"Sheridan Holmes, The Curse of the Serpent King," is available at Amazon.
I always wondered if Sherlock ever allowed himself to settle down and be a father, and what kind of father he might turn out to be and in this story, you can discover what I did as his son and the very impish, but bright Emily Watson, the daughter of Doctor John Watson, pair off to team on an investigation that delves into mystical horrors and mythological beasts and gods.
And what would a Baker Street Adventure be without Sherlock and Watson, and a guest duo as well. Whom you'll just have to wait and read about when you read the story.
Lord Graystone Triumphant
"A Jungle Lord Story"
By John Pirillo
The Jungle called to him. It urged him to fall down to his hands and feet and scamper like a gorilla, snarling and barking, howling at the huge moon that hovered like a death hawk in the black, velvet skies.
Were one a stranger to the Fairie, one might mistake this human for a beast, the way he scampered about on his knuckles and toes, but he was far from it.
Lord Graystone was neither an ignorant savage, nor a stumbling idiot loose from a psychiatric ward; he was a nobleman of high birth, who sought to live in harmony with the world he lived in.
He had seen enough of the modern world to despise it in many ways. His grey blue eyes shone with an inner light that was brighter than the fog lights of London at night. His intelligence shone through his eyes like a beacon in the night and yet, beneath that strict layer of reasoning was a simpler, plainer man. A man who believed that nature was being raped by the greed of man.
He saw it when he went to the huge coal dumps, the toxic dumps; saw the thousands of birds and sea life that lay floating and dead from exposure to the toxic wastes.
Yes, Tesla, who was a good friend, had made some mistakes on unleashing this new economy. And he was striving to turn it all around to a more green future, where man lived in harmony with nature, but until that day, more and more wild life died needlessly and more innocent children were born with diseases they never had and conflicted with abysmal disorders of the body and spirit they never should have encountered.
So one night a year he allowed his more primitive side to dominate and this was that night.
He clawed at the leafy Jungle ground and found a nest of roly polys. He ate them, making sure he only ate the older, slower ones, leaving the rest to renew their colony.
Then he flung himself into a vine strewn tree and grappled with the vines until he reached a bee’s nest. He scooped a hand into the hive, careful not to break it entirely, and cupped a palm in the sticky, white mess there. He brought it out and sucked and chewed its semi-moist, hardened surface into his throat, savoring the sweet flavor of it.
Next, he swung on vines until he neared a colony of black geese sleeping near a pond. He dropped lightly, so as not to scare them all, then swiftly snatched one of the oldest ones, broke its neck before it could squawk, and then leaped back into the trees. He swung for what seemed like hours, but was in actuality only a few moments, and then he landed on a platform that was about a hundred feet off the Jungle floor. He sat there with his feet over the edge, admiring the dark panorama before him. Slowly, and with great relish he began eating the goose.
He spit the feathers out, and the sharper bones, but pretty much ate everything else. He did not waste. Even the feathers and bones he spit out, he caught and deposited beside him to later be used for arrows and other delicate tools he hand made for his use in the Jungle.
Finished, he lay down on the platform and eyed the silvery moon lighting the canopy overhead. It was a full moon. Dragons would be in flight. Centaurs would be calling to their mates to dance and choose partners. The Great Apes he had helped to flee her from certain destruction in Africa, were calling to each other in their deep, grunting voices, singing in their simple ways their poetry of existence.
Man missed so much because he didn’t listen. But he heard it all. The Jungle was an orchestration of nature that filled in every vibration, nook and cranny of existence with joy and exuberation. He felt it in every bone and muscle of his body, vibrating with a lush frequency that made his heart quiver with joy.
And so he fell asleep on his platform, even though he had a very civil bed inside his home above the Jungle floor. Even though it had pillows, quilts, and blankets. Sheets and pillowcases.Silverware and cooking utensils. This night he slept like the savage beast he had once been before he had been reintroduced to the world of man again.
His dreams were not dark and restless, but deep and rich with fulfillment. When he awoke he would start his new day, working on more ways to preserve the greatness of this new land, to protect it from the greed and avarice of man.
For man had slowly been entering these lands. Not the Elves, nor the gnomes and hobbits and trolls one would expect of Faire, but pirates and explorers, both of whom opened the way for others to enter, by twos, then dozens.
Magic was the key to entering and magic was available to anyone with the right coin in their hand. There were scoundrels who gave the name beast an altogether new meaning, as they came into Fairie and began plundering its natural resources and attempting to conquer its peoples.
The men and women coming into the lands of Fairie were not from his world, but another that lay in parallel with it. He and Tesla had figured that out with a new device that he and Einstein, with the help of DaVinci had come up with. The Italian had come up with the idea of a device that could so fine tuned that it would be able to detect the slightest alteration of magic, such that they could pinpoint which world it was coming from.
That was when he and the other Baker Adventurers, led by Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger, had discovered that not only was there one other parallel world, but there were more than their current technology could measure.
So as he lay there beneath the stars, his mind filtered through the events of the past day and its portent for the future.
He felt a slight movement beneath the home and tensed, his nostrils flaring. He scented something, but it wasn’t clear. It should have been familiar to him, but it was different somehow.
He relaxed, but his right hand fell across his hip and the long blade he kept in its sheath of hardened wood and vine there.
Tesla powered carriages rolled silently past, their bright head beams illuminating the cobbled roads as they swept past.
One of them slowed and did a u turn, causing two figures to be caught in its blades of light for a moment.
Tesla and Lord Graystone.
The driver must have been somewhat startled by what he saw, if he noticed, because Lord Graystone stood naked in the alleyway, except for a lion cloth about his lower waist.
Maybe a pedestrian saw them as well, but if so, being British, they would have pretended it hadn’t really happened. No one in their proper frame of mind would stand almost naked in the freezing London winter.
Graystone didn’t find it distracting at all. Either the weather or the pedestrians and street traffic. He was engaged in a vigorous conversation with his friend, Nicolas Tesla, the inventor of much of modern England’s electrical devices.What seemed like ages ago he had stood at the gateway to this world with Tesla, who in his normal good natured way was joking about the problems of finding a good vine to swing on these days.
He had humored his long time friend with a smile, but inwardly he grimaced. They weren’t vines, but trailers that hung from the giant, old trees that grew so densely in the forests of Fairie.
His friend had never seen the magic that was woven into the strands to keep them strong and flexible; else they would’ve become brittle and snapped, plunging him to his death many times over.
Tesla scratched his red bead a moment in thought, and then as he gazed at the portal that was whirling beside them he spoke. “I know this is your annual retreat, Graystone, but keep your eyes and ears open anyway.”
He had been angry at the time. The last thing he wanted was another mission. He needed to get away from the heavy trappings of civilization, not add more onto his burden.
He waited for the inevitable explanation. If he had learned nothing else during his years of survival in the jungle, it was patience. He, who was not patience, did not survive.
Finally, Tesla had handed him a small object. “Make sure you keep this on you at all times.”
“What is it?” He had asked.
He had given Tesla a quizzical look.
Tesla grinned. “I know. I know. You never get lost. But trust me on this one. Okay?”
He sighed and pocketed it in his small waist bag he kept at his left hip. Some food, some medicinal supplies and now this, he thought as he eyed the small object, and then shoved it deeper into the other objects, shutting the bag up again.
“There’s more.” Tesla went on, his smile vanishing and a look of utter sincerity and solemnness riding to the surface.
“As you know we had that incident with the Hollow Man not that long ago?”
Graystone nodded. “That would be hard to forget.”
“Indeed.” Tesla agreed, then shook himself out of whatever cavern of thoughts he had momentarily got lost in.
He scratched at his red beard again. “I suspect...”
“You?” Graystone asked.
“Well, actually Holmes.” Tesla replied, shaking off Graystone’s look. “No matter. My point is that we think he’s returned.”
Graystone put his right palm over his waist knife. “I’ll be ready for him when I return.”
Tesla shook his head. “Not here. There.”
Graystone’s eyes narrowed for a moment. A sight that would put the fear of death into any creature seeing it. Finally, he relaxed enough to ask the next question.
Tesla gauged Graystone’s mood for a moment, as if suspecting his next words might cause more than he desired. With somewhat of a hesitation his voice he said simply, “Hyde.”
Up and down Baker Street pedestrians and occupants of Tesla cars were startled by a horrible scream that sounded like a bull ape ripping its opponent apart.
But in the alley Tesla stood there, stock still. He knew what had been coming, but he had forgotten how intense it could be.
Lord Graystone finally lowered his hands from his mouth and looked at his longtime friend. “I’m sorry, Nic.”
"A Jungle Lord Story"
By John Pirillo
It haunted the forest for a thousand years. No, a thousand thousand years. It was old beyond time and it was the master of its domain. It slithered across the moss and fern strewn forest floor, its back arched upwards, then downwards, sometimes touching the roofs of the tall forest canopy, breaking limbs, scattering frightened birds and monkeys, sometimes falling to the earth and smashing whatever lay beneath it. It was huge, it was as relentless as death and it was hungry. None dared get in its path, or they would not live long.
Its huge body was scaled with a kind of green slimy moss that exuded a poison. None who touched it survived. None dared to touch it. Even the great Dragon Lord who lived in the east steered clear of its deadly form. Dragons were known for their taste of the serpent kind, but this serpent was the oldest, most deadly and least likely harmed. None had harmed it for centuries, none would again.
Its eyes were slits of anger. Anger at its imprisonment in such a file form. It had not only grown larger over the decades and centuries, but more intelligent. Such intelligence became self despite in time, and that made it deadly, for knowing it was helpless to change its destiny, it grew malignant and dark, taking life even when not hungry.
As today its long green tongue slithered out and tasted the air, and as it did it tasted...child! Its large nostrils flared in delight, its tail almost wagging like a happy dog, knocking over several tall trees in the process. Their crashing to the ground brought it back to awareness of where it was once more. Child!
Its hunger was not of belly, but of anger and malice. Anger towards a Maker who had given it so much awareness, but no way to use it. Malice, which was its anger turned practical and directed at killing, maiming and torturing any it deemed worthy of the distraction.
Lord Graystone swung through the trees of the gigantic swath of jungle land he called home. He had spent years exploring it, but there was so much more he had not. On this day, when his beloved was involved with her committees and charities, he had decided to return to Fairie, to the ancient lands that once bordered Earth and seek new adventure. His knife swung gently against his side, secure in it's sheathe. His bow and arrows were slung across his back securely, so that his leaps from branch to branch, and swings from vine to vine, would not shake it free, but all his weapons were easily put to use when needed, for he was well rehearsed in bringing them to bare in times of need.
For now he lazed through the air, greeting monkeys with talk that surprised them, praising the golden winged lizards that hatched babies in the safety of the higher twists of branches and limbs of the forest, and cooing at the birds that soared sometimes alongside him, as if wondering how he could fly with no wings.
He was in one of his best moods, soon leaving behind the fog and congestion of Victorian London, its horrors, its traffic, its multitudes. Here the air was free of the tainted scents of mankind, and lofty with the breath of freedom, of animals that lived from day to day, moment to moment, relishing the precious life that the Maker had given them.
Not an overzealous religious person, yet a believer in God, he turned not to priests for comfort in the Maker, but to the forest with its unrestrained love, its undying gifts of life and precious joy. Then he flung himself to a thick branch and sniffed the air. Something new?
He looked to the right and the left, his eagle sharp eyes taking in everything in exact detail, but sensing nothing he could see as out of the unusual. Then he heard it, a child's cry. A sobbing. He leapt from the branch, shooting like an arrow towards the source of the cry. It was distant. He had barely heard it, but as he swung faster and faster the scent grew stronger. The scent of what?
Time stood still beneath the green canopies of leaves for Mula. She and her daughter had been playing beside the stream of water that cascaded from the nearby mountains, bringing a coolness and sweetness of taste that was rare when one went deeper into the woods. She was of the Mulan tribe. All daughters of the tribe were named Mula, but each had a unique way of pronouncing it, which gave them a unique sound signature. The choice of Mula was simple, it indicated their ties to t he one Mula...the great Goddess who created everything...and their humble ties to humanity, which were her brothers and sisters.
She was part Elf, but also part something else, lost in time, much like the histories of Fairie, which were so thickly endowed with rumor and myth. Her ears were elongated; her eyes slit like an oriental woman's, her breasts large and pendulous. Her waist was narrow and tapered, her arms strong and bronzed like obsidian with bursts of red. Her lips were full and sensuous. She was alone. Her Mu, husband, had died at the hands of the Great Snake, the god of the forest who chose when one was to live or die.
She did not believe it was a god, but those about her had come to fear it so greatly because of its cunning that they believed so over time. Some even wanted to sacrifice to the Great Snake, but the Mus, the men of her tribe, refused to allow that, though sometimes a few would dare to do so. Such caught in the act were severely punished, their lands taken away and sent off into the jungles to survive as best they could.
"Mula Ma." Her daughter called her.
She turned to look away from the thick canopy overhead and gave her bright young child a look of utter and pure love, such as only a mother can do. Her eyes lit up with a light that any child can recognize, even if most men do not. She was a mother. A Mula Ma.
"Yes, Mula?" She asked her daughter.
Mula, her child, stood about three feet tall. She was growing like the ferns of the forest, springing up so fast that she seemed almost gangly. She was barely ten suns old, but she was strong and healthy, her face bright with reason and alive with laughter.
Her hair was highly polished silver. The combination of obsidian skin and silver hair were the wonder of the tribes that lived about them, but no big thing to her and hers. They were only seen as the blessings of the Maker.
"The earth shakes."
Mula gave her daughter a frightened look. She dropped to the ground beside the stream and put her ear to it. She listened only a second, then her eyes widened in terror.
She leaped up and grabbed her daughter's hand. "Run, Mula, run!"
Warm. Juices splattering sweetly down its throat. Savoring of goodness. The Great Snake slithered and slid rapidly towards a tasty climax, its throat already feeling the tastiness of fresh flesh wetting it.
Small shrubs and brush were nothing to it, not even felt as it rushed towards its goal. Its eyes honed in on its goal. Two pitiful creatures rushing for a safety they would never reach. It decided to make this more fun.
Mula and her daughter screamed in horror as the Giant Snake burst from the jungle green and towered over them, its tail lost in the canopy of green above. Its eyes twirled hypnotically, beckoning them to move no more. If it could have smiled, it would have been no more frightening, than the sight of its huge fangs, easily as large as an elephant, its eyes the size of small boulders and skin that reeked of slime and poison.
"Behind me!" Mula ordered her daughter.
Her daughter was unable to move.
Death hovered over them tantalizingly, waiting for the first one to move. To become its meal. Who, which one would it be?
The tiny things were frozen in shock, as they always were before it pounced on its snack, crunching them between its jaws, allowing the juice of their life's blood to ooze pleasingly down its throat.
It readied to strike. No need to rush. The more terror the creatures felt, the better the feed.
Something struck its back hard.
It paid it no attention.
Nothing could harm a god!
Again, something struck its back, but this time, it felt pain.
It slung its head back over its first coils and saw a tiny creature that looked like the others, standing on its back, something sharp in its right fist. The thing that had hurt it.
He would hurt back.
He struck at the creature, like lightning in action, but his jaws clamped on nothing.
Puzzled, he swiveled his head around to see where it had gone.
The two tiny creatures it had intended for its play and meal were gone.
Now, it was angry.
It let out a hiss of such loud displeasure that several nearby trees lost all their leaves from the force of the blow of its mouth.
Then it felt something strike its left eye. Its life-force spilled from its eye and spewed upon its scales, causing them to hiss and smoke.
It shook its head, now knowing what had happened to the tiny creature on its back.
Something tiny flew through the air, but instead of landing on the ground where it could crush or eat it, it clasped a vine from a tree and swung upwards and from view.
The Giant Snake let out a moan that spilled forth like the bellow of an old wood burning train, then lowered its proud head, and slunk back into the forest. As it did so, it heard these words.
"Come no more, Old One. Preserve your years, your life. And harm no more! Eat that which the Maker provides. No more!"
It turned its head slightly and saw a tiny creature, cup its hands to its mouth and then let out the terrible cry of the King Dragon.
Terrified and confused, the Giant Snake slithered and slid faster and faster, until it reached a precipice at the edge of the jungle. It didn't hesitate. It shot forth into the voice between the sides of the precipice.
The terrible path of the monster was suddenly noisy again as all the jungle creatures came forth from their hiding places to live safely again. At least for another day.
Mula and her daughter ran for what seemed forever, but when nothing happened. They finally stopped and looked behind them. All they could see was a tall white man with bronzed skin and golden eyes. He smiled at them, then leaped into a tree and swung from view.
"The Jungle Lord!" Her daughter exclaimed in awe.
"Yes, Mula. The Jungle Lord."
The cry of the Jungle Lord as he swung scattered vicious animals from his path as he vanished into the green splendor of the fierce jungle lands.
The Dark City
"A Professor Challenger Story"
By John Pirillo
It's this way."
He followed the voice in the dark, making sure to leave a chalk mark every few feet to mark directions. He wasn't going to get caught a thousand feet underground without knowing a way back. He'd been there, done that. His beard was driving him nuts though, the sweat from the heated passage dribbling from his jungle hat on his mop of thick red hair down across his eyebrows, cheeks and mouth, then neck and chest. He could live with the sweat; it was the dratted gnat bugs that were landing in his beard and sucking up the moisture, no surprise to him, just weren't in abundance.
"I'd appreciate a light."
"Not yet." The voice returned, steady and certain.
How in God's name and the name of Queen Mary of Scots had he gotten himself into this deplorable expedition, so far away from his friends? He could just see himself telling his tale to his friends on their usual night together. Sundays. They would talk about their sleuthing, explorations, experiments, and the souls they'd saved, or seen damned. Sometimes it was more of the first and less of the latter, and sometimes...far darker days in his mind...more of the latter. He might have a temper, he might be impulsive and compulsive at times, but his moral compass was tried and true. No life was worthless. None!
Even that dratted...
"Owww!" He cursed as the top of his head scraped the roof of the passage, knocking his helmet off and taking a hefty bite into his scalp.
"Shorty!" He roared angrily, feeling the blood now adding to the sweat in his blood. He mopped it away with what he was sure was now a blood stained, dirt stained, moss stained, and sweat stained coarse shirt he always wore on such expeditions. Good for warmth and cold.
"Challenger, if you insist on being insulting, I will have no recourse, but to leave you in the darkness."
"Go ahead, Batwings!" Challenger roared back. "See if I care. You've kept me in the dark the past six hours, what's another six going back."
"Your humor is most distasteful. You know I don't have batwings."
"No, but I would expect better eyesight from you."
The man ahead of him sighed. "I'm a Dracula, not a bat, and I have neither high pitched sounds to guide my path, nor wings to fly."
"And yet you can see in the dark." Accused Challenger.
"True enough. A small gift from..."
"Are we close or not, you buffoon!" Roared Challenger, his temper getting the best of him at that moment yet once more.
Suddenly, the floor vanished from beneath him and he plummeted helplessly in the dark to an uncertain fate.
"And it is my belief that the Draculas come from a subterranean civilization that once lived beneath the lands of Scotland." Professor Challenger announced to the assemblage of fellow scientists and philosophers.
Were it not for his personal notoriety as an explorer of great accomplishment, he would have been laughed off the platform; instead he was given a tolerant clap of hands.
He sighed inwardly, but bravely went on. "I am announcing an expedition to the highlands to explore a little known cavern, which I have every reason to believe, has a series of tunnels that lead directly to the lost kingdom of the Draculas.
A sturdy older man, Deputy Prime Minster Calloway, stood up. "Professor, am I to believe then that you think the entire vampire race stems from the Draculas?"
"Yes. I do."
The assemblage went wild with shouts and angry disavowals. He waited for it to crest, and then raised his hands for quiet. "And furthermore, I have a brave champion of our Victorian London, and an honored friend of Queen Mary of Scots, here to affirm my thoughts, as well as to help on the mission of exploration."
He turned slowly to the side and a dark and elegantly dressed man swept onto stage and joined him. The assemblage grew so silent you could hear a fly's wings.
"Count. If you will?"
"It is my pleasure, Professor Challenger." The Count replied, then swept his cape over his right shoulder and eyed the men and women gathered before him.
He smiled. "Ah, I can see the Vampire Clan of Easterbury is here tonight."
A group of men and women to his right suddenly tried to look small in their chairs. He turned to the middle and smiled again. "And the Clan of Brighton."
Another group of men and women looked suddenly busy.
Professor Challenger's eyes widened. He'd had no idea so many of the dark ones had assembled to listen to him. Had he thought that would be the case, he might have approached his speech a bit more carefully.
The Count started to expose another group, but shrugged. "It's enough to say that if my friends of the night are interested, then where there's smoke, surely there might be....fire?"
The assemblage stopped squirming in their chairs and examining each other and looked forward again.
Professor Challenger was not one to be fearful of death and dying, and rather than plunge to certain death, he reached to his right hip and slung loose a hook ended rope and flung it outwards. It scraped the walls of his plunge, and then with a huge jerk and a loud crunching sound, he was flung forward into the shaft's wall he had been falling into.
Then a funny thing occurred. He felt someone breathing at his left.
"I had you."
"You let me fall sixty meters to what seemed certain death..."
"Oh Challenger, stop being so dramatic."
Count Dracula used his strength to lower Challenger the rest of the way.
"I was prepared to catch you."
"You might have told me there was a shaft in front of me."
"What! And miss out on all the fun of seeing your face as you fell?"
"I hate you!" Challenger snorted in anger and derision.
Before he could say more a bright light flared, revealing he stood at the doorway of an immense cavern. Inside was a city like none other he had ever seen. It glowed with an eerie green luminescence.
"The home of our forefathers."
"You mean yours!"
"No, actually I mean ours. Man was not always a topside dweller. And he was not always...well, human as you appear."
Challenger gave the Count a scowl. "Have you been holding out on me, Count?"
"Let's just say, I've been dancing around the truth somewhat."
Challenger would've said more, but the lure of exploration overrode his anger. He strode through the immense doorway and stood on the crest of a small rise that descended into the city. "Just imagine what treasures must still remain here."
"I thought you were a man of science."
"I am. A man of science who needs to pay his bills just like any other man. Treasure pays for my next expedition."
The Count nodded. "In that case, let's explore."
They finally reached the last structure of the ancient underground city. It was carved from the rock of the cavern. It had scrollings and depictions all about its walls, inside and out. Challenger was cooing like a happy baby, when he finished examining the chamber inside. It had a huge dais with a throne the size of a giant.
"In those days Dracula's were giants, Professor."
"As now. Cattle."
"Cattle. Good lord, man, how can you be so callous?"
The Count shrugged. "What was, is not now, what is, could not have been then. My ancestors were the first to go against the laws of the ruling Draculas. They were shunned and sent to the earth above, where they lost much of their height over time as they intermingled with the masses of men above."
"You sound sad."
"That's because we should have risen as a society to greater heights than raising humans as cattle to slake our hunger."
Count Dracula flung down the backpack he was carrying. "I intend to wipe out every visage of this civilization that ever existed so no other vampire can ever again use this place to gain power and position."
He opened his backpack and revealed String bombs. "Tesla made these for me."
"Dear Lord, what are they?"
"The cleansing of history."
"Run! Run!" The Count hollered.
Professor Challenger was running behind him, the marks on the walls now luminous and glowing as he knew they would be.
"Why...run?" He gasped.
Then the world behind them shook them to the floor and a hammer of air pressure flung their bodies like balloons through the air.
Count Dracula caught Professor Challenger in his arms and ran faster, then leaped with all the strength he had as the very passage behind them began collapsing.
They tumbled into the high grassy knoll and its rocky fields as the short mountain behind them began to collapse.
"Run!" Count Dracula yelled.
"I've already run!" Professor Challenger shouted.
Then he saw the mountain began to collapse.
"Okay!" He agreed, and then began running again, his lungs and legs aching from the stress of his exertion.
Finally, they reached about twenty yards away from the collapse and it tumbled to a stop, leaving a huge smoking heap of rubble and an odd colored, green luminescent smoke that glittered and glowed in the dying sun of the highlands of Scotland.
"We made it." Professor Challenger sighed with relief. "But I had no time to get any treasure."
"Oh, but you did, my dear friend."
"The greatest treasure of all....your life!"
"A Journey to the Center of the Earth Story"
By John Pirillo
"Yeah. Yeah. I know. The Journey of a Thousand Miles." Miles complained to the President. "But realistically, we've easily gone that far already, Mister President."
"Call me, Jim."
"Mister President. We have very little down here now to remind us of the Upper World, let's keep this little bit, shall we?"
"Very well, but after..."
Miles nodded, but as he looked away from the man who was growing to be a close friend, he didn't want to let him see the skepticism in his eyes and on his face. They were getting too good at reading each other.
"Still." The President persisted.
Miles saluted. "Mister President, I see my attention is needed up front if you don't..."
"At ease, General, go ahead. Do your job. I'll do mine, which is absolutely nothing."
Miles started to reprimand the President, but when several of his men looked over, shocked by the admission, instead he said. "Your job is never just nothing. You are the United States to us, the world. We need that symbol now more than ever."
The President wavered for a moment, and then also becoming aware of the attention on him, he nodded and gave a reluctant smile. "Of course. You're right. Go do your duty, while I stay here..." With a touch of irony. "...And do mine."
Miles saluted again and headed for the front of the marching men.
"Don't blame him."
The President turned around and gave Smirgey a weak smile. "I blame me."
"That'll get you nowhere. I should know. I've practiced that philosophy for years. Look what that got me?" Gestures around him.
The President grins. "You're a real ape shit, you know that?"
"Yeah. It happens."
They dropped back further behind the marching column, both of them noting the haggard look in the Special Forces faces.
"Really eats your heart out, don't it?"
"And everything else as well.
Smirgey puts a hand on the President's shoulder. "Big men are made by God to shoulder larger loads. Don't ever forget that."
Smirgey starts to drop back further.
"So you're abandoning me too?" The President asks.
"Nope. Just got to wee, is all?"
They both laugh and Smirgey falls back further and further.
Dirk steps beside the President. "Got some protein if you're hungry, sir?"
The President eyes him uncertainly. "What...?
"You don't want to know."
The President nods. "I most certainly do not. I'll pass. I need to lose weight anyway."
"Your call, Sir."
The President watches Dirk move up the line, offering the protein to the men as he passes. Miles returns, notes Dirk, gives him a nod, then joins the President. "Men like him make this work."
"Yeah. If we could only figure out what the hell work we're doing?"
Miles laughs. "Sir, you'd make a good grunt, but don't ever let any of the men hear you say that, because that's exactly what they're thinking this very moment."
"I'll remember that."
They both walked along in silence for a time, and then the President spoke. "Do you think any of this makes a difference now? The bomb no longer works. We have very little ammunition left."
"As long as we got brains and will, it's not over."
"But the Dark Matter..."
"I don't know why, Jim, but something tells me all that matters is our attitude, not the cause of the Big One, nor our goal of dismantling it from ever happening again. This whole journey from the beginning feels fixed somehow."
The President stopped and looked into Miles face. "Rigged?"
"Yeah. Rigged. When I was still a private..."
"Hard to imagine you ever being that."
"Now maybe, but I was, just like many of these grunts that are following us now. Back then I used to play a lot of card games."
"You were a gambler?"
"Aren't all soldiers?"
"Yeah. You get it, don't you?"
"And what happened?"
"When I gambled?"
Miles looked away and began walking forward again, nodding to the men he passed as he and the President moved ahead.
"There was this jerk named Mahoney. A real cop out of life and living. He made his money by setting up dumb clucks like me."
"Hard to imagine you ever being dumb."
"Maybe naive better explains it. But no matter, I was stupid to his tricks, until one day after about nine months of losing to him, even when I had mastered every angle of the game. Even after seeing how he was manipulating the others, I still couldn't get it."
"Then how did you...get it?"
"He was drinking a bit more heavily than usual...his gal back south had abandoned him for one of his pals."
"Tough on a guy."
"Yeah. But you won't find me shedding any tears for that jerk."
During one of his hands as he was dealing, he lost consciousness and spilled over onto the card table, spilling everything to the floor. As it tumbled, his coat opened up and I could see this device strapped to his chest, loaded with cards."
"Winning cards I suspect."
"For him that night. Losing. The guys didn't take it as well as me. They beat the crap out of him."
"I grew up"
The President was about to comment, when the sound of weapons came from ahead. In moments the narrow corridor of rock and eerily glowing moss exploded with the movement of gigantic Insectoids. Intelligent beings that had evolved from insects.
Miles and the President prepared for battle. Neither was excited, or frightened anymore. It had become part of the drudgery of the incursion into the planet Earth. Neither one knew how deep they were anymore, only that their lives were inextricably bound with some kind of forces that either wanted to wipe them off the planet, or something else. Something else that none of them could figure out.
"Look out!" Miles cried out and levered a fist over the President's shoulder and smacked an Insectoid in its right mandibled jaw. It cried out horribly and slashed a razor sharp hand at his face. The President ducked under it and heaved a bayonet knife into its abdomen and slashed upwards, spilling yellow and green ichor all over him, as Miles shoved him aside, then decapitated the creature before it could do further damage.
Up and down the line men fought for their lives, not because they had to anymore, but because it broke the monotony. Such had become the fate of their lives that danger was the only thing they could look forward to anymore.
Even Smirgey grinned as he fought off an especially large Insectoid with Cook's frying pan, smacking it across the chops, then over the head, until the Cook could execute a hammer slice with his cleaver, finishing it off.
"Thanks!" Smirgey said.
"No problem." The Cook said with a smile. "Lots of protein tonight."
Smirgey threw up.
"A Pyramid Power Story"
By John Pirillo
Greg wiped the mop of dirty brown hair out of his eyes and dug down into the gears that were jammed together in the power drive. He had built the drive from a schematic left by the Atlanteans deep beneath the sands of the Egyptian desert, just a few miles from the Sphinx. He and his pyramid pals, Dexter and Knods, had formed a small expedition when they found out there was a possible Atlantean relic buried in the area. They and, of course, a thousand other prospectors of antiquity, fame and fortune.
He couldn't sweat to cool off his body, because the temperature was nearly a hundred and thirty in the shade and the air was as dry as a camel's rump. He grinned. Original concept. Maybe he'd put it into this thesis some day. The thesis that would get him the Doctor of Extra Trans-Dimensional Physics that was being offered by a subsidiary of Stanford. It was a school for the Occult and Paranormal Sciences, and was buried deep beneath the radar of public scrutiny for fear of ridicule, crazies, and just plain getting their funding cut off.
Professor Maraskall had worked a good forty years of his life building the special school, using his connections at Stanford, Harvard and Yale to slowly put together a faculty that was both knowledgeable and well connected in the money realms of life. It hadn't been easy, but he had accomplished it, and now Greg or Kegor, as his sometimes wacky friends called him, as well as Dexter and Knods were comrades in adventures, as well as upper graduates at the Extra Trans Dimensional Studies Academy or Eat Me as a lot of the students jokingly called the place.
It was advanced in many ways, one of which was that it was buried in the Nevada desert so that only a portion of it was above ground, and that was hidden well in the deep canyons of Red Rock Canyon outside Vegas. It took an hour to reach it through circuitous roads, switchbacks, and false canyons. Only the initiated knew of it, and then they were sworn to utter secrecy, or else they would face a certain curse. No one mentioned what it was, but no one wanted to know either.
"Got it!" He hollered to Moose, their fourth team member they had picked up in Hollywood, thumbing for a ride to Africa. When they had let him get into their old psychedelic Volkswagen bus, he had immediately broken out a bag of three musketeers and Reese's pieces, thus sealing their eventual friendship. How could you say no to someone who had the same sugar addictions as yourself?
Moose, who was a big person, with broad shoulders, an almost sumo wrestler thick body, but more muscled, even if a bit overweight in places, swayed into the narrow compartment that was located at the base of the pyramid, a wrench in his thick, sweaty palms.
"This gear here..."
Before he could explain Moose whacked the side of the compartment container and the gears began to grind again in the proper directions, almost clipping the tip of Greg's nose off. He hastily beat a retreat from his position, double checking to make sure his nose was...still there. He scowled at Moose.
"Who put cookies in your blender?"
Moose grinned, revealing his two upper missing teeth, and said. "Knods has figured out how to navigate this thing."
Greg immediately ran for the narrow exit, the same time as Moose turned, knocking himself back against the far wall. Moose gave him a hand up. "Whoops."
"Right." Greg replied, sparing his curses for a timelier event. He dodged around Moose, and quickly scrambled up an old elaborately carved ladder made from precious stones and glued together with gold, silver and platinum. The ladder alone could have put them all through school for the rest of this life and the next ten thousand, but they weren't into the business for the money. They had higher aspirations. Money would come later.
Knods and Dexter both had their heads buried in an ancient, decrepit looking Mummy's coffin when he burst into the top chamber of the buried pyramid. "Where is it?"
They both banged their heads on the coffin lid, surprised at the sudden interruption.
Dexter rubbed the back of his bald head and squinted angrily at Greg. "Kegor, this is not the time to go scaring the crap out of us. We got have launched in to orbit, or gone trans-dimensional without any lunch to take along with us."
"Lunch!" Greg countered, h is stomach suddenly growling. "When?"
"Now." Moose said from behind him.
He came into the smaller room, which measured about fifteen by fifteen coffins wide and deep, and set down a tray of McDonalds and Oreos.
Dexter made a face. "That's not lunch!" He declared, then pulled out a six pack of Root Beer and slammed it down on top a mummy coffin.
They all screamed with delight and began sorting out the chicken sandwiches, Oreos and root beer, their faces animated as they brought each other up to date on what they had been working on and how close to completion they were.
"How in the name of Pokémon's Father and Mother did you ever manage this feast?" Knods asked between mouthfuls of sandwich and Oreos.
Moose grinned. "I have my ways."
At that moment a very thin, weasel looking Egyptian with a wisp of mustache and chin hair slithered into their compartment and half bowed. He turned to Moose. "The helicopter is waiting to get paid, sahib."
Moose turned beet red. "Uh."
Knods and Dexter turned on him. "You didn't pay for it?"
"Not exactly." Moose stuttered, a voice he fell into when he became nervous, embarrassed or frightened.
"Damn it, Moose, they shoot people here for doing less!" Greg hollered.
The Egyptian smiled, reveal perfect white teeth. "We can always negotiate."
Dexter looked at him. "How?"
"Oh, the doctors here are always looking for a spare arm, a leg, and some fingers."
Both Knods and Greg choked on their food.
"Get out! Dexter screamed at the Egyptian.
The Egyptian's eyes narrowed. "It's not good to fool Mother Nature."
"You're not Mother Nature! Out! Out!" Dexter screamed, his crew cut red hair matching the color of his cheeks now. He picked up a monkey wrench.
The Egyptian backed for the exit. "No need to be mean about it."
He turned away from them, his smile of contrition turning into a hideous dark look.
Dexter turned to Moose. "Now look what you've done!"
Moose began to cry.
Knods went up to him and offered comfort. "It's all right, big guy, we won't let them have more than four of your fingers."
Moose began to bellow with sobs.
"A foot?" Suggested Greg.
Moose screamed like a banshee.
Suddenly, the buried pyramid began to shake and tremble.
They all four froze in horror.
"The power supply!" Greg hollered and made a mad dash for the exit.
All four of them ran down the narrow corridors of the pyramid, all sloping towards the base where the Atlantean power supply was. The walls and floor shook more and more.
"It's going to explode!" Moose cried out, wailing and sobbing.
Dexter stopped and grabbed the big guy. "It won't explode."
"It won't?" Moose asked with relief.
Dexter gave him an evil smile. "No, we'll just turn into the prettiest nuclear bomb this side of the Anwar Dam."
Moose broke into wails of terror.
Greg and Knods burst into the power supply room, and then turned pale as ghosts. A monkey wrench had been thrown into the gears.
"Oh, we're so screwed!" Greg muttered.
Knods was the first to reach the exit door, a huge slab of stone that was airtight and had now been shut tighter than a flea's behind.
"It won't open." Knods grunted as he tried working the controls of the door over and over.
Moose and the others burst into the chamber, saw what was happening.
Greg crossed himself.
Moose let out a wail of horror.
Outside the pyramid the Egyptian smiled as he and his gang of thieves completed piling sand against the door so it couldn't open. "I warned them not to fool with Mother Nature."
They rushed for the waiting helicopter, which was a huge Kharkov supply ship, bought from the Russians, with room for twenty. It immediately began its blades whirling.
Inside the pyramid Dexter and Knods rushed to the control room and began attacking the controls there in hopes of opening the outside door somehow.
"It's no use." Dexter said, giving up.
"How do you know?" Greg hollered as he ran inside, and overhead.
"Look for yourself." He pointed at video cam view of the exterior where they could see the sand jamming the door.
Then the pyramid gave another huge shudder.
They all looked at each other in horror as Moose came running in. "Tell me we're not going to do what I think we're going to do."
"We are." Dexter told him with an evil grin. "And it's all your fault!"
Moose started to wail, and then clammed up. "Wait!" He shouted.
He ran to the right wall and began running his large palm down a scroll of ancient Egyptian icons. They all lit up.
Immediately four couches slammed out of the walls, made of stone and some kind of soft substance on their tops.
They all looked at him in surprise.
He grinned. "A man's gotta sleep somewhere."
Then the pyramid began to lift off from the desert floor, ejecting tons of sand and debris as it did so. The helicopter just starting to lift was buried in the cascading storm of sand and debris and exploded.
Inside the pyramid the four young men cast themselves on the couches. Moose touched a glowing side panel on his. "Touch it here and it gets really comfy."
They all did.
The couches dropped down. They all screamed.
Then as the pyramid lifted into the sky on thrusters of immense trans-dimensional energies, the couches became enclosed by semi-transparent shells.
All four men screamed as an overhead screen lit up showing them that they were launching into space.
"We're all going to die!" Shouted Moose.
"Serves you right." Dexter cursed at him.
Then they all screamed again as the giant Atlantean pyramid shaped like a huge auk with eagle eyes and a pyramid body exploded from Earth's atmosphere, then was enveloped in an intense veil of swirling energies and vanished.
Dexter's voice came after the pyramid vanished. "Uh Guys! Where are we?"
No one answered.
The Defiant Agents From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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The Defiant Agents First edition Author Andre Norton Cover artist Ed Emshwiller Country United States Language English Series The Time Traders Genre Science fiction novel Publisher World Publishing Company Publication date 1962 Media type Print (Hardcover, paperback, and electronic) Pages 224 pp Preceded by Galactic Derelict Followed by Key Out of Time The Defiant Agents is the third novel in The Time Traders series by Andre Norton. It was first published in 1962, and as of 2012, had been reprinted in ten editions with cover changes, as well as twice in a combined edition with Key Out of Time. It is part of Norton's Forerunner universe.
The Defiant Agents continues the series’ premise, an encounter between Western heroes, and the Russian Communists, and a mysterious alien race that has used time travel to alter Earth. Most interaction in this novel is in an American Indian-like setting.
Kirkus Reviews comments, “Andre Norton, a polished writer of science fiction, weaves [her] outlandish fare in patterns intricate enough to attract the most devoted addict. Do not try to contrive a consistent political allegory out of [her] flight into fantasy. This is pure science fiction....”
Plot The alien library discovered in the previous novel proved to have locations of many unknown worlds. Finding the secure location of planet Topaz compromised, Apache operatives, including Travis Fox, are sent on an emergency trip by a mind-altering machine, Redax, that crash lands. They discover they have the ability to communicate with the native coyotes, but have no idea why they are there. They encounter Russians who have undergone similar treatment, and similarly lacking their memories, who were taken from the days of the Mongolian Golden Horde. With this common experience, they join forces against the Russians doing mind-control. Memories gradually return. After finding alien technology too dangerous for the Russians to have, Travis seeks allies. They lay a successful trap for the Russian Redax controllers. Defeating the source of Russian control, the allies agree to guard the alien technology from outsiders in the years to come.
Novels in the series
References This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2012)
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