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THE ROAD TO WAR

The river wound its way through the dark trenches; some slimy ooze floated to the top as a frog hopped past a lily pad. This was a small portion of the longest waterway in all the Domain: The mighty Pimmassissi River. And here, halfway between the quad cities and the delta, the River would finally bring forth the power that Taft had wished for the Domain all along.

A mama bird chirped as she heard a noise nearby. She watched silently as a sullen hulk began to rise out of the waterway. The bird became restless and sounded a few low whistles to warn her babies. And then she let out a final high-pitched noise as she saw the ugly face: the hideous, slimy body for the first, and last, time. The huge bundle of muck pitched her nest into the river, drowning her and her babies. "The time is now..." It said in an eerie tone."I will receive the respect..." It slowly groped its way to shore, walking out and standing on dry ground for the first time in 200 years.

"Gibbenhide is back..." It screamed slowly, as if the world could not understand a faster speech...

Gibbenhide was roughly eight feet tall, two and a half feet wide; He was tinted in an odd, brownish-orange color, and he had strange green moss seeping out as fur. His body structure was proportionate to that of a human's; however, his huge, gaudy mouth was located deep within his neck, giving the appearance of a strange moving hole where his chin should have been. His sickly yellow teeth moved in an accordian-like fashion, going in and out, in and out. His nose was flat: It wouldn't even have been called a nose except for the fact that there were two holes cutting at an angle from underneath it. The only speck of color in the gigantic monster was his large, blue eyes; but they were so huge that they appeared to be connected only by the optic nerves. His hands had five fingers, much like a man, but each one also contained a huge pointed spike in the middle of each palm. It was quite apparent that he could kill anything he wished; yet, he did not act as though he wished to cause harm.

He strode away from the river to look for other creatures. The monster actually acted as though it did not want to kill, as kill usually is taken; it walked unhurried as if, well, as if it seemed to want something else. In any case, it had unknowingly trotted into the province of Viginti: And this province was probably one of the poorest of them all. It had only one major city; that being the quad city of Viginti City. But even to that he was not close: Instead he was about to stumble against a tiny farming town known as Mistiburg: if it hadn't have been for a traveling political convention, would have been too scared to help this poor old monster anyhow.

It seems that, since Archie was still missing, the Committee of the Domain of Taft had decided to pick another Administrator. This time around, however, there were many more contenders than had been the first time: Although all fell into one of two basic groups. Either running as one of those that wanted to attack Alarius, or as one of those that did not, one had little chance of uniqueness. Richard Nobowitz, who was Archie's centurion, was the primary candidate for the "pros" side, and it was Richard who was now trying to stir up the crowd here, in Mistiburg. He was trying his hardest to convince them to have the Viginti Commitee member vote for him. The Viginti Member, you see, was born as a poor farmboy in Mistiburg.

"We must rise up! It is evident that Iffley, that foul person, has destroyed our leader, Archie, and now we must fight!" The people yawned; they were actually getting sick of Richard, as, it seemed, he just didn't have that captive personality that Archie had had. The truth was that the whole idea of war was starting to subside throughout the entire country, and people everywhere became less and less enthused. Richard knew this. He had to have something that would turn the people's attention back toward war. But what could do it? Hmm. What could do it?

All of a sudden, a scream from the other side of Mistiburg pierced through the air. A rush of people ran from that side of town, past the podium on which Richard stood, and on to the grain fields to the west. Richard stood silent, not quite ready to run until he knew what was wrong. And then Gibbenhide appeared.

It let out a horrid scream. "Rooaarr! Haaaaa! Haaaa! Finally I have the respect..." Richard began to think. Yes. Something that would turn the people's attention back toward war. Yes.

**T. G. Taft **

The Committee Head arose, triumphantly prancing her way to the podium. "The Committee has come to a decision," she announced.

"The new Administrator of the Domain of Taft is... drum roll please... Mij Slochin!" She walked off the podium. It was good to be out of jail. Especially when you can have the pleasure of appointing one of your friends as Administrator.

The people in the auditorium gave out a mild cheer; they had just sat through fifteen hours of endless speeches and debates. And in the entire lot, there was not one single candidate that promised change as Archie had. And now, since Mij had won... if only Richie would have shown up. He was Archie's right hand man, wasn't he? Perhaps he would have made this more exciting more... well...

"Rooaarr!" In through the west entrance came the fierce Gibbenhide, and he rushed forth toward the crowd. "Scream! Shriek! Panic! Shrill!"

The great river monster rushed up onto the podium, there, within the Taft Towers, and came tumbling over to Mij Slochin.

"Away, foul beast!"

The beast ignoringly approached closer, and Mij frantically groped for something in his pocket. Just as the beast was about to crush him, Mij shimmered into nothingness...

"What? Gone!!!" The words oozed out of the great creature's mouth. "Never mind! I will have you!" He turned toward the Committee Head.

Susan Smith IV turned around and began to run. "Oh, why did I have to be appointed Committee Head?" She thought. And then she felt a claw grab onto her back.

Gibbenhide looked at the helpless woman in his hand. And then he took his palm and plunged the spike deep into her chest. Blood poured over the stage as the beast twisted his hand, wrenching out even more flesh and guts. Susan screamed one last scream; it ended the career of an excellent secretary. Gibbenhide placed her fragile head deep within his awaiting jaws, and his teeth swelled around her now lifeless chin. He pushed in more and more of her defunct corpse; enjoying once again the taste of fresh blood...

Suddenly Richard appeared on stage. "Ah Hah! I've got you now," the small centurian-looking person screamed.

Richard picked up a long delicate machine which he had had in a pack next to his side. It had many knobs, and resembled a very complex flute. He aimed it at the river creature and pushed a button. Strange lights began to eminate from the machine.

Suddenly Gibbenhide began to relax. His body became limp, and he dropped the remains of Susan. "Where am I?" He said slowly.

Richard walked over to him. "Now take it easy big boy. Come over here to the microphone. Tell us the entire story of how you came here."

Gibbenhide began. "Well, the last thing I can remember was that I was sleeping peacefully in my cave on... ummm..." He looked at Richard, who mouthed a word at him.

"On, uhh... Titan when some Iffley person woke me and drugged me. What am I doing here? What..."

Richard interrupted him and stepped up to the microphone. "There you have it folks. Another attempt to sabotage our government by Alarius. And you just elected someone who was going to dissassemble our space fleet... it's a good thing that I had my homemade monster pacifier with me!" He put the strange flute back into his pack.

A small cheer started in the background. "We want Rich! We want Rich!" The cheer crescendoed into one even greater than Archie's... "We want Rich! We want Rich! We want Rich!"

Slowly, almost mechanically, the Alternate Committee Head got up and approached the podium. "All right. You call have him..."

**T. G. Taft**

Mij Slochin finally gave the command, after nearly six months of waiting. "Full Speed Ahead! Project Exodus is finally beginning its flight to Pluto!"

He slowly leaned back in his custom-made command chair, as he thought about the unfortunate event that had happened today. It had caused him to take it upon himself to begin Exodus: For if the evil side came to power again, they would certainly destroy the entire project and make the Susan Smith attack Alarius. He could not let that happen. He began to let his feelings subside as he felt the powerful proton-infiltration engines increase in sound. The Susan Smith was the only one of the Exodus ships to have the proton engines; the others had the slower fusion engines. But, then, the Susan Smith was the only ship who would ever really need speed anyhow. "We may need it even more than we thought," said Mij to himself.

**T. G. Taft**

Richard sat back in his big custom-made chair, staring out the window at his new command. "Amazing isn't it?" He nodded to his two companions.

John Jemason was the first to speak up. "Well, we launch the attack tomorrow. Have you given all the necessary assignments?"

"Yeah. You're going to command the TGTS Uruapan and supervise the rest of the Pacemaker class ships: The TGTS Pacemaker, the TGTS Forerunner, the TGTS Cambridge Bay, and the TGTS Victoria. I, in turn, will command the TGTS Act, and supervise the rest of the Susan Smith class ships: The TGTS Aven, the TGTS Archie, the TGTS Adena, the TGTS Aquamarine and the TGTS Alone. All sub-commands have been filled with the best men in our fleet."

Richard's other companion looked at him steadily. "I want something too," said Gibbenhide.

"Don't worry." Said Richard. "If you can kill Iffley; you'll get all the attention you want for eons to come..."

"In that case," said Gibbenhide, "I want to smash that Iffley-guy into a small, unidentifiable pulp."


 © 1985, 

K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft

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