January 4 – 7, 2012
It was a nervous night in Bend. Andy was the only one to claim a good night’s sleep when we gathered in the lobby for a morning confab — as demanded by by the well-slept one.
“Yesterday was a harsh reminder,” he said, looking at the drafty slag that amounted from Calder’s drunken attempt at patch carpentry. I could feel a cool tap of breeze on my forehead. Steam wriggled above the surface of my cup of black coffee.
“I thought we may be safe here because Bend is so far off the beaten track — but nowhere shall be safe, shall it?” Andy was pensive… nervous, in fact. I could feel the dancing of his nerves with each breath.
I had to put my coffee down. My chest tightened and tremors knifed from the spine into the tips of my toes and fingers.
My eyes latched onto May. She sat on the front desk countertop, her sneaker clad feet dangling lightly, her head bowed and her black nest of hair shining. The clipping, skipping image of the girl being shot that still clogged my mind, along with the quesy feeling of terror that I was getting from Andy, momentarily cleared and Carrie shone into my heart… into my mind and soul and calm shimmered within me.
But it was for a fraction of a second. It broke apart like a smoke ring in a breeze.
“There is something rotten coming to Bend, folks. Might even be here already, watching us.”
Hex, his eyes glowing red from being kept pried awake for more than 24 hours by crack cocaine and coffee, protested that he had been keeping an eye on things all night.
May’s head lifted and she croaked, “Yeah, me too. No one is watching us right now. Ain’t seen nothin’.”
“Suppose there is something to say about having crack fiends at guard posts,” Andy said with humour in his voice. “Rampaging paranoia fuels alertness!”
His voice returned to its urgent tone and my stomach rumbled. “Our visitors yesterday were rats fleeing the oncoming inevitability. The evil will spread out over the land and nowhere shall be safe. The maps and ridiculous borders of this world were erased back in November. Like a child’s drawing on an Etch-A-Sketch — one shake and poof — nothing.”
We listened to Andy as if he were on stage performing. He was performing. Along with the disturbing fact that I could almost taste his worry, I knew he was laying it on thick and heavy for a reason only he could put a finger on at that point in time.
I looked at Hex and May — two creatures I would have avoided with skill and purpose in the old world, and Calder and Crest, two cretinous pug-ugly thugs without enough cognitive ability between the two of them to strike a match, along with Andy, were my family. For us to survive in this burning world we had to work together and be a team — a family.
“You all have special skills that made me want you to travel with me,” Andy said assuredly. “Your skills give me confidence that, if we work together as one, we can knock down any and all. We made it out of California by using our heads — by keeping clear of the bands and by dismantling threats before they could be issued.
“I do not believe Bend will be a choice destination but the outlands of empires must be patrolled and settled in some fashion,” Andy said. “Bands of guileful reprobates will become organized sickness that will evolve into armies that shall seek to devour all. Humans know no other way to be and the evil have forever led the charge down that dark corridor to a light that simply seeks to burn. As we sit here and gab, the world is burning. The world we have all known for so many millennia is gone. Is going. Is ending. Has ended. Because this species of naked monkeys failed to step beyond sight of its mother womb, its father is going to bail it out of jail and do the job for it.”
Andy’s face appeared to grow longer, larger and a sharp, slanted light forced its way through the lobby’s battered front and south window.
“This world’s time has come. The fathers and the mothers have given up on their babies. You know,” he chuckled softly, “there was great relief in the 1960s when the space race was in full bloom — when mankind, fresh from staring into the limitless, empty eyes of oblivion and poised to end it all with a sneeze or a mechanical failure, seemed to be going in the right direction. If the basic frontier of space could be reached, what more could mankind achieve? It was a brief relief. Sated and bloated with self appreciation, and still besot with crippling evil, mankind’s momentum into space fell back to Earth with a lazy flump.”
Andy’s head shook and he looked directly at me.
“So it is that mankind was so distracted from its original purpose — the purposes laid out by its mothers and fathers — that it lost its way and failed to ensure self determination.”
No one said anything when he stopped speaking and leaned against the front desk, next to May.
The journalist in me dashed into my mouth.
“I hear what you are saying. Stephen Hawking said the same thing. Man’s only hope is space — was space, I guess,” I began.
“Stephen Hawking was a smart person,” Andy said earnestly. “Really knew his stuff.”
“Are you saying that if humans went to… say Mars… that things would be the same as before?”
Andy shook his head. “No, mankind had to get far beyond Mars. If they had really tried, like they did when they made it to the Moon — had they kept that momentum going, they would have discovered so much more, in terms of themselves and the universes around them and within them.”
I said I agreed with his sentiment.
“I always wondered why things just seemed to go back into second gear. Like everything, money determined the extent of possibilities instead of imagination and intellect.”
Andy barked out “ah ha!”
It was clear we were alone in the moment. The other four stared at Andy with blank looks and they tried to ignore me completely. Hex’s expression was the result of the unseasoned calamity that is the ignorance inherent in the refusal to accept truths obvious to even the thickest headed.
“You got it!” Andy said, like a motivational speaker in overdrive.
“And to iron it out: if humankind had gone off into space and found another world to fuck up with its myriad fallabilities, the disappearance wouldn’t have happened?” I asked.
Andy’s head jerked back, as if a wasp flew toward him. “Oh no. It would have happened. This was well planned, believe me.”
Hex, his ruined mind lost to our chatter, waved a hand at us. “Ah, anything else? What do you want us to do?”
Andy ignored him.
“What we are all experiencing is a contingency plan and the inevitable. And we must remain alert. We are going to begin conducting two-man foot patrols, covering the area around the resort — north and south along the river, around the malls. We will keep in constant contact and we will beef up our defences,” Andy said.
Hex nodded. He wasn’t the brightest star being swalled by a black hole but he understood his orders. Hex was a dedicated killer. He had been deprived of the glorious sport of killing people until he met Andy, who coerced his natural talents from him with just a few delicate turns of a screw. He had been Andy’s go-to guy for a year before the disappearance.
With a renewed zest to open up and let fly, Hex hopped to it. With Crest’s and Calder’s help, an amped up defensive perimeter was finished by the time we gathered for a group dinner that night.
Andy and I spent the afternoon conducting forays into encroachment zones, stashing ammo and creating false signs to encourage would-be invaders to give themselves away.
We spent half an hour fashioning a clothes dummy to look like someone threatening just inside the broken window of a delicatessen. The grand final touch to our elaborate hoax was a shotgun propped in its stiff arms. We laughed like impish children gloating over a prank as we walked away.
“Better tell Hex about that,” I said. “He’ll burn the entire mall down if he sees that.”
My journal for the next morning sums things up nicely.
“Yesterday was the first day since all this began that made the smallest amount of sense to me. It was like I awoke from a dream — from a terrible nightmare — cold and naked and hungry. A hot shower thanks to the luxury and comfort of the resort, a good, hearty breakfast and I am ready to live the rest of my life — whatever path I must take. I slept like the dead last night. The best sleep I have had in months.”
Oftentimes in my old life, I would get horribly down on myself right after I’d experience an epiphany or defining highlight. I always thought that whenever I would feel triumphant or entirely optimistic that I would be nailed between the eyes with the harsh realities of being over-confident because of the break in concentration it causes.
It was like playing pool. You break and sink a ball and go on a four ball run before having to step aside for your opponent. You admire the work you have just done and count what remains to be cleared from the table. Your opponent misses his shot. You pounce and miss a gimme-shot. Your opponent now pounces and goes on his own four-ball run. The game is now tied but you still hold confidence and believe that you can re-position the table to your favour but you’ve been thinking too much about your next shot and it misses. Before you know it you are stuffing a fiver into your opponents mitts, wondering how you could be such a fucking bonehead and losing after such a strong start.
That’s exactly what happened January 5. Right when I was the highest I had been in many weeks, a new fantastic low opened beneath all of our feet.
Andy and I were walking north of the resort, along the riverbank, when voices began crackling on our radio.
Hex: “I am looking at about eight or nine men — a couple of them are packing serious hardware.”
Crest: “Copy. Where are you?”
Hex: “We’re looking at many bogies.”
Crest: “Copy. Where are you?”
Andy’s voice tore me back to where we were. “Off air now,” He hissed into the radio. “They may be listening,” he said to me with a disgust reserved for those ‘who don’t get it.’
I blinked and he was was 20 yards away before I realized he was running back toward the resort. My feet, heavy from the wet snow banks laying in the riverside shadows, clumped on the ground as my legs, seized with fear, struggled to move forward. “Fuck me politely,” I gulped.
Andy was half into his orders when I huffed into the lobby.
We all had stations. With Saharan dunes rolling in my mouth, I grabbed a box of ammo from the stash at the backdoor to the lobby and headed to mine.
Calder manned the M249, much to Hex’s disgruntlement, and Crest worked the charges, fed ammo and scoped for targets.
Hex, May and myself took up firing positions. I covered the space between the riverbank and hotel forward, using a blind and natural cover; May, who was a devastatingly deadly shot, had the loftiest perch, atop the resort, with views of the roads leading past; and Hex was the floater, free to advance on the ground — head on. I was also to advance along the riverbank to form a flank. No one was going to attack along the riverbank. This is a roadway world now – traveled by the rash and petulent and sordid.
Andy’s assignment, in his own words: “to defeat the enemy.”
He would be the tip of our spear and Hex and I would be the distractions and diversions to aid him in his efforts, while May would pour hell-fire up an advancing force’s snout and Calder and Crest would pound and ground.
Aiding me in my thoroughly untrained efforts was a lethal battery of killing power, highlighted by a Beretta Xtrema2 shotgun — a rapid firing miracle. With little recoil, the 12-guage dandy was also bizarrely quiet. I kept the Beretta across my back and a .308 in my hands. On my belt was a .357 and in the pocket of my coat was my ‘good luck’ Glock as I had come to see it. Also on my belt was a svelt, razor sharp slice of steel. Finally, for good measure, we were each issued six hand grenades – treasure remaining from a Northern California military base. It meant lugging weight around but that weight felt warm and secure as I moved to my blind; a short dash across an open space between the northwest corner of the resort and the generous riverside cover.
It took two hours to determine with any certainty what was coming our way — like a drifting cloud of poison gas over a shellhole battered field.
Up top, May spotted me move to the woods through the scope of her Mauser. She could also see three men standing in front of an armored three-ton truck. They know we are here, she thought, as she settled her sight on one of the men. She was a dead-eye shot but not that good. The men were 400 yards, or more, away. And who knew what was with them out of sight.
Hex was nestled into a firing position that gave him treacherous views of a junction that led to the mall and up the main street. It was a slightly elevated position covered in thick foiliage. An oncoming force would not be able to detect his position of fire until his 11th or 12th round. Like May, he clutched a Mauser and like the rest of us, possessed an Xtrema2 — a fine weapon for in-tight battle.
Andy moved briskly across the front entrance of the resort, across the street, over the parking lot and headed into the mall. Each step he took forward could not be retraced.
Andy’s blade hung from his side and he carried an Xtrema, all courtesy of a nearby sportsmart.
Calder lost count of the number weapons Andy strung beneath his long coat. In the short time he’d been with Andy, he hadn’t seen him weild anything beyond his blade. He didn’t need to, not in close. Calder had witnessed Andy eviscerate six men in the space of 30 seconds on a street in San Francisco. That was when he decided he would ride out the string with him.
In my blind, which was behind a large fallen cottonwood, I clipped my rifle into a tri-pod and settled into my seat. I felt strangely calm. I would think most of us, who have not been in armed combat, contemplate how we would fare under such conditions. I certainly did.
I always fancied myself a warrior – a poet warrior to be exact; the whole nine yards of romantic notional goofiness. I always believed, deep down, that I would have been an officer of lower report, and would have charged into battle with focus on victory. Yet, it is also likely that many a man who visualized himself a warrior poet capable of glorious achievement on the battlefield fell down pissing his pants and screaming for his mommy when the first shot was fired.
I was thinking how it would totally suck if I got shot as soon as things got hot and would I better off smoking a big bowl, when the first shot was fired?
On the bright side, I didn’t piss my pants. Been there done that. I was a seasoned wanderer of the apocalypse already.
But I did puke. Just a little. But it was enough to cast an annoying stench next to my blind.
He came upon the halted convoy like a lone fighter plane on a seek and destroy mission.
The convoy consisted of seven trucks, ranging from the lead three ton re-model, three apparent troop carriers, two heavy machine gun mounted four wheelers to a souped-up gas tanker at the rear.
The convoy, consisting of a force of 60 fighters from the Carson City/Reno enclave, was used to rolling forward with prodigious supplies, garnered from their home turf and conquests along the way.
They had taken part in a half dozen pitched battles, ranging across northern Nevada, northern California and southern Oregon. Mostly, they planted and spray painted their enclave’s flag — a black X and white O.
Leading the convoy was Sonny Dotter, an up-and-comer in the eyes of enclave ‘administrator’ Clemont C — or CC Ivory — the former muscle man for a major Reno casino owner. It shouldn’t be a stretch for you to realize that places like Reno and Las Vegas were still quite heavily populated following the disappearance.
The first killing took place in Vegas exactly two minutes after the disappearance. It took a mincing 12 minutes for the first slaying in Reno. Within days well established armed sides formed and within two weeks, new tribes of empirialistic madmen had seized control of territories and immediately set about expanding them.
Sonny Dotter’s mother claimed Johnny Cash was his father. She had romping whiskey dick sex with the man in black one sweet summer night in Reno in 1968 and along he came, she claimed.
Sonny couldn’t sing a lick nor did he care to. Sonny was a gambler and the only way he could keep all four limbs and his life was to rob and steal. He became incredibly adept at thieving and eventually became the boss of his own crew.
Not overly physical, but intellectually crisp, Sonny had a way that ensured his boys were devoted to him and, as luck would have it, four of them were left looking about stunned on Nov. 11. This gave him an immediate edge as he could strike with the might of five right off the kick off. Soon, he came into contact with CC and a truce led to a friendship. Now he was a general in his army and he was off earning his spurs. He’d lost about a dozen warriors since he embarked on his campaign into Oregon, but confidence remained sky high as the 60-man force bristled with arms.
Sonny took to leading his armed force of ghouls and demons with mustard and relish.
He cemented his growing legend at the Battle of Susanville, against the well-organized and heavily armed Sacramento enclave. The capitol of California was a melting pot of degenerates after the disappearance and with countless government officials remaining behind, a class system-heavy force was established, as was swift unity among those remaining, and they immediately began striking out, forming a front against the San Francisco tribes, still divided, along Highways 12 and 505. Well armed, they posed a greater threat than that which could be mustered by the Carson City/Reno enclave.
It came to a head Dec. 5 in Susanville, when Sonny attacked a force of 40 Sacramentos with only 14 men. The battle lasted 10 minutes and witnesses say Sonny polished off 10 men himself. After the battle he gouged out the eyes of the two surviving Sacramentos and told them to tell their commanders that “forever the blind shall see,” as the lore went.
The story was passed along in rapid fashion and within a few weeks its passage warped it, which pissed Sonny off because what he really said was “never bind the free.”
Sonny was a fair and flexible leader. That was why his men stuck by him. He’d heard the Sacramentos forced men to fight for them and was trying to make a definitive statement after the Battle of Susanville but some stupid fuck with hearing dulled fromgunfire started spreading that stupid story.
He’d also only killed three guys — all from one burst of his machine gun. Missed every other shot.
Bend was another chance to plant a flag, leave some signs and load up with supplies. The empire was spreading northward.
Sonny halted the convoy in the center of Bend and organized two parties of a dozen men each to scout around and make their way into the two malls to the north. They didn’t have ears on, as Andy wisely suggested they might. They had no idea what was sitting in front of them, or coming at them.
Andy was on the north side of the Promenade Mall when he spotted a line of armed men picking their way across a parking lot, darting from vehicle to vehicle. They appeared to be following some formal military formula, he assessed. Likely a few military men among them. This made Andy more dangerous.
Like any amazing ancient immortal demon warrior, he could upscale his game in a major way.
Andy let the two lead men make it to the sidewalk in front of the mall. Their backs hugged the wall and they slid along it to the glass doors leading inside — where Andy waited.
Two more men dashed across the parking lot to the wall. Then two more.
The glass doors swung open when the sixth man made it to the wall. One man came in high and the other low. Andy stepped behind a mall directions sign, out of their sight.
“Clear!” The man down low shouted. The man standing pushed a door open and shouted “clear.” The remaining men raced across the parking lot and the other four lead men slipped ito the mall.
One whistled at the potential bounty that may be awaiting, as his eyes adjusted to the murk within.
He blinked and saw Andy step from behind the sign. He saw a flash. He flew backward when the slug from Andy’s Beretta hit him square in the left shoulder. Four more pops from the gun dropped four more men. The sixth wanted to scream before he died but Andy’s blade separated his head from his body. His scream burbled into a juicy spray as his throat exploded open.
The six men arrived at the sidewalk at the same time Andy attacked and their footfalls had sufficiently muffled his advance. Andy felt a deep love for his new, fancy shotgun. He stepped back behind the direction sign and jammed the shotgun’s ammo chamber full again.
A surprised shout signaled the mall doors opening. Andy’s first shot exploded the lead man’s head and its gnarled slug tore into the next man’s cheek. The remaing men hit the pavement and tried to hug the wall.
Andy sprinted to the shattered glass door and like a hawk’s shadow, leapt through firing down. The other party of a dozen fighters never heard the five shots Andy fired and killed the four remaining men.
And these still weren’t the first shots, as far as I was concerned.
It was Hex’s first shot that signaled to me the battle had begun.
Hex fired his first round about five minutes after Andy had eliminated a dozen men.
Like Andy, his aim was on. The Mauser shell sliced through the center of the second party’s leader’s throat. His second shot missed the mark, as men scattered for cover.
The first party, now deceased, was to move through and around the mall, while the second party was to move up the street.
A radio attached to the belt of Andy’s sixth victim crackled. “One – report.”
Sonny sought communication after the shots were fired.
Hex fired a third shot. It ricocheted off the street.
After knocking down the advance party, Andy darted across the parking lot and began to make his way toward the heart of the convoy.
Upon hearing Hex’s third shot, I stepped from my blind, took a deep breath, savoured it and began to move along the river bank toward Hex’s right flank.
A fourth shot punctuated the cool silence. I could hear men shouting. With each step I took forward, the shouting voices became clearer.
May fired her first shot. It was an unbelievable shot. She spotted a man’s calf and boot sticking out from behind a car 40 feet from the junction. He was close to where Hex’s first victim lay. The shell tore into the bottom of his calf, just above the top of the Achilles tendon. In essence, she blew his foot off. He screamed with an agony that carried across the stillness between shots.
Sixty paces from my blind, I came to the edge of the narrow riverside woods, and caught sight of targets for the first time. I dropped to the ground and covered my head. After a few seconds, I lifted my head for a look and was satisfied I had not been spotted.
I gazed through my scope, searching for targets. My throat tightened and swallowing seemed impossible. A man was screaming like a despairing child about 100 or so feet away.
May fired a second shot. It also found its target — the first of the invading force to attempt to gain an elevated view. He fell backward off the roof he’d scrambled up.
This seemed to panic the two men I once again spotted as I rose to my knees. They turned and fled out of sight.
Hex’s fifth shot took down a man who was inspired by the panic and flowed into it. The shot tore into his right shoulder blade and threw him forward into the trunk of a car.
That created a complete retreat. Men shouted and one still screamed in pain. Hex and May fired at the same time and two more fleeing men spun to the pavement of the road and sidewalk leading back to the convoy, where Sonny was having a melt down of epic proportions. And he didn’t even know that one third of his force had been cut down in a matter of five minutes.
He was shouting orders into his radio when the retreating men appeared. Sonny yelled at them to hold their ground and advance or he’d shoot them.
The chaos allowed Andy to swoop onto the convoy. He appeared as a flash to a man standing on the running board of the lead truck, which had been converted into a light machine gun post. The man’s face disappeared.
Andy fired as he moved and men spun and danced. Some fired blindly in the opposite direction Andy moved so quickly. A lord of chaos has that ability, I guess.
Several of Sonny’s men dropped their weapons and raised their arms. He lifted his M-15 and pulled the trigger. They jerked and skidded across the pavement, arching and spasming in death throes.
Andy’s blade was now out and more evil men died in screaming agony.
Sonny screamed into his radio. “Let’s get out of here. There’s an entire fucking army.”
Seated in the driver’s seat of the fuel tanker was Peter Topolowsky, a man who had a total of 10 hours’ experience behind the wheel of such a machine. He had no idea how to back up a truck so large. With all the obstacles from the disappearance behind him, he created an immediate block on the road for the convoy.
Sonny screamed at him over the radio and panicking, he floored it. The truck pushed backward, shoving cars and vans aside. It nudged up over a curb and Peter oversteered. The truck jerked violently and the steering wheel spun out of his grip.
Sonny’s jaw dropped as the semi-trailer full of vital supplies angled violently into the corner of a brick building. The other vehicles were jigging and darting back and forth hither thither, as their drivers flailed in blind terror and panic to turn around, believing a sizable armed force was right upon them.
Sonny clambered into the armored truck and ordered the driver to move forward while the rest beat a retarded retreat.
Hex had abandoned his cover and took up a firing position pointing directly at the oncoming armored truck. I was behind a bench and stone garden 20 yards to his right. He calmly squeezed five shots off in sharp succession and then I saw the oncoming truck. I fired at the driver’s side window when it came into view. And then I fired again. The truck screeched to a stop.
Hex and May were pouring lead at the truck and I joined in, aiming at its tires and at the large firing slits cut into its side.
Andy swooped on the rear vehicle, a light machine gun mounted Chevy four by. Four shots from the Beretta stilled the vehicle and its occupants, including the machine gunner. After the truck rolled into the front of the vehice in front of it, a three-ton truck re-modeled as a troop carrier, Andy clambered into the back of the Chevy and grabbed the light machine gun. One lengthy burst of fire killed the four men in the back of the truck and he turned his fire at the next vehicle, another extended cab pickup truck. The burst from the gun destroyed the mounted machine gun and then tore the gunner in two.
The two other troop trucks battered their way clear and fled south down Highway 97.
In the lead truck, Sonny squatted on the floor and tried to peek out for views.
Directly outside his door, Andy waited with the Beretta pointed upward.
Hex and I moved in to cover him, taking up a triangular position around the truck, unsure of what was still inside.
After about a minute, Sonny, breathing hard and sweating cold fat drops of near death, slowly lifted his head and peeked out the open window. The last thing he heard in his formerly upswinging life was Andy’s chuckle before he pulled the trigger.
The entire battle lasted a dozen minutes. Andy had killed at least 20 men by himself. We found six bodies in the back of the lead truck and I wasn’t sure if I had killed any. I didn’t want to know.
It took hours for Hex to stop babbling about his scoring shots.
Calder and Crest felt robbed of action. Andy made them feel better by noting that the three ‘untrained’ fighters — myself, Hex and May — performed well, and that was good for the future.
I secretly felt like I wasn’t worthy. What had I done?
When Calder and I found the corpses at the mall, my draining sense of having not earned my keep became all the more profound.
Twelve bodies covered the entrance to the mall. They were all within a 40-foot perimeter.
“Man, he’s a frigging genius,” Calder gushed.
I thought about Andy — clearly an evil genius — but a friend, too. He was a friend. In the absence of the love of my life or anyone else of any decent salt or bent, Andy was my best friend.
Surveying the grisly remains, I felt great relief that he was my friend.
Calder and I dragged the bodies from the mall and across the parking lot to a RV, where we stacked them. The base horror of the task at hand never hit me until hours later when I dropped into a sleep fevered by dreams cluttered with images of dying men and young girls.
We spent the next day removing bodies from view and storing them inside buildings we had no use for. In total, we disposed of 42 bodies. Andy estimated that there were three or four bodies on the two trucks that made it out.
In truth, 10 crazed and beaten men made their way south down Highway 97, back toward Klamath Falls where a rear party of six men waited. It was unanimously decided that they would hold a position at Klamath Falls, and an attack force would be launched from Reno.
On January 7, Andy announced that we would have to leave our winter oasis.
That same day, Kenneth’s strength had returned sufficiently enough to allow for the ride back to West Yellowstone.
Carrie and Stacy were preparing a simple dinner when their snow machines clattered to the B&B.
Carrie wanted to doubt Kenneth. If he had come back alone and told such a story, she would have doubted him. She wanted to doubt him, like a teenager who cannot understand a parent’s guidance and rails against them.
The appearance of the friendly and likeable Ridley simply gave credence to his story and, familiar with the old hotel at Yellowstone, she tried to imagine what it must have looked like totally aflame.
Stacy seemed unfazed by the news of Burton’s demise. Nothing was a surprise any longer.
Also on January 7, 2012, the first major post disappearance war broke out in Europe. Rashly and unwisely cobbled together alliances of evil began to tuck into one another with the military machinations of the sundry and traditionally empirical post disappearance nations.
Tanks, naval craft and aircraft began to fall into the hands of budding warlords. Skirmishes led to pitched battles that led to fronts that led to offensives begetting new empires.
And like the empires of old, they were sickened and warped by evil and incorrect intentions. All that was missing was the silent, apathetic majority of the good.
Ian Cobb/e-KNOWTags: 11:11e-KNOWIan Cobb
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