Monday, November 30, 2015

Short, Short Story: They said it was a clock...


"SteampunkProp(byMollyPorkshanksFriedrich)" by Mark Harding
http://www.fotopedia.com/items/picasaweb-5442642326677408402.
Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

They said it was a clock

 


The little green-complexion boy said the strange device was a clock. That he had brought it to enter into the science fair competition. The boy was a new transfer and had been attending the school for only a couple weeks, so he didn't really have friends or a track record.

The Principal didn't think it looked anything like a clock. There were several strange gauges and dials, and the thing was a mix of brass and wood. Although the colors looked nice together the device resembled some sort of plasma weapon that the principal had found in a book once.

“It really is a clock.” The boy said.

“Why is there a large clear vacuum chamber? Surely a clock doesn't need something like that.” The principal said, “It doesn't appear to be a water clock or any other kind I am familiar with.”

The boy shook his head. “It's not for telling time.”

“Then what is a clock for?” the man asked.

The boy closed his eyes and rubbed his face. “It is an astronomical clock. You've seen those maps of the stars with all the constellations drawn on them? You realize those stars aren't even close to each other, right? Some of them aren't even stars but other galaxies. It's been done all wrong.”

The principals face looked blank. “I see. I suppose you've worked it all out then?”

The boy sighed. “Yes. My device can measure the time differential between Earth and the other star systems.”

The principal was quiet a moment. “Look here, young man, we have radio telescopes and astronomy satellites that can tell us exactly the distance in light years to those stars. Sounds like you have re-invented the wheel.”

The boy nodded. “Someone has to invent the proverbial wheel on this planet, it's taking way too long.”

“Explain to me what this contraption is for.” The principal said, examining the device again, this time wearing his glasses.

“Using this device will allow human space travelers to chart the waves in the fabric of space that can be used to propel them on interstellar journeys.” The boy told the man. “This stagnant human civilization needs a kick in the pants to get anywhere.”

The man cleared his throat and opened a file. The boy gave the man a hard stare. “Where did you transfer from? Where are your parents? Says here, well, this is all gibberish. What did you say your father did again?”

Then the principal seemed to notice the boy staring at him. “It seems everything is in order, good sir.”

“It is. Once I win the science fair, the whole world is going to know about this device and humanity can join us out among the stars.” The boy said, picking up the device and opening the door, “Good day, sir.”

The principal didn't seem to hear, he was playing with his cell phone. “Can I play a game, mommy?”

end

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Vagabond Fleet: Chapter One


Vagabond Fleet


The Long March


Chapter One

With the east and western continental governments on Zenith at war it made sense for both countries to begin evacuations to other colony worlds. Both sides declared a truce in space but neither trusted the other. Everyone who could beg, bribe or steal their way onto an outbound ship clamored and clawed their way off the planet to avoid an almost certain nuclear exchange.

The United Front of Arirang and the Confederation of Segye had been at war for a century and now it was nearing the end game and neither side wanted to give an inch, the other sides' existence had become unbearable for both.

Standing on the bridge of the UFA cruiser Yeong-ung looking out of the ships gathering for the convoy to the colony world of Alphix, Captain Myung had a bad feeling. He had evacuated his own family weeks ago but this sudden surge made him think the end had really come.

“I count thirty ships, but some of them look rather small.” one of the bridge officers reported “A few of them are more like shuttles than anything else, they don't belong with the convoy.”

The Captain pursed his lips for a moment “Have those really small ships dock in the auxiliary bay of the cruiser Linus. Order the Linus to secure them and make the passengers comfortable.”

“Aye sir!”

The Captain knew that the CS frigate Nanjin was carrying out a similar convoy operation on the other side of the planet. He hoped they were successful in saving as many people as possible from a near-certain calamity.

“Captain, we have been ordered to move out.” said the female Coms officer

“Set a course for sector 4, punch in the coordinates for our first jump towards Alphix,” the Captain said “make sure you share those with the rest of the fleet, we all need to make the jump at the same time.”

Captain Myung was a veteran of the long war with the Confederation. He had many commendations and awards and once had a ship shot out from under him, literally. He had been suited up to repair a combat sensor panel when a CS corvette had surprised them, launching four torpedoes from only ten kilometers away. One second he had been pulling himself toward the broken sensor panel hand over hand and the next he was floating in space watching the gunboat tumble away in pieces.

“All ahead one-fifth.” the Captain ordered, starting slow enough for even the slowest of the vessels to keep up.

“Aye sir.”

He looked at the tab he was carrying, it was a list of vessels under his protection. The Chugha was a cruise liner, it was large and hardly stealthy or armored. It was carrying 3,300 people crammed into the 1,225 cabins. At least it was rather modern and could keep up.

The Chang-go was a very large bulk cargo vessel, it had a crew of 64, but it was already carrying vital supplies. It was also fast, rated at up to two-thirds max propulsion outside of the jumps. Another vessel called the Perry was a manufacturing ship paired up with the Yeonlo tanker that could produce heavy hydrogen and even the perspective stones that focused the jump drives.

Most of the rest were old ships, some of them barely space-worthy. He knew for a certainty the the Tacoma was actually the mothballed and revived Na-tong that had originally been built five decades ago. It was listed as having 300 people on board, he shook his head, when that ship served it had a crew half that.

“All ships in formation and holding steady.” the Second mate said. Commander Nelson was tall and liked to wear mirrored sunglasses. He had been a fighter pilot when he was younger and still got to play CAP with the shuttles and the point defense pods of the Yeong-ung.

“Good.” the Captain responded “How long until we reach the jump point?”

“Four more minutes” said the young Watch Officer

“Captain, picking up signals bearing CS identity tags.” said the Sensor officer

“How many?” Captain Myung asked.

“Four with the tags but I am reading another twenty-two vessels as well.”

Captain Myung nodded “The Confederates have their own convoy heading out.”

Since there was a truce in space everyone breathed a little easier, ever since the evacuations began the two space forces had kept the peace off-world. No incidents between them had been reported and there was even precedent for the two convoys to join up for the voyage. Myung decided this was probably not a good idea since hostilities were getting too hot on Zenith and could spill over.

“They have the frigate Nanjin, corvette Sariwon and the destroyer Wonson escorting that convoy, I can't make out the signal from the fourth CSSF ship.” the Sensor officer said.

In addition to the cruisers Linus and Yeong-ung the UFA Space Forces included the gunboat Defender and the fast attack craft Blinder. So it was four against four, should it come to that. Although Myung didn't think the CS frigate would stand a chance against either of the cruisers.

There were other convoys out there and other warships from either side. Although when they entered the solar system of another world they would both have to behave. Alphix A was an industrial world that was quite adept at building their own ships if they needed them. It was a twin planet system, Alphix A & B orbited a point in space between them. Alphix B was an agricultural planet.

“Message from Captain Woo Sang-Ji of the CS fleet.” the Com officer “He says: May the wind and sea favor you and may your voyage be peaceful.”

Myung nodded “Tell Captain Woo this: May your week be boring and uneventful too.”

Commander Nelson smiled and shook his head, it was funny.

Both convoys were headed toward approximately the same jump point at about the same speed, they kept track of each other so as not to cause problems.

“Inform all vessels to begin jump procedure.” the Captain said “Jump in 30 seconds, mark”

“Aye sir.” the Coms officer said “Message is sent and acknowledged.”

The Yeong-ung turned ghostly white and then popped out of normal space, this was followed by the rest of the convoy. The CS convoy did the same thing minutes after. On the far side of the solar system the ships appeared back into normal space from this test jump.

“All ships reporting in.” the young Coms officer with short blond hair said, she also added “All ships reporting no damage or trouble.”

This was good news, they were now free to make longer jumps without the worry about losing vessels. A vessel that fell out of jump space between inhabited systems and couldn't jump again was most likely a goner. The Captain hoped that these ragtag ships would make it all the way to the Alphix system and safety for these civilian passengers.

“Start plotting a new jump.” the Captain told the navigator “You have the con Commander, I'm going to get some coffee.”

“Aye sir!” Commander Nelson said moving toward the center of the bridge “Let me see those sensor readings, has the CS fleet emerged from the jump yet?”

“Half-million kilometers to port.” the Coms officer told him, smiling “Sir.”

He smiled back at her “See you after the shift for dinner, okay?”

She nodded.

….

Yeong-ung Shuttle Bay

“Watch it!” the short-haired brunette said pushing the metal rail a tall man was carrying away from bumping into her shuttle. “You are going to scratch the sensor-resistance paint like that.”

The man shook his head and muttered “It's a shuttle, not a fighter.”

It should be a fighter craft she thought to herself, but they used defense drones now. All that training and she ends up flying a space minivan. It wasn't nearly as glamorous but it was still her job, she was still a combat officer and got to wear a side-arm to prove it.

“Stace!” a chubby young man said running up to her breathlessly “I was wondering if you would...” he paused to take a breath, she rolled her eyes and tapped her foot “Want to catch a game of Rads when we get to Alphix... with me.”

“Harold, how do you know I like Rads?” Lieutenant Stacey Drew asked, narrowing her eyes “Have you been talking to Riley again? You know I think he's a snake!”

The young man smiled, he looked like a cherubic boy. “Sorry.”

“Stop hanging out with low-life scum.” she told him tapping him on the chest “They're going to corrupt you, your armor isn't that strong. Kind of soft actually.”

He was enjoying that, being touched by her. Too much. This guy adored her and thought she was “so cool”. It felt good to have a fan club but being asked out by this guy was not good for her image. She didn't want shuttle pilot cool, she wanted fighter pilot cool.

“Oh and that research you wanted, I have it done.” he told her handing her a memory chip. She looked around before she accepted it and slipped it into her pocket.

“I'll look at it later but give me a heads up, can we do it?” she asked, he got a strange look on his face and he grinned. “Can we build them with our equipment or not?”

“Oh, yes we can.” he told her “It's all on the chip. It has the specs on the fabrication of every single part on a fighter, we can print those up in engineering.”

“Okay thanks, see you later.” she told him and shooed him away. Harold had his good points, he was like a savant with the help she needed sometimes. He just told her that it was technically possible for the engineering section and their tools to make all the necessary parts to build fighters. She was going to be in a good mood for the rest of the day, at least.

Stacey walked with a swagger toward the barracks deck before stopping. She never said no to his request for a date when they reached Alphix. He almost definitely took that as a yes. She hit herself in the head “stupid!” and now she owed him one.


Both convoys made their second jumps nearly at the same time and arrived the same way, deep between solar systems. There was nothing at all in this region of space, it was well charted over the past couple of centuries.

“I am getting contacts.” Coms officer Jaycee Walters said loudly “Ahead of us 22 million kilometers, their identity tags are all garbled.”

Commander Nelson frowned. He would have to call the Captain for this one. They were still moving forward and would be in visual range soon, so he walked toward the intercom on the pillar at the center of the bridge. A big button there would put him directly through to the Captain wherever he was.

“Wait until we are in visual range.” he said

Soon enough they were in visual range and a long-distance shot appeared on the main viewer between the pilot and navigator stations, the commander was looking down at it when it came up. He knew something was wrong immediately.

“Sound red alert!” he said and the Coms officer complied. Meanwhile Nelson was already hitting the button the pillar “Captain, we need you on the bridge.”

The Sensor officer looked confused “Those bogeys are unknown types and I don't recognize the ship they are attacking.”

Captain Myung entered the bridge and looked down at the monitor. “All hands to battle stations, contact the Nanjin, tell them we are going to need some help.”

“Who are they?” Commander Nelson asked. The Captain paused a moment “They are an alien race that is very hostile.”

The Commander was confused but the Captain put a palm up. “Later.” he said “We have a job to do, prep your fighter pods.”

“Aye sir!”

“Coms, order the convoy to stop. Have the Linus stand guard and tell the Defender and Blinder to form up in a rising trail formation.” the Captain said

They were joined by the Sariwon and Nanjin from the CS convoy. Their five warships pushed forward and soon identified the stricken vessel as the flagship of the Alphix Space Navy, the Broadsword. It seemed to have some serious damage but the hull was mostly intact.

The alien vessels moved very quickly and they could turn like an aircraft in atmosphere, something that ships as big as them could not normally do. Only fighters could move that way in the human sectors of space.

“I have six defense drones ready for action.” Commander Nelson told him “Launching on your mark, sir!”

The four alien vessels left the Broadsword and moved toward the convoys. “Here they come!” someone said

“All ships prepare to open fire!” Captain Myung said “Commander, launch the drones.”

The unmanned fighters launched from their bays on the bottom of the Yeong-ung and turned in formation toward the enemy ships. Soon enough the enemy vessels were within range the Captain gave the order “All ships, open fire!”

They proved hard to hit with plasma lasers, they were just too fast and turned too quickly. Even their torpedoes proved useless. The Captain looked over at his very busy Commander and hoped his drone fighters could get the job done.

“Engaging the enemy now.”

The ship shook.

“We were hit on the starboard side, not showing much damage.” the Watch officer reported

“The Blinder has been hit, one of its engine rooms has been vented.” the young Coms officer reported “The Sariwon has taken some heavy damage to the superstructure.”

The ship shook again, the Captain held himself steady against the pillar at the center of the bridge.

Three drone fighters teamed up on one enemy ships and soon had killed it. Its engines and lights out and it tumbled away. They turned in formation seeking to acquire a new target. There was another enemy ship making a move toward the Nanjin from that ships rear. The drones turned to intercept the alien vessel but didn't get there before the CS vessel took some heavy blows to its engine compartment.

The fighter drones still managed to cripple one more enemy ship. Then one of the enemy ships decided to take out the drones and a few well-placed laser shots did the job.

“I'm down to two defense drones.” Nelson said “They just can't react fast enough! This would be a good time to have some manned fighters.”

The crippled Broadsword had plenty of fighters, theoretically at least. Instead it had been used to carry science and sensor drones, being limited to no more than a half-dozen unmanned fighters despite having two large hangar decks.

They were out of unmanned fighters but the last alien ship was moving slow and was easy pickings for torpedoes from Nanjin and Yeongung. The Captain ordered Blinder and Defender to return to the convoy, to protect it should more alien ships arrive. Meanwhile they approached the Broadsword, trying to raise it and scan it with all sensors.

“I'm not picking up any life signs, sir.” the Scanner officer told them. It was a very large ship, it had a crew complement of a thousand, fourteen hundred if it hadn't lost its manned fighter wings.

“Prepare shuttles, we're sending a team of Marines over.” Myung announced. Commander Nelson nodded and looked at his tabs. “We have four shuttles ready to go, they can each carry a pilot, a co-pilot and eight dragoons.”

“Captain, who or what are these aliens? How long has all of this been known?” Commander Nelson asked.

“It's been a while. Some rumors of missing ships are false, the authorities often found these shot up hulks and reported them as missing. They classified all information but we do not know very much about them at all.” The Captain said “I'll show you the file in a while, after your shift.”

“Shuttles are ready to launch, sir” he said looking at the tab screen his hand.

“Tell them to board the Broadsword, look for any survivors, check the logs and assess the damage to the vessel” Myung ordered “I'm going to my quarters, alert me if something happens.”

Friday, November 27, 2015

Skyscraper Achipelago Part 2





Skyscraper Archipelago – part 2

Each member of the team wore body cameras and the production crew had small and tiny drones that would send live feeds back to the networks. Will Marshal and the others boarded a fancy hovercraft that would move them swiftly into position.

“This is your host Rod Travers. The team led by Will Marshal is moving toward the starting point but before they arrive I want to show you a snippet of a Q&A session with this new hero. Roll that tape.”

On the screen the host and Will Marshal sat facing each other in a darkened studio.

“I have a few questions that your fans have suggested. They would like to know what you think the odds are of you surviving this trip?” Rod Travers asked, leaning forward with a slight smile to suggest this was not his question.

“Oh, I think it far exceeds ninety percent. If worse comes to the worse, I'll dive into the sea and take the metro home.” Will Marshal said and flashed a bright smile.

Rod Travers nodded and then checked the notes he was holding. “My second question is a hypothetical one. It's been about a year, what do you think the aliens want? Will their ships come back?”

Will Marshal lost the smile. “I don't think there is any way to know their goal, yet. I'm sure the ships will come back, assuming they ever left. They might be hanging around up there.”

The interview vanished and a closer view of the hovercraft from the air appeared on the screens of those watching.

“Back to a live look. The team is nearing the starting point. This time they will start at the Redstone Hotel where it's heliport barely rises above the water. The larger tower rises another ten stories giving plenty of space for the aliens that might be there.” The voice of Rod Travers explained as the hovercraft slowed and then stopped, settling into the water as it barely bounced off the wall.

Crew members of the hovercraft held it there against the building while the team disembarked. The plan was for the hovercraft to stay two hundred feet or more away, waiting for the retrieval signal to be sent.

Mikhail Khabarovsk was a large and powerful man, he carried the most equipment despite carrying the fuel for his flame thrower as well. Anders Lang carried a gun that fired rounds that could change course, at least slightly, depending on the distance to the target. The young Japanese man who had refused to give his real name had constructed a couple of armed drones.

“The four young men from different parts of the world have climbed up to the heliport atop the smaller wing of the Redstone Hotel. They seem to be checking their equipment and planning some strategy before the enter the taller wing.” Rod Travers commented. “Before that we have time for a little Q&A with the biggest man there, Mikhail Khabarovsk,”

The camera cut away, back to the dark set where only two seats are illuminated. This time the large Russian was sitting in the seat.

“Mikhail. There are plenty of rumors about the aliens. One of the most prevalent is that there are governments who know all about why they are here. Do you think it is possible that government agencies might have made deals with aliens?”

The large man smiled. “I'm Russian. Our government is famously corrupt and has always been since long before the Tsars. Of course I could believe it, but I would need a little more evidence.”

“Why do you think the aliens have been allowed to stay? Why hasn't the government of the US taken out these buildings with their submarines or through aerial bombing?” Rod Travers asked,

A voice from off-camera said something unintelligible, both men looked over in surprise. “I guess we'll move on...”

Then it cut away back to a live shot of the men walking into the taller section of the Redstone Hotel. Then showed the images from their body cameras and helmet cams.

The voice of Rod Travers commentated over the scene of the men walking through a shady corridor, getting darker the further they walk inside. “The aliens use some sort of electrical bridge to move between the buildings. You've seen them, they glow a bright orange. These aliens do not even attempt to evade detection. They are not trying to hide.”

They are walking through a wide corridor when double doors in front of them explode across the hall and shatter against the far wall. One of the aliens was quickly in front of them, it looked like a small Tyrannosaurus Rex. It roared at the humans before Mikhail opened up with the flame thrower.

“Burn in hell!” The Russian yelled in clear English as the alien squirmed and moved away, seeking some relief from the pain of the flames. Then it whipped its tail and the Russian was flying backwards, landing awkwardly on his rear end. Something flashed over him and he heard loud gunshots and the alien moved away.

It was Tokyo, he had sent a drone against the present enemy.

“Back this way!” Will Marshal took the initiative. Some of the natives had taken off. “We need to get out of here.”

Before they even attempt to make a mistake another alien was blocking the corridor they had just come down for. Now they had aliens on either side of them. Occasional shots from Will's micro rail-gun at the two-legged creature proved it didn't do much damage to them.

Mikhail shot flames at the second alien and it backed up warily. It wasn't afraid of the fire enough to actually run away though. “These weapons aren't powerful enough!”

Tokyo guided one of his armed drones to a large hole in the wall, outside it found an intact fire escape that went up a couple of stories. Not much else was left besides that one part of the old fire escape.

“We can go up through that.” The Japanese man told the others.

“Once again, the weapons seem to be ineffective against the aliens.” Rod Travers was explaining to the global audience. “The team has left the floor through a hole in the wall and have moved up to a new level on a fire escape.”

“These aliens aren't the ones who build star ships, these are just monsters. Did they get put here as a dumping ground?” Anders asked as they climbed the fire escape. He was the last one up, covering the rear of their group.

“Is this really the time to ask these things?” Will asked, aiming his combat rail gun rifle into the opening of the higher level. He didn't see much inside of the building. A few of the walls were still partially intact.

“Unwanted pets maybe?” Mikhail asked, with a hint of sarcasm.

“Hey, Tokyo. Send one of your drones in there.” Will said without looking back.

The viewers then heard the amused voice of Rod Travers again. “The mysterious member of this team calls himself Tokyo. Maybe that is where he's from, unless he's from Osaka and is trying to mislead us. Naw, that couldn't be.”

“Over the past fifty episodes of Hunting the Hunters we have seen one and thirty contestants lose their lives in the quest for glory. Not all of them die as gruesomely as Henrietta Hilton did, you'll recall she was the one impaled on alien tusks.” Rod told the viewers, “Very few members have managed to kill more than a single alien beast before retreating or being killed. Only one team has managed to clear a small building. That was the one where Clay Athens became a short-lived hero to many. He didn't last long in the second building though.”

One of the network camera drones had entered the new level with the team. It was very small and very quiet and the members tended to ignore them.

“I think I might not have had good judgment when I signed on to do this.” Anders quipped as they carefully walked down a corridor and checked the “rooms” on either side. It was easy because most of the walls were shredded.

“They've been here for a year and nobody knows if these things sleep, what they eat or anything. Doesn't anyone else find that strange?” Will Marshal asked. “We've been monitoring with drones all that time and know nothing. I think someone knows. Someone has to know something.”

“It always comes down to some government conspiracy, doesn't it?” Mikhail asked, “I'm as jaded as anyone, I blame the government for everything. I just don't see how they had anything to do with aliens being put here.”

Tokyo was still controlling the drone ahead of them. “I suppose if they were in contact with aliens, they could have contracted to accept these things. Now what price do you suppose they would ask for that?”

“Technology?” Anders asked. “It's all I can think of.”

Of course none of this exchange had been broadcast, Rod Travers had been given the signal to speak about something else.

“Something weird just happened! This is big!” Travers announced. Producers Gregory Hurst and Lisa James appeared in the studio, just to get a closer look at the large screen.

“It appears that some sort of dome has encased the buildings. Some kind of transparent dome has been erected. I have no idea who or what kind of technology would be involved in this.” Travers admitted to his audience.

They cut to a live aerial feed.

“There has to be someone in the government who can tell us something.” Gregory Hurst said and then pointed to some of the staff behind the camera, “Get in touch with all of our contacts, this country or the Russians and find out if there have been any alien ships detected lately.”

“Do you think the aliens that dropped off these things would come back?” Lisa James asked.

“Why? What would be the point?” Travers asked them, getting ready for his next appearance.

The feed now cut back to inside the building where the hunting team entered a new chamber and found a snake-like alien creature, glowing like a neon sign, coiled up at the center. It opened his massive maw, exposing hundreds of sharp teeth, and hissed at them.

“This thing looks like a snake. If it is coiled up like this, that makes me think it might have eggs that she's defending.” Will Marshal said. “We need to kill this snake, or get it to move so Mikhail can fry those eggs with a flame thrower.”

Tokyo soon had both drones circling the room, the snake creature eyed them warily. It had struck at one of them and missed, but then stubbornly refused to leave the nest.

Will and Anders opened fire on the creature with their miniature rail-gun weapons. This just made the creature angry, as the wounds simply healed instantly. “Okay, Mikhail. Try the flame thrower, maybe we can make this mama move for us.”

As soon as the big Russian opened up with the flame thrower the snake opened its mouth wide and excreted a shriek that had enough pressure to send the flames back at the humans. Mikhail was shocked when he found his sleeves and shirt on fire. He threw down the fame thrower that was now on fire and took the fuel container off his back and threw it.

“Okay, I guess we need a new plan.” Will told himself.

Suddenly a blinding white light was everywhere. The team was backed against a wall, unable to see anything.

“What was that?” Anders asked.

“I don't know!” Will admitted.

“Could it have been a nuke?” Tokyo asked.

“We're still here, so I would say it's not a nuke.” Mikhail told the young man.

Blinking the light out of his eyes, Will looked around. The snake had apparently climbed through the glassless wall and went upward. “I think we should follow it to the top.”

Through the openings in the wall, Mikhail saw aliens on other buildings climbing the top of their buildings too. “I think following them is a bad idea.”

“Something is definitely on here.” Will told himself. “The only way to find out what is happening is to follow them.”

“If all the aliens are going up, then the stairwell should be free.” Tokyo admitted. He sent one of the drones up. From the returns it looked like the beasts were all heading up toward the roof.

“This is crazy.” Tokyo said. “Let's get out of here.”

Will Marshal dug out his communications device and tried to contact the guy on the hovercraft but there was nothing. “I don't think this thing is working.”

Anders was looking out the hole in the side of the building. “Guys. You won't believe this.”

A large spherical orb was hovering above the sea between them and the shore of New Jersey.

“They're back?” Will Marshal asked, looking around.

“Do you think they'd be upset about us trying to hunt down the beasts?” Mikhail asked in an amused voice.

“Tell me they didn't sink New York City just to use it as a kennel!” Tokyo said loudly, “Is this how aliens are going to treat us?”

“Nobody is going to remember us now.” Anders said, to himself mostly.

“We have to end the regular program here it appears, for breaking news we now allow all of our international broadcasting partners to go to their own newscasts. We will continue to provide live feed from our cameras at the scene.” Rod Travers reported to the viewers.

As soon as the studio lights dimmed he was approached by men in dark suits and sunglasses.

“Mr. Travers.” One of them said, “The Secretary has some questions for you about some of the things you've allowed to be broadcast today.”

“Me? I didn't do nothing.”

“Just come along peacefully.” The other man said.


A day later.

“We have breaking news. The President has reportedly made a deal with the aliens to remove the beasts and to restore Manhattan to its previous location above sea level.” The news anchor reported, “A spokesperson for the White House told our reporter that efforts to contact and communicate with the aliens have been ongoing since last year when the incident first occurred.”

“Sure. Whatever.” Will Marshal said, closing the video feed on his computer.

end

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Skyscraper Archipelago


Skyscraper Archipelago



Overnight New York City simply sank into the ocean. It was a complete disaster with hundreds of thousands feared dead, possibly millions displaced. There were about 200 buildings that could be seen above the new waterline, at around the 40th floor.

The rescue operations were mounted by ship, helicopter and boats. A massive number of rescue personnel, charity operations and media crowded onto the new coast to take part and see what there was left. There were some people alive in the office towers and high-rise apartment buildings that needed to be evacuated but the government declared the city off-limits to anything else.

A month later the sightings began. Bright beams of light rising from the water-logged archipelago of Manhattan into the skies. Unidentified Objects lowered through these beams and it was reported that the island-buildings had been invaded by aliens. The mass media was silent on this until the military began setting up staging points off the coast of New Jersey and points in New York that were now ocean-front.

“The Military has asked sight-seers to stay away from the area coast, citing ongoing operations. They do not ant to endanger civilians...” the reports were vague. No mention of aliens. Speculation that a training exercise was a cover-up for something bigger was rife.

They were trying to recover nuclear weapons now at the bottom of the ocean.... they were trying to keep a nuclear power-plant from melting down.... some high-ranking officials were still alive at the submerged UN compound.... all sorts of rumors.

Then the sides of some of the building showed huge gaps and there were things walking around in them, there were bright orange glowing things stretching between the buildings. Impossible to hide from the public at night on a clear day.

The team of five soldiers were wearing the latest in heavy armor and carrying very powerful miniaturized rail guns. These images were seen online. The men boarded a small boat and were ferried to the sunken city. They were seen by telescope climbing into the nearest building that rose above the new waterline.

“Jordan! You take point!” The Sergeant ordered as they moved farther into the office building. It was only several stories above the sea, it would be one of the easier searches. There had been no sightings in this particular building.

“Okay, this floor is clear. Take the stairs, Nelson you hold back a few paces and cover us.” The order came as they reached the stairwell, broad enough for three people or two with armor. As they reached the next level something moved toward them.

“Incoming!” Jordan yelled and fired a three round burst from his gun, which missed the enemy and punched through the far wall and into the next building. It was loud enough for the report to be heard over two miles away on the shore line.

Jordan screamed and fell back onto the stairs, the Sergeant and Nielson had to move to the side to avoid being landed on. The entire front chest armor of Jordan had been ripped away along with most of his own chest inside.

Above them looking down with a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth was something that resembled a hairless gorilla if it were light-blue and had an elongated neck. The creature roared and both the Sergeant and Nielson fired shots at it. It reared up on its hind legs like a bear. At the bottom of the steps Nelson joined in firing away with his own gun,

“It's not working!” Nielson yelled. “We have to get out of here!”

The Sergeant shook his head, “If we run, we are dead! At least we are holding it at bay.”

Glenn had pulled Jordan down the steps to the landing where Nelson was standing. Jordan was dead, without a doubt, but they wanted to retrieve the body if possible. The creature turned and ran to the far side of the floor, the walls had all been destroyed. The only obstacles to see were the fifteen support pillars.

On the far side of the floor there was a huge gaping hole. The creature looked out and roared. They fired their weapons again but the rounds seemed to do little more than irritate the creature. When they saw an electric-orange “bridge” extend from the next building over, they knew they had trouble.

“We need to get out and nuke this place!” Nielson said, knowing that the creature was about to be joined by others of its kind.

“We hold our ground, soldier!” The Sergeant ordered, “Load your grenade launchers!”

Normal grenade launchers blew up and sent shrapnel in every direction. These were different, the newest thing, they exploded into a round ball of plasma. Seeing as how the power of the rail guns had little effect, this was their step up.

Three more aliens joined the first, two of them were bi-pedal in that they walked on two legs instead of four. The alien foursome began rushing toward the humans, still crowding the stairwell.

“Fire!” The Sergeant yelled and four grenades were launched. One of them hit the ceiling too far away from the aliens to do much more than make a hole to the next floor up. One of them flew clear past the onrushing aliens without hitting anything. The last two struck aliens, causing them to swell up like balloons as the plasma expanded inside of them.

One of the aliens stopped and dropped to the floor. The other limped ahead, clearly injured but still alive.

“No way!” Nielson said, “How”

“Back down the stairs!” The Sergeant said, “Get on the boat and move!”

Glenn abandoned the body of Jordan as Nielson and Nelson ran by him. The Sergeant stayed behind as even more of the aliens crossed the bridge. Manhattan was infested by these monstrous creatures, he thought to himself, better to just nuke it. The politicians would disagree. They'd send more troops, they'd bomb, they try and make contact and get a lot more people killed before they came to their senses.

One Year Later

“Hello Ladies and Gentlemen. I am your host Rod Travers for this excellent episode of Hunting The Hunters. As you decided last week, the new hunter team will be led by Will Marshal, one of the top gamers of the World League. Today, he goes into combat for real.” The host announced to a worldwide audience. “The Manhattan Archipelago is the most interesting hunting grounds on Earth, with humans hunting the aliens that hunt them.”

Nobody knows why they came. Why they sank a major city into the ocean and moved in. Trying to talk to them has been useless. The navy and air forces contain the area, but the alien beasts have shown no desire to leave.

Now they have a worldwide reality show where contestants, chosen by viewers, are sent in to hunt the aliens. Diplomacy is useless, nuclear destruction unthinkable, so of course it because a ratings hit.

Kill and alien and survive, the prize is very big. Don't survive and the money goes to your next of kin or spouse. Most of the hunters had been killed, but the government allowed the hunting to continue because the networks paid a huge sum up front.

Will Marshal eschewed the armor and the high-tech systems. He simply wanted to carry his 50 caliber rifle and be dropped off by helicopter on one of the taller buildings where the aliens congregated. The program had assembled a team to go with him, including a small-town sheriff and a housewife from Ontario.

“They look like dinosaurs.” Gregory Hurst said, one of the producers, reviewing the footage from earlier trips. “They look different than they did when they first arrived.”

Lisa James, an associate producer, smiled. “That is good angle. The creatures might be evolving, changing. How does a hunter prepare for something they've never seen before?”

“It doesn't matter what they look like. I'll kill them.” Will Marshal told them, “So what if they're shape-changers?”

The government liaison had been asking for the show to find a real hero that can drive up ratings and Will Marshall might be the one. He was not just a stereotypical nerd living in their parents basement, he was a young, good-looking guy who had some experience with real weapons.

“This guy can become the face of Hunting The Hunters!” the saying went around. Sponsors had shown up, even more than when he had done some professional gaming. Will Marshall had a million dollars in contracts before he ever stepped foot into the Manhattan Archipelago.

“Hans has a flame thrower. Mikhail has his mines. Anders has his guided bullets. Tokyo has his drones. I have my electrical rounds. We can't lose.” He said defiantly for the cameras. The international team led by pretty boy Will Marshall were global media sensations. These heroes would step fourth to hunt down the alien invaders. They would do what the governments have declined to do.

“Time to go!”

To be continued

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review: The Vintages (Mind Malignancy book 2)

The Vintages by Andrei Cherascu, $2.99 (315 pages)

I am a major fanboy of the first book "Mindguard" (99 cents), so I was eager to read this one. It is set about a decade later than the events of the last book and the Earth Enforcement Unit soldier Tamisa Faber has become the new defacto leader of the galaxy. Her fist is very iron, to put it mildly. Her hate and distrust of Mindguards is central to her motivations, although she is also fascinated by Sheldon Ayers. (She has a lot of conflicting ideas it seemed, a weakness?)

The story, the writing and the new characters all lived up to my expectations. As usual the author has no problem making you like someone who is going to die later. Is that cruel? Brilliant? Both? lol. This book is definitely worth the time invested in it. It also sets up the next book expertly, throughout the book instead of tacking it on at the end. New characters are introduced and new situations seamlessly, just as much a part of this book as the next one. (or the one after that if the next one is a prequel, ha)

Torik story now on Amazon

You can find it free on this blog, but the Dragon of Torik is now an Amazon short ebook for 99 cents (for now) with a bonus short story never posted before.



I didn't spend much time on the cover, lol.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Story: The First Gate



The First Gate

by Floyd Looney

As expected the gate stations traffic control center made contact almost before he could see it. “You are the sixth in line, take a parking orbit 12 kilometers out. Your estimated through-time is 2 hours.” The human voice said. The first human voice Gol Pratchett had heard since he had hastily left Charon Station a week ago.

A blue ring around the gate station appeared on his sensor screen. He tapped it and selected the option to take up this circular orbit. The computer complied as he rubbed his painful left shoulder.

Now just the wait. He glanced over to the empty co-pilot seat and sighed. Sheena should have been sitting there, she should be with him. Instead, she had shot him and tried to arrest him. Gol had never even suspected that she was some kind of undercover agent in the seven months he knew her. He fell in love with her and she had been acting the whole time.

The burn on his left shoulder was testament that he had been fooled completely. Gol had carried out the whole scam, done all the work thinking she was supporting him. She had never said she did, but she never voiced any disapproval or tried to stop him either. What kind of agent lives with a man for months and give him knowing smiles as he steals for her?

Gol had gotten away though. He had the loot and he had his freedom. Once he went through that gate on the Cert Line they might never be able to catch him. His biggest fear was that the authorities on the gate station had been informed, that they were looking out for him.

The more he thought about it, the stranger it felt. Who had she been working for? Sheena might not have been working for the authorities. The likelier explanation was that she was working for one of the crime families. Maybe even Vrabec himself.

Gol Pratchett winced at the thought. If Vrabec was after him, then getting far away and hiding was imperative. Vrabec wouldn't lock him up for criminal therapy, he just kills those who cross him. In the pit of his stomach something started hurting. If Sheena had been one of Vrabec's people, and they had found her, then Gol was going to be dead sooner than later.

The large ring of the gate flared into existence as it was reactivated. A small cargo cruiser was lined up next to it. When the traffic control center told the cargo cruiser to move forward it began inching toward the shimmering light of the circle. Then the front of the ship kissed the shimmering surface and the whole thing became a blinding white light, a mini-supernova. It stopped when the ship was fully passed through the gate.

The gate would need to cool off for a quarter of an hour at a minimum to even pass through a tiny ship, a passenger ferry was lining up with the gate to be next. Gol was informed by a message to the computer that he was now fifth in line and a new orbit was assigned. The ship moved itself as ordered.

Gol reached down toward the co-pilot seat and his hand stopped a few inches above it. The soft, furry Gnoble was curled up there, asleep. It was fully transparent now, he could never predict it's coloration. The creature had mourned Sheena for most of the trip but it was finally getting used to a new owner, or whatever it thought Gol Pratchett was.

The station was now requesting a full recitation of everything aboard the ship. It was such a small ship that it would hardly tax the gate technology at all, so this inventory was a pain in the end. The computer had most of the information. He was surprised that his small vessel was carrying 3 tons of water, it seemed like a lot since waste could be purified. Gol learned more about his own vessel reading that document.

That was a bit disturbing, the realization that he had thrown everything away and relied on the vessel to keep him alive and he had not taken the time to make sure it could. He had assumed the vessel was it good condition, but he probably should have made sure before the heist. He reached down and petted the invisible furry creature again, it was soothing.

The only human-controlled gateway in the galaxy connected to the Cert line, along which there were several stations and branches to other inhabited solar systems. Humans were newcomers to the galaxy but had spread pretty fast. Still, once you passed a few stations you might just find yourself the only human around.

Gol had crafted a plan a while back to take the loot and Sheena somewhere where human authorities would never find them. In hindsight this had been a really stupid idea, now he would run and hide alone and hope that Vrabec or whoever Sheena had been working for didn't think he would worth the trouble of hunting down.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Gol Pratchett tapped the screen as his vessel took the fourth slot. If Sheena had been working for a government, he would never get through the gate. He was sure they would have boarded his ship by now and taken him into custody. For the past week he had been monitoring the news feeds from Charon and nothing had been reported about the heist, about himself or Sheena.

Who had the power to keep something like this quiet? Certainly not the governing authority of Charon or the Plutarch Alliance. It had to be someone like Vrabec and none of the other crime syndicates had as big a footprint on Charon. Gol hadn't even considered all of this beforehand. It had never occurred to him that he would be robbed of the loot as soon as he got home.

The encased crystalline units that he had found were worth a fortune, but he couldn't sell or trade them in this solar system. The human governments had strict controls on them, making it illegal to trade or sell them except through bureaucratic channels. In the rest of the galaxy, though, they were freely traded like currency. Gol was rich once he made it through the gate.

Gol pet the Gnoble again. It was no longer invisible, more like a ghost of a cat-like creature. It was sitting up and looking around, probably looking for its former master again. Poor thing.

“Are you hungry? Emmerit, want some nim-nims?” He asked the small animal, it looked at him, closed its eyes halfway and showed its teeth. This was a yes. Gol stood up and walked the dozen steps to the galley and pulled the food from the third cabinet. Emmerit had belonged to Sheena, she had doted on it as if it were a real child. Gol didn't want to leave it behind with that mess.

It was self-defense. She had pulled out a weapon, told him that he would never get away with the loot and fired. His left shoulder had burned and gone limp. She had been trying to incapacitate him with a chest shot, he had ducked. He had ran to her and slammed into her before she could fire again, she had hit the wall hard, head first.

Gol hadn't waited around. He took the loot and the orphaned pet to the ship and left. He had filed the flight plan hours before and he kept the schedule to keep from looking too suspicious.

Gol thought he was doing it for Sheena. She had been playing him the whole time, probably intended to hand it over to a crime syndicate the whole time. He would have been in a cell before he woke up and Sheena and her boss would have the loot. It was a trick. They were playing the long con while he was the patsy.

They were third in line. There was a private yacht lining up for the pass through, much bigger than Gol's second or third-hand executive transport. Again, he wondered if the vessel would be able to do the job. It was made for in-system travel, for ferrying important passengers. It was not heavily armored, had no real armaments and the drive unit was not exactly interstellar class.

Nothing he could do about that now. Once he passed through the gate he would exit trans-space at Terminus. There he could make deals for some of the precious loot. He might even be able to trade up on the ship, if another vessel was available. After that, no one would be able to find him.

The Gnoble stretched out on the dash and then crossed over and sat on his shoulder. The station contacted him again after a bright light flashed from the gate.

“Take up a holding position at the indicated location, you are second in line for departure.”

He breathed deeply. The crossing fee had been paid in advance, there was no reason for alarm. The crime syndicate hadn't informed the authorities and they hadn't caught up with him. He could make his escape.

The only vessel ahead of him was already lined up in the chute for departure through the gate. His estimated departure time was around twenty minutes.

“Communication request received.” his computer said. Gol checked the reading. There was another ship trying to contact him. It was three ships behind him in the departure line. His first instinct was to ignore it, he reached to hit the decline button. Then he shrugged, they couldn't stop him anyway what was there to worry about?

“Open the channel.” He told the computer.

Suddenly Sheena's face appeared on his screen. One side of her head had bandages, but she was still alive. “Gol! You can't just run away.” she said.

“Watch me.” He answered. The animal on his shoulder was now alert and looking around at the voice of his master, trying to find her.

“Gol, if you take off with that cargo we'll both be dead. Do you want that?” she asked

“You know what I wanted. You didn't care. Stop expecting me to care what happens after I leave.” He told her. He was glad he hadn't killed her, even if Vrabec would do it later.

The screen changed to the face of a very large and gruff man. “Let us stop playing games, Pratchett. Once we are through the gate, I expect you to hand over the loot or the girl gets thrown out an airlock and you will be hunted down like a rabbit.”

Gol cut the connection.

There was no way to unload the cargo for a good price in an hour, about the time for the hunter's ship to come through. Gol Pratchett understood that he needed a new plan. He checked the type of ship they were on and found it was a faster and better armored and armed vessel than his own. One that was made for interstellar travel.

Not that they could fire upon his ship at Terminus station without getting vaporized by the Tureans that owned it. The hunter would have to be polite, arrogant humans had a way of offending the various aliens and getting themselves killed. It didn't help normal humans that their reputation as a species was not good.

Especially the Tureans. They were a very formal species, respect and honor were their highest ideals and those who ticked them off had a habit of getting hurt. They didn't generally dislike humans as many species in the galaxy did. Having so much direct contact they understood that some humans were better than others.

His ship was now being lined up with the gate. Gol was nervous and excited about his first time passing through. He was also nervous because there was a hunter on his tail. There was a bright flash, everything looked like a photographic negative and just moments later he was in a different part of space.

Terminus station was larger than he had imagined.

“Greetings and salutations, human vessel. Please follow indicated route and dock at port twenty-four and welcome to Terminus station.” a strange voice told him. “We are pleased to have your business.”

Finally the idea for a new plan starting forming in his head.

“Emmerit, I bet you can't wait to see mommy again, right?”


--------------

 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Short Story: Forest of Genres


Forest of the Genres



“This is a stupid argument.” Delia said.

“I swear, I saw it.” Roger told her, sitting in the kitchen eating breakfast as normal.

“They do not exist. They cannot possibly exist.” She answered.

“It was a zombie. Just like in the movies.” He said.

“Okay, answer this question. If Zombies eat brains, then how does a brainless body become a zombie?” She asked him. “It can't.”

“I didn't ask.” He admitted. “I don't think it could talk.”

“It would rot within days and then no more zombie.” Delia said and laughed. “This prevents any zombie apocalypse even if it was real.”

“It was a zombie.” Roger said, sure of himself.

“Okay, describe it.” Delia told him.

“It had one arm, a bad limp, a bloody face, a rasping moan and glassy, unseeing eyes...”

Delia rolled her eyes and sighed, “How would you know if they were unseeing?”

He shrugged.

“Elderly amputee stroke victim, fell down hard on his face. You should have called an ambulance instead of running away.” She told him. “Shame on you.”

Roger shook his head. “No way. It was definitely a zombie.”

“Yet, no zombie outbreak. You left a poor stroke victim in the woods two days ago. You'd better hope nobody finds out when they discover the body.” Delia said. “140,000 people die annually in this country from strokes and how many zombies are there every year?”

“Nobody knows. It's covered up.” Roger said, defensively, playing with the remaining cold scrambled eggs on his plate. This made Delia guffaw in exasperation.

“Okay, come with me. Let's go back to that place and see what we find.” Roger said. He finished off the last remaining orange juice. “You and me.”

She thought about it. “I don't know if I want to find that poor man's body though.”

So they climbed into the pick-up truck and drove toward the forested area near the levee in the flood control area of the city. To get there they had to pass over the old wooden bridge that the local preservation society had adopted to maintain.

“Such a pretty bridge.” Delia said leaning on her husbands shoulder. “Kind of romantic in the moon light.”

“It's a full moon, though. There might be some crazy people out and about.” Roger answered, “I'm trying to drive, don't lean against me.”

He had pulled off the road and onto a dirt road and the forest loomed ahead of them. “This is it.” He said, “Should we walk?”

She shook her head looking at the wall of trees and bushes ahead in the headlights. “I think I changed my mind.”

He handed her a flashlight and took a bigger one for himself. “There's nothing here that isn't here in the day time, babe. We'll stay together the whole time, okay?”

They entered the woods, Delia stayed right next to her husband. His warm shoulder against hers was calming. He was tall and strong and he was very alpha at the moment in her eyes.

Something made noise to their right and they both shined their flashlights in that direction and saw a rabbit.

“It's just a rabbit.” He told her, as they continued walking deeper into the forest. “I didn't think they came outside at night. Guess I was wrong.”

“This place feels very weird.” She said. It felt like she was dreaming even though she could feel the occasional stone beneath her running shoes and the breeze on her face as they walked. There a faint blue light coming from their left but it felt like it was far away. “Maybe it's the light of the city”, she thought to herself.

There was a moaning sound. Both of them froze. It didn't seem to have come from any particular direction. She leaned on him even more. Then in front of them the grass and bushes were being trampled and a dark shape was moving toward them.

“I should have brought a weapon.” Roger said, thinking these might be his last words. The shape emerged from the shrubbery and into the light from their flashlights. The horrible countenance of a giant furry beast was before them. It lifted its head and gave a shrill cry that made their blood run cold.

“Big foot?” Roger whispered, “Seriously?”

It took a step toward them and it came to the couple to flee but they were both too scared to move, their legs felt like dead weight. Just then another higher-note scream came from their right and a shape darted straight at the hairy beast and tackled it. The new shape looked almost like a man in tattered clothes but it had rabbit-like ears and two large fanged teeth.

It stopped battling the big foot for a moment to look at Roger and Delia and said, “You can run away now.”

As if this freed them from being spell-bound they both turned to run but within several feet found the way blocked by the diffused blue light and shadows the shape of small creatures walking amongst it.

“Aliens?” Roger wondered out loud. Then he pulled her to the left.

“What's going on?” She asked, confused.

“Genre-creep!” He answered her, running out of breath as they moved. “It looks like the fiction shelf all melted together in this forest.”

“That's insane.” She told him.

“Zombies, were-rabbits, big-foot, aliens… who knows what else, how else can it be explained, Delia?” He said, stopped for breath.

Before the big flood of 1993 this area had been next to an annex of the city library but had been demolished for the expansion of the flood plain. The forest had been considered part of the city but had been totally abandoned.

“It's like the ghosts of the old library annex still lives in the forest.” She said, “Like some kind of ghost or another dimension.”

Then another voice said, “Sounds serious. Maybe I can help you with something, Delia?”

She shined her flashlight at what turned out to be a handsome man dressed all in black but his face had a shiny complexion. The man spoke, “I can keep you safe, forever, Delia. Just come to me.”

Delia was mesmerized and took a step toward the man, who smiled. Then another light shone on the handsome man and she heard Roger yell, “Vampires don't sparkle!”

Roger grabbed Delia's hand and pulled her in a different direction. Some tree branches in the way caused her to hold her hand up and block it. She came away holding a switch. When they paused again she laughed and swished it and said “Abracadabra.”

A flash of lightening exploded from the tip of it and destroyed a tree in front of them. They were both startled and grabbed each other. Somehow past the downed tree they could see the shadowy shape of the truck.

“Thank goodness.” She said. They began walking toward the truck and soon left the forest behind.

They climbed into the truck and just sat a moment watching the dark forest in front of it.

“How many genres did you count?” He asked.

“Several of them, but I wasn't thinking about it.” She answered, “Why?”

“Something was missing.” He answered. “I guess if we had stuck around longer, we would have seen a lot more.”

“I think we saw enough for one night.” She answered, “I want to go home.”

He turned the key in the ignition but nothing happened. The headlights and interior lights had come on but blinked and then died again. Suddenly the car was bathed in light from above.

“But we already saw some aliens!” He said. Suddenly some kind of space ship landed next to them, not a saucer but a boxy shape. The side opened up and armor-suited guys carrying big guns exited and looked around.

“Space marines.” Roger noted, “My favorite.”

Except that the truck had been surrounded and the guns were all pointed at the couple.

“What, no dragons?” Delia asked. Then she embraced her husband tightly.

END

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Story: Warfare in a Gun-Free Zone

What happened in Paris (Nov 13, 2015) is not an isolated incident, it was not a one-off attack. It was not caused by poverty or job discrimination. It was not caused because someone drew a cartoon or blasphemed some moon god. As much as politicians want to pretend otherwise, this is what spiritual warfare by Islam looks like. They are commanded to take over the world by the sword (violence). To pretend it means something else is foolish and suicidal. So by all means ban people from defending themselves, call them bigots because they don't want their daughters raped and open the borders and let millions more hostile foreigners invade your country to prove how tolerant and virtuous you are. It is just signing your own death warrant.



Warfare in a Gun-Free Zone



“Allahu Akbar!” The robed man screamed as he sprayed the plate glass window of the crowded restaurant with 7.62mm rounds from an AK-47. The patrons dining closest to the front were shot down immediately as the glass shattered and the rest panicked. They rushed to the rear of the building in a stampede trampling over the weakest among them.

The brazen attacker openly stood on the sidewalk as he emptied the 30-round magazine and replaced it with another. The shooter knew it would take the police several minutes to do anything at all. He had plenty of time and little to worry about. He had plenty of time to be assured of pleasing Allah, and a place in heaven.

The cries and pleas from inside just made him angrier. The ignorant infidel swine think they can negotiate with the sword of Allah, this was offensive. He entered the restaurant through the shattered plate glass front and kicked over a chair that was in his way.

There were at least six dead from the first two tables but someone was still moaning, the gurgling sound of blood in their throat. There was a girl, probably close to being a teenager. If she weren't near death, she could be made into a bride, temporarily. Instead he put a round through her head, not that the blond girl deserved it but because the sound was annoying.

“Please do not kill us!” A woman in the pack crowding the back of the restaurant pleaded. “We only want to live in peace with you.”

The infidel harridan received three rounds to the chest in a burst and the crowd jostled to escape. No they shifted as everyone tried to get against the back wall, to be the last to die. The cowards didn't even try to rush past him all at once. The fools. At least some of them would live if they knew how to think.

The gunman grinned. “Allah has truly blessed me with the most impudent of enemies to slay.” He told himself in his own language, which none of these people likely understood. Some of them were typing or speaking on their cellular phones, crying as they said their farewells to loved ones. Was their truly no-one among them who had the basic human nature to flee or fight? Self-defense had been conditioned out of these sheep, he recognized.

“Allahu Akbar!” He screamed, God is great, as he walked sideways while spraying the rounds into the cowardly crowd of infidels. Allah will be most pleased. Surely his path to paradise was now open.

Out of ammunition he slung the AK-47 over his shoulder and pulled out a knife. Those who were still alive were watching him with terrified eyes. He walked to a whimpering young wounded infidel, lying face-down a man barely old enough to have a beard and pulled his head up backward by a ponytail. Then he ran the knife through the throat from the left side to the right.

“Submit to Allah and you may live.” He told them, of course that would still make them serfs and their lives could be snuffed out at any time. These decadent infidels deserved death, “Allah will rule the world. All of it! We are commanded to carry out his holy will!”

Then he walked out of the restaurant and threw the gun into the passenger side of his Land Rover before leaning against the hood for a smoke. Would the police ever arrive?

In the wake of the terror attack on the restaurant the Mayor of Paris and President of France ordered security beefed up around Mosques in order to protect them from “revenge attacks”.

The President of France went on national television. “This tragedy like many others was caused by hate and intolerance. Hate and intolerance in return is the wrong answer. We must embrace those who practice the peaceful religion of Islam. We must not become a country that closes our door to them. Together we can live in peace...”

In a Toulouse hotel room three men bow in prayer with their faces to the floor.

“There will be peace when the whole world belongs to Allah. Submission to Allah by everyone is the only peace.” One of the men was saying. On one of the beds in the room were three thick vests. “We must slay the infidel wherever we find them. Unbelief is worse than killing in the eyes of Allah.”

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not." The man read this verbatim from the Koran he held. Then he summarized, “There is virtue in what we do today.”

The other two men always answered back. “Allahu Akbar.”

Their leader once again read from his Koran. "Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority"

The other men repeated the entire phrase, for this was from the holy book they had all memorized from childhood.

Then the men stood up and began shrugging the heavy vests onto their bodies. They helped each other wire up the explosives and put the switch where it would be in easy reach. When they were ready they praised their god once again, “Allahu Akbar.”

"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"

This was another verbatim verse from the Koran, this is the one they repeated to themselves as they left the hotel through the side door. Then two of them climbed into their old-model Mercedes that had been bought cheaper than a single Kalashnikov rifle in Eastern Europe and they waved their goodbyes. Tonight they would earn their heavenly rewards.

The lone man on foot walked toward the local high school where a basketball game was being played and there was a sizable crowd. The vehicle would go farther until dropping a second man at a local concert venue, he would carry a sidearm with him. The last man would drive the vehicle into the tourist area of Toulouse and target any large crowd he happened upon. First he would use his AK-47 before moving on to another crowd to set off his detonation.

There are no innocent unbelievers. They are all enemies of Allah and deserve to be slain for resistance to worshiping him. Mohammad Mira opened the door into the gym where the game had already started between the school teams. The crowd inside was made up of the young and their parents. Mohammad Mira only had fleeting thoughts that it might be wrong to harm children, but he knew that Allah disagreed.

“Allahu Akbar!” He screamed as he stood in the middle of the bleachers and exploded the bomb vest. Those closest to him were torn to pieces by the plastic explosives packed with metal ball bearings, some of those farther away had a chance to survive.

Ahmed Hussein paid twenty euros for the concert ticket. When he entered the arena his ears were assaulted by the loud bass and drums. The long-haired men on the stage were screaming into the microphones while giant speakers destroyed eardrums and braincells of those listening. Ahmed could hardly think through the noise and once he stood in the aisle near the stage behind the standing crowd waving their cigarette lighters, pulled out the sidearm, a 9mm handgun with a 12 round magazine.

Because of the noise, the flashing lights in the darkness nobody noticed the gun. A little annoyed that this had no effect he aimed at fired twice at the two annoying singers. Both were hit in the stomach and chest, the blood caused some screaming and the music died. Thank Allah.

The noise of yelling and talking picked up as the concertgoers tried to figure out what happened, someone was calling an ambulance. Two security guards carrying flashlights and big radios with waving antennae started running up the aisle toward Ahmed.

He shot them both. Now the screaming was picking up. People were running every direction in a panic when he picked up the detonation trigger. Even though nobody but Allah could hear him he still yelled “Allahu Akbar!” as he flipped the switch. The world went out in a flash.

The third member of the team drove until he found an area with flashing lights as streets full of bars and crowded sidewalks of drunken infidels greeted him. This was perfect. Using the AK-47 he began firing at people on both sides of the street. He actually aimed instead of firing indiscriminately. Since they were close, the gun actually hit what he aimed at. The effect of a man or a woman being hit multiple times in front of a crowd caused the stampeding to begin.

When the magazine on his gun ran out he climbed back into the car and drove away to find another target. There were dead and injured all along the sidewalks until he made a left turn at the next intersection. Suddenly his car was struck by another vehicle and he lost control.

When he came to his senses he found his side hurt and that his forehead was bleeding from hitting the steering wheel. The window was partially shattered but he could see the car that had hit him, one of those Chinese-made cars. There were two people in it but the driver didn't seem to be moving. The little girl in the passenger seat was trying to wake her mother up.

“Mom! Wake up!” the girl pleaded as the man climbed out of the Mercedes and staggered toward her window of the other car. The girl was watching him, looking terrified. He punched the window on the door and it shattered. The girl screamed a shrill note.

He reached in to grab the girl but she climbed over her apparently dead mother and out of the other side of the vehicle. The man chased her as best he could, but she was running and screaming towards a crowd of pedestrians who were gathering to see the accident.

The girl hid behind some women and men who were shouting and holding cellular phones to record what was going on. They were threatening to have him arrested and such. The terrorist smiled at them and opened the robe to expose the vest.

“There are children!” someone shouted.

"And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain..."

The terrorist remembered this verse very well. It was direct from the Koran. He was not going to be weak-hearted because there were children around. This was the command of Allah. Any pain in his heart for slaying the infidels was just bonus points.

“Allahu Akbar!” He shouted and detonated his vest in the midst of the crowd.

The television news kept viewers up to date on the situation as a wave of violent attacks continued across France. They brought on guests who urged viewers not to go out and harm Muslims or try to attack mosques in retribution.

“We have now learned that one man has been arrested outside Calais for making vile anti-immigrant statements on social media sites.” The anchor reported. Then he and two others discussed how these situations were bringing out the worst in some people.

“We will not tolerate these kinds of anti-immigrant threats.” Said one of the members of the Cabinet at a press conference. “We are doing everything within our power to protect the Muslim community from violence.”

Reports that a woman was found beheaded in her backyard just outside of Paris surfaced, as the perpetrator was still there wielding a machete.

One politician on television said,”I blame those who show no respect for Islam. Those who seek to offend them such as drawing their prophet, which is forbidden. This kind of hateful blasphemy is what is causing the violence.”

Another said that while France has stringent laws against firearm ownership that these weapons were slipping over the borders from eastern Europe.

“France is tolerant. We provide a safety net for immigrants. We allow them to have great autonomy in many areas of the country. They do not assimilate because our culture is intolerant and offensive.” one of the politicians interviewed said, “If you want to blame anyone, blame society.”

“If only they did not face job discrimination...” a female politician lamented.

The Prime Minister told the press,”These attacks have nothing to do with Islam!”

Television networks were careful not to air or at least carefully edit any statements that would be considered Islamophobic for fear the government would fine them or revoke their license. Interviews with opposition politicians were very short and hardly informative for the viewers.

News that a gang of Muslims in Avignon had chased down and murdered a Jewish teacher and three children was barely covered on French television channels.

Soldiers had shown up and killed the last remaining Muslim who was holding a bloody knife, there were calls by civil rights groups to prosecute the soldiers. The father of the murderer threatened a wrongful death lawsuit against the government, while the younger brother said he was proud that his older brother was a martyr.

“The Minister of Justice announced today an all-out effort against racism and Islamophobia….”

The church had gathered for a late-night service to pray for the victims of violence and to exhort the parishioners to forgive the attackers. To not blame the violence on Muslims. During the church service several armed Muslims burst into the church.

"And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!"

Sid Ahmed Galam led the terrorist cell. They destroyed the paintings and statues, they beat up anyone who got in their way. The Priest was forced to stand in front of the podium of a terrified flock and praise Allah. He refused and half his head was blown off by a rifle at point-blank range. Then they started dragging others to the front of the church.

"And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah"

Then the men dragged several children to the stage and forced them to kneel, guns were pointed at the backs of their heads. The gunmen ignored the cries, wailing and pleas from the remaining parishioners to be merciful to the children. That children are innocent.

“Children are innocent, you say?” Sid Ahmed Galan said with a sneer. “The Hadith makes it very clear to us, who are knowledgeable about Allah that this is untrue.”

More cries and pleas.

“The Hadith is clear in the matter. The Prophet... was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)." So when you infidels beg like dogs that children are innocent, we know it for a lie.” He told them, “Your own holy book tells you there will spiritual warfare in the final days, did you learn nothing? What did you think warfare looked like?”

Two of his men began beating the women and men until they stopped screaming. Then Sid Ahmed approached the first boy, his red face covered in tears.

“Will you submit Allah and his prophet Muhammad?” He asked the boy who didn't seem to hear him, instead he was searching out his mother, crying. Sid Ahmed Galan slapped the boy. “I am asking you an important question!”

“Let my son go!” A woman screamed and one of the terrorists dragged her to the front near the stage and began hitting and kicking her.

“Momma!” The boy screamed.

The leader of the terrorist cell was impatient. He put his hands around the boys throat to get the attention he wanted. “Shall I take you to learn all about submitting to Allah? If you come with me nobody else gets hurt, okay?” he lied to the boy. It is permissible to lie in the service of God.

One by one the children said they would do anything if they could have their mothers and fathers. The sheep sat there in their pen. They begged Sid Ahmed Galan to be merciful and said they would learn all about Islam if he wanted.

In the end the crying children were stuffed into crates in the back of a truck while gunshots rang out and the church was set on fire. The church burned as the truck drove away. There were three boys who would become future believers, or die, and a couple of young girls for other purposes.

These people and their governments were weak. They sought peace and coexistence while war was being waged. The world would be won for Allah, this is his command. The fools disarmed their people and pronounced this would mean peace. There would be no peace without submission.

For Islam means submission.

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Italics are from the Koran except when noted as from the Hadith.