Maland was trying to discover why this island was so special during this period.
When he considered this aspect, another question would occur to him. Why did this tribe allow him to research them? Surely, other scientists tried to study them. He couldn't be the only scientist to wonder about this tribe. Certainly, there must have been other anthropologists and others that had stumbled upon them through the course of history. Why didn't any of them write anything down?
Of course, the island being in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle may have had some impact. In recent times, this fact could have scared off many would-be scientists. The mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle could have kept some scientists away, but would it scare off all of them? Was he missing something? Was he getting himself into deep trouble?
Nah, he felt that the Bermuda triangle stuff was all nonsense anyway. "Margaret Mead does her studies in Samoa and New Guinea and she's labeled one of the most ground breaking scientists of all time. My work is in the 'Devil's Triangle' and I get labeled a pseudo-scientist!" he would often lament. However, this group was very interesting and that took the sting out of most of it.
In his first few encounters with the inhabitants of the island, he discovered a few interesting facts. The tribe of this island had adopted "Iapetus" as their protector and major deity. They claimed that Iapetus would rise up from the water and smite their enemies. They claimed that this deity was also responsible for their isolation. They informed John that he was allowed to study them by the graces of Iapetus.
John thought this was incredible. He did some research and discovered that Iapetus is the name of a Greek Mythology Titan. According to Greek myth, Iapetus was the father of Atlas and Prometheus. When Zeus overthrew the Titans, he banished them to Tartaras. There was no reason for the island inhabitants to single out this rather obscure titan.
"Why not worship the titan Oceanus?" Dr. Maland often thought. "Wouldn't that would be a more fitting deity?"
It was incredible that an ancient Greek myth could be transformed and adopted by a far off island culture. When this was first published in an anthropological journal, some pointed that this was more evidence that Atlantis was in the Bermuda triangle. The question remained, why would this titan be the object of worship for this tribe? Even if Atlantis was in the Bermuda triangle, wouldn't they be worshipping the same gods as the Greeks of a comparable time?
Dr. Maland concluded that the name of Iapetus was probably just a coincidence. The constant link to fringe groups was a minor annoyance to John, but he was sailing in the Caribbean on a beautiful spring day towards an island paradise. He will take some criticism from mainstream scientists for several days in the tropics.
These Iapetian's, as they call themselves, began trading around the Caribbean a few years earlier. They were trading their exquisite handmade jewelry for cloth and tools. Dr. Maland was studying how this sudden interest in the outside world was affecting their culture. They were remarkably resistant to the lures of much of the new technologies. They still used their dugouts rather than the newer fiberglass boats available. They used paddles and sails rather than motors. The group adopted some technologies and ignored others. Their pace of life was still slow compared to the hustle and bustle of American life. That was why John used a wooden sailboat to get to the island. Well, that and the fact that he loved to sail.
As he approached the beach with the huge statues of Iapetus, he saw a small group of Iapetians waiting to greet him. Many of the tribal members looked forward to his visits. They liked his stories as much as he liked theirs.
"This tribe has an incredible ability to learn," noted John. "In the few years of trade, the entire tribe has learned a great deal of English. Nearly every member of the tribe can speak some English."
Dr. Maland was hesitant to teach them more, but they could be very insistent. While their English skills helped with his research, but Dr. Maland was much more interested in their language. If he could, he wanted to link it with other languages. Perhaps a link to Greek would give more credence to the Bermuda -- Atlantis link. However, the islands inhabitants were quite eager to practice their newly found language skills.
As a form of entertainment, the tribe would gather around the fire and the storytellers would tell their stories. Mostly these stories involved Iapetus and some outsiders. Rarely did outsiders get to hear their stories. In fact, the tribe had never invited John to one of their story telling sessions.
This time after the typical greeting ceremony, the group invited Dr. Maland to join them. The tribal elders had discussed it before his arrival, and they were going to let him join them as they gathered around the fire for their story. Further, since Dr. Maland was there, the storyteller was going to tell his story in English.
"In the time before the motors," the story began. "We were a peaceful people. We did not interfere with the outside, and we expected them to do the same. We meant no one any harm, but we had a capable defender. So, many ships would pass, and leave us unharmed. However, one day a large wooden monster came upon our island. It bore some symbols." The story teller wrote 'PICKERING' in the sand. "This creature had short stubby arms coming out his sides. This monster had large fins on his back to propel him along the water with the wind. Men sat on his back and went along for the ride. The men slowed the great monster and rested with him near our shore. Men shouted and yelled at our people, but none could understand. They shouted and yelled some more, but none could decipher the words. The men became angry and released the fury of the beast upon our island. The arms of the monster boomed and caused great destruction from afar. The people fearing the worst called upon the priestess to ask Iapetus to rise up from the depths and save his people. The men on the great beast laughed at our priestess. They pointed the arms of the beast at her, but they did her no harm. Upon hearing the prayer, the mighty Iapetus arose out of the depths. The men on the monster fell silent with fear of our mighty protector. The beast they rode grew quiet, but did not flee. The men pulled and worked their harnesses, but Iapetus got closer. Their great monster was paralyzed with fear. The men ran, pulled on ropes, and shouted but their transportation would not move. As our protector got near to the fiend, the booming started again but Iapetus was not affected. Our protector lifted the booming monster over his head and smashed in on the reef. The beast broke into many pieces and the men that rode her were killed. We thanks Iapetus for his aid, and the priestess offered some food to our mighty protector. After eating the offering, our protector returned to the depths. He was greatly saddened by his destruction. He did not like to kill, but he did when he was forced. In his anguish, Iapetus caused a great storm to rage to mourn the loss of those men. When the storm left our people gathered the remnants of the beast and created a great fire. Upon the flames of the fire much food was prepared. All of the people of the tribe thanked Iapetus for his help. They also apologized for causing his anguish. Iapetus appeared and ate more of the food, and all was right again. The only reminder of that day is this part of the beast." The storyteller takes out piece of wood with 'Pickering' engraved upon it.
"This iceberg is enormous, and that is just the tip of the iceberg," Dr. Claude LeFleur joked to himself.
With the global warm temperatures, this iceberg had broken off the arctic ice shelf and was floating south towards Canada. Many icebergs had done such things in the past, but this one was very special. Some Canadians on their fishing boat were trawling between the icebergs, when they spotted something unusual about this particular iceberg. When they approached to investigate, they were astounded at what they saw. They immediately contacted authorities. This is how Dr. LeFleur got involved.
Dr. LeFleur was at the top of his field. In his younger days, they scoffed that such a young man could not be so competent. However, he proved them all wrong with finding after finding. Now, at age 50, he was at the forefront of another major discovery. He was in charge of researching this iceberg. He was onboard the tugboat that was towing it into the Hudson Bay.
A research station was set up on James Bay on the southern tip of the Hudson Bay. That was the only location large enough to handle this special iceberg. It was an unusually warm spring, and the ice was melting quickly. The more the ice melted, the more excited the crew became. This iceberg had an enormous creature trapped inside. The fishing crew, who discovered it, dubbed it an ultra-yeti.
The creature was pure white and was enormous. This ultra-yeti was reminiscent of the legendary creature thought to roam the Himalayan mountain range; however, this beast was much bigger than the legendary "Abominable Snowman." It was quite a fierce looking monster. From Dr. LeFleur's initial examination, he deduced that the creature was pregnant. Thus, they all agreed that she was female. They named her Casiell, which is Latin for "Earthy Mother".
As the tug slowly pulled the ice entombed creature south, more and more ice was melting away. "This had better not take too long," thought Dr. LeFleur. "Otherwise, all the ice will melt, and she'll go sinking to the bottom of Hudson Bay. However, she is gigantic. Even on the bottom, she may still be above the water."
The creature entombed in this block of ice was indeed gigantic. It would make many dinosaurs look like small dogs. When Cassiel roamed the earth, she would have stood 250 meters tall while standing on her hind legs. "This animal was half the height of Canada's tallest building," thought Dr. LeFleur. "It would dwarf many buildings in the North America. I'm one of the luckiest people alive, because I get to study her!"
Dr. LeFleur's research team was waiting for them to arrive at their small research station on James Bay. The team notified several prominent biological scientists, and it was the talk of the many blogs on the internet. There was a lot of talk about the ultra-yeti. Many biologists made their way to the research station. Many curious people also made their way to the remote area of Canada. The research team had to establish some security to make sure that nothing got out of hand.
The unusually warm weather melted much of the ice and exposed much of the ultra-yeti's fur before they reached the research station. However, there was still enough ice under her to keep her afloat. However, Dr. LeFleur was worried about decay. He was hoping for much cooler weather to keep her from decaying, but there would be many opportunities to get good data.
Dr. LaFleur's team obtained some of the fur for analysis. Furthermore, the team was able to obtain some blood and tissue samples. With these samples they were able to do some DNA and chemical analysis on the creature. In their analysis of these samples, they quickly confirmed that she was pregnant.
There were many exciting discoveries. Clearly, this creature was not the sole member of her species unless her species was born pregnant. "Who knows how many of these creatures once roamed the earth?" thought Dr. LeFleur. "What caused this unfortunate creature to become trapped in the ice? Are there others to be found in the melting arctic ice?"
Dr. LeFleur's team studied the gigantic creature very thoroughly. Claude was anxious to get more information from Cassiel's baby. The weather was cooperating and melting much of the ice that trapped her legs. From what they could tell, she would have delivered just as any mammal. Once her legs were free, they would attempt to access some tissue and blood from the baby through the uterus.
When the fishing vessel first discovered the creature, she was in an odd position in the ice. Her legs were near the top and at an odd angle; her head was much farther down. While they were towing her through Hudson Bay, they would rotate her as much as they could so she would lie down at a more convenient angle as the ice melted. At present, she was lying mostly on her back but slightly on her left side.
The team's plan was to free the child if possible. Once freeing the child, the science team could then get to the mother's stomach. This would allow them to analyze her diet. "How much could this creature eat?" wondered Dr. LeFleur. "What did she eat? Was she a scavenger? Was she herbivorous, carnivorous, or omnivorous?"
They managed to get some ultrasound equipment to their isolated site. They used the ultrasound to give them a great deal of information about the baby. The baby was male, and appeared to be almost ready for birth. The team theorized that she was about to give birth when she died.
"Perhaps," one scientist theorized. "She broke through the ice and could not get free."
"She may have been searching for her last meal before giving birth, and perhaps she starved before she delivered," guessed another.
"If she ate fish, she may have gotten caught in a sudden freeze while fishing," another thought aloud.
"There are no signs of trauma, so we know she wasn't injured," included another scientist. "She may have just gotten trapped too far north and simply died of exposure."
"Like some bears, perhaps she was going to give birth while hibernating," noted one scientist. "Maybe her cave or resting place was extremely wet and cold, and she didn't survive long enough to give birth."
"Perhaps whatever it was she fed on ," another scientist added. "Maybe they were scarce that year, and she didn't get enough to eat."
"These are all possibilities," added Dr. LeFleur. "We'll have more information once we can analyze the contents of her stomach."
They had all kinds of questions regarding this enormous mother, and they were getting close to getting a good look at the child. The quickly melting ice was revealing more and more of the creature. With each new discovery, the information made its way across the internet. Pictures and speculation was rampant, but the team of scientists managed to get plenty of good science done.
She had the teeth similar to a bear. They surmised that she was a part of the bear family. She did have several traits of bears. Grizzly and polar bears can get quite large. However, they normally do not exceed 4 meters. A bear that large is quite a rarity. This animal was 80 times that size, which led to lots of questions about her origins. Without more information, they could only guess about these things. Once the DNA analysis was complete, they would have answers to a lot more questions, but that would be months away.
After diligently studying the creature for a couple of weeks, something happened that was completely unexpected. It was 4 AM when a research assistant made her way into Dr. LeFleur's tent. "Dr. LeFleur!" she stated anxiously. "Wake up professor! There's trouble!"
"What?" asked the doctor sleepily "what has happened?"
"He's gone..." the RA stated sheepishly.
"Cassiel's baby," replied the RA.
"What?" asked Claude as he jumped out of bed "how is that possible?"
"The ice had melted enough..."
"Are you trying to tell me that the baby just fell out?" asked the Dr. LeFleur as he put on some pants over his pajamas.
"Well sir," stuttered the RA "It was more like a birth."
"But you said he was gone, did he fall into the bay?"
"Um, no sir, after he was born he walked away."
"I know it is hard to believe, and I wouldn't have believed it either if I hadn't witnessed it."
"The baby was born alive?"
"Yes sir, we tried to follow him, but even on those baby legs he moved pretty quickly."
"Which way did he go?"
Dr. John Maland spent the entire spring break with the Iapetian people. He heard many stories and learned more of their language and their legends. It was good to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life, even if it were a working vacation. However, no story was as consequential as the story of the ship entitled the Pickering. Thus, Dr. Maland decided that he needed to research the Pickering upon his arrival home.
However, before he got back to work, like many, he became entranced with the stories of the giant creature in Canada. He read as much as he could about the enormous ultra-yeti. He visited blogs and news organizations. He discussed the situation with colleagues. For a brief time, his own work took a back seat to the buzz of Cassiel.
After catching up on the news around the nation, he had to go to work. He taught his regular schedule. He wished he did his pressing research rather than bothering with current events; however, having up-to-date information was important to him. He was a bit disgusted with the sensationalization of Cassiel, and the lack of good information from the news media. Thus, it took him longer to get the information he thought he needed. This was the truth about his anger about being slightly behind.
Eventually he got to the library to research the Iapetian story. The U.S.S. Pickering was a US war ship. She was a two masted sailing vessel. Weight and configuration made her a brig. She was not the largest vessel in the fleet, but she had 14 guns with a regular compliment of 105 sailors onboard.
The ship and crew had some experience in Naval battle. They had been patrolling against French privateers. The most notable engagement was against the L�Egypte Conquise. This privateering ship was slightly larger and had more firepower. Nevertheless, the Pickering managed to capture that ship named for the French conquering of Egypt.
Eventually, officials permanently assigned it to the US Naval department. Its orders were to join patrolling the waters of the West Indies. However, she was in the northeastern part of the US at the time. Thus, she needed to sail toward Guadeloupe. The Pickering and crew left Newcastle, Delaware in late August of 1800 and never arrived in the West Indies.
Most reports suggest a gale in September caught the naval ship and destroyed it somewhere in the Sargasso Sea. It was part of the voluminous number of legends about the Bermuda triangle.
It seems that there were true aspects of the Iapetian legend. However, instead of a giant monster, their Iapetus was like many of the ancient gods. It was nothing more than a fortunate coincidence. The legend was only series of events that saved the people. A storm that arose just at the proper time and destroyed the ship that was firing upon the island's inhabitants.
"The ship's crew perhaps asked the islanders for help, but none of them spoke English," conjectured John in his journal. "The crew likely fired a warning shot, which is the basis of the 'booming arms' of the 'beast'. When a storm came up and destroyed the ships, it added to the legend of Iapetus."
After Dr. Maland entered the information about the U.S.S Pickering into his journal, he read the events of the day. He discovered in the news that Cassiel had given birth to a live ultra-yeti child. The child had wandered away from James Bay research facility. Information was sketchy on what happened to the child after birth. "Perhaps this is more exaggeration by the media," thought John. "Perhaps they got their facts wrong or misquoted someone."
However, shortly after catching up on his work, he received a call from Dr. LeFleur. "Dr. Maland," the Canadian professor began. "I have been following your reports on Iapetus."
"I am flattered," replied Dr. Maland. "I too have been following your reports. Is it true that the ultra-yeti gave live birth?"
"All evidence leads to this conclusion, but I didn't see the birth myself. Be that as it may, the baby ultra-yeti is not anywhere to be found at the research station."
"So, you don't know where the baby is?"
"That is correct," replied Dr. LeFleur. "The reason I'm calling, is to find out more information on your giant beast."
"I beg your pardon?"
"I read about the legend of Iapetus, and I am curious about your beast."
"From my research," started Dr. Maland. "I have determined that Iapetus is not a beast at all. It is just a series of coincidental storms that have occasionally protected the inhabitants of that island."
"Are you sure on that?"
"As sure as I can be I suppose. Why the sudden interest and the urgency of this phone call?"
"I thought that since many legends have the basis in fact, that Iapetus may help us out should the need arise. If this god was the basis of an actual creature, we could use its help."
"Is the situation that bad?"
"I wouldn't say it is, but should Cassiel's baby head for the metropolitan areas of Canada or the United States, he may do some major damage. We would want to prevent that from happening in any way we could."
"I wish I could help," explained Dr. Maland. "However, I am fairly certain that Iapetus is not an actual creature."
"Thanks for you time then," a dejected Dr. Lefleur stated. "It was just a stab in the dark. Good bye."
"I'm sorry I couldn't help, and I will look forward to your further reports. Good bye," replied Dr. Maland as he hung up the phone.
Dr. LeFleur sat wearily at his desk. He was trying to remember the last time he had slept. Since the baby ultra-yeti walked away from the research station, he had not been in a bed. He managed to catch a couple of catnaps when the opportunity arose, but it had been several days since he had a good nights sleep. As he sat there daydreaming of sleeping, his phone rang.
"Hello this is Dr. LeFleur," he answered.
"I think we have some good news doctor," replied the voice on the other end.
"I could use some," replied the researcher.
"The -- uhh -- monster is still missing, but we have some evidence of -- err -- him."
"What kind of evidence?"
"At first we thought it was some college kids playing some sort of prank."
"Well, there was this wheat field. It was filled with winter wheat you know."
"This young winter wheat field had these interesting patterns put into them."
"What kind of patterns?" asked Dr. LeFleur.
"Uhh -- crop circle type patterns."
"Crop circles? What makes you think this was the baby ultra-yeti?"
"Well you see -- in most of the prank type crop circles they're -- ahh -- circles. But, in this case, the crops were -- ehh -- foot prints."
"Footprints? They could still be a prank. Do you have any other evidence?"
"Umm -- there are also some -- ahh -- droppings."
"Yes -- a big pile."
Excellent!" exclaimed Dr. LeFleur as he jumped out of his chair. "Tell me where. I'll be there as quick as I can!"
Dr. LeFleur had been waiting for several days for any indication of the baby ultra-yeti's whereabouts. He grabbed a large flask of coffee, and a couple of cans of caffeinated soda. He had his equipment packed and ready in his aging truck. He jumped in and began driving towards the farm in question. The excitement of a possible yeti sighting had shaken the sleepiness out of him, but it could return at any moment.
The drive was quite a long way from the research station on James Bay. However, the baby had long strides and could cover a great deal of distance. Further, he had been missing for several days. Dr. LeFleur thought it was incredible that the baby could have traveled so far with no one taking notice.
The young ultra-yeti had made it half way to Ottawa, Ontario. If they could not find him and divert him, he could do a great deal of damage in the Canadian Capital. It appeared that he was heading directly for that city. Since they had very little data, they had little to give them an idea of where he may be heading.
Dr. LeFleur was listening to the radio. The local radio station reported several sightings of the baby monster. After several days of silence, the reports of an enormous, white, and bear-like creature came filing in. It was as if large white monsters filled the woods and fields of parts of Canada. Reports came from all over southwestern Quebec and the northwestern part of the province of Ontario.
Some of the reports conflicted, which is common for this type of thing. Descriptions of the spotted creature widely varied. However, there was no doubt that the baby ultra-yeti was now feeding. Reports of damaged crops and animals began pouring in. As Dr. LeFleur suspected, the animal was omnivorous. He was apparently feeding on all types of plants as well as eating cattle and other domesticated animals.
After a few hours of driving, Dr. LeFleur reached the farm that reported the footprints. Several prints went across the field, and it was reminiscent of a crop circle. Dr. LeFleur briefly studied the prints, and deduced that the baby ultra-yeti had grown quite a bit. This baby was probably 25 to 50 meters tall by now. There were reports all over the area of missing animals and damaged crops. At this rate, the baby could be 50 stories tall by the time he reached Ottawa. If this happened, he would cause a great deal of damage.
The professor took all of the local reports and determined a likely location and heading of the giant baby. He wanted to be able to follow the child and perhaps lure him away from the Canadian Capital. He began making calls on his cell phone. He alerted the authorities of the possible dangers coming their way. He wanted to make sure that the city had plenty of warning to evacuate.
Finally, he spotted the enormous white baby eating the young shoots of a farmer's field. He remarked at how interesting the patterns the child ate in the field. He made numerous circles. This was more like the crop circle patterns of various web pages. These were different because a creature ate the crops rather than flattening them.
Dr. LeFleur was admiring the sheer enormity of the baby ultra-yeti when he his cell phone rang.
"Hello this is Dr. LeFleur."
"Hello Dr. LeFleur, this is General Innes MacWayne."
"Hello General. What can I do for you?"
"My sources say you know more about this 'Ultra-Yeti' than anyone."
Dr. LeFleur could hear the quotes around the words as the general spoke them. "Well, I am in charge of the project. I should be the most knowledgeable."
"So, then you would know how to destroy it."
"What? I haven't given that much thought..."
"You realize that we can in no way allow this creature to destroy Ottawa. Thus, we are making contingency plans. We need to know the creature's vulnerabilities."
"Uhhh -- vulnerabilities?"
"Dr. LeFleur, how can we kill it?"
"I don't know what to say..."
"Let me be frank doctor. We don't want to have to resort to any nuclear weapons. Do you think that conventional missiles or bombs would affect the creature?"
"Nuclear weapons? Aren't we Canadians?"
"The creature can also pose a threat to the United States. The U.S. President has agreed that this threat be eliminated before it reaches their soil."
"General, I understand your position, but I don't have any data that would be of any help. I don't know the vulnerabilities of this creature. My team and I have not looked into that particular question at this time."
"That is fine doctor. Tell me, do you know where the creature is?"
"Errr -- I uhhh -- have -- umm -- not caught up to him yet."
"If you do, could you please inform me at this number?"
"Uhhh -- sure."
"Remember doctor, it would be best for all concerned if this dangerous creature were neutralized before it reaches any population centers. The sooner we control this creature, the better it will be for all of Canada. You do understand that do you not?"
"As soon as -- I see the creature -- I will inform you..."
"The sooner we find him, the sooner we can make our tests. If you don't know its vulnerabilities, then we will have to test our defenses against him. We will need to do that before he reaches any major cities."
"Thanks Dr. LeFleur."
"Good bye General."
The doctor felt the conflict grow within himself. He wanted to study the creature for a while. However, the more he delayed the greater the danger for the city centers. He had to decide what was more important -- scientific research or public property. His initial assessment led him to lie to the general, but this decision was putting people and property in danger.
Dr. Maland was glad he was a long way from the events occurring in Canada. While he would love to observe the giant ultra-yeti in action, he felt much safer observing the creature from a safe distance. He read reports on the internet with great interest.
The internet was full of conflicting stories, so it was difficult to determine what was accurate and what was fictional. Reports of a giant white bear-like creature became wide spread. There were even some reports of this ultra-yeti making it as far south as South Carolina. Certainly, these were fictitious accounts.
The many sites around the internet labeled the young ultra-yeti "Bob the Bumble." It was likely a take on the abominable snowman legend. "Who can say abominable anyway?" asked Dr. Maland to himself. "Al the Abominable Snowman simply would not work..."
One particular website was tracking the sightings of the young monster. The site tracked him from his birthplace at James Bay to the most current and accurate location that they could obtain. The group running the site had to sift through numerous conflicting reports to track the beast. However, it was a very popular site for those interested in the ultra-yeti.
From his own research on the ultra-yeti, he noticed that the beast did not stray too far from a body of water. He never strayed too far from the various reservoirs that dot the province of Quebec. In the creature's general path was the Canadian capital. Certainly, the Canadian government was aware of the creature's movements. They must have some sort of military plan to prevent the creature from destroying Ottawa.
This thought gave Dr. Maland a queasy feeling in his stomach. The thought of the Royal Canadian Air Force sending their F-18s to strike at the young ultra-yeti did not sit well with the professor. After all, the young animal was just trying to survive.
However, this baby was quite capable of doing much property damage. While he was merely a few weeks old, there were many reports that he was 50 meters tall and growing quickly. He could be taller than many building in a short time. If he were to stumble around a city like a bull in a china shop, that alone could do millions of dollars of damage.
The military of the Canadians would certainly strike at Bob before he reached any major cities. They would also likely attack before he reached some of the smaller towns north of Ottawa. He was getting quite close to those towns. "Perhaps they have already attacked," Dr. Maland muttered to himself when his phone rang.
"Hello," the professor said as he put his cell phone to his ear.
"Dr. Maland please," came the voice on the other end of the phone.
"This is Dr. Maland."
"Hello Dr. Maland, it is me Dr. LeFleur."
"Hello Claude I was just thinking about you."
"Oh? Good thoughts I hope John."
"I was looking at Bob's movements."
"That is the name they gave the ultra-yeti -- Bob the Bumble."
"Ech! That's terrible."
"Yeah, but what are you gonna do?"
"True. The reason I called was about your research anyway."
"Yes John. How do the Iapetians ask for help from Iapetus?"
"In the usual way. A priest or priestess will go to their shrine on the beach and beseech Iapetus to come and smite their enemies. Why?"
"Do you think they could get their god to help you?"
"Me? Why do I need help?"
"Do you think Iapetus would come as a favor to you?"
"Claude -- Iapetus is a superstition. This god is nothing more than a storm that has helped the natives out of a few tight spots. He is not a creature."
"Are you sure of that?"
"Come on Dr. LeFleur -- I'm sure I have never seen the monster. I've only heard the stories. They are just like all of the other stories of its kind."
"I wouldn't believe in giant monsters either if I wasn't tracking one."
"While you have a point ..."
"Listen John -- the military has moved me away from the area around the baby. He is getting close to some populated areas and they want to end all of this. That can mean only one thing -- military strikes."
"Well this creature has an extremely tough hide. They won't be able to penetrate it with their conventional weapons. I'm almost sure of it."
"So, how would Iapetus help?"
"I don't know. I'm just grasping at straws. If he gets out of control, they are talking nuclear weapons. I just don't want that type of thing to go on."
"I suppose I could ask, but I don't think it would do any good..."
"It would help your research..."
"It will take me a couple of days. I have classes to teach and papers to grade. I could leave on Friday morning."
"It would make me feel better."
"Okay. I'll talk to you later."
"Good bye Dr. Maland, and thanks."
The farther south the baby ultra-yeti went, the more difficult it was for Dr. LeFleur to follow. The area of southern Canada where the baby was now wandering was swampy, had many reservoirs, and had few roads. Dr. LeFleur's truck did not have off-road capability, so he had to stick to whatever road he could find. The ultra-yeti was not interested in staying near roads but stayed near bodies of water. Thus, it was becoming a very difficult task to follow him.
A radio-tracking device would have been a big help, but there were no adequate devices available. Any time the professor attempted to fire anything into the thick hide of the young creature, it would bounce right off. Thus, tranquilizer darts and tagging devices were completely useless against the wandering baby.
The baby's route still indicated that he was going to Ottawa. Dr. LeFleur noticed a huge lack of thrill seekers. He expected that there would be throngs of people attempting to see and photograph this unique creature. However, the area was strangely quiet.
Despite his desire to do otherwise, Dr. LeFleur gave General MacWayne regular updates. Even if we wished to hide his movements from the officials, he knew that it would be a wasted effort. Thus, the military was aware of Dr. LeFleur's movements, and he was getting closer to Ottawa.
The giant snow-white creature crossed highway 117 just east of Mont Laurier, Canada, and his follower was just a short distance behind him on highway 309. The baby was a bit farther east, but still heading south. A speckling of small towns along this stretch of highway were eerily quiet.
The weary professor checked his map, and realized that if the baby were going to reach Ottawa, he would have to cross highway 309. "If I wanted to protect Ottawa," he thought to himself. "I would make my stand on this road."
Dr. LeFleur started to get anxious. With the empty small towns, he was unable to fill his tank. His truck was beginning to run low on fuel. He could not track the beast on foot. He shook his weary head and mumbled, "Much further and I won't have to worry about him. The military will handle it."
He kept heading south looking for signs of the baby and for any signs of life. Here and there, he would see glimpses of a huge mound of white moving off in the distance. At the crest of a small hill, he saw a dark creature. It was a dark green. "Am I dreaming?" questioned the sleepy professor to himself. "Could that be Iapetus?"
He kept driving and quickly discovered that the dark green beast he saw was a column of military vehicles. He had reached the end of the line. A roadblock was setup, and they would not let him pass. He came to a stop and greeted the soldier staffing the roadblock. "Hello Soldier. I guess it is the end of the line for me."
"Hello Dr. LeFleur," replied the soldier. "We have been expecting you."
The soldier radioed the arrival of Dr. LeFleur. Soon, there were a number of soldiers marching towards him. A myriad of things went through his mind, but he shook them off. His felt his mind might be playing tricks on him because of his lack of sleep.
"Dr. LeFleur," stated a broad shouldered man as he walked up and put out his hand. "I'm General MacWayne."
"General," replied Claude not knowing whether to salute or take the offered hand.
"We have been expecting you. We appreciate your commitment to this matter; however, your duty is now finished and we'll take it from here."
"What is happening?"
"Come with me," stated the General as he walked back towards a line of tents along the road. "Dr. LeFleur, we have set up a perimeter protecting our Nation's Capital. If that monster crosses this road, he'll sure be sorry."
"General, the hide of that -- the ultra-yeti is very thick. Do you really think your weapons can penetrate it?"
"We won't know that until we have to actually shoot the monster. However, we have to protect Ottawa -- and Montreal. This beast could do tremendous damage to those cities just by walking through. Bull in a China shop and all that!"
"So, what are you going to do?"
"We have detection devices and scouts all along this stretch of highway. If we get a positive identification, we go to work. We've got tanks and jets and rockets. Lots and lots of rockets!"
The general's eyes became wide with excitement. It was obvious that he was looking forward to the confrontation. Dr. LeFleur was feeling a bit queasy when the alarm arrived. The young ultra-yeti had just entered their perimeter. The General took Dr. LeFleur into his command center where they could watch everything. "This is going to be cool," stated the General.
The Royal Canadian Air Force took off in their f-18s from the airport in Ottawa, but the first line of defense was the tanks and artillery. For the days leading up to this event, they had amassed the largest military operation in Canadian history. They had as many C2 Tanks as time allowed and there were lots of them. They also had a collection of C2 and C3 howitzers and several M109A+ mobile howitzers.
Several of the infantry had antitank rockets and many shoulder held rocket launchers. Just in case, they also scrambled some rocket launching ADATS. The General was of the opinion you cannot have to many rockets. Thus, he had as many rocket launching weapons as he could get into that area north of Ottawa.
From the command center, General MacWayne gave the order to move out. The big guns open fired upon the ultra-yeti. For a large animal, the yeti was quite agile. The boom of the big guns startled him and he would flinch at each one. Some of these flinches were enough to make the projectile miss. The hits did not have any effect on the thick hide of young creature. His reactions were like those of a person swatting at mosquitoes.
"Send in the tanks," ordered the General.
The tanks roared to life and moved toward the ultra-yeti. They moved in to surround the beast and force him to move away from the large Canadian cities. When the tanks open fired upon the monster, the baby roared. The sting of the projectiles and the loud boom upset the young one greatly. With great dexterity, the baby monster grabbed one of the tanks and flung it away. He kicked a line of them and destroyed them.
With the creature fighting back and inflicting damage, the tanks retreated. The airplanes were now ready to attack. The jets gathered into several formations and started to fly towards the monster. They were going to keep their distance from young beast and launch their missiles at him.
As wave after wave of missiles came towards the ultra-yeti, the monster became more and more agitated. He had been a docile creature before, but suddenly he was a fierce monster. He grabbed large boulders and threw them at anything that moved. He smashed tanks and artillery. He pulled full-grown trees, roots and all, from the ground and used them as fly swatters.
An f-18 flew too close on its pass, and was smashed to bits by a tree. Rocks and trees began flying. A large swath of destruction was forming, but the beast was still heading south. In fact, instead of driving the beast north, he began moving south at a quicker pace. He wanted to get at those creatures that were causing him pain.
He kicked and scraped and roared as he moved. Tanks and artillery pieces became tangled pieces of junk metal. The ADATS launched their rockets. The soldiers launched their rockets. However, these rockets just angered the beast. Their military action had caused the ultra-yeti to be in full rampage.
The yeti swatted aside the rockets as if they were flies. They just aggravated the monster even more. He ran after a several soldiers and they were no match for the speed of the young beast. He scooped the soldiers by the handful and began putting them in his mouth. The monster chewed several soldiers and spit them out. This caused the infantry to order a full retreat. Panic set in on the soldiers on the ground, and they ran. They ran in every direction yelling and screaming.
In the command center, General MacWayne looked in awe. He saw his highly trained troupes break discipline and scatter like scared rabbits. He could not communicate with the infantry, be he was still in radio contact with the tanks. He ordered them to resume their barrage. He hoped that the attack from the north would change the direction of the southerly moving monster.
Again, the tanks moved toward the enormous white monster. Their guns fired loudly. However, the beast ignored them. He continued his southerly rampage. He tore rocks and trees from places that they have been for centuries. A cloud of dust began swirling around the monster with the occasional rock or tree flying out of it.
The f-18s had run out of missiles and other weaponry so they had to return to the airport. This allowed the young beast to concentrate on the large column of tanks that lined the road towards Ottawa. With the rocks and trees, tanks and howitzers began flying out of the growing dust cloud the creature was stirring.
The monster gradually came closer and closer to Ottawa, and the Canadian military was helpless to stop him. Eventually, the ultra-yeti reached the Ottawa River. He just had to follow the river towards Ottawa and he would cause all kinds of damage. However, he headed towards Montreal. He followed the river to Lac Des Deux Montagnes and vanished.
"Vanished?" thought Dr. John Maland to himself. "How can an enormous snow-white monster vanish like that?"
Dr. Maland was gathering all the information about the ultra-yeti that he could get. If he were going to ask Iapetus to help with their problem, he was going to have to know where to send him.
The last report Dr. Maland read was that "Bob the Bumble" vanished somewhere in the Ottawa River basin. If he got into the St. Lawrence Seaway, the young ultra-yeti could end up anywhere along the Great Lakes. He could menace anywhere from upstate New York, to northern Minnesota. That was a long stretch. It was not enough information to give to the mythical creature Iapetus.
"Why am I doing this?" he asked himself. "Iapetus doesn't exist. All of this work for a silly notion. I have finals to score. I shouldn't be wasting my time fetching mythical beasts."
Dr. Maland scratched his head and paced the floor for a few minutes. He did not like all of the pressure that was suddenly put upon him. With this pressure of this sort, he often found himself talking to himself. "On the other hand," he continued. "It would be a great opportunity to see their summoning ritual. It would be worth that."
"But, where do I tell them to go?" he continued in his internal debate. "How do I tell them to send their protector there?"
Dr. Maland paced some more and internally debated himself over the merits of the trip. The deciding factor to go on this journey was the ritual. However, he was going to need to find out where the creature was. Without this information, his trip would be useless. He decided to call Dr. Claude LeFleur to see if he had any more information.
"Hello?" enquired Dr. LeFleur as he answered his phone.
"Hello Claude. This is Dr. John Maland calling."
"Hello John. How are you?"
"Fine thanks. The reason I'm calling is that I'm going to need to know more about the young ultra-yeti's whereabouts. I can't go summon Iapetus without some knowledge of where I'm sending him."
"He vanished in the river. We don't know where he is..."
"You don't have any ideas? You can't even guess where he is going?"
"Your guess is as good as mine. I've been put out of the loop. I now get my information from the same place that you do."
"I'm sorry. OK then, I guess I will talk to you later."
"I'm sorry too. Thanks for your help on this."
"Sure thing. Good bye Claude."
"Talk to you later John."
"That wasn't much help," John thought to himself. Then he realized it did not really matter where to send the creature. "This is a mythical beast! I'm only here to see the ritual. It isn't like he's real or anything. This trip isn't going to affect anything."
"So, where do I send him?" John continued with his internal debate. "I shouldn't make it too hard. Something easy. I know. I'll send him up the Hudson River. New York should be easy to find!"
Dr. Maland created a map of the eastern U.S. He made sure that the Iapetian Island was included. That way, he could direct the natives on where to send Iapetus.
"That is..." Dr. Maland continued. "If they wish to do us this favor."
John gathered up his supplies and filled his sailboat. His finals were going to have to wait. His research was going to come first this time. His students would understand.
Dr. Maland sailed into the heart of the Bermuda Triangle, and did not have trouble. He arrived at the island, and he was greeting in the usual fashion. It was an unscheduled visit, but it appeared that they expected him to come. A couple of the Iapetians met him at the beach as he arrived.
He asked to be taken to the tribal leaders. He wanted to initiate the plea for help as soon as possible. There was no need wasting time. After his meeting, the village came to life. They agreed to ask their deity for help.
The preparations began on the beach. There were two massive carved pillars sunk deeply on the beach. They almost looked like two highly tattooed legs sticking out of the sand.
Between these pillars, they began digging a deep trench. The natives lined the trench with palm leaves. Once the trench was fully lined with leaves, they began filling it up with fruits of all types.
The native trees produced plenty of fruits. It was a major element of the Iapetian diet. They were using their excess as an offering to Iapetus their god. "This is pretty standard sacrifice," Dr. Maland noted. "It is generous of them to perform their ceremony for someone else's benefit."
Once the Iapetians had filled the pit, they built a fire farther up the beach. Around the fire, they placed their drumming equipment. "They are going to use dance and song to bring their deity to them," Dr. Maland continued in his notes. "I hope I can follow the ceremony as I assume it will be in their native language."
"When the sun touches the distant waters the ceremony will begin." Dr. Maland learned from the tribal leaders.
Just as the sun began to set, the drumming began. The islanders began their chants. They were chanting the word for "join us" in their language. It was a very hypnotic chant. The drumbeat was very deep and rhythmic. It was as if the entire island shook with the beat of the music.
After several minutes of drumming and chanting, it stopped. From a nearby hut, out stepped a Priestess in ceremonial garb. She had a dress made from woven leaf fibers. They had taken the fibers and made a thread of them. They took this thread and wove it into an intricate cloth. It was surprisingly strong and soft. The cloth was very time consuming to create, and they used it only in ceremonial clothing.
The Priestess began dancing closer and closer to the pillars. The drummers played softly. She was gyrating and waving her hands in a fashion similar to a hula. "It is very reminiscent of Polynesian dancing," Dr. Maland wrote in his notebook.
She danced closer and closer to the pillars on the beach. The drummers played louder and louder. A rhythmic pulse began pounding and pounding throughout the beach. The entire party was rocking back and forth with the beat. She got closer and closer to the pit. When she reached the side of the pit at the farthest point from the sea, it all stopped. Dr. Maland noted that the rhythms and the sound were very hypnotic. At every point when the drumming stopped, he felt himself jerk.
The Priestess dropped to her knees at the mouth of the pit. She began bowing to the sea. Up and down she went. The drummers let her proceed in silence. After a few bows in silence, she sat on her knees and began her song. Dr. Maland struggled with the language, but he wrote his notes in short hand. He tried to get as much as he could understand, and this is what he noted.
Dr. Maland had difficulty understanding the rest of the chant. He just did not have enough grasp of the language. However, it did sound as if she was inviting Iapetus for a date. Much of what he translated sounded very silly to him, and he tried to take the ceremony seriously. However, occasionally he had to suppress a laugh.
At one point, he was suppressing a laugh when the waves around the beach became very choppy. They looked very different from a regular tide coming in. When the strange waves began reaching the shore at a regular interval, the priestess stopped her chant. She sat in a prostrated position and the drums began playing softly again.
Out of the corner of his eye, Dr. Maland thought he spotted something in the water. The darkness was growing slowly, and he thought he was imagining things. The hypnotic drumbeats slowly grew in intensity. Dr. Maland thought he saw something in the water again. "Are some whales passing by?" Dr. Maland asked himself silently.
The steady drumbeat became louder and louder. Dr. Maland felt himself swaying with the beat like the natives. Another passing image from the sea caught Dr. Maland's attention. "Am I hypnotized?" he asked himself. "Does this ceremony create some sort of mass hypnotic field that causes ships to run aground?"
As the intensity of the drums grows, the Priestess begins her dance again. The sea becomes dark. The irregular waves continue but the water becomes white with foam. Off the coast, the water is very dark.
Suddenly the drums stop. Dr. Maland is startled again, and notices the creature. The enormous lizard-like creature emerges from the water and consumes the offering in one gulp. "Iapetus is real!" Dr. Maland screams. With that rush of emotion, Dr. Maland fell unconscious.
General Innes MacWayne had scouts searching all along the Ottawa River looking for the baby ultra-yeti. He did not want it to get into the St. Lawrence Seaway or the monster would be very difficult to track. His Canadian military search teams had searched for quite some time, and they had not come up with anything.
"Finding a 100 meter tall, snow-white monster shouldn't be this hard," he mumbled to himself.
"Sir!" shouted one of the search team leaders as he saluted the general. "Still no sign. Sir!"
"Alright soldier," replied the general after returning the salute. He turned to one of the commanders and continued. "Colonel, take your brigade towards Ottawa. If the monster heads that way, we need to head him off. I'll send another brigade towards Montreal. This search is fruitless, so we had better protect our towns. I'll notify the U.S. secretary of defense about this."
The Colonel took his troops and their vehicles towards Ottawa. It was a long column of tanks, rocket launchers, and personnel carriers. A similar caravan headed towards Montreal. The creature's whereabouts were still unknown, but they did not want to leave their major cities unguarded. It was still possible that the monster could surface and destroy one of those towns.
The call between General MacWayne and the Secretary of Defense of the United States did not go well for the Canadian military man. The secretary was fuming mad that the Canadian military did not stop the beast. Further, the news that they did not know where the monster was located also did not go over well.
The U.S. had mobilized some units to deal with the beast, but now they did not know if they properly deployed the units. The Secretary strengthened the military's position along the Canadian border. He also ordered regular Recon missions over the northern states where the monster could emerge. He demanded that they find this monster before causing damage to any American city.
They knew now that the Canadian tanks and rockets were no match for the young monster. The Secretary asked the states to mobilize the National Guard of the affected areas. As much military might, as could be mustered at such short notice, was going to face the beast. The President even allowed the use of nuclear force.
After several very tense days, a reconnaissance plane spotted the creature in the Adirondack Mountains. He had crossed into upstate New York and appeared still to be on the rampage. He had destroyed several vacation spots and smashed some buildings of some small New York towns. His path was much more erratic than when he was in Canada. He was going up and down mountains and sometimes saying in valleys.
General Kenneth "Kit" R. Mann was in charge of the task force to destroy the monster. Canadian General MacWayne briefed him on all of the information that he could provide. After the briefing, he called for Dr. LeFleur to join him at task force headquarters in Albany, New York. He wanted the expert on this ultra-yeti beside him to determine the best strategy for destroying this menace.
Dr. LeFleur arrived by special jet early the next day and met with General Mann.
"Good Morning Dr. LeFleur," the General spoke as the two men shook hands.
"General," replied Dr. LeFleur.
"Thanks for flying out here on such short notice. I'm General Kenneth Mann, but you can call me Kit."
"General," replied Dr. LeFleur curtly.
"Very well, General works too. I know you are somewhat attached to this -- er -- animal. I can respect that. However, we cannot allow -- uh -- him to continue on his rampage. He is causing quite a stir upstate. He's caused quite a lot of damage already."
"The barrage of missiles and what-not has upset him."
"Quite! Be that as it may, this creature was riled up by Canadian forces but is taking it out on American property."
"I guess so."
"Do you have any ideas on how to calm him down? Does music have charms to calm this savage beast?"
"The quote is ... never mind. He will calm down on his own when he gets tired. Or, when he gets hungry."
"Using a carrot rather than a stick eh? I like it. We should air drop in some food for this -- em -- animal."
"That might be a good idea! You could use food to lure him away from populated areas."
"Fair enough Dr. LeFleur. What does this -- ah -- animal eat?"
"From my brief studies, his diet is very similar to that of a bear. He is capable of catching large animals like moose and deer. Plus, he has eaten lots of plant material like wheat."
"It is your opinion that we could lure him with food away from populated areas."
"I believe it could be fruitful. However, he does seem to be migrating southward. I cannot say where his final destination will take him. His kind may have had a hunting and grazing ground somewhere that he is trying to get. He is the first of his kind that we are aware of, and much of his behavior is still a mystery."
"That is valuable information for us doctor. Now, for a bit of unpleasant talk... How do you suppose we could kill it?"
"I haven't the foggiest. His hide is very thick and the munitions that the Canadian military used on him had little effect -- other than making him mad."
"Very good doctor. I appreciate your candor and hope you're wrong about that. Thanks for coming, and I'm sure I will want more information from you later. Make yourself at home here. If you need anything, ask the soldier outside. We'll keep you posted."
"Am I a prisoner?"
"Not at all! It is just that we don't want you getting in the way. You will be kept safe. We'll feed all of the information we get to you from this computer. You can monitor our progress and continue your study of this -- er -- animal."
General Mann left Dr. Lefleur in the tent and started making some plans. He determined that an excellent course of action would be to lure the monster to a remote location with some food. The U.S. military would attack the creature at this location. It was determined that with the prevailing winds, the location of the creature, and the large population centers, it would be a very bad idea to use nuclear weapons.
A few miles northwest of Herkimer Landing, New York the military began stockpiling food. It was a very remote part of the Adirondack Park Preserve. It was difficult to reach from the ground, so the General could not put much of a land force in the area. However, plenty of airpower was available.
When the young ultra-yeti came upon the food, he lingered. There was a lot of food there, and a few airdrops of more food occurred while he was still there. He feasted mightily, and once his stomach was full, the young beast rested. Since his emergence from James Bay, he had never lingered long in one place. He had been like a fugitive. He would rest briefly at one place or another, but not for long stretches. This spot he found to his liking.
The enormous creature for the first time since his birth, stretched out to sleep. He flattened out a large section of forest, and went to sleep. He looked quite content. He was no longer in a rampage.
The general let him rest. He had time to move later. He may even make a few more airdrops for the creature. In this way, he would have time to mobilize his forces more effectively. If he could convince the creature to stay there for a few days, he could bring down a large amount of firepower.
The young ultra-yeti did like his spot in the woods. There was plenty to eat from the airdrops and drink from nearby West Canada Lake and other lakes. He lingered. He was much calmer now. He was almost leisurely. After a night of restful sleep, he still lingered. He basked in the sunshine of that spring morning. He even spent a second night at the spot. He had found a peaceful spot.
All the while plans were being made. Plans that were not in the ultra-yeti's best interest. If he had known what things were in the works, he would have not lingered. He would have left with all due haste. General Mann organized a night strike. He would hit the beast as it slept. He would hit this monster hard while it was still resting. Strike while it was at his most vulnerable.
While the ultra-yeti was sleeping in his makeshift nest, several F-111s took off from their base. Along with these, several F-117 stealth fighters with a full compliment of smart bombs started their sortie. Off the coast, the navy launched several cruise missiles. The attack was coordinated to strike the beast and the surrounding area simultaneously.
At precisely 23:30 EST, the area around the ultra-yeti erupted in huge fireball. Smart bombs were exploding and cruise missiles were striking their target. The peaceful slumber that the young ultra-yeti enjoyed had erupted into a massive coordinated strike.
Fire and smoke surrounded the area. A recon team had placed their lasers on the beast and guided the munitions to their target. Once the smoke cleared, a huge crater remained. The beast was gone.
However, he did not vanish in the ball of fire. He had jumped up just before the first bomb hit. Perhaps it was the faint whistle, or perhaps it was just instinct. In any event, the young monster jumped from his nest before it exploded and ran. With his long legs, he could cover ground quickly. The recon troops could not keep up with him. However, he was headed across the mountains towards New York's state capital, Albany. He was once again in full rampage.
Dr. Maland slowly came to consciousness. He did not know how long he had been out, but to him he felt he was out for days. In fact, he was not out for more than a couple of minutes. The building excitement and the sudden and unexpected site of the giant monster overwhelmed his senses.
After coming aware of his surroundings, he began to take in the giant beast. Iapetus was lying on his stomach next to a fire the natives built in the pit. The aquatic creature tucked his hands back, and they rested besides his waist. A young native was relaxing in the palm of one hand and she was leaning back upon the webbing between his fingers.
Many of the members of the Iapetian community were patting the enormous creature on the head, and he looked quite at peace. He had his eyes closed, and he had fully retracted the spines upon his back.
Dr. Maland estimated that Iapetus was at least 200 meters long. However, he noted that a good percentage of that was tail. While on his hind legs, the giant beast was probably between 75 and 100 meters tall. He was somewhat reminiscent of a green iguana, but Dr. Maland did not believe he was a reptile. His legs pulled up under him more like a bird while reptile legs stick straight out from the hips.
Thus, when Iapetus stood, he balanced himself upon the seesaw of his hips. He would use his tail as a balance. His spines were retractable and there was a membrane between each spine. The spines would aid in swimming and make him look more menacing. "With his spines retracted and him resting upon the beach," noted Dr. Maland. "The giant monster is almost cute."
"While Iapetus was mostly a dark forest green," wrote in his journal. "He does have stripes of various colors."
Upon close review, Dr. Maland noticed several colors. He noticed red, blue, and orange in some of the stripes. These markings -- Dr. Maland guessed -- allowed the creature to hide from predators. Perhaps they were to attract females. The thought of more creatures like Iapetus or predators of him almost made Dr. Maland faint again.
Dr. Maland continued to observe the giant beast and even got the nerve to put his hand upon him. The creature was cold to his touch. "He's cold blooded," he noted.
The more he observed the beast, the more he became curious about how he came about. Who were his ancestors? Is he the last of his kind? How old was he? These questions he could not answer. "This kind of stuff is more suited for Dr. LeFleur..." Dr. Maland mumbled to himself. "Dr. LeFleur!"
He shook himself as if he had just awakened from some strange dream. He scrambled to find the priestess. She was lying upon a bed upon the beach. She was fast asleep. All of his efforts to wake her failed. His mind then turned to some of the tribe elders. He found them telling stories around the fire.
"What do we do from here?" the professor asked them.
"Nothing will happen until morning," replied one of the elders. "We rest and revel."
"Rest? How can we rest?"
"Iapetus will not be moved until the sunrise. There is no need for anything but rest."
"Sit. Listen to our stories. He has done us -- and you -- a great favor. Take heart in that. The sun will renew your worries soon enough."
Dr. Maland sat and listened to the elders speak. It all hit him in a huge wave and he did not take notes. He heard the tribal stories and the gratefulness they felt towards the giant beast that now sat upon their beach. The concern for what was happening in the north began to fade. He relaxed.
The waves washing against the shore was a soothing sound to John. He was swaying to the waves. Back and forth he rocked. He was at peace. He was calm. He heard a soft voice calling his name. His mind struggled against the scene. Up he jumped in a start. "What? What is it?" John grunted as he awoke.
It was the priestess, and she said, "It is time."
"Time for what?" John asked trying to clear his head.
"The generous Iapetus cannot read your maps," explained the priestess.
"You must take him to your need."
"Right! Right! The ultra-yeti."
The sun was just beginning to rise. Dr. Maland's boat had been loaded with supplies and was resting upon the beach next to Iapetus. The priestess took Dr. Maland over to Iapetus's head so he could see John when he awoke. After the priestess said a few words, the giant eye of the beast opened.
Dr. Maland felt he could fall into the deep pupil of monster. The pupil dilated and focused upon John. He suddenly felt like he was going to be breakfast, but as his knees were about to fail, the monster gave a snort. John almost felt insulted. "Wasn't I good enough to eat?" he thought to himself.
After a few more words from the priestess, John boarded his vessel. With a nudge from Iapetus's nose, he was launched. He unfurled his sails and headed north. "Where am I going to go?" he mumbled to himself. "The last I knew the ultra-yeti had disappeared."
Dr. Maland decided that when he got in range of North America, he could use his cell phone to call Dr. LeFleur. That should take care of that problem. The only other problem was speed. At his current rate of travel, it would take several days just to reach Florida. It was the calmest John had ever experienced sailing around the Caribbean.
Suddenly, that became a moot point. Iapetus nudged John northward. He almost fell out of the boat as it suddenly accelerated. John had gone from slow going to the fastest he had ever sailed in a manner of moments.
Iapetus pushed him farther north. He used the sail as a rudder to steer the boat. He would move the sail a little towards the starboard or port to change directions. Otherwise, the sail was straight back as it flapped in the breeze as they sped along.
John had to make sure they got close enough to the shore to get a cell phone signal or they would end up in the Arctic Ocean before he could determine where he needed to go. After a few hours of sailing, John found himself coming quickly upon the coast of North Carolina. "How fast are we going?" John asked himself. "And how do I stop?"
John got a signal and quickly called his colleague Dr. LeFleur.
"Hello John. How are you doing?" Dr. LeFleur said as he answered his phone.
"Well -- we're on our way..."
"What? Who's we?"
"I'm on my boat -- being pushed by Iapetus.."
"It was a shock to me to -- but we need to know where to go..."
"Snap out of it Claude! I don't know how long I'll have a signal. Where is -- Bob -- er -- the young ultra-yeti?"
"He is almost to Albany... John??? Hello?"
John lost his signal, but he knew enough. He would try to steer Iapetus into the Hudson River. However, before that, he needed to go hard to starboard or, they were about to crash right into the North Carolina shore. He could not push hard enough against the sail to make any headway. He could not budge the rudder either. They were simply moving to fast.
John began waving frantically at his impromptu motor. He caught the attention of the beast and the propulsion halted, but he was still traveling very quickly. The monster stuck his head out of the water, and observed the obstacle ahead. He nudged the boat and it made a wide right turn. The two barely missed some rocks in the shallows and headed farther out to sea.
John checked his GPS and mapped out a course. After the narrow escape, they returned to their previous speed. "This guy can really go," John noted. "I wonder how long it would take for him to swim around the world."
John snapped out of his curiosity. He needed to concentrate on sailing. He did not want to smash into some rocks or the shore again. It took the pair another couple of hours to reach the mouth of the Hudson River. John had learned that Iapetus was quite responsive to his hand signals. Therefore, they managed to go along the coast swiftly and safely.
The area around Manhattan Island was quite busy. There were ships and traffic of all sorts. Without any prompting from John, the pair navigated the congested water with quite a bit of ease. He managed to communicate to Iapetus that they needed to go up stream on the Hudson River. The two entered the river and headed upstream. Their speed had dropped off considerably.
It took the two a scant amount of time to go from the Caribbean to New York City, but it took them almost the same amount of time to go from New York City to Albany. It was much harder for them to go against the current of the river and avoid the obstacles. Thus, Iapetus was quite cautious.
The closer they got to the Capital of New York State, the more debris they encountered in the water. There were boat fragments, and even a few docks were floating down the river. All manner of floating objects were coming down the river.
The going became so hazardous that Dr. Maland signaled for Iapetus to stop. They could no longer safely make their way upriver. The debris coming down the river was just getting too thick.
Dr. Maland beached his boat along the shore and wondered what to do next. That is when a large white fuzzy ball caught his eye. The rampaging ultra-yeti was responsible for the debris in the river. John pointed at the white bear-like creature. Iapetus understood the hand signal and walked along the riverbank towards the giant monster. John just sat on the bank and watched him go.
The first strike against the ultra-yeti had missed. The beast moved quickly eastward. His pace was faster than the recon soldiers could run by a long shot. The hurriedly called in for support and an Apache helicopter with night vision capability took over tracking the monsters erratic easterly run. It appeared that the ultra-yeti was going to go well north of Albany as he altered his route toward Lake George.
His path did not lead towards Lake George for long. He altered his path and headed northeast. Before the helicopter navigator could radio their heading, the ultra-yeti changed direction again. Once again, he ran eastward towards Lake George. The enormous monster changed directions several times, but it appeared that his destination was Lake George.
"Perhaps he plans on doing his disappearing act in Lake George like he did up north," speculated the co-pilot of the helicopter as he reported to base.
"Lake George is pretty long," replied the pilot. "He probably doesn't even know its there."
The two men in the helicopter continued tracking the beast as he made an erratic run eastward.
"His serpentine needs some work," joked the co-pilot.
Before the pilot could respond, the ultra-yeti reached Interstate 87. Upon reaching that thoroughfare, the beast made a quick turn southward. He began running down the road, and he abandoned his strange path. He was keeping right on the interstate. He knocked over lampposts. Bridges and overpasses collapsed under his immense weight. The ground shook violently as he ran and some buildings along the road crumbled with the violent vibrations that he created. The monster was once again headed for Albany. However, there were a few other towns also in his path.
General Mann threw all he had at Interstate 87. His priority was to stop the beast. He wanted to prevent as much destruction as possible, but with the location and heading of the monster, that was going to be difficult.
The sun was just beginning to rise as the beast entered Glens Falls, NY. General Mann was able to secure much military firepower for the battle against the ultra-yeti. His first order was to send in several waves of various attack helicopters to attack the monster south of Glens Falls. He ordered them to strike as soon as the beast crossed the Hudson River.
Unfortunately, as the monster ran up to the bridge it began crumbling with the shaking of the ground. When the giant creature stepped upon the bridge, the southbound lane collapsed. The collapse tripped up the monster and he tumbled into the Hudson River. Some of the pilots hesitated, but others took the opportunity to strike. Hellfire missiles came roaring from the south towards the fallen monster. The explosions ripped the part of the bridge that had remained, and several missiles struck the ultra-yeti. However, the water of the river prevented the beast fur from catching fire, and the missiles did not harm him to any noticeable degree.
A second wave a missiles came from the helicopters, but these just finished tearing up the bridge as the monster had recovered from his fall and began running along the river. The helicopters followed attempting to get further strikes upon him. Some of the helicopters had not yet fired any of their armaments. Bullets and missiles began flying from the aircrafts. However, they succeeded in destroying nearby buildings more than they succeeded in stopping the beast.
No longer was the monster following the interstate. He was now following the Hudson River. While this did slow his pace, it did not remove Albany from the path of destruction. Further, if the beast continued to follow the river downstream, he could eventually reach Manhattan. This would be a devastating blow if the U.S. were to lose New York City to this rampaging beast.
The helicopters were running low on fuel and ammunition so General Mann ordered the A-10 Thunderbolt IIs into battle. The A-10s could linger longer around the beast, and with their maneuverability, they hoped to distract the monster. The General ordered the A-10 pilots to get as close to the monster as safety allowed. Albany and Manhattan depended upon them to change the giant monster's path.
The plan of attack for these tank killers was to fly in single file along the river valley. Each plane would fire a maverick missile and follow the missile in towards the target. When the airplane was as close to the monster as the pilot felt comfortable, they would open up their GAU-8 avenger cannons put a line of fire across the beast's chest as they banked eastward. The idea was to either destroy the ultra-yeti or have him follow the planes to the east.
Some of the A-10s had cluster bombs and other ground destroying weapons. However, most were simply equipped with mavericks. They also had a full load of the depleted uranium tank busting ammunition for the A-10's cannon.
The young ultra-yeti continued to follow the Hudson River and was only momentarily side tracked by a small town here and there. He would briefly leave the river's waters to stomp on a building that happened to catch the young monster's eye.
When the tank killing airplanes finally reached their target, the monster was destroying a bridge that passed over the river. The small town of Schuylerville was about to experience a rude awakening. Luckily, the military had evacuated the civilians in the path of the monster. The distinct whine of the A-10s caught the ear of the white monster, but it did little to distract him from the destruction of the bridge, which blocked his path.
The attack aircraft swooped in upon the wary animal and began their assault. Missile after missile struck the beast and many bullets flew at him. The entire town erupted in a massive fireball. One missile missed the beast and struck a gas station that caused a change reaction of explosions. Flames engulfed the small town.
Still the planes pressed on and so did the giant monster. The bridge that had once blocked his path was no longer, and thus, he pressed forward. He would occasionally swat at the approaching planes, but they were too maneuverable. A few had broken off their attack and gained some altitude. These planes dropped their bombs upon the monster. The river began to widen with the craters left by the attacking A-10s, but they could not steer the monster from his course of following the river.
Wave after wave of airplane fired upon the mighty monster, but it had little effect on him. It was as if he was caught in a swarm of mosquitoes. They were simply an annoyance, and he pressed on. Without warning, he rushed at one of the A-10s. The lead pilot banked quickly eastward, but the following A-10 was too slow. The monster was upon him and grabbed his jet. The engine whined and the pilot lunged forward as the ultra-yeti stopped the planes forward progress.
The young monster shook the plane as if it were a rattle and then threw the plane to one side. The rest of the A-10 pilots avoided crashing into the enormous creature, but they had to break off their attack.
The tough aircraft withstood shaking, but the pilot lost consciousness. The plane crashed a bit off in the distance, but by some miracle, the pilot survived the ordeal. The plane had a few stress cracks, but it did not break apart.
However, the weapons were ineffective against the thick hide of the monster. The bullets would penetrate the outer layer of skin, but they would be absorbed and pressed out again. They did no damage to the creature. The missiles did not even faze him. He pressed on along the river and the A-10s admitted defeat and headed home.
Once the long line of evacuation vehicles had left the stretch of river north of Albany, General Mann sent in the tanks. His last line of defense before the beast reached Albany was going to be a long column of Abrams M1A2 Tanks. They were now speeding along highway 4 north of Albany.
The attack of the airplanes did not steer him clear of the river. He continued to follow its course. Those attacks did manage to irritate him the more and he stomped more buildings than he did in the previous stretch of river. This did give the tanks the opportunity to get farther north as he had slowed his pace to destroy.
Small town after small town was laid to waste in the wake of the monsters path. He crushed homes and businesses. Gas stations exploded and fires broke out all along the river. Upon each demolished building, the giant creature gave out a roar of victory. He would then run to the next town for more wanton destruction.
The tanks finally caught up to the monster in Mechanicville. Several tanks stopped upon a bridge crossing the river, and turned to face the oncoming beast. Others went fully across in an effort to surround the rampaging monster. They had him nearly surrounded when the open fired.
The entire town shook with the exploding shells of the tanks. The monster charged the bridge and with one swing of his mighty hand, the bridge collapsed. They fired another volley, and the monster pounded the bridge again. Huge chunks of concrete crumbled into the water.
He grabbed one of the tanks and threw it at one of the columns of tanks. He pounded the bridge again, and the missing span was large enough for him to get through. He grabbed the bridge and pulled. Another huge chunk came off and he tossed it at the other column of tanks.
The fire from the tanks was more erratic now. The drivers attempted to avoid the flying debris. The gunners had difficulty aiming, as the beast and the tanks were moving in odd directions. The shells began hitting the surrounding buildings more than the creature. After several large explosions, the young beast roared and ran farther down the river.
Some of the tanks were trapped on one side of the river and could not rejoin the column. The monster had destroyed a few tanks but some managed to follow him down river. However, the tanks could not keep up as the beast ran very quickly now. He was no longer interested in playing with the tanks.
At his run, he reached the outskirts of Albany in a short time. General Mann had thrown everything he had at the monster, but was unsuccessful in stopping him. He turned his attention to evacuating Albany. He would worry about saving New York City afterward.
The rampaging monster had won the first battle against the U.S. military. Albany was his for the destroying. The young beast walked through the suburbs destroying houses and businesses as he went. Occasionally, he would pick up a vehicle and throw it as far as he could. He was going to enjoy his victory.
After a few miles of destroying the outskirts of Albany, the young ultra-yeti headed for the tall buildings of down town. He had grown bored of destroying the small houses and businesses. He was ready to tackle something bigger. Then he spotted an enormous green creature headed up the river towards him.
Dr. Maland could see both monsters from his particular vantage point. He had beached his boat at the southernmost tip of a riverside park. However, he quickly realized that while he could see quite a bit, he would be in a world of hurt if the two beasts headed his way. However, the river to the east and an interstate to the west blocked his desired escape route.
While streams of Albany citizens headed south out of the city, very few were on the interstate to the west of Dr. Maland. He did have his sailboat, but the debris in the water would make it a treacherous ride. That was not a safe alternative, so he scrambled up the riverbank. He began searching for a safe place to ride out the pending fight. He noticed a road a little bit to the south of his location and he ran towards it. From his vantage point, it appeared to pass under the interstate.
Iapetus gave out a mighty roar when he spotted the snow-white ultra-yeti. However, the young monster paid little attention as Iapetus arose from the river. The ultra-yeti casually acknowledged the roar and headed toward some buildings in downtown Albany farther away from the river. The young monster began pushing down some of the buildings that he encountered.
Iapetus ran along the interstate and then some of the surface streets and quickly caught up with the ultra-yeti. With a lunge, the monster surprised the young beast and the two went crashing down into a nearby office building.
With Iapetus on top of him, the young creature gave a strong kick that launched Iapetus into the air. The surprised lizard went crashing into another unfortunate building crushing it to the ground. Meanwhile the young and slightly more agile ultra-yeti ran southward toward the Empire State Plaza.
Iapetus shook off the shock of being thrown and ran after the young beast. As he was about to pounce on the young monster again, the ultra-yeti changed direction. Iapetus crashed into a building on the north side of the plaza. The building easily succumbed to the pressure of Iapetus's enormous bulk. It gave way and tumbled upon the prone beast.
Upon seeing Iapetus lying on the ground under a pile of rubble, the ultra-yeti pushed over one of the Agency buildings and began tossing the rubble on top of the green beast. Quickly Iapetus was covered in a pile of concrete and steel -- the remnants of former buildings.
Meanwhile, Dr. Maland was running through the streets of Albany dodging the occasional car and looking for a place to hide. He had passed under the interstate and was now on the eastern edge of the plaza. He observed that the ultra-yeti headed south -- towards the plaza. He hoped he could stay out of the path of destruction. He hung back towards the east side as the two monsters tangled for the first time. He saw Iapetus tackle the young ultra-yeti only to be tossed to the side.
He continued to head northwest along Broadway as the two beasts ran south but when the young yeti turned, he became aware of the great danger he was in. The monsters could take 3 steps and be on him quickly if they suddenly came directly towards him. He was on the same street of the building Iapetus just demolished. He was only a few blocks away from where the giant beast was buried under the rubble.
John was lucky to escape unharmed as the young monster began pushing down the other three Agency buildings. With the creak and groan of the crumbling buildings, Dr. Maland barely heard the helicopter overhead. However, he was keenly aware of it as it landed in the park where he stood in awe of the giant monsters.
Dr. Maland looked over his shoulder and noticed a highly decorated soldier holding his hat, crouched down, and rushing towards him. However, the destructive force of the ultra-yeti still held John mesmerized.
The soldier finally reached Dr. Maland and spoke loudly over the roar of the helicopter. "Dr. John Maland I presume?"
"Why yes," answered John.
"I'm General Mann. Dr. LeFleur is in the helicopter. Would you care to join us?"
"Dr. LeFleur?" stammered John. "I guess so..."
General Mann ushered Dr. Maland into the waiting helicopter. With John safely buckled in next Dr. Claude LeFleur, the machine took off. "Hello Claude," stated John with astonishment.
"Hi John," replied Dr. LeFleur. "I wish we could have met under more pleasant circumstances."
"You ain't just whistlin' Dixie there!" replied Dr. Maland.
"General Mann -- here -- tried to prevent the destruction of Albany, but that ultra-yeti was just too tough. We hope that Iapetus can stop him from destroying Manhattan. However, it doesn't look to good right now."
"Yeah..." is all that Dr. Maland could say. He was trying to soak it all in as if he were living in a dream.
The helicopter began circling the city to keep a close watch on the two giant monsters. The ultra-yeti was pushing on the Erastus Corning Tower as the helicopter circled.
Iapetus had regained consciousness and erupted in a spray of rubble. One of the hunks of concrete flew to the place John had been standing just moments before. The flying debris spread in all directions causing more damage to the capital of New York State.
He gave another roar at his young opponent. However, the young monster continued to try to topple the tallest building in Albany. Iapetus ran over to the building and whipped his mighty tail at the distracted monster. The force of the blow was enough to knock the ultra-yeti into the pile of rubble where one of the Agency Towers once stood.
Iapetus flexed his muscles and his spines were fully erect when he gave another mighty roar. His full fury was unleashed as he pounced on the downed monster. While on top, he bit down hard on the ultra-yeti's shoulder. This prevented him from being thrown as the young monster pushed and kicked.
Fear began showing in the young beasts eyes as he continued to push against the great bulk of Iapetus. He felt an enormous pain in his left shoulder as he attempted to push off the monster. With great effort, he rolled onto that shoulder and Iapetus was forced to release his bite. When the bite was released the young ultra-yeti sprang to his feet and ran towards the river.
Dr. LeFleur and Dr. Maland watched the two monsters battle from the relative safety of a circling helicopter. They watched as the Iapetus followed the ultra-yeti into the river and disappeared from view.
"Get closer!" shouted General Mann to the Pilot. "We don't want to lose track of them!"
"Yes sir!" replied the helicopter pilot.
The helicopter pilot got closer to the river, but the two monsters remained hidden from view. However, at the point where the two beasts entered the river, the water sloshed and bubbled. It was obvious that the two beasts fought at that point.
"Iapetus is an aquatic animal," remarked Dr. Maland. "He's definitely got the advantage in the river."
"The two monsters are enormous," replied Dr. LeFleur. "There is little room to maneuver in the river there... But I believe you are right."
"It's a shame," sighed Dr. Maland.
"Yes it is."
Suddenly, the helicopter pilot pulled back on the stick sharply tossing the occupants about. A giant white beast flew out of the water and landed on the rubble that once was one of the four Agency towers. The beast flew quite high and smashed into the rubble that rocked the city for blocks. He laid there bleeding from cuts on his arms and his torso.
Slowly Iapetus emerged from the river. He once again fully erected his back spines and gave his mighty roar. He slowly walked the few blocks to where the ultra-yeti landed.
Now the young soaking wet monster had lost his swagger. He was no longer in a rampage mode. Destruction was no longer a priority and it showed in his manner. Everyone in the helicopter agreed, the young beast was afraid for his life.
Before Iapetus could reach him, the ultra-yeti rolled off the pile of rubble and kept the Erastus Corning Tower between the ancient monster and himself. He looked like he was going to use the tower as a squirrel uses a tree.
Iapetus was still in no hurry to continue the fight. He entered the Empire State Plaza with confidence, but he knew that the young ultra-yeti was a dangerous adversary. With a steady and cautious walk, he approached the tall Albany building.
The soaking wet ultra-yeti looked pathetic hiding behind the tower. The tower could not offer him much protection. An obstacle that with a little effort could be swept aside.
The two beasts circled the tower guarding against the move of the other. At the same time, they were measuring each other up and deciding on their own next move.
The ultra-yeti broke the stalemate. He shook the water from his fur like a dog. This action caused Iapetus to hesitate and the young monster crashed through the tower and tackled his opponent.
The tangle of beast and steel and concrete crashed to the ground with an enormous crash. The claws of the young beast tore at the scales of Iapetus. However, the claws of the young monster could not penetrate the hide of the old beast.
Iapetus's claws on the other hand, tore through the tough flesh of the ultra-yeti. This gambit had backfired for the young beast and he began to struggle to break free of the embrace. He grabbed enormous chunks of concrete to smash into his foe, but the wrestling match continued.
Finally, the young beast got a hold of a long piece of twisted steel that used to be part of the building that he had just toppled. With a swing of desperation, he smacked Iapetus in the head with the weapon, and he was free from the other monster's claws.
The ultra-yeti scrambled to his feet with his weapon still in his hand. In an axe-like swing, he brought it down as Iapetus attempted to get up. It once again smashed upon the monster's head. Iapetus was stunned.
The twisted steel was a formidable weapon and the ultra-yeti was poised to use it again. Over his head it went and back down. This time it missed its mark as Iapetus rolled away before the weapon could fall.
Dazed from the blows to the head Iapetus managed to reach his feet. He was a bit unsteady as the young beast swung the steel girder wildly at him. He avoided several blows as he attempted to shake the cobwebs from his mind.
The weapon wielded by the young beast had turned the tides, and he continued to swing it at the green monster. Iapetus managed to avoid most of the blows, but he felt the danger of his situation.
Eventually, one of the swings caught Iapetus under the arm smacked into his ribs. He emitted a groan, but managed to pin the weapon under his arm. With his other arm, he grabbed it.
There was a brief struggle for the weapon, but using his tail, Iapetus swept the feet right out from under the ultra-yeti. The young monster still held onto the weapon as he fell. Unfortunately, this pinned the young beast to the ground. The old monster slid down the length of the girder and sunk his teeth into the young beast's neck.
The ultra-yeti struggled to break free, but the jaws of the old sea monster were strong. The young monster tried to twist and struggle to break free, but he felt his strength being drained away. Slowly the struggles began to decrease as the life slipped from his body.
Eventually, the girder crashed to the ground and the ultra-yeti died. Iapetus gave a sorrowful cry. There was no flex in his spines. He mourned the passage of the young beast and trudged to the Hudson River. He jumped in and swam off.
The helicopter landed in the park where it had picked up Dr. Maland. The men that were in the helicopter walked over towards the dead ultra-yeti. The beast and the rubble that once was several buildings awed them.
"He was just trying to survive," remarked Dr. LeFleur.
"He was a remarkable animal," replied Dr. Maland.
"Look at the damage!" insisted General Mann. "This monster is responsible for a tremendous amount of destruction all along the Hudson River! It'll take years to rebuild and billions of dollars!"
"He may have been happy in his nest in the woods," replied Dr. LeFleur. "We don't know what his natural habits were. We could have possibly coexisted, but you had to try and kill him."
"He was a threat!" exclaimed General Mann.
"He was a force of nature," replied Dr. Maland.
"He was unleashed by humanity's unwillingness to accept itself as part of nature," continued Dr. LeFleur. "Humans have this silly notion that they were granted dominion over the earth. Nature, sometimes gently and sometimes with huge fury, informs is that we are not in charge."
"Bah!" replied General Mann.
"And still..." started Dr. Maland. "...we don't listen."
With the end of the great adventure of taking the giant monster Iapetus to New York to save Manhattan from the ultra-yeti, Dr. John Maland returned to his normal life in academia in Florida. He resumed his classes, lectures, and research.
He won much acclaim for his book on the island people and the Iapetus legend. Perhaps some of that acclaim came from the saving of a major metropolitan area. Nevertheless, the book read like a classic adventure tale. The Iapetian legend had a foundation in a large monster, and this monster prevented the destruction of New York City. It made for a great story. Thus, the accolades poured onto Dr. Maland.
For centuries, this giant creature had protected the inhabitants of this island in the Bermuda Triangle from external forces. It fought pirates, naval vessels, and every kind of interloper. The island was completely untouched by external influence.
However, they allowed Dr. Maland to come and study them. They suddenly embraced the external world. Further, at Dr. Maland's request, they allowed their protector to save an external people.
The giant creature was known the world over, and tourists flocked to the island to get a peek at the enormous beast, and the people that befriended him. The island was constantly visited by naval traffic. Gone were the days when Dr. Maland could sail his tiny sailboat to the beach of the island. The tiny island had become a major tourist spot.
While the Iapetians' lives had become quite hectic, Dr. Maland's life quieted down into normalcy. John had difficulty believing that it had been almost two years since his spring break trip to their island.
The damage the ultra-yeti inflicted upon upstate New York was nearly repaired. Memories of that adventure had faded from the conscious of most of the world. They had gone on to other things. Other worries and disasters struck as they always do. Thus, life for Dr. Maland had returned to a degree of normalcy.
Spring break was once again upon the horizon and Dr. Maland was considering what he would do with that week off. As always, he wanted to get away from Florida and the hordes of college students that would soon invade the area.
He was dreaming of his time with the Iapetians when a knock came upon his door. He opened the door and let a dark skinned man in a three-piece suit carrying a briefcase into his office. He had seen his face before, but he was having difficulty placing it.
"Have a seat," insisted Dr. Maland as he pointed to one of his overstuffed chairs. "What can I do for you?"
The man sat cross-legged in the chair in front of Dr. Maland's desk. He held the briefcase close. In an accent Dr. Maland had heard before the man said, "From the look on your face, you do not recognize me."
"Your face is familiar," confessed Dr. Maland "however; I am having difficulty determining where I have seen it."
"Perhaps this suit is confusing you. My people had never worn such things."
"Wait! You’re an Iapetian," John stated with surprise.
"Yes," responded the man politely.
"You're the storyteller!" Dr. Maland replied with much excitement as he got up and shook the man's hand.
"It has been a while," replied the storyteller with a smile.
"And that suit!"
"With the traffic coming to our island, there has been a need to be much more entrepreneurial. Thus, reluctantly, I have become a businessman. I do not feel quite at home in this, but it is necessary."
"You have done us a great service. I hope it has not ruined your way."
"Not at all," replied the Iapetian. "It is us that initiated the contact. It is what we wanted."
"Still... I hope the island and its inhabitants are not adversely affected."
"Your worries are unfounded. We can establish the isolation with a request from the great Iapetus."
"I suppose you are right at that!"
"There are reasons we ended our isolation, and that is what I have come to see you about."
"What can I do?"
"Over the last few years, we have amassed a large amount of wealth. This wealth was gathered for a specific purpose in mind."
"You see, the mighty Iapetus leaves our waters to make brief visits to the cold icy lake where he was spawned. These visits can be 20 or 30 years apart, and some have been even longer. No matter the interval, a population of his kind is born."
"There are more?"
"Do you know nothing of animal reproduction?"
"Pardon me for my outburst, I just find it shocking that there are more of his kind out there."
"The female of his species is quite numerous; however, they are considerably smaller. Further, they are fully aquatic. They do not have the structures that allow our protector to leave the ocean environment. Thus, only the males can be our protectors, and there is only one."
"I see," replied Dr. Maland.
"As an individual, our protector has had several broods, but has not produced an heir. When he is of an age, he will spend weeks or months in this deep, dark, forbidding lake and spawn with many females. In fact, he will mate with every female of his species. If he does not produce a male during this time, the species will end. Unfortunately, that time is approaching. He is ancient, and he cannot live forever."
"What can I do to help?"
"Our people need a protector, and we have been working on the problem of extinction for a very long time. While we are certain that he will produce an heir and our protection will continue, the mighty beast will leave us for a very long time. We have determined a strategy that will ensure our long-term survival and protection. Further, it will help ease our protector's mind to know that he can leave for a long stretch of time to complete his most necessary task."
The storyteller opened his briefcase and placed a large document on Dr. Maland's desk.
"What is this?" ask Dr. Maland.
"With the funds that we have gathered, and these plans, our protection is ensured."
Dr. Maland began reading the document given to him. The plans were full of schematics and blue prints that Dr. Maland could not decipher. The technical document was well beyond his comprehension.
"What do you need me for?" Dr. Maland asked after scanning the document.
"We have contracted with a local business here in town, and we are in need of a liaison between us and this company. We want you to oversee its construction. None of our people have experience in these types of things and I cannot be spared."
"We have provided you personally and your country a great service, you are indebted to us."
"But -- I have no experience in these types of things," complained Dr. Maland.
"You are savvy enough for our purposes. We just need you to check with this company periodically and keep us informed of the progress."
"Who is this company? I cannot even decipher this plan. What are they building?"
"While I appreciate your concern, we are certain you can handle this minor responsibility. The company is AOENC Engineering and they are located here in town; however, the actual manufacturing will occur in Niceville Florida."
"Niceville?" replied Dr. Maland. "I guess I should not argue with you. You have provided us with a great service. If you have faith in me, it is the least I can do. I will do my best, but I still do not know what they are building."
"They are building..." replied the Iapetian storyteller "...a Cyber-Iapetus!"
"A Cyber-Iapetus?" asked Dr. John Maland.
"A mechanical protector appears to be the ideal solution. It would work both for a temporary interval, and long term if necessary."
"For centuries, when a ship would come to our island we would examine it closely," explained the Iapetian storyteller. "Thus, we have gathered much technology over the years."
"You have been collecting technology?"
"Certainly! In addition, with all of our needs being met by our island and the mighty protector, we have managed to synthesize the collected technology and add some of our own to this project."
"So, why didn't you build this cyber-Iapetus yourselves?"
"We lack the natural resources; also, we do not have the large spaces required to construct such a thing. No, the only course we could take was to look outside our island."
"Did you have me in mind for this task the entire time?"
"When you came upon our island, we thought you might be able to help. However, that business you had up north did change the equation slightly. We had planned to build it ourselves by renting a space and purchasing the necessary equipment. That adventure of yours brought us an unexpected windfall, and we could afford to hire experienced workers to manufacture our mechanical protector."
"And you want *me* to supervise the construction?" inquired Dr. Maland.
"We only need you to give us a regular status report. You do not have to inspect the process regularly. I believe we can trust the CEO of AOENC business group, a Mr. L. Edward Roy. We ask that you just ask him periodically on the progress. Further, if they have questions, we ask you to be the go-between. You can bring the questions to us. Finally, perhaps once or twice a year, we would like you to check on the construction itself. We will pay the expenses of course."
"Twice a year?"
"We expect the construction to take several years. It is quite a complicated build. Some of the technology is very innovative, and may take months to test. The power system is entirely of our design, and has been patented. I am sure they will want to fully test it before implementing it."
"I guess it is the least I could do for you."
"Thank you sir," responded the storyteller giving Dr. Maland a card. "Here is L. Edward Roy's card. Please contact him and set up an appointment at your earliest convenience."
"I will," John replied as he took the card.
The storyteller arose from his chair and shook Dr. Maland's hand. He gave a slight bow and left the office with his briefcase.
John looked at the plans again, but they did not mean anything to him. However, he got an idea on what to do during spring break. He would visit the manufacture facility in Niceville, Florida.
It was still early afternoon, so John called the number on the card. He spoke to the receptionist. He told her who he was and what he wanted. She told him that she would leave a note for Mr. Roy and he would be in contact.
Later that day, Mr. Roy called him and it was arranged. John would arrive on the Monday of his spring break, and spend a week touring the facilities in Niceville. It was not going to be as exciting or interesting as some of his spring break adventures, but it was something to do. It would definitely be different.
He thought about how he would travel the 650 miles to Niceville. He could fly and rent a car, but with the nice weather they were having, he decided he would put the top down and drive the 10 hours. Driving up the coast was always nice, and there were plenty of places to stop and rest.
When his class dismissed on the Friday before spring break, he went home and packed. He planned on leaving early in the on Saturday and drive all day. That would give him Sunday to look around the area and unwind before he began touring the manufacturing plant.
The weather was beautiful and the drive up the coast was just as he remembered. However, he did feel like a salmon swimming upstream as the college kids jammed the southbound traffic as he headed north.
He drove into Jacksonville around noon, and he was already tired. He knew of a hole-in-the-wall pizza place he had always visited when in the area. He ordered a small classic veggie to go and made his way to memorial park. It was a small park on the St. Johns River. He stretched, walked, and ate pizza there.
When he washed down the last piece he was going to eat, he walked the path around the park. He sat and watched the things happening on and around the river for a while. He felt rejuvenated and returned to his car. He debated on whether he would eat another slice of pizza, but he decided against it.
He made his way to a gas station, filled his car, used the facilities, and got an iced tea for the road. He still had quite a way to travel as Jacksonville was about the halfway point. He hoped to make it to his hotel in Niceville before dark, but it looked as if that was not going to happen. He had loitered too long in Jacksonville.
This stretch of the trip had more stops and more frequent rests than the first leg of the journey. Nevertheless, he made it to his hotel by 9pm. He was regretting the fast food Chinese he found for dinner, but he had finally made it to his destination.
He put his cold pizza in the room's refrigerator and debated on looking around town. However, the long drive had taken too much out of him and he decided to stay in his room. He reclined on his bed and turned on the TV, but he was asleep by 9:45.
He awoke with a start around midnight, stripped off his clothes, and officially went to bed. Naturally, he was up very early the next day. Dr. Maland had the cold pizza for breakfast, and planned to spend a lazy Sunday exploring the area. He drove around and found the factory. It was an enormous building and it would easily accommodate the construction of the mechanical Iapetus.
There were several beaches and golf courses around town. He spent most of his time looking for a good place to go sailing. It just would not be a spring break if he did not go sailing at least once.
After the uneventful Sunday, John got up early on Monday. He put on his suit, and drove to the factory. He entered the reception area. He found the receptionist and said, "I have an appointment with L. Edward Roy."
"What?" asked the receptionist.
"My name is Dr. John Maland, and I have arranged to visit this facility."
"Oh! Welcome Dr. Maland we have been expecting you. Please, have a seat and Ms. Linda Higher will be with you in a moment."
"Mr. Roy will not be showing me around?"
"Oh no, Dr. Roy is a very busy person. He could never spare the time."
After a brief wait, Ms. Higher ushered Dr. Maland into a room, and offered him a seat. A slightly mechanical voice on the speakerphone said, "Welcome to our Niceville Florida plant Dr. Maland. I apologize for not being there in person, but I was detained in our Tokyo office. I will be in Amsterdam on Friday, and I just could not make it in person."
"Dr. Roy I assume?"
"Oh yes, where are my manners? I assume you have exchanged pleasantries with our very capable Ms. Higher."
"She will take very good care of you. I must be going now sir. Enjoy your stay, and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask."
"Thank you Dr. Roy."
"Shall we take the tour?" Ms. Linda Higher asked.
"By all means," replied Dr. Maland.
Dr. Maland followed Ms. Higher through a number of cubicle offices. Eventually, they came to an enormous room. She explained that this room the final assembly would take place. "The room's ceiling is 100 meters high and it is 500 meters long," Ms. Higher explained. "This should be sufficient to assemble the project. Currently, we have some areas designated for assembly of some of the components. In fact, in the far northwest corner, the power-plant is being worked on now."
Ms. Higher took Dr. Maland to observe the work being undertaken on the power system of the Cyber-Iapetus.
"What is it going to use for power generation?" asked Dr. Maland.
"Excellent question, it is one of the most complicated aspects of this build. Our project engineers are working on deciphering the provided plans. They have yet to determine exactly how it is to work, but from what I understand, it is using nuclear fusion technology. It is quite advanced."
"That should make it very self sufficient."
"Indeed, and because of its complexity, we began it first."
Dr. Maland met with a few of the engineers and discussed the building plan. He felt the 5-year timetable was quite optimistic. However, the team assured him that they would complete the project on time and under budget.
Dr. Maland spent the week sitting in on meetings and watching the workers at AOENC Engineering going about their jobs. He observed some of the early construction processes. He was very interested in how the power generation system would work. However, most of the engineers were skeptical that it would actually operate.
After 4 days of looking around the facilities, and finding everything in order, Dr. Maland bid farewell to the people he met at the Niceville facility. He had wanted to meet Dr. L. Edward Roy, but the CEO could not make it to the Florida plant during his visit there. He did not get as much sailing done as he had hoped. Thus, he left on the long drive back on the final Friday of his spring break.
He arrived in Jacksonville early, in an effort to take advantage of a few of his favorite sailing venues in and around town. He managed to get some afternoon sailing done and was on the water early on Saturday morning. He was driving back towards home before midday.
Traffic was heavy when he neared his home. The second wave of spring break revelers were arriving. He would be back at work on Monday, so he would be able to cope with the hordes.
The build process continued and Dr. Maland had several phone conversations with Dr. L. Edward Roy. He relayed the information on to the inhabitants of the Iapetian Island. He got as detailed reports as he could obtain.
He relayed the successful tests of the power generation system. The system would take in water, and separate the hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen would be fed into the fusion chamber. These hydrogen atoms would be accelerated and would be smashed together in a small but powerful magnetic field. The fusion process would continue until the results were oxygen atoms. This oxygen with the oxygen removed from the water was the only waste and was released into the air. Further, with proper tuning, the system could have any of the first eight elements as waste, excluding hydrogen. Thus, helium or carbon could be obtained if desired.
The reaction would generate the needed power for the separation of hydrogen and oxygen as well as enough power to run an entire household. It would be sufficient for the needs of the enormous island protector. Further, the system was relatively compact for such a high yield system.
In addition, the water did not have to be pure. It could use seawater, which was convenient for the islanders. The Iapetian engineers thought about most of the needs for this power system when they designed it.
AOENC Engineers were so impressed with the system, that they implemented it throughout the Niceville plant with plans to implement it company wide. They handsomely compensated the Iapetian people for the use of the technology. Thus, the money allocated for paying for some of the completion of the mechanical protector could be used for other purposes.
Gradually, more systems were completed. The power train, the hydraulic systems, and the computerized regulation systems were gradually added to the list of completed items. With each completion came a call from Dr. Roy and a report to the Iapetians.
Dr. Maland spent his next four spring breaks watching the manufacture of the Cyber-Iapetus and sailing where he could find a good spot. The giant project was beginning to look like Iapetus on his last visit. The workers constructed the structure around each of the various components on the huge factory floor.
John could make out arms, legs, and tail of the mechanical monster on his last spring break visit. The engineers were correct; the project would finish on time and under budget. It was going to be a very impressive device.
It would be able to travel on land or by sea. While in the water, it would propel itself with its large tail, and the arms would fold under its torso to improve its aqua-dynamics and to act as dive planes. On land, it would walk upright on its two powerful hydraulic legs.
The heavy power plant was located just above the legs to provide a low center of gravity. A series of tubes in the tail sucked in seawater to feed the fusion reaction.
Just above the fusion reactor were a series of batteries for emergency power storage. This would allow the machine to spend longer intervals on land.
The machine had multiple and redundant computer systems. It had an autonomic like system to run and maintain the power system. Its responsibility was to feed the system with water and take care of any wastes. To make them redundant, they put one system in the root of the tail, and another above the batteries.
They designed a small balance and guidance system in each leg, with redundant systems next to the other emergency backup systems. The balance system took inputs from sensors on the bottom of the feet and several gyroscopes. The system could make minute adjustments to keep the device upright.
Finally, there was a triple-redundant master control system protected in a "rib cage" of titanium with the other emergency backup systems. If desired, a pilot and copilot could sit within this protective shell in the chest of the mechanical beast.
These occupants can view the surroundings via a few small carbon nanotube windows. To protect these windows, an operator can close a series of blast shields. In which case, a number of exterior cameras provide vision. Further, these cameras could transmit images to a central control station for remote control or observation. In addition, these cameras give input to the central computer to assist in locomotion and other activities.
Several ballast tanks run the length of the torso. This would allow for various attitudes while operating at sea. These tanks could be filled with the waste gasses from the energy production system or external air.
Once all of the systems were in their proper places, flexible foam insulation would cover these essential parts. Finally, a non-corrosive carbon fiber and Kevlar skin would make the entire device completely waterproof.
After Dr. Maland's final spring break trip, he decided he would watch the final construction of the Cyber-Iapetus. He would leave on this trip when his classes were through. He felt at home at the plant; thus, he decided to make this trip a surprise inspection.
This time, Dr. Maland flew into the Okaloosa Regional Airport and rented a car. He drove directly to the plant, and walked in as the workers were installing rocket-launching hands. A fire breathing mechanism and a couple of mini-guns in the chest had already been installed.
Before Dr. Maland could protest about the deviation from the original plans, a security guard grabbed him and escorted him away. They tossed him into a secure room with no windows and a thick locked door. He would not be able to report his findings to anyone.
The construction of the enormous Cyber-Iapetus had taken five years, but it was finally complete. All of its vital components were in place and protected. They filled its tank with water and its batteries were fully charged. Once started, the mechanical beast would be able to operate for several days before it needed more water.
AOENC Engineering isolated Dr. John Maland in a securely locked room when they initiated the start sequence. The batteries initiated the electrolysis to separate the oxygen and hydrogen of the water supply. The hydrogen was fed into the fusion chamber and the giant cybernetic monster came to life.
Slowly, it raised itself from its prone position and made its way to its feet. The computer took the information from the many inputs to stabilize itself. Shortly afterwards, it took its first step -- and then its second.
Slowly and cautiously, the individuals controlling the mechanical monster worked its way out the doors and into the warm Florida summer. Once out of the enormous building, they put the beast through its paces. The monster ran, walked, swung its arms and its tail, kicked its legs, and tested its various defensive maneuvers.
Once the defensive measures were performed to Ms. Higher's satisfaction, they continued with the newly implemented offensive weapons. The laser in Cyber-Iapetus's head would select a target and the missiles would fire from its hands and impact the selected target. That operation performed as implemented.
The testers put the mini-guns in its shoulders through their paces. These were somewhat difficult to control, as the beast's torso would have to move to aim the guns. However, they were quite lethal on the areas around the targets. The bullets sprayed with devastating results.
Finally, the Cybernetic beast opened its mouth and fire erupted out of its open maw. The head could move up and down and side to side to spray fire in a variety of directions.
Ms. Higher was satisfied with the results of the tests and ordered the beast reloaded. The guns and missile launchers were quickly reloaded, and the fuel reservoir for fire breathing was filled to the top. The mechanical nightmare was completely operational.
Next, Ms. Higher ordered the technicians to direct the beast into nearby Choctawhatchee Bay to test its seaworthiness. The mechanical monster swam on the surface as designed. It used its tail to propel itself and with its hands tucked under its torso could change its direction.
The beast dove into the depths with equal agility. It swam around the bay and erupted to the surface. It opened its weapon doors and was immediately ready to fight upon emerging out of the water. Apart from a few minor leaks, which they quickly caulked on the spot, the mechanical Iapetus pasted all of its tests.
Ms. Higher dismissed the technicians and entered the beast's interior control compartment. Using the controls within the machine, she took over the control of the beast and steered it into the Gulf of Mexico. Once in the Gulf she dove deep under the water and vanished.
Dr. Maland, still locked in the secure room, heard a slightly mechanical voice emanating from somewhere, "Dr. Maland you have interfered with our plans."
"Dr. Roy you'll never get away with this!"
"Silly man! I am not Dr. Roy and you do not even know our plans."
"Well..." stumbled Dr. Maland. "Whatever you are planning will certainly fail."
"We shall see," replied the voice. "In any event, you would have remained unaltered if you had not interfered."
"We still have need for you, but you are unlikely to cooperate knowing what you know."
"No! I'll do whatever you say."
"That is not likely and we cannot take any chances with the important task that only you can perform."
"We need you to tell the Iapetians that Cyber-Iapetus is complete."
"Why is that important?"
"We do not wish to cause unwanted destruction."
"Huh?" asked Dr. Maland as he began feeling dizzy.
"Pleasant dreams," replied the voice as Dr. Maland fell unconscious from the gas they piped into his room.
From Goose Creek Bay, south of Tallahassee, Cyber-Iapetus emerged from the water. It headed due north until it encountered the Coastal Highway and headed east.
Chaos erupted as cars on the highway scattered away from the enormous mechanical beast. The monster did not kick or swing at anything. Drivers scattered just to avoid confrontation and created their own mess.
With the snarled traffic on the Coastal Highway, authorities investigated and quickly discovered the giant mechanical device heading east on the highway. The Florida State Patrol sent several squad cars to intercept.
However, before the troopers could reach the troublemaker, it had left the highway and had gone into the nearby groves. A similar event occurred when Cyber-Iapetus reappeared on the northbound Woodville Highway.
With snarled traffic, the State Patrol asked the governor for assistance dealing with the enormous menace. Before the governor could reply, he received a mysterious message. The note read:
The governor immediately informed the Department of Homeland Security. They recommended sending three attack helicopters to meet the beast. The governor complied. The three helicopters from the national guard headed south along Woodville Highway; however, the mechanical beast had left that highway before they could reach it.
Cyber-Iapetus had turned. The helicopters altered their course to cut off the beast on Bloxham Cutoff Road. They intercepted the monster in an unpopulated and tree laden stretch of that road. On the first pass, the helicopters fired guns only, which had no effect upon the mechanical device.
The laser on the head of the cybernetic animal pointed at the far left helicopter as it passed, and a single missile launched from its left hand. The missile impacted with its target and exploded. The helicopter smashed into a stand of trees and burst into flames as the remaining made their turns for a second pass.
The helicopters launched their hellfire missiles at their foe, but they had no effect upon the monster. The doors for the mini-guns opened, the guns emerged, and the bullets began to fly. A second helicopter received a great amount damage and crashed onto the road leaving the final attack helicopter to make a third pass.
The final helicopter made its pass using both missiles and bullets. As it passed, the mechanical monster raised its hand and swatted at the helicopter. The force sent the helicopter spinning, but the pilot managed to regain control and prevented a crash.
However, before it could make another pass, a missile came from the right hand and the helicopter exploded in a huge fireball. The first attempt at stopping the cybernetic monster had failed, and it continued on its way.
As if it were using an online map service, the enormous mechanical beast turned right on Wakulla Springs Road and continued north past the Leon County Fairgrounds. Eventually, it reached the State Capitol building and stopped out front. There it stood for everyone to see.
Dr. John Maland awakened to find himself in his own bed. He had a vague recollection of going to bed, but it seemed like that happened days ago. He tried to recall what had he did to make him feel this way, but nothing came to mind. He had the feeling he was going to do something, but he could not recall what it was. He felt out of sorts, and he thought he might be coming down with something.
He crawled out of bed and staggered his way to the bathroom. He looked into the mirror and his reflection seemed normal yet strangely different. He opened the medicine chest and took a couple of aspirins.
When he was finished in the bathroom, he made his way to the kitchen. He opened his refrigerator and found it unremarkably empty. He thought that perhaps that nagging feeling about something he was going to do was a trip to the grocery store. He could do that.
He cobbled something together for breakfast, and got ready to face the day. After a nice hot shower, his confidence that a trip to the grocery store would strip him of that feeling of needing to do something began to fade. He became more convinced that it was something more important, but what?
Upon leaving the house, he was overcome with this feeling that he was being watched. However, he could not put his finger on why he felt that way. As he walked to the store, each time he looked back, no one was there. The only strange person he encountered was an odd man who looked a little like Peter Lorre. The man was berating a couple of squirrels for fighting and not sharing.
The trip to the store was uneventful, and he saw "Peter Lorre" on his trip back. This time, the man was trying to determine which foot was his left. He did not accost Dr. Maland, so John walked by without incident. Nevertheless, John still felt that someone was watching him or following him. He thought that perhaps this is how the strange man got started talking to squirrels.
When he returned home, he had a voicemail message. It was from Dr. L. Edward Roy. He called to inform him that the Cyber-Iapetus was completed. The CEO of AOENC Engineering wanted John to inform the Iapetians as soon as possible, so he could receive the final payment.
Dr. Maland had an odd feeling that he already knew that the Cyber-Iapetus was completed. However, he could not place why he would know such a thing. After such a long time, he wished that he could have made his way to Niceville to watch the final construction. This thought made his head throb, so he took some more aspirin.
He still had the feeling he wanted to do something, but he could not think of what it was. Thus, he tried not to think about it and got things ready to make the trip to the Iapetian Island. He could not think of any reason to delay the trip. He was sure they would be happy to hear the news.
Dr. Maland decided to make this an extended trip. With the strange feelings he was having, he thought that the getaway would do him some good. Thus, he prepared everything to give him an extra-long stay.
Once his preparations were complete, John made his trip into the Bermuda Triangle to the Island of the Iapetians. They were excited about the completion of their mechanical guardian. They decided to hold their ceremony immediately. John had the vague feeling that he should tell them something else, but he could not think of what he wanted to tell them.
Some natives began digging their ceremonial trench between the pillars upon the beach. Others gathered fruit for the great send-off of their protector. Dr. Maland even participated in the preparations. He was still nagged by a feeling that he was forgetting something, but he felt good about helping.
When the sun hit the water, the drums began and the priestess began her song. In the tongue of the Iapetian people, she invited the great beast to share with their bounty. Dr. Maland still found the lyrics to be slightly amusing, but he knew that they would convey the message to the mighty beast.
Upon emerging from the water, Iapetus looked strikingly different than he did when he helped defeat the ultra-yeti. Much of his forest green color had been replaced with colors that were more vibrant. He had red, orange, and even blue patches. It was clear that he changed into his full mating colors. The change would make him more desirable to the females.
The great beast reclined on the beach, and the crowds gathered around him. Each of the natives bid their great protector a good and prosperous journey. Several tourists were also lucky to see the great beast; however, local officials kept them from getting close.
The storyteller gathered the natives together. They all sat next to their protector while he began his tale. Because this was an official ceremony, it was performed in their native language. Dr. Maland took notes and translated the tale.
There are stories of our protector in this deep northern lake. It is even said that they have their own name for the great Iapetus. They call him the monster of their lake. We all know that he is a great creature, but he is no monster. He has protected us for centuries. How could you call that a monster? Now, he will briefly depart us to pass the torch to the next generation. Every beast needs to continue its line. The mighty Iapetus is no exception. Even now, the females gather in the depths of this dark, cold lake. Our protector must join them soon, and word has come that our replacement protector -- the Cyber-Iapetus -- has been completed. We should have no troubles between now and the delivery of our mechanical replacement. Thus, we will bid our protector, our friend, our beloved a fond farewell.
Mighty Iapetus, it is time for you to join with the females and continue your line. You have already put on your finery, and never have you look more striking. The females will not be able to resist such beauty. We will be protected. Thus, you should concentrate on the task at hand. Produce your heir. Worry not about us. We shall be fine. Enjoy your time with the females, and give us no second thoughts. Go to the place with the strange name. Go to your Loch Ness!
For several days, the gigantic Cyber-Iapetus stood motionless in front of the Florida State Capitol building. Like a giant statue of Iapetus himself, the impressive weapon system stood for everyone to see. The Florida National Guard cordoned off the area, and no one was allowed to get within 100 yards of it.
After being on display, a compartment upon the chest of the machine opened up. Out stepped a figure covered from head to toe in black. Only the eyes of the mysterious figure showed through eyeholes in a black, shiny, plastic mask. The only object the ninja-like figure carried was a briefcase.
The ninja pulled an envelope out of the briefcase and handed it to one of the soldiers guarding the perimeter. It was addressed to the governor. The soldier radioed his commander, who arrived and took the package from the guard. He regarded the black encased person, and delivered the envelope to the governor.
While the person in black stood by the open Cyber-Iapetus, the governor opened the envelope. Inside the envelope were details on the destructive capabilities of the mechanical weapon system standing in front of the capitol building. Further, there were demands for $100 million, or the weapon would destroy several Florida cities.
After seeing Iapetus off, the Iapetian people had several days of festivals. There was music, dancing, story telling, and much feasting. With each passing day, Dr. Maland struggled with something. He did not know what it was, but he was sure there was something.
Several days of revelry had passed, but the festivities continued. On one of the days, John was listening to the rhythmic drumming. He sat on a log and began swaying with the music. He struggled to keep conscious as the hypnotic sounds surrounded him. He remembered experiencing this feeling during his first encounter with Iapetus. The drums got louder and louder, and Dr. Maland continued to struggle with remaining awake.
Suddenly, he felt lightheaded and tumbled backwards off the log, smacking his head hard on the ground behind him. A sharp pain shot through him, and he smelled a faint aroma of ozone. In an instant, he is out cold.
After a brief consultation with several officials, the governor ordered the soldiers to open fire upon the weapon and its former occupant. Once the gunfire began, the door to Cyber-Iapetus closed trapping the black clad individual outside. The person was riddled with bullets and fell to the ground. A small fire broke out in the back of the individual's skull. It melted a part of the costume and revealed a now burnt out circuit board.
Even without its pilot, the Cyber-Iapetus walked over to the nearby Plaza Tower in Kleman Plaza. With a few swipes of its mighty hydraulic arms, bricks flew off the tower and windows shattered. The mechanical beast turned with a quick swipe of the tail and more bricks crumbled and more windows broke.
For several minutes, Cyber-Iapetus pounded on the building. It pushed and swiped. Eventually, the building crumbled to the ground. The giant machine stepped upon the rubble, raised its arms in the air, and gave a mighty roar.
Shortly after the roar, the governor's phone rang. Upon answering the phone, a slightly mechanical voice said, "Ms. Higher, the ninja-cyborg you shot, was merely our messenger. As you may be aware, you have not hindered our ability to do massive amounts of destruction to property in your fair city and state. Thus, our demands remain. Please, do not force us to do more damage or increase the amount of our demands."
The call ended at that point. "Trace that call!" demanded the governor.
Meanwhile, Cyber-Iapetus walked off the rubble and returned to its previous spot inside the cordoned off area.
"Sorry governor," replied the chief of security after several minutes of work. "The call was made on a secure untraceable cell phone. The call could have originated anywhere."
Dr. Maland woke up in a soft bed. He looked around, but did not know where he was. His head throbbed, and he reached up to feel his head. It was wrapped up in bandages.
Someone entered the room, and said, "You're awake, I'll get the doctor."
"Doctor?" John wondered. "What happened? Where am I?"
The doctor entered. "I am glad to see you're awake. What can you tell me?"
"Nothing," replied John helplessly.
"What is the last thing you remember? Do you know who you are?"
Dr. Maland wrinkled his brow and thought hard. "Nothing," was all he said.
"Relax," assured the doctor. "Let it come naturally. You hit your head. Do you know where you are?"
"The hospital..." John replied.
"That is a good sign," laughed the doctor. He held up a small circuit board and asked, "Do you know what this is?"
John looked at it a while and shook his head no.
"Does the name Iapetus mean anything to you?"
The word 'Iapetus' resonated through his entire body. It meant something to him, but what? He thought and thought. He was beginning to get dizzy and his eyes began to roll back into his head.
"Relax," the doctor said in a soothing tone. "There is someone who wants to see you. Is that alright?"
John let Iapetus go, and remained conscious. "Who is it?"
"A friend," replied the doctor.
"Sure, let them in," John responded still trying to remain conscious.
The doctor left and brought back the Iapetian storyteller. A flood of thoughts and memories rushed back into John's mind. It was too much for John and he blacked out.
Dr. Maland did not know how long he was out, but he awoke with the storyteller at his side. The Iapetian smiled at him and asked, "How are you doing?"
"Iapetus!" John blurted out.
"He's gone to his spawning ground."
"Has not arrived," asserted the storyteller.
"No," John responded trying to think, but all he got out was, "mighty weapon."
"Yes, he should be a great protector for us."
"No -- altered -- rockets -- guns..."
"What?" asked the storyteller.
"Florida -- in danger..."
"You're not making any sense my good friend."
John tried to speak in complete sentences, but it was too much of a struggle. Too much was coming at once, but he could only get out a few words. He tried again, but all he could get out was, "Iapetus -- save..."
"Relax," the Iapetian told John as he lightly touched his arm. "Now, tell me slowly."
John took a deep breath, and closed his eyes. He let the words come to him. He took a few more deep breaths and said, "AOENC Engineering altered the design of Cyber-Iapetus."
"Go on," the storyteller said in a soothing tone.
John kept his eyes closed and took a few more breaths. "They made him a terrible weapon by adding rockets and guns."
John struggled to stay relaxed, but he had to focus. He took a few shallow breaths and then a deep one. Finally he got out, "I fear that the state of Florida is in great danger, and only Iapetus can save them."
"It is too late," replied the storyteller. "Iapetus is gone!"
John sat up in his bed while the words Iapetus is gone echoed in his brain. How could Florida be saved without the aid of the giant beast? Everything disappeared from his thoughts except ways to save his home state. After a few moments lost in thought, John said, "You said Loch Ness in your farewell speech."
"Yes..." replied the Iapetian storyteller.
"Is that the place where Iapetus will spawn?"
"The priestess informed us that that is the name of the place our protector goes."
"So, the priestess is of the opinion that Iapetus is headed for Loch Ness?"
"I believe that is what I said."
"Then I must head for Inverness Scotland," John said getting out of bed.
"You are in no shape..." the storyteller began as John crumpled to the floor.
The storyteller grabbed John by the arm to help him back into bed, but John said, "I am all right. I must save Florida."
Dr. Maland sailed his boat back to Florida, and booked a flight to Inverness Scotland. He would try to communicate with the Iapetus and convince him to leave the spawning ground and help the people of Florida.
The governor of Florida sat behind a desk in the emergency bunker. The room was small and windowless, but it was protected from forces of nature and other potential disasters. The governor would be safe from whatever was to come.
She reread the demand. The treasure would pay $100 million or the mechanical monster would destroy Miami. In a demonstration of the power of the beast, it had easily destroyed a residential tower near the capitol. However, the rules of engagement in this type of situation were clear, "Do not negotiate with the terrorists."
After several minutes lost in thought, the governor's office assistant entered. "Madame Governor your requested officials are here."
"Please send them in."
The General from the National Guard, the state treasurer, the Lieutenant Governor, and a few other state officials entered the bunker.
"Ladies and gentlemen," started the governor. "We're in a difficult position with very few options. I invited y'all here to get opinions, but I have made my decision. As a politician, I could make a moving speech, but I'll save it for another time. Y'all know the situation, so here is what we're going to do."
"Madame Governor," interrupted General Chever of the National Guard. "If I may offer..."
"Do not interrupt me General," replied the governor sternly. "As I was about to say, we have been given a brief reprieve from the destructive power of the mechanical weapon sitting outside our fair capitol building. Clearly, some sort of remote command center controls this device. Thus, we should be able to detect these signals -- perhaps even jam them. Thus, I have ordered that a radio detection station be set up in an attempt to determine how the terrorists communicate with their weapon."
"That has been established as per your order," added the Lieutenant Governor.
"Excellent," replied the Governor. "Thus, the only thing to do now is force them to communicate with their weapon. General, we need you to bring some weapons to bear on this device. I'll leave it to your discretion to determine the best way to wake the beast but minimize collateral damage."
"Yes Ma'am!" replied General Chever.
"Any other order of business?"
"There is some sort of disturbance along the coastal highway," reported the Lieutenant Governor.
"That'll have to wait. This has full priority. All our resources must be placed on this immediate menace. If there is nothing else, y'all are dismissed."
Dr. Maland arrived in Scotland after a long flight. Fortunately, he slept during most of it. His head was throbbing, but his duty to his state and nation drove him on. He must contact Iapetus and convince the mighty protector to fight Cyber-Iapetus and prevent the destruction of Florida and beyond.
The Loch Ness legend had spawned several tourist traps; however, John knew where he had to go. He rented a car and headed to The Original Loch Ness Exhibition on the Beauly Road. He wanted to know if there was an increase in Nessie sightings, and this was the best place to start.
Dr. Maland talked around and spoke to several people. There were several reports of increased activity, but the experts believed the animals were just sturgeon. "There hadn't ne'er been no credible sightings," insisted local historian Dougal MacInnes in a thick Scottish accent. "We've got a detector a goin'. The Sturgeon are a runnin' in an' out, but nuttin' unusually big has gone through."
"Can you take me to the inlet?" asked Dr. Maland.
"Aye, I could be a doin' that fer ya."
Dougal and John got into his rental car and went to the Loch's inlet from the sea. With the support of local interests, some scientists set up and monitored a detector. The device was set to look for large animals entering the loch. According to the attending scientist John had spoken to, several large animals had entered. He asked if any creature in the range of 200 meters had passed recently. None had.
John had beat Iapetus to Loch Ness. He had seen the giant monster swim. With its speed capabilities, Iapetus should have entered the loch by now. Was this not the spawning ground? Where could Iapetus be? The only thing that John could do was sit and wait for the beast to show up, and hope it would happen soon.
A formation of six AH-64 Apache helicopters headed towards the capitol building. They were fully armed and ready. Attendants continuously monitored the radio and cell communication detectors in an attempt to find where the communication signals guiding the mechanical monster originated. Only regular signals had been detected up to this point.
The enormous Cyber-Iapetus stood silently near the capitol building. It stood waiting as the apache helicopters approached from the south. Keeping the government buildings to their left, the helicopter pilots approached their stationary target.
The order went out and the helicopters began launching their Hellfire missiles. Wave after wave a missile were fired at Cyber-Iapetus. Each helicopter had its full compliment of 16 missiles. One after another, the missiles flew at the intended target and exploded. The missiles struck the beast high and low. They looked for a weakness.
All 96 missiles struck their target and created a continuous explosive fireball for several minutes. When the smoke cleared, Cyber-Iapetus stood there. It turned toward the helicopters and roared. It turned and moved towards the hovering helicopters. It slowly closed the gap, and the apache helicopters began firing their 30mm guns at the approaching beast.
The bullets bounced off the approaching Cyber-Iapetus. Eventually, the monster opened its mouth and a stream of fire streamed out. It shook its head, and before the helicopter pilots could react, the six helicopters were on fire. The helicopters fell out of the sky with a flaming crash. Cyber-Iapetus gave another roar and returned to the spot, which was now a crater, where it had stood before the attack.
Once the encounter had ended, the governor requested the communication findings. The experts poured over the collected data, and double-checked it. Wishing not to be mistaken, they went over everything a third time. They found nothing out of the ordinary. They were unable to detect signal guiding Cyber-Iapetus's actions.
The six attack helicopters were lying in a flaming heap, and Cyber-Iapetus was standing unharmed in a crater in front of the Capitol building. The governor was attempting to decide her next move when her phone rang. A slightly mechanical voice spoke.
"Governor governor governor... We have only given you a small sample of the capabilities of our mechanical device, and you yourself have discovered a few capabilities on your own. This device is quite capable of defending itself from your puny attacks. How much more convincing do you need? Our demands are now for $150 million."
"We do not negotiate with terrorists!" insisted the governor.
"There are no negotiations involved. We are making demands, and you would be smart to follow them or we will destroy Miami. No negotiations necessary. Just assemble the money and place it in a fire-safe container in front of the device. You have 24 hours."
"It'll take more than that to gather the money."
"You have had plenty of time to begin gathering this money. You should have not wasted that valuable time. Procrastination has gotten the better of you. Have a nice day."
"Wait..." begged the governor but the line was dead. "Did you guys get a trace on that?"
"Sorry governor, it was the same as last time -- a secure encrypted phone. No trace possible."
The governor sat there, quivering with fury, stammering as she tried to come up with a real crusher. All she got out was "Cyberninja!"
Dr. Maland spent the entire day by the inlet detector for Loch Ness. He chatted with the operators and learned about Loch Ness lore. He saw instances where large creatures had entered the loch, but nothing large enough to be Iapetus. He was getting concerned. Where could he be?
Dr. Maland began to wonder if Iapetus took a land route to the loch. Perhaps the enormous beast noticed the activity around the inlet and avoided that situation. After all, Iapetus was quite capable of crossing overland.
It became apparent to John that he should explore other possibilities. However, he wanted to be in continuous contact with the station at the inlet. Fortunately, the station broadcast reports on large creatures entering the loch for the 'Nessie Hunters'. Dr. Maland obtained the communication channel and tuned a radio into that station.
John traveled around the area asking if anyone had sited the monster recently. However, the reports were just the routine sightings. There were no great numbers of people seeing the same thing. It was clear that Iapetus was not here yet.
"General Chever bring all your weapons to bear," order the governor.
"Yes Ma'am," replied the general with a salute.
Tanks and armored vehicles poured out of the bases around the state. Helicopters and airplanes took flight. With the cooperation from the federal government, several naval vessels in the Gulf of Mexico were ready for engagement.
However, before engagement began, Cyber-Iapetus was on the move. The mechanical monster began walking down Apalachee Parkway. It crushed cars and trucks with no regard for vehicles in its path. Occasionally, it would swat its tail at a neighboring building doing minor damage. Clearly, the 24 hours had expired.
The ships launched missiles, the airplanes and helicopters flew to where the beast was walking, and the tanks and armored vehicles made their way along highway 27 to intercept.
Before the weapon could strike the mechanical monster, it turned abruptly and began tearing apart the Governors Square Mall. The missiles from the naval vessels smashed into the walls of the mall rather than striking their target. The various munitions tore apart mall stores.
The helicopters and airplanes coordinated their attacks. Wave after wave of missile and gunfire attacks were made against the mechanical beast. However, the spacious mall took the brunt of the attacks. The clothes stores were torn to shreds. The shoe shops were in tatters. The food places were spoiled. Nevertheless, the attacks continued.
The armored vehicles entered the mall parking lots from all directions. They added to the mayhem as they fired their weapons at the mall and the mechanical creature. The two-level mall was crumbling to the ground with the armaments continuously pounding the area.
As the mall burned and crumbled, Cyber-Iapetus turned its attention from mall destruction to the weapons that attacked. The gun doors in its shoulders opened, and the mini-guns began to fire. As a squadron of airplanes made their run, the guns ripped apart a couple of the planes. The planes crashed into some armored vehicles on the ground.
Cyber-Iapetus picked up some of the rubble, and began throwing it at the vehicles that surrounded it. The tanks that avoided the crashing aircraft were soon covered with the rubble from the mall.
A few missiles launched from the hands of the beast and struck some of the helicopters that crashed into the Little Lambs Preschool a short distance from the mall. Other businesses in the area of the mall were being damaged by the engagement between the military and Cyber-Iapetus. Another wave of naval missiles struck the area causing still more destruction, but the encounter continued.
"Enough!" ordered the governor. "General Chever end this! Disengage your attack."
"But governor..." started the general.
"No General. It is over. Disengage now. Your troops have done more damage than the mechanical monster. I will not stand for any more of this mayhem. We have assembled the money, and I am hoping by ending this conflict, they will contact us, and we can avoid more needless destruction."
"Governor, I am sorry for interrupting," the governor's aide said as he entered the governor's office. "However, there is more trouble. The highway patrol is asking for help from the National Guard. There are reports of some kind of storm or something coming from the south and wreaking havoc on traffic. There are snarls all the way to the Gulf."
"What more can happen today?" replied the governor. "Tell them, the National Guard is currently engaged and cannot assist with traffic problems. Have them do the best they can. Just what we need -- a damaging weather system to pile on this. General, you have your orders."
"Yes Ma'am. I'll have my soldiers stand down."
"I just hope it isn't too late to meet their demands. Otherwise, Miami is doomed!"
Dr. Maland was worried. What was taking Iapetus? He had more than enough time to swim across the ocean to Loch Ness. In fact, the giant monster could have made the crossing since Dr. Maland arrived in Scotland. Was he at the wrong place? Evidence pointed to the females arriving, but could it be something else? Could it just be a coincidence?
John drove around the Loch talking to tourists, natives, and anyone who would talk with him. No one saw anything that matched the description of Iapetus. There were no mass sightings. There was no evidence that Iapetus was here at all.
He returned to the monitoring station, but there were still no major developments. Large numbers of largish aquatic animals were gathering in the loch, but nothing the right size. It had the makings of a spawning ground, but it just did not have a male.
Florida was in great need of Iapetus's services. Cyber-Iapetus was rampaging and inflicting great damage. Dr. Maland did not know if military operations were successful, but during his observations, the mechanical protector appeared to be indestructible. Certainly, Iapetus would be helpful in the protection of Florida, but where was he?
The mechanical monster withstood attacks from several military weapon systems. It emerged from the rubble of the Governor Square Mall without a scratch. Rubble from destroyed tanks and helicopters were burning in the area. Cyber-Iapetus continued along Apalachee Way randomly destroying buildings as he traveled.
The mechanical weapon began tearing through the North Florida Safety Council building when Iapetus suddenly appeared from nowhere. It was not a storm, but Iapetus the Protector emerging from the Gulf to save Florida. He had not traveled to Loch Ness, he came to Florida to help.
The fierce reptile flared the spines on his back and gave a mighty roar in a challenge to the mechanical beast. Cyber-Iapetus turned its head to see what the noise was. Before it could brace itself, Iapetus was flying through the air in a cross-body block. The two giants tumbled along the Apalachee Parkway in a tangle.
Cyber-Iapetus pushed the colorful lizard up into the air and he crashed into a nearby motel. As the building crashed upon him, he flailed around and brought the rest of the building to the ground. As he emerged from the pile of debris, he picked up some of the rubble and tossed it at the mechanical monster. It was making an ungainly attempted to stand when the debris came flying. One large piece of concrete spun Cyber-Iapetus around and it fell back upon the ground on its back.
Grabbing this opportunity to attack the struggling machine, Iapetus again jumped upon it. He began swinging his massive arms and punched the robot numerous times in the head. However, these had no effect upon the mechanical beast and it tossed Iapetus high up into the air. This time before Iapetus landed, Cyber-Iapetus made it to its feet. It rushed the beast as he got to his feet and swung his tail. The tail hit Iapetus in the chest, and the impact threw him far down the street.
Shortly after the great protector landed, missiles launched from the mechanical monster's hands. The missiles hit their mark in the midsection of Iapetus pushing him even farther back. The giant protector shrugged off the impact, and slowly advanced towards the cybernetic beast.
Iapetus walked towards the machine contemplating his next attack. Before he could take action, the gun doors on Cyber-Iapetus were open and firing the mini-gun into the flesh of the encroaching monster. This momentarily stopped his forward progress; however, he once again flared his spines and roared. With a shake of his head, he continued forward.
The cybernetic weapon was not going to wait for Iapetus to reach it. It pressed the attack with a swing of its mechanical tail. The tail hit its mark, but, Iapetus caught the blow between his body and his arm. With a twist, the constructed protector was swept off its feet. Through the air it flew into a nearby tire store. The building instantly collapsed and the monster tumbled in a twisted pile of metal. Steel belted radials flew in every direction.
Before the giant lizard-like creature could continue his attack, Cyber-Iapetus tossed a few tires before it retreated into the Leon County Sanitary Landfill. In the open space, the two monsters grappled. Each one took turns punching the other. Neither of the monsters did much damage to the other with this sort of attack.
The cybernetic beast pushed Iapetus back, and opened its mouth. Flames shot out of the mouth of the monster and hit Iapetus in the chest. Iapetus gave a slight yelp in surprise, and the flames pushed back the lizard. The smell of burnt flesh permeated the air, but it appeared that it had little actual effect on Iapetus. With another roar, he jumped on top of the unsuspecting mechanical creature and they tumbled to the ground.
The tangle of monsters rolled around exchanging blows. After a few moments, in a smooth motion, the mechanical beast tossed Iapetus into the air, rolled to its feet, and swung its tail. Upon impact, the colorful monster flew into the woods and smashed down into some trees. With another breath of fire, the trees were ignited and the entire area was engulfed in a giant fireball.
With the flames, smoke, and trees, Iapetus vanished from view. Cyber-Iapetus looked around and reared back its head and gave a roar of its own in victory.
The governor sat at her desk overwhelmed by the recent events. A mechanical beast was tearing apart the capital city, and she had the ransom with her. She was waiting for the extortionists to contact her. She hoped that her order to attack the monster had not cost the state the city of Miami. However, Tallahassee was being torn to shreds.
Further, from reports she had received, there was some sort of event causing problems up from the Gulf. This force of nature headed towards the affected areas. There were two problems converging towards each other.
She sat at her desk with her face in her hands when her chief of staff entered. "What is it now?" she asked herself.
"Ma'am we have some good news."
"What is it?" the governor replied with a bit of hope in her voice.
"Apparently, what was causing traffic problems up from the Gulf was a giant lizard. It has engaged the mechanical beast."
"They are fighting."
"Out in the open and not tearing apart the city I hope."
"Well -- not exactly. However, from the last report I got, they were battling at the landfill."
"At least that is something. Do you have any idea why the lizard is here? Who sent it?"
"No ma'am. However, we are making progress on the extortionists."
"Yes ma'am. Apparently, it was stolen from AOENC Engineering out of Niceville. We have been working with people there to get leads on where they may be controlling the weapon."
"We expect to have results any moment now..." the chief of staff said as his cell phone rang. "This could be a report."
"By all means, answer it."
"Hello," the assistant said into the phone. "A fire? How big? Wow! completely engulfed? Thanks keep a safe distance away and keep me posted."
"What is it?" asked the governor.
"Apparently the extortionist's weapon started a fire just east of the landfill. The fire is big enough to obscure our view. We do not know where the lizard is. We do know that the mechanical monster roared and continued heading towards Miami."
"That good news didn't last very long. Y'all keep working on triangulating the home base."
"Will do. What do you want to tell the press?"
"Tell them all about the giant lizard fighting for us, but nothing about our leads."
The governor was more hopeful, but the situation was still grim. She placed her face back onto her hands, hoping for a break.
The huge fire engulfing the wooded area next to the landfill began to abate, but there still was no sign of Iapetus. Several hundred acres were on fire, and the heat from the flames was intense. There were reports of the heat being felt from 15 miles away.
Cyber-Iapetus did not wait around to see what happened. It left the landfill and continued its journey along Apalachee Parkway. It did not dawdle. It picked up its pace. It was no longer in the urban center, and there were fewer targets for destruction. Thus, the cybernetic beast was no longer picking a building at random to destroy. It was making its way towards Miami along State Highway 27 as fast as it could.
With its fast pace, Iapetus did not catch up with his cyber doppelganger until it was past Lamont Florida. The giant lizard had run away from the fire through the trees. However, it was difficult keeping up with mechanical beast that was running along roads. Eventually, he caught him from behind.
Iapetus grabbed the tail of the running machine, and pulled it to a stop. With a backwards lean and a twist of his mighty torso, Iapetus tossed his foe into the woods. The agile giant jumped upon the tumbling machine. With Cyber-Iapetus trapped beneath his legs, Iapetus uprooted a nearby tree and thrust it into the open mechanical mouth of his opponent.
The cybernetic beast whipped its tail and twisted itself out from beneath Iapetus. It scrambled to its feet and chomped at the tree. The tree broke off, and fell to the ground. The mechanical beast reopened its mouth to shoot some flames at Iapetus. However, the root of the tree had disrupted the mechanism and the flammable liquid just poured down the side of its face.
Suddenly, the mechanical beast was on fire. Iapetus flared his spikes and gave a mighty roar. Citizens of Lamont claimed that the giant lizard did a little jig. However, the fight was not over. From the flaming mechanical beast, missiles launched from its hands.
Iapetus's reflexes were up to the task as it swatted a missile targeted at his eye. However, the explosion temporarily blinded him. He stood their stunned for several seconds.
The still burning Cyber-Iapetus took advantage of the motionless lizard and jumped on him. However, Iapetus had sufficiently recovered to see the mechanical monster heading towards him. He leaned back upon his tail, and put his feet on the chest of the rushing beast. Leaning further back and giving a kick with both feet, he sent his burning nemesis flying.
Without hesitation, Iapetus was stomping on the mechanical beast. However, the machine was still structurally sound. The flames had little effect on the shell of the machine. The weapon was well designed for several forms of attack.
To put out the flames, Iapetus began digging and throwing dirt onto the temporarily prostrate machine. After putting several hundred pounds of dirt upon the weapon, Iapetus extinguished the flames.
Suddenly, Cyber-Iapetus kicked and flailed. The dirt scattered, but Iapetus continued piling on the dirt. It seemed to have some effect on the mechanical device. Its movements slowed and then stopped. It was covered in a huge mound of dirt, and it looked as if it would stay there.
After Iapetus was satisfied with the size of the mound covering his mechanical opponent, he rested. However, his rest was short lived as the mound exploded. The explosion threw Iapetus several feet backwards. When he regained his composure to look at the where the cyborg was, Cyber-Iapetus was gone.
The explosion of the pile of dirt left Iapetus confused. His cybernetic opponent had appeared to vanish in the explosion, as if it were destroyed. However, there was no debris in the crater. The mechanical monster did not explode at all.
Upon closer inspection, Iapetus noticed a tunnel leading away from the former dirt mound. Cyber-Iapetus had dug its way away, and attempted to cover its escape by collapsing the tunnel. However, the missiles from its hands caused too great of an explosion.
Iapetus jumped down the hole and followed the tunnel. After a short distance, he caught up with his foe. He grabbed the mechanical tail and thrust it upwards. The machine jerked up. This caused the tunnel to collapse around the grappling monsters. Soon, both monsters arose from the ground leaving a giant crater in the soil. The fight would now continue above ground.
The two monsters were wrestling on the ground when Cyber-Iapetus kicked Iapetus up into the air. The cybernetic monster rolled and knocked his foe several feet away with its tail. It scrambled to its feet, and rushed the tumbling lizard-like monster.
With a kick of its feet, Cyber-Iapetus kept Iapetus rolling. Suddenly, Iapetus rolled into the crater that was created when they emerged from the ground. The mechanical monster now had the high ground. Each time Iapetus would stand up, a giant cybernetic tail would hit him on the head knocking him back down.
After a few blows to the head, Iapetus became dizzy and sat in the hole. He shook his head a few times in an attempt to chase away the birds flying around his head. This also allowed him some time to think about how he was going to get out of the hole.
Cyber-Iapetus seeing his opponent sitting in the hole reared back his head and roared in victory. He bounded around the hole a few times and then stopped cold.
The governor had not left her office in several days. She continued to coordinate the many facets of this emergency. She got regular updates of the fight between Iapetus and his mechanical counterpart. Further, she was regularly briefed upon the search for extortionists and their communication station. She had several conversations with L. Edward Roy, the CEO of the company that built the weapon system. However, right now she was enjoying a rest from commotion that normally plagued her.
"Governor, there is a Dr. John Maland on the phone for you," stated a voice on the intercom.
"What does he want?" the governor asked wearily.
"He says he has information on the two fighting monsters," responded the assistant.
"Okay, I'll talk to him," replied the governor as she picked up the phone. "Dr. Maland, what can I do for you?"
"I'm sorry governor, I should have contacted you sooner. It is just -- that -- I thought..."
"Dr. Maland, I am a very busy person. Thus, I would be most grateful if y'all would get to the point."
"Sorry," replied Dr. Maland. "I attempted to recruit Iapetus to help, but I see from news reports that my help in this matter was unneeded."
"I witnessed the construction of the Cyber-Iapetus. I am aware of several aspects that you may not be aware. However, first and foremost, the mechanical weapon system was designed to protect an island of Iapetus in the Bermuda triangle. Thus, the control of it was designed to be done primarily from that island."
"Are you certain of this?"
"There may be relay stations or remote stations, but the primary control should be situated on this island. Therefore, if you send someone to the island, you may be able to override any commands sent from a remote location. At the very least, you should be able to determine what frequency they are using to control the machine, unless there is someone in the driver seat."
"The device is most certainly empty. How will we be able to find the command center on this island?"
"If you send someone to the island, ask for the storyteller or the priestess. If you tell them the situation, they will most certainly help you if you mention my name. This island is new to us, so you will need a new map in order to find it."
"Can y'all meet someone there?"
"I'm afraid I'm in Scotland. It is a long story... Nevertheless, I'll be back in Florida tomorrow. I assume you will want to take care of this before then."
"Most certainly," replied the governor. "Dr. Maland, thank you for you help with this matter."
The governor hung up the phone and began coordinating the intervention. The envoys from the governor made their way to Iapetus Island. Once there, they quickly found the control station. They were not able to override the commands sent from the much closer remote station, but they had a way to determine where it was located. They had the communication channel.
However, it would take time to find the remote control station. The cybernetic weapon could do a great deal of damage in the mean time. They had to make a decision. They could jam the signal, preventing any further damage. However, this could potentially allow the perpetrators to escape.
The other alternative was to let the two monsters fight while they track down the location where the communication was emanating. Since the two monsters were fighting in a rural area, the governor decided to get the extortionists while letting the monsters fight.
Dr. Maland was sitting in the airport waiting for his flight. He was glad that Iapetus did not come to Loch Ness and fought Cyber-Iapetus. However, he was berating himself for not contacting the Florida authorities immediately.
"How much destruction could I have prevented, if I told them about the control station immediately?" he asked himself. "I had to be the hero!"
He sat there thinking of all the things he could have done differently. He was so single minded about the situation that he did not think things through completely. He had focused so much upon recreating the New York situation; he lost sight of the real problem.
It weighed heavily on his mind as he sat in the airport. He did speak to another passenger as he sat there. He just closed the world off and beat himself up mentally. He was really down upon himself as he boarded the plane towards home.
Iapetus rested in the hole, and prepared to re-engage his cybernetic opponent. However, the machine stood motionless in mid taunt. The Florida National Guard stormed the controlling station just after Cyber-Iapetus gave his roar, and there he stood.
Iapetus warily exited the pit that he and his foe made when they emerged from underground. He sniffed the air and slowly walked over to the stationary weapon system. At the slightest sound, he flinched. Nevertheless, his opponent just stood there.
Finally, he was within reach, and he pushed the metal chest of the machine. Nothing happened. He pushed a little harder with the same result. He sniffed the machine, but smelled nothing of interest.
When he was satisfied that the mechanical device was no longer a threat, he flared his spines and gave a mighty roar. The roar shook buildings several miles away. He gave a few shorter calls and curled up at the feet of his former fighting opponent. With a sigh of exhaustion and perhaps relief, Iapetus fell asleep.
It was early in the evening when Dr. Maland arrived in Florida's capitol city. He had decided to fly directly to Tallahassee rather than his home. He wanted to see if he could help the people in Tallahassee in any way.
Despite the jetlag and the exhaustion that he felt, he rented a car and began the drive to the capitol building. Even though it was well after rush hour, traffic in that area was awful. The destruction Cyber-Iapetus inflicted on that particular area snarled traffic well into the evening.
He faced a few roadblocks, but the governor was expecting him, so he was able to pass. Dr. Maland saw little evidence of the destruction until he got closer to his destination. As he neared the capitol building, he saw the destruction around the building and the huge crater in front.
As he looked east, he saw more evidence of a giant destructive force passing through. Buildings were now heaps of twisted metal, brick, and concrete. He reached a point where the road was no longer passable. The helicopter wreckage was still blocking the road.
The governor had sent one of her assistants to escort Dr. Maland the remaining few blocks to the building. With all the destruction, there was no way to drive the last few blocks. Thus, they crossed that distance on foot. A state trooper took care of parking his rental car.
This part of the city looked as if a major battle occurred there. The damaged military equipment and the rubble were everywhere. Dr. Maland felt sorry for the people of Florida and the businesses around the government buildings. The sorrow increased as the pair walked silently to the governor's office.
"I'm sorry governor," Dr. Maland said as he entered her office. "I thought only of intercepting Iapetus. I neglected to help the people here by giving them vital information."
"Dr. Maland I presume?" replied the governor.
"Yes, I'm sorry. I am Dr. John Maland. I am a professor of anthropology at Florida International University. It is nice to meet you."
"It is my pleasure to meet y'all," replied the governor while shaking Dr. Maland's hand. "Now don't y'all get bent out of shape over this."
"No 'buts'!" insisted the governor. "Everyone was doing what he or she thought was right. The people to blame are those that stole this Cyber-Iapetus."
"Uh, I don't know what to say..."
"Y'all don't have to say anything. I just wanted to thank you for your effort. The Iapetian command center is what did the trick. Even Dr. Roy hadn't thought of that aspect."
"You have spoken to Dr. Roy?"
"Certainly! He has been most helpful. Further, he has agreed to help pay for the repair of the damages. He regretted that someone used his company's resources to inflict such destruction. Further, they did it simply for extortion. He was greatly concerned that it would negatively impact his company's good name."
"I'm glad to hear that he wasn't involved..."
"The men gained access to a few AOENC technologies. They implanted a chip into a Ms. Linda Higher's head. This chip was designed to help people with brain damage. However, someone determined that it had other uses, like controlling people. She was powerless against them."
"Oh, that explains a few things."
"Do you have experience with this device?"
"I'll say! It was what caused me to go to Iapetus Island in the first place. I was powerless to stop Iapetus from leaving. When the chip was discovered and removed, I was completely focused upon intercepting him."
"Y'all weren't all there. See..."
"That is nice of you to say. Am I to understand that you have captured the perpetrators?"
"We believe so. We're working with Dr. Roy to verify this. We owe Iapetus for delaying the cybernetic weapon and giving us time to capture the thieves."
"Where is Iapetus?"
"He is still sleeping at the feet of Cyber-Iapetus."
"Do you need anything else from me?"
"The Iapetian storyteller is waiting for you there. Here are the driving directions. They may seem round-about, but some roads are impassible."
"No -- thank you. Now get going before it gets dark."
Dr. Maland left the governor's office with a spring in his step. The sad thoughts that had plagued him since he was in Scotland were gone. He almost sprinted back to his rental car.
The drive to where Iapetus rested seemed quite short despite the distance. The storyteller was sitting on the great monster's foot. Florida State Troopers and National Guard members kept guard, but they were expecting him. He parked the car and walked towards the great beast.
John and the storyteller embraced. Another crisis had been averted. Miami was saved. The new protector was still functional and Iapetus was free to go to Loch Ness. However, for now, the great beast slept.
"What happens now?" John asked the storyteller.
"In the morning, Iapetus will wake and make his way to his spawning ground. The governor has stated that I can take our mechanical protector to our island."
"So that is it."
"Yes it is."
John asked one of the troopers to return his rental car because he was going to accompany the storyteller on part of the journey to Iapetus Island. He camped out with the storyteller that night next the Iapetus.
In the morning, the now refreshed Iapetus arose and stretched. He shook the chill off, and took a leisurely stroll to the Gulf of Mexico. The storyteller and Dr. Maland entered the cybernetic protector and followed him.
They walked into the water and when Iapetus was in deep enough in the gulf, he dove under the water. He swam a little way, and then breached the surface like a whale. After his little show, he went under the water and vanished.
Cyber-Iapetus piloted by the storyteller swam around the peninsula and emerged from the water in Fort Lauderdale. The mechanical protector walked to Dr. Maland's home and opened up. Dr. Maland emerged. He bid farewell to the storyteller and entered his house. He took a long hot shower and sunk in his easy chair. It had been quite a long time since he had been home. He had plenty of catching up to do.
The storyteller piloted the mechanical protector to its home on Iapetus Island. It had been quite an adventure for him as well. This adventure renewed his distrust of outsiders, and the Iapetian people began closing down their tourist trade. They decided to isolate themselves again. The world was not mature enough, and they had everything they needed.
The adventures were getting to be too much for Dr. John Maland, the humble anthropology professor. After the adventures where he helped the great monster Iapetus save Manhattan, and the scrape in Florida with the Cyber-Iapetus, Dr. Maland was ready for routine. He eagerly fell into a normal class schedule.
Life at Florida International University was back tonormal. The Spring session had just begun and all of the students talked about their Christmas break, and were discussing what they would do for spring break. Dr. Maland had a full course load, and it was going to be a busy semester for him. He hoped there would be no more giant monsters in his future.
The mighty Iapetus had spawned in Loch Ness, and was raising his heir in the waters near Iapetus Island. The massive Cyber-Iapetus had been repaired and continued to watch over the island, while the great animal looked after his son. His many daughters were being raised by their mothers.
The islanders had retreated from the tourist business and returned to their isolationist ways. No longer were ships allowed to land at the island, and this was enforced by the mechanical Iapetus. Yes, it appeared that everything was back in its proper order.
People continued to report the sight of strange lights in the Bermuda Triangle. The regular reports of UFO's did not seem out of the ordinary for the area. The night that most of south Florida, Bermuda, and the Caribbean inexplicably lost power for 15 minutes did raise some questions, but did nothing to raise any major flags.
However, the Quadrantid meteor shower that resulted in actual meteorites striking the ground in the deserts of New Mexico made headlines everywhere. Astronomers and scientists from around the country headed to Santa Fe to study the objects from space. Dr. Maland read their accounts in newspapers and journals, but was thankful that he did not have to be involved.
That thankfulness, however, was short lived. A few days after the meteorites hit, the Iapetian Storyteller was in Dr. Maland's office. Unlike his last visit, he was not in a business suit. With his fellow islanders, he had thrown away the modern and returned to the native ways. He stood there in his native garb, but still carried a briefcase.
"What's wrong?" asked Dr. Maland reflexively.
"Greetings my good friend," replied the storyteller. "Yes there is trouble about."
"What is it?"
"There is a problem with our mechanical protector."
"Cyber-Iapetus?" asked Dr. Maland. "What's it doing?"
"It may be simply a mechanical malfunction, but my fellow islanders sense there is more to it."
"Perhaps you should start at the beginning."
"Very well," replied the storyteller. "For the last several weeks, there have been unusual sightings around our island."
"What kind of sightings?"
"Strange objects flying around the island with flashing lights."
"You know -- Unidentified Flying Objects -- flying saucers -- alien spacecraft..."
"They are flying objects that we have not identified, but we have no evidence that they are anything but terrestrial."
"These sightings have been common for the Bermuda Triangle for a long time, what makes you think there is some connection with Cyber-Iapetus?"
"Shortly after the appearance of these objects, our mechanical protector's power indicator lights went out for a short period of time."
"That must have occurred when we lost power."
"You experienced a power loss as well?"
"I read in the paper that most of south Florida, Bermuda, and the Caribbean lost power for about 15 minutes. They didn't know what caused it, but no one has reported any problems since then."
"Perhaps they are related."
"So, has Cyber-Iapetus been affected in some other way?"
"Since the outage, we have had an increasingly difficult time controlling our mechanical protector."
"In what way?"
"Some of our commands result in instant action, some the action is delayed, and some are completely ignored."
"That is odd."
"We have not been able to pinpoint the problem. We have been over its programming several times and have found nothing out of the ordinary."
"You are far more knowledgeable of the workings of its systems, what do you want from me?"
"You are much more knowing of the world outside of our island. We thought you may be able to give us information. That is, what are the technical possibilities that we have no experience with."
"Wow!" said Dr. Maland scratching his head. "Where would I begin?"
"First, what would cause the power outage?"
"The papers said that an low yield electromagnetic pulse knocked out the power."
"Did they explain it in English?"
"I have read that a low-level electromagnetic pulse or EMP would temporarily jam electronics systems. However, I do not know how they work. They were discovered during atomic bomb tests. It is basically a wide spread, very strong, radio signal."
"A sudden spike in the electromagnetic field would induce a current flow spike. Yes that could explain it."
"Did I say that?"
"In a sense," laughed the storyteller. "I was not aware that such technology existed."
"There are rumors that such weapons are part of the U.S. arsenal, but it is naturally classified if they do exist or not. However, why would they use it in range of their own territory?"
"There is much we do not understand about this situation."
"In any event, an EMP could disrupt and even destroy integrated circuits. Perhaps Cyber-Iapetus could be due for a major computer overhaul."
"Perhaps you are correct -- if we could find it."
"As of this morning, we have been unable to locate or communicate with our mechanical protector."
"Cyber-Iapetus is missing?"
"We are hoping it is just a malfunction due to this EMP which you describe."
"How could this happen?"
"With Iapetus raising his heir, we were simply not prepared for his mechanical counterpart swimming off."
"So, one of the most powerful weapon systems ever created is somewhere in the ocean, and no one has any control over it? It could surface anywhere in the world and without much effort destroy a city! I didn't need to hear that!"
"Holy -- er -- hole!" exclaimed Dr. Plate.
Dr. Philadelphia M. Plate was a noted astronomy professor from New Mexico State University. He spent years studying the sky, but now something from the sky landed in his home state. He was quite excited to study the meteoroids. However, there wasn't any object in the small crater in the desert he was currently observing.
"I was told there were meteorites in the meteor craters," Dr. Plate said to a state patrol officer at the scene.
"There isn't a black rock in the middle there?" asked the officer.
"No. Nothing," replied Dr. Plate. "With the size of this crater, I wouldn't expect anything. However, I was told that there were some meteorites from these events, but I haven't seen any evidence of that."
"I will investigate," replied the officer.
As the patrol officer asked around, Dr. Plate examined the crater from the rim. He expected to see some glass formed from the intense heat, but it was absent. This would not be unusual for an icy object, but some eye-witnesses described a flaming object. Thus, he didn't know who to believe.
Further, some of the other tell-tale signs were missing. Apart from it not being hot, the impact did not create a very large crater. At least, not large enough for the size of object reported to have hit the ground. The crater should have been deeper and wider. It was strange.
"No one has gotten close to the crater," reported the officer interrupting Dr. Plate's train of thought.
"What? Oh!" replied the astronomy professor.
"The object should be in there."
"I'll look closer. Thanks!"
Despite his misgivings of destroying the evidence, Dr. Plate crawled carefully over the rim and into the crater. The sand was soft inside the crater. He tried not to disturb anything, but he found himself sliding slightly to the bottom.
Once at the bottom, he discovered a tunnel. It was deep, and he stuck his entire arm into it.
"Damn prairie dogs!" he whispered to himself.
He carefully crawled out of the crater; however, it was clear that he was there.
"What did you find out?" ask the highway patrol officer.
"There is some sort of tunnel at the bottom -- probably an animal burrow."
"So, what now?"
"Keep it cordoned it off, and I'll head over to the next one."
The next impact site was only 10 miles away. It was 20 miles if he stuck to roads. This part of New Mexico, a little southwest of the small town of Vaughn, saw all of the impacts. From the reported pattern, it appeared that large object broke apart in the upper atmosphere and scattered across this section of desert.
After the quick drive across the desert, Dr. Plate found himself at the next site. It was almost identical to the first one. Once again, there was no object in the crater. The same story was told at this site. No one had been near the crater, and the object was there last time anyone looked.
Instead of crawling into this crater, the astronomy professor decided to go to another site. It was only 2 miles away. He made sure that this site was secured, and off he drove.
The next site was a mess. It was clear that someone clumsily climbed into the crater. The sides had all collapsed, and there were clear foot marks leading out of the crater.
"It was like that when we got here," explained the local sheriff.
"No use guarding it then," explained Professor Plate.
"Very good. I'll check on my men up the road."
"Thanks Sheriff. I'll be right there in a few minutes."
Dr. Plate climbed into the crater. There was no tunnel at the bottom of this one. The size was roughly the same as the others. The sand was soft. It was clear that someone had taken the object away. He climbed out and headed down the road.
This crater was not disturbed, but still no meteorite at the bottom. Like the first one, the astronomy professor decided to investigate this crater. Once again, there was some sort of tunnel at the bottom.
"Perhaps something about them attracts prairie dogs," speculated the sheriff.
"You might be right," replied the professor as he climbed out of the crater. "Hand me those containers will you?"
"Sure," replied the sheriff handing him three plastic containers.
This time, he was going to take some samples of the sand. Perhaps he would find something to analyze in the sand. He dug at the top, middle, and bottom of the crater. Since no objects were found, perhaps some residue would be left.
"I wish I would have gotten here sooner," began the professor. "However, it takes time to drive from Albuquerque."
"We watched them closely for you, but we didn't bank on tunneling," replied the sheriff.
"Did you see any of the meteorites?"
"I saw a few -- yes."
"Would you mind describing them to me?"
"No -- let me think. It was up the road a piece -- closer to Vaughn."
"The first actual meteor I saw was about a foot and a half maybe two feet across."
"Wait! The first one you saw was half a meter in diameter?"
"Hold on! An object that large would have made a crater much larger than the 2 meter craters I've seen."
"Funny thing is," replied the sheriff "the next thing I know is that it shrunk to about 6 inches. Like a balloon deflating or something."
"Did you see it deflate?"
"Nah, I was talking to one of my deputies. When I looked back at the meteor, it was about 6 inches across. It was the darnedest thing."
"Interesting! Were the rest of the ones you saw about 10 centimeters in diameter?"
"Yup. The big one -- I saw hit. I was at the crater in less than 2 minutes after it landed."
"Landed -- you said landed?"
"I suppose I did. That is what I thought of it. It seemed more like a landing than a crash, but I was a ways away."
"How far is 'a ways'...?"
"A mile maybe. It was all flaming like, but not like you see in the movies."
"In the movies the flames are at the back, but these flames were towards the ground."
"Like re-entry rockets?" Dr. Plate said mostly to himself.
"I reckon so," replied the sheriff with a quizzical look upon his face. "Anyways, at about 6 feet or so -- the fire stopped and it hit the ground. I rushed over, and it was like I said."
"What color was it then?"
"All that I have seen were black as coal."
"Even the one you just described?"
"Yup -- even the big one."
"This is very strange. This is not like anything I have ever heard of. I suppose if they were icy, they would have just melted. However, that doesn't explain the flames. It almost sounds like some sort of space probe landing on earth."
"What do we do now?" asked Dr. Maland.
"If you could get some help locating our mechanical protector, my people would be most pleased."
"I guess I could make a few calls," replied Dr. Maland. "I could contact General Chever of the Florida National Guard. I spoke with him briefly after the last run in with -- ummm -- the protector. If I don't get anywhere with him, I could probably get a hold of General Mann. He'll remember me from the New York incident. They may be able to locate the Cyber-Iapetus."
"It would be much appreciated."
"They may not give me any information. If they locate him, they may classify that information. They also may see the machine as a threat and attempt to destroy it."
"That is a chance we are willing to take."
"Okay, I'll see what I can do," Dr. Maland said escorting the storyteller to the door. "I know where to contact you."
"Thanks. You are a good friend to our people."
Dr. Maland called both generals to inform them of the situation. Needless to say, they were both quite concerned about the malfunctioning giant weapon system. They would both take steps in an attempt to locate Cyber-Iapetus.
General Chever would send some reconnaissance planes over the gulf. If it surfaced anywhere close to Florida, they would know immediately.
General Mann had more resources from which to work. He had submarines which would use their sonar in the attempt to locate the machine. If it were in the water, sooner or later they would locate it. However, he made it quite clear that if it were discovered in United States waters, they would not hesitate to attempt to destroy it.
Dr. Maland could not blame them for attacking the powerful weapon. It caused major damage to Tallahassee before Iapetus could stop it. They certainly did not want a repeat of that incident.
The next day, Dr. Maland went to West Lake Park to see the storyteller. This was their typical meeting place as the Iapetian did not like to be confined. On a bench with a nice view of the lake, Dr. Maland saw the Iapetian storyteller. He sat next to him and reported what the military men had told him.
"Hopefully, we will find it before your military."
"Do you have facilities to perform a worldwide search?"
"We do have a communication channel for our mechanical protector. If it in any way responds to one of our commands, we will be able to pinpoint its location."
"I forgot about that."
"So far, it has not responded to any of our return commands."
"I hope it does before our military finds it."
"This mechanical protector has been a great burden for both our lands. I wait in great anticipation for our true protector to swim once again in our waters."
"Is that going to happen soon?"
"It is up to him. He is currently bonding with his offspring."
"That is right, he went to spawn in Loch Ness."
"He is raising the sole male of this great event. For a time, they will share the duties of protecting our island. However, our great protector is ancient. He will leave us soon for the great waters. The young will provide what the old once did."
"Iapetus Jr. is very young, so I am guessing it will be a while before he is ready to follow in his father's footsteps."
"According to my ancestors, it will be at least 200 more cycles of the moon before the young one will be prepared to take on his duties."
"That would be a lot of responsibility for a 20 year old," Dr. Maland joked.
"That is indeed true. The time cannot pass too quickly."
"It is clear that Cyber-Iapetus has been a great burden on *you*."
"It has taken me away from my own duties in training my own successor."
"Are you retiring my good friend?"
"It is tradition. When the young protector takes over, my protégé will take over for me."
"What will happen to you?"
"Right now, anything would be better than fretting over our situation."
"I don't believe that for a second."
"Our protector will determine my fate, so even I do not know what will become of me when our new -- er -- record keeper -- begins."
"From my experience with Iapetus, he is most gracious. You should not fear."
"Thank you my friend."
The two men sat and conversed for a while before a beep came from the storyteller's briefcase. A cellphone was not in accordance with their native tradition, but it was an expedient form of communication. Thus, it quickly became part of their culture.
He spoke quietly to the individual on the other end. A sense of relief passed over his face, and then the look of concern returned. He made the conversation short, and then turned to Dr. Maland.
"Our mechanical protector briefly responded to our call," he said to Dr. Maland.
"Briefly? So, you know where it is?"
"Roughly. It is off the coast of Argentina -- near the Falkland Islands."
"Wow! It is a long ways away from home. Did it turn back?"
"The interface was alive for just a short period of time. It briefly stopped, and returned to its course."
"We have know idea where that is do we?"
"None. It could be Antarctica, it could be anywhere."
"At least it is not in U.S. waters..."
"That is a small conciliation, but fortunate nonetheless."
"Did you find anything else out?"
"It is still malfunctioning. We still do not know where it is headed. We still have no solution to our problem. We just know that is somewhere in the South Atlantic. We have no way to get to it, so we are almost in the same situation we were before."
"At least for now, it is safe from destruction."
"But for how long will that last?"
"I don't know my friend. This worrying will get us nowhere. Let's get some lunch."
Dr. Plate stretched out on the back of his pick-up truck. He looked at the moonless sky, and looked for more from the Quadrantid meteor shower. Eventually, he drifted off to sleep.
It was a few hours before sunrise when Dr. Plate was shaken awake. The earth rumbled and the ground shook. Just as quickly as it came it was gone. The startled Dr. Plate just stayed still in the back of his truck. Eventually, he relaxed, but he was not going back to sleep.
"Dr. Plate," the Sheriff from Vaughn said gently.
"I'm awake," replied Dr. Plate. "What time is it?"
"It is 6:30am. You looked quite comfortable there, so we let you sleep through the night."
"I appreciate that sheriff, so what do you have to report?"
"One of my deputies -- well she spends too much time on the internet -- but that is beside the point."
"Go on sheriff."
"Any ways, this deputy got on the eBay. She found that someone from Santa Fe posted an item for sale. An item you might be of interest in."
"What is it?"
"The listing reads, 'Quadrantid Meteorite from New Mexico. Obtained during camping trip. Saw it land. Genuine meteorite from space.'
"This here deputy fired off one of them e-mails to the folks at eBay, and that there meteorite will be waiting for you at this address."
"Sheriff I could kiss you!"
"I'd appreciate it kindly if you refrained."
"Okay sheriff I will."
"Although that deputy might not mind -- she might like it."
"That's alright sheriff."
"Then again, you never know with the kids these days."
"Anyway, I had better get going. Thanks again!"
Dr. Plate jumped out of the back of his pick-up and into the cab. Before he sped off, he rolled down the window and whistled at the sheriff.
"Sheriff!" he yelled. "Did you feel an earthquake last night?"
"An earthquake -- in these parts? Nah! It was probably just a deer running into your truck or something."
"Perhaps you're right."
"I'll ask the deputy about the kissing!"
"Um -- okay. Thanks sheriff! I'm off for sure this time."
Dr. Plate sped northward. He tried to not let his excitement overcome him too much. After all, there were still enforced speed laws. The 100 mile or so trip would take as long as it took.
Fortunately, speed was not going to be an issue. As he drove along, some stretches of the road were in terrible condition. He had never seen it so torn up. In some places the surface collapsed into a rut, and others it was uplifted into a bump. He had driven this stretch a few weeks before, and it was in much better shape then.
The closer he got to Santa Fe, the worse the highway became. He thought the interstate would be an improvement, but it was not. It was a mess too. Fortunately, the address was on the south end of town. He would not have to drive along these roads for very long.
His thoughts kept returning to the earthquake. It sure looked like an earthquake tore up the roads. While the sheriff could be right and the shaking of his truck was mostly part of a dream, the evidence was pointing elsewhere. He would have to check on New Mexican earthquakes when he had the chance. Perhaps the sheriff did not know about the earthquakes of the region.
After a few hours of driving, the roads became unusable. He got off the interstate and began using side roads. They were not any better. The closer he got to his destination the worse the roads were.
Could it be possible that the earthquake's epicenter was in Santa Fe? Could the tremor be felt 100 miles away? The shock wave Dr. Plate felt was awfully strong. From looking at the roads, the damage would certainly have been greater to the city. As he reached the outskirts, he dreaded to think what the center of town would look like.
About a mile from his destination, the roads were impassible. His rugged pickup truck could not even drive along the roads. He would have to walk the rest of the way. This was not going to an easy stroll in the park as the damage was quite significant.
After toughing it out for the short distance, it was clear that his destination was no longer in existence. It was simply a giant hole in the ground now. The address appeared to be the center of the earthquake as any building that once existed here was completely destroyed.
It was the least of Dr. Plate's problems now. Not too far away there appeared to be a giant sand storm. It easily dwarfed the tallest building in Santa Fe. Further, the sand was moving with great force towards the center of Santa Fe. It was not like any sand storm Dr. Plate had ever seen. It was not the usual strait winds blowing sand, nor was it the swirling dust-devil kind of storm.
The storm appeared to have some sort of legs for locomotion. It had four arm-like structures that swung at objects in its way. Further, it appeared to travel independent of the wind. It would veer one way and smash a building, and quickly change direction to destroy the building across the street. From Dr. Plate's point of view, it appeared to be a giant sand monster rampaging towards the center of town.
When Cyber-Iapetus crashed through the Mexican/American border security at El Paso Texas, Dr. John Maland and the storyteller left Florida for the remote Iapetian Island in the Bermuda Triangle. The owners of the mechanical weapon would have to take drastic actions in an attempt to regain control.
When the storyteller and Dr. Maland arrived, preparations were made to summon the island's protector. The natives dug the trench between the ceremonial pillars. They lined the trench with leaves and filled it with fruits from the native trees. They built a fire farther up the beach and kept it burning until sunset.
Just as the sun began to set, the hypnotic drumming began. The islanders began their chants of join us. After several minutes of the drumming, the priestess exited her hut and danced her way towards the pillars. The drummers started in softly, and gradually returned to their loud hypnotic beat. The priestess bowed towards the ocean and the drumming stopped. She sang her ceremonial song asking for Iapetus's help.
The islanders began the drums a second time. The priestess returned to her dance. The islanders returned to their join us chant. It all stopped, and the priestess repeated her request for the help of their protector. It was all to no avail, Iapetus did not appear.
It was completely dark when the third attempt was made to summon Iapetus. However, the island's protector did not make an appearance. They extinguished the fire, and the priestess returned to her hut. Everyone returned to their homes.
"He is not coming," sighed the Storyteller.
"We can try again tomorrow," Dr. Maland stated in an attempt to lift the storyteller's spirits.
"He is too busy with the education of his son. We are alone in this crisis."
"You don't know that..."
"It is kind of you to say, but we assured our protector that Cyber-Iapetus would allow him all the time he would need to bond with his son."
"How were you to know that an electrical pulse would cause the machine to malfunction?"
"That is beside the point," sighed the Storyteller. "We have no right to ask for the help of the protector during his leave."
"We must handle the situation ourselves. We should not ask the protector for help."
"What do you suggest?"
"I do not know. Let us get some sleep. Perhaps a new day will bring fresh ideas."
The pair received some good news the next morning. Cyber-Iapetus did not cause any damage during the night. Further, the mechanical monster was no longer in motion. Upon entering the United States, it made its way directly to Roswell, New Mexico and stopped. It stood outside the nearby airport, but did not crash the fence. It just stood there.
Dr. Maland and the Storyteller sailed back to Miami and arranged flights to New Mexico. With the heightened security because of the giant mechanical weapon, Albuquerque was as close as they could get. However, a rental car could get them the rest of the way.
Perhaps if they could get close enough to the mechanical protector of the Iapetian islanders, the storyteller could regain control over it. At least, that was the hope. However, before they finished the 200 miles to Roswell, there were multiple news reports regarding Cyber-Iapetus. However, the radio had a difficulty tuning in any station. All the stations experienced some sort of interference. Thus, when they stopped to fill their rental car, they picked up a newspaper.
The front page headline of the first newspaper the encountered read, "Aliens Have Returned to Roswell". With this, they were not hopeful for discovering real news. However, even the New York Times headline contained this message. The newspapers printed the alien message in its entirety.
"People of Kablon-Sanpli 3 [Earth]," it began 100 metlons ago [some sort of time measurement - similar to years], our people sent an ambassador to your planet. It took 25 metlons to reach your planet for this mission of peace and understanding. According to our records, the craft experienced technical difficulties and performed a hard landing here in the desert instead of its intended destination. The governmental center of this country was its planned landing area; however, the pilot did not wish to injure individuals in a more populated area. Thus, it landed in a remote portion of the desert.
"From careful study of your records which we have done over the last several days, the landing location was near a place you call Roswell New Mexico. However, the ambassador has not reported back to us, and your records do not indicate any such exchange. That is what brings us here.
"Our ship has traveled for 25 metlons in an effort to recover our property and to retrieve our ambassador. Again, after studying the records, our ambassador would have made his landing on July 4th, 1947 in your calendarical system.
"If you doubt our sincerity and power, we have captured the most powerful weapon system on the planet and placed it at the airbase where, according to your records, the craft was taken. Further, we have released a Sletfernian Sand Monster. It has assembled itself north of the site. Perhaps it has already began its mission of destruction.
"In a few kwantleerns [another time measurement - perhaps hours or days], the giant sand monster and the weapon system will gather at a prearranged meeting spot. They will then destroy the largest city in the vicinity [Albuquerque]. Once the total destruction of this major metropolitan area is complete, and our artifacts are still not returned, the two forces will continue on their mission of destruction.
"This will continue until our ambassador is returned unharmed and all the pieces of the device from our world are returned. You are in no position to negotiate. You have limited time left, so bring the items to the mechanical weapon sitting outside Walker Air Force Base [now Roswell International Air Center]. Time is short, and destruction is certain."
Dr. Plate watched as, what he thought was a sand storm, raged towards the center of Santa Fe. It towered over the low buildings of this New Mexico City. It would occasionally stray from the road and smash a building as it continued on its path towards the city's more densely packed spaces.
Dr. Plate felt relatively safe; thus, he followed the storm from a distance down the road. The storm did not travel quickly, so he could keep up. It was such an odd storm that his scientific curiosity urged him to study it. To him, it still looked more like some sort of creature than a storm.
He thought it was odd that it lingered at the mall. It seemed to relish the smashing of the various mall buildings. As the merchandise flew in various directions, Dr. Plate thought that the mall had everything.
Apart from the sound of buildings crumbling, there was no sound of a train that was often reported from storms of this magnitude. It was when he was noting how quiet the storm was when he heard the planes coming.
He thought it odd that several F-16 fighters would be flying towards the storm. Even more odd was when the first wave from the New Mexico Air National Guard 150th Fighter Wing fired missiles at the storm. As he imagined, the missiles passed right through the sand, impacted with the rubble, and exploded.
To his astonishment, the storm let out some sort of sound. It looked as if the storm decided it was finished with the mall, and now it was going to go after the planes. The storm totally engrossed his thoughts, and he did not notice the military Humvee drive up. Captain Daniel Cheever jumped out of the vehicle.
"What the -- er -- uh -- what are you doing here citizen?" asked the military captain attempting to contain himself.
"I'm just watching the storm," replied Dr. Plate.
"Storm? What are you talking about?"
"What am I talking about? Can't you see that storm over there?"
"Mister, the entire town has been evacuated because of that alien monster over there," replied Captain Cheever pointing at the rampaging monster.
"Monster? Oh, that explains a lot."
"Yes, it is some sort of Saturn Sand monster."
"Where did you hear that?" asked the astonished Dr. Plate.
"They broadcasted it all over the news. Those meteors from the other night were parts of this creature."
"Cool!" replied Dr. Plate with wide-eyed enthusiasm continuing to watch the monster battle with the jet fighters.
"They gathered themselves up with a bunch of available sand, and created that monster that just destroyed Sante Fe Place."
Dr. Plate's imagination took over and he contemplated things for a bit. Captain Cheever stared at him the entire time, but Dr. Plate continued to watch the rampaging monster. He glanced at Captain Cheever watching him. He could not think of anything to say in response. Eventually said, "But Saturn?"
"Get in you..." began the Captain. "Citizen, you are in grave danger. Please come with me."
"And miss the first extra-terrestrial being interacting with humans? Not a chance."
"That was not a ..."
Before the Captain could finish his sentence one of the F-16's exploded and rained debris down over the area. Dr. Plate realized that he was really in danger, and jumped aboard the military vehicle.
The Sletfernian Sand Monster continued to take swipes at the circling fighter planes. The planes continued to fire their weapons at the monster in an attempt to destroy it or find some sort of weak spot. However, it was mostly sand, and the missiles and bullets passed right through.
Captain Cheever was not certain what to do with his new passenger. While he was considering his options, the planes flew away. The monster began moving northwest, and destroying buildings along the road.
The monster had not gotten far when some tanks rolled up. They fired their rounds, and moved away from the center of town. Like the munitions before, they passed right through the monster, impacted on something, and exploded. The buildings around the monster were being greatly punished.
However, the monster turned from the center of town and followed the tanks. The buildings along the road paid for the new route, but this could save the more densely packed areas towards the center of town.
Round after round of shells were fired at the monster while Captain Cheever contemplated his next action. However, before he decided on any action, Dr. Plate interrupted his train of thought and asked, "Did you see that?"
"See what?" the captain replied.
"There are a set of dark ovoid objects that move out of the way when the bullets pass through the sand monster."
"Okay, when the *shells* get near the monster, they push the meteroids out of the way. It they target..."
"Enough!" ordered the captain as he drove away from the monster.
"Are you seriously trying to tell the military how to do their business?"
"That's right -- no buts! Those men have their orders. They clearly know more about the monster than you do because you thought it was a storm just 10 minutes ago."
"I know; however..."
"Listen citizen, I'm just here to get you safely out of the city."
"I am Dr. Philadelphia Plate. I am an astronomy professor from New Mexico State University."
"Nice to meet you Dr. Plate," replied Captain Cheever curtly. "Now please keep quiet so I can think of the best way to get you to safety."
"Captain Cheever, do you read? Over," interrupted the radio.
"Cheever here. Over," he replied into the radio.
"Please report to Home Base Echo. Over."
"I have a civilian with me, please advise. Over."
"Generals orders are to report immediately. Over."
"Roger. Over and out."
"Over and out."
"I guess you're going to have to come with me," stated Captain Cheever to Dr. Plate. "Some sort of major emergency must have arisen that requires my personal attention."
After reading the demands of the aliens in the newspaper, Dr. Maland and the Iapetian Storyteller continued their drive towards Roswell New Mexico. They hoped to regain control over Cyber-Iapetus before it could be used for destructive purposes against the United States.
"If we could gain control of Cyber-Iapetus, we could use it to stop that sand monster from doing any more damage," Dr. Maland said.
"That is my hope as well. Do your people have the alien ambassador in question?"
"I have heard stories -- rumors more like it -- about an alien taken to Area 51 in Nevada."
"If the alien ambassador is in Nevada, your people may not be able to deliver in a timely manner."
"If these rumors have any weight, the ambassador is dead and has been -- ah -- dissected."
"That would be a problem."
"Further, it has been said that his spacecraft has also been disassembled and studied. It could be in 1000 places."
"That would be a further problem."
"They say that the craft is the basis for much of our top-secret military aircraft. Stealth and all that."
"That is ridiculous! As our mechanical protector shows, the human mind is quite capable of creating incredible technologies on its own."
"True. Some of the stories are a bit far fetched. For instance, many of the same people believe that humans could not create any type of sophisticated engineering on their own. They believe that these aliens also built the pyramids in Egypt *and* South America."
"That *is* silly."
"Furthermore, they also link this to the goings-on in the Bermuda Triangle."
"What is the Bermuda Triangle?"
"It is an area between Miami, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda..."
"Where our island lies?"
"Exactly -- er -- um -- ah -- yes."
"Do they think we are aliens?"
"I suppose some do, but all of this resides upon the fringes. It is not taken seriously."
"What else do they say about our island?"
"Well -- I have heard that some -- on the fringes mind you -- think you are descendants from the lost continent of Atlantis."
"In any event, we are here!"
Dr. Maland pulled the rental car off the road on the north side of the Roswell Industrial Air Center. The security was tight, and they could not get into the airport itself. However, they could see the giant Cyber-Iapetus looming in the distance.
They were about to discuss how they might infiltrate the airport when the mechanical weapon began moving. It crashed through the fence of the airport. It headed for the control tower, and clumsily walked right through it. It kicked a few airplanes sitting on the ground, and continued on its way.
It headed north out of the airport past the rental car containing Dr. Maland and the Iapetian Storyteller. It continued north through town at a very slow and erratic pace. It was capable of much faster speeds, but it moved relatively slowly and deliberately.
"It is probably headed to where we just came from," Dr. Maland said.
"So," began the storyteller, "back to Albuquerque?"
"I suppose so. I think I could make a guess as to where the two alien controlled monsters will meet."
"Somewhere near the town they plan to destroy I would guess."
"Well, if I were a Sletfernian Sand Monster -- I would probably want access to sand before I go into Albuquerque."
"I suppose that is true."
"It could get that sand on any surrounding area, but Roswell is Southeast of the city."
"So, it does make sense that they would meet somewhere along our route back there."
"Further, these aliens probably have limited knowledge of our planet," explained Dr. Maland. "Thus, it seems reasonable to me, that they would not choose some place too far off the beaten path."
"There was some sort of excavation going on just east of the mountains pass into town. It may have even been a sand pit. If I remember correctly it was just west of the town of Moriarty."
"It appears that our alien foes are having some difficulty in the operation of our mechanical protector. If we leave now, we could easily be there before it arrives."
"I am way ahead of you," Dr. Maland replied as he turned the car around and headed away from the airport.
The two men raced northward on the highway with the mechanical monster slowly following behind them. Every time Dr. Maland looked into the rear-view mirrors he could see the enormous monster following. The flatness of the terrain masked how close or far the mechanical weapon actually loomed.
They thought Cyber-Iapetus would pass them during a stop for fuel, but the two men had enough of a lead to remain ahead of the mechanical monster. It seemed to the two men that the aliens still did not have a complete understanding of how to operate the mechanical weapon system. Perhaps this would allow the storyteller to regain control of it at an opportune time.
After a couple hours of travelling upon the US Highway, the men eventually pulled onto the interstate and began their westerly travel. It would not take long to get to their final destination.
As they approached the city, streams of cars were headed in the opposite direction on the interstate. While they still had difficulty with the radio, they assumed the evacuation order for Albuquerque had been given. However, they hoped the stream of vehicles would not run into the northern bound weapon system and would continue east.
During their journey, the two men were surprised that there were no roadblocks into the city. The lack of obstacles aided the two men as they disobeyed the posted speed laws in their rush towards the supposed meeting spot. While the rental car was no great race car, it did allow them to travel the 160 miles in about two hours even with the rest stops.
The two men arrived at the site Dr. Maland believed would be the meeting place. They were well ahead of Cyber-Iapetus. However, the sand monster was nowhere to be seen. They drove around the site a few times with the mechanical monster slowly making its way towards them.
If they could not locate the meeting place, Cyber-Iapetus would travel past. They needed it to stop before they could attempt to enter it. This was the only way they were going to gain control of the machine.
They were about to make another lap when a military Humvee crossed the cars path. Dr. Maland slammed on the breaks to prevent a collision and came sliding to a stop.
A military man stepped out of the vehicle and walked over to the car. Dr. Maland rolled down his window.
"What the -- er -- uh -- what are you doing here citizens?" asked the military captain attempting to contain himself.
"We are hoping that weapon system stops here so we can regain control of it," replied Dr. Maland pointing at the approaching cybernetic weapon system.
"Ooooooooh f...." muttered the military man running back to his vehicle.
He jumped in and pulled out his radio. "Captain Cheever to base we have a major problem. Over!"
The Sletfernian Sand Monster continued its rampage through the streets of Santa Fe. It slowly made its way towards the center of town, but it would occasionally wander off in one direction or another to destroy a building or two. In this way, it left a serpentine shaped trail of destruction as it headed northeast.
In the military Humvee, Captain Cheever and Dr. Plate left the destruction behind and made their way to the makeshift military command post. There was soldiers running around. It appeared everyone was on high alert.
"Wait here!" commanded Captain Cheever as he exited the vehicle.
Captain Cheever marched directly to the command tent. The guard informed him that the general was waiting for him, so he entered right away. He removed his cap, and stood at attention before the general.
"The cybernetic weapon is on the move captain," explained the general.
"Are we switching to plan Charlie?" asked Captain Cheever.
"The evacuation of Albuquerque has begun. It is a logical conclusion that the two alien controlled monsters will rendezvous west of the city. We need you to fly over the area for some recon before they meet."
"General sir, I have a civilian with me. What should I do with him?"
"How did that happen?"
"He was in harms way. He is some sort of astronomer and was observing the monster at an unsafe distance."
"Very good Captain -- I will have my adjutant take care of him."
"Thank you sir."
"Captain Cheever you must know that we do not have much time. With the machine on the move, it'll be just a matter of hours before it arrives at the arranged spot. It is vital that we have a major presence there when the two meet."
"Excuse me General," interrupted the general's adjutant.
"What is it?" replied the general.
"The sand creature has ceased its destruction and has headed south," the adjutant replied.
"Thank you," he replied before turning back to Captain Cheever. "That changes things -- take your vehicle and just attempt to stay ahead of the creature. Make regular reports, and we'll just have to best guess the rendezvous location. Dismissed"
"Understood," replied Captain Cheever as he turned and exited the command post.
Captain Cheever ran to his Humvee and got into the driver's seat. He notice that the passenger seat was empty, so he sped off. He drove towards the city until he spotted the monster. He then turned south on highway 14.
He drove for a few minutes and turned his head to check on the monster. He spotted Dr. Plate hiding in the back. He felt the urge to stop middle of the road, but he resisted. Speed was of the utmost importance, and he would not have time to secure the civilian.
"Dr. Plate what the -- uh -- um -- what are you doing in here?"
"I thought you would leave me behind."
"That is exactly what should have happened -- for your own safety."
"No offense Captain Cheever, but I would not have been involved in that decision."
"It is too late to argue with you; however, please secure yourself. The roads we are probably going to take are going to be a bit rough."
"Captain Cheever do you read? Over," came a voice over the radio.
"Cheever here. Over."
"Captain, we have been unable to locate your civilian. Over."
"Roger that. He hid in my hummer. He is with me. Over."
"Roger that. How will you continue? Over."
"There is no time to drop him off. He will continue with me on my mission. Over."
"Roger that. I'll inform the general. Over."
"Roger that. The sand monster is heading due south. Perhaps to Stanley or Moriarty. Over."
"Roger that. Keep us informed. Over."
"Roger. Over and out."
"Over and out."
Dr. Plate crawled his way into the front seat and fastened himself in. The roads between Albuquerque and Santa Fe were closed by the military; thus, there was no traffic on this road. The military vehicle went as fast as it could go.
The two men attempted to keep their eyes out for the monster as they raced south. At times, the giant sand monster would simply disappear. They would continue driving, and the monster would suddenly reappear out of nowhere. It was almost as if it would dive into the sand, and jump out when it encountered a rock.
Both the military vehicle and the monster were moving quickly south. State Highway 14 would begin to head southwest towards Albuquerque, and the two men needed to keep heading south. Thus, they turned off at County Road 42.
The status of this road was uncertain. It had several residential roads leading to it, and it was possible that there may be some local traffic upon it. This would slow the men down.
More importantly, the current route of the monster crossed the road ahead of the two men. If they hit that spot at the same time as the monster, they would certainly be in big trouble. If they hit the spot after the monster, it may tear up the road making it difficult for even this all terrain vehicle from passing through.
As the monster headed south, the two men in the military vehicle headed west as fast as they could. They kept their eyes out for other vehicles on the road as they raced towards the anticipated crossing point. The monster would appear and disappear, but it seemed to get closer and closer.
The road turned south again right before the intersecting point and then returned west. The monster was getting closer and closer. Just as the two men passed the spot, the sand monster appeared and tore up the road. In fact, it lingered briefly at the spot as if to prevent any other vehicles from passing.
The sand monster traveled south for a brief time and then vanished. The men kept to the road which headed west-southwest. The monster was ahead of them now as it did not have to follow the roads. The two men had to continue on the county road until they hit another state highway heading south.
However, since the road was a few miles from the path of the monster, they could still keep an eye out for it without another encounter. Also, the monster would not demolish this road.
The monster spent less and less time visible as it continued south. The men raced as fast as they could and last spotted the beast just west of the New Mexican town of Moriarty before it disappeared into a sand pit.
Captain Cheever reported the last known position of the monster when he spotted a rental car driving around the sand pit. He stopped the car and confronted the two men. They alerted him to the approaching menace. Something big was about to happen at that spot.
Dr. Maland and the Iapetian storyteller turned to see what Captain Cheever saw. They saw Cyber-Iapetus coming their way. It moved much more confidently now. However, behind the mechanical monster something was stirring up some very large clouds of dust..
After Captain Cheever finished reporting to his superiors, he returned to rental car to speak to Dr. Maland and his passenger.
"You gentlemen will want to follow me," he told them without giving them a chance to respond.
He ran back to his Humvee and drove away from the sandpit. He turned north and drove quickly away from the scene. At first, Dr. Maland was not going to follow; however, he changed his mind and headed north.
After a few moments, the roar of jets became quite clear in the sky. Suddenly the sandpit began exploding. A wave of B-52 bombers dropped several smart bombs into the position indicated by Captain Cheever. Even at the distance Dr. Maland had traveled, the explosions became deafening.
Looking around, Dr. Maland saw some military hardware rolling towards the pit. Tanks and rocket launchers had left Albuquerque and now surrounded the pit. They sat there awaiting the arrival of Cyber-Iapetus.
When the mechanical weapon neared the sandpit, the missile launchers released a wave of missiles. All the missiles struck their target and exploded. The Iapetian protector was engulfed in a huge fireball. However, it continued to make its way to the sandpit. The first wave had no effect.
The tanks began firing and a second wave of missiles were launched. The attacks did not slow down the giant mechanical weapon. For some reason, its weapon systems remained silent. Cyber-Iapetus did not return fire.
Suddenly, the Sletfernian Sand Monster arose out of the sandpit. As the tanks began firing a second round at Cyber-Iapetus, it attacked the military hardware. Some of the tanks and missile launchers became a tangle as the sand monster attacked. Cyber-Iapetus continued its way to the rendezvous.
A few of the tanks retreated but maintained firing at their targets. The shells passed right through the sand monster and they had no effect on Cyber-Iapetus. Nonetheless, they maintained their assault.
After a few moments, Cyber-Iapetus joined the sand monster in attacking the military hardware at the outskirts of the sandpit. It did not use its advanced weaponry, but simply kicked and swung at the hardware. Some of the tanks and rocket launchers made a retreated further.
Again, the roar of jets became clear as another wave of B-52's flew overhead. The tangle of some military hardware and the two monsters became engulfed in an exploding fireball. The intense heat made its way to the location where the 4 men observed the battle.
As the smoke cleared, the sand monster and Cyber-Iapetus kicked themselves free of the tangle of red hot metal, and headed towards Albuquerque. The retreating tanks and rocket launchers set off another barrage which, like every other attack, had no effect. The only damage was done to the surrounding area and the tangled pile of smoldering metal that was once some expensive military hardware.
It appeared that the aliens had not quite mastered the complete workings of Cyber-Iapetus. In the march to the sandpit, they worked on motion controls. They would need to work on weapon system controls if they wanted to successfully annihilate the major metropolitan areas of earth.
Thus, they began testing the weapon systems on the retreating military vehicles. First, the machine gun installed into Cyber-Iapetus's shoulders open fire. The spray of bullets went wildly all over the place. Eventually, the aliens figured out what was happening and successfully targeted a tank.
The other weapons systems were more complicated. They managed to get the laser to target something, but they expected it to do the damage. However, eventually they learned that it was a targeting system for the missiles. Thus, they sent several missiles at several targets.
The sand monster was getting bored of watching, and it jumped into destructive mode. It smashed up a few rocket launchers that launched their last group of missiles to no effect.
Finally, Cyber-Iapetus opened up its mouth and used its fire weapon. The sand monster was damaged in this attack as some of its sand particles fused together. It quickly headed back to the sand pit. It disappeared into the pit. It shook off the glass and replenished it supply of sand.
With the slow going, another wave of B-52's was able to drop another load of bombs on the pair of alien controlled monsters. This wave was as effective as the previous loads. However, it did slow them down slightly.
This allowed the A-10's from Tuscon Arizona to finally make an appearance. The agile tank killers fired their depleted uranium rounds at the pair. The armor piercing round had no effect upon the sand monster. However, they put some dents into the thick armor of Cyber-Iapetus. Other than that, they did little damage.
The maverick missiles and the other armament on the tank killing aircraft had little impact upon the pair. Cyber-Iapetus attempted to use its missiles against the jet airplanes; however, it could not keep its lasers upon the flying machines. Thus, those missiles flew off harmlessly.
The giant mechanical monster also attempted to use its other weapons, but they could not hit the agile A-10's. After a few more passes firing at the pair, the A-10's broke off their attack and headed home.
The four men looked on in dismay as the alien partnered giant monsters easily withstood the attacks of the U.S. Military. It looked like they would be able to reach Albuquerque without hindrance. It looked like destruction was imminent.
The cloud of dust in the distance was now much closer. Whatever caused it was moving rapidly towards the two monsters. The one cloud was clearly two at that distance. Something major was about to happen.
Captain Cheever got out of his Humvee which signaled to the other three men that they could also. Noted astronomer Philadelphia Plate went over to anthropology professor Dr. John Maland and introduced himself. Dr. Maland was often recognized from his adventures with Iapetus.
Dr. Maland introduced the men to the Iapetian Storyteller, and all four men exchanged pleasantries. When that was finished, they turned to watch as the dust cloud got between Albuquerque and the two alien controlled giant monsters.
Cyber-Iapetus and the Sletfernian Sand Monster watched curiously as the huge cloud approached. Eventually the dust cleared. Iapetus and his son stood between the two monsters and the large New Mexican city. All four monsters stood there briefly.
The son of Iapetus stood across from the sand monster, and Iapetus stood in front of his cybernetic counterpart. The four monsters stood motionless. They each looked at their counter-parts and sized them up. Everyone was waiting for someone or something to make the first move.
Eventually, Cyber-Iapetus raised his arm to fire some missiles at the son of Iapetus. However, before it could launch them, Iapetus rushed the mechanical monster. He pushed its arm straight up, and attempted to push the mechanical beast to the ground. However, Cyber-Iapetus's tail prevented that from happening.
The machine gun doors of the mechanical beast opened up, and Iapetus released his grip to dodge the hail of bullets. He pushed the mechanical beast away, and jumped to his right away from his son who was maintaining the stand-off with the sand monster.
Cyber-Iapetus twisted and turned spraying bullets all over the place but not hitting anything. However, with the separation, it managed to place its laser on Iapetus head and launch a couple of missiles. The agile monster ducked and the missiles flew off harmlessly. Learning from this mistake, the aliens targeted Iapetus's torso with the laser. The next series of missiles struck Iapetus in the ribs and exploded.
While the missiles struck their target, they did little damage to the ancient monster. He let out a Is that all you got? roar, and rushed the mechanical monster. The aliens controlling Cyber-Iapetus clumsily attempted to swing the mechanical tail at the rushing monster but were too late. Iapetus tackled his mechanical counterpart and the two fell in a heap on the ground.
With Iapetus on top, he punched at the mechanical monster. Some spots were weakened by the A-10 machine gun fire, and Iapetus found a few of these spots making the dents more pronounced. The aliens attempted to get Cyber-Iapetus out of this predicament, but did not have enough experience with the controls of the weapon system.
Suddenly, the huge mechanical monster became motionless. This action startled Iapetus; however, he continued to pound on the vulnerable dented spots on the machines armor. The seconds seemed to drag on as the mechanical beast did not do anything to resist the attacks.
Suddenly, Iapetus was thrown off the mechanical beast. With a brief mechanical roar, it sprayed its flames at the now flying beast. Iapetus landed with a start but shook off the intense heat. However, the mechanical beast moved onto its next attack. It launched several series of missiles at Iapetus. Each set hitting its mark.
As Iapetus tried to dodge the incoming missiles, the mechanical protector was already moving onto its next attack. It was clear that the mechanical beast was no longer being controlled by the aliens. It had switched into auto-protect mode. The computer would determine the moves at a much faster speed than the aliens. Cyber-Iapetus was now a much more dangerous foe.
The missiles were followed by a hail of bullets from the shoulder machine guns. Iapetus was not quick enough to dodge the series of attacks. All of them hit their marks. Several spots on the thick hide of the ancient monster began to change color. They had not penetrated yet, but they were weakening some spots.
The bullets were followed by another flame attack from Cyber-Iapetus's open mouth. Iapetus once again withstood the intense heat, and swept the feet out from under the mechanical beast with his tail.
The stumbling monster gave Iapetus a brief respite from the series of attacks. However, they quickly returned with a launch of missiles. When the missiles launched, Iapetus rushed at the mechanical beast. He grabbed the mechanical beast, and with a twist of his back turned the monster around.
The missiles struck their originator rather than their target. However, they did not do any damage to the thick armor. Nonetheless, they did heat up the metal skin of the weapon system. The heat stung Iapetus's hands and he had to let his grip go.
Cyber-Iapetus swung a couple of round house punches to Iapetus's ribs. One of the punches hit a soft spot, and he cringed at the pain shooting through his body. The anguish grew as Cyber-Iapetus swung his tail and hit the same spot. Iapetus roared in pain as he fell to the ground.
While the giant lizard writhed in pain on the ground, his mechanical foe ran to him. It attempted to kick him in the soft spot in his ribs, but Iapetus rolled to away and was on his feet in one swift move. The two stood face to face attempting to determine their next move.
Meanwhile, the son of Iapetus and the Sletfernian Sand Monster continued to size each other up. At first the pair just stood there. They eventually began to move in a circle. Each one waiting for the other to make the first move. Neither one was willing to commit to an attack.
The concerned father glanced over to see was going on with his son. The aliens saw this maneuver and attempted to get the sand monster to fight. However, they did not have that much control over the monster. Thus, they could not force an attack on the young monster.
After a few moments of trying, the aliens switched their plan of attack. They attempted to regain control of the cybernetic weapon system. If they could get it to attack the young monster, perhaps all the monsters would engage in battle.
They struggled against the controls, but with a stutter in the weapons movement, they gained control. With all the subtlety they could muster, they were able to fire a single missile at the young monster. The young monster casually brushed the missile aside and it exploded on the ground doing no damage.
The four monsters were again motionless waiting for the next move. The machine gun doors were open, but not firing. Iapetus, sensing that the mechanical weapon system was once again being controlled by the aliens, made a sudden attack. Cyber-Iapetus open fire.
The bullets sprayed randomly. However, the charge by Iapetus caused the bullets to spray towards his son. A few of the bullets struck the young beast as it cried in pain. Suddenly, all four monsters were fighting.
With the four men watching from a distance, the son of Iapetus was swinging his tail wildly at the Sletfernian Sand Monster. This attack was having no effect upon the monster made of sand. His tail simply passed right through.
On the other hand, the sand monster was landing occasional blows to the young monster. These blows did not do much damage to the novice fighter, but they were frustrating the youngster by not being able to strike back.
The sand monster began putting more power into its attacks. One of the attacks knocked the young monster to the ground. While he was on the ground the sand monster jumped upon him and stepped up its attacks.
Several of the alien rocks were holding the young monster on the ground while others looked for vulnerable spots. The blows landed here and there on the midsection of the young monster who struggled to find away to counter the attacks.
Although Iapetus would have liked to help his son, he had to worry about Cyber-Iapetus. Since the aliens retook control of the mechanical beast, its attacks were not as coordinated. However, it was still a formidable foe.
The aliens placed the laser on the son of Iapetus and attempted to fire some missiles. However, the slow clumsy motion gave away its intention and Iapetus grabbed the hand of the mechanical monster. The missiles launched but exploded in the hand of the weapon system. Iapetus removed his hand and shook it. That move stung his own hand as well.
This explosion caused a cascade effect as fire erupted from the hand. Several of the missiles exploded and shot flames out of the former hand of Cyber-Iapetus. Once again the weapon system paused. The fire was quickly put out, and the auto-protect mode was activated.
A series of missiles came from the remaining good hand. Iapetus stepped away from his son to prevent him from being struck by stray attacks. Meanwhile, the cybernetic weapon system used its shoulder machine guns for its next attack.
Iapetus kept rolling away from his son as the hail of bullets followed. Cyber-Iapetus opened his mouth and sprayed fire at the rolling monster. The scrub caught fire, but there was not enough to burn for long.
Iapetus stopped his defensive maneuver when Cyber-Iapetus's back was towards his son. At this point, he charged the mechanical weapon. The machine swiped its tail at the rushing beast, but Iapetus jumped over the swinging tail. With another jump, he placed both feet onto his opponent's side in a successful drop kick.
The weapon system tumbled to the ground as Iapetus used his tail to retain his feet. Before his foe could regain its footing, Iapetus had picked up a large rock and threw it at the weapon system. Iapetus grabbed as many rocks as he could find and threw them at the reclining weapon system.
The rocks hit their target, but were no match for the heavily armored weapon system. Cyber-Iapetus managed to get its footing and knocked the final rocks easily aside. It opened its mouth and sprayed flames at Iapetus.
Slowly, Iapetus backed away from the flaming maw of his foe. He was drawing the mechanical weapon system further from his son battling the sand monster. Cyber-Iapetus advanced towards his retreating foe still spewing fire. The fire stopped without warning, and a volley of missiles headed towards the still retreating monster.
Several more missiles were launched from the good hand of the mechanical beast. Each hit their mark and Iapetus roared in pain as one hit a sensitive part of his side. A return roar came from his son who was still pinned beneath the sand monster. However, Iapetus could not come to the aid of his son at this point as he was receiving a series of attacks from the mechanical weapon system.
"Let's go!" shouted astronomer Philadelphia Plate.
"Go where?" asked Captain Cheever.
"I know the vulnerability of the sand monster," replied Dr. Plate.
"And just how are you going to communicate with the lizard monster?" asked the captain.
"I can communicate with him," replied the Iapetian Storyteller.
"It is out of the question. It is too dangerous," replied Captain Cheever.
"Hop in my car," replied Dr. Maland. "I'll take you down there."
"Hold on you...." barked Captain Cheever.
"Those two 'lizard monsters' as you call them," interrupted the storyteller. "They are here to help. If we can help them, we are helping ourselves."
"But..." started Captain Cheever.
"Times wasting!" stated Dr. Maland.
"Now hold on!" shouted Captain Cheever. "My vehicle is much safer than that rental car. I'll take you down there."
The four men jumped into the rental car and the military Humvee drove close to where the sand monster had pinned the son of Iapetus to the ground. Captain Cheever remained in the vehicle as the other three jumped out.
Dr. Plate pointed at the dark patches inside the cloud of sand that made up the monster.
"See those dark rocks there?" asked the astronomer.
"Yes," they both replied.
"They fell to earth and created craters in the desert. Once they all landed in the sand, they gathered themselves up into the sand monster."
"Why did it go to Santa Fe?" asked Dr. Maland.
"One of those meteoroids was taken there by some kid. My guess is that the monster needs all of them to function. Thus, it had to retrieve the missing part from Santa Fe."
"So, if our young protector concentrated his attack on those meteoroids..." the storyteller said thoughtfully.
"Exactly!" replied Dr. Plate. "He could actually inflict damage..."
Before Dr. Plate could finish his sentence the young monster had grabbed two rocks from the interior of the sand monster. With one in each hand, he smacked the two together. The sand monster let out some sort of high pitched whine.
The young monster continued to bang the two rocks together. The sand monster used others in an attempt to get him to stop. It was clear that the monster was in pain. It released its hold on the monster and concentrated on stopping the action of the young monster.
The son of Iapetus threw one of the rocks into the pile of rocks his father made, and grabbed another one. He began striking these two rocks together. After a few strikes he threw that rock in the opposite direction.
The sand monster continued to pound the young monster with all his might. However, with each action it became weaker and weaker. The young Iapetian protector continued to strike the meteoroids together and tossing a new one away.
Eventually, the original stone, which he retained, crumbled into pieces in his hand. The monster's whine became nearly deafening, but it could no longer control the sand and it fell into a large dune.
Just to be sure, the son of Iapetus smashed a few more rocks into dust. He had successfully defeated his first major foe. However, his father was still struggling with the mechanical weapon system. He would now help with that task.
The son of Iapetus grabbed a few meteoroids of his former foe, and threw them at Cyber-Iapetus. The mechanical monster turned to see where the minor attack originated. The young monster gave a roar of challenge to the cybernetic weapon system.
The distraction allowed Iapetus to make a full out attack. He swept the legs out from under the weapon system. Once the weapon was on the ground, Iapetus jumped on top of it, and began pounding on the weak spots.
The young monster rushed over to where his father wrestled with his mechanical rival. The weapon system saw the rush and launched some missiles at him with its good hand. Further, the shoulder doors open and began firing at the elder Iapetus.
With the mechanical monster pinned beneath him, Iapetus avoided the bullets as they fired into the air. The missiles did strike the son of Iapetus, but did little damage to the young beast. Nevertheless, Cyber-Iapetus sent several more waves of missiles at the oncoming young monster.
The missiles hit their mark as the young monster kicked a hole into the side of the mechanical beast. At this, the storyteller rushed towards the fighting monsters. The others were too surprised by this development that they were too late to stop the rushing man.
The two monsters continued to wrestle with the weapon system as the storyteller ran up to them. However, they held the weapon still to allow the man to enter the created hole. Once inside, he managed to shut down the system.
Further, once inside he removed the weapon system's remaining munitions. Thus, even if it returned to auto-protect mode, it would have no missiles or bullets at its disposal. It had already depleted its fire breathing reservoir.
The storyteller exited Cyber-Iapetus and the two monsters briefly relaxed. However, there were still things remaining to be done. The aliens were still lurking somewhere.
Out of the sand, a craft emerged. Before it rose too high, the son of Iapetus jumped upon it. The weight of the young monster forced the craft to the ground. It tried and tried to shake off the monster, but was not successful.
The storyteller walked calmly over to where the alien craft sat. Again the others could do nothing to stop him. The alien craft door opened, and the Iapetian entered. The door closed behind him.
The young monster got off the craft. The alien ship took off, but landed near the Humvee where the other three men remained. The door opened, and the storyteller beckoned the three men to join him. Reluctantly, all three joined him -- even Captain Cheever.
Communication among the group was difficult. The aliens were not able to make sounds to speak any human language. However, they could enter information into a machine that could make the sounds for language. Fortunately, the aliens learned some human languages before setting out to encounter the humans.
The spoken words by the men would enter into a device which transformed it into a form available to the aliens. Thus, communication was slow but it was possible.
"We demand the return of our ambassador," stated the alien captain.
"Sorry, but that is impossible," replied Captain Cheever.
"Please explain," the alien responded.
"With all due respect, the alien craft crashed," answered Captain Cheever. "There were no survivors."
"Do you know that?" whispered Dr. Maland.
"I have information not publicly available," responded the military man.
"Please elaborate," the alien urged.
"As you know, our air is toxic to your people," began Captain Cheever. "The crash landing breached the protective suit of the pilot. Thus, your ambassador perished shortly after the crash. Further, he decomposed quite rapidly under the exposure of our air. This all happened before we could get to him."
"That is indeed distressing," stated the alien. "What is the status of his ship?"
"It was beyond salvage. Most of the wreckage was taken to a secure location, but it is simply a pile of twisted metals," stated Captain Cheever.
"Are there any remnants of our ambassador?" asked the alien.
"The remains of your comrade were photographed in their discovered state but have not lasted his time on earth," explained Captain Cheever. "These images may be made available to you if you demand proof of my words."
"You have defeated us and our Sletfernian Sand Monster in a fair fight," replied the alien captain. "We are in no position to make any demands. In fact, you may punish us in whatever manner you see fit."
"Our people are not a punitive people," responded Captain Cheever. "We are sympathetic for your cause. While your actions might not be completely forgiven, I will speak on your behalf. We will attempt to make this right."
"Very well spoken human," replied the alien. "What is our next step?"
"Let these civilians off," answered Captain Cheever "and I will make the necessary arrangements."
"But..." begged Dr. Maland and Dr. Plate.
"Agreed," replied the aliens as they herded the men out of the ship.
The three men stood there and watched the ship take off with Captain Cheever aboard. There was nothing that they could do to take that trip. They looked around and had to determine what they were going to do. The rental car was quite a distance away, and Captain Cheever did not leave the keys to the Humvee behind.
As they stood there, the two giant monsters approached. The storyteller climbed upon the tail of the son of Iapetus. Dr. Maland and Dr. Plate followed this lead. The young monster carefully took the men to the rental car.
The three men entered the car as the two monsters walked south towards the gulf. The men discussed it and drove back to where the mechanical weapon system sat.
Dr. Plate grabbed several meteoroids. These pieces of a former giant creature would provide a great deal of interesting study material for the astronomer and his cohorts.
The storyteller climbed aboard the greatly damaged Cyber-Iapetus. He powered it up and left the area into it. With the holes in the armor, he would not be able to follow the Iapetian family. He would have to find some other way to get the weapon system to his island home. Nonetheless, he began steering it towards Florida.
Dr. Maland waited until everyone had finished their tasks. He asked Dr. Plate where he wanted to go. While his truck was in Santa Fe, he was fine with going to Albuquerque. Thus, the two men headed to the city that Iapetus had just saved. From there, they headed home.The son of Iapetus grabbed a few meteoroids of his former foe, and threw them at Cyber-Iapetus. The mechanical monster turned to see where the minor attack originated. The young monster gave a roar of challenge to the cybernetic weapon system.