The Box Full Of Money And What Maggie Did With It

…I mean, after she called her ex husband to gloat

 

The Doclopedia #63

Strongholds: Dog Hill

 

From the notebooks of Duke Shepherd (as read by Professor Toby Basset)

A few years after the Fall of Humanity, when things were still pretty dicey for everyone, including Dogs, we left the Ranch in our thousands, then separated into smaller groups of 400 each. Dr. Rendell and Dr. Brogofsky had drilled us on the plan until we had it thoroughly memorized, so my group knew that we were headed for Oregon. Things went pretty well, all told and we only lost 6 Dogs and 5 Apes along the way.

Once we got to our assigned area, we began building The Hill. Using every resource we had…the Apes, our telekinetic “hands” and our own muscle power, we moved the heavy concrete pipes into position and connected them. Then we mixed and poured the concrete for the rooms. Finally, we covered it all with soil, leaving only three entryways.

And then we did it all over again for the next five levels.

Once The Hill was finished, we put a half dozen Apes to work planting grass and flower seeds on it while the rest of the Apes and most of the Dogs started building the perimeter wall. Now, at first the wall was just made of posts and wire, but after a few years, we got a really tight thicket of thorny vines going and anything bigger than a fox was never going to get through it. The two gates were made from strong woven wire and steel rebar. Even a rampaging bull couldn’t get through it, and I ought to know because one chased me and I barely got in ahead of him.

Guards patrolled both inside and outside the fence 24 hours a day. We had a watchtower on top of The Hill and it was constantly occupied by an Ape and at least one of the smaller breeds of Dog. We could see for nearly a mile and a half on clear days. Of course, this being west central Oregon, there are quite a lot of not so clear days.

Over time, the settlement grew and the gardens and flocks of animals provided most of the food we needed. Still, hunting patrols brought in a good amount of game, whose populations were rebounding now that the human population was a tiny fraction of what it had been and most of the human towns and cities were recycled by the nanowave.

Once things settled down, we began our assignment of rounding up the now quite primitive humans so we could watch over them. Life went on and The Hill was our home, now and forever more.

Further comment by Professor Basset

And so here we are class, four centuries later. The Hill is now five hills, plus numerous outbuildings, barns, storage areas and farms. The old hedge still stands, but now the moat and several new fences have added even more protection from the wild creatures and the odd roving band of defective humans.

Back then, a Dog could expect to live perhaps 22 years and our Hands could barely lift a half pound rock. Now, some of us are living to nearly 50 (which, I assure you, is no picnic) and our Hands can easily pick up things as heavy as 5 pounds. The Apes, always longer lived than us, are significantly smarter now. We have many conveniences that those Dogs of old would have loved to get their hands on.

So never forget your roots, young pups, and perhaps give a thanks now and again to Duke Shepherd and our founding fathers and mothers.

A Stoat, Floating On A Moat With A Goat In A Boat, Chewed On An Oat And Decided To Vote

…man, I love doing those

 

The Doclopedia #62

Strongholds: The Safety Dome

 

The Australian government had more time than any other when the dead started rising up and eating the living. Since the Zombie Rising started in the northern hemisphere (Kyrgyzstan), Australia had time to stop all air and sea travel into the country and prepare for the worst.

By the time the zombie plague hit the country, they had managed to build the largest structure in human history, the Safety Dome. A mile across and a quarter of a mile high, the dome is made of a steel frame, carbon fiber netting and thick tempered glass. Outside the wall is a ½ mile wide circle of concrete with regularly spaced gun turrets that stand 30 feet tall and are entered only by underground tunnels from the dome. The turrets have machine guns and flamethrowers. The very top of the dome has a heliport and three helicopters. Two of these are military gunships, while the third is a large transport vehicle.

No zombie has ever made it even halfway across the concrete.

Inside the dome, the 10,000 residents live both above ground in two apartment towers and underground, where pretty much everything else is. Most of the surface area is given over to growing food and food animals. Deep wells bring in plenty of water. Life is not bad in the dome, once you accept the fact that you can never leave.

See, in the rest of the world, the humans that survived hid deep underground in government survival facilities designed during the late Cold War period. They sealed themselves in and the zombies cannot sense them. But the Dome does vent air to the outside and that air has the smell of humans in it. Apparently, zombies can pick that smell up even over thousands of miles, because waves of zombies are still coming ashore (nothing eats zombies, including sharks) and heading for the Dome. True, half of those zombies fall apart before they ever get to Australia (because zombies that don’t eat regularly start to decay), but enough get to the Dome to keep the gun turrets and choppers busy every few days. Additionally, the zombie virus lingers until the last scrap of zombie flesh has rotted away.

So the domies go about life awaiting the day (about 3 to 5 years from now) when the last zombies finally die off, at which point they are going to wait 20 more years before going outside to explore. If the zombies and the virus are gone, then they’ll leave the Dome. If not, it’s back inside for another 40 or 50 years.

Chocolate Covered Love

…Mmmmmm

 

The Doclopedia #61

Strongholds: Justice Island

 

In 1964, when the federal government closed Alcatraz Federal Prison, it sold the island to the well known superhero team Defenders of Justice. Almost immediately, the team began removing all traces of the previous buildings on the island and building their new headquarters. With such powerful heroes as Miraclo, The Green Titan and Miss Magical, the construction went fast. While the buildings went up, other team members (Doctor Science, Golden Ghost) worked on building many defensive security gadgets. Other members of the team (Blonde Blur, Catgirl, The Tank) took care of furnishings and supplies.

When the team was done, a very space age looking red white & blue building was located in the very center of the 22 acre island. A landing strip ran the length of the island and security towers dotted the perimeter. Unseen by the public were the very extensive underground facilities, including a submarine pen, a missile silo, a small nuclear power plant, extensive laboratories and several holding cells.

Within days, the first villains (The Mutator and Fantasmia) attacked, but were quickly defeated. This set a pattern that lasted for until the present. About 4-5 times a year, villains, alone or in groups, would attack the island and the Defenders of Justice would kick their asses. The closest any of them ever got to actually destroying the facility was when The Atomic Assassin and the Chaos Cult actually managed to blow up about half of the headquarters building before getting turned to stone by the recently installed Medusa Gas dispensers.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the regular battles, the island is a very beloved site to Bay Area residents and tourists from all over the world. It is also one of the top ten most photographed places on earth, especially during a battle.

Mrs Wangdoodle Wears A Red Dress Into Town

…and the locals were scandalized

 

The Doclopedia #60

Strongholds: Murkhold

 

When the King Of All Orcs decided that the Orc Nation needed an impregnable fortress, he set his people to work building it in the middle of the Murkwaste Swamp. It took 22 years, the lives of 2,785 orcs, a couple of dozen wagon loads of gold and the combined efforts of 33 orcish shamans, but it finally got built.

Murkhold is a medium sized castle sitting at the center of a walled island that measures a mile across. Within those walls is a fully populated town surrounding the castle. The tops of the are constantly patrolled by orc warriors, but it’s really just a formality, because the swamp is the real deterrent to attack. Any enemy would have to pass through a dozen miles of disease ridden, creature infested, booby trapped and magically protected muck & mire. Additionally, the skies above are constantly alive with everything from piranha birds to deathbats to Bluzortivax, the resident adult red dragon.

Even if some aggressor made to to Murkhold, he would find the 8 foot thick stone walls magically hardened, the orcish archers dead shots and the ballistas mounted every 30 feet throwing deadly sharp masses of rock. Inside the walls, there would be several thousand pissed off and heavily armed orcs, plus a fair number of troll mercenaries. Inside the castle proper are the elite Royal Guard, a dozen Combat Shamans, trained scorpion wolves and a spell that slowly saps the strength of any non-orc who enters it.

Upon finding out the hard way how well defended the orcs are, the Five Kingdoms did the only thing they could do: They cleared the land for a mile around the swamp and put out large patrols that have orders to kill any humanoid that emerges from the swamp. The orcs still manage to get in and out, but only in very small groups moving very fast. The King Of All Orcs has plans to someday mount a large attack, but at the present time, most of his subjects are ok with just staying put.

Bob, The Incredible Macaroni Man

…he could shoot cheese sauce from his fingers

 

The Doclopedia #59

Strongholds: Hard Luck Station

 

Located on the jungle planet Ks’rrk, Hard Luck Station is where they send the toughest and most expendable Space Marines. It’s cramped, poorly supplied and the next nearest Terran Alliance outpost is 68 light years away. It’s also the most vital listening post in the entire Alliance because it’s not in the Alliance, but 48 light years inside the Reskid Empire.

The Planet: As stated above, Ks’rrk is a jungle planet. Only very near the small polar caps will you find a thin band of temperate woodland…and the Reskids have mining camps there. The rest of the planet is either ocean or land covered in lush and incredibly deadly jungle. The Reskids hate the place, having evolved on a planet of mostly deserts and plains. The atmosphere is quite Earthlike, but very humid. The average daytime temperature in summer is 100 degrees with 95% humidity. In the rainy season, it can rain nonstop for 3 months at a time. In winter, the temperature drops to around 90 with humidity around 80%.

The Base: Hard Luck Station is a highly modified experimental Phase Ship. It is located inside a cave in the equatorial mountain range of the western continent. The Phase Generator was disassembled immediately after landing to provide more living space and allow for reconfiguration (once combined with the also dismantled Jump Drive) as a highly unstable Wormhole Generator. A wormhole with a lifespan of around 2 hours is generated about once every 7 months. Wormholes are the only way anything gets in or out. Passage through the wormhole is done using preprogrammed cargo pods.

The station has a crew of 32, all of whom are Space Marines. Half of them are tech class and the rest are armored infantry. Since the listening that the post does is via microstations that resemble asteroids and wander all through Reskid space, the grunts have to go out every once in awhile and adjust the receiving discs. Since the word Ks’rrk is Reskid for “certain death”, it is unsurprising that a Marine is lost every couple of ventures out. Sometimes, many more are lost, especially if the Hell Apes are migrating. Since only unmarried orphans are accepted for duty on Hard Luck Station, nobody back home asks any questions.

The Donut Hole At The Center Of The Universe

…it’s honey crunch coated!

 

The Doclopedia #58

Strongholds: The Castle Of Uul Zadir

 

It is written that when the bandit sheik Uul Zadir ek Zadaffa decided that he finally wanted to settle down, he found that his legions of enemies (including the Caliph, whose 5 daughters had all been relieved of their virginity by Uul Zadir) were not inclined to let him live in peace. He found this most annoying.

So it was that he sent out word among the common folk, the slaves, all of the people who loved him, that he required a worker of magic to assist him in settling down. Soon, the gifted one known as Hoon Joziss came to him. Hoon, it seems, had access to a very powerful qubodi, one of the Other People that live just beyond our sight. Hoon explained that he could persuade the qubodi to create an impregnable castle and grounds, well hidden from enemy eyes, if Uul Zadir would just perform one small task: Go up into the Skyhold Mountains and find one of the very rare white snow apes that lived there. Once found, he had but to persuade the ape to urinate unto a golden flask that Hoon would provide, then return said flask to Hoon, who would then give the qubodi the go ahead to build the castle.

And so, Uul Zadir went into the far off mountains with 30 men and returned 6 months later with 15 men and a golden flask full of snow ape urine. True to his word, as all honorable (but not necessarily honest) men are, Hoon set the qubodi to task and in 3 days, Uul Zadir stood looking at a castle that dwarfed anything any Caliph had ever dreamed of. It was, to be honest, a middling sized walled city. In a circle around the castle and extending out for at least 3 miles, there were green fields and light woods, with homes for farmers and clear running streams that started at the edge of the fields and ran into 4 small lakes at the compass points. Uul Zadir was pleased indeed. A single road extended from the castle gate to the outer edge of the green.

And then, my friends, the whole thing faded away and reappeared in the middle of the desert known as the Black Oven of the Gods. At first, Uul Zadir was furious at having his lovely castle placed in the center of the most inhospitable place known to man, but then Hoon asked him exactly which of his enemies he expected to see come here for him first.

This gave the bandit sheik pause, since in truth he could not imagine anyone being foolish or brave enough to venture into this hellish place. He allowed as how Hoon had made his point.

Then Hoon asked if he was perhaps overly heated and would like some cool water.

Uul Zadir laughed then, because he noticed that here, on the lands around the castle, it was merely a warm spring day. Looking out into the desert, he noticed that the air was blurred by the heat coming off the black sand.

But how, he asked Hoon, would anybody get here to help populate his castle and lands?

Hoon said that they should walk a bit down the road, and so they did. At the edge of the green lands stood two large pillars, each topped by a statue of Uul Zadir. As they passed between them, they found themselves not stepping out onto the black desert, but onto a small side path that lead to the main trade road from Koshim to Decastor. Looking back, Uul Zadir saw only a wagon wide path that lead between two large white stones.

No enemy of Uul Zadir would ever be allowed to pass through the gateway, Hoon explained, but the people who loved the bandit sheik would find quick passage to a better life.

Again, Uul Zadir laughed, long and loudly. He told Hoon that he could, if he wished, dwell in luxury in the castle for all of his days, wanting for nothing. He also said that any qubodi that wished to visit him would be welcomed as a visiting sheik and treated accordingly.

Over the next several weeks, many thousands of people made their way to Uul Zadir’s castle. Many of his enemies, hearing of it’s location, rode to the edge of the Black Oven of the Gods, but none seemed to want to venture in.

Meanwhile, Uul Zadir had decided that he needed some wives and, as it happened, he knew just where to find five sisters who would be more than wiling to live in his castle.

But that, of course, is another story.

I’ll Have A Vodka Martini Shaken, Stirred And Slapped Around A Bit

…take that, James Bond!

It’s Strongholds week!

 

The Doclopedia #57

Strongholds: The Ultimate Safe House

 

The actual name of this place is Field House, since it resides in a 10 acre field not far outside a major city. The people who live nearby know it as “the old Higgins place”, since it was first built by a farmer named Higgins back in 1904. As far as the neighbors know, it now belongs to a nice couple named Jones who work in the city and mostly keep to themselves.

The house itself is fully armored, including bulletproof glass and baffles in all the vents and the chimney that will actually toss grenades and such back outside. There are 60 cameras on the exterior of the house that are manned 24/7 by a team of 6 agents. Another 4 agents man the various weaponry built into the exterior of the house. These weapons include machine guns, gas vents, lasers, smoke dispensers and guns that fire taser darts.

The grounds have another 40 cameras and an array of weaponry. There are also thorned vines that contain natural toxins, remote controlled pit traps, tubes from which angry hornets can be released and a few of the trees are actually robotic in nature and can grab a person and then shock him unconscious.

Needless to say, the perimeter fence can be electrified.

In the highly unlikely event of a siege, there is a tunnel that comes out 2 miles away in the barn of a rundown old farm. An armored and tricked out 1970 Corvette or 1964 Mustang are available for quick exits.

Inside the house are comfy bedrooms, a great kitchen and pantry, closets full of clothes and disguises, three bathrooms, a large living room, a library, an armory, a complete secure communications center and a fully stocked bar. The three level garage contains a dozen varied cars & motorcycles. Another underground area houses the 24 agents who work here.