I Must Not Fear

Because the trailer for the new Dune movie looks awesome.

Metal Tuesday- Black Majesty – Dragons Reunite

If I ever get down to Australia, I’m going to make sure it’s while this band is on tour. Or hope they ever come to the Southeastern US.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 5 – Chapter 35

Skull Island, South Pacific, 26 June 2010, 0100 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 5 months, 4 days

Jessica Montgomery looked at her laptop and suppressed a groan as she saw the time. After she lost everything and everyone she loved and knew back in Florida, the thought of living of an exotic tropical island sounded romantic and adventurous. Jess thought she’d be playing on the beach every day, with occasional breaks to hunt down the odd zombie. It was like out of one those cool television shows she watched religiously before Mateo and Zombie Strike swept into her life.

Except it wasn’t anything like she expected. Mateo was nice, but he demanded a lot. Jess was having a hard enough time keeping up with the work from the online school Mateo enrolled her in, but she also had to work with the team. On top of that she had sniper lessons from The Steve, who would be cute if he weren’t a little touched in the head, and the lessons with Quentin on the Aztec culture. Then there was Billy.

Jess forced herself to stop thinking about the Native American close-quarters specialist. He pretty much told her he wasn’t interested, and he made sure never to be alone with her outside of work. She pushed all of the hurt and confusion out of her mind. She had a paper to finish and submit before her first online class at nine. Fortunately, it was on ancient cultures, so she just poured a lot of what Quentin taught her into the assignment.

“You still up?” asked Mateo from the doorway. Jess’s foster father was maybe twenty years older than her own sixteen years. Latino features dominated Mateo’s looks, but there was a hint of something else. Jess thought Mateo would look better if he let his hair grow beyond the close crew cut he wore. His long face was average, but his dark eyes were warm. Mateo still wore the rumpled fatigues he’d been wearing all day. His hands bore two mugs of steaming liquid.

“It’s this paper,” Jess whined, “I’ve got to get it done tonight.” Mateo’s eyes hardened slightly at her tone, but she didn’t care. Maybe he could pull all sorts of hours without a break, but she wanted to have some fun. Instead, she was forced to stay up all night working on this stupid assignment.

“You’re not the first person who’s had to pull an all-nighter, so quit whining,” Mateo said as he walked into her living room. He set the mug down next to her. The aroma of coffee filled Jess’s nose. Okay, maybe Mateo was right, but he just didn’t understand what she was going through. She grudgingly gave him a nod of thanks before picking up the coffee. She eyed it for a moment.

“Don’t worry, Sport made it,” Mateo said with that funny grin. She gulped the scalding liquid, savoring the smooth taste. Sport was the only one on this island who knew how to make a good cup of coffee. Everyone else seemed to think that drinking paint thinner was acceptable.

“Missed you at dinner,” Mateo said, sitting down on her couch.

“Yeah, well, I had things to do,” Jess said quickly, hoping her foster father took the veiled hint.

“Quentin said you came across something today,” Mateo said after taking a sip of his own coffee.

“Doesn’t matter, it was a bunch of gibberish that didn’t make any sense,” Jess said, trying to focus on the words on her laptop’s screen. “Stuff about a cleansing fire in Tenochtitlan. Wipe the corruption away. Sort of like the stuff in Revelations.” Jess felt an icy spike down her back as she spoke of the odd parchment. Something in those ancient words scared her, and she felt embarrassed by her fear. She prayed Mateo didn’t see any of that.

“I think Quentin mentioned it because you translated that passage on your own,” Mateo said. He took a deep breath and Jess closed her eyes in dread. Mateo only took that deep breath before trying to have serious conversations with her. The screaming alarm klaxon cut him off. It was probably the first time she was glad there was an emergency. In an instant, Mateo went from struggling foster father to team leader of Zombie Strike.

“I’m heading down to the situation room,” Mateo said, “Get dressed and meet me down there.” He strode out of the room without giving her a chance for the biting retort she was still working on. Jess scowled as she rummaged through her room for a presentable set of fatigues. She spent a precious few minutes on making sure she covered her few blemishes and her hair was presentable. Billy might say he wasn’t interested, but she saw the glances he shot her way. Let’s see how he liked these apples.

The Zombie Strike field team was in the situation room’s main conference room, along with Nigel Brown and Zombie Strike’s overall leader, Kenn Blanchard. Kenn’s normally warm face was tight and controlled. The team members all glanced at her as she walked in, and quickly turned their attention back to Nigel Brown, the liaison from Mackenzie and Winston, the insurance firm that funded Zombie Strike.

“As I was saying Collin, Mackenzie and Winston had no reason to believe that the damage done to the satellite constellation had anything to do with this team’s activities,” Nigel said in his proper British accent. After six months of working with four Brits, Jess was starting to get a feel for their accents.

“Pictures coming in,” announced one of the techs. One of the large plasma monitors snapped on. The black and white feed had that grainy, military feel to it. Jess thought it was a video of a city in the Middle East. All of the buildings were either destroyed or heavily damaged. Pieces of debris were scattered haphazardly. Some she identified as the burnt and twisted wrecks of cars. Were they dropping into a war zone?

Something made Jess tear her eyes away from the monitor and look at the faces of the men of her team. All of them looked shocked, except for Billy. His head was bowed, and she thought he was crying. That didn’t make sense. What could make Billy cry? There were whispered curses, and more than one of the men slammed an angry fist down on the glass table.

“Mexico City,” Quentin whispered into her ear, and her heart froze. She locked eyes with Quentin who only nodded solemnly. What had happened? It looked like the city had been hit with a nuclear bomb.

“Quentin, are you sure about this?” Kenn asked.

“Yes,” Quentin answered, “Jess translated the prophecy earlier today. It all makes sense. Within a few hours, the dead will begin to rise.” Jess swallowed hard. Prophecy? She had translated a prophecy? One that just came true? She silently prayed this was all just a dream. The words came back to her as Quentin recited the translation.

The servants will call their Lord. The Flayed One will answer from the stars. The Other’s metal stars will fall. The Other’s followers will scream in terror.

The Great City will be bathed in fire. The stain of the Other will be scourged. The dead will return to the Servant. The temple will be revealed.

The Chosen will find the key. The Flayed One will return.

“Who’s the Other?” Kenn asked

“That would be us,” Quentin answered, “More to the point, any of the descendants of Cortez. I’m thinking the Servant is Giant or whoever is commanding Giant. The Chosen could mean either.” He made it sound so coldly academic. Jess wanted to scream at him.

“Giant,” murmured Mateo with a dangerous hint in his tone. He quickly turned to his team. “Okay, this is all hands on deck. I want everyone kitted out and into the airplane. This is going to be the single largest zombie outbreak anyone has seen, not including whatever Giant will be up to.”

“We’re persona non grata in Mexico,” Collin reminded Mateo. “After Giant hit their museum, the Mexican government blamed us and told us to stay out of their country.”

“Do you really think they’ll have anyone to stop us?” Mateo asked, “Everything for a hundred miles around Mexico City is destroyed. They felt the blast all the way in Vegas, and the heat wave managed to ignite the oil spill in the Gulf.”

“Then figure that GPS and most communications are still down,” The Steve chimed in.

“Well, since you put it that way, once more into the breach,” Collin quipped. Jess just looked at the men. Millions were dead, their enemies were after something that sounded really powerful, and they were joking around. And they yelled at her for being immature? Kenn brought the meeting back to order.

“Stop Giant first,” Kenn ordered, “See what help you can give along the way. Don’t get dead.” The team collectively nodded and began filing out of the room. Jess reached the doorway at the same time as Billy. Billy’s bronze face was streaked with tears. Jess suddenly remembered he had family in Mexico. Her heart melted at the look of pain on Billy’s face.

“Billy, I’m sorry,” Jess said quietly, “You said you had family in Mexico.” She didn’t know what else to say. She wanted to hug him and comfort him. She nearly died when he gave her a mournful smile.

“Thanks Jess,” Billy said. He paused, like he was going to say something else. Then that familiar hardness clamped down and he stormed out of the office. Jess just stood there for a moment. What was wrong with that man?

In thirty minutes, the team was in the air flying to Mexico City.

[Zombie Strike Part 5 Chapter 36]

Friday Quote – Xander Opal

A civil right shouldn’t have a single point of failure.

Kenosha Shooting Views

It’s been a week, so it’s about time for me to prognosticate. First, here’s a good analysis from Colion Noir.

So, here are my thoughts: 1. Unless you are protecting your property or the property of your close circle, I wouldn’t recommend going near a riot. The best gun fight is the one you’re not in. Yet, this young man was drawn to the situation, as were many others. Based on the statements in the above video, as well as other items I’ve picked up, the young man had honorable intentions for involving himself.

  1. As to the actual shooting, I’m in agreement with Colion (and many others), that the young man acted properly. He shot to stop immediate threats. He stopped shooting when the threats stopped being threats. He did not shoot others who were not threats. He immediately went to the police. I’ve listened/read hundreds of defensive gun uses where adults didn’t conduct themselves as well.

  2. As to the fact that the two dead men and the wounded men had violent criminal histories, I don’t think that’s relevant to the immediate shooting. The young man had no way of knowing their backgrounds. Only that they were at the riot, like many other people. Some who probably had violent criminal histories, but some who had no criminal histories at all. The only information this young man had was that he was being attacked by multiple individuals who expressed their intention to “Get that motherfucker.”

  3. That being said, their criminal histories are relevant in the case of a felon being in possession of a firearm. I haven’t seen where the injured individual has been arrested for that felony. Meanwhile, the prosecutor is trying to assuage the mob with Murder One charges against the young man. There’s a lesson there.

F’ing Roller Coaster Weeks

In case you’re wondering why I had no Wednesday or Thursday posts last week, there were happenings.

The week started out with the dishwasher making a wonderful screeching noise. We call the appliance guy to find out he’s out of business. We find this out when The Wife gets a voicemail greeting of “I’m not the appliance person. I will not fix your stuff. I am a high school student.” I sympathize with the kid. Growing up, our dial-up line (kids ask your parents) was the old number of a Dominos.

Then, middle of the week, we get a new niece. I still think newborns look weird. I don’t understand why everyone thinks they’re cute. Still love the little one. Need to come up with a term of endearment for her. I’m thinking “pumpkin.”

In the middle of the week, our Toastmasters club had our Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests. I competed in the Table Topics, but didn’t even place. Plus, doing a contest virtually just sucks. I will also say my competition desires are waning.

The rollercoaster continued. After a series of calls, we went up and start the ball rolling on buying a house in one of the new developments that are cropping up around here. If the expected timeline holds, we will be moving into a brand spanking new house at the end of March. Both The Wife and I have been looking at each other with expressions of “what did we just do?” This wasn’t so much a straight incline as much a rising corkscrew.

So, of course, as we hit the high, the roller coaster must send us into a dive. First was work stress. Mainly being put in the position of having my data used wrong, disputing them, and being told “but you gave us those numbers.” Then being chastised for not being on a meeting where they didn’t send the invite. I like that I’m respected enough that my name is used as qualifying value, but not when someone uses it for political games. That, unfortunately, was not the lowest point of the week.

Our oldest cat’s been having problems. He deteriorated rapidly. Friday we took him to his last vet visit. Spike was a sweet cat. He loved being in my lap. To the point of coming up behind me in our office and tugging on my shirt. Sometimes, he figured out how to just plop himself down. A few times while I was on a video conference call. The house is much quieter, and I don’t like it.

By the end of the week, The Wife and I were emotionally exhausted. Also, my predilection for poor food choices and stress eating flared. I was already floating about ten pounds over goal. Now, it’s a bit more. I need to be better, and I need a healthier way. Particularly since my range time is down to zero.

Metal Tuesday- Amberian Dawn – Warning

Yeah, this hits a lot of my likes for metal.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 5 – Chapter 34

Madrid, Spain, 25 June 2010, 1030 hours local; Countdown: 1 year, 5 months, 5 days

The man currently known as Castle casually walked into the conference room. It belonged to one of the newer members of the cabal, or more to the point, her company. She beamed with pride as Castle acknowledged her with a simple nod. The new ones were always so eager to prove themselves. Who knew, this one may actually prove more than just financially useful.

There were fifteen men and women seated around the conference table. All were dressed in stylish business attire. Castle had taken great pains to recruit each person. They all believed they were part of Castle’s inner circle, and he did nothing to dissuade them from that belief. They were the levers by which he would direct the world until it was time to bring his god back into this world.

Buenos Dias,” Castle said in his native Spanish, “I must thank you for all of your support since I began recruiting you. This is especially true as we enter the last eighteen months. We have succeeded in collecting several of Xipe Totec’s blessed tools, but more remain. Fortunately none have fallen into our enemies’ hands.” The men and women smiled at each other, enjoying the vicarious success of the cabal’s champion and his minions. Castle’s smiling face grew serious. The men and women quickly picked up on this and copied the solemn expression.

“In the next few days, our plans enter a critical phase,” Castle explained, “I need each of you to react quickly and ruthlessly to seize the opportunities that will be presented to you.” Castle paused as one of the elder gentlemen motioned to speak. Castle graciously nodded at the bald man.

“What kind of opportunities?” the man asked in a deep earnest voice.

“The kind that happens when the services the world has become dependent upon are suddenly snatched away from them,” Castle answered, cryptically. “I apologize for the mystery, but it is necessary. My loyal followers, events are in motion. Everything is critical, including your own reactions. We cannot be undone because you acted too smoothly. Believe me, our enemies will be watching for such things. They know of our existence, but have no idea who we are. We will need to work hard to keep that advantage.” There was a murmur of general agreement with Castle’s statement.

“Soon, very soon, we will all witness the coming of Xipe Totec,” Castle intoned, “When our lord, the Flayed One, returns, we will all be his most trusted servants. All of us will be granted great power and authority. We will make this world into paradise once more.” One by one, the men and women knelt at Castle’s feet to receive a blessing before departing to their regular lives. Castle stayed in the conference room, enjoying the luxury of the room.

“That didn’t take as long as I thought it would,” murmured a deep voice from behind. The voice startled Castle, but he didn’t let it show. Castle rotated in the chair to look up at the cabal’s champion.

“Mikhail, it always amuses me that someone as huge as you can slip in unnoticed,” Castle said nonchalantly. Mikhail was better known as Giant to Zombie Strike, the organization that was the cabal’s nemesis. They have Mikhail that nickname for good reason. Mikhail was easily over seven feet tall, with a powerful build. He wore a tight-fitting black martial arts costume complete with full mask. From the cabal’s spy in Zombie Strike, Castle knew the group mocked Giant about his choice of a “ninja suit.” Castle really didn’t care. What he cared about was the aged leather whip that Mikhail wore coiled at his hip. The Flayed One’s own whip.

“Is your team ready?” Castle asked as Mikhail carefully sat down.

“My helpers are in position,” Mikhail answered, “The American, Alan, has already started the ritual with your priests. I just came to make sure that you didn’t want to accompany us as we retrieved the key.” Castle shook his head.

“It is not time for me to come out of the shadows quite yet,” Castle said. He chuckled at Mikhail’s puzzled look. “We may take them by surprise, but you will be facing Zombie Strike.” Mikhail gave Castle a smug smile.

“Good,” Mikhail said sharply, “This will give me the chance to kill them.”

“Your mission is to retrieve the key,” Castle snapped, “Zombie Strike will be dealt with as the prophecies foretell.” Mikhail nodded, accepting the rebuke. Wordlessly, the huge man slipped out of the chair and strode silently out the door.

Several hours later, NASA was the first to notice something happening. After almost sixty years of humanity launching stuff into space, there was an impressive amount of junk floating around the planet. Dead satellites, spent rocket boosters, and the like floated in space like flotsam and jetsam. NASA kept an eye on the space trash because any of it could be potentially fatal to a shuttle as it rocketed up to near-earth orbit. It was mostly predictable until one piece or another finally managed to fall out of orbit and incinerate itself in Earth’s atmosphere.

Alarms sounded as large amounts of the space junk began accelerating for no apparent reason. Faced with something completely inexplicable, NASA assumed there was a glitch in their tracking systems. Then, the first GPS satellite went down. Then, a communications satellite. Before NASA alerted governments around the world, ten more satellites were destroyed. As experts scrambled to maintain the fragile network of communications and navigation, the accelerating space debris clumped together into dense balls about the size of large kitchen appliances.

A tracking station in Australia first noticed the debris entering the atmosphere. They were in the middle of projecting a splash-down area when the debris started acting bizarre. Dramatic slowdowns followed by bursts of speeds in wildly changing vectors. The Australians immediately handed the problem off to NORAD. The uniformed specialists coordinated with world governments, trying desperately to get people out of harm’s way. Suddenly, the debris settled into straight trajectories. The NORAD personnel watched helplessly six balls of debris screamed towards Mexico City at several times the speed of sound. Each ball was slightly smaller than a dishwasher, but the dense composition and incredible speed from plummeting through the atmosphere gave each ball the destructive power of a small nuclear bomb.

All six slammed into Mexico City at noon local time. No one noticed the unique pattern of the strikes. No one except Zombie Strike.

[Zombie Strike Part 5 Chapter 35]

Friday Quote – George Carlin

Sooner or later, the people in this country are going to realize the government doesn’t give a fuck about them. The government doesn’t care about you, or your children, or your rights, or your welfare, or your safety. It simply doesn’t give a fuck about you. It’s only interested in its own power. That’s the only thing. Keeping it, and expanding it wherever possible.

Metal Tuesday- Serenity- Down To Hell

Another strong song from a newcomer.

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