Excerpt for Tales of the Vuduri: Year Five by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Five

Michael Brachman

Copyright 2018 by Michael Brachman

Smashwords Edition

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


All rights reserved

Copyright © 2018 by Michael Brachman

Cover art copyright © 2018 by Bruce Brachman


Also by Michael Brachman

The Rome’s Revolution Series

Rome’s Revolution

The Ark Lords

Rome’s Evolution

The Vuduri Knights Series

The Milk Run

*The Vuduri Knight
(*not yet in publication)

The Vuduri Universe Series

Tales of the Vuduri: Year One

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Two

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Three

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Four

Tales of the Vuduri: Year Five

The Vuduri Companion


If you are reading this, then you have probably read the first four volumes of Tales of the Vuduri and you are already well aware of the people helping me produce this epic series. As always, I need to thank my immeasurably talented brother Bruce. He is my go-to guy when it comes to the world of the Vuduri. Not only is he my editor and artist and the inspiration behind MINIMCOM, but he is also fiercely protective of the Vuduri culture and characters. He is always receptive to me bouncing ideas off his head, even when he doesn’t have the time. In addition, Bruce creates the amazing covers, the astounding book trailers and makes my writing so much better. Bruce, none of this would exist without you so thank you.

My wife Denise also deserves a special thank you for understanding my goals and giving me the time to write this massive number of posts. Her patience continues to be boundless as is her moral support. Thank you, Denise.

In the end, the people who are most responsible for making this series a success are you, my loyal readers. It’s been a long, long journey and I thank you for taking the trip with me. This book is for you.


Tales of the Vuduri is a daily blog published on When I first started posting articles in 2012, I had no idea how long I could keep it up or where it would take me. I find it amusing and perhaps fitting that the series ended up being a five year labor of love, just like the original Star Trek with its five year mission. And as everyone knows, with any trip, much of the appeal is the journey itself not necessarily the destination. While the bulk of these articles are about the fascinating 35th century world of Rome’s Revolution, there is a great deal of attention paid to current events, new avenues of research in science and technology and predictions about the near future. The rest of the articles provide critical commentary about my Rome’s Revolution series, with this volume focusing on The Ark Lords, Rome’s Evolution and touching upon The Milk Run.

As I mentioned last year, committing to writing one blog article a day created a monster with a voracious appetite that had to be fed continuously. With the publication of this book, I have now written over 1830 articles, more than 750,000 words. That is a lot of words! Luckily for me, the pace of discoveries in the world of science and technology has not slowed down at all. In fact, I could write an entire book focusing just on Elon Musk who continues to amaze with his solar energy ventures, SpaceX, the Boring Company and now Neuralink. I had to exercise some restraint so Mr. Musk comprises just a small portion of the articles you will find in these pages. As a teaser, here is a partial list of what you’ll find among these entries about science and life:

  • The Fermi Paradox or where is everybody?

  • A recap of exoplanets discovered to date including TRAPPIST-1

  • Helium-filled Hard Drives

  • Life on Enceladus, one of the moons of Saturn

  • StoreDot's Insta-charge Battery

  • A discussion of Unruh Radiation and The Cannae Drive

  • The discovery of a potential vaccine against PTSD

  • Real life teleportation

  • A graphic exploration on how my brother Bruce designed The Hand of Deucado

  • CRISPR as a tool for curing genetic diseases

  • The invention of a new kind of poker

  • Where is Voyager now?

  • Does anybody miss Pluto as one of the nine planets?

  • The EcoSphere and its implications for space travel

  • How Elon Musk will save Puerto Rico

  • A real life Rama

  • How to make gunpowder

  • Hyper-fusion

  • Tesla’s new semi and how it will revolutionize trucking

  • The health benefits of bananas

  • A discussion of cyanoglobin

As you aware from previous years, to produce so many blog entries, I had to follow the discipline of writing seven or more articles every weekend and then posting one each day over the course of the next week. As with the previous volumes, you will find occasional hypertext links but of course they are not functional within an ebook or paperback. When the sole purpose of a link was to take you somewhere else, I added an underline. Likewise with the prior volumes of Tales of the Vuduri, the entries are exactly as they appeared on Goodreads although I do fix typos when I find them.

Feel free to jump in anywhere. You don’t need to read the articles in any particular order although the general flow of the literary analysis follows the aforementioned novels The Ark Lords and Rome’s Evolution. It is not necessary that you have read those books but it couldn’t hurt. I hope you enjoy this fifth and final volume of Tales of the Vuduri as much I enjoyed writing it.

Entry 5-001: January 1, 2017

Out of room

How many times have you tried to take a picture with your phone or downloaded a movie, only to discover you were out of room on your memory card or thumb drive or whatever? It's happened to me plenty of times. So I decided to employ this decidedly human experience and tie it in to the future world of Rome’s Revolution as well. Here is a little scene where Ursay has to deal with this exact problem, just using whammy-jammy science fiction terms:

Rome stood up. “Perhaps you should allow me. As you know, I was very skilled at data archiving. I think I can formulate the proper search terms in such a way as they are oblique to our main area of research.”

Ursay stood up and switched places with Rome. As she settled in her seat, Ursay remarked, “You were more than skilled. You were literally the best on the planet. Your mosdurece heritage made you the perfect candidate. I specifically requested you for our mission. I was just too blind to acknowledge the wisdom of my own opinion.”

Rome looked at Ursay and placed her hand on top of his. “That is very kind of you to say so,” she said. “Thank you.”

“It is not kind,” Ursay replied. “It is simply an acknowledgement of a fact. Rome, you are very special. It was clear, even back then. It was just beyond my capability, and I suspect yours, to recognize the truth.”

Rome blushed slightly.

“I recognized it,” Rei piped in. “She was awesome.”

Rome turned back to look at her husband and laughed. “Men,” she muttered. She returned her attention to the workstation in front of her. “I will activate a data conduit to the local storage before we offload it to a data-cube,” she said. “Let me check the capacity.” Her hands flew over the keyboard and produce a bar chart of processor and storage capabilities. “Hmm,” she observed. “There is not as much room as I would like. Do you have a data-cube handy?”

“I do not,” Ursay said. “I keep them all off-site.”

Rome looked back at the graphical display of the local storage allocation. “Is there anything stored here that you absolutely must preserve?”

“Erase it all,” Ursay said. “It is just images and recipes. I have everything backed up that I care about. I can restore it at any time. Do what you need to.”

“Very well.” Rome pressed icon after icon, erasing large chunks of local data until the bar chart in front of her indicated nearly empty local resources.

She stared down at the input interface.

“What is it, sweetheart?” Rei asked.

Rome sighed. “It is times like these that I miss my bloco and stilo.” She exhaled strongly. “No matter, I can do this.” Her hands flew over the interface, pressing keys and icons. She glanced up at the screen as her query took form. At last, she said, “I am ready. My query will request a time line of the events concerning the Erklirte in bulk form with two levels of hyperlink spidering. I will start with the arrival of the Erklirte and I have put a stop after their defeat. We can analyze it afterwards.”

Every time I get a new phone or new card for my camera, I always boost up the memory because I know I will run out of room at some point. You too? Tomorrow, the light bulb goes off.

Entry 5-002: January 2, 2017

Helen Henry dies 1

We learned about Jack Henry's origins in the middle portion of The Ark Lords. Jack Henry's father, Jim Henry, was one of the last remaining good Cavaliers, the futuristic police force which was a combination of Canadian Mounties, British Bobbies, roving judges and so on. Jack's mother Helen helped Jack track down what happened to Jack's father. He was killed by the Ark Lords who had descended to the Earth some 600 years earlier than the main story. At the end of their discovery, Helen Henry was kidnapped and Jack thought he would never see her again. However, ten years later, after Jack had formed a pretty serious army of rebels, Helen appeared suddenly and unexpectedly:

Jack raced out of the tent and saw a group of men coming toward him carrying a stretcher. He cocked his head and stood where he was as they brought the stretcher to him. What he saw made him go weak in the knees.

“Mom!” he said, bending over and grabbing the frail woman. “What? How?” he stammered. “Take her into my tent,” he commanded.

The group hustled their way in and set her stretcher on top of Jack’s sleeping bag. Jack followed them in then knelt by her side. He was crying. “Mom,” he said, “I’ve missed you so much.” He bent over and hugged her. The battered woman could barely lift her arms but she managed to drape them over her son. Even though he knew her to be only fifty, the woman before him looked like she was eighty years old.

“Oh Jackie,” she whispered. “I never gave up hope. I’m so sorry I left you.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Jack said angrily. “It was those monsters. What happened?”

“I need some water first,” his mother said.

“Red!” Jack shouted to his lieutenant.

“On it, boss,” Red said. He quickly returned with a wooden canteen which he handed to Jack. Jack held the canteen to Helen’s lips as she took a few sips.

“Jackie, you have to listen to me. I don’t have much time.” Helen’s voice was barely louder than a whisper. Her breath was foul with the stench of urea.

“Why, Mom?” Jack’s face was contorted with heartbreak.

“I’m septic. My kidneys have failed. I haven’t peed in three days. I’m not going to make it much longer.”

“No, Mom,” Jack said. He reached forward and put his hand on her forehead. His mother was burning up.

“What happened, Mom? What did they do to you? Why are you here?”

Helen took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She opened them but they looked rheumy, almost like there was a thin cloudy film covering them.

“Jackie, just listen and say nothing. I have to tell you what is important.”

Tomorrow, Helen's story.

Entry 5-003: January 3, 2017

Helen Henry dies 2

We learned about Jack Henry's origins in the middle portion of The Ark Lords. Jack Henry's father, Jim Henry, was one of the last remaining good Cavaliers, the futuristic police force which was a combination of Canadian Mounties, British Bobbies, roving judges and so on. Jack's mother Helen helped Jack track down what happened to Jack's father. He was killed by the Ark Lords who had descended to the Earth some 600 years earlier than the main story. At the end of their discovery, Helen Henry was kidnapped and Jack thought he would never see her again. However, ten years later, after Jack had formed a pretty serious army of rebels, Helen appeared suddenly and unexpectedly:

“Your father was dead by the time we got to their camp. They didn’t capture him. They just plain killed him.”

Jack rocked back on his legs. It had been so long, he had buried his feelings. He wasn’t sure how to get in touch with what he already knew deep down inside.

“When they got me, they took me to a shelter. They tied me down. They beat me and they raped me.”

“What!?” Jack exclaimed. He started to rise. His mother reached out and grabbed his arm.

“Jackie, listen to me!” she ordered.

Jack closed his eyes fighting his instinct to strike someone. He took a deep breath and settled down. “All right,” he said.

“I got pregnant. Once they knew that, they put me in a different place, like a dormitory. And the beatings stopped. I gave birth to a girl. After I was done nursing her, they took her away and it started all over again.”

Jack pounded his clenched fist into his palm but remained silent.

“Jackie, forgive me. But every time I got pregnant, the beatings stopped so I let them use me. I am so sorry. But I had given up.”

“Oh, Mom,” Jack said.

Helen sighed and closed her eyes. “I had five children and then got toxemia with the sixth. I had a miscarriage but they didn’t treat me. They put me in a field hospital or something but basically they were just waiting for me to die.”

Jack covered his eyes with his hand. The tears seeped out on both sides. The image of his loving mother being so mistreated was almost too horrible to consider. He wiped his face so he could continue listening.

“They’re in the process of moving their camp to the East. They are setting up a fortified city. They were so busy with the move that they didn’t pay any attention to us in the hospital. I escaped and walked as far as I could. Do you remember Bill Franklin?”

“Yes,” Jack replied quietly.

“He found me wandering and he brought me here. Bill and all of them, they all know about the Resistance and they want to help but not if it means suicide.”

“I know, Mom,” Jack said. “We’re trying. It’s just so hard. We don’t have the weapons to stand up to them.”

Helen tried to rise up from the stretcher. Jack helped her sit up. She reached inside her clothing, mere rags that may have once been a dress, and pulled out a pile of papers. She handed them to Jack.

Jack took them from her and opened up the largest one. It was a detailed map with names and places that he did not recognize.

“What is this?” he asked.

Helen coughed. Her lungs spasmed and she went into a coughing fit. Jack reached forward and enveloped her in his arms. He could not believe how thin his mother was. All he felt were bones. When the coughing subsided, he gently laid her back down.

“Jackie, whatever you are doing. It is making them so angry. They are going to unleash a weapon that is going to kill everyone.”

Tomorrow, Helen's end.

Entry 5-004: January 4, 2017

Helen Henry dies 3

We learned about Jack Henry's origins in the middle portion of The Ark Lords. Jack Henry's father, Jim Henry, was one of the last remaining good Cavaliers, the futuristic police force which was a combination of Canadian Mounties, British Bobbies, roving judges and so on. Jack's mother Helen helped Jack track down what happened to Jack's father. He was killed by the Ark Lords who had descended to the Earth some 600 years earlier than the main story. At the end of their discovery, Helen Henry was kidnapped and Jack thought he would never see her again. However, ten years later, after Jack had formed a pretty serious army of rebels, Helen appeared suddenly and unexpectedly:

“No!” Helen said forcefully. “You don’t understand. “They are going to unleash a disease. It will kill every man, woman and child on the Earth. When they are done, they will be the only people left alive.”

“How can they do that?” Jack asked. “How do they unleash a disease?”

“The map,” Helen said. “The people that sent them to the stars. They buried a can, a canister that holds the disease. The map shows exactly where it’s stored. It’s buried beside a figure eight. You have to stop them. If the Ark Lords get there first, it is the end of everyone.”

Jack looked at the map. The place where the disease was kept was eight hundred miles to the west, past the Great Lakes.

“When, Mom?” Jack asked. “When are they going there?”

“In three weeks,” Helen said, gasping for air. “You have to go now. And you have to stop them.”

“Three weeks?” Jack said. “Eight hundred miles? Even with our best horses, we might be able to make fifty or sixty miles a day. That’ll take us two weeks or more.”

“That’s why you have to go now,” she said. “You have to be ready.”

“I can’t leave you, Mom,” Jack said. “I just found you.”

His mother sagged. “Jackie, I know this is hard. But I’m not going to make it through the night. I’ve spent years collecting those papers, putting up with their brutality. If you don’t do this, it means it was all for nothing.”

More tears fell from Jack’s eyes. He bent over and kissed his mother on her blazing hot forehead.

Helen told the truth. She was dead by the next morning. After a proper burial, Jack steeled himself and assembled his band of fighters. He selected fifty of his best men and the best horses. They packed supplies for the long trek west. Along with their primitive weapons, they packed their last two functioning laser rifles that they had managed to capture from the Ark Lords they had killed. To maximize their horses’ endurance, they traveled at night, starting out as the sun was setting, always guiding them west. When the sun came up in the morning, they let the horses rest.

They made good time. The band of freedom fighters rounded the tip of Lake Michigan in only twelve days. From there, they headed northwest. Warily, they traveled the final fifty miles during the day. They finally reached the destination indicated on the map that was given to Jack by his mother. Ahead of them lay buildings in various stages of decay. One, however, stood almost 20 stories tall. It was built out of concrete and still looked sturdy, even though most of the windows were blown out.

Helen did not die in vain. Her information was crucial to Jack's success. Of course, now we know that the Ark Lords were headed to Batavia, IL, the home of Wilson Hall and the Tevatron.

Entry 5-005: January 5, 2017

Discovering Their Armory

Every guerilla conflict starts out the same way. You have two forces, the invaders, heavily armed with superior weapons and manpower and the rebels, outgunned, forced to hide in the woods and make lightning strikes with surprise being their only weapon. However, over time, as the guerilla forces capture the enemy's own weapons, eventually the forces become balanced out and ultimately, the rebels drive the spasmed occupying force out because the rebels are fighting for their homeland and the invaders are simply there fighting for a paycheck. This is the pattern that was followed by Jack Henry's ragtag army.

What they stumbled across within the bowels of the Tevatron changed the course of the entire war. They found a weapons store hidden within a hollowed out gas cylinder deep underground. This is what it looked like:

Over the next few days, I'll play out its discovery for you. Some of the parts are even a little bit funny. You'll see.

Entry 5-006: January 6, 2017

The Armory 1 of 7

Yesterday, I showed you a picture of what the Erklirte armory looked like. It was buried deep underground, underneath the Tevatron. Here is the "true" story of the freedom fighters that stumbled across this weapons cache and how it was able to turn the course of the revolution against the Ark Lords:

Illuminated by the burning torches, the interior of the building appeared somewhat eerie. Jack could see in its day that it must have been rather elegant. However, that was before the Great Dying. Now it was just dirty, dusty and disheveled. They found a stairwell and followed it down two flights until they came to a sub-basement.

The hallway was cylindrical, nearly 30 feet in diameter. The only flat part was the concrete floor. It stretched in both directions. Jack checked his drawing and pointed to his right.

“That way,” he said. The group followed him forward. In some places, the ceiling was rounded. In other places it was flat. All around them lay metal boxes with dials, knobs, wires and thick cables. There were many places where huge columns made of a shiny material began at the floor and poked up through the ceiling. Nothing here made any sense. Jack didn’t want to take the time to study the artifacts. Minutes passed as the group slowly advanced. They soon came to a juncture with the hallway splitting off into three narrower tunnels.

“Which way?” Red asked.

“That way,” Jack said, pointing to his left. “It’s at the end of that hallway.”

They entered the tunnel which was perhaps twenty feet in diameter. Jack looked up and noted there were red and blue boxes, not made of metal, but some other material, lining the walls. They passed more cabinets, tubes and other kinds of strange machinery. Looming ahead of them, on the left, was a giant white cylinder with rounded ends. It was lying on its side, propped up on stilts. There was a small set of steps leading up to a door mounted on the side of the tank. Sticking out from the center of the door was a large metal ring.

“What’s that?” Red asked, pointing to the tank on stilts.

Jack walked up and held his torch close the writing on the side. Suddenly, he shouted, “Everybody get back! Quick.”

The men obeyed and hurried away from the imposing structure.

“What is it, Jack?” Red asked.

Jack pointed the writing on the side. “Look,” he said, holding his torch up high. “It says, ‘Danger. Propane. No smoking or open flame’.”

Red handed his torch to Jack and walked up the steps. “No danger,” he shouted back. “The door says break seal here after opening. It’s meant to be opened. They just reused this cylinder. I don’t know for what, though.”

Jack set one torch on the ground and used the other to match the markings on his drawing to what he was seeing. Suddenly, his eyes grew wide.

“Aha!” he shouted.

“What?” Red asked.

“It’s an armory!” Jack said excitedly. “You were right, Red. Guys, quick,” he said. “Open ‘er up.”

Tomorrow, the Pandora’s Box is opened and Jack Henry's men are delighted with what they find.

Entry 5-007: January 7, 2017

The Armory 2 of 7

The discovery of the Ark Lord’s armory deep beneath the Tevatron would eventually change the course of the entire war against the Erklirte. When the time came to attack, they'd be hit by their own weapons, something they'd never expect. This is how Jack Henry's ragtag army discovered the secret weapons cache and how they deduced the operation of the arms that they found there:

Two men mounted the steps next to Red. It was quite a struggle to turn the wheel. After it would go no more, they pulled and pulled but they couldn’t open the large circular door.

“Let me,” Red said. He pushed on the lever mounted next to the door and suddenly there was a hissing sound as air rushed into the chamber. Once the sound stopped, the heavy door opened easily although it was accompanied by the squeaks and groans of age.

Panels mounted to the ceiling switched on, illuminating the chamber with a soft white light.

“Look at that!” Red said pointing at the overhead lights. “What makes them light up?”

The men who opened the door craned their necks to catch a glimpse of what Red was talking about. The rest of the men started inching forward.

“Everybody stays back,” Jack commanded. “Let me and Red take a look first.” He set the other torch on the ground and mounted the steps. Together, the two men entered the chamber.

Jack stared up at the lights for a minute. “I’m guessing those are skylights,” he said. “Maybe there is a valve or shutter connected to the door.”

The two men looked around the room. There were cabinets and shelves filled with crates and boxes and other paraphernalia. Many of the walls had racks attached with a bewildering number of devices hanging from hooks or resting on pegs. Surprisingly, there was very little dust on any of the surfaces.

“There’s a sign here that says ‘Flashlights,’” Red said, pointing straight ahead. He pulled down one of the devices from the shelf. The object was a metallic tube with a flared end, capped off with a piece of glass. Red shook it up and down, then clicked a switch on its side several times.

“I’m assuming this is some sort of portable light,” Red said, “since it’s called a flashlight. But I can’t figure out how to activate it.”

Red set the tube down on the bench. Jack came over to where he was standing.

“After all this time, they probably don’t work,” Jack said. “On the other hand, whatever makes the overhead lights go on, maybe the same thing applies.” He inspected the wall and shelving beneath it. One box was labeled Thorium Batteries. Jack bent over and pulled out the heavy box and placed it on the bench. He opened the carton and found it filled with little round canisters sealed in a thin, transparent wrap. He reached in and picked one out, unwrapping it. It was remarkably heavy for being so small. Jack stared at the flashlight, sitting on the bench.

“I bet you I know how these work,” he said. He picked the flashlight up and after a quick examination, he unscrewed the narrow end. Once it was opened up, Jack could see that the inside was hollow. He inserted the small canister into the tube, tip-side down. It was a perfect fit. Seeing that there was room for more, he inserted two more canisters, also tip-side down. He screwed the end cap back on and suddenly, the flashlight lit up.

Thorium batteries. Wouldn't they be neat? I wonder if they'd let you carry them on an airplane. Probably not. Tomorrow, the rebels discover some serious weapons.

Entry 5-008: January 8, 2017

The Armory 3 of 7

The discovery of the Ark Lord’s armory deep beneath the Tevatron would eventually change the course of the entire war against the Erklirte. When the time came to attack, they'd be hit by their own weapons, something they'd never expect. This is how Jack Henry's ragtag army discovered the secret weapons cache and how they deduced the operation of the arms that they found there:

“Wow!” Red said. “Torches with no flame. Amazing!” Jack’s lieutenant reached up and grabbed another one of the flashlights and quickly got it working as well.

“These will come in real handy down here. We won’t need our torches at all.”

“Yeah,” Jack replied. “That must be how the ceiling lights up. Let’s see what else they have in here.”

Jack turned to his right and saw the far wall was a giant pegboard with a hundred or more identical items mounted there. He walked over to it and shined his flashlight on the placard mounted at the top. It read ‘M4 Carbines: Semi-automatic Rifles’.

“These look too much like Ark Lords’ light sticks not to be weapons,” he called back to Red. He reached up and removed one of the rifles from the wall. Turning it carefully in his hands, he inspected the barrel, the stock and its underside. Mounted on the top was a compact telescope, very similar to his mother’s spyglass.

“It has a trigger,” he said, pointing to a stud on the underside of the gun. “But what does it fire?” Jack pointed to the rectangular hole on the underside. “See if you can find something that fits in this space.”

Red shined his flashlight around the room. On the near wall, to Jack’s right, was a workbench with shelving underneath. Red walked over to it, stooped down and shined his flashlight beam into the shadows. The shelf under the workbench was filled with cartons labeled ‘Clips’. Red removed one and set the box on the bench. He opened the carton and pulled out one of the slightly curved metal cases. He held it up and saw one end was open. The clip itself was tightly filled with small cylindrical objects. He handed the clip to Jack.

“See if that fits,” Red said.

It only took Jack a few seconds to figure out where to insert the clip. As soon as he locked it in place, he heard a clicking sound as one of the small cylinders entered the upper chamber. He placed the rifle stock on his shoulder, closed one eye and peered through the scope. He had a sudden inspiration. He walked over to the doorway.

“Everybody clear away,” he yelled. When he was satisfied that no one was in the line of fire, he aimed the gun out the door at one of the metal cabinets on the far side and tried squeezing the trigger. Nothing happened.

Jack pulled the rifle back to inspect it more carefully and noted a small lever pointing to the word ‘Safe’. He rotated it so that it pointed to the word ‘Fire’. Once again, he peered through the eyepiece, aimed it across the tunnel and squeezed the trigger. This time, a loud bang emitted from the rifle. The recoil pushed his shoulder back slightly. He squeezed the trigger two more times in rapid succession then lowered the rifle.

Did you feel it? The balance of power between the rebels and the Ark Lords has just shifted. Tomorrow, they start to load up the weapons.

Entry 5-009: January 9, 2017

The Armory 4 of 7

The discovery of the Ark Lord’s armory deep beneath the Tevatron would eventually change the course of the entire war against the Erklirte. When the time came to attack, they'd be hit by their own weapons, something they'd never expect. This is how Jack Henry's ragtag army discovered the secret weapons cache and how they deduced the operation of the arms that they found there:

Jack and Red looked at each other, grinning like fools. Jack re-engaged the safety then gently set the rifle down. The two men hurried out of the armory, down the steps and across the corridor. Red whistled at the size of the holes the rifle had made. He aimed his flashlight through one of them and saw that the projectile had traveled clean through to the concrete wall on the far side.

“That is one hell of a weapon,” Red said, beaming.

Jack’s smile disappeared and his expression became dour. He stood there silently, staring at the holes he had made.

“What?” Red asked. “Don’t you think this is amazing? These fire sticks or whatever they’re called will give us the edge we need.”

Jack said nothing.

“Come on, Jack, what are you thinking?” Red asked.

Jack shined his flashlight on the hole then on Red’s face. “It is a very powerful weapon,” Jack said. “But it’s forbidden technology. If we use it, doesn’t it make us as bad as they are? As bad as the ones who caused the Great Dying?”

“We already use the light stick weapons that we capture. What’s the difference?”

“The difference is they run out. They just make holes. These things? These fire sticks are beyond anything we have ever seen. They are evil incarnate.”

“I’ll make it easy on you,” Red said. “Do you plan on ever using one of these against our own people?”

“Of course not,” Jack said. “Only the Ark Lords.”

“And after we defeat them, and we will,” Red said, “do you plan on keeping them?”

“Why would I?” Jack asked. “They are nothing but death.”

“Then there’s your answer. We use their own weapons against them. It’s only fitting. They provided them. After we defeat them, we’ll destroy all of the things we found here.”

Jack thought about it for a minute. “You’re right, of course,” Jack said. “Louis, Sam, come with us,” he called out. “Leave your torches outside.”

Jack and Red went back up into the armory.

“Louis, you can use these flashlights,” Jack said, waving it around. “Red will teach you how to work them. Then I want you and the men take as many of these weapons and clips as you can carry topside. Take some of the boxes labeled Ammo, too. I don’t know what they are for but I’m assuming they’re related to the fire sticks. When you’re done, come back down.”

Tomorrow, bayonets and Berettas. Pretty cool, huh?

Entry 5-010: January 10, 2017

The Armory 5 of 7

The discovery of the Ark Lord’s armory deep beneath the Tevatron would eventually change the course of the entire war against the Erklirte. When the time came to attack, they'd be hit by their own weapons, something they'd never expect. This is how Jack Henry's ragtag army discovered the secret weapons cache and how they deduced the operation of the arms that they found there:

Louis looked at the sheer number of rifles and cartons and said, “Hold on a sec.”

He hurried down the steps then dashed up the corridor, only to return with a wheeled cart. Jack and Red stood aside as the men carried armloads of weapons and ammunition from the armory to the corridor, piling them high onto the cart.

While they were busy doing that, Red wandered along the far wall, calling out what he saw. “The sign says Bayonets but they’re more like knives,” he said. “Radios, batteries.” He stepped to his left. “Here are some hunting knives.” He came to the end of the left side of the room. There were boxes and boxes stacked there.

“Water, canned goods, food,” he said. “Jack, do we need any of this stuff?”

Jack came over to join him and inspected the stores. “I don’t think so,” he said, finally.

He turned to his left and his eyes got wide again. “Red, look,” he said.

The placard over the next pegboard was labeled ‘M9 9mm Beretta’. Red came over to join Jack. He pulled down one of the smaller weapons and turned it over in his hand.

“This is another kind of fire stick,” Red said. “Metal, trigger, clips. It’ll fit in one hand.” He reached underneath the bench and brought out a box of clips. It only took him seconds to fit one in.

“I’m gonna try it,” he said. He walked to the entryway.

He shined his flashlight down and saw Louis and the other men were struggling to get the rolling cart to budge. Finally, it started moving. “I’ll be back in a minute,” Louis said as he and the other men got it rolling faster.

Seeing that no other men were in the line of fire, Red flipped the safety then pointed the weapon out the door, at the same metal box on the far side of the corridor. “Stay back, Jack,” he said.

Red pulled the trigger firmly but only a small click emitted from the gun as the round entered the chamber. He pulled the trigger again and this time, the gun went off. The ‘bang’ was surprisingly louder than the rifle even though there was very little recoil. Red flipped the safety back on and the two men jogged down the steps and across the corridor. The new hole in the metal was much smaller when compared to the ones that Jack had made but impressive nonetheless.

“Vicious, huh?” Red said with an evil grin on his face.

“Yep.” Jack looked up and down the hallway. “When the guys come back, have them take a bunch upstairs as well. I think the bigger fire sticks will do better but you never know. Maybe in close quarters.”

Tomorrow, Jack's men discover walkie-talkies.

Entry 5-011: January 11, 2017

The Armory 6 of 7

The discovery of the Ark Lord’s armory deep beneath the Tevatron would eventually change the course of the entire war against the Erklirte. When the time came to attack, they'd be hit by their own weapons, something they'd never expect. This is how Jack Henry's ragtag army discovered the secret weapons cache and how they deduced the operation of the arms that they found there:

Jack and Red returned to the armory. Jack took a handgun for himself, fitted it with a clip and tucked it into the back of his pants after making sure the safety was on.

“I want to look at those radios,” Jack said. “I think I know what they are for. I think I’ve seen the Ark Lords using them.” He walked to one of the workbenches. The wall above it was filled with small rectangular boxes with rounded corners and a little stubby thing on the top corner. Jack pulled down one down. It had a button on the side and a perforated circle on the front. He flipped it over and set it down on the workbench. He slid the cover down and off, exposing a cavity with metal studs and springs inside. He stooped down and looked underneath the bench and found a box labeled Batteries. Opening it up, Jack saw that it, too, contained cylindrical canisters but they were much smaller than the ones that went into the flashlights. Jack set the case on the bench and placed three batteries within the chamber of the radio. After replacing the cover, he flipped a switch and the front display glowed with the numeral 1. He pulled down a second radio, inserted batteries into the back and activated it. He pushed the button on the side and the device squealed with feedback.

“What the hell is that?” Red asked, coming over to him.

“Like I said, I’ve seen the spacemen using these before,” Jack said. “They are boxes that let them talk to each other over great distances.” He pointed to the sign at the top. “I guess they’re called radios. Here,” he said. “Take this into the corridor and walk up about fifty feet. Let’s see if we can talk with one another.”

Red shrugged then walked down the steps, following Jack’s instructions. Using the flashlight to light the way, he counted fifty paces then turned around. Suddenly, Jack’s voice rang out from the box.

“Can you hear me?”

Red lowered the radio and shouted, “Yes!” back down the corridor at Jack.

“Push the button on the side and talk,” Jack said through the radio.

“Can you hear me?” Red asked, pressing in the button.

“Yes!” Jack said with glee. “These things work. We’ll be able to…” Red pushed in the button by accident and cut off the final part of Jack’s sentence.

Red waited a second then pushed in the button and said, “When I push in my button, I can’t hear you. We’ll have to work out a code phrase to decide whose turn it is to talk.”

Tomorrow it's over and out.

Entry 5-012: January 12, 2017

The Armory 7 of 7

The discovery of the Ark Lord’s armory deep beneath the Tevatron would eventually change the course of the entire war against the Erklirte. When the time came to attack, they'd be hit by their own weapons, something they'd never expect. This is how Jack Henry's ragtag army discovered the secret weapons cache and how they deduced the operation of the arms that they found there:

“What about ‘control over to you’?” Jack proposed.

“How about just plain ‘over’?” Red replied. “It’s easier.”

“That’ll do,” Jack answered from the radio. Then after a second, he said, “Over.”

“I think we got us a system, over,” Red said. Then, on a whim, he added, “And out.” He trotted back to the armory.

While the men were occupied shuttling most of the contents of the armory back up to the surface, using their newly acquired flashlights to guide them, Jack, Red and Louis continued down the corridor to its end. In front of them sat a gigantic metal door with a wheel mounted to the front, similar to the one that had kept the armory sealed.

Jack held his flashlight up to the wheel and then shined it back to his drawings.

“It’s in there,” he said. “What they seek is in there.”

Red turned back and looked down the long hallway. The flashlights his men carried created a flickering display.

“Well, we have the fire sticks,” Red said. “Do you think that’s enough to stop them?”

“No,” Jack said, looking back down the hallway as well. “They have their sticks that shoot the beams of light. These things shoot some sort of slug. I think that makes us more or less evenly matched. If we’re just standing here, I think they’ll be able to pick us off before we can stop them. We have to build some sort of barricade,” he said. He looked around. Resting against the far wall were huge blocks of concrete, pentagonal in shape. Jack looked to his left and his right.

“I got it,” he said. “We stack those blocks over there,” he pointed to the far wall. “We make it like a baffle, a maze. That way, there will be no straight shots. If they get this far, they won’t have free access.”

He turned back to the door behind him. “Louis,” he said. “Take that hammer over there and bust off the wheel. That way, even if they get through, they won’t be able to get into the chamber behind that door. My mother’s drawings say that is their goal.”

Now the rebels had all the advantage. They knew the enemy's objective. They had the enemy's weapons. They had the element of surprise. All they had to do is roll that into a battle plan. But you know what they say, the first casualty of any battle is the plan of attack.

Entry 5-013: January 13, 2017

Where is everybody?

Are we alone in the universe? This question has dogged mankind ever since the first human lifted his eyes to the night sky. If we are alone, then why? If we are not alone, then where is everybody? This phrase was actually uttered by physicist Enrico Fermi and is called The Fermi Paradox. There is an interesting article on the site called Wait But Why that discusses possible explanations to The Fermi Paradox. After all, the Drake Equation calculates there should be at least one billion Earth-like planets and 100,000 intelligent civilizations in our galaxy alone.

Last week, I read an article that stated perhaps our sun was very peculiar and was just the right size and stabilized at just the right time with just the right temperature and the Earth formed with just the right balance of elements and just the right distance from the Sun so that we are simply the first intelligent lifeforms in the galaxy, if not the universe. Interesting but I don't know how you'd prove it. The Earth has been around for more than 4 billion years. You'd think somewhere else conditions were replicated.

There are many other theories. For example, it could be that every advanced civilization eventually implodes and destroys themselves or they invariably get fried by a nearby hypernova. That's depressing. It could be that once a civilization rises to a certain level, they transcend the physical realm and disappear into the aether. Therefore, they are out there but we just can't communicate with them.

Another possibility is that there is life out there but after a brief burst of EM transmissions, internal communication becomes enclosed so we simply cannot detect them. Our Earth is already undergoing that transition from terrestrial broadcasting which goes out into space to cable, internet and satellite broadcasting which is aimed toward the planet. Maybe we are just a computer simulation of some super advanced civilization and they haven't decided to introduce a second intelligent species into the simulation yet.

You should check out the Wait But Why article cited above. It has plenty more fascinating theories about why we haven't heard from any other civilizations.

Possibility 1) Super-intelligent life could very well have already visited Earth, but before we were here.

Possibility 2) The galaxy has been colonized, but we just live in some desolate rural area of the galaxy.

Possibility 3) The entire concept of physical colonization is a hilariously backward concept to a more advanced species.

Possibility 4) There are scary predator civilizations out there, and most intelligent life knows better than to broadcast any outgoing signals and advertise their location.

Possibility 5) There’s only one instance of higher-intelligent life—a “superpredator” civilization (like humans are here on Earth)—that is far more advanced than everyone else and keeps it that way by exterminating any intelligent civilization once they get past a certain level.

Possibility 6) There’s plenty of activity and noise out there, but our technology is too primitive and we’re listening for the wrong things.

Possibility 7) We are receiving contact from other intelligent life, but the government is hiding it.

Possibility 8) Higher civilizations are aware of us and observing us (AKA the “Zoo Hypothesis”).

It is all fascinating stuff. Maybe someday we'll have the answer to the question: where is everybody?

Entry 5-014: January 14, 2017

Split Screens

In the middle of the book The Ark Lords, I began to interweave a flashback 600 years in the past, from Rome and Rei's perspective, with their search for the Ark Lords path. There are four chapters about Jack Henry in the 29th century and four chapters leading up to our heroes' discovery of the Tevatron.

If this was ever made into a movie, I was thinking split screen. You'd see Rome and Rei, sitting in Commander Ursay's office, tracing the route with their fingers and on the other screen, the events depicted in the historical chapters would play out in real time. Then when they ventured out into the world, again, you'd see their physical journey while the Battle of Chicago played out.

If I did that, people would say I was stupid, of course. The dialog is important and you couldn't listen to two completely different conversations simultaneously. Also, the action in each screen wouldn't really match up. I think the gun battle between the rebels and the Ark Lords would be too intense for you to pay attention to Rome and Rei burrowing under the Tevatron.

I guess I'll have to abandon that idea and if the movie is ever made, have it switch back and forth like the book does. Or better yet, if it ever gets made into a Netflix series, you could have one episode inserted right in the middle called The Legend of Jack Henry and then Rome and Rei's research and journey would all make sense. I don't know. I guess I'll worry about that when the time comes.

Entry 5-015: January 15, 2017

The Battle Plan Part 1

In the middle of the book The Ark Lords, Jack Henry comes up with a battle plan for ambushing the Ark Lords. He knows the Ark Lords will be entering the former site of FermiLab and the Tevatron. He knows they will be coming from the south and heading straight for Wilson Hall. Here is an image of the terrain. You can click on it for a larger view. Follow along as Jack instructs his troops:

“I want thirty men,” Jack said. “You split yourselves into two teams. Team A will hide in the trees to the west of that clearing.”

He pointed to the two stands of trees to the east, in the direction they’d come when they first arrived.

“Team A will be armed with these fire sticks.” Jack lifted a rifle into the air. “They’ll hide in the nearer stand of woods. Team B will hide in the trees farther to the east. Crossbows and spears only.”

“How come they don’t get the good weapons?” one man asked.

“Because the Ark Lords don’t know we have them. And we have to keep it a secret for as long as possible,” he said. “They’ll be coming from the southeast, just like we did. They don’t know we’re here so they’ll head through the clearing, the same as us.”

Jack pointed to the gentle rise to the southeast, toward the horizon. “We’ll put scouts along the way with these radios. They can call in what they see so you know when to be ready.”

Jack surveyed the surroundings, noting again the geographical layout.

“I’m guessing they will come in three vehicles,” he said. “No less. One will be for transporting the disease weapon, the others will be escorts. The escorts will be heavily armed. You let the lead vehicles pass through. You only attack the third.”

“What kind of attack?” another man asked.

“After the first two vehicles pass through, Team B will hit the third one with the crossbows and spears. Go for the spacemen but don’t aim for the chest or the head. They have armor plating. There are only a few places where they’re exposed.”

Jack pointed out the various parts of his body. “Aim for their arms or hands first. They can’t shoot a weapon if they don’t have hands. Then shoot them in the knees or thighs. They can’t run away if they don’t have feet, so to speak. Once you have them hobbled, to apply a kill shot, you need to hit them here.” Jack turned and pointed to the base of his neck then he turned back around. “That’s the only place on their head that isn’t protected.”

“And you want us to do this with crossbows?” the same man asked. “Why are we shooting arrows when we have the fire sticks?”

We'll find out why tomorrow.

Entry 5-016: January 16, 2017

The Battle Plan Part 2

Yesterday, I showed you a Google Map image of the terrain surrounding the former site of FermiLab and the Tevatron. Jack Henry wants four teams and wants to exploit the element of surprise to wipe out the men from the space with their superior weaponry. Here is the rest of his plan:

“And you want us to do this with crossbows?” the same man asked. “Why are we shooting arrows when we have the fire sticks?”

Jack faced the man. “Because that’s all they’d ever expect from us. As soon as you fire your first volley of arrows and such, they’ll stop and turn their attention to the farther stand of trees. When all their backs are turned and they engage, that’s when Team A will start shooting with the fire sticks. Grainey?”

One man with a long flowing beard stepped forward.

Jack continued, “You and Will set up on the north end of your tree stand. Your assignment is to take out the driver and their radios. But you have to wait until they open fire on Team B. Will, you’ll use the light stick to kill the driver. Grainey, you use the fire stick on anybody else in the cab. The noise of their attack on Team B will mask the sound of your fire stick.”

“What about the rest of Team A?” a man named Shank asked.

“After Will and Grainey take out the drivers, they won’t be able to move the wagon or warn the others. Then the rest of you aim for the soldiers in the rear with the fire sticks. Shoot and shoot well. Once they realize we have these weapons, we’ve lost the element of surprise. We need to take out as many of them as we can on the first assault.”

“Hold on,” another man said. “This is crazy. You’re saying the guys in Team B, we’re going up against spaceman weapons with bows and arrows?”

Jack took a deep breath. “Pretty much. You can have one of the two remaining Ark Lord light sticks we brought with us. They know we have them. But I’m not going to kid you,” he said. “Whoever is in Team B, you are most likely going to die. But if we let them get to this disease weapon, then everybody dies. Our families, other settlements, everyone in the whole world.”

Jack surveyed his group. “Look, I’m not going to make anyone go on Team B who isn’t willing to sacrifice his life. Volunteers only. Okay?”

Shank was the first to speak up. “I’ll do it. I volunteer for Team B. I’ll shoot ‘em with my quarrels. I’ll beat ‘em with my fists if I have to.”

“Me too,” said another man. “I’ll do it. I’m the best with a crossbow.”

Tomorrow, the final part of the plan. Jack is preparing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Entry 5-017: January 17, 2017

The Battle Plan Part 3

Yesterday, Jack Henry laid out the second part of his plan to ambush the Ark Lords. If you looked at the map, you'd see that while there was a chance his Team A and Team B could stop them, Jack needed a backup plan that failed and even a third option. Here is the final part of his strategy:

“Count me in,” said a third man. Very quickly, it appeared that most of the men volunteered for an almost guaranteed suicide mission.

Jack showed a sad smile. “You are all very brave men but you can’t all go. I need the best marksmen with the crossbows on Team B. The rest of you, you all need to take a few practice shots. I need the best marksmen with the new fire sticks on Team A.”

Jack searched the crowd and found Red. “Team C will hide with the horses around the far side of the big building. Red, you’ll be leading that Team. You only come in after they’ve entered the building. Your job is to make sure that nobody makes it out alive.”

“You got it, Jack,” Red said.

“Finally, the rest, Team D. You guys will come with me into the tunnels. It’s my hope that The Ark Lords who enter the building don’t know that we took out the trailing vehicle. Half of you bring crossbows, the other half bring the new fire sticks.”

“What are we going to do down there?” someone asked.

“I’m going to set you up in staggered groups and use the same strategy. The first group will attack the Ark Lords with crossbows. They’ll turn and fire on those men. Directly behind them will be our men with fire sticks. I want to hit them from behind when they aren’t expecting it.”

“What about you, Jack?” one of the men asked.

“Louis and me are going to barricade ourselves at the end of the tunnel. We are the last line of defense. If any of the spacemen make it through, we have enough ammunition to keep them back until Red’s team arrives. Everybody got it?”

The men murmured their assent. Jack looked around the assembled group. If the grim determination on their bearded faces meant anything, then Jack knew they would not fail.

We'll have to see how it works out. I am not optimistic.

Entry 5-018: January 18, 2017

Ark Wark York

Naming places, especially in the 35th century world of Rome’s Revolution can be a daunting task. You have to create names that sound like real places but are different. One way, of course, is to slap a New in front of a name. The people that came over from England called the entire upper northeast region of the US New England. When the Dutch came over and landed on Manhattan island, they called it New Amsterdam. Later, somebody from York renamed the whole city New York. Even Newark, the city on the other side of the Hudson River was named for the New Ark of the Covenant.

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