Friday, April 29, 2016

T.E.R.O.R.

I had a very painful tooth extraction on Monday, due to age and other issues it has been a painful and slow recovery (tonight I went back and received additional medication from a different dentist who told me the first one pretty much screwed up). 

Thursday I had Staff Duty, a 24 hour mission where we sit in an empty building and make sure privates are not being idiots. It also involves you staying awake overnight. Around 11pm extensive pain hit me and I opted to take a good number of drugs to try to fight off the pain. During this time I wrote the following. I have no memory where the idea came from, simply the act of writing it.

Without further adieu, I give you the ultra top secret T.E.R.O.R.



T.E.R.O.R.

“Ready rookie?” The gruff voice emanated from the mountain of muscle that stood in front of me as he checked the straps on my chute. He gave me a disgusted or disappointed face as he cinched up the strap between my legs. I answered with nothing more than a high pitched whine. “Not too bad on your straps, work on tightening them. If you can wiggle, they are not tight enough.” He turned to the next person in line and thankfully, I ceased to exist to the man.

I faced the back of the plane, the loading door was down and the vast expanse of pitch black sky stared back at me. The emptiness was daunting and left a sickening feeling in my gut. In moments I would be expected to leap into it, happy as a clam. I had once heard that a body striking the earth at a high rate of speed would simply bounce like a ball. In my mind I repeatedly pictured my body bouncing off the earth at 600 mph. It was not a pretty picture.

I light on the sidewall turned bright red and someone shoved me into the rushing air. For a moment I was in heaven, floating aimlessly, adrift in peaceful bliss. Then I looked down at the pinprick sized lights miles below. My stomach fell. I broke out into a sweat. And a girlish scream flew from my lungs as I plummeted to my death.

What the fuck was I doing here?

I was asking myself the same question. Well, in between the constant screaming.

-  o  -

“So what do we do exactly?” I had been hired by a mysterious company but had no idea what that meant beyond the six figure salary  I had been promised. The employment vacancy had been posted on Jobs4Vets.org with the gleeful blurb claiming “Excitement! Adventure! Put your military training to use helping to save the world. Come help us work with third world nations upgrade infrastructure to green energy. Send your resume and detailed combat experience to WeWantYouToJoinUs@TerrestrialEnvironmentRecuperationOrganizationRangers.org. I had sent in my resume, along with all my rating and review documents. Heck I even added in my Sniper, EoD, and HALO training certificates to ensure they knew I was a complete badass.

Ok, so those were forged. I am a badass at Photoshop. Need a Social Security card? Ten minutes. An over 21 driver’s license? Fifteen minutes tops. College degree? About three and a half. So yes, all my documents were forged but I needed to get out of some trouble and these guys, the environment rangers or whatever, promised to get me out of the country, pay me about four times what I made in a year, and fuck, the one year I was in college they taught me one thing: climate change was happening and it was BAD.

How bad can helping other nations upgrade their infrastructure be?

The muscle-bound, tanned Arnold clone stood before me lighting crafts of supplies into the belly of the plane. I was supposed to be helping him but really all I was doing was checking off numbers on a clipboard. He looked like Arnold, but spoke like Dolf. “We sneak into country. Downgrade infrastructure…power lines, nuclear plants, power stations,” he scratches the short stubble on his chin before continuing.  “Den we rebuild.”

“That’s it? We just fly in, ‘downgrade’ what they have and help them upgrade? Sounds expensive,” despite his well-thought explanation I still lacked any semblance of what we did. “Sounds expensive.”

“Dit is. United Nations loans money.” He lifted a crate that easily weighed as much as I. The guy was not even breaking a sweat. He added a big smile as he said the word money.

“After we downgrade - whatever that means - we rebuild? I’m no engineer, heck I could not even fix the plumbing in my parent’s apartment.”

“No, no. We secure loan, build done by da others,” he motioned like it was the most obvious thing on the planet, his perfect teeth glaring at me through a model-worthy smile. “We take down old machines. Da bad machines dat kill planet.”

“Take down?”

“Da!” Then he threw his arms in the air suddenly. “Ba da boom!”

-  o  -

Luckily the pack had an auto-firing altimeter charge the released my chute and I floated in a mostly gentle manner to the ground. Well, I would have if the tree had not gotten in my path. I ended up two feet off the ground and hanging from an old oak tree. I hung there and swayed in place, frantically kicking my legs, hoping I could shake myself free.

A sudden slash with a large knife cut the lines and plopped onto my butt on the hard ground. A black leather clad minx stepped before me. She was gorgeous and took my breath away. I am sure I sat their with my jaw dropped like a complete idiot.

“Get up ranger!” She shouted at me and kicked dirt in my direction. The hiked her black pack higher up on her back, pulled a black-as-midnight Glock .45 from a side holster, pulled a face mask down so only her luscious red lips and pointed little chin were visible, and then darted off away from me.

I scrambled to my feet and unhooked my pack from the chute. Then I ran like a kid chasing the ice cream truck, my mission completely forgotten. She was fast, even with her big pack and I only caught up to her when she dropped beside a parked car.

We were in some shit hole town called Tarim deep inside Yemen. The time was precisely 0217, the Timex issued to me told me so. I was also facing southwest. The moon was in the Waxing Gibbous phase...who the fuck needs to know this and why do they make a watch that tells you this nonsense?

“Parker, right? The new guy?” She asked in a beautifully soft voice. “The sniper and demolitions guy?”

I gulped, I knew very little of either of those topics, beyond what I had read on Wikipedia after accepting the position. “Ye..yeah,” I clearly my throat. “Yeah, that’s me.”

“Mikita,” she extended a hand. “You get the pre-brief? Or those idiots send you out here fresh and clueless? They do that now and again.”

“Yeah, I got nothing. Arnold…ah, I never caught his real name...handed me the chute and pack and pushed me on the plane,” I figured playing dumb might help me here. I got the file from the pre-brief but it sounded like a mission brief from Call of Duty and left me a little in the dark. All I gleaned was something a powerplant that burned gasoline. Our mission was to downgrade it. I was still at a loss as to what that meant exactly.

“Alright, listen up.” She spun around to face me and spread out a small map. She indicated a roughly octagonal shaped structure. “That’s the power plant. We hit the southern tower here, you have the RDX right?”

I flipped my pack around and fumbled opening the top. Hit? RDX? What was she saying? I dug in the pack, looking for something that made sense.

“Here let me,” she reached in and without really looking - course it may have been I was staring into her eyes - she pulled out a small bundle. Then a second one. “You emplace these on the wall of the tower, about three feet off the ground.” Then she stopped and looked at me.

“You seen these before, right?”

“I, uh, yeah, well, not exactly like these. Didn’t have these in the 82nd,” I fumbled around, stumbling over words. “Army always using outdated equipment you know.” I smiled a sheepish, childish grin.

“Ugh, damn Farner, always is sending new guys out without properly instructing them.” She rolled those beautiful eyes and let out a monumental sigh. “You push the red button here until the light here flashes three times. That will connect them to the wireless charge, which is right here.” She pulled out another device, it looked a little like a garage remote control. “When we are clear - and not before - hit the top button and hold it. That tower will not stand a chance.”

“Ah, got it,” I took the two bundles and placed them back in the pack, then placed the remote into my pocket. Then it hit me. “Wait, we are demolishing the tower? Arnold said we were downgrading, he meant blowing it up???”

“Fuck yeah, how else we going to force them to upgrade to the UN’s green energy program? Duh,” she rolled those beautiful eyes again and scampered off in the darkness. “Let’s go Parker!”

-  o  -

I followed her perfectly shaped rear, my eyes locked on to it as we dodged machinegun fire and ran from cover to cover. Heck, I hardly even noticed we were being fired upon because it was that damn perfect. It swayed and bounced with every step in just the right way that a fire burned deep down in me that keep me moving in step with her. We plopped down behind a concrete barrier, the kind used to control traffic.

“Not bad Parker, I thought I lost you back there with the explosion. A grenade I think,” she flashed a smile then checked the clip on her M4. “Almost to the tower, you got the packages ready?”

“I think so.” I was somewhat shellshocked by her beauty and was not even thinking about the packages or what I was supposed to do with them.

Mikita inched up and looked over the top of the barrier, a hail of bullets greeted her and she slid back down. “Shit. Not sure how we are clearing that mess to get to the tower.”

A loud screeching of metal made us turn in the opposite direction. A large heavy duty construction truck, one of those massive yellow things, was barrelling down the road. The truck was not going around obstacles, it was roaring through them, crushing or shattering them. Cars, trees, a doghouse - the truck simply made these things cease to exist.

“Arnold!” I cried, pointing to the large muscle head sitting behind the wheel with a huge smile.

“Alright,” my princess pulled me in close, yelling over the loud crashing sounds. “You fall in behind Arnold and make your way to the tower. I will provide cover fire for you and Lud - that’s his name - after you drop the RDX. Drop it and make your way back here pronto!”

I admit here that I was somewhat taken with her and only partially paid attention to what she was saying to me.

Arnold/Lud crashed through a barrier near us, sending bits of concrete flying. He created the opening Mikita thought I needed and she grabbed me by the shoulder and thrust me into the debris field that marked the path of Lud’s truck. Then she got kinky and added a kick to my rear. I turned and grinned at her.

“Go!” She yelled and pointed her rifle across the open area, sending lead to protect me. “Go now!”

I charged after Lud as he lumbered along, crashing into anything and everything possible, wrecking as much havoc as he could. Across the open area Mikita and the unseen foes traded lead. My small frame was apparently not enough to scare the foes into turning their weapons on me.

Ahead of me, Lud drove directly into the barrier the foes had been using as cover. The enemy fire was immediately cut by two-thirds, the other third still sent their lead at the beautiful Mikita. I quickly gave a glance in her direction, worry crossing my face. She was still doing her best to protect me. I waved. By her reaction, I assume she did not appreciate my momentary pause in action.

Spurred by love or perhaps lust, I jumped into action, sprinting around to the opposite side of the enemy. I ripped one package out of my pack and slammed it in place against the tower wall. It held in place as if by some unseen magic. I ran the twenty yards around the base of the tower and nearly smacked into a mean looking fellow in a white robe and turban, the traditional dress of the people. He snarled at me and lunged, a large knife in hand.

I used what I had ready, my pack, and shoved it between my gut and the mean looking knife. The blade slashed into the bag and nearly split it in two, the remaining RDX bundle slipping to the ground. The fellow’s eyes grew wide, perhaps understanding why we were there. He grunted something in a language I did not understand and struggled to free his knife.

I went to dodge the knife and instead ended up on my knees. Between us lay the bundle and I stretched out my arm to retrieve the RDX. The knife came down into my arm and I bellowed a painful howl. The man in white chuckled at my pain. Anger or pain flooded my vision and I struggled with the knife, finally pulling it free from my arm. I thrust my legs out at my assailant as he reached for the knife but I caught him directly in his man parts. He buckled, legs failing, and came chest first into the knife. A moment later he flopped to the ground, warm red blood pooling beneath him.

“Dat good, leedle Parker,” came Lud’s voice behind me. He snagged the RDX and plastered it to the wall. “Boom,” he chuckled with a grin and hit the button. “Now, we run,” he uttered and nearly picked me up, heading in the direction of Mikita. She laid more lead to cover our escape.

When we made the Clear Line I hit the button. Behind us a four hundred foot tall smokestack turned to dust. The entire region was plunged into darkness as the source of power for over a million people suddenly ceased to exist.

-  o  -

I would later learn the United Nations was two hours away off the coast, their massive Green Energy Platform ready to be installed and operational in less than two weeks - at a massive price tag.

The UN had learned a quick way to solve the problem of third world nations refusing to upgrade to modern green energy initiatives: Assassins. Not the kind that specialize in removing people who were problems, these kind of assassins specialized in removing infrastructure decades old.

Oh, and they also figured out how to do it with a sizable profit. Who were we?

Terrestrial
Environment
Recuperation
Organization
Rangers

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

[map] Mr Hassle's Shoppe

Originally drawn as a practice map for a commission that did not pan out, I thought I would flavor this one up with some text. Hope you like it!

And the obligatory black and white version:


Monday, April 18, 2016

[map] The IMPLICARUS of ARCHDEACON SAN DENARAMIS

The Implicarus is the tomb of the Archdeacon San Denaramis, a once powerful and respected member of the clergy of Bethmoora. His modest tomb - as proscribed in his will - is exactly one turn down from the Black Gate.  Those of the respectful sort will say a prayer to the Archdeacon as they pass.

There have been many attempts by ne'er-do-wells to enter the tomb but the protections that have been placed are formidable and yet to be breached. Inside are two statues, one of Valira, the Goddess of Life, along with an altar. Another chamber holds a statue of the Archdeacon himself. Valira's statue is in solid gold, said to be worth thousands and thousands of gold, while the other is a solid white marble.  A small tomb holds the final resting place of Feladornia, the faithful servant  (and many say the secret lover) of the Archdeacon. The actual tomb of the Archdeacon is hidden in a secret chamber. Rumors say that if the altar or statue of Valira are desecrated, the statue of the Archdeacon will become inhabited with the soul of the Archdeacon and defend the goddess.

Mold and fungus has grown in the pool over the decades and a green slime has taken up residence in a pool that has formed in the farthest chamber. Merely entering this chamber can be deadly as the slime emits a foul vapor into the air which can render a person inhaling the vapors unconscious. The slime will then move to begin devouring the victim.

The black and white version.

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