Friday, December 26, 2014

Administration: End of 2014

Review of the Analytics shows that the long-standing stats trend held throughout the year. This means that, barring any serious uptick in reader attention or interaction, I will maintain the course into 2015. There will be four serials, one per quarter, and quarterly administration posts; this will continue until readership crashes or reader feedback tells me to go in another direction. You want something different? Speak up, or throw money at me, because I have no reason to change course otherwise.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The New Barbarians-12

A bit of an epilogue, as much as anyone is likely to read this deserves one, is in order.

One of the benefits of a secure location is the luxury of thinking further ahead than the next season, or the next Winter, and instead thinking a generation or two down the road. With more children coming, and still more after that, the care and development of future generations of the clan now needed to be addressed. Literacy, in particular, and the prevention of the degradation of the knowledge we had when Civilization fell is vital to ensuring that this Long Night period is kept to a minimum. Furthermore, finding ways to make the most of what is now possible and using that in conjunction with what we once had is what I discuss often with the men and women in the evenings now. We're making plans on what to do about it, as literacy requires things to read and write- something we don't do much around here.

Living closer to the natural world has also restored a sense of rhythm to our lives that we had, at best, a tenuous tie to previously. Paying attention to the cycles of the world, knowing what to do when and where, demonstrated an inherent order to life that we did not appreciate much in the years before. To be fair, with all of the difficulties ahead of us, I am glad to be here and now and greatly appreciate all of it; leadership has forced me to become far greater than I was before, and though I've hardened considerably, I also know better the nature of strength and how it differs from power. So have all of us, even the children.

Clan Anderson, and Anderson Hold, will not endure forever. No man, and no creation of Man, has such power. However, it can last a long time, long enough to see the turning of ages, when we take the time now to build our foundations properly and ensure that our clan values preservation of lore as a tradition to be followed ferverently. If we are the new barbarians, then let us be as the real barbarians were- and be civilized peoples in our own right.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The New Barbarians-11

With the return of Spring, it became obvious that we of the Anderson Clan had irreversibly transformed ourselves into a form better adapted for this crazy world we're in now. Using our new awareness and abilities, and seeing off Ken and Jack, we set about securing anew our homestead and laying claim--as much as anyone can without using force--to the lands around us. You see, it's been two years since this cataclysm brought the world we knew to an end. If there was a government left, it would have reached us by now and the normalcy we knew restored to some degree. This did not happen; that government--and all of the institutions we knew--is now a ruin, a relic of an age now past, and as such only that which exists in nature will thrive.

Other changes came about as a result of the changed state of ourselves and our world. The women and children stopped gainsaying the men entirely, and the men stopped gainsaying me. In other words, I was now undisputed in my leadership. "Chief" acquired some heft that I, quite frankly, always wanted. That came in good stead when, as I knew was going to happen sooner or later, when the zeds came.

With the full muster of our clan's powers at hand, we met and destroyed that horde many miles away from our homestead. We froze them into place with driving sleet and shattered them with massive hail stones. The honored dead, for reasons I did not know at the time, guided our rifles and blessed our bullets. We would make such a display twice more before the Summer, after which we shifted towards concealment and forewarning. The shelter we made for the cars became part of a well-concealed forward post, with a bit of kit to make communication by someone unable to do so by themselves possible.

This marked our emergence, I guess, as The Anderson Clan. Two years of transformation from a band of survivors into a coherent social unit of our own, where everyone has a place and is at home, seems somehow right to my mind. I have seen strong bands of fellowship form faster than that, and last life-long thereafter, but those are always derived from time fighting a war with one's fellows.

I can only conclude, therefore, that we are now--and shall hereafter, for as long as any can foresee--be living in a state of regular warfare, if not perpetual, as the tribal nations of old did in many places in the world. Civilization is gone. We are the new barbarians.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The New Barbarians-10

I agreed to have Ken and Jack stay on, trading the trading of their skills and knowledge for lodging and protection over the Winter. I have to say that this was quite the experience. All of us, young and old alike, spent time with Jack and Ken. We were now in a state of mind, after all of the weirdness going on, that left us open to the idea of shamanism an answer to the inevitable issue of our technologies becoming unable to use due to power or other expendables running out. What happened, however, was not what I expected.

Sure, the guided shamanic journeys we took to encounter and become familiar with our ancestors took some getting used to. Unlike before, now these spirits could manifest physically so we need not rely on altered states and other methods that left reasonable doubt in place. No, we saw them; all of us, all at once. Look, sound, touch- all very real to us. We learned the truths of our pasts, truths left out of the histories, and we learned of the old gods and the past of contact with North America and all of that. It turned out that my choosing a longhouse design was no accident, but instead inspiration from an ancestor who also did so, and that was just one of the early revelations.

As for Ken, he told us more about the zeds, and of other emerging unnatural threats that he encountered--he dealt with a Japanese snow monster last Winter--and warned us of the common threat these things possessed: the ability to mimic living men and women, play on our natural affinities, and use them as a path to preying upon us. I didn't know at the time (but I should have), but he did carry on affairs with some of the women; his sons, in time, would be born and raised amongst us and in time transform into thing-eaters as he was.

The real breakthrough, however, was that some of our children came to the attention of certain spirits of the wind and water. These acquired some affinity with, and control over, those very natural elements. This was something new, something that neither Ken nor Jack had any experience with, so we had to work with it using what we knew. Because this was a mark of spiritual calling, as it were, we thought of it as a form of shamanism and proceeded accordingly. The secrets of the water spirits included healing and cleansing, something we needed; the secrets of the wind gave us ears we otherwise needed a radio for, and both of them had means of fighting by wielding wind or water as weapons- applied physics would find a new home here.

We didn't have much in the way of names for what we created over that Winter. All that we knew for certain was that we were now possessed with a supernatural connection of our own, and we would need it in the years to come when the fuels ran out, the cells ran dry, the ammunition was gone, and all of the associated technologies became so much useless junk.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The New Barbarians-09

Well, one benefit of this weird "Ken" character is that we didn't need to feed him. Whatever happened to make him weird changed what he needed to eat to zeds, and maybe other weird and unnatural things, at least we didn't have to deplete our stocks to be hospitable to him. Since he came in peace, and had something we needed to hear, I decided that he would be heard and allowed to stay the night. A few of the women weren't happy about that, but a look from me was enough to shut them up.

"I heard from The Necromancer's goons that you folks had something he wanted to take out. Since he and I aren't on speaking terms, if you get me, I had to come up to see for myself."

"I have no idea what he's on about." I said, "Ain't nothing weird about us."

"That, I think, is the very thing."

Just then, one of the men came in with someone from the White Earth band. Ken sniffed the air and his eyes widened.

"I think I see now." Ken said, "Shaman don't bother travelling much without need."

"I'm Jack." the name said, "And the dead-eater is correct- I am a Shaman."

I know that this Jack has another name, as all of them do, but he didn't give it and it doesn't matter. "Jack" is fine, no less than "Ken", and I'm not so stubborn a disbeliever that I ignore fortune when I see it. Jack knew--for obvious reasons--that I was the chief here, so he joined Ken and I at the table.

"The spirits told me that a new tribe of white people would come up here, some days away from my people's land, but without knowing why. I am told that many of you have ties to a past tribe of whites, explorers and warriors, who knew the ways of wind and water. True?"

"Yeah. Most of us have ancestral ties to the Norsemen of old. We're German, Norwegian, Swedish, Swiss, and so on."

"This new world thinned the walls between worlds. The spirits of my people tell me that your people's spirits are trying to reach you. I can help your people hear them."

I looked over to Ken. "You got a problem with that?"


Friday, November 21, 2014

The New Barbarians-08

The last of the Winter chill faded by the time we arrived. We were well into the northern wilderness, where the border--such as it was--between the United States and Canada used to be. This was once the Boundary Waters, and deep within it we would settle. We followed a known path deep into the interior, eventually leaving our vehicles behind and going the rest of the way on foot. Because we had little concern of the zeds catching up to us, especially since I switched destination sites after the last turning, we concentrated on getting things to the settlement site. Our vehicles we used as an outpost at first, and then build camouflaged shacks to hide them from others once we shifted entirely to the site.

The site had a clear build plan: first we set up yurts, following a plan I got from Bob, and a pallisade around a lakeside area. We cleared paths to nearby clearings which we repurposed as farming plots and built up wooden frames so we could easily keep them clear in the Winter. Clothing lines would also double as the basis for food drying racks. We set up solar cells, water purification and storage tanks, sheds, and everything we needed right away within the first few weeks. After that we began a longhouse, following a historical model I knew from the old days. That would take felling some trees and adapting classic log cabin methods, but we did it anyway.

We managed to get the frame of the longhouse ready by high Summer, but we had to get some distance above the lake to do it lest we get flooding in the basement--and we did not need that--which would ruin its value as a storm shelter and low-tech storage area for stuff needing some degree of climate control. It took a good amount of work on the inside, using old-time methods, to make the log cabin style of longhouse complete and ready for all four seasons. It was, truly, a long house in the ancient style; one big room, with some of us shifting to making smaller things like chairs and tables after that while the rest of us moved most of our work back outside.

Everything was done, in terms of the preliminary work--the stuff we needed to do to get settled properly--by the end of Summer. We had food in the plots coming up, supplemented by the fish we took from the lake and what grew in the wild. So much of our daily life revolved around preparing for the Winter now that the zeds shifted to the back of our mind; it was something we thought of only when we dealt with health and safety, rather than as a clear-and-present threat to our lives. I was far more concerned about our site's long-term viability by this time, to be certain, but the zeds never truly left my mind.

We hunted and scavenged widely in the Autumn, and we again filled our larders and kept the women and children busy with preserving and cataloging all of our resources while the men and I prepared our Winter provisions for getting around the land we claimed as our domain. Our migration was now complete; this is now Anderson Hold, and I am the chieftain of the Anderson Clan.

As we decided to mark the occasion with a well-earned feast, we had a visitor. A man, a single solitary man, with the skin as white as a blizzard and sunken yellow eyes as well a hairless body. He said he was a man named "Ken", and he tracked a bunch of zeds coming this way- and ate all of them. This got my attention, for certain.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The New Barbarians-07

The Winter was a long episode of coping with shut-in madness. Even with the ice on the lake permitting ice fishing, I did not perceive that this was an excuse to relax. Instead, I got the radio up and running and had it manned day and night; we got word out of Duluth, and the man there had kept us informed as best he could as to what was going on, but he soon went silent. When he came back, he assumed the unnatural quality to his voice that led me to believe that he'd been found, hounded, and turned into some sort of smart zed. I was not inclined to keep giving him any attention thereafter, but the men and Bob said that we were safe enough until the thaw and this zed's talk was not without benefit.

Reluctantly, I kept monitoring him. I doubled the watches; something didn't sit well with me, and I wanted mutual support should something go bad. Soon enough, I got vindication: one of the less stable men went wonky one night and the other guy had to tie him down after a tazing. We shut off the radio after that; there was no one else broadcasting, and no reason to release our location by doing so ourselves. As for the one who went off, he began babbling about hearing voices and going on about seeing a city of the dead where the Cities used to be, and knowing about someone--which I took to mean the hive mind--controlling the zeds calling himself "The Necromancer".

I didn't think much of this until he started ranting about how The Necromancer knew who we are and where we were and that we threats to his power due to something about DNA and someone who seemed to be a threat to him called "The Stalker", and if he got to us first he could put a stop to the threat we held to him. Well, it's just as likely that this "Stalker" was no less dangerous- but he was not so much a threat to us as he was to the zeds, so that was in our favor.

In time, the mad man turned for the worse; he choked on his tongue, and we had to put him down before he turned and rose against us. That was it; I called for bugout preparations early, before the thaw, so that as soon as the roads cleared we could get back on the road and towards our original destination. I suspected that we wouldn't have much in the way of leeway either, if these zeds knew where we were and still wanted to come for us. My suspicion turned out to be correct when some scouts reported a horde coming up from the Cities- and I do mean a horde, several hundred strong.

We had little warning, so we hurried to put obstacles in their path to slow them down. Useless cars set up in makeshift walls barricading the road, hidden spikes to impale zeds as they trip up and fall over, and other passive things we don't have to work with actively. We'd monitor them from a distance as we loaded up, and we set up several layers of such obstacles. They were rather aggressive in getting at us, climbing over each other and otherwise acting more like a blob than a mass of corpses, albeit at the pace of shambling corpses. We did not take this lightly; we retreated in good order, but at best speed possible.

As we fled, with the snows barely passed and ice still on the big lake, I resolved to not allow such a threat to get that close again. I hoped to reach out final destination before the Summer, and with things as they were I had good reason to believe that we would not only reach it, but that we would be firmly fixed and settled before next Winter arrived.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The New Barbarians-06

Once we broke the word to the others not present, the reaction was something of a sigh of relief by the adults and a guarded optimism by the kids. Bob and I went around the town and decided that, despite the lack of zeds around right now, this couldn't last and that we should resume travelling further north into the wilderness- but, with Winter coming soon, we decided that riding out Winter here would be the best of a host of bad options.

Having committed to this course of action, we fanned out and scoured homes and farms for everything we could haul away that was of any use to us; hardware stores and lumber yards provided enough tools and materials to start a rushed fortification project at the most defensible option on the lake for us. We got the boats up and ready to run, and fished plenty to fill larders; ice houses we also brought on site so we could keep this up over the Winter. Deer, Elk, and Duck soon came to the kitchens to be cleaned, smoked, and stored. Our arms stores also increased, mostly with the sort of deer rifles and duck shotguns that were commonplace outside of the Cities and the ammunition that they used. We stocked the pantries, the larders, the infirmary (which we made by converting the concierge office), and put up pallisades to constrict unwanted movement. This became our first castle.

As the night grew long and cold, we embarked on our promised skill exchange. My men and I trained the capable adults in how to use and maintain the sorts of firearms we preferred--AR-15s, AK-47s, tactical shotguns, service pistols, etc.--and they taught us how to process game carcasses, how to skin and tan leather, stalking game, and other more outdoorsman applications of skills many of us already had some familiarity with. The children, especially the boys, greatly enjoyed learning how to do all of these things- though there was some teasing over the more messy elements of it.

It was not without incident. Bob said that the older folks were on borrowed time, and for a few that was short in supply. A few would expire in their sleep, and then turn overnight; we had to put their risen corpses down before they spread their infection to anyone else. By the time we got snowed in for the season, all but Bob had died- and so had the weak children. The children who remained now had seen first-hand why we kept on them so much to do as we told them; at the cost of their innocence--there was no way to get through this without getting hardened by it--they ceased to be bothersome and quarrelsome at times, and instead snapped into obedience now that they saw the price of refusal- and they wanted none of it.

I am not bothered by this. We no longer live in a world where this sort of thing can be tolerated. If this sort of ritual initiation, this sort of traumatization, is what it takes to get and keep cohesion between myself and the others at all levels then so be it. We will not endure any longer as anything but a well-knit tribe with a clear chain of command. Even Bob began to refer to me as "Chief" or "Boss" now, and I confess that I like it this way.

I've taken to carrying a machete or a hatchet on me at all times, in addition to a knife. The moments when being armed proved vital have convinced me that this is just a good practice to cultivate now. The other men have now mimicked me, carrying hammers if they can't get a machete or hatchet, and the women are now carrying knives at all times. I've heard the boys complaining that they should have knives too. I'll deal with that shortly.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The New Barbarians-05

We arrived at the former resort town by the big lake, one big enough to barely see the horizon across the lake. At this point, we had quite the temptation to just root here and hunker down for the Winter. We had access to plenty of food by way of fishing, and access to plenty of tools and fuel to do that. We had our selection of rooms. The cost was that securing them would be a nightmare.

While we restocked supplies, we encountered another group. This lot seemed far more friendly; they were locals from the area that hid away when the disaster hit, and they had a plan. Now they came into town to see what they could scavenge, or if they could set up here for the Winter. The men and I agreed to have to a sit-down with them, and we did that in one of the resort restaurants. The leader was an older man by the name of Bob, a retired boat operator and mechanic.

"Look," Bob said, "my people and I know this area well. We've been working here, living here, and moving around here for years. Some of us have been up here for generations, like my family has, making good money off the folks in the Cities playing at being outdoorsmen. You folks, I see, have some steel in you, but you're lacking in the skills you're going to need to make it long-term."

"You're looking to make a deal?" I said.

"You got it." Bob said, "You teach us to do the fighting. We teach you to do the living."

I saw where this would end up. "Bob, you know where will go, right? You've got some young boys in your group, some girls, and not a lot of folks in their prime. You've got old folks and children about to hit adulthood. This deal ain't a cross-train deal; this is fosterage."

Bob chuckled. "You're as quick on the uptake as I figured. True, it is. A lot of us are on borrowed time. Medications we need to keep our problems in check are running low. We're making do with what we find, but we've cleaned out every pharmacy and doctor's office in three counties that wasn't already cleared out. The old folks, like me, we can dawdle on for a while yet but we're gone by this time next year for sure. We've already buried a few, after taking care of them, if you get me. We have a few of the children who also aren't likely to make it for the same reason. Those that remain, however, are screwed if they can't get with another group."

I nodded. Bob here seemed a good man doing what he can. Seemed. I glanced over to the other men, and then to the women looking out from the kitchen, and they nodded their ascent.

"Okay." I said, "It's a deal."

Bob smiled. We shook on it, and my nascent tribe grew once more.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The New Barbarians-04

The plan was simple enough. The old man and the boys would stay with the women and children as they began to widely circumnavigate the marauders, while the men and I decided to lead the zeds to these jackasses.

Getting the zeds' attention wasn't hard. They were already looking for us, so all we had to do was backtrack just enough to engage them at long range with our rifles. One or two volleys was enough to get them after us, so we just hit and fade against them to string them along, keeping out of whatever range their hive mind uses to shift from shambling to running. A shot or two now and again was enough to keep the zeds coming as we'd want them to go. It was boring, dangerous, and tedious- but a slacking of discipline could easily cost us a man.

When we neared the marauders, we didn't let up; we knew that the rifle fire would be sufficient to bring them out in sufficient force to counter a threat. So, what we did was easy; we lead the zeds up a rise, where there was a deep divot dug into the hill years ago for other purposes, and we would run out along the divot for a quarter-mile or so before getting out. The zeds would mindless go up, over, up, and over and continue on toward the marauders- and force them to deal with the zeds instead of us.

We watched from our safe distance as they engaged the flood of zeds coming over the hill. To their credit, they kept discipline and retreated in good order from the oncoming zeds- maybe they already knew, or they had a bad feeling, and didn't want to risk them getting close enough to charge. We saw someone calling out targets, and we saw them use some homebrewed ordinance to break up the clustered zeds, but they looked like they would be overrun until we saw them get out a replica of a Civil War cannon and bring it to bear. Homemade grapeshot cannisters blew apart the zed horde just as they began breaking into runs. Shotguns used behind barricades finished the job.

We didn't stick around to see if they were still looking for us, or if more zeds would come. Instead we marked the location on the map and headed to meet up with our women and children, which we did by sundown at the point I thought we could reach and secure by then. They were fine, but the worry on their faces made it clear to me that my risk was not appreciated yet. Over dinner that night, I reported to the others what we saw and did during the day. Faces changed, becoming more appreciative, even as they gasped over the report of a working cannon with grapeshot cannisters. That night turned around this exchange:

"But the zeds didn't do what you made them do. They're still there."

"For now. The zeds likely think that they are us, and we know what they want with us now don't we?"

As we used to say, we threw them under the bus. I am fine with that.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The New Barbarians-03

This zombie master, whatever it was, had me bothered. It had the other men bothered, which meant that the women were bothered.

I called for a retreat. Even if we won this engagement, sooner or later we'd lose one, and we can't afford to lose a single man at this time. This was self-evident for all of us, and--thankfully--I got no backtalk for my decision. The hard part was deciding where to go and how to get there; at this point, we agreed that north (away from the zeds) was our best option.

Keeping the zeds away was one thing. Organizing a migration was another. Doing both at the same time? Hellacious, even with everyone on board willing and able to pitch in. It wasn't that the zeds were a pressing problem. It was the time. We had to move out, migrate undetected, arrive without incident, and settle in for Winter all within a few short months. This would be bothersome in the best of times, and we were not there.

We were up against an enemy we could not kill. Oh, sure, blow off the heads of the zeds and so on, but that's not enough. Hive minds don't work that way; the best we can do is keep it away, and diverted. So, we went after it while we prepared. We hit sighted groups of zeds at maximum distance for our rifles, fired a few times, and then faded away into the countryside. We hit on one side, then the other, keeping the zeds confused as to where we were. This confused them, until we saw one day that one of them moved with purpose, as if alive. We chose not to engage, but instead to take that as our cue to move out.

We trapped the homestead, rigged it to collapse and burn should they come- and once we moved out, we made them come into the trap. I had no clue if it would work, if it would fool that hive mind, but soon enough it would not matter. We had more pressing problems; we had less-than-helpful folks in the way between us and our destination.

The problem we ran into was the foolish survivalist sort, the folks who think that they could turn marauder after a collapse and succeed, being just as much a predatory presence as the zeds. In other words, they never got the true meaning of Romero's zombie films and instead thought it was an instruction manual. Fortunately we maintained the practice of keeping scouts well enough ahead to warn the rest of us, and warn us our scouts did; stealth and avoidance were our ways in these days, and again they proved their worth.

To deal with them, I had an idea, and it would be dangerous.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The New Barbarians-02

I now lead a raiding band of four men. The women, wisely, stayed behind to handle the children and household matters. Our lives now revolved around keeping our household well-supplied. Fortunately, we could raid ruins for some years yet before we had to rely primarily on our own manufactures, assuming--and, as we now faced a full-on zombie apocalypse, it was a smart assumption--that a recovery was not coming anytime soon. It would be a few years yet before the older boys would be ready to join the men and I on our raids, and this was a fragile time. We presumed that contact with others, living or dead, would be dangerous and should be avoided for now.

The radio I kept was our secret weapon. By now survivor groups either organized or, as I did previously, got rolled over by better ones. However, I also began hearing reports that the zeds weren't just mindless shamblers attracted to noise. Rather, they seemed guided by some form of intelligence and would collude as if controlled by a hive mind. My own encounters lead me to accept these reports as genuine. So, when we made a raid upon a nearby department store to acquire supplies, we took our time scouting the place, on the assumption that these hive-mind zeds would have sufficient presence of mind to ambush survivors at likely locations to raid.

I was right about the scouting, but wrong about the threat. We got into position and saw another band, not so disciplined or equipped--they looked like part of a street gang that somehow escaped the inner city and stayed alive this long, but had damn near gone feral--and clearly unwanted folks in my domain. I signaled to the others to take them down, and in a coordinated maneuver we quickly spotted and beheaded them all. Just to be sure, we also destroyed any mostly-intact heads and torched the corpses.

We cleared the store, located the supplies we sought, and controlled our exit properly. It was on the exit that the expected threat occurred, and we saw the zeds we prepared for. I called for our exit contact plan to go down, and fortunately the men kept cool and did what I told them to do. We escaped and evaded, and when we returned we hunkered down for the planned amount of time just in case. Three days passed, nothing came, so we relaxed and started anew.

We had repeated experiences of this sort. Outsiders, unsuitable for alliance or assimilation, encroaching on our lands often shadowed by bands of zeds. After a few such episodes, which I came to track on a map, I sat the men down after dinner one night and walked them through the notations on the map.

"See this?" I said, "It shows a consistent pattern. Outside bands of near-feral scroungers, often from the cities, shadowed by zeds. They come here, and we put them down. The intervals between episodes decreases with each recurrence. What does that look like to you?"

"The zeds are driving them into us."

"Yep. Someone's certain that we're here, and wants us out. They're looking to nail down where we're at."

Friday, October 3, 2014

The New Barbarians-01

The end, for me, was liberating. Many years of skulking in the shadows, carefully crafting opportunities to cull cancers from the population, now came to an end. No more need to hide away what I really am, and so when the burning ended I emerged ready to carve out my place in this restored world. Using my bolthole as a base of operations, I quickly and effectively terminated--or is it re-terminated--the zeds I encountered within a five-mile radius of my bolthole. Boy, am I glad for all those hours at the range; I got near-perfect one-shot-one-kill ammunition efficiency when engaging zeds.

By the following Spring, I found that I kept my radius clear of hostiles. Food and other supplies were still good, but resupply would become necessary sometime during the coming months because I had not the space to stock for more than a year at a time. During the warmer Winter days, I scoped out some nearby cabins and found them both intact and uninhabited. I found one near a lake, well out of sight, and relocated there before the season turned to Summer. Once I settled in, and dug out a new bolthole, I went about scavenging. Ammunition, fuel, food, and other supplies I managed to recover from other boltholes I established as well as from failed hides that I cleared out. So, when Summer arrived, I was ready to go when an opportunity arises.

I had a radio. I monitored it. I heard from desperate folks within reasonable reach of my location, so I went to them. Typical fools. Unprepared, out of supplies, and freaking out now that their world is gone and somehow they survived it. My conditions were the same: "I'm the boss. You do as I say, and I let you live. Pack your shit up and follow me, or I'm leave you to get eaten."

Twelve interventions I made over the Summer, and three did not come with me. I refused two due to their being human cancers that somehow survived the burning of the world; I kneecapped them and let them suffer the indignity of getting eaten by zeds. One refused me, so I shot the man of the group and that got the rest in line. I put them all to work around the household--and yes, I now lead a household--getting ready additional space for living and storage for the winter.

That Winter took its toll. Foolish women and wimpish men acting like children didn't take well to living as their grandfathers did, so I showed no mercy in punishing them. I made examples of them, and once made I took pains to bind the rest together by blood: I took the best women as wives and began making my own heirs. I coined our household "Lakeside Hold", and when one of my wives addressed me as "Master" I went with it. The old world was dead, and with it the unnatural and toxic ideas that could not live without its artificial substitutes for real life. Natural Law abhorred the decadence I hunted in the shadows, and now once more the world is as it once was: a world where family is all, blood is life, and everyone knew their place- or else.

I remembered an article in a magazine from years before, when this was a nascent movement. "The New Barbarians" they called us then. Well, they're all dead and gone and we are thriving. If this is the new barbarism, then I am the new chieftain of the resurgent clan: Clan Thorson.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Administration Q3 for 2014

There will be one more serial for 2014, which will begin next Friday and on the established update schedule thereafter- ending the week before Christmas. During this time, however, I am also writing my third novel and inquiring as to the viability of making a pitch now (as in "before the end of the year") or holding off for 2015. While you won't see anything different, consider that this may be the last year where four original stories on a weekly basis is the norm for this blog. Should the novel sell, I will refocus towards that and let this blog slide down in priority.

Readership is steady. Traffic sources, flows, and rates remain constant and consistent; reach and audience, therefore, is also consistent and constant. I am now inclined, after doing this for five years, to make the transition from hobby to professional; this is what the novel attempt is about- taking concepts and ideas first developed here and making them into a commercially-viable novel. If you've enjoyed any of what I write here, then you will like the novel and I encourage you to (a) tell your friends and (b) keep your eyes peeled as I'll use Admin posts here to keep all of you abreast on developments.

If the novel hits, then this blog's new status will be purely experimentation coupled with informational and promotional posts regarding novels, appearances, etc. I may also ask for Beta readers when I am ready to do so, and that may be as early as the end of this year.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Reluctant Doomsayer-12

New Year's Day came. I wrote in a journal how the loss of contact with the wider world had hit me hard, and despite expecting that to happen this still hammered me something fierce. Coping with it, while keeping track of the days, was difficult. Fortunately, all of my preparations paid off and I knew that--so long as I could keep it together between my ears--I would make it to Spring without a problem. Therefore I focused my efforts on keeping myself sane and stable, which meant keeping up a routine while awaiting expected external events.

Like my angel friend stopping by one more time.

"Job's done, monkey." he said, "How does it feel to successfully prophesize the end of the world?"

"I'm not sure. It's been less than a month. All I hear on the radio now, when I hear anything at all, is a horror show. Zombies, of all things, along with people going feral and collapsing into survivor groups. This new world makes real things previously considered fantasy, and I don't know what to make of it."

He chuckled. "Honest, to the last."

"A bit morbid, aren't we? You're now far more able than I am to see what's going on. The Internet is down, likely for good. Radio is spotty at best, and most able to broadcast aren't talking good news. For those of us that made it through, we're now confronting the fact that the world we knew is gone. Even if we rebuild what we can, it's not going to be the same. Even if we recover what we lose, it's not going to be the same. That time is done, gone, and can never return. That's a heavy thing to face, and it stands to destroy many of those who survived this cataclysm."

"Do you have a plan?"

"A grand strategy to rebuild civilization into something recognizable to those that remember what was before? No. A simple strategy to build up a foundation for an enduring community, from which others can build towards a new civilization in due time? Yeah. Not a town, not even a village or a hamlet, is what I have in mind. Much smaller, within my own capabilities, is to build this place up into a sustainable farmstead. That's my plan."

"Humble at heart. Even in the face of desolation. Yet faithful."

"So, why the visit?"

"He's got a message for you."

"Hit me."

He laid a hand upon my forehead. "He blesses you, removing you from the Book of Death and ensuring you to His bosom forevermore, and shielding you from the instruments of His wrath."

I didn't know it then, but this meant the zombies. I got to be immune to being turned, and invisible to them; this also meant that I was one of the sources for the Purified Seed of Mankind.

"Oh, and He's got a new task for you, since He figured that you'd be preparing for what to do next."

"Go forth and multiply?"

He laughed. "Exactly. Don't worry about how; He's got that sorted."

And that was that. Winter passed, and in the Spring a young lady--who turned out to have been a listener--found me. My life would change again, but that's for another story.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Reluctant Doomsayer-11

Time began to run out. I used the remaining time to square away my own situation; there was no running now, so when it hit I had to be certain that I had everything I required to handle myself in all things for an indefinite period of time, probably several years, before any viable recovery got to me. Redundant parts. Years upon years of food and medicine. More clothes. Generators, purifiers, a still, storage for fuel of varying sorts, and everything I'd need to make my own food and clothing- including the curing of leather. More guns and ammo. More components for reloading ammo. You name it, I stocked it.

I documented all of this for my audience. I implored my audience to follow my example, especially the whole "get out of the cities" thing, and I'd back that up with regular analysis of the fast-deteriorating global political and economic system. The West began targeting the East with economic sanctions and proxy wars, who in turn began economic organizing amongst themselves to cut out the U.S. Dollar. It became clear that the targets of my prophecy's flashpoint would be the primary cities in the East and South, and I soon received--and verified--intelligence from my audience that the West had an intention to break this resistance to their hegemony by means of proxy nuclear terrorism.

Prophets got to profess, so I put together the most likely scenario given the information that I had to work with and put it out online. I talked about this near to exclusivity, both on my own sites and in interviews. I laid out that the plan was for the West, using proxies, to detonate the nuclear weapons--stolen from the Russians to enhance deniability--in these ten most populated cities. The West would have the resources on hand to go in, no questions asked, to rescue and clean up the mess because these detonations would cripple the East and the South, decapitating the threat by exterminating the leadership class to a man. Nuclear war, in theory, would be prevented due to inquiries revealing the Russian origin of the weapons used and pressure to focus on global unity against terrorism would suppress any remaining dissent against Western domination of the world.

Billions would die, and billions more would die later, all so that one group of high-functioning psychopaths could stop a rival group of the same from ruining their scam and stopping their gangster (in favor of another gang's version). I knew that I could not stop it, so I implored everyone near the targeted cities to flee far from those doomed metroplexes right now and get squared away in their bug-out locations. Then I said that all of us should do that, since I already had, and I heard plenty of people contact me to say that they followed my advice.

I kept myself sane by doing the chores around the homestead, and then hunting deer and fowl to supplement my food stocks--which, thankfully, were quite full. I quickly taught myself how to process the old way what I took, and carefully conserved the casings and shells so I could reload them. I picked up a ham radio and learned how to use it, and encouraged my listeners to do the same if they could, because the odds of the Internet being able to take the incoming nuclear strikes were slim to none. Backup everything locally, shield what you can, get print versions of references you want around- all of that.

The seasons turned, Winter arrived, and the lake froze over. I soon had an ice fishing shack in place. It was there, as the sun sank below the trees, that I felt a terrible feeling run through me. I hurried back inside, locked everything down, and prepared to switch over to backup power; a quick check of my computer confirmed that more and more of the Internet came down as each hour passed. The radio waves had nothing but static outside of government chatter, and they talked only about confirmed nuclear detonations and a great wall of blue-white flame going ground-to-sky seeming to incinerate anything caught outside.

When that wave hit here, I lost all contact with the outside world. All of it. I saw the flames through the windows burn for three days straight, yet not incinerating the woods outside, or even touching my shack. The end had come. My mission was over, but it wasn't concluded just yet.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Reluctant Doomsayer-10

I'd kept in touch with the audience as I recovered. I actively sought reliable, credible media outlets and individuals. I did more interviews as a result of this effort, and my blogging began to show both photos I took as proof for claims about myself as well as contributed (and verified) user photos sent to me and used with permission. The assassins faded from the news as newer and more exciting media creations appeared to take up time and attention, but I did not let it go- not only did I insist on pursuit about that story, I organized my audience to put this into a wider and more applicable context. The creation we made took on a life of its own; with the aid of my fellows, I again turned the media power against itself.

To my audience, I shifted to explaining the importance of being prepared for a disaster. I began by using the necessity of preparing for severe weather events, such as tornadoes or blizzards, and expanding up to hurricanes and typhoons. I linked to the many reputable sources for individual disaster preparation out there, and from there I built up to a full program of preparation coupled with argumentation for engagement with those who live near you and voluntary organization amongst one's community. It is in this transition that I found a need for something new to include, and that something was a need to locate one's identity outside oneself; this mean a philosophical and aesthetic shift, and--again, contrary to all of my predecessors--I went with the Trivium Method and the critical examination of religion and mythology.

You'd think that a prophet would be disapproved for doing this. Yet I found out, in a manner I freely admit is irrational and not subject to the rational inquiry and independent verification of the scientific method, that this was not so. You see, at this time I was out in the middle of nowhere. I was under a hill, over 15 miles from any major highway, over five miles from a county road, and out of sight of the dirt road that led to my hidden home. Furthermore, I masked my IP address to appear as if I were still in the Twin Cities, shifting it slightly every season to keep up the appearance of your usual urban activist with a death mark. I used proxy accounts to handle what I ordered online, and when I was out and about I used alternate identities. While not impossible to track me down, I made it so bothersome that only the very dedicated would bother to put in the work.

So, imagine my surprise when I found first a feral housecat and then a homeless dog coming to my door. I knew signs when I saw them, and this I took as being His response to my actions, in the form of "It's dangerous to be alone. Take these." The cat turned out to be quite the mouser, and the dog turned out to be a great hunting and guard dog once I figured out how to train it. This sounds like idle chatter, but having a pair of working animals around meant that I had need of them- and I had need of them because the very thing I warned about started to manifest.

Stupid political brinksmanship began in Southwest Asia and in the Black Sea area near Crimea. Then a sad series of political theater shows in the Far East between Japan, Taiwan, the People's Republic of China, South Korea, North Korea, and even Russia started a series of tit-for-tat moves that destablized that region. Israel got their genocide on again, hoping that they could complete wiping out the Palestinians while everyone else looked away, and that was enough for me to shift my focus again to urging my audience to move now while the moving was easy.

As the weather turned towards Winter, I got the premonition that the end would soon come. The only question remaining was whether I would go first or not.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Reluctant Doomsayer-09

The game changed for the worse when I turned on the evening news to find that my lawyer had been gunned down in his office. There was nothing at all plausible about the scenario; his private security cameras captured the sudden assault on his office building by masked hitmen wielding fully-automatic rifles, killing the security detail on the way and then himself as they burst into his office. Only his secretary, who wasn't there at the time, remained; she found them upon returning with dinner. The office had been ransacked, and the hard drives taken from his computers, so they had a secondary objective of data retrieval.

In the days to follow, I confirmed that the targeted data involved all of my holdings kept in his care. That meant that I had to bug out; I would clearly be hit again. I let the word out to my audience across all of my platforms, and updated copies of my archives flooded the Internet as well as a few dead drops I'd cultivated. Expendables got moved into their bugout positions, and transferables got moved into position. My preparations in this event worked more or less as expected; the evening after everything was in place, I saw them coming.

This time it was a series of vans, in total disgorging 40 men. This was no team, or even a squad, but a full platoon of hired professional killers and I was still no match for such a threat. Fortunately, the building I inhabited I now had kitted out to defend in place. I cut all direct ties to the ground, and sent out a call for aid, with a single push of a pre-programmed panic button application. It would slow them down long enough to let me escape.

The false silhouettes in the lower floors drew out their sharpshooters, cut elevators and stairways forced them to hustle the hard way to get to the top floor, and the right kind of 911 robocall got the police to send out the SWAT team to an Active Shooter conducting a Home Invasion as fast as they could manage. As they began hitting my tripwires, slowing them further, the police arrived and the expected firefight broke out between the assassins and the police.

I got to the top floor, got my chute on, and made the jump as I previously planned. One of them spotted me and fired, and I got hit; I took a shot that--fortunately--went through and through. It entered from behind, passed just under my lungs, and out the side without damaging anything vital. It still hurt and it burned, but I'd be okay. I got to the stashed car, used the trauma kit in the car to stabilize myself, and slipped away in the chaos. I took none of the routes that I wrote down or otherwise mentioned to anyone; I used one I kept entirely in my head. If I was to be followed I would know right away; similarly, I lied about the bugout place's actual location, so I would know if somehow I'd been mind-fucked.

I switched cars thrice on the way. I left in a used runabout city car, swapped to a minivan to do most of the travelling, and then swapped to a pickup with four-wheel drive and no connectivity for the last leg. I drove into a camoflaged garage, closed up, and unloaded there before I went into my bugout chamber, cleared it, and secured it. I expected only one visitor, and he hadn't appeared yet.

Now locked down and secured in my holdout location, I checked on the world outside. The assassins lost men fighting the police, leading to them being tied to an unbelievable consortium of known fringe groups: white supremacists, Christian terrorists, outlaw bikers, Muslim terrorists, anti-government terrorists, drug cartel hitmen, and former Mobsters. Oh, and the government covert agents amongst them. The media flipped their collective and proverbial tables over this, when they weren't wondering how a blogger managed to set up such a defensive situation. As for those following my media presence, as soon as I put forth proof that I was indeed safe and secure in an undisclosed location, I then put forth a full and detailed accounting for my end of things; this got picked up by the media, which--mercifully--gave them the excuse needed to stop giving any attention to me and focus instead on the killers.

My wound began healing, but self-treatment remained slow, and it was during one of these management moments that my expected visitor showed up.

"Holed up, literally, aren't we?"

"Took you long enough, Mike." I said as I changed bandages.

"You didn't make it easy."

"The current term is 'operational security', and you didn't need to know. He did explain that concept to you, right?"

Michael snickered. "Clever, monkey."

I finished cleaning the wound. "You weren't around to play superhero. I figured I had to see to myself."

"So, you're far from cities and other people now. What's the plan?"

"Exclusively online for the rest of the mission." I said, "I can't explain how or why, but I've got the feeling that what's coming is going to hit really soon, so it's time to shift the focus from getting the word out to getting the audience to follow my example. As for what's after that, I'm operating on the assumption that I will be part of the remnant working to rebuild anew from the ashes of the scourged world before."

"Assuming that you don't die." Michael said.

"I won't know the day or the hour." I said, putting on a clean shirt, "I can't go on worrying about what's outside of my control. All I can do, barring external intervention, is go about my life pursing my goals as best I can."

"Well, I have a meeting with Him shortly. I'll see what I can do. You're a funny monkey. I'd like to keep you around a while longer."

"Gee, thanks, I guess." I said, and he was gone.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Reluctant Doomsayer-08

Unlike most prophets, whose response to assassination attempts is to hold on to things that don't matter in a foolish display of blind obedience to faith, I heeded that advice to relocate when I left the hospital.

Again, with my lawyer's help, I quickly liquidated my current residence in favor of one off the grid. I went underground, figuratively, but not literally. Literally, I went into the clouds; I took a top-floor loft in what was a warehouse, and I put in the time required to make it livable. As I had neither a woman nor children, the space was more than I required and therefore put me in a situation where I could consolidate my operations into a single space- and keep both exposure and expenses down to a minimum.

My replacement car was even more of a forgettable, bland, boring runabout car than what I lost in the ambush. My documentation of the event, as much as both the legal system and prudence allowed, deflected all but the most depraved and incompetent rhetorical attacks upon me in its wake. The new place had all of the equipment I needed to run my outreach operations, including a home gym to stay fit and more.

Naturally, Michael stopped by for a visit.

"Not bad." he said, coming in the window one night, "You're far smarter than His usual choices. Most get stubborn in a stupid way and refuse to adapt to changes in the situation."

"While the men that ambushed me are either gone or caught up in other affairs, the party that hired them is still out there and they don't back down. Relocating to a position where I could control any intrusion seemed like a good idea."

"You're just below the roof." Michael said, "Can you fly?"

I rolled back a parachute rig. "Not exactly, but close enough. I have stashed nearby a getaway vehicle, and I've got a hideout that is off the books and known to no one but me. I get out, get away, and hunker down there. All of the vital things that I required are impossible for the enemy to wipe from existence without destroying the whole of global civilization, so long as I have Internet access."

Michael smiled.

"I've turned the enemy leader's alleged domain against him." I said.

"So, you've forced the issue."

"Michael, I know that the message won't reach everyone in time. Most won't hear it, and of those that do only a handful--as it were--would act as intended. However, those that are hearing it come from all over the world. That means faithful remnants will arise all over the world, ready and able to take on the task of rebuilding and fulfilling the promise in this message. To make this happen, I had to cut the link between a physical object and the conveyance of information."

Michael nodded. "You're also the most realistic of His chosen. Do you expect to survive?"

"Expect? No. That doesn't mean that I want to die. All it means is that I will keep it at bay until my mission is fulfilled."

Michael applauded. "That's a good monkey."

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Reluctant Doomsayer-07

Sooner or later, the fundamental patterns that govern existence always manifest and fulfill their purpose. The trials of a prophet are no different.

I had left my lawyer's office after a consultation about taking legal action one night. On my way home, a UPS truck swerved out in front of me and had I not braked and turned into it I would have taken a hit on my side of my car- a lethal collision. Instead, I jumped the curb and collided with a light pole, which then fell on my car. The truck collided with a traffic light. So far, just a freakish--but ordinary--traffic incident, until armed men burst forth from the back of the truck and fired upon my car as I worked myself out. I got hit, but at the time I didn't notice due to the adrenaline pumping throughout my body to keep me awake and alert, so I popped the door open and fell out.

I had no firearms of my own, as I did not expect anyone to attempt to do me wrong like this. However, I did not make the mistake of thinking that my attackers' ceasing to fire upon me meant that it was safe to stand up. I peaked around the corner, and I saw them advancing upon me. The way that they reloaded their rifles--effortlessly dropping the empty magazine out, replacing it with a full one, and then charging the rifle--showed me that my opponents had trained, and trained for some time, with their rifles. The way that they moved as a unit showed me that they trained together for at least as long. This, I realized, was not an effort by some opportunistic amateurs to score an underground bounty. I was up against professionals.

I am no professional, so I did what any prophet in this situation did: I prayed. I didn't ask for much; just a sign as to where to go, and a chance to do it. Moments later, I heard sirens in the distance and they seemed to get closer. I glanced back, saw that they hesitated, and that's when I ran for it. Immediately they turned and fired upon me again. I dove for cover behind a bus bench, which got shot up right quick and sent splinters flying everywhere. I already had some nicks on my right shoulder, arm, and side; now I took a grazing wound on my ankle. I managed to not fall wrong, but still I wasn't fairing well.

I scrambled to my feet and ran some more, and down the street I fled. They pursued, and they fired upon me, and they scored a good hit just off-center of where my spine and waist meet. I didn't know it then, but it was a through-and-through hit, which is why I stayed alive and without lasting or permanent injury. However, if not for a few people at home getting out their hunting rifles and returning fire from their front windows, I surely would have died. A couple of high school students, under covering fire from their father and uncle, grabbed me from the street and got me into their house. They kept me in one piece until, hours later and after the police secured the area, an ambulance arrived to take me to the hospital.

The next day, my lawyer arrived with my laptop. While he hooked me up and got me online, he explained that the police reviewed the security camera footage from the traffic cameras and others in that neighborhood. They concluded that I took the best course of action, that it was a deliberate attempt at murder, and that I should consider relocating once I'm discharged. He also told me that a pair of detectives would be by to interview me, and that he would be present. While I waited, I took the opportunity put up as much documentation of the event as was prudent at that time and let my audience know that--for the moment--I was okay, and to pray for me.

I had no idea then who would go so far as to send professional killers--none of whom were apprehended, or killed--after me, but I had a very good idea as to why: the message.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Reluctant Doomsayer-06

The media requests from the alternative media accelerated, and I engaged them carefully and with an eye towards incorporating them into my overall strategy. I took the time to look into each outlet that contacted me, seeing which ones would be hostile or less than honest and which were not. In the meantime, I decided to look into the state's definitions of libel and slander along with the current state of precedent regarding these statutes; I felt that, given my experience at the convention, I should anticipate that I would be targeted by hit-pieces soon enough.

I was not wrong. The outlets I turned down did about-faces and published those hit-pieces on me; the outlets I accepted, by and large, let me give full and proper explanations of my message as well as my methodology for my work. By the time that all of the hostile outlets did their publishing and airing of their attacks, I took copies and recordings to a lawyer's office to discuss my options. The legal costs, as I expected, were high enough to make legal recourse something I would reserve as a last-option move; I would be better served naming, shaming, and exposing my detractors in public. Lawyer-client privilege would protect my identity for the time being, should anyone seek to dig into my decision to seek legal counsel.

This development was not unexpected. However, the real aim is to derail my messaging by consuming my time and attention defending myself. It did not matter if the attacks were easily dispensed with; what matters is that I had to dispense with them or face the consequence of a defamed reputation. Now, past prophets would just grin and bear this sort of pain because they had no recourse due to living in a world where concepts such as "Rule of Law" didn't exist; tribal peoples, clan-based nations, and so on had a very different perception of acceptable social behavior. I live in a very different environment, and I am not so foolish as to believe that the social rules of Biblical Israel's era exist here and now. My response to those attacking my ministry cannot be as those of old were.

So, with a little help, I automated the defense with a simple script. I would load up a template, insert the source links, add the appropriate annotations that I already entered into the template, and post it to the 'blog. The result was that time spent dealing with their hit-pieces drops from days or hours to the span of a coffee break; I kept this clean, clear, public, and open for all to see- in other words, entirely above-board. Sure, I got flak from some of my emerging and growing audience for adopting this stance, but I told them that this would serve me well when--inevitably--one of them would cross the line of legal liability.

That incident happened when a handful of loud-mouth shock-jocks, friends and peers, made a coordinated smear campaign against me that included (for the first time) incitement to riot, to harass, to defraud, and otherwise take destruction and unlawful action against me. The media outlets I previously connected with, to their credit, intervened on my side and fact-checked this group on the air and online. That lead to escalation, as those broadcast and Internet enemies turned their considerable influence against my allies; their listeners, cult-like in devotion, began running harassment campaigns immediately against them also. The calls, the hacks, the distributed Denial of Service attacks, the use of local and Federal law enforcement against them (starting with false calls accusing key personnel of domestic violence), and especially the gang-stalking all quickly got out of hand.

Then one of the more prominent, and skeptical, people fact-checking claims against me suddenly died in a car accident. His car, as caught on camera, went out of control and hit a street light head-on at over 100 Miles Per Hour- killing the man on impact. In the aftermath of his death, blame for it fell hard and heavy on me by my opposition; being that we're in Crazytown, the term "False Flag" is commonplace and got thrown at me- they claimed that, somehow, I hack into his car's computer and cause it to crash. I wasn't too worried, but then I heard Gabriel whisper at me: "Call your lawyer."

It was a good thing that I heeded that whisper. While at my lawyer's office, he took a phone call from the F.B.I. inquiring about me; they claimed to want to question me. We quickly settled on meeting them right away, since I was already there, at his office; the questioning proved to be hostile, as if they believed the hacking claim, but between my lawyer's presence and the careful way I documented everything to date I walked out a free man and the agents sent turned their attention to my detractors. Of course, I posted the experience to my blog. I also immediately backed everything up and made multiple copies, one set being put into that same lawyer's hands.

One thing was certain, and that thing was--once this criminal investigation concluded--the time for a civil action had come.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Reluctant Doomsayer-05

I negotiated with the convention committee as to the appearance. I explained to them my concerns, and they did demonstrate that they understood, so they agreed to a tele-presence appearance over Skype- especially after I explained the cost-savings that they would have by going with my plan.

The resulting appearance, with no face camera and a subtly-modulated voice to disguise my identity, worked well. I had my end ready; documents and source materials in the cloud, ready for download and place where the traffic could handle it, as well as a slideshow presentation. The convention and I agreed to billing this as a live podcast, which brought out a sizeable audience, and convention materials did get the URLs for my supplementary materials out on time. Everything got set up for a good showing.

Everything went fine until I finished the presentation and opened for questions. I prepared for a hostile questioning period, but this was a degree of hostility that I had no anticipated. I faced a combination of rigidly dogmatic Christians, and rigidly dogmatic atheists, neither of which were open to rational argumentation. I had to assume a position of amused mastery and take a paternal tone with them to keep my cool. Fortunately, my studies and memory proved to be time well spent; by the time that the appearance concluded, I exposed my critics as being ignorant and irrational in their opposition to my message.

I took that as a sign of things to come. While my metrics and analytics showed increased sales, traffic, and revenue from same I'd been made painfully aware that the traditional tribulations of a prophet remained. I kept that in mind when I received alerts as to posts made on social media and in the Blogosphere regarding my appearance. Now more offers appeared in my inboxes, email and others such as Skype, and I realized that I'd now crossed a threshold past which my relative anonymity no longer existed- now I had to be very vigilante as to my privacy.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Reluctant Doomsayer-04

Michael stopped by to visit. He still looked like Walken to me.

"You've got quite a thing going here." he said, stopping by as I reviewed analytics, "Quite ingenious of you."

"Does He approve?"

"For now." he said, "But I'm not so sure. All this is confusing."

"The prophets of old lived in a very different world, Michael. Information was heavily restricted, and the methods for training the mind to think properly were the province of the mystery schools. Most people were illiterate, uneducated, and narrowly skilled- if skilled at all. Knowledge, therefore, was restricted to what was in living memory for an individual and their family- unless he was part of the priest class or a mystery school initiate. Because of this state of affairs, having someone come along claiming to be a prophet speaking the Word of God was difficult, but hardly improbable, to accept- especially if he spoke the right way at the right time to the right audience."

Michael nodded.

"This remained consistent for millenia. Only in the last century or so has it really changed. Now? Forget about it; the paradigm changed, with it comes the conversation that a would-be prophet must have to be taken seriously, to be heeded and not just heard. I see, and so do you I expect, a lot of would-be sorts out there that might be heard but rarely--if ever--are heeded. That's because they don't know the rules, and because they don't know the rules they can't use them to their advantage."

"So, you've spent the time since I last talked to you doing this?"


"And your results are?"

"I've received my first invitation to a convention as a guest of honor, where I will be able to spread the word to a receptive audience with impunity."


"That is the point, correct? To spread the word, that's the point. Well, then I have to take myself out of the equation as much as I can, so that the attention goes to the message and not to the messenger. This is the historical problem with prophecy; the flaw is that attention is too much paid to the man and not to the word. I've avoided, as much as possible, putting a face to the message; I use psuedonyms, obvious ones, to negate the tendency to attach importance to the messenger to the message. Even with this appearance offer, I'm considering turning it down because it means attaching a name and a face at last- and that means a host of issues that I'd rather avoid."

"Interesting. I think I see why The Man wanted you for this job."

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Reluctant Doomsayer-03

"You're no fool, Michael." I said, "You know what the rules for effective communications are. If I am to be heeded, let alone heard, I need solid proof. Faith alone is not enough."

"You leave that to The Man." he said, and off he went.

So, off I went to the usual place to start this sort of thing these days: The Internet. I sorted through all sorts of conspiracy nonsense, and even the more sensible stuff lacked sources or other evidence that I could verify independently. Other than some of the well-established material, which centered itself in more mundane government or corporate corruption and ownership complimented by long-running fraternal ties (or their sorority counterparts) and inter-locking networks of corporate board memberships, I had a hell of a time finding anything that would make me credible. As this is not the days where some dude could stand in a public square, preach to whomever would listen, and slowly attract a following that will actually translate into socio-economic power--just watching cranks on YouTube make that plain--I had to come up with a better plan.

So, I did the logical thing: I created an online presence. I made a new Google account, so I could make the most of free stuff that Google offers. Facebook, Twitter, Podomatic, Instagram, Scribd, and so followed hot on those heels. I downloaded some free podcasting software, put up a site that could act as a landing platform for searches, and then started writing blog posts as well putting up stuff for reading and put together an audio-only podcast show. With some Powerpoint work, I turned the audio-only shows into YouTube vidoes. I made a personal subreddit at Reddit and used that as another avenue to get the word out, making the most of each media outlet's features to do what a lot of my rivals--especially the cranks--did not: post sources, citations, and other such evidence that others could follow up on their own.

Did I speculate? Yes, I did, and I said so clean and clear- often in BOLD ITALICS. I banned trolls without mercy, and once I got on the radar of the counter-intelligence brigades online I screen-shot and posted exposes. I attracted an initial crowd of rubber-neckers, trolls, cranks, and the other usual audience segments found out in Crazytown. I did my best to cull the toxic elements, and cultivate the sensible ones that would follow-up and act on what I provided. As one would expect, this became a full time job. Fortunately, due to the way that the various outlets worked, I could--and, soon, did--satisfy the standards of various sites' partnership requirements. That gave me one ad-supported revenue stream after the next, in addition to the donations I took in, which allows me to do this without outside interference in the form of a day job.

"Trust in The Lord, and he will provide." my late uncle, a retired minister, would say. Well, so far it's working. Time to start putting things together, and make use of outlets like Amazon and Lulu to publish what I put together. I wonder if this is what it feels like to be David Icke?

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Reluctant Doomsayer-02

(Some time later...)

"Fine, fine, you want me to play at being a prophet. Blah, blah, blah, whatever. What's the message then?"

"Well," Michael said, "that's a very good question. Not that it will help, but I will tell you what is soon to happen. You see, He's about to let the really stupid monkeys down here finish their plans for total domination. There are two groups of monkeys at work here. One of them goes really far back, and they worship the losing side because they think that they can somehow avoid His trap and win. The other side is a front group for the first that's gotten out of hand. The first group are going to conduct a big ritual sacrifice, and the second group will provide--unwittingly--that sacrifice under the guise of scaring the world into letting them take total control."

"Nukes." I said, "They're going to nuke the planet."

"Correct." Michael smiled. "You're a smart one. Hold on, it gets better. The second group will create false terrorist attacks on the ten biggest cities in the world, and they will execute these attacks all at once. Just like that, the world's ten biggest monkey cages blow up, with all the monkeys in them instantly incinerated. Not even Uriel ever thought of that."

"And the first group intends to somehow use the energy of those deaths to do some magic thing that something-something-something and they win?"

"They think that they'll have enough power to empower the other side enough to win, and in return they'll rule the world as his chief henchmen."

"Wait," I said, "what's to say that this power will be contained enough to be used?"

Michael smiled. "You get it!"

And I could not hide the horror on my face.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Reluctant Doomsayer-01

I heard the impossible. I heard a knock on the door. I should hear nothing after that last seizure. I should be dead, blissfully dead.

The door knock. I heard it a second time, and then a muffled--but irritated--voice.

I got up and answered the door. I saw a man that looked like Christopher Walken, but too young to really be him, and too much like a well-known role of his, for it to be him.

"You're Michael." I said.

"Clever monkey." he said, and he pushed past me into my room, shutting the door.

"I'd tell you to not be afraid, but that's obvious, and before you ask: I had a hand in the first one, but the others didn't have my guiding hand, and the me portrayed isn't actually mad with Him. Just a story, albeit one with some truth to it."

"Well, that explains why I'm not quite dead yet."

"Look at you." he said, "Undone by a heart attack, brought on by all this stress felt due to a lifetime of frustration."

"You're not here to chit-chat." I said.

He smiled. "True, I'm not. I'm here on His behalf, and He has an offer for you."

"Go on." I said, sitting down.

"Your fellow monkeys finally got on His bad side, again."

"Well, I doubt I'm being asked to do the righteous smiting thing. Your kind is far better for that."

"I see why He picked your name out of the hat, as it were." Michael said, "You're the Final Prophet, if you accept. Your task will be to give the final warning to repent before the Judgement."

"This sort of negotiating seems far more reminscent of a gangster film than a proper negotiation. Nonetheless, what happens should I refuse."

"Death, and not the sort that relieves. Total and eternal severance from Him. You think you folks go mad being alone too long now?"

I quickly put the dots together. "Okay. And what's on offer for acceptance."

"If you're lucky, a remnant of your kind will get back on His good side and be allow to start over after the mass exterminations, and you--assuming you hold up your end--are guaranteed eternity in blissful serenity."

The door to my room exploded inward, and another man who looked like Christopher Walken walked into the room.

"Not. Funny." he said to the other one, and in a smooth motion snatch me up and took me away. Since Kansas is well behind me at this point, I just went with it. Some time soon thereafter, he sat me down and stared at me.

"Did you decide?"

"Nope. I figured it had to be a trap, because you folks who are still on God's side don't negotiate. You just deliver news or execute commands."

"True. That said, there is something He wants you to do, and you're not dead yet because this work is yours, like it or not."

"Let me guess: I'm to warn the world of God's impending wrath?"


"Any help forthcoming from His end?"

"You don't die, yet. Other things to come as required; do your part, maintain faith in Him to handle the rest, and everything will go well."


Friday, June 27, 2014

Administration Q2 for 2014

We are now halfway through 2014.

The analytics for this 'blog remain consistant and constant; most of my audience is in the Anglosphere, followed by English-reading people in Russia. There is a long-tail effect, meaning that the value of my stories grows over time because it is not subject to the usual bias towards novelty and the new that I see in my 'blogs where I deal in either political philosophy or talk about other things of a more ephemeral nature. Stories, on the other hand, by being little or not sensitive to the demand of immediacy allows readers to come back time and again to read what they want as they choose.

So, at the risk of being boring, the conclusion is simple: maintain course.

There will be two more serials for this year, one per quarter. I will begin the Q3 serial next week, but I warn you now that next Friday is also during CONvergence, where I will be in attendance through Sunday of next weekend. Therefore, that first post may be delayed until Sunday; I will attempt to get it up at the usual time, but because the convention's events may produce emergent results that get in the way of that. Q4 begins at the end of September, as the heat of Summer dissipates swiftly and the onset of Autumn rushes upon us, and expect our end-of-year Administration post on Boxing Day in December (as that is the last Friday of 2014).

I will not announce the stories now. Better that you be surprised. I am grateful to all of you who read my work, however good or not they are in quality, and I hope that you would follow me as I attempt a transition to writing novels. I wrote my first one in 2006 for National Novel Writer's Month just to prove to myself that I could do it; a hard drive crash destroyed that one. I wrote my second to prove that I could do it again in the Spring leading up to CONvergence two years ago; I have yet to publish that one, as it is in dire need of a wholesale rewrite. I've since continued to hone my craft, and now I am ready to write a third one; this will continue to take up more of my time through the rest of the year, first in the drafting and then in revision prior to seeking publication.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tom and The Wizard-12

The Wizard sat in a room, alone, seated at a round table. Four featureless walls surrounded him, with a non-descript interior door the only portal to be had. Then the door opened, and in came a woman and a man, both attired much as he was- professional, if a bit dated.

"Madam," The Wizard said, "and Sir."

"The others are decided." the woman said, "They are satisfied."

"You fulfilled the expectations for this operation." the man said, "Exactly so."

"Too exact." the woman said.

"Well," The Wizard said, "I can't go about showing up everyone else in all things now, can I? That doesn't do well for morale."

"You executed a complicated, risky, and uncertain operation with naught but yourself and what resources you personally procured in a fraction of the time that should ordinarily be the case." the man said, "If I did not know better, I would be suspicious that you'd kept these Nazi holdouts stashed away someplace for just this sort of occasion."

"I had a plan." The Wizard said, "I paid attention to the situation, and I adjusted the plan as necessary. Nothing more than just paying attention, and knowing what to do in the moment."

"Your humble bragging is unbecoming." the woman said, "We have good reason to believe that your report is neither complete nor comprehensive on the matter."

"You asked me to clean up one of your messes." The Wizard said, "I did, and at a fraction of the time and effort that your own proposes involved. I would like the compensation I am now entitled to receive in return for those services rendered."

The woman and the man looked at each other and sighed. "It's in the main hall."

The Wizard got up and took his leave of them without so much as a wave goodbye. Walking down equally featureless hallways, he made his way up from the interior of this place to the main hall. There, in a bright--but mundane, dispiritingly so--great hall of dull, washed out light colors and no decoration stood a single structure like a smooth shining (but short) marble tower or cylinder. He walked up to it, smiled, and knocked on it approvingly.

"Come on, old girl." The Wizard said, "Time to make amends to a lovely boy." A door in the tower opened, revealing an interior space seeming larger than should be the case, and in he went- closing the door behind him. Moments later, the tower disappeared in a series of blinks that slowly--silently--phased it out of sight.

* * * * *

Tom and Longfellow stood in the middle of Longfellow Hold's courtyard and watched as the shining short cylinder blinked into view and solidified. They stopped talking to each other and watched, and smiled as they realized what this meant. The door opened, and out came The Wizard.

"Still mad at me, Thomas?" The Wizard.

"No." Tom said, "Longfellow explained it all."

"Though dumping him on me on short notice was quite the caddish thing of you." Longfellow said.

The Wizard approached and embraced both men in turn. "I am now able to say that this should never happen again. I truly regret my deceptions, despite their necessity, because powers greater than I can contend with compelled me to do this."

"And?" Tom said.

"I can now properly take you home." The Wizard said, "As for you, my old friend, I have something you need."

The Wizard handed a baton to Longfellow, who opened it and saw the schematics to a machine.

"At last, we can connect to the surface world on our own terms." Longefellow said, "Much thanks, old friend."

"As for you, Thomas, care to see some sights on the way home?"

"Such as?"

The Wizard leaned in close. "How about Mars?"

Tom blinked. The Wizard nodded affirmatively.

Tom hugged Longfellow. "Well, off towards home I go. Maybe someday in the future?"

Longfellow smiled. "Maybe."

The Wizard grabbed Tom by the arm. "Did I mention that I knew Burroughs? His whole series of books on Mars started when I took him there. There was a small mishap on the way there, and we ended up off-course, but that just added to the whole adventure of it. You know, I hadn't told this story since I mentioned it to a BBC man at a dinner party in the early 1960s..."

Tom and the Wizard entered the tower, and moments later it silently blinked out of existence, and towards a new adventure.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tom and The Wizard-11

"We'll, this should be interesting." Tom said, "Now that we're away, I'll finally see how the Nazis were able to fly their saucers to and from the Inner Earth all these years."

The Wizard chuckled. "I think you're going to be disappointed."

"Speaking of which," Tom said, double-checking the instrument panel, "I am disappointed, after a fashion."

"How so, Thomas?"

"After you come get me at the last moment before I get gunned down in a firefight, and you explain to me that I am needed to win a war, this turns out to be more like something out of Inglorious Bastards than The Guns of Navarone or Where Eagles Dare. I was all prepared for everything to go wrong, but it didn't. I was all ready to pull contingency after contingency, but the plan worked more or less as intended. Blood, sweat, tears, all that- yet we had a few minor wounds and that was it."

"You're saying it was all too easy?"

Tom nodded. "Yeah."

"It was." The Wizard said, and with a wave of his hand he held Tom fast.

"You're a good man, Thomas, which is why I'm doing what I am doing now. These Nazis we captured are, indeed, going to surface authorities. However, they're not going to be put on trial. They're going to disappear down a rabbit hole, at it were, and never be seen again by those outside the system. They will be debrief, interrogated, cross-examined, and once every last useful bit of intelligence is out of their minds they will be quietly and effortless dispatched. Maybe their organs will be recycled, or not; I don't know. No one on the surface will ever know that they yet lived; at some point, when it is most convenient to do so, what's left of their remains will be allowed to be found and identified, crossing them off the list. It will likely coincide with the list itself being closed down, and hunt operations ended, since it will be at the point when any probability of recovery will be moot due to old age."

The Wizard then put his hand upon Tom's head.

"But I cannot allow them to have you, Thomas. As I said, you are a good man, and good men are very hard to find in any age. It is bothersome, and distasteful, but I must do what is necessary to both fulfill the greater good and preserve a useful ally for future employment."

In the other hand, The Wizard held an insignia of Longfellow Hold, which he now placed on Tom's head and held in place.

"Longfellow is well aware of how things truly are. He will explain, and do so better than I, why you cannot return to the surface world- not yet. Once he is satisfied that you are ready, then I shall come back for you and bring you home- but not before he, and I, and prepared."

The Wizard's face frowned, and a tremor in his voice surfaced.

"I am sorry, Thomas. This is the least I could do unto you."

And with that, The Wizard teleported Tom back to Longfellow Hold, using ties of sympathy and contageon to bend space and time for the brief moment necessary to push Tom through the hole that lasted but a second and away from him and the commandeered saucer. Now alone, The Wizard punched into the com system a passcode; it activated a hidden function, and then The Wizard made contact.

"White One to Council. I have the last of them. All liabilities removed. Request recovery."

A woman's voice answered. "Request granted. Welcome home."

The saucer became enveloped in a 20-sided figure made of light, and then disappeared. The Wizard was away.

Back in Longfellow Hold, Tom appeared in a chair in Longfellow's chambers. Longfellow stood over him, took back the insignia, and handed Tom a drink.

"Looks like you're staying a while longer, my boy."

Friday, June 6, 2014

Tom and The Wizard-10

"Everyone's strapped in, Thomas." The Wizard said, "Let's go."

Tom smiled as he took the capture Nazi saucer back into the air and away from the Nazi base, and his smile widened as he saw it explode behind him. Longfellow's men sat across from the two captured officers, and they too smiled wide with satisfaction. The return to Longfellow Hold was without incident, and they returned to a warm and cheerful welcome. Prisoners in hand, the winning team held a banquet to celebrate; later that night, in Longfellow's chambers, Tom and the Wizard talked with him about the fate of their prizes.

"You wish to bring them to the surface?" Longfellow said.

"Yes." The Wizard said, "The general is still wanted for his actions during the war. The major is his subordinate, and therefore just as guilty as an accessory after the fact. There is still a warrant for the general's arrest, albeit not as well known these days."

Longfellow sighed. "I would prefer to pass judgement myself."

"Of course you would, old friend." The Wizard said, "Were there not over sixty million souls, and their families, on the surface already claiming these prisoners on prior crimes then I would gladly comply."

"You know," Tom said, "chances are good that whomever takes custody of these Nazis will be willing to accept written testimony on their activities here."

"Which means that the authorities are not part of what the surface populations perceive as the whole of their existence." Longfellow said, "A hidden court, with no means for effective accountability, is disquieting."

"Imperfect, deeply so." The Wizard said, "But the justice that awaits there is far greater than what you command, old friend, and I know that you wish greatly for them to face the full truth of their actions. Thomas is correct in advising you to add what you can to the charges against them; I assure you that your words shall not only be heard, but heeded, and taken seriously."

Longfellow nodded. "Very well."

Longfellow dictated the trials of his people, recording them for the authorities to hear, that night.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Tom and The Wizard-09

"Did it ever occur to you that they're tracking our progress by the security sensors we destroy?" Longfellow said between explosions.

"Counting on it, actually." Tom said, blasting another Nazi stormtrooper in the face, "It's what makes them so predictable."

"See?" The Wizard said as he rapped Tom's head, "Not all air and rocks in there after all."

Tom, Longfellow, and the Wizard led their team through the Nazi base at a slow, slogging rate. The Nazis attempted multiple times to capture them in cross-fires, only to be met with bursts of overwhelming firepower and thus fried to a man where they stood. It soon became clear to the defending leaders that this was not the work of incompetent, but overconfident, lucky fool armed with far too much firepower. Rather, it was the deliberate plan of a ruthless invader to divide the defending forces, cut them down like wheat to a thresher, and thereby annihilate them to a man. This was the intentional extermination of every last Nazi in that base.

"42!" Tom said, as he shot down one who attempted a knife attack upon him.

Longfellow shot three down with one shot, as they were all in a line against him. "45!"

"Come now!" The Wizard said, "This is war, not sport." Then he waved his hand blindly behind him and two stormtroopers about to launch a rocket at them got tossed to the far wall, and when the launcher landed on the floor it had flipped end-over-end and blew those Nazis to bits as well as blowing a hole in the wall.

The Wizard looked over his shoulder. "Well, even war has his comic absurdities."

Not that the Wizard, Tom, or Longfellow cared because no one cares about the lives of Nazis- not even other Nazis.

Meanwhile, the fighting progressed as Tom and company proceeded to sweep, clear, and sanitize every last bit of the base. They swept around in a clockwise--more or less--fashion, leaving devastation in their wake as they deliberately bled the supply of resistors dry. By the time that they blew up the armory, the barracks, the infirmary, and the galley there was precious little left to blow up, so they headed to the secure center of the base where they knew that--trapped as they should be--the leadership of this little Nazi nest could not escape from, but only watch in increasing horror as they advanced upon them.

"This is going better than expected." Longfellow said.

"Don't jinx it!" Tom said and then the men finished blasted the doors off.

The doors fell away with a weighty crash, and in they went blasters blazing. The few armed men inside quickly went down, unable to make any meaningful hits in return, just the two senior officers remained.

"I recognize you, Wizard." the General said, "I knew this day would come."

"Indeed." The Wizard said, and with a wave of his hand both the General and the Major spoke no more. Rendered mute by means not known to anyone else, the Wizard smiled. "No monologuing for you."

"Well, Longfellow." Tom said, "This is it now. They're done. What shall be done with these senior Nazis?"

"Gentlemen," The Wizard said, "if I may, I suggest remanding these two to my custody. The General is still known, albeit said in the past tense, to the surface. Let him meet his end in an Israeli courtroom. As for the Major, he is the General's immediate subordinate and should likewise stand trial."

Tom chuckled. "The Israelis? That's not a trial. That's a history lesson, followed by an execution."

Longfellow nodded. "Indeed. Summary execution now is more merciful."

Friday, May 23, 2014

Tom and the Wizard-08

The saucer landed at the Nazi stronghold, as Tom and company expected, under remote control. When stormtroopers came aboard, they found nothing and no one aboard, as everyone had crammed themselves into any little space that could be had.

"Somehow," Tom said as he emerged from his hiding place, "I doubt we'll have it as good as it worked in the movies."

"What do you suggest?" The Wizard said, emerging from his place.

"I expect," Longfellow said, likewise, "that they will keep eyes on the craft and wait for us to emerge."

The men gathered about, checking their gear, and hearing them they nodded their agreement one by one.

The Wizard smiled. "I concur. Leave this to me."

The Wizard left them to prepare. He dropped down a service hatch, and once out of sight he adjusted a subdermal control panel; his nano-technological enhancements altered the frequencies that his body resonated at, effectively cloaking him from visual as well as thermal detection. Secure in his invisibility, The Wizard confidently walked away from the landed saucer and made his way to the facility's hangar control room. Unseen, he slipped his hand over the deck officer's mouth and put the other one--holding a taser--to the man's back. Too late did the officer notice his undoing; at a moment when a loud noise of large machinery doing its work echoed through the hangar, The Wizard stunned the officer and took him down softly with none of the technicians wiser to his being there. Moments later, as more machinery made more noises, The Wizard used the sidearm pilfered from the officer's unconscious body to execute the technicians without so much as a mean look in their direction.

"The eyes and ears are now blind and deaf." The Wizard said as he reported back, "Come on now."

As Tom, Longfellow, and the men emerged from the saucer Tom looked over to Longfellow and said "Still too easy. It feels like we are going into a trap."

"I've seen that movie also." Longfellow said, "Let's spring it and get it done with."

Tom smiled. He may be in an absurd adventure, but at least he as company.

* * * * *

Well within the Nazi stronghold, two figures in crisp, clean SS uniforms looked on.

"All goes according to plan, sir." one said.

"Nonetheless, Major," the other said, "I cannot shake the feeling that we too are being played for fools."

"True, General." the Major said, "This feels like we're playing parts in a motion picture, and not a particularly good one at that."

Now clapping echoed throughout the room, the slow method of a golf cap intended as an insult. Both men drew their sidearms and moved back-to-back in response.

"You are being played." a voice said, "This entire incident is nothing more than a farce meant to demonstrate to parties far beyond this mythical location just how ridiculous this entire concept is in practice."

Just then, a hologram materialized, one of a severely-attired man who's much worse for wear- and yet, recognizable. The two officers, upon recognition, saluted.

"No need for names, gentlemen." the hologram said, "However, if you wish to survive and salvage this operation, then you need to listen very carefully to what I have to say- and follow my orders to the letter."

The General and the Major now paid full attention to the hologram.

"The one known to us as 'The Wizard' is with them. He has played you men like fiddles; all of the conflict between you and the enemy you've fought all these years is a carefully-controlled conflict meant to foster specific developments that he intends to take advantage of- at your expense."

"How so, sir?" The General said, "We've followed the protocols that you laid down during the war, fulfilling letter and spirit."

"Yes, protocols that the Allies captured and smuggled back to with them along with many of our surviving scientists. You were not the survivors of the Reich that you thought you were, gentlemen. The successor embedded itself deep within the establishment of our erstwhile enemies, and over the last generation or so we've come to power and consumed them from within. This conflict is as much a ruse as our post-war 'rehabilitation' was, as much as the war itself was, and your part in it is about to end."

"Disclosure." the Major said, "I think I see now what this is."

"Correct, Major." the hologram said, "The Wizard is there to ensure that the narrative we are to use regarding the emergence of our resurrected form goes smoothly. A certain degree of mutually-assured destruction occurs, acceptable losses incurred to sell the narrative to the audience, and meanwhile you gentlemen are allowed to recede into the background and enjoy the rewards for all your work. Rest assured that we shall soon see success that even the Reich could not conceive of achieving in so short a span of time."

The Nazi officers stood there, confused.

"Play your parts, gentlemen, as you were to do before, but when the time for your comeuppance arrives be certain to say to the Wizard that you feared that this day would come. He will know your sign, and he will act accordingly. That is all."

The hologram disappeared. "We have our orders then, Major." the General said.

Unseen and unheard, The Wizard smiled at them. "So close to the truth," he thought, "and yet still so very far indeed."

Friday, May 16, 2014

Tom and the Wizard-07

"Of course, there just had to be a dogfight." The Wizard said.

"Strap yourselves in and hang on." Tom said, "We've been made."

Several other Nazi saucers bore down on their own at combat speed, opening fire at maximum range. Longfellow and his men did as Tom said, with some of them manning other stations aboard the saucer. They returned fire, forcing some of the Nazis to break formation and disrupting their attack.

"They've learned from World War 2 all right." Tom said, "They're reforming. Going for a wolf pack attack; gunners are cleared to fire when they've got a lock."

The severe maneuvering of the Nazi saucers put Longfellow on alert. "No man can handle that severe a shift of momentum."

The Wizard followed Longfellow's observations. "No men are in those saucers." he said, "They're drones."

"Well, I always wanted to fly down Beggar's Canyon." Tom said, and he dove for a narrow ravine beneath them. The Nazi saucers formed up to follow, and a couple of Longfellow's men caught them in crossfire and shot a few down. The saucers fired upon them, but Tom--barely--dodged their volley of fire as he entered the ravine. Some of the saucers pursued Tom, and the rest broke off to cover the ravine from above.

"Gunners, prioritize the saucers out of the ravine." Tom said.

The Nazi saucer drones attempted to herd Tom and company into crashing, but the gunners kept their cool. The back-and-forth as the drones engaged their saucer, and the gunners aboard fired back, kept most of them engaged while the rest in the ravine raced to put their own weapons to bear. Meanwhile, Tom did his best to defeat the flight computations that the drones used to defeat it; first drones in did not adapt fast enough, so they crashed against the walls when they failed to predict a turn. The gunners benefited from Tom's movements, as the drones above failed to anticipate the gunners firing upon them under such conditions, so several of them got shot down.

The drones adapted by firing head of their saucer, attempting to force a crash with falling debris or push the saucer into some lane that they could control. Tom's focus could not be shaken, however, and neither could that of the gunners aboard. Firing at angles and moments that the drones' scripts could not handle, Tom and the gunners used irrational and non-linear thought to put down their pursuers until the remainder withdrew.

After the group felt certain that they were in the clear, Tom brought the saucer out of the ravine and back up into the open sky of the Inner Earth. With the second sun high over their heads, and the skies about them clear of enemies, they relaxed and took deep breaths of relief.

"It's not over." The Wizard said, "They switched tactics."

Just then, the saucer turned and Tom lost control of the saucer.

"Well," Tom said, "this would be the switch. We're under remote control now. I would think that whomever's control is going to bring us in."

Longfellow smiled. "Then let them find nothing."