Welcome to NexusNine.Net -- Click the image to go to the main page.


Quality in Rifts: Remembering Pete Overton

Quality In Rifts: Global Dispatch

By Pete Overton

Last Updated: 05.25.2004


On the Quality in Rifts list, we very occasionally discuss things, and sometimes out of those discussions comes a heap of frustration and headbanging, mostly. Once in a long while, however, an exceptional idea arises out of the perpetual flatline of conversational tone. :) No, no, it's a great list, and this is a great idea. It started when we were discussing about how Palladium lays out its setting and it remaind fairly static, as a rule -- PCs, while "larger than life" heroes, are not really supposed to affect major change in the world. There's some things in canon that "one just does not do." This stasis of setting is demoralizing for the players and annoying for the GMs, as we diverge more and more from the canon we have to create almost novel-sized House Rule & World Update files too. Note the "Battle of Tolkeen" that has been promised since Rifts first came out nearly a decade ago. Palladium does not like it when you mess with their static setting.

This in turn led me to bring up the White Wolf supplement "The Hunter's Survival Guide" for their Hunter: The Reckoning game. This supplement was designed to give an overview of the world, but it was novel because the entire thing was written in-character and gave no statistics or new toys, but rather detailed parts of the world through the characters' eyes. A city would be explained from a viewpoint, safehouses told of, law enforcement and local issues stated, that sort of thing. It was all delicious.

So naturally the next step was to combine the two above ideas. Rifts needs more dynamism and updates to its locales periodically, and thus was born the idea of Global Dispatches. These are in-character writings that detail thoughts, feelings, locations, plots, conspiracies, or what have you of the world of Rifts. From all over the globe, places and people are best represented from a local viewpoint.

This consists mostly of optional material for the GMs, and like the Inconsistencies, is driven by your submissions (we usually post them to the Quality List first for feedback). Create a character and write about your favourite part of the world, how you see it changed in however long it has been since Palladium last visited it. Once you see some of the samples, you'll understand, I think. But this isn't about introducting unstoppable characters or silly culture, but rather INTERESTING personalities, unique places, plots, schemes. The information may be all there or may be lacking. Use your imagination and above all, remember where it's being posted (here) and try to subscribe to the tenets of this webpage. :)

My thanks to Braden Campbell, Hugh, John and the Quality List in general for all their wonderful work and wonderful ideas. To them do we owe this page.

Volume 3

Note: Act 1, Scene 1 is reprinted from the last Dispatch to add with the rest to form the first Act.

             The True Chronicle History of Joseph I
                         Part the First

Dramatis Personae

The Coalition:
Col. Joseph Prosek       afterwards a General in the army

Gen. Gunthranus          commander of the CS forces, friend to Joseph
Leopold \                sons of Gunthranus, officers in the army
Sweetho /   
Gerard Albert Plume      a scholar, strategist, and advisor to Gen. Gunthranus
Krel Fargos              wizard, and brother to Malmorja 
Mosher Van-Meer          Mayor of Chi-Town, Chairman Elect of the Coalition
Catherine Van-Meer       his daughter, later wife to Joseph
Kellar Labelle, of Free Quebec \
Gaetan Jasper, of Iron Heart    \   Regional Ambassadors
Sarah Monroe, of Missouri       /
Archbishop of Chi-Town         /

The Federation: 
Nostrous Dunscon         a great wizard and leader of the Grand City
Lady Elenora Dunscon     his wife
Alistair Dunscon         their young son

Malmorja            a summoner of demons, and advisor to Dunscon
Whitewax            an old witch, and mother to Malmorja and Krel Fargos
Brethan   \
Coran      \        Three mysterious brothers, afterwards called The Lords Of Magic
Leizak    /
Plato                    A dragon, and Ambassador of Lazlo
Kiroll Elbron            Elven ambassador from Tolkeen
Errko                    A goblin servant to Whitewax and Malmorja

Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, Messages, Wizards, Necromancers, Attendants

SCENE: Chi-Town, The Grand City

ACT I, Scene I

Location: a room in the Chi-town Senate.

Enter Gunthranus, Joseph Prosek, Leopold, Sweetho, Plume,
Mosher Van-Meer, Labelle, Jasper, Monroe, Archbishop.
After, Krel Fargos, who stands in the shadows. They sit about a table. 

JOSEPH: Yet not so much a single fortnight old 
may this our Union claim, but we must find
by trial if we can stand together strong,
or if we shall unravel in the wind. 

FARGOS (aside): A greater test than this is yet to come;
but your poor vision sees it not, my son.  

VAN -MEER: Our party now assembled, and with thanks 
to our Ambassadors, I will, by your 
permission overlook the pleasantries
 of State, and come direct upon the matter. 
A week before, when this same council did 
last gather in the safety of these walls, 
our mission then to forge a new nation, 
that mankind might not perish from the earth, 
but burgeon forth and claim it for his own; 
then did we Senators, and like scholars 
with soldier's brawn, in one resounding voice
perform a marriage unlike any seen. 
Four States, four corners of the world, did we 
by our agreement bind then into one.
But like a game where players must be chosen, 
a game whose stakes are higher than the stars, 
some were included, some needs be left out. 
In choice selection of our friends and foes, 
this council sided with those states Humane, 
rather than embrace the savages. 
We may expand, God willing we may grow, 
our dream one day may come to fruition. 
But 'till that time, steps must be ta'en to curb
the nation-states that lie beyond our door. 

He riseth

I know that you have knowledge of the great 
and wondrous sorcerous powers that lay rule
to the ruins of the city in the north; 
"Chicago" once, but now a Grand City
that rises from the ashes on the shore, 
a shelter full of weirdlings, beasts, and worse, 
o'erseen by those who think they have the skill, 
the power, strength, or fortitude of mind
to tame demonic forces from the rifts.
Their leader's one who calls himself Dunscon, 
and mastery over Time is now his claim; 
our Coalition seeketh he to join, 
thus have we here invited him today.  

PLUME: With kind permission from our Lord High Mayor, 
the General's staff, and Regional State powers,
 these edicts do I here present to you;
demanding though they are, they must be met 
if Dunscon is to join with us in peace; 
their  number is one hundred thirty-four, 
while it may seem unreasonable a sum, 
upon my word I tell you that they were writ 
with utmost care and consideration. 
It was this very hand that made it so! 
We ask for little, but that he must give 
us all that we require; our aim is just
that we ensure a lasting calm; a goal, 
a dream, I hope, that can be shared by all. 

MONROE: Most heartily do I  agree with you! 
My territories are already weak, 
prone to invasion by marauding hordes 
that come in from the western wilderness;
each day the people of Missouri must 
endure both raids and monsters from the Gate. 
We signed the Treaty so that we could have 
some small measure of safety, and the power 
to call for help from allies; thus we hope 
to see another planting in the spring. 

JASPER: You mistake your own importance all this time! 
Each man among us knows, your State provides
nothing in means of old technology;
we signed with you to keep our bellies full, 
providing you with armour, men and arms. 
And yet you gripe? Are you in your small town, 
ha, if in fact Chillicothe rates as much, 
such cowards that you jump to see your shadow, 
and pale to look upon but one specter? 
Know you not the dangers that we face 
each time the sun sets in the blustry north;
you speak of hordes, yet never have you seen
the tribes of Savage Men when they do roam;
O, prisoners take they none, but tear a man 
to shreds 'fore he can scream, eat at his flesh,
and vanish in the night from whence they came; 
Compare your state to ours  

MONROE:             But hear me speak  

JASPER: Well prattle on then, woman, I'll not hear. 

LABELLE: Forgiveness please, I must correct you both. 
You speak of troubles like they were your children; 
belonging just to you and you alone, 
but we are allies now, and moreso friends; 
our burdens and our joys we all do share; 
For we are all one body politic; 
when that the little finger is but cut, 
the blood let loose is a loss to us all. 

JASPER: I am amazed you speak such things to me! 
"Equality?" and "Sharing"? Well, if we 
true equals be, like brothers set against
a common foe, what's yours is mine, and mine 
is an extension of your own; and yet 
not I, my people, nor this creature here (he indicates Monroe) 
posses but one of your weapons of war.  
Dear brother mine, do be so gracious as
to share your secrets of the Golden Age! 
For Iron Heart has done so, giving freely 
that which we unearthed, sharing the knowledge 
of all the centuries past, when man was sole 
possessor of the world, from long before 
the rifts arrived to tear the Earth asunder. 

LEOPOLD: Of what now do you speak; does Free Quebec
hold something the rest of us do lack? 

LABELLE: So please you it is nothing you should fear. 

JASPER: I live in fear of any man who'd preach
of honesty, yet spurn it's application; 
Archbishop, is it not considered sin 
to speak with one face but display another? 

ARCHBISHOP: 'Tis writ in Holy Scripture honesty
a virtue is, a virtue bright and true.  

LABELLE: That would you know, Gaetan, if any in
your poor province could read American. 
Is it a sense of duty now that calls 
you to deride us so, or rather, is't 
a feeling great of jealousy that we,
the Qu‚b‚cois are wiser far than you; 
that you but wallowed still with ignorance 
in miring darkness of another Age, 
whilst we were climbing out into the light? 
O, Jealousy, dear friend's, a deadly sin; 
and practiced by you and by all your kind!

(Jasper rises to draw his sword. Labelle does likewise.)

ARCHBISHOP: For God's sake peace, I prithee hold and stay;
your rashness is unportable this day. 

GUNTHRANUS: I'll make a ghost of he that lets me do it! (Rises) 

SWEETHO: O, Father, please 

GUNTHRANUS:              I will not hold my tongue; 
I shall no longer just abide of this! 
Are ye naught but children, worse yet birds, 
to peck and squabble o'er some trivial crumb, 
whils't weasels raid your nest and steal the eggs, 
devouring all your hope of progeny? 
If I produce the Treaty, I would find
upon it writ your true names, signed in faith; 
Upon that solitary document 
doth rest the cornerstone of this our house, 
and if it falls, collapsed in heaps of pride, 
relinquish then our claim upon the Earth.
Then since my life, indeed the lives of both
my sons, and this young man to whom I have 
since his poor father's sad untimely death, 
a second father been, I do depend 
upon your stern up keeping of your word; 
and I will burn in hell before I see 
this nation torn asunder by the likes
of sniveling, whimpering, starvelings such as thou
before it has fulfilled it's destiny. 
O, Woe betide the man, or woman, aye, 
who thinks more of themselves than greater good! 
We are a body politic 'tis true, 
and greater still a family comprised 
of sons and sisters, fathers, mothers, more,
I tell you there is nothing I'd not do 
if it would serve to hold and to ensure 
prosperity of this, my family great; 
Humanity is my entrusted care;
it's guiding hand and figurehead am I, 
if you support us not, but stand against, 
you are it's enemy, and moreso mine! 
We did not sign a contract with our foes, 
or do ye take us all for fools? If so, 
draw your blades and face me here and now, 
and we shall see if Pride or Age prevail. 

JOSEPH: (lays his hand on Gunthranus' shoulder) 
Good Sir, thou knowest well your battles lie 
outside these walls, for clearly you can see
there are no enemies here; thou knowest well, 
all families may argue, but the bond 
of love that ties them tight can not be cut. 

LABELLE: (sits) Young Joseph here speaks true; the boy is wise 
I cry your mercy   

MONROE:        I apologize. (Sits)

ARCHBISHOP: A very Christian attitude that we 
extend forgiveness unto those who sin 
against us   

       We have greater matters now. (sits)

JOSEPH: Please sir sit, and rest your weary bones. 

GUNTHRANUS: I only speak from passion, which oft time 
doth masquerade as madness, causing some
strange boiling in my blood, but nothing more.   

FARGOS: (aside) They talk of unity, and yet are still
so factious in their minds; but lo, here comes 
the thread to bind this patchwork blanket up. 

Flourish with trumpets. Enter several Coalition soldiers in full armour.
Enter a Messenger. 

MESSENGER: Sirs! Lord Nostrous Dunscon awaits your pleasure. 

VAN-MEER: Bring him to us, and we shall underway. 

Exeunt Mess. Enter Dunscon. 

DUNSCON: Good morrow, friends! And you, my dear Van-Meer,
or rather shall I call by your name 
that you did lately win; Chairman Elect, 
if we do stand on ceremony here;
Indeed and to you all, although your names 
I may know not, I wish you still good health.  

VAN-MEER: We are no tyrant, we are still a man, 
upon our shoulders titles yet must find 
a comfortable place in which to sit. 
Allow me if I may to introduce
the persons you see seated round you now. 
From northmost reaches of our fledgling land,
I do present Monsieur Kellar Labelle;
of Iron Heart, this Gaetan Jasper is. 
From gentle Missouri comes Miss Monroe, 
who all of late expressed great interest 
in making your acquaintance on this day.
And Mr. Plume, mine own right hand and friend,
(but more than that a total confidant);
Here General Gunthranus and his sons, 
both Leopold and Sweetho by his side; 
the figure in the shadows lurking there, 
in keeping with his air of mystery, 
Krel Fargos goes he by   

DUNSCON:            I know him well. 

FARGOS: Acquainted we already are my lord; 
his city did I leave to join you here.

DUNSCON: Your fragile mother still does speak of you; 
your brother told me that we two should meet
if into Chi-Town this day I should come. 
Have you a message I should give to him? 

FARGOS: None that he would care to hear. 
Might one inquire if he in your employ 
may still be found; around your winged heels
devouring scraps that from your table fall, 
a Cerberus in mind, but not in form? 

DUNSCON: My councillor he is, my oracle, 
this morning he did prophesy that much 
should come of this our gathering here today. 

JOSEPH: Prophesy; did he indeed? 'Tis strange.

VAN-MEER: And lastly but not least may I present
young Joseph Prosek's hand unto your grace. 

(Joseph and Dunscon shake hands)

DUNSCON: Is't possible we've met somewhere before? 

JOSEPH: I do not think it so. 

DUNSCON:            Forgive me, but 
your eyes bear something that I swear I have
beheld before; a half-remembered dream...
Pish! Nonsense though it is, but rather my 
excitement at your invitation kind: 
Good Gentlemen, and Lady lest I loose 
my manners, may I bring you gifts of plenty; 

(He reaches into his cloak and by magic produces a large tray of fruit.) 

These fruits in the vineyards of the gods doth grow!  
A place beyond the rifts: Olympia, 
where pegasi and cyclops romp and play, 
on trees that shine like lanterns in the night, 
do grow delicacies, bedecked with dew 
like purest crystal; help yourselves, and you
like me you will have no choice but to agree 
your mouths have never tasted such delight 
this side of heaven. No? be it your fear 
assure you do I that they're poisoned not; 
I come here in good conscience and good faith, 
hoping that we as councillors of peace
may build again the globe as we see fit; 
This union of yours, Coalition called, 
miraculous a meeting both of minds
and merging several cultures, side by each, 
I do believe our path to glory 'tis. 

(He sits)

I must admit before you one and all, 
a week ago, when you did meet to form
a brand new country out of lesser ones,
there were some in our city fair who raged
that we had been excluded from the deal;
but then quoth I  " 'Tis but an oversight, 
these men in Chi-Town have a master plan,
whatsmore, a vision, and so they must act,
for clearly they can see by things around
a new world has been born; 'tis ours to grasp! 
They will not cling to that which is no more, 
these relics from the golden Age of Man, 
but integrate our powers o'er the Lines,
the sum produced being greater than two halves."
And lo, your invitation doth arrive, 
that brought me here this morn, and may I say, 
how flattered I am now, and I do swear
when we today combine the Allied States
and magic from our Federation lands, 
an Empire great as Rome, as strong as Time, 
will we be fathers of forever more. 

ARCHBISHOP: Though fathers evermore we'll be that's true, 
never shall we embrace the likes of you. 

DUNSCON: I understand you not. 

PLUME: Then I'll speak clear. 
The purpose of our meeting is to warn
those peoples in your city to the north,
whose conduct walks the line 'twixt heav'n and hell, 
I do believe you know of what I speak; 
From Fargos we have studied and have learned
about the magic secrets you hold dear; 
you dare to think you've got the strength to hold 
the demons that you summon under sway? 

LEOPOLD: O, yes, we know quite well about your powers
o'er Time and Space and many other things, 
of circles drawn, and candles burning bright, 
a still-warm beating dragon's heart, a knife, 
the cryptic Runes that none can understand, 
all mingled in a string of breathy words, 
expanding like a womb that opens wide, 
a doorway, portal, rift, the other side  

SWEETHO: As lapdogs you may think these monsters be,
but I can tell you now that they are not; 
And what is more, dear sir, I here proclaim
unless you change your ways and your affairs, 
your Grand City, and Lazlo, and Tolkeen, 
will prove a greater threat than help to us. 
DUNSCON: Do you intend to threaten me, young man? 

VAN-MEER: The boys speak out of turn, but they are right, 
and such is our intention here today, 
to ask you, Dunscon, will you take in hand
the moral reigns and crack a righteous whip, 
and exercise some measure of control
in your own dark and mystical affairs;
the world knows too much pain, and so much grief, 
and yet you're adding to it's sum each day.
PLUME: If you would read the edicts on this form,
restricting summoning power, citizenship
to monstrous, alien and evil powers, 
and first and foremost bringing to a halt
the trade of goods with other-worldly realms,  (he indicates the tray of fruit)
then there's no reason why you should not seem 
as great a friend as you would claim to be.  

(Plume pushes the Edicts in front of Dunscon. There is a pause.)

DUNSCON: You do demean yourselves as well as me
by giving voice to your own ignorance, 
your fear, and your ridiculous requests;
I came to you in peace here as a friend, 
I came to you quite willing to ally, 
you treat me like a conquered enemy, 
or beaten animal to whom you can
but issue veiled threats and great demands. 

(He rises)

Know this: the people of the Grand City, 
my brothers in the various Magic Guilds, 
do not so much as fear your new nation 
of frightened, and of small-minded people; 
nor shall I, nor shall the swarming multitude
I represent kneel down before you here, 
before your ignorance and laughable
technology you seem to think so great. 
Wonders I have seen beyond this world, 
that you could not begin to fathom now;
magic is liberation, it unlocks
imagination, gives flight to the soul, 
doth place the universe within one's palm; 
you cannot know this, or you would not ask
that I should turn away from it and hide, 
my head stuck in the sand; No, we will go
and follow forth our destiny as we
deem fit, without a thought for your concerns!
There's nothing further to be said; I take
my leave of you; in closing let say
but these two things: that you have naught to fear
from me, or mine as long as you relent 
and leave us to our own devices, we'll
conduct our own affairs as we see fit, 
so give us please our berth; and secondly, 
if you dare challenge us, then you will earn
an enemy to tear your world apart
as easily as children kick aside
a castle in the sand or building blocks; 
unless you cast the first stone I see no
good reason why we cannot co-exist
in isolation and in peace; good day. 

(Dunscon strides towards the door, but teleports way before he reaches it.)

ARCHBISHOP: Angels and ministers of grace protect us!

PLUME: I must accept that as his answer, sir. 

LEOPOLD: So must we all Lord Mayor, the choice is clear.  

JASPER: We'll let not this young upstart prince of prates
curb these proceedings with his honey'd words, 
but finish boldly what we have begun. 
If Dunscon lacks the good God-given smarts
to change his ways, then we will have him school'd, 
and it shall be a lesson that goes hard.

JOSEPH: I must abide by your consensus that, 
we've made ourselves an enemy today, 
and what the future holds, I dare say not.

VAN-MEER: That do I know, for you at least, good son,
the future holds a banquet in thy name, 
for I've a daughter that I must unpack, 
discussed this have I with your father here, 
so, Joseph take a troubled girl to wife,  
and signify you love your land and me;
tonight we all shall feast within my home. 

PLUME: Then let us to your mansion, there we'll rest
'Till we decide if peace or war be beast.  

Exunt all. Leopold, Sweetho remain. Fargos lingers by the door. 
SWEETHO: A moment, brother  

 LEOPLOD:             what is't you would have? 

SWEETHO: (to Leoplod) You are a witness now of what I told you; 
our father's great age weighs upon his mind, 
and o'er heats his rot-infested brain; 
his once great arguments have dwindled down
to nothing more than rantings by a fool. 

LEOPOLD: (to Sweetho) Truly, I did not believe you when 
of first of it you spoke, but now I see 
this forlorn spectecle with mine own eyes, 
I swear he is not fit to lead our cause. 

SWEETHO: (to Leopold) The mantle then needs falls to one of us. 

FARGOS: (aside) Ambition bred so strong in two so young; 
Is't possible the lone adopted son 
could love the father more than natal born?            Exit Fargos.

LEOPOLD: But what of Joseph, for you plainly see, 
he clearly favoured is, although his blood's
as alien is the Netherworld; 
he is no true son of our father's loins, 
but praised for his compassion and his heart, 
his endless dedication to the cause;
we two are more deserving far than he. 

SWEETHO: And if he marries Catherine Van-Meer, 
a noble woman all possessed of wealth, 
when Mosher doth lie buried in the clay, 
then Joseph shall have rule o'er all of us, 
his progeny begin a line of kings, 
a title handed down time after time;
and what then should our history record, 
but that we let it happen whils't we stood
so idly by, and let our greatness fade.

LEOPOLD: We'll his undoing be, and then ere long
our names be sung in history's great song.             Exit.  

ACT 1, Scene 2

Location: a hallway in the Senate.

Enter Gunthranus solus.

GUNTHRANUS: Alack and fie! That it should come to this!
For two and fifty years a man may wear
his uniform until a second skin
it doth become, and he, the man, cannot 
exist without it's comfortable shell; 
it changes as he doth: when he is young
and slim, it's shape is crisp and clean and smooth, 
with lines like regiments and golden trim
that glistens blinding in the spring time sun;
when off  to fight for freedom and for peace, 
in lands still full and darkness and decay, 
and family must needs be left behind 
ten thousand leagues or more it seems, and he
shall wrestle in the filthy muck and slime, 
and blood shall cake his face and clog his beard; 
his second skin doth share his strife with stains; 
when bones mend so to does the uniform, 
it strengthens, it sustains, and shows the world
here stands an officer of truth, respect
and fear his power, for he is a light
to guide you to a new and glorious Age. 
Aye, but there's the crux, for Father Time
will not stand still the smallest little hour, 
but throw the sun around the world again, 
and turn the young man's spring into a summer; 
Need this be sad? I don't see why it should;
Why weepest I? O, that I know too well,
'Tis not the memory of summer days,
or by-gone loves that we may once have claimed, 
nor friends who've fallen, maelstroms past, it is
the knowledge they will never come again; 
and now, as autumn colours sweep across
the fields, and leaves turn brittle and grow dry, 
that young man's shape's a distant, fading dream, 
scarce half-remember'd  was he truly real? 
Gunthranus was his name I do recall, 
he loved and lost, flelt glory, knew defeat, 
but each time kicked, he got back up, 
far stronger than before; and it was this 
that made him great, and even was it so 
he raised his sons, but all for naught it seems; 
Gunthranus now is lost, I know, I fear
that he has come against the only foe
he'll never overcome, that is himself; 
Or rather Time's his enemy because
if time stood still that young man would remain, 
and he would stand here, slackened in his looks, 
and sickened at the shell that I've become; 
"O, know you not", he'd cry into my face, 
"that we were once the same, we two? That I
am still a smold'ring fire inside your soul;
gird up thyself for dost thou not still wear
these sheets, these simple grey-cloths; they are what
define you man, and symbolize your pride, 
and whil'st ye still have second skin on you, 
ye are not dead, but ye are glorified!"
I must take note of that youth's heady lust, 
and make it mine again but one last time, 
no good shall come of Dunscon's angry threat, 
and soon, I know, my winter will arrive; 
(forever will I sleep beneath the snow, 
perhaps, enjoy the quiet and the rest, 
not missing all the battles, blood, and strife,
but dream away in soft, eternal bliss.)
It cannot come just yet, for who remains
to take my place as king without a crown?
But soft, the others wait for me. I go. 
Come on you rags and lend some strength to me,
I know it's yours to give, for you are but 
the symbol of an Empire, and if I 
have faith in what that means, then I'll prevail. 
If Dunscon do our stern convictions try, 
my war with him shall blacken out the sky.             

     Exeunt. A peal of thunder is heard in the distance.

ACT 1, Scene 3

Location: a room in the Palace, Grand City

Enter Plato (in his natural form) and Elbron.

PLATO: The day hath turned to night, the heavens hung
with clouds like ribbons made of sackcloth black;
Apollo, lord of light and life and fire,
but also bless'd with gifts of prophesy,
as I above the earth did lately soar,
(my custom always waking with the dawn),
did bade me flee, and spurred his chariot on,
his fiery steeds 'a galloping to the west;
never in all my years, these aeons past,
have I beheld a portent such as this;
I doubt not but some cosmic tragedy
lies waiting in the wings for us to play.

ELBRON: I took note of it too, but not as thou;
as I did choose this morning when I woke
to drift along the river of the Lines,
in search of peace, refreshment of the soul,
which oft it brings when one does such a thing,
I had but only just gone into trance
when deep behind my eyes a vision came;
O, then began the tempest in my mind!
Me thought I saw battlefield laid full
with limbs and corpses piled a hundred high,
and blood did flow like run-off in the spring,
although the air was frigid, bitter cold,
and cannons, weapons, beasts of burden lay,
from here to there strewn broken o'er the plain;
amoung them wandered one lost weeping child,
his face obscured behind a visage grim,
and he did scream and rail as I stood there,
"Look well for this the first engagement is,
four partners, soon be five, all in a dance,
will meet this grinding fate before I die";
I am no oracle, but yet methinks
a vision of such natural magnitude,
can only mean that Chaos closes in
and lurks around the corner from us here.

PLATO: I cannot understand it; all was well;
and you yourself had only gotten word,
from Tolkeen, and the ministers in charge
of that calm city by the river's edge;
did they have much to say?

ELBRON:             Nothing my friend;
and well you know that in my native land,
there many live whom awesome powers posses,
but they have not seen visions such as we.

PLATO: Perhaps we two a grave misfortune bear,
in being at the centre of a storm,
and therefore first to see the swirling winds,
before they full let loose upon the world.

Enter Lady Dunscon.

LADY: Good morrow unto you my wing‚d friend,
though morning seems it not the present time.

ELBRON: Indeed, is Nature hiding in her home,
neglecting us for some misgotten deed?

LADY: Good tidings, Elbron; Nay I think it not;
for I believe that Nature's always kind,
her family the whole of Earth doth make,
and we can see that left unto herself,
she doth provide the smallest bird of flight,
with food for young ones and a shelt'ring home;
'Tis only mankind's actions put in force,
that suffocates her motherly embrace,
and leaves us naked in a freezing rain,
whil'st railing that 'twas Nature put us there.   (laughs)

PLATO: (aside) An interesting choice of words, indeed.

LADY: I would so love to stay and chat with you,
and hear of what transpires in your home lands,
how fare our cousins Lazlo and Tolkeen,
in this our mighty Federation, but
I have not time, for searching have I been;
My husband, Nostrous, now long overdue
for his returning from the Fortress Town;

this morning met he with their heads of state,
those mighty four the Coalition called,
he should have swift come straight back home to me,
reporting "all went well, the day is won",
but he has not, and now I greatly fear
misfortune he hath met with on his way.

PLATO: (aside) Four heads of state, said she, I wonder now...

ELBRON: Good madame have no fear, and get you hence
for Nostrous knows his way home well enough;
and you do now so tremble and look pale,
for your health, and not his, I am afraid.
If we your husband find, as we are like,
we'll straight on send him to your loving arms.

LADY: You're quite correct, I do myself no good
with all my constant worrying and such;
do send him to me if his path you cross,
for I do long to hear his wondrous tale.          Exit Lady Dunscon.

PLATO: Now, quickly, she is gone; dids't mark her words,
and how they echoed those spoke by the boy?

ELBRON: "Four partners, soon be five" is what he said...

PLATO: "Four heads of state" did Elanora say.

ELBRON: O, it doth send a shiver through my spine!
I'm not what you would call a gambling man,
but know I well that numbers rarely come
upon each other with such blatant force.

PLATO: I smell it in very breathing air,
that foolish, over-zealous, boisterous man
hath somehow sabotaged all hopes for peace.

     Enter Dunscon in a rage.

Now answers we'll receive, for here he comes;
the self-appointed king of magic, he.

DUNSCON: A plague on all of them for arrant cowards!
They claim to see and yet their eyes are shut,
like beggars groping blindly in field,
with none close by their side to give them guide,
they stumble, trip, and wallow in the mire,
not knowing if they face the north or south,
behind them lags a wand'ring multitude,
who beg and mumble, pleading for a home,
that these same beggar-kings did promise them,
and it is clear for all they may have said,
that they have no idea where they lead;
well, I can say, for I shall blaze their path,
and make it half a hundred acres wide,
and it shall not lead to the future, but
up to the iron gates of Hades

ELBRON:             Peace!
O, peace; thou talk'st in blithering nonsense
your face is red as iron on the fire.

PLATO: Dunscon, what has happened?

DUNSCON:                 Said they to me,
we could be welcome members if we would
comply to some demands that they set down,
a paltry sum, suggestions really, then
command me that I should forevermore
abandon all my arts, and burn my tomes;
the Coalition wants to put an end
to everything that we have fought to build,
they seek to wrap as collar 'round our necks
and fix me on leash just like a dog.

ELBRON: I know that you have studied three decades,
to learn the talents that you now command,
myself, more than two hundred human years
have I invested into my pursuits;
Said they we must forsake the mystic arts?
Why, never could we dream of such a thing;
better to ask a man to stop his breath,
than turn his back all that he hath learned.

PLATO: They did demand a thing impossible;
for I was wise in matters such as ours
since long before the two of you were born;
more realms and worlds mine eyes have taken in
then you could ever dream or hope to see,
if I am cut, my blood will burn like fire,
for magic courses through my every vein,
it is a part of me, and I could not

relinquish one iota of my power.

ELBRON: We all agree, and therefore Dunscon say:
when you did not agree to their "requests",
they threatened to destroy us one and all;
as mortal man must do when he confronts
a thing he cannot hope to understand.

PLATO: Then all's explained; Alack the day! For we
are now embroiled in war

DUNSCON:            We are not so.
We did do no such thing, for I am one
who prides himself level-headedness,
'Tis why I lead this enclave here today.
I just laid out the level of the land,
and told Van-Meer and his assembled drones,
the Federation nevermore will bow
to any power, other than its own;
quite independent from them we shall be,
and there will come no conflict, no bloodshed,
unless the Coalition bear her fangs,
and strike us while we lie asleep in bed.

Enter Malmorja, attired in black.

PLATO: Then all is well, for they would never dare
take action 'gainst us in so vile a way.

MALMORJA: How is it that someone as old as you,
who claims to have seen all the eye can take,
and lived a thousand mortal lives or more
through an infinitude of other planes,
can now display such sick naivete?
I am ashamed I even know your name.

DUNSCON: Malmorja! Why this speaking out of turn?
And why such barb‚d insults do you hurl?
Good Plato is a wise and noble soul,
and loyal to our cause as day is long.

PLATO: Dark shadow, do not tempt a dragon's wrath...

MALMORJA: Dear Plato, as I stand before you now,
I speak in tones of purest honesty;
your species is an ancient one, revered
by any culture it has come to meet;
a dragon's strength and zeal for life are such
that they inspire legends, become myths;
I'm saddened so I feel my heart will burst,
this air is black clear through with disappoint
to see a creature of such majesty
be crushed beneath the weighty heel of man.

PLATO: What mean'st thou, wretched form? Come to your point.

MALMORJA: Lord Dunscon, you have some experience
of my good council and too well you know,
I am your bondsman; I would never seek
to prove you wrong or lead your grace astray.

DUNSCON: Quite true. You've been with me for many years,
not once have your words proven mercenary.

MALMORJA: Then open wide your ears and hear me now
the rest of you were wise to do the do the same
You may think, good my lord, a victory
you have secur‚d from the dark abyss,
but I, who dwell in darkness, tell you plain,
to those assembled in the Senate Halls,
you are no man of peace, but simply are
a laughingstock; "the great magician came,
and stood up proudly for what he believed,
we have been sore mistaken, so we have,
Lord Dunscon doth deserve our deep respect."
Think you they say such things behind your back?
Ah, no! You a fool if you believe
the Coalition, at this moment now,
is planning anything but our demise!
Who are they, they are tiny little boys,
who only feel like men when they control,
or subjugate a greater power than they;
Today you danced your way into their hands,
and for your lack of backbone we will pay;
Gunthranus will come charging o'er the hill,
with cannons spewing hellfire, close behind
neigh a half -a-million in rage so great
they'll storm our walls and slaughter without thought.

DUNSCON: The General's an old man, past his prime,
he is no threat to us

MALMORJA:      So you believe,
he has your cowardice to buoy him up;
you offered peace when all they crave is war,
our kingdom now lies naked for attack!
If you but love your people half as much
as you would lead me so far to believe,
then our defenses we must ready now,
our numbers we must swell to meet the foe,
strike flint to fire and light mystic forge,
instruct our Dwarven guild masters to mint
such weapons as the gods will fear to tread
before our army, lest we strike them down!

PLATO: You twist the situation out of sorts.

MALMORJA: How can you argue with the elements?
Behold, the sun for shame doth hide his head,
the air we breathe is crushing humid hot
although the middle of the autumn 'tis;
your wife would tell you so, were that she here,
when Nature finds her balance overwrought,
it is from mortal actions, would she not?

DUNSCON: Indeed she would, Malmorja for she hath
a greater dedication to the Earth
to any other woman I have known.

ELBRON: I must concede Malmorja's words give pause,
these signs that we have seen well indicate
that something vile is working in the world.

MALMORJA: Perhaps the four of us should go and ask
the Lady Dunscon for her sound advise,
since Nostrous sells his potent manhood cheap
and plays the underling to foreign powers.

DUNSCON: O, now you've crossed a line you merely skated 'round before!
Am I so base a thing that I must crawl
with hat in hand and beg permission from
my wife, because I cannot act alone?

MALMORJA: Why here he stands at last, my noble lord,
erect and full glory, wise in years;
I do apologize for my remark,
but needed I to rekindle your flame.
Now thou art thy self again, lead on,
for you know well now what 'tis you must do.

DUNSCON: I do indeed, and thank you my good friend,
a lesson you have given me this day,
our power's nothing if we conquered are,
and since not one man here could bear a life
devoid of magic and it's wonderment,
I'll prove myself a worthy noble king
defending those beneath my gracious rule;
If General Gunthranus shall attempt
to rob us of our chosen destiny,
his head shall sit atop my battlements,
amazement etched into his leath'ry jowls,
for he will see his folly in attack,
and wish he never met the likes of me;
and once I have impaled him on my sword,
the world will know that Dunscon is it's lord!
     Exeunt Dunscon, Malmorja following.

ELBRON: Will you not follow?

PLATO:              No indeed.

ELBRON:                       Why not?

PLATO: Because the man's first instincts were correct,
he offered peace, and turned his back on strife,
yet here we are, preparing us for war,
spurned on to do so by a hellish fiend
that takes the shape of man; Dunscon is weak
if he so easily persuaded is.
I'll stay no more. Remain here if thou must,
In Lazlo's peaceful policy I'll trust.

     He takes flight and leaves. Exeunt Elbron.

ACT I, Scene 4

Location: an antechamber outside the Federation Council room.

Malmorja is discovered on stage, pacing.

MALMORJA: Dunscon's speech hath lasted serval hours, 
no members of the Council have walked out, 
for I'd have seen them, posted as am
outside the door, and by that I infer
they give him their support in this proposed
plan to expand our borders triple-fold;
The credit he will take, but 'twas my scheme
that put such lofty thoughts into his head, 
and fine with me that is for I am like 
a puppet-master, Nostrous on my strings,
that when I twitch my fingers, he doth dance
and when I lend my voice to him, he'll sing.

     Enter Errko.

ERRKO: Good Master! Master I have urgent news,
unto your ears it now I must impart...

     Malmorja slaps him.

MALMORJA: You filthy groundling, get you hence from here!
Know you not the reason that I stand
outside these doors inpatient waiting still;
for in a moment's time they will recess, 
and Dunscon then will usher me inside, 
an amulet he'll place around my neck, 
the house will burst into a wild applause, 
and I a Council member be in full, 
so go and keep my mother company. 

ERRKO: It is your mother of which I must speak. 
Or rather, it was she that paved the way, 
for had I not been out collecting things
up off the forest floor for her to use
in all her spells and potions, I'd have not
been there to meet the brothers when they came.

MALMORJA: Errko, you babble, and my blood is hot; 
What brothers, what import is this to me? 

ERRKO: O, do but listen Master as I tell
of three such strangers as you've never seen, 
appeared they did within a cloud of blue
that swirled about and scattered all the leaves, 
and sent the birds in frightened frantic flight 
from out the trees into the hanging sky, 
alone I was with silence all about
when they did walk in unison my way, 
and gaz‚d down on me from such a height,
(three times the height of you they all do stand)
that I was sore afraid and tried to hide. 
Full many times have I while deep inside 
your mother's pits of blackest alchemy
seen creatures summoned from the dark beyond
and felt their power emanating forth, 
but, sir, I tell you that these giants three
did imprint magic in the very sod, 
and when they spoke the sound was a like a bell
or crystal goblet smashing on a rock.

MALMORJA: So spoke they unto you, what did they say?

ERRKO: "Be not afraid small creature", quoth the Three, 
in tenor, bass and baritone alike, 
"No harm shall fall on you for we are come
into this City searching for a man, 
the mages in the Zone have told us of
one Nostrous Dunscon leader, prophet, king,
to him we plan to offer services
in fair exchange for shelter and some food."

MALMORJA: Now I know thou lie'st! For why would  
a trio of such god-like creatures need
protection from the weather, or a meal?

ERRKO: I know it, Master so then did quoth I:
"Triumvirate, or what ever you be, 
a simple little goblin servant I, 
but in the services of Malmorja,
commander of the legion beasts of hell, 
my Master is a wise and learn‚d man, 
his skills are many, and well he may know
how best to use your graces and to bring 
the three of you before Dunscon the king". 
Then told me they to lead them 'long the road
and so I did, and now they wait outside. 

MALMORJA: The three are here? Then bring them in for I
must see with mine own eyes so strange a sight. 

     Errko rushes out.

Since I was but the smallest little child, 
I have possessed the gift of "scrying eyes", 
'Twas so my mother called it, and it fits, 
the power's such that once I turn my gaze 
upon a man or animal or thing
if it be tarot card or empty skull,
a man or serpent, anything at all, 
a wave of future possibilities
comes washing over me and I can see
what Time in his immutable slow crawl
will offer up, and dangers then avoid, 
where others tumble headlong in them full. 

     Enter Errko, following Brethan, Coran, and Leizak, all dressed alike.

ERRKO: The brothers three as I described of late.

     Malmorja turns and looks at the Three, then turns quickly away.

MALMORJA: (aside) It cannot be, I see my own demise
and stemming from these creatures standing here, 
but I must hide my feelings true from them, 
lest they a weakness finding do exploit. 

BRETHAN: You are Malmorja, called by some "the Dark", 
a summoner and tormentor of souls? 

MALMORJA: "The Dark One", I have often heard me called, 
but never long by they that still drew breath. 

BRETHAN: You have no need of your bravado false, 
all things appear as glass to me and mine.

CORAN: Your world is but a see-through crystal ball, 
and in it possibility we find. 

LEIZAK: That's why the Three have come to seek you out, 
for we see great potential in this land. 

CORAN: Now take us before Council and your king, 
so that we extend a guiding hand. 

MALMORJA: 'Twould give me pleasure everlasting to 
do anything that you would ask of me. 
The Federation Council waits beyond
these doors of oak, and they will thrill to meet
three brothers with such perfect manners as 
you have displayed in our brief meeting here. 

CORAN: Thou would prove wise to mock us not thou mage, 
unless you would have lesson of our rage. 

MALMORJA: No disrespect intended, enter in, 
the lords will hear your words without delay.

     The Three enter into the Council chambers. 

I do not very often offer praise, 
but Errko you have saved my life this day; 
when I did look into that creatures face, 
I saw a spectacle most bloody grim; 
for now I know what 'ere shall come to pass, 
I must refuse to join the Councilmen. 

ERRKO: But Master it hath been your life-long dream
to sit amoung the regents and their power. 

MALMORJA: But power's a thing most fleeting, for it comes
and goes away more quickly than the tide,
now I must in, you see the stage is set
and thus the comic action may take place;
rumour it that Elenora sweet, the 
bride of our most high and mighty king, 
is grievous sick, and like to pass away
before the first snows dust the hills in white.   
ERRKO: But she is healthy.

MALMORJA:      Dids't not hear my words?
Quite ill is she, I know it for a fact, 
my poisons even now move through her skin, 
she has no more than three weeks left to live, 
and then, O then, my slaughter will commence, 
a widowed husband's malleable as clay
when she is gone, 'tis then I'll seize the day. 


[Written by Braden Campbell!]

Kingsdale Free Press – Bomb Explodes Downtown Killing 12 School Children

An attempted terrorist bombing of city council member Arcadia this morning ended in carnage as a group of twelve children on their way to school were caught in the blast. While Councillor Arcadia was relatively unhurt physically, she says that the emotional scars of seeing those children perish in such a “senseless manner” will haunt her forever and that the perpetrators should be punished.

City investigators are already following leads found at the scene, as well those generated from eyewitness accounts. While investigators state it is too early to draw any definitive conclusions the initial findings discovered an electronic detonation device nearby which appears to have been manufactured in Whykin.

Although nothing is conclusive Whykin would be a likely suspect given the host of other violent events that have occurred in past months. Members of the Kingsdale Forest Rangers report a number of hostile engagements with Whykin patrols in the woodlands that separate the two nation states, as well as Whykin’s increasing hostility in matters of trade and diplomacy. Whykin officially denies such allegations as “unfounded and highly prejudicial” and state that their patrols report being attacked unprovoked by Kingsdale Forest Rangers as well as blame juicers from the Kingsdale Enhancement Clinic for an attempted poisoning of the Whykin water supply last month.

General Desmond Donner, leader of the Kingsdale Defence forces and responsible for all military actions, emphatically states that his soldiers do not have orders to engage Whykin forces unless first fired upon, and even in that case they are to withdraw at the earliest and safest opportunity.

Regardless of the “official” statements by both sides it appears that the cold war that developed between the two city-states after the collapse of trade agreements in 104 P.A. is escalating into a volatile and dangerous situation.


After Action Report
From: Department of Special Divisions, Explosive Ordinance Division
To: Colonel Erin Harding CSID, Commander Operation Puppet Master


As per your orders our operatives constructed an explosive device using materials discreetly purchased by your agents in Whykin. A team of Special Forces soldiers and one specialist from our Division were tasked with deployment of the device.

Just as you anticipated the target survived the blast and witnessed the deaths of numerous bystanders. Our agents escaped unnoticed and the incriminating detonation device was left near the scene.

Our Division considers this a successful joint operation despite the fact that the target of the blast survived.

W.O. 1 Hamilton, EOD


CSID External Affairs Report: Operation Puppet Master
To: Colonel Joseph Prosek II
From: Colonel Erin Harding CSID, Commander Operation Puppet Master


To date operation Puppet Master has developed according to plan; the work started by our agents in 104 P.A. at the Whykin/Kingsdale Trade Negotiations has not gone to waste. As per your request I will briefly summarize our latest actions in the operation.

A Joint Action with the DSD, EOD Division, managed to pit one more high ranking political member of Kingsdale against Whykin. While most believe that political figure to be our target, we intentionally used a device that would not harm her demonically hard physical structure. Instead our operatives managed to catch numerous bystanders in the blast. The anger and emotion caused by this scene, combined with the political power this figure wields should step up aggression between the two nations considerably.

In the geographic area between the two nations to special operations units, 2nd Platoon, 23rd Ranger Battalion and 43rd Platoon, 1st Chi-Town Special Forces Division have been operating using local weaponry and engaging targets on both sides.

The tactics the Forest Rangers, a unique and easily recognisable defence force employed by Kingsdale, are easily imitated by the Rangers who have successfully engaged a number of Whykin military and civilian targets.

43rd Platoon, using equipment purchased and manufactured in Whykin have been engaging commercial and military targets on the Kingsdale side.

Both units use telltale tactics and equipment, and are ordered to let survivors escape in order to report what they saw.

These military actions combined with our constant external espionage efforts have created an atmosphere of hostility between the two nations, hostility, which should soon become open. CSID political analysts believe that once we manage to “tip the scale” toward war between these nations Whykin will become much more open to our overtures of statehood, especially if we allow them to conquer Kingsdale with their own forces and occupy that territory as part of their independent state.

Of course, having Whykin destroy Kingsdale is out ultimate goal, saving us resources and time better spent engaging larger more politically important foes. To date operation Puppet Master should be considered a success, and with further effort should obtain its objective.

Erin Harding, Colonel CSID

[Written by John Stevens]



"Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?"

(Run background of different Coalition military activities, from Dog Boys cornering and finishing off a psychic, to an ISS raid on a psi-cola crackhouse, to a platoon of panicked grunts being slaughtered by a horde of Xiticix on live television, to NTSET blowing away a monster.)

"GRUNTS is a real, unedited weekly television series presenting to you the daily of activities of the men and women of Coalition law enforcement."



"Peacekeeping Officer Dale Mackenzie
Chi-Town Internal Security Service"

(Officer Mackenzie has his helmet off, driving the vehicle and talking to the camera crew at the same time. He has a half-eaten donut in one hand and is driving the vehicle with his free hand.)

"It's a difficult job, but it comes with a good deal of pride from the work we do. The world out there is chaotic, even in the streets of the Coalition, and we're out here every day and night, right in the backyard of the CS, making it safe for humanity."

"All 2-9 units respond. 1253 in progress, corner of Blake and Karl Prosek Street."

MACKENZIE (into radio):
"2-9 Baker, copy." (turns and corner and puts the pedal to the metal) "1253, that's an armed robbery. Probably a crazy, borg, juicer, we've been getting a lot of those lately. Inhuman pansies."

(Mackenzie arrives on scene, exits vehicle with a pistol drawn; camera crew keeps at a safe distance behind him as 2-9 Charlie and 2-9 David arrive on scene.)


(The Peacekeepers approach the street corner; we can see they're in the ghetto levels of Chi-Town. Two dead CS civilians lie on the ground. The officers hear a scream far off and take off running, the camera crew not far beyond. They spot a partial construction Borg and a wild Psi-Stalker (faces blurred out) fleeing the scene.)

"Freeze, mother [BLEEP]!"

"[BLEEP], it's the heat!"

"Die, you [BLEEP] [BLEEP] [BLEEP]!"

(The Borg fires on the officers while the Psi-Stalker flees with the stolen cash. He's wielding a rail gun and blows away 2-9 Charlie; Mackenzie and 2-9 David bring their weapons to bear and empty their e-clips into the Borg, who goes down screaming.)

"I got the psychic!"

"Augh, you [BLEEP] [BLEEP], you [BLEEP] [BLEEP] [BLEEP] shot me!"

(Mackenzie breaks off into a mad run after the psi-stalker, the camera several yards behind. The psi-stalker hops a fence into a civilians' backyard, as does Mackenzie and the camera crew.)


(The place looks like a post-apocalyptic trailer park.)


(The psi-stalker goes running through a house where children and other civilians are playing; he trips over a Super-SAMAS action figure and falls head over heels out the front door of the house.)


(With the civilians screaming their heads off, Mackenzie bursts out the door and onto the psi-stalker, grabbing him and shoving him roughly up against the door of the house.)


"2-9 Baker, what is your location?"

MACKENZIE (winded):
"2-9 Baker. Front porch of house, corner of Karl Prosek and 5678th. Require immediate assistance. Perpetrator in custody. Out."

(Mackenzie starts patting down the psi-stalker, takes out a Naruni pistol, sets it aside as evidence, along with a vibroknife, a Boom-Gun Joe bubble gum stick, and a rolled up D-bee porn magazine (which is also blurred out for obvious reasons). Mackenzie then slaps cuffs on the guy and starts walking him out to the street with all the evidence in little baggies.)


(The dead civilians are packaged up for the coroner while the downed officer (armor took most of it) and the half-dead Borg are put in ambulances and taken away. The psi-stalker gets the obligatory abuse as he's shoved in a CS patrol vehicle. Mackenzie is finishing his donut while talking with the camera crew.)

"It's a real shame. These particular perps were ex-Coalition. Ran across some wackos, bought the anti-Prosek propaganda. These freaks out here always trying to start an insurrection are making an unnecessary division between the Coalition. It's dark times like these where we need to stick together, fight for the sake of humanity, y'know. Heaven knows who let them have access to such high-powered weaponry. I tell you, I think there must be some sort of technology boom, 'cuz each time I gear up and hit the streets there's some new perp with a weapon looking wipe us all out. ...This is a damned good donut."





"Peacekeeping Officer Miles Pulaski
Chi-Town Internal Security Service"

(Pulaski is drinking a cup of joe while sitting off to the side out of view of traffic, checking the speeds of the civilians.)

"We set speed limits like this for the mutual safety of everyone involved here. When they disrespect one law, for whatever reason, we red-flag them. If you break one law, however minor, you're still breaking the law, and you're putting a barrier between us and mankind's eventual dominance of the Earth, again."

"1-5 David respond to disturbance on 392nd and Casual. 605 reported."

PULASKI (into radio):
"1-5 David, copy. On my way." (off radio) "605. Why do I have a bad feeling about this?"


PULASKI (driving up):
"That's why." (flashing flashlight at wiry-looking vagabond wearing a trenchcoat and a smile) "Excuse me, sir. You mind stepping away from the young lady's yard and having a chat over here?"

(Pulaski and the vagabond walk to the front end of the patrol vehicle, the camera crew getting all of this. The vagabond's face, of course, is blurred out.)

"You mind telling me what you were doing outside Mrs. Jones' house?"

(The vagabond squirms, mutters to self, starts to back away.)

VAGABOND (under breath):
"[BLEEP] Uncle Goober... [BLEEP] Uncle Goober... [BLEEP] Uncle Goober..."

"Sir? You wanna talk or what, sir?"

VAGABOND (screaming):
"[BLEEP] Uncle Goober!"

(The vagabond snaps open trenchcoat much to the disgust of Pulaski and the camera crew. Not much is blurred out.)

"Holy [BLEEP] [BLEEP]!"

"Uncle Goober!"

"You have a license to carry that, son?"

"Uncle Goober! [BLEEP] die!"

(The vagabond snaps out a 20th century pistol and fires twice into Pulaski's chest and then flees; Pulaski, on instinct, takes out his pistol and shoots the vagabond in the back, killing him brutally.)

"Augh, [BLEEP]. What the [BLEEP] was wrong is you, man?! [BLEEP]!"

"1-5 David, what is your situation?"

(Pulaski is obviously distraught at having shot the vagabond. He keeps cursing and panicking.)

"1-5 David, what is your status?"

"[BLEEP], [BLEEP], [BLEEP]!" (into radio) "1-5 David, copy. Shots fired. Officer is okay. Man down. Repeat, man down. Officer needs assistance." (off radio) "[BLEEP] [BLEEP], why did he do that? [BLEEP] dammit!"

(The camera, of course, zooms in on the mutilated, smoking body. Pulaski is starting to get aggravated with them.)

"It's a dead body, [BLEEP] [BLEEP]! Show some [BLEEP] respect! [BLEEP], I can't believe I did that. Aw, [BLEEP]!"

(Other officers arrive on scene.)

"Holy [BLEEP], Pulaski! What the [BLEEP] happened, man?"

"He pulled a gun on me, man. I didn't know it was a [BLEEP] pistol, I thought he was pulling out a [BLEEP] rail gun or some [BLEEP] like that!"

"[BLEEP] damn, Pulaski! You really blew this [BLEEP] away!"

"Yeah. [BLEEP]. Yeah, I know."



"Next time, on GRUNTS, we travel to Lone Star to see an elite team of Dog Boys and Psi-Stalkers, working together to rid the planet of psychic pscum. Next time, on GRUNTS!"

"Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?"

[Written by Jonathan Fagundes]

Night Strike

CSN Facility, Hannibal
0300 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

CS Naval Infantry Corporal Simms sat quietly, manning his station got real boring sometimes. He manned one of the eight heavy laser batteries positioned along the Mississippi River north of the Devil's Gate. This was the last stop for cargo before it got on rails for Chi-Town or Missouri. The only thing that made it exciting was the close proximity to Tolkeen, but their navy was non-existent, so Simms had to be satisfied with the occasional pirate or supernatural creature from the Devil's Gate. All in all, a typical Brown Water Navy job, they didn't call it the Brown Water Navy on account of the mud, but because the water was dirtied by all the shit jobs.

Sighing Simms checked the clock to see how much time was left in his shift.

"Shit." He muttered.

Simms couldn't do math but he knew oh-seven-hundred was a long way off.


Ruins of St. Louis Arch, "The Devil's Gate"
0311 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Nash Edwards had been on all kinds of missions before, first as a Special Forces soldier for Northern Gun then as a mercenary in a variety of outfits, but this one was by far the strangest, and most dangerous. Tolkeen had hired him and a small team of other special operators to navigate the Mississippi, through a CS minefield, past a heavily defended CS outpost, all the while avoiding the myriad of Hurricane patrol boats, and supernatural menaces plaguing the area. And for what?

To put ashore at the foot of one of the largest and most unstable dimensional rifts on the continent and deliver their cargo. Of course their cargo wasn't a thing, like a bomb or incriminating evidence, no it was a person. A very strange and disturbing person, Nash couldn't place his finger on why, but he knew this guy was creepy. Getting the 'all clear' from his reconnaissance team, Nash unloaded his cargo.

"Alright Mister. Welcome to St. Louis, gateway to hell."

Forsythe smiled as he exited the boat, he could hear the edge of fear in the Nash's voice, and it was a well justified fear, a fear that had probably kept the man alive through a number of combat operations. However, the Special Forces soldier feared that which he did not understand, Forsythe understood, that's why Tolkeen had sent him on this mission.

Years of studying the Arcane arts, countless hours of opening himself up to the ebb and flow of the ley line energy allowed Forsythe to be confident in what he was about to do. He was a Shifter, a summoner, this giant and powerful portal so close to a major CS outpost was the perfect method with which to hit the sleeping giant in a place it did not expect, and erode the confidence of its zealous inhabitants.

Still smiling Forsythe drew a large circle on the ground and stepped into it. Smiling wider he raised his arms into the air, more for the benefit of the on-looking and puzzled soldiers, and began to harness the massive amounts of energy available at this giant nexus. Focusing his concentration Forsythe began the summoning process. Slowly at first, then gradually increasing Forsythe used his mind to channel the psychic energy and tear a hole in the very fabric of space and time.


CSN Patrol Boat "River Rat"
0336 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Seaman Erin Greene stood on the deck of the patrol boat staring out into the night with her night vision binoculars. They were passing by the Devil's Gate, a routine check to monitor any new activity, record and report the activity to RCSG, and engage any new demons that popped out.

Looking out over the river at "the gate" Seaman Greene wondered if she'd catch a glimpse of the shimmering blue energy that sailors sometimes reported seeing, although it was evil most Brown Water Navy folk agreed it sure was pretty to look at. As quickly as the thought entered her mind it was pushed away as a giant pillar of energy erupted from the gate, causing dark clouds to form suddenly, and lighting up the whole area as if it were day. Ripping the binoculars from her eyes Seaman Greene yelled down to the Petty Officer.

"Wake the Chief! The gates to hell have been opened."

The standard catch phrase for rift activity at The Devil's Gate quickly got the attention of the Petty Officer of the watch who got on the horn to the crew cabin.

"Chief, the shit just hit the fan."

On the deck Seaman Greene watched the activity for a few more moments and groaned as a giant swarm of airborne monstrosities flew from the newly formed rift heading north into the night. Having seen enough the Seaman jumped rushed inside the patrol boat and fired up her CR-4T Laser Turret, while shouting a status report to the Chief.

"Chief, that rift is 'hot', multiple airborne targets just emerged."

Like any good Naval Chief, the Chief cursed, a lot. After the stream of oaths had finished the Chief gave some orders.

"Hit whatever you can with the missiles, bring the CR-144 to bear at a seventy degree up angle and fire until we bleed dry. Communications get on the horn to Hannibal, tell them to scramble air units, they got company coming. All ahead flank, let's get out of here!"

Turning to Greene the Chief quickly inquired.

"Could you identify the monsters Greene?" Before the Seaman could answer the ship's guns began to chatter to life as a number for targets swarmed the small patrol boat. The missiles screamed away from the launcher in volleys of twelve hoping to catch as many targets as possible in a single blast, but there were just too many. They landed on the boat with loud thuds, and began to rock it and tear at it with their claws.

Grabbing his CP-40 the Chief looked out the window to see what he was up against, only to see the demonic grin of a gargoyle staring back at him.


Ruins of St. Louis Arch, "The Devil's Gate"
0341 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Forsythe stood in his circle, cowering, he was surrounded by blood thirsty gargoyles, their large white teeth almost glowing in the soft life of the rift. Things were not going according to plan. When the gargoyle's first started pouring out Nash ordered his men to open fire, their small arms fire only served to annoy the giant sub-demons who tore the special operatives apart limb by limb.

Alone with only his circle to protect him Forsythe had no way of escaping, he couldn't teleport himself away he had exhausted himself opening the rift. He was doomed, it was only a matter of time before the gargoyles would find a way to get him.

Forsythe watched in horror as one of the gargoyles examined the dead bodies of Nash and his companions, and picked up the rail gun once employed by the heavy weapons man. Screaming something in an unintelligible language the gargoyle depressed the trigger sending accelerated metal shards roaring toward Forsythe. The protection circle kept the gargoyles at bay, but not the bullets. Forsythe screamed as the bullets ripped through his light armor and exited out his back, literally ripping him to shreds. Forsythe's dying screams carried through the night, but would never be heard by human ears.


CSN Facility, Hannibal
0343 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Simms was on the edge of his seat, the call had come over the radio net from the River Rat, the Devil's Gate had opened and something, a hell a lot of somethings, had flown out. Turning on his active radar Simms could pick them up despite their still being over fifty miles away. That's where his base commander likely hoped they would stay.

The radar screen was suddenly filled even more as the SAMAS platoon took off to intercept, the radar reported 58 friendly airborne targets, forty of which were moving to engage. Simms smiled, that meant that the entire platoon of Super SAMAS units would be engaging the enemy, leaving only the Sky Cycles behind to defend the base.

The bunker shook as the SAMs roared overhead towards their target, Simms watched with interest from his position, his laser turret wasn't built for engaging airborne targets but he angled it upward anyway. Sometimes just putting up a lot of flak was the best defense.

The bunker shuddered again as four more airborne targets lit up the radar, these ones were real fast. Simms knew right away that they were the Sea Striker jets, he didn't need the computer to tell him that. As the computer gave its audio report of friendly aircraft in the area Simms began to wonder what had happened to the Striker SAMAS team, he hadn't seen them lift off.


Airborne over the Mississippi
0344 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Lieutenant Commander David Rice, Nautical Commando, led his formation of Striker SAMs low over the water, although this enemy didn't have radar it was SOP to keep low and avoid radar contact. Of course, being this low meant it would be difficult for the enemy to make visual contact as well, especially since the demons were flying higher than the Strikers.

Rice watched his radar as the Super SAMs began to engaged the enemy, he silently wished he was up there engaging the enemy. Sometimes he envied those RPA Marines, they got to engage the enemy head on, not sneak around and do things that appeared to have fuzzy outcomes and objectives. Then again, that's why he became a SEAL, for the unique experience.

Rice's thoughts were interrupted by the radio.

"Strike-6, Strike-2. I've spotted a boat, she looks dead in the water."

Rice nodded, that must be the River Rat, if it weren't for them the base at Hannibal would have had no heads up. Now they were dead, that was the Navy life.

"Acknowledged Strike-2, proceed on course. Strike-6 out."


CSN Facility, Hannibal
0348 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Simms watched the battle unfold on his radar screen, the Super SAMs managed to take out a large number of targets with their initial strike. It was always the way, the SAMs could engage at such a great range their first attack was always devastating, usually they could get a couple of long range attacks before the enemy closed. Once the enemy closed, however, the classic problem arose. Demons always outnumbered SAMAS pilots. The SAMs always had a kill ratio of higher than 3:1, but sometimes that just wasn't enough. That was a fact drilled into Simms head, from day one in the Naval Infantry, we could always kill more than our fair share of demons, but the question was could we kill enough?

Powering up his laser turret Simms gritted his teeth and waited for the demons to get into range, they would kill enough, they had to; it was a matter of survival. Simms listened to the radio traffic. The Terror Troopers were preparing to engage the enemy on the ground, the rail-gun bunkers were poised to repel an aerial assault, a squadron of interceptors was en route from Chi-Town, and two Death's Head Transports loaded down with SAMAS troops were moving out from New Chillicothe.

Hearing all the activity Simms grinned and quoted his favorite CS action hero, Major Payne.

"Welcome to Earth, bitch!"


The Devil's Gate
0358 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Rice set his Striker's down behind the ruins of some old buildings, the entire place was bathed in the strange blue light that emanated from the rift. The rift, from which poured forth still more demons. Rice was tasked with closing it in order to eliminate the enemy's capacity to be reinforced. Closing rifts was the pass time of mages, magic users, and supernatural demons, not Nautical Commando. However, some genius at the RCSG thought he knew a way, and from the safety of his office in Chi-Town he ordered that closing rifts become the pass time of Nautical Commando.

"All Striker units, this is Striker-6. Once we deliver the special ordinance anything could happen. Keep your heads up and eyes open."

'Special Ordinance', Rice laughed to himself. The RCSG had an operating theory that magic energy was like any other energy, so the premise was if you disrupt the flow of energy to a rift, you essentially "pull the plug" on it causing it to close. To that end each SAMAS in his squad had their wing mounted mini-missile launchers loaded with the experimental EMP mini-missile. The EMP missile was designed to produce a small electromagnetic pulse which could disrupt the energy flow to a rift. The ordinance had met with some success at the ruins of Old Chicago, Rice hoped the same would be true here in St. Louis.

"All units, fire!"

Almost instantly sixty EMP mini-missiles streaked through the night closing the three quarters of a mile from the Strikers position to the open rift. As the missiles entered the rift each Striker pilot sent out a small radio signal, manually detonating the missiles which in turn sent out multiple electromagnetic pulses.

The result was an awesome display of crackling blue energy, bluish-white streams of it pulsing out in every direction, striking some of the gargoyles who were still in the area. Rice watched as the sky turned an odd mixture of green and gray and huge dark clouds began to roll in, crackling with the same magic energy. Most importantly, however, the rift was closed.

The storm raged on and soon Rice found him and his men being lifted into the air without the aid of the jets, not wanting to stick around to see what happens next Rice gave the order to bail.

"All units, Striker-6. Return to base, and don't spare the accelerator."


CSN Facility, Hannibal
0412 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Simms fired another blast at a low flying gargoyle, hitting it and sending it screaming to its death at the bottom of the Mississippi. There were hundreds of them, the computer reported that the Super SAMs had managed to kill three times their numbers before being forced to retreat to base, but the stars had still been blacked out when the creatures arrived.

As Simms scanned for another target his computer started to get meteorological report.

"What the hell." Muttered Simms, he was in the middle of a firefight and the computer was telling him the weather. Simms only half paid attention until he heard that the disturbance had originated from "the gate" and was heading this way. That meant it was magical in nature, a ley line storm. Simms remembered the last one that happened, it rained not just water but slimy alien worms. The Naval Infantry spent a week cleaning them all up and destroying them.

Hopefully, the storm had closed the rift these gargoyles had crawled out of, because the weather prevented any reinforcements from Fort Girardeau getting here anytime soon. Fortunately the reinforcements from Missouri and Chi-Town were coming from the north not the south. Acquiring another target Simms fired a blast from his laser turret, if the rift had been closed there was an end to these creatures and he was determined to find it.


CSN Facility, Hannibal
0505 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

The battle had been raging for almost an hour, probably a record engagement for the Navy. Most battles lasted anywhere from about fifteen seconds to four minutes, but there were so many gargoyles storming the base, like a suffocating blanket that a quick end was impossible.

Simms cheered when the Army SAMs from Missouri had arrived, leveling the playing field somewhat, but it meant he had to stop firing his inaccurate anti-ship weapon into the air for fear of fratricide. Not wanting to say he sat in an armored bunker and did nothing when his base was under siege by gargoyles Simms donned his armored helmet, grabbed his CP-40 Assault rifle and went to see if he could find some other way to kill gargoyles.

Outside Simms picked up some targets flying low over the river, peering through the scope on his rifle he took aim thinking they were gargoyles. As he got a glimpse of them he held his fire. It was the Striker squad. Now what had they been up to?


Arriving at CSN Facility Hannibal
0505 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Rice ordered his men to stay low along the river until they were right on top of the base, when they were close enough to the action he gave the order. Just because his mission was over doesn't mean he couldn't help defend this base, and his country.

"All Striker units, this is Striker-6. We've got the element of surprise, pop up to engagement altitude and fire at will. Weapons free."

Rice flipped his weapons selector to his forearm Striker-8 missile system and fired off half his payload at an unsuspecting gargoyle trying to close on an old style SAM. The beast was stunned and fell from the air, some three hundred feet into the river below.

"Hooah!" Rice bellowed as he acquired another target.


CSN Facility Hannibal
0510 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Simms watched as the Strikers engaged the gargoyles, catching the creatures totally off guard and sending ten of them instantly to their death before anyone even knew who had fired the shots. Simms listened to the din of the battle, something was missing, turning his head Simms spotted what it was.

A couple of gargoyles had stormed one of the C-40R rail gun bunkers. While one was busy mutilating the gun crew the other picked up the giant rail gun and began to fire it at the Striker team, clipping one of them and forcing him to break off his attack and turn his attention to the new threat.


Airborne Above CSN Facility Hannibal
0510 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Rice's threat indicator sounded loudly as rail gun bullets pelted off his Striker SAMAS, damaging his left wing. Suspecting fratricide, Rice paid no attention until another, much more accurate burst struck him, this time in the engines.

Breaking off his attack Rice turned his SAM to spot the source of his difficulties, he didn't like what he saw. A gargoyle stood near the remains of two CS soldiers and was using their rail gun to fire at him, not happy Rice was about to use his leg launchers to ruin that gargoyle's day when he spotted a lone CS soldier charging the gargoyle CP-40 in hand.

"Marines." Rice muttered to himself as he switched to his particle beam cannon and fired at that at the rail gun wielding gargoyle instead.


CSN Facility Hannibal
0510 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Seeing the Striker engage the gargoyle with the rail gun Simms started bursting with his CP-40 at the second gargoyle before it could get airborne and attempt to overwhelm the Nautical Commando pilot.

The laser pulses struck home and struck hard as the gargoyle turned in anger to find the source of its discomfort. Seeing the gargoyle ready to charge Simms moved backward and continued firing trying to maximize his range advantage as long as possible. The blasts pelted the gargoyle but did not deter it.

Undaunted Simms kept firing as the Striker attempted to silence the rail gunner.


Airborne Above CSN Facility Hannibal
0511 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

As Rice fired his particle beam rifle at the gargoyle again he was surprised to see the marine fire laser blasts in a different direction. Following the line of fire Rice was surprised when he spotted the second gargoyle, it would've totally blinded sided him if it weren't for that Naval Infantryman down there.

Wanting to return the favor Rice fired again, finally downing his target and then turning his attention to the gargoyle bearing down on the brave, if somewhat foolish, Naval Infantryman.

Shooting the gargoyle in the back Rice smiled as it fell face first into the ground, and he pummeled it again. While Rice fired on the downed gargoyle he watched the Naval Infantryman run off toward the destroyed bunker.


CSN Facility Hannibal
0512 Hours September 4th, 106 P.A.

Smiling at how quickly the Striker pilot picked up on what he was trying to do Simms jumped up from his position and ran past the now dead second gargoyle, back toward the bunker.

Hefting the heavy rail gun Simms thanked the Emperor for the tough physical training all Naval Infantrymen were required to undergo. Lifting the rail gun back into place in the bunker Simms fired a quick burst at another gargoyle who was streaking through the air toward the Striker pilot. Hitting the gargoyle square in the chest and knocking it off its flight path. Simms smiled, that was twice he saved that Nautical Commando's rear end.

Firing at the gargoyle again as the Striker repositioned himself, Simms shouted above the noise of the rail gun.

"Get your own damned planet!"


Airborne Above CSN Facility Hannibal
0513 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Rice maneuvered out of the way as the marine continued firing his heavy rail gun at the new target. Who said leather necks weren't good for anything? That was twice one had saved his tail in the last three minutes. Rice would have to find out who that man was, assuming of course the two of them lived through this engagement.

Powering his jets back up to full throttle and bringing his particle beam rifle to bear on the gargoyle Rice squeezed off as many blasts as he humanly could. The particle bursts combined with the constant barrage of rail gun fire from the Marine on the ground sent yet another beast to a watery grave. Hopefully the other pilots were having as much luck as he was Rice thought to himself.

Thinking he's got a nice little system worked out with that marine down there Rice gets on the horn, it was time for the Striker's to regroup and suck a few more gargoyles into the sweeping arcs of the C-40R.

"All units, this is Striker-6. Regroup on my position, try to lead one of these ugly bastards in with you."

Reports came in from all units that they had no problem finding a target and that they were inbound on Rice's position. Following his own orders Rice looked for another target he could suck into the rail gun trap. The Gargoyles can't handle ranged weaponry very well since they had to engage with their claws, the marine would have easy pickings if the Striker's kept the gargoyles busy, and exposed.

Targeting a gargoyle with his particle beam rifle Rice charged and fired, making sure the beast knew who had hit him. Meanwhile the rest of the Strikers closed on their rally point, brining with them some angry company.


CSN Facility Hannibal
0514 Hours
September 4th, 106 P.A.

Taking advantage of the small lull in the action Simms slapped another belt in the C-40R then scanned the sky for another gargoyle. As he looked up Simms smiled, the rest of the Strikers were flying overhead and they had brought with them a target rich environment. Taking aim and squeezing the trigger Simms hummed the military anthem as he ripped up every gargoyle that crossed his sight with unprecedented accuracy. This C-40R was peanuts to handle compared to his giant laser battery.

In a beautiful concert of cooperation gargoyles began to drop into the river and on the ground near Simms' bunker like apples from an apple tree in a windstorm. Pausing to reload twice more over ten minutes Simms kept a constant hail of ammunition making sure the gargoyles were divided between attackers. If they tried to concentrate on the Strikers Simms hit them from the flanks, if they tried to charge Simms the Strikers pummeled them with mini missiles and particle beams.

As another gargoyle hit the ground near Simms the general radio sounded.

"Hannibal Base to all units. The enemy has been annihilated."

Taking a deep breath Simms removed his helmet and sat down wondering if rail guns ever heated up, this one hadn't jammed once. Removing his helmet meant there was no more sound filtration and he could hear the roar of the jets as the Striker SAMs set down next his bunker, sifting their way through the dead carcasses of the gargoyles firing a shot into anything that was still moving.

Finally one of the Nautical Commando approached Corporal Simms, removing his helmet the Commando looked at the marine with an inquisitive eye. Realizing that this man was probably an officer Simms stood up and snapped to.

Rice laughed at the Marine, those Naval Infantry types sure knew how to stand on ceremony.

"At ease Marine. I'm Lieutenant Commander Rice, and that was some damn fine shooting you did out there. What's your name son?"

"Sir, Corporal Simms, Sir."

Rice nodded approvingly "You'll definitely be in my report Mister Simms…" sweeping his armored arm across the demon bodies strewn everywhere "Looks like you got them all."

Simms shook his head modestly "Sir, not all of them, sir…" he looked at Rice and smiled "..but we got enough."

[Written by John Stevens]

This page was last updated on (none).
© 2004-2009 all authors as specified. Duplication of contents with permission only! This means you can't sell it, but feel free to print, modify, or use in anyway for your personal campaign use.
All incidents, situations, institutions, governments and people are fictional and any similarity to characters or persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.