Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Juggernaught: Chapter 37 - Another Way

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!

The team used the cover of the setting sun to slowly fade back into the woods.

It was a long and meloncholy walk to get to a safe distance from the encounter.  This, being made all the longer because this time Wendell insisted on better precautions for their camping arrangements. 

"If Misty is right and they have choppers, then the last thing we want is for them to spot us from the air!"

It took some extra time to find, but they soon discovered a narrow little valley which provided excellent cover for the light of their campfire.  Within it lie a small open patch with a pair of fallen logs that would make great seats.

The group began building a traditional fire ring, but Misty stopped them.  "You know..." she said hesitantly, "If you really want to go undetected, we should dig a Dakota fire hole."

Most of the group seemed bewildered by the phrase, but Jack nodded.  "I think I remember that.  The Dakota Sioux were masters of woodcraft and stealth.  They used to build a their fire in a deep pit, fed by an outside air tunnel."

He continued, "If I remember right, the ground insulates the fire and the fresh air feeds it so it burns hotter, causing almost no visible smoke to rise."

Wendell fell to his knees and began clawing at the ground.  "Neat idea!  Irm?  You want to help me out?"

She smiled but gave an apprehensive glance at Lola, who answered for her, saying, "No thank you.  We'll go gather some firewood.  That'll be hard enough on the manicure."

The two faded back into the forest as Misty dropped down next to Wendell and started digging.  " 'That'll be hard enough on the manicure.' "  she mocked in a high-pitched, nasally voice.  "Sheesh.  Sometimes I don't quite know about those two."

The girls wandered deep into the forest gathering logs.

When they were far enough from the campsite, Irmingard piped up.  "Okay, sis, what's the deal?"

"I'm worried.  We've played this cat-and-mouse game long enough.  Time that kitty be fed and be done with it."

"Nah.  You worry too much.  You saw what happened out there today.  These kids got nothing on Seebeck.  Why, they don't even know that Howell's alive, let alone that he's a Grand Master in the Cult of En."

"You think they suspect us?"

She gave the same winsome smile that, had the boys as putty in their hands.  "Not a chance, girl.  Not a chance."

By the time they returned to camp, the fire was already lit.  Meanwhile, night had descended in earnest and the beaten warriors were all too happy to have a respite from the day's efforts.

"Well, that was a complete waste of time."  Misty pointed out.

"Yes.  Completely, complete."  Agreed Wendell.  He tried to laugh, but winced.  A bullet had hit his shoulder with a glancing blow.  Though the bleeding was nothing worth worrying about, the wound was still starting to bother him. 

How do people in the movies do it?  he asked himself,  Stallone or somebody could be shot a dozen times and keep fighting.  Me?  I'm all done.

Irmingard eased his pride a little when she pointed out, "Well, we did go up against an invincible killing machine with nothing but hand weapons."

"And no plan."  added Jack bitterly.  The group was looking to him for leadership, but, "It was all my fault.  Sorry I let you down."

Lola placed a hand on his back, but he pushed it away.

She persisted.  "Nobody is blaming you!"

"Yeah.  Nobody's blaming."  said Wendell, slowly standing.  He nodded for the woods and excused himself, muttering something about a dry tree.

"I was trained for this sort of thing.  I should have known better." Jack replied to the group, "So yeah, I think I am the one to blame."

"Well, you're wrong then."  She gave him a playful shove.  Perhaps a little too playful.  He went over backwards off the log he was sitting on and smashed against the ground.  Golden stars sparkled in his vision.

The fall did not improve his melancholy mood.  "Figures."  he said, looking up at the first stars appearing through the treetops.

She smiled and patted him on the shin.  (The only part of him still within reach.) 

Then she noticed her sister stood with folded arms on the far side of the circle, lost deep in thought.  It could only mean one thing.  Her smile faded.

"What is it Irm'?" she barely dared ask.

"The plan failed.  Our enemies are still on the loose.  It's time to return back to Seebeck tower."  She stared across the circle at her sister, flickering fire illuminated her face from below, giving it an evil visage.

"No!" Lola mouthed silently, but the other girl's gaze was hot as the flames themselves.

She was right.  It was time.  Lola grew even sadder.

"Okay, so... why would we want to go back there?"  asked a confused Misty.

Lola did a double take at the new question.  "Oh, to use the phone and notify the authorities."  She came up with the lie and gave it without missing a beat.  She was proud of that.

They heard the snap of a twig off to the left.

"Uh oh." said Lola.  "There goes that plan."  Her meaning, totally different to the various listeners.

Jack pulled her and Misty to the ground next to him.  "Quiet!  We're surrounded!" he whispered emphatically. 

They all looked around.  The echoes of the rocky valley made it difficult to determine from which direction the sounds were coming from.

Suddenly, a thud and a crash were heard in the undergrowth.  Then a deafening volley of gunfire shattered the still night.

Jack and the girls peeped cautiously up over the log to see what had happened.  Across the way, Lola did the same.

A chilling thought struck Misty.  It flew out of her mouth at once.  "Wait a minute!  Where's Wendell!??"

"Over here."  said a grunting voice.

They turned to see him painfully dragging something in each hand.  In his right he was dragging a sub-machinegun by its strap, difficult because of the wound.  In his left was a human wrist, difficult because of the weight of the body dragging behind it.

The team all ran to his side.

"What happened?"  asked Misty.

"Well, I was out takin' a..."  He caught sight of the attractive young ladies and tweaked his story,  "I was out patrolling our perimeter, when I spotted a couple of Seebeck's goons sneaking up on us."

Irmingard smiled, compelling him to continue.  "Clubbed this guy, and let me tell you how bad that hurts when you're wounded."

He was finally getting some sympathy now and he liked it.  "Plus, let me tell you, firing one of these things,"  he tossed the gun in the dirt at his friends' feet, "with a bum shoulder is no picnic either."

Despite all the pain he claimed, Wendell did not immediately sit down, but started to rifle through the man's clothing.

Lola shot Irmingard a worried look. 

The latter rushed to his side and started fawning over him,  "You must be exhausted.  Come sit down by me and let my sister do that."

Wendell allowed himself to be led away, but also said, "Don't worry.  I already found what we needed."  He held up a satellite phone.

Lola bit her lip.

"Hey!  Way to go, Wendell!"  declared Misty cheerily.  "Now we won't have to go back to Seebeck tower after all!"

Lola's shoulders slumped.  So much for that plan.

There was nothing for it, though.  They'd go after the Juggernaught again.  She knew that much.  And if they started making headway against Seebeck's plans, well...

Either way, the real battle was about to begin!

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Juggernaught: Chapter 36 - Juggernaught

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!


Morning brought no new answers.

"I don't like this." said Misty.  "Whatever could to that to a town..."

Jack nodded.  "Yeah. And dollars to doughnuts that Seebeck character must be involved.  I'm starting to really regret letting that weasal go."

"Yeah, but you said yourself, trying to take a kicking, screaming captive with us would only bog us down."

"Yeah, she's right." added Wendell.  "Now we've got a shot of catching up to this thin while the trail's still fresh."

All eyes turned to him, but no one spoke.  Only gawked.

"What?"  he whined impatiently.

"You really intend to follow that thing?"  Irmingard said.  She had been hanging sweetly onto his arm up until now.

"You know that's insane, right?"  asked Jack.

Wendell's eyes darted back and forth among his friends, still silently looking at him like a man from outer space.

"Well, in my defense..." he offered, "If it's insane, then it's the last thing they'll expect!"

Everybody gave some form of groan and/or face-palm.  All except Misty, who it struck as hilarious.

When she recovered herself enough to speak, "Okay, sorry.  But he's got a point, you know.  What are we gonna do?  Go home?  I don't think so."

"Come on, guys, this is exactly the kind of action we were Jealous over Kurt and his boys getting." She stabbed the air with two fingers in the direction of Lola and Irmingard.  "And since I met you girls, I've never seen you back down from a fight, either."

They smiled and nodded.  They seemed flattered at the allegation.

"Woa, woa, woa."  Jack waved his hands in the air.  "Am I really the only one that thinks that a handfull of teenagers going up against a village-destroying mechanical monster is a bad idea."

"Yeah!"  said everyone in the circle.

"Anyway, you're out-voted."  Lola waved him off.  "Let's get on the trail of this thing!"

Upon tracking and locating their target, the team decided to make way on their stomach the last few yards so as to maintain cover in the low foliage.

They barely had a chance to get a glimpse of the towering wall of metal and machinery, before they witnessed its many gun turrets swing in their direction.

"Run!"  cried Jack.

Nobody needed to be told.  They were all making for the cover of a boulder at the top of a nearby ridge.

They hit the dirt and returned fire, using the weapons pilfered from Seebeck's tower.  They now seemed woefully small and inadequate, and ammo was already low from their earlier escapades.

"Any ideas, folks, would be great." said Misty, not looking up as she popped off another round.

"Okay, we can beat this.  What've they got that we haven't got?"  asked Jack.

Wendell shrugged.  "Robotic cannons that can blast the hat off a housefly at 100 yards.  How can you beat a robot brain with lightning reflexes?"

"You really think they're robotic?" asked Misty.

Jack seemed to be considering something so she turned to Irmingard.

"He may be right.  No other way of explaining the perfect accuracy and synchronization."

Jack snapped his fingers.  "That's it!  'Robot brain'!"

"Yeah, it can out-think us.  So what?"

"Ever hear about Garry Kasparov vs Deep Blue?"

Misty recalled, "Yeah, yeah.  The Man vs. The Machine.  They made us watch it in school.  Never seemed to have any practical value.   (Besides scaring people, that is.)"

"Well, here's some practical value for you:  Some chalked Kasperov's victories up to his human ability to behave unpredictably at times - something a computer can't process."

Wendell was clueless.  " 'Behave unpredictably'?  What good does tha--  Hey. Why's everybody looking at me?"

It clicked.  "Oh no." he said, waving his hands.

"Get out there Wendell." said Misty with a jerk of her head in the direction.

"And do what!??"

"Scream, run around, tell lame knock-knock jokes... whatever you do.  You've got to confuse the computer with your random nonsense while we knock out that gun."

"Why do I have to... hey!  Hey!  Quit pushin'!"

"Think of it this way:" said Jack.  "You only just finished saying how 'insane' is the last thing they'd expect."

Everybody nodded.  "You said that.  You did."  Irmingard pointed out.

"And 'insane' is what you do best."

Wendell felt inclined to take that as an insult until Misty said, "Yeah.  It's kind of like... your superpower."

At that, Wendell stood and sucked in a lungfull of air.  He stuck out his chest like those superhero comics of which he was so fond.

"Great!" Jack quickly shoved Wendell from cover. 

The latter turned around and shouted, "And my knock-knock jokes ARE NOT lame!"

Misty shrugged.  She whispered aside to Jack, "I hope he doesn't get deaded out there.  Then I'll feel bad."

"Me too."

A row of geysers erupted in the dirt as a machine gun tracked toward him.  

"Eep!", he shouted and bolted in the opposite direction.

He took on a crazily winding, zig-zagging course through the deadly shooting gallery.  Despite the amount of lead flying, he seemed to be able to keep one step ahead of the artificial intelligence.

For all his antics, he wasn't able to approach.  However, the distraction did give the others a chance to size up their foe for the first time.

"What'dy think?" asked Jack to the others.

Misty said, "Looks like one of those huge tracked thingys that NASA uses to bring spaceships out to the launch pad."

"Yeah, but everything's high up on legs like a deep sea oil platform.  No way we'll be able to get up to the good stuff from the ground."

"We could disable the tracks."  Lola pointed out.

"Not with those guns.  Look."  Jack drew some imaginary lines in the air as he said, "They're machine controlled, so they can swivel a full 180 in their sockets.  They'd be able to shoot straight down on us."

"What's worse," Jack continued, "I'd venture to guess that whole platform is a couple of floors of barracks for those zombie soldiers.  No telling how many are in there, and how many back at the tower were reserves."

Misty added, "Up on top, where we can't see... probably the whole roof is covered with choppers to bring 'em places."

"So you think our being here is all a wash, then?" asked Irmingard.

" 'fraid so." replied Jack.

"Say.  How's he doing out there?" she added, gesturing beyond the rock with her head.

Misty and Jack popped their heads out of cover once again.

"Good job, Wendell!"  Jack called out, trying to encourage his friend to keep it up.

"Whadya mean?"  Wendell shouted back, "It didn't even like my cactus joke!"

He jumped like a startled hare at the next gunshot and ran off in some crazy direction.

Jack rolled his eyes and muttered, "The cactus joke."

"Surprised it didn't shoot him for that alone." said Misty.

After a silence, offering, "I could shoot him."

"Maybe later.  Might as well call him back though."  Jack sighed and reluctantly added. "Let's get outta here."

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Journal: Not Dead Yet (plus sneak peeks!)

Good evening everybody.

Since this blog has been badly neglected, I thought I owed you all an update on what's going on.

At the end of November I "temporarily" put off the Juggernaught story to finish up NaNoWriMo story.  Naturally, that "temporary" extended through the holidays.

And then in January I decided to push myself to do ANOTHER NaNoWriMo.  Yep, that's right, I completed an entire rough draft of another installment of the Moast Unusual series!

True to form, it has everything:  Ancient riddles, car chases, mayhem, lazers, and Wendell being... Wendellish.
 Almost as an afterthought, [Jack] added, "I hope it isn't a big deal all the traffic accidents we caused."

The Prime minister smiled warmly. "No, no, dear boy. Parliament will understand."

"Yeah, and that mailbox we exploded." Wendell added.

"M-mailbox?" asked the Prime Minister. A look of concern washed over her face.

Her eyes drifted to Jane.

Jane shrugged and shook her head, pointing at the bandage. The news came as just as surprising to her.

Jack whispered to Wendell, "I think they call them 'pillar boxes' over here."

"Oh. Right." he said back, and amended his statement to the Prime Minister, "Sorry we exploded one of your pillar boxes. It seemed like such a good idea at the time."

He hung his head in shame. "Now, in hindsight, it just seems violent and dumb."
The story came together so well that I decided to insert it in between Queen of Atlantis and the planned book 2 (which is long enough, but has plot holes big enough to drive, say, a Juggernaught through)

So, between those two, Beast Forever ready for edit, and Juggernaught nearing the end, that makes two more books nearly ready for release, and another two right on their heels.  Does that really mean I could get FOUR titles released this!??  I dunno.  But I'm, sure excited to find out!

Of course, there's a big "if" in all this.  Which will explain why I haven't accounted for February yet.  Remember last winter when I got that nasty tonsil infection?   Well this time spent the last month with severe respiratory problem in my left lung.  Every time I plan a DR's appointment, it clears up just enough that I think I'm winning.  "Well, maybe a little longer..." I say.  But then it hangs on... and on... and on...

Like I say, I've lost a whole month over this business, so unless there's a major improvement this weekend, I'm going in.  There.  I said it.  Now I have to go in to the chop-shop.  You're my accountability, okay? ;)

Well, that's a  pretty long update.  I'll close in my usual way and then add a cover idea sketch for the new book.  The elements are all part of the story and I think the imagery is a little interesting / curiosity-provoking.  Let me know what you think over on the socials.

Live Your Adventure,
-E.L. Fletcher