Friday, April 4, 2014

Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed Review

I feel compelled to write a review on Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed. According to Netflix, I had seen the previous Saints and Soldiers movie and given it 5 stars. I have zero recollection of this. Netflix’s “best guess” for how I’d rate SSAC was 4 stars. How wrong you were, Netflix. How wrong you were. It starts out with the standard D-Day invasion imagery. Guys in C-47s; some praying, some looking at pictures of loved ones, and others just sitting there immersed in their own thoughts. When I was flying into Baghdad for the first time, I was immersed-in-own-thoughts-guy, so I connected with them. And that’s about where connections ended for me. (I am literally having to look up the character’s names as I go because they were so forgettable, I’m drawing a blank less than 24 hours later). So… *looks up name* Curtis parachutes into France and is lost. If you’ve seen Band of Brothers, or know anything about WWII history, you know that the airborne assault of occupied France was a total cluster-fuck. I had to keep reminding myself of that, though, because Curtis… Rossi… and… Jones (congratz, movie, you made the name ‘Jones’ utterly forgettable) don’t seem to be all that concerned about being lost behind enemy lines. Curtis is captured by Germans and is about to be executed, apparently, but then Rossi shows up and throws grenades into the crowd, INCHES FROM CURTIS, and manages to kill all the Germans and miss Curtis completely. PHEW! They exchange pleasantries and then find where they are on a map. 12 miles from the drop zone. The two walk a short distance and find a cabin or barn or something and sit down. At some point between meeting each other and the cabin, they meet SGT Jones. I honestly don’t recall when. There was a point when there were two actors pissing me off and then a third showed up. Anyways, they look at the map again and determine that they are 11 miles from the drop zone. So these elite infantrymen needed an EXTENDED breather after just one mile of walking. Honestly, at this point I still thought this would be an OK movie, but then the unthinkable happened. Curtis started reciting the airborne creed. I looked at him like he was insane and so did Rossi and Jones, so I thought, “Ok, so Curtis is bat-shit crazy and these other two have to survive the Germans AND their crazy—“ but then Rossi and Jones joined in! So all three are sitting there reciting the airborne creed while I’m looking at the TV in horror. Why is that so terrible you ask? Well, civilian, I’ll tell you: No normal person in combat gives a shit about that “hooah” bullshit anymore. All that marching in time and singing songs and all that is total crap. You’re just trying to get home in one piece. For instance, during an IED attack, if I had dismounted and, while pulling security around a damaged vehicle, started singing, “First to fight for the right, and to build the Nation’s might, and the Army goes rolling aloooooong! Proud of all we have done, fighting till the battle’s won, and the Army goes rolling aloooooong!” someone would have slapped me and ordered me to get counseling because clearly I’m unstable. Then they all walk THROUGH A FIELD that is SURROUNDED BY TREELINE while LOUDLY DISCUSSING GERMAN CULTURE and show no fear of being shot. Next, the three stop for water and while Rossi is filling his canteen (one canteen of water for every mile walk? This guy is gonna wet the bed) Curtis walks up to him and asks him what he thinks about when he jumps out of a plane. Rossi says he doesn’t think about anything. Curtis creepily says he thinks about his girlfriend, and then stands and walks away. So, like this: Me: *fills glass of water* Weird-ass friend: What do you think about when you go to work in the morning? Me: Uh, nothing, really. Weird-ass friend: I think about my wife. *walks away* Curtis is insane. I think he’s that guy who thinks war is a game (reciting creeds in the midst of battle) and has to constantly tell people that he has a girlfriend. Curtis: What are you doing this weekend? You: Nothing. Why, did you wanna do something? Curtis: No, I have plans with my girlfriend. You can’t come with me and my girlfriend. *walks away* You: … Curtis: *yells back* GIRLFRIEND!
“My girlfriend and I are having sex right now.” “In your head?” “No. In yours.” Anyways, the three come across a group of Germans and attack them. Jones chases an officer into the woods. The German drops his pistol, Jones acts like he’s going to shoot him, and then the camera cuts to Rossi and Curtis who have killed all the other Germans. A gunshot rings out, so we’re left to assume Jones killed the German. He didn’t, though. I failed to mention that that very German officer was talking on the phone with his son at the beginning of the movie, so he was kind of important to the story, or something. So they keep walking and then we see the three men in the cross hairs of a sniper rifle. Somehow, Curtis SENSES that they are being watched, so they all take cover. Then a French resistance fighter steps out and asks them to help her free some of her captured friends. French girl: Please, help? My friends… SGT Jones: Où sont vos amis? Comment pouvons-nous vous aider? Rossi : Wait, you speak French ? SGT Jones : French-Canadian. Rossi : What does she want? SGT Jones: She wants us to help her free her friends. French girl: Please, before it’s too late! Rossi: No! Notice anything? So far, SGT Jones is the only one speaking French. The French girl speaks enough English to ask for help, but he keeps speaking French to her. Rossi and Curtis are able to talk to her. She understands them. But the movie INSISTS that SGT Jones MUST speak French or else the movie can’t continue. Also, I mentioned earlier that French girl had a sniper rifle and was hiding in the bushes. Now, I’ve never had actual sniper training, but I suspect somewhere around day one they would have mentioned that it was unwise to wear a white blouse while on sniping missions.
SGT Jones overrules Rossi and they go ahead and help the French girl. Rossi insists he must know her real name, not her fake name. She refuses. I don’t know why I should care, so I don’t. They come up on the place where her friends are being held and they assault the Germans. Right before the attack, Curtis starts reciting the fucking airborne creed again. French girl, realizing she is shoulder to shoulder with a lunatic, tells him to shush. He apologizes. He immediately continues the creed, as if he’s physically incapable of breathing without reciting the airborne creed. French girl shushes him again. The attack begins and French girl kills two Germans, while Curtis is daydreaming about his girlfriend, or something. Rossi finds the captive French people and is attacked by an unarmed guy not wearing a uniform. German in civilian clothes? French sympathizer? No clue. But he’s kicking the shit out of Rossi, who had moments before bragged about being an epic boxer. Rossi breaks a bottle over his head. Nothing. Rossi hits him in the head with his helmet. Nothing. Rossi punches him in the face a few times and then SGT Jones and Curtis rush in, pull Rossi off the guy and say “He’s dead, Rossi! He’s dead.” What!? How!? From his fists? The bottle and steel helmet didn’t do it, but his bare fists did him in? Then SGT Jones says “Nice covering fire back there, Curtis.” “It wasn’t me, sarge. It was all her.” And they marvel at her ability to hit a grown man from 30 yards away with a bolt-action rifle and a scope. I know why they did this; they were trying to show that she’s at least as badass as the American soldier. I’m cool with that, I just think that topic belongs in its own movie. Make that the plot of movie. Girl gets no respect from her male peers, who she is as good as if not better than. But throwing it in there every now and then is kind of insulting. It reminds me of Tony Dungy before the Colts and Bears played in the Superbowl. He and Lovie Smith were the first black coaches to reach the Superbowl, so that was kind of the theme that year. A reporter asked Smith what he thought that meant and he was all “Hell, yeah! Good for minorities!” and then Dungy was like “It doesn’t mean anything and it won’t mean anything until people stop acting like it’s such a shock that a black person accomplished something.” BAM. So if you think having a scene like that empowers women, I would disagree. Anyways, where was I… Now the Americans and their new French friends are walking and they hear a vehicle approach. They see that it’s an American Jeep, so they flag it down. Now, to this point, whenever the Americans met someone, they issued the challenge “democracy!” and whoever was at the other end of the barrel had to respond with “Lafayette!” or they died, because they were probably Germans in disguise. So SGT Jones, Rossi, and Curtis saw a Jeep miles inland a mere hours into the D-Day invasion and said, “Should we give the challenge?” “Nah, bro.” At this point, I’m thinking “Yup. Germans.” They talk for a bit and then Rossi asks one where he’s from. “Seattle, Washington.” He says and then adds “I feel like the small man on the totem pole.” Rossi instantly got serious and said, “Don’t you mean the low man on the totem pole?” and the German guy laughed it off and walked away. Rossi had a super-worried look on his face, which was the movies way of letting me know that something was wrong. I, of course, already knew that something was wrong, and it wasn’t the Germans. It was Curtis, Rossi, SGT Jones, and Snow White the Sniper Chick.
Then French girl asks to see Rossi’s rifle, which SGT Jones dutifully translates for everyone, because her pointing at it and asking “May I shoot?” went flying over our English-speaking heads. Rossi and French girl have a shooting contest and French girl wins easily, because YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THAT SHE IS EQUAL TO THESE MEN IF NOT BETTER THAN THEM, OKAY!?!?!? A couple things wrong with this: It’s June 6, 1944 and these guys are having a recreational shooting contest while they are miles behind enemy lines. I freak out a little thinking they’ll attract the enemy, but SGT Jones asks the German in disguise if it’s OK and he says there are no Germans nearby, so go for it! The other thing is that while this is going on:
This is happening at the exact same time and it’s not that far away:
Curtis is smiling because those shattered bottles remind him of his girlfriend.
Hey, maybe go help your friends? You think they might need your help? No? Just going to shoot coke bottles? Got it. Eventually they realize the Germans are Germans and interrogate them. The officer says, “I know what Americans are like. You won’t shoot me.” So a French guy shoots his friend. See, it wasn’t an American who shot him, so now the guy has to worry about stuff. So he spills the beans saying they were looking for a French guy who helps the Germans. “Oh, this could be cool!” I say to myself. “Maybe that’s where this movie is going? We’re going to go after this traitor guy?” No, he’s never mentioned again. They keep aimlessly walking around. The group comes across a bunch of Germans who have a tank and a half-track. SGT Jones tells Curtis to stay on top of the hill they’re on so he can shoot down into the half-track. Then they wonder out loud how they’ll take out the tank, and then one of the French guys pulls a magnetic charge out of his pocket, or something. Seriously, they all had small packs, but nothing that could hold one of those huge anti-tank weapons, yet this guy suddenly has one handy. Movie, if you were going to BS me, why not have the French guy say “I have a time machine! I will go into the future and get an M-1 Abrams tank and bring it back!” and then SGT Jones could translate what he just said in English into English for us. But we’ll just go with the anti-tank weapon fitting in Pierre’s pocket. At this point, I was updating Facebook about how terrible this movie was, so I missed something, but these things stood out: Curtis IMMEDIATELY climbs down the hill and goes even further into a valley so that he’s shooting UP at the half-track. At some point he is wounded, but I didn’t see where. The magnetic charge is placed on the tank, it explodes, and does pretty much nothing. SGT Jones climbs on top of the tank and is shot in the chest. Rossi is hit in the shoulder. French girl is not hurt, but all of her friends die. Earlier in the movie, Curtis was day-dreaming about his GIRLFRIEND. We learn that she gave him a used camera as a gift so that he can document the war and share it with her when he comes back. “What if I don’t come back?” he asks. “Then I’ll come get you.” They were going for ultra-romantic, but that line and the way she said it made me think of Curtis’ GIRLFRIEND as this girl:
They deserve each other, really. Curtis dies and his GIRLFRIEND shows up to kiss him goodbye. This is all imagined, of course.
“Love these pearly gates, Saint Peter. They remind me of my girlfriend.” SGT Jones was shot in the heart and is bleeding all over the place. No one is there to help him, but at the end of the movie, we learn that he was found alive and is being treated. SGT Jones is a Christian and his dad yelled at him saying “God doesn’t want you to die in a foxhole!” so he remembers his words, which is all he needs, apparently. Medics are optional. Rossi is found by the German officer that SGT Jones let live earlier. The officer wants to kill Rossi, but recalls SGT Jones’ kindness, so he helps Rossi. Rossi wakes up and they spend 15 minutes exchanging pictures and kind of talking, though this guy only knows a few English words and Rossi knows zero German words, so it’s just 15 minutes of them awkwardly staring at each other. Somehow in this 15 minutes of awkwardness, Rossi becomes friends with the German, who dies while Rossi is asleep. He was wounded, but I didn’t know that. I guess I was updating Facebook. Rossi is found by some Americans and brought to an aid-station. There he sees French girl. She kisses him for no reason and then whispers her real name into his ear. I guess the movie wanted to troll me by saying “HAHA! You don’t get to know her real name!” but ‘French girl’ suits me just fine. This movie tried to do too much. It wanted to be Band of Brothers, but only spent 20 minutes building that theme. It tried to be about self-sacrifice for the good of your fellow man like Saving Private Ryan, but only spent a few scenes doing that. Then it wanted to be a love story, but only spent a short time on that theme. It wanted to empower the female viewer, but didn’t spend enough time on that. It wanted to make us see the similarities between the Americans and the Germans like ‘Into the White’, but didn’t spend enough time on that. The guy who I thought was the main character was killed ¾ of the way through the movie. In trying to do everything, Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed accomplished nothing. It also felt like it was written by a guy who did all of his research by doing a google image search of “WWII airborne soldiers” and just trying to get the uniforms and haircuts right. I kept thinking of this poem from Sassoon Siegfried, a WWI veteran: The Bishop tells us: 'When the boys come back 'They will not be the same; for they'll have fought 'In a just cause: they lead the last attack 'On Anti-Christ; their comrades' blood has bought 'New right to breed an honourable race, 'They have challenged Death and dared him face to face.' 'We're none of us the same!' the boys reply. 'For George lost both his legs; and Bill's stone blind; 'Poor Jim's shot through the lungs and like to die; 'And Bert's gone syphilitic: you'll not find 'A chap who's served that hasn't found some change. ' And the Bishop said: 'The ways of God are strange!' The first stanza is written from the perspective of your typical civilian. The only thing he knows about war is what he’s heard in stories, read in the newspaper, or taken from propaganda posters. The second stanza is reality. There are no soldiers proudly singing songs in the heat of battle. Guys are getting completely fucked up. Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed just didn’t seem to understand that.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Final Countdown

Sawyer ran until he couldn't hear the sounds of fighting anymore. Was Ryan dead? Or did he beat General Evil? Sawyer started to go back, but then stopped. If Ryan was dead, then he was Annie's last hope. He would need to keep going just in case. With his nose to the ground, he followed the hallway, checking each door as he went. Sawyer came to a turn in the hallway and peaked around the corner. There he found a guard standing outside a door.

'Annie could be in that room.' thought Sawyer.

He stepped back and whimpered a bit, trying to draw the guard's attention. Sawyer prepared his weapon as he heard the guard approach. The guard looked around the corner and found himself staring down the barrel of Sawyer's rifle. Frozen in fear, the guard nearly fainted when he saw that the gun was being held by a dog. Sawyer pointed toward the door and nudged the guard with the rifle. The guard nodded and headed to the door. Once there, he unlocked it. After the door was unlocked, Sawyer slammed the butt of his rifle into the guard's head, knocking him out.

"Who's there!" demanded a voice inside.

Sawyer stepped in and saw Annie in an elaborate gown and an expressionless face.

"What is this?" demanded the man with Annie. "Who let this dog in?"

Sawyer stood and pointed his gun at the man, who promptly fainted. A pool of urine formed by his crotch as he lay unconscious.

"Annie, we have to get out of here!" said Sawyer.

Annie didn't move. Instead she just stared at the man on the floor and didn't move.

'She's acting just like I did when I was under General Evil's control.' thought Sawyer.

He checked Annie for any sign of a mind control device, then found the necklace. He ripped it off of her and immediately, Annie grabbed her forehead and groaned.

"Where am I? Why am I dressed like this?" she asked, looking down at her dress. "Sawyer? Is that you?"

"Yes! Can you understand me?" said Sawyer.

Annie just looked at him, confused.

"This is the weirdest dream, ever." said Annie.

Sawyer cursed and reached into his backpack for his pen and paper. He quickly scribbled a message for Annie.

'I am your dog, Sawyer. This is not a dream. Let's go!'

Annie read the note and again she looked back at Sawyer, completely confused. Sawyer grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the room. They had barely gone anywhere when they heard a voice on the intercom.

'May I have your attention please. This is Doctor Apocalypse. Our operation has been compromised. We do not have the completed virus, but we do have the missiles. We will be implementing plan B immediately. If you are not locked behind bars, I suggest you leave now. If you are locked up, I hope you've enjoyed your life, because it is over.' With that, Doctor Apocalypse laughed and signed off.

Sawyer scribbled a note: 'Plan B?'

"Plan B was what they were going to do if I couldn't make the virus. It means they're going to aim all of the missiles at this very town. Not only will this building go up in flames, but all the radiation in the area will be kicked back up into the atmosphere. We have to get out of here!" said Annie.

'Where do they control the missiles!'

"I can show you. Where's Ryan?" asked Annie.

Sawyer couldn't answer that, so he motioned for Annie to lead the way.

* * * * *

Ryan had just cleaned his knife off on General Evil's jacket when he heard Doctor Apocalypse on the intercom. He headed down the hall that Sawyer had run down, but was immediately stopped by a voice from inside a cell.

"Hey there! You gotta let me outta here! This whole place is gonna blow!" the captive said.

"Stand back." said Ryan.

He fired a round into the lock and opened the cell door.

"Thanks! Now we gotta get out of here!" said the man as he turned to run away.

"Hold it!" said Ryan. "Help me get everyone else out."

"There's no time for them!" said the man.

Ryan aimed his gun at him.

"Don't be a blue falcon." said Ryan.

The man looked confused.

"Help me or die." said Ryan as he turned the safety off.

"Fine, but now we'll all die!"

They continued letting prisoners out of their cells and all of those prisoners helped free more. Then Ryan recognized one of the men.

"Sergei? Sergei Petrov?" Ryan asked.

"Yes, how did you know?" asked Sergei. "And who are you?"

"My name is Ryan Easton. Your dad is just outside the city limits." said Ryan.

"Release the rest of the prisoners and then get out of here."

"Thank you for freeing us!" said Sergei.

"Where's Annie Easton?" asked Ryan, ignoring the appreciation.

"I don't know. Last I saw her, she was with Doctor Apocalypse's son. He's fond of her." said Sergei.

Ryan was pissed.

Sergei described what the young Apocalypse looked like, then made his way out of the building with the rest of the prisoners. Ryan continued down the hallway, more driven than ever before. Was it to free Annie and get their lives back? Was it for more revenge? Ryan's judgment was clouded by rage.

* * * * *

Annie and Sawyer made it to the control room where she believed the missiles would be fired from. Sawyer carefully opened the door and entered, checking each corner with his rifle. Once he was sure it was clear, he motioned for Annie to enter.

"The missiles are set to begin firing in 2 minutes." said Annie. "I need the password to override the command."

Annie began trying random passwords.



Nothing was working.

"I don't understand his motivation!" said Annie. "If I knew that, I'd have a shot at this!"

One by one, missiles began launching. Sawyer rushed to the keyboard.


The missiles stopped firing.

"You did it!" said Annie. "Only three missiles were fired. We still need to get out of here in case one hits the building, though."

Just then, Doctor Apocalypse entered the room.

"You'll never be able to get out of here in time." he sneered with his iron jaw.

Sawyer pointed his rifle at him and held a paw out for Apocalypse to stop. Ignoring the warning, Doctor Apocalypse walked up to Annie.

"Why did you stop them?" he asked. "So much ignorance in the world. So much foolishness. Let me destroy civilization and we can start over. We'll start a new world with science as the religion. You will be the queen and my son, your king!"

"That's disgusting." said Annie. "Shoot him, Sawyer."

Sawyer hesitated. He would rather see Apocalypse in prison than buried.

"If only you had listened to her." said Doctor Apocalypse.

Apocalypse grabbed Annie by the waste and pulled her close to him. Annie gasped as she felt the cool blade of a knife driven into her stomach. Ryan ran into the room just in time to see her eyes close as she slumped to the floor.

"Annie! No!" Ryan yelled as she lay motionless on the floor.

Sawyer screamed in terror as he and Ryan both unloaded their weapons into Doctor Apocalypse. Apocalypse dropped to the ground next to Annie. Ryan lunged at Sawyer and grabbed him by the throat.

"Why didn't you kill him!" Ryan demanded as he shook Sawyer.

"I- I wanted him to face justice!" Sawyer sobbed.

Ryan forced Sawyer to look at Annie's lifeless expression.

"There's your justice, you stupid bastard!" said Ryan, disgusted.

An alarm sounded on the computer.

'Missile impact in 5 minutes.'

Ryan threw Sawyer to the floor and put Annie's body over his shoulder. Without saying a word, he hurried down the hall towards the exit. Sawyer kept pace, but stayed back, head down the whole way. He was afraid to look up for fear he would see Annie.

* * * * *

Doctor Apocalypse's son walked in to find his father in a pool of blood. He knelt beside him and took his hand, certain that he was gone. Suddenly, Doctor Apocalypse spit up blood and gasped for air.

"Father! You're alive!" said Clark Apocalypse "And Annie? Where is my bride?"

"She was killed." said Doctor Apocalypse, struggling to speak. "Ryan was here. I offered her a world where science would dominate other religions. A world where you and her would be king and queen. She accepted the offer and..."

"And what!" Clark demanded.

"Ryan murdered her in a fit of jealousy!" Apocalypse lied.

Clark was distraught.

"My son, you can have revenge, but I need you to carry me to the escape module. I'll be dead when we arrive, but there are instructions inside to keep my brain functional. Follow the instructions and you will have vengeance!" said Doctor Apocalypse, blood oozing from his mouth.

Clark Apocalypse dragged his father to the escape module that was hidden behind a door within the room. Once there, he prepared the module for flight, determination in his eyes.

* * * * *

"We're not going to make it!" said Sawyer.

"Shut up!" said Ryan.

"I'm sorry! Ryan, I'm sorry!" said Sawyer as they ran. "I ruined everything, but..."
Sawyer was going to tell Ryan that they could move faster if they left Annie, but he was sure Ryan would kill him for it.

"Shut up, I said!" Ryan demanded. "Just get that door!"

Sawyer rushed forward and opened the exit door. Just then, a squad of General Evil's robots fired at them from outside. A bullet grazed Sawyer's shoulder and another hit Ryan just below the knee. Ryan fell in a heap with Annie on top of him. He cried out in pain as he grabbed for his leg, but it wasn't there. The bullet had blown his leg off just below his right knee. Sawyer struggled with his own wound as he dragged Ryan to safety.

"I have to make a tourniquet." said Sawyer. "You'll be fine, though. You'll be fine."

Ryan ignored him and stared at Annie. The robots had stopped shooting for a minute, but opened up again when they saw Annie's body. Bullets hit her and Ryan went mad. He grabbed both of their weapons and tried to stand on his one leg.

"You sons a bitches!" Ryan cried as he fired at them. "Leave her alone!"

Ryan fell forward, unable to walk on one leg. Sawyer tried to pull him to cover, but Ryan was hit with another bullet. This time, it claimed his left arm.

"Ryan! You have to stay behind cover!" said Sawyer.

"Go to hell!" said Ryan, elbowing Sawyer in the jaw and leaving him dazed.

Sawyer quickly regained himself and tackled Ryan. He was becoming very weak with the blood loss and Sawyer feared that he might die soon if he didn't get the situation under control. Sawyer used his collar on Ryan's arm and the bleeding stopped. However, he could hear the robots approaching. Suddenly, in the distance Sawyer heard mortars being dropped down tubes. The robots stopped their approach. The mortars impacted all around them as sounds of machine gun fire erupted just inside a nearby forest.

"It's the prisoners!" said Sawyer, holding Ryan back.

Ryan ignored him. He was trying to reach Annie's hand. Sergei Petrov rushed in and picked Ryan up.

"Get Annie..." said Ryan, weakly. "Sawyer, get..."

Ryan passed out. Sawyer knew he couldn't go back for Annie. They had no time to spare. Sergei put Ryan in the back of a truck and told the driver to go. Sawyer jumped into another vehicle with Sergei and they sped off just as the building they had just escaped from was blown to bits from the impacting missiles.

* * * * *

Back at Sergei's house, Ryan lay in bed as a doctor cleaned up his wounds and made more permanent repairs. After he was finished, Sawyer walked in, slowly. Ryan opened his eyes and saw Sawyer, then motioned for him to come. Sawyer sat beside his bed as Ryan tried to speak.

"Sawyer. Did you get her out?" asked Ryan.

"Just try to rest, Ryan." said Sawyer. "It's been a terrible day for all of us."
"Sawyer..." said Ryan.

"Yes?" said Sawyer.

Suddenly, Ryan wrapped his left leg around Sawyer's neck and pinned him between his legs. He grabbed his shotgun with his right hand and shoved it into Sawyer's mouth.

"All you had to do was kill him." said Ryan, fighting back tears. "All you had to do was shoot him and she'd still be alive."

Sawyer struggled at first, but then let up. He knew that he deserved this.

"You and I have been through so much together and it's only for that reason I'm not going to kill you today." said Ryan as he took the gun from Sawyer's mouth.

Sawyer started to cry as Ryan continued.

"But if I ever see you again, I will kill you." said Ryan.

Ryan's words ripped through Sawyer like shrapnel. He had lost his entire family in one day and it was all his fault.

Ryan stood on his one leg, but the doctor tried to stop him. Ryan slammed the butt of his shotgun into the doctor's jaw and hobbled past him as he fell. He used his shotgun as a crutch and made his way outside. He got into the doctor's car and drove off.

Still inside, Sawyer buried his face in his paws and wept. After some time, the doctor began to stir. Sawyer grabbed his backpack and headed out the door. He looked down the road that Ryan had taken, then looked in the other direction. Ryan's warning repeated itself in Sawyer's mind as he walked down the road away from Ryan.

* * * * *

Outside, Sergei Petrov was talking to Agent Randal who had seen the explosion from the helicopter.

"So Ryan and his dog are here? Now?" asked Agent Randal.

"Yes." said Sergei. "Inside on my bed. They saved us all."

Agent Randal walked inside and found the doctor standing and adjusting his jaw next to an empty bed.

"What happened? Where did they go?" asked Agent Randal.

"He attacked me and took my car keys." said the doctor.

"He couldn't have gotten far!" said Agent Randal. "Let's go!"

* * * * *

Sawyer crawled into a shipping crate that was addressed for the United States. In another town, Ryan crawled into the luggage compartment on a commercial plane that was headed for Green Bay. Sawyer half wanted his plane to crash, but in his mind he knew he had to watch over Ryan. From a distance, yes, but he had to be there for him if he ever ran into more trouble. Ryan pulled a picture from his wallet. It was of Sawyer and Annie when they picked Sawyer out of his litter. For a moment, he wanted to be with Sawyer and mourn their loss together, but then he remembered the instant that Annie was stabbed and seeing Sawyer stand there dumbfounded with his weapon in his paws. No, Sawyer was the enemy now. Maybe Apocalypse's son was still alive, too, but Sawyer would pay for what he allowed to happen. Ryan crumpled up the picture and threw it away.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Apocalypse (part 2)

Agent Randal leafed through Ryan’s file. He glanced at each photo of Sawyer and scribbled notes on a piece of paper as the helicopter he was riding in carried him towards Pripyat.
“What is that?” asked his contact, Officer Igor Kozlov.
“Nothing.” Said Agent Randal. “Just a file on a case I’m working on back home.”
“We should be there in one hour.” Said Igor in a heavy Eastern European accent.
“Tell me again why we’re going to Pripyat? That place has been abandoned for years.” Said Agent Randal.
“Exactly.” Said Igor. “That is why we should check there first. Besides, there have been reports of strange activity in the area.”
“What kind of strange activity?” asked Agent Randal.
“Tours of the disaster area are illegal, but they happen anyways.” Said Igor. “Until recently, that is.”
“What do you mean?” asked Agent Randal
“The few companies that gave the tours have disappeared. They did not just close up shop, they vanished. No one has heard from them.” Said Igor
“So they were the first to be kidnapped?” asked Agent Randal
“Possibly. The kidnapping that you’re investigating was witnessed. Others were not. We will assume that all other missing persons reported the last few months are connected.” Said Igor
“And if they’re not?” asked Agent Randal
Igor Kozlov grinned. “We do not like having unsolved cases.”

* * * * *

Ryan and Sawyer managed to elude the guards and made it inside. Sawyer quietly closed the door behind them as Ryan checked his shotgun. The outside of the building looked like an apartment complex; however, many of the apartments had been demolished or remade into workshops and prison cells.
“What a nightmare this place is.” Said Sawyer. “I don’t want to be here a second longer than I need to be.”
“Imagine how Annie feels.” Said Ryan.
Sawyer nodded solemnly as he took the lead down the hall. The building was not a pleasant sight, but the structure was surprisingly sturdy; probably from being converted into a prison or factory. Or both.
Sawyer checked each prison cell, but each one was empty.
“Maybe they’ve moved them someplace else.” said Ryan
“No.” said Sawyer. “They’ve been here recently. Their scent is fresh.”
Suddenly, Sawyer heard some commotion down the hall.
“Someone’s coming!” said Sawyer.
“Quick! Get in this cell!” said Ryan
Sawyer ran into the cell, Ryan handed him his weapon, but stayed out.
“What are you doing!?” said Sawyer
A guard appeared with an exhausted prisoner. Once he saw Ryan, he threw the prisoner down and approached him.
“Shcho vy robyte tut?” the guard demanded in Ukrainian.
“Oh thank goodness I found someone!” said Ryan. “I seem to have lost my tour guide. Do you have a telephone I can use?”
“Vy ne mozhete buty tut! Pidemo zi mnoyu!” said the guard as he grabbed Ryan by the arm and tried to pull him down the hall.
“Whoa, easy there.” Said Ryan as he pulled his arm free.
The guard persisted and grabbed at Ryan’s arm again. This time, Ryan caught his wrist with one hand, pulled the guard towards him and slammed his elbow into the guard’s mouth. Stunned, the guard fumbled with his weapon. Ryan grabbed him by the hair and put his head in the door jamb, then stood on his back so he couldn’t move.
“Where is Annie Easton!” he demanded.
“іди к бісу!” said the guard
“I know you can understand me! Tell me where she is!” Ryan demanded again.
“You will die here, American!” said the guard.
“Tell me where she is, or you die first!” said Ryan
“She’s dead already! You’re too late!” said the guard, mockingly.
Ryan slammed the door shut on the guard’s head.
“What’s funny?” said Ryan as he slammed the door on his head again.
The guard’s laughter was replaced with a painful groan.
“Ryan, that’s enough!” said Sawyer. “Take his keys and lock him up so we can get moving!”
“So he can call for help?” said Ryan. “Not happening.”
Ryan slammed the door one last time. The guard did not move and did not make another sound. Sawyer winced and looked away as Ryan put the body in the cell.
Ryan and Sawyer approached the prisoner.
“Do you know where Annie Easton is being held?” asked Ryan
The prisoner, still lying on the floor, looked up at Ryan. “I have not seen her. Only heard her name mentioned. I think she’s alive though.” Said the prisoner.
“How do you know?” asked Ryan
“We’ve been waiting for her to complete a weapon so we can begin production.” Said the prisoner.
“What kind of weapon?” asked Ryan
“A virus or bacteria. Something like that. We were brought here to be slaves. To put the bacteria into missiles that would be fired at targets all over the world.” Said the prisoner.
“Did she make the bacteria?” asked Ryan
“Not yet. But they still have the missiles. Hundreds of them. They could still do a lot of damage alone, but with the bacteria, they could destroy entire nations.” Said the prisoner.
“What about this guy?” said Ryan as he showed him the picture of Sergei Petrov. “Have you seen him?”
“Yes, he also works on the machines.” Said the prisoner.
“What machines?” asked Ryan.
“The General’s army grows each day.” Said the prisoner. “Beware of his greatest weapon. He cannot be stopped when he is wearing it.”
“Wearing it?” said Sawyer out loud.
“What do you mean, he wears it?” asked Ryan
Just then, more sounds could be heard down the hall.
“Nevermind, just get out of here. Be careful, though. There’s still a bunch of robots outside.” Said Ryan.
The prisoner hurried down the hall and slipped out the door to freedom. Ryan and Sawyer carefully made their way towards the noise, hoping it was nothing. They followed the hall to a large open room with only one door on the other end. The door itself was huge. It was also much newer than the rest of the building. Ryan and Sawyer headed towards the door when suddenly, it flew open revealing a giant robot. It was larger than any they had fought yet.
“Prepare yourselves for destruction, you miserable fools!” cried General Evil
Ryan and Sawyer glanced around the room quickly, looking for General Evil, but then realized that his voice came from the robot. He stood 9 feet tall and was armed with a Gatling gun on each hand.
“Made yourself a new toy, eh, you prick?” said Ryan
General Evil unleashed the full fury of his robot suit on Ryan and Sawyer as they sprinted for cover, firing as they went. They made it to an old drill press that shielded them from the bullets, but their own shots caused no damage to the massive machine.
“We need to get to that big door!” cried Sawyer over the gunfire.
“No, you need to go! I’m staying for this guy!” Said Ryan. “I’ll cover for you!”
“No way, I’m not leaving you!” said Sawyer
Ryan grabbed Sawyer by the collar and pulled him towards his face, aggressively.
“Get Annie out of here!” said Ryan. “That’s your mission! Nothing else! Now go!”
With that, Ryan sprinted away from cover and away from the door. Sawyer hesitated for a moment, but then bolted for the door when he saw that General Evil was distracted. General Evil saw his mistake and tried to shift his fire towards Sawyer, turning his back on Ryan for a moment. Sawyer managed to escape and Ryan saw a weakness. He ran up to the General and fired a round of buckshot into the back of his exposed right knee. General Evil cried out in pain as he fell on that knee. Ryan attempted to shoot the other knee, but a 3 foot long blade shot out of General Evil’s right arm. The General slashed at Ryan, narrowly missing as he ducked at the last moment.
“You arrogant bastard!” cried General Evil. “You’ve cost me billions of dollars!”
“You kidnapped my wife!” countered Ryan. “To hell with your money!”
Ryan tried to get in closer, but General Evil’s left hand grabbed him around the waste and began to squeeze. Ryan was fading quickly and was about to pass out when he grabbed his knife from his pocket and slashed the hydraulic lines that powered the massive machine’s hand. Ryan managed to free himself and slash another of the robot’s hydraulic lines. This time, General Evil lost control of the machine and he fell flat on his face.
“Curse you!” said General Evil. “Curse your whole family!”
Ryan opened the back of the suit and stepped on General Evil’s back.
“I surrender!” said General Evil.
Ryan just stood over him, waiting.
“Now what? You arrest me? Turn me in to the Ukrainian authorities? I will be back. You can’t stop me.” Said General Evil.
Again, Ryan just stood over the General.
“Get off of me, you fool! Get me medical attention!” demanded General Evil
Ryan grabbed the General, picked him up and threw him back down on his back. He then stepped on his wounded leg. General Evil screamed in pain as Ryan shoved his shotgun into the General’s mouth. General Evil gagged eyes wide open in fear.
“You have no idea the pain you’ve caused me.” Said Ryan. “When you attacked me and Sawyer in Romoskovia, I was mad. When you attacked us again and took Sawyer, I was pissed off. But then you came after Annie.”
General Evil began sweating as he gasped for air, Ryan’s shotgun barrel still forced into his mouth.
“You changed me. I used to be a decent guy that just wanted to watch hockey and go fishing on the weekends. Because of you, I have not seen my wife in months. Because of you, I’m wanted for her murder and she’s not even dead.” Said Ryan.
General Evil tried to talk, but it was incoherent.
“Your time is up. And you will not die painlessly.” Said Ryan.
With that, he stabbed General Evil in the chest and twisted the knife. His eyes rolled back as he struggled with the knife, but Ryan held it in. Within moments, the General was gone.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Apocalypse (part 1)

FBI Agent Randal studied the footage of Sawyer shooting up the courthouse, closely. He shook his head in frustration and lit a cigarette.
“No freakin’ way that’s a person in a suit.” He said under his breath.
He was so busy with the video that he didn’t see the woman who walked into his office.
“Agent Randal.” She said.
“Agent Shepherd, I don’t care what your boss said, I’m not dropping this case.” Said Agent Randal
“I know. That’s why I brought you this.” Said Agent Shepherd as she dropped a file on his desk.
“What’s this?” he asked
“Look at the photo of the man and the dog in the airport.” Said Agent Shepherd “Look familiar?”
“Heck yeah it does!” he said. “When was this taken and where did they go?”
“Six days ago.” Said Agent Shepherd. “And they went to Ukraine.”
Agent Randal slammed the picture on his desk. “They got away, then! That’s out of our jurisdiction by a long shot”
“True. Except for the recent kidnappings over there.” Said Agent Shepherd.
“It still falls under the local police.” Said Agent Randal.
“Except that one of the people who was kidnapped has dual citizenship.” Said Agent Shepherd.
“He’s an American?” said Agent Randal
“Sergei Petrov. His mother lives in Chicago, but his father lives in Ukraine. He spends half the year in Chicago and half the year in Ukraine with his father.” Said Agent Shepherd. “In the name of diplomacy, the Bureau is sending an agent over there to look into it. I volunteered you.”
“If it wasn’t against protocol, I’d kiss you.” Said Agent Randal
“Like that’s ever stopped you before.” Said Agent Shepherd, flirtatiously.

* * * * *

“How the heck can this be?” said Sawyer with both paws on his head. “How is Doctor Apocalypse alive?”
“I blew his frigging jaw off!” said Ryan as he punched the air in frustration.
Sawyer just sat there, dumbfounded, still with his paws on his head while Ryan kicked over a nearby chair and cussed.
“And who is Apocalypse?” asked Mikhail.
Ryan relaxed a bit and explained his encounters with the mad scientist. Mikhail’s eyes widened upon hearing how many times Doctor Apocalypse survived certain death.
“He had a son with him.” Said Mikhail
Sawyer’s ears perked up.
“You mean he had your son?” asked Ryan
“No. He had a son, also. He was young; about your age. The doctor’s face is a twisted mess, but the way he treated the boy, I knew he was special to him.” Said Mikhail.
“Just another target.” Said Ryan. “This changes nothing.”
Ryan and Sawyer finished assembling their gear. They were going to leave first thing in the morning, but they decided that striking in the middle of the night would be the best approach. After studying maps of the area, Ryan and Sawyer agreed to search the abandoned apartment building in the center of Pripyat, a small town outside of Chernobyl. Mikhail drove them there.
Along the way, Ryan thought about what he wanted to do when this was all over. He and Annie had put off starting a family because of school, but Annie was done with grad school now. He wasn’t very old, but he wasn’t getting any younger. When they got back home, Ryan knew he would work on convincing Annie that it was time to start a family. In order to ensure that family’s safety, however, he and Sawyer would have to make sure that General Evil, Doctor Apocalypse and his son were killed. The law had had their chance at containing them and they failed. He just had to make sure Sawyer understood. The truck came to a stop and Ryan and Sawyer got out and gathered their gear from the back.
“I will wait here.” Said Mikhail. “Good luck to both of you.”
Ryan and Sawyer quickly made their way into the town and headed towards the apartment building where they believed they would find Annie.

* * * * *

Doctor Apocalypse watched Annie work from behind a reverse mirror. After Annie had tried to escape, he had ordered an additional guard to watch from behind this mirror. He had relieved the current guard so that he could watch her and possibly learn how to make the bacteria on his own. The door behind him opened as he took notes and he dismissed the guard without looking.
“I’m not a guard, father.” He said.
“My mistake.” Said Doctor Apocalypse. “Have you come to learn more about the weapon?”
“No. I would like to meet her, though.” He said
Doctor Apocalypse was no ladies man, but he understood that his son, now 28 years old, was frustrated with his inability to find a woman who would love him. He was a genius, good looking and wealthy, thanks to his father, but he lacked common sense when dealing other people.
“Her husband was killed?” he asked
“We believe so. If not, he’ll be dead soon.” Said Doctor Apocalypse.
“Then let me have her. She’s far too intelligent and sophisticated to waste on another knuckle-dragging fool like Ryan Easton.” He said.
“I won’t stop you from trying, but she probably won’t be interested in the son of the man who killed her husband.” Said Doctor Apocalypse.
His son stood to his feet and left the room. He knew his father was right. Surely Annie wouldn’t want to have anything to do with him. Still, it didn’t matter. He had a trick up his sleeve, or rather, in his coat pocket. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a necklace. It had been given to him by General Evil who told him that this particular necklace could persuade anyone to do anything.

* * * * *

Annie checked her watch. It was nearly 10pm and the guards still hadn’t brought her anything to eat. She was about to give up and go to sleep hungry when her cell door opened.
“It’s about time.” Said Annie
Someone she had not met before walked in and put her plate on the small table inside her cell. A guard hurried in and put another chair up to the table while a second guard quickly placed a second plate on the table.
“Thank you, guards. That will be all.” The stranger said, faking a smile as they left Annie’s cell.
“Who are you?” asked Annie
“My name is Clark. You’ve met my father. He goes by Doctor Apocalypse. I just call him ‘dad.’” Clark laughed.
Annie didn’t return the chuckle.
“Your father is a monster and I hope Ryan kills him.” She said.
Clark wanted to snap at her and declare that Ryan was dead, but he kept his cool.
“Did it hurt when you fell?” he asked
“When? I didn’t fall.” Said Annie
“When you fell from Heaven.” Said Clark with a wink.
Annie rolled her eyes and said nothing back.
“Why Ryan? Why would you, an intelligent woman with so much potential in the field of medicine, choose to be with such a brain-dead, ignorant, hockey fan?” asked Clark in despair.
“He’s not ignorant. He just doesn’t care about science.” Said Annie
“How could anyone not care about science?” asked Clark “That’s why he’s a fool!”
“He’s not a fool. He’s just…” Annie struggled to find the right word. “He’s bad.”
“Bad?” asked Clark.
“He doesn’t take crap from anyone. He sticks up for me. He’s just bad.” Said Annie. “And that’s hot. That and he has a great beard.”
Clark rubbed his chin. He had not been able to grow a beard his entire life. But maybe he could be ‘bad’.
“Guard!” yelled Clark.
A guard ran in and stood, waiting for orders.
“Insult her!” Clark demanded.
The guard looked at him, then at Annie.
“Insult her?” said the guard.
“Do it!” said Clark.
“You… stupid woman?” said the guard to Annie.
“She isn’t stupid!” said Clark as he slapped the guard. “Now get out!”
Annie just shook her head.
“I have restored your honor.” Said Clark.
“You’re a freak.” Said Annie.

Clark was enraged. This was not the first time he had been called a freak and it never got any easier.
“I tried to be nice to you and you returned my kindness with hate.” Said Clark. “I believe you are an intelligent woman, but you clearly don’t know what’s best for you.” Clark took the necklace from his coat pocket. “Guard!” The guard rushed back in, confused. “Hold her down!” Annie struggled to free herself from the guard, but she was too weak. Clark put the necklace on Annie, and then sat back, grinning.
“I don’t want to be your woman!” cried Annie. “Get this… off of… me…” Annie’s voice trailed off as the guard relaxed his grip. Her thoughts were clouding over. She still wanted to resist him, but she no longer had control over her own will.
“Leave us, guard.” Said Clark. “You’re disturbing our date.”
Clark picked up a small bag and took out a revealing dress.
“Put this on, my love. I’ll show you the time of your life.”

* * * * *

Ryan and Sawyer made it to the abandoned apartment building. Sawyer picked up the sniper rifle and peered through the night vision scope.
“Bingo.” Said Sawyer. “I see guards and a few robots around the perimeter.”
“How many?” asked Ryan
“I see three guards patrolling inside and a dozen robots outside. They’re spread out though. If we could just take out one, we could slip past the others.” Said Sawyer.
Ryan thought for a minute, and then remembered the taser. He checked the area through the sniper rifle’s scope and found a ditch that went right past one of the robots.
“Sawyer.” Said Ryan.
“Yeah?” said Sawyer.
“When we get in there, I need to know that you’ll do what you have to do to stop these guys for good.” Said Ryan. “We can’t let them surrender this time. They’ll escape again and go after us.”
“I’m not a murderer.” Said Sawyer.
“No, you’re not. They are. And they’ll kill us and everyone we care about if we let them go.” Said Ryan “And if that happens because you ‘tried to do the right thing.’, I’ll never forgive you.”
Sawyer thought about it for a moment, then nodded in agreement.
“We have a picture of Mikhail’s son, Sergei. Just don’t shoot him. Everyone else is fair game.” Said Ryan “Okay?”
“Okay.” Said Sawyer
“Let’s go.” Said Ryan
They crawled all the way up to the robot guard and stopped. The robots were scanning the area for heat signatures, but they couldn’t see Ryan and Sawyer as they crawled along the ditch. Ryan took out the taser and fired it at the robot. The robot sparked for a moment, then died before it could react.

* * * * *

General Evil sipped from a glass of scotch as he studied a map of the United States. He quickly turned his attention to a display with a flashing red light, informing him that one of his robots had been disabled.
“Doctor.” Said General Evil into a radio. “They’re here.”
General Evil grinned as he entered commands into his robot control program. Ryan and Sawyer had never seen anything like the terror he was about to unleash on them and there would be no escape.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Annie glanced over her shoulder at the guard that had been assigned to watch her. She faked a smile, then went back to work on the bacteria. She was close to what she had made in school, but had left out some key steps. The bacteria were deadly if inhaled, but it wasn’t resistant to extreme heat. That meant that if a missile was used to spread it, the bacteria would die once the missile exploded.
“Could you come here please?” Annie asked the guard. “I just can’t seem to open this jar.”
The guard moved towards her as Annie put a mask over her nose and mouth.
“Which jar?” he asked impatiently.
“This one!” said Annie as she smashed one of the Petri dishes on the guard’s face.
The guard gasped in surprise, then grabbed his throat as he suddenly struggled to breathe. Annie snatched his weapon and ran as fast as she could. Without looking, she ran into the hallway and right into General Evil. Annie fell back and tried to shoot, but nothing happened. Two robots that were escorting the general locked and loaded their own weapons and aimed them at her.
“Easy…” said General Evil. “She was kind enough to leave the safety on.” General Evil mocked as he took the gun back. The robots relaxed, but didn’t unload their weapons.
“Just let me go!” said Annie “I didn’t do anything to you!”
“Where is your guard?” General Evil asked, ignoring her plea.
Annie pointed back at the laboratory. General Evil stood her up and pushed her towards the lab. Once back inside, Annie gagged at the site of the guard. He had probably died before she had left the room. All that remained was a body covered in boils.
“Excellent work, Mrs. Easton!” General Evil said sarcastically.
“Please stop. Don’t make me do this anymore!” Annie begged “I made you your weapon. Now let me go be with whatever is left of my family.”
“Of course.” Said General Evil. “But first, a test.”
General Evil struck a match and tossed it into a Petri dish. The dish erupted in flames and sizzled before dying out. All that remained was a black slime.
“You call this a weapon?” asked General Evil
“I don’t know what went wrong.” Said Annie “I was certain—“
General Evil slapped her, knocking her to the floor. Then he kicked over the table and destroyed week’s worth of Annie’s work.
“Don’t toy with me!” yelled General Evil. “I will give you one last chance. Fail me again and you’ll be praying for a death as pleasant as his!” General Evil grabbed Annie by the hair and shoved her head within inches of the dead guard’s face. Annie closed her eyes and held her breath.
“Enough, General.” Came a raspy voice. “Let her get back to work.”
“Dr. Apocalypse.” Said General Evil as he released Annie. “We’ll need another of your guards in here. Make that two. And no more stupid ones, please.”
Dr. Apocalypse ordered two more of his guards to watch Annie work and gave them specific instructions not to approach her, while General Evil’s robots disposed of the dead body. Annie picked up her table and began organizing her instruments. Now that she knew they would test the bacteria before deploying it, she had to find another way to trick them. But how?

* * * * *

“Can I get all first-class passengers, passengers with children and any passengers who need assistance to begin boarding now, please?”
“That’s us.” Said Ryan, who was disguised as a blind man. This way, he and Sawyer could try to plan what to do once they landed. Sawyer was attached to a harness that Ryan was holding onto as he pretended to carefully walk towards the terminal. After a little help from the flight attendant, Ryan and Sawyer were seated and ready to take off.
The person who sat next to Ryan was Ukrainian. This was perfect because Ryan now had a chance to get to know someone who could help them with whatever they may need. They had to leave their guns behind, so they were basically unarmed and would need to find weapons of some sorts. Unfortunately, Ryan was having a hard time getting a word in…
“This country, it is nice, yes.” Said the passenger in a heavy eastern European accent. “But is too busy for me. I prefer country side on a farm.”
“Oh, do you live on—“ Ryan tried to ask a question, but was cut off.
“We farm and we farm and we farm and we do it for the children and do you know what they give to us? Nothing! They say, ‘Oh, we need money! Oh, we need cars!’ You need cars? You get money and then you get cars!” the stranger rambled on.
“Yeah…” said Ryan
“And it’s time to harvest and the kids all say, ‘Oh, we want to visit our friends!’ and I tell them, ‘You bring your friends here and I’ll put them to work!” but they don’t listen to me!” he explained.
“Is it harvest time now?” Ryan asked, kicking himself for encouraging the stranger.
“Oh yes! And where are the children? Not in the fields! No, they are here and there and buying things with my money and…”
Ryan cut him off.
“Do you need help with the harvest? I have time. In exchange for my help, if I could crash at your place for a few days with my dog, we’d appreciate it.” Said Ryan
“Crash?” asked the stranger
“Sleep.” Said Ryan
“I thought you were blind?” said the stranger
“No, I just don’t like paying extra to bring my dog.” Said Ryan
“Well, sure! I’ll put you to work, no problem!” said the stranger.
“Great. My name is ‘Ryan’, by the way.” Said Ryan.
“Bryan, my name is Mikhail.” Said the stranger.
“Oh, it’s actually ‘Ryan’, not ‘Bryan’. Can I call you ‘Mik’?” asked Ryan
“No, Bryan, my name is Mikhail. You must never take away part of the name that was given to me by my parents. You see, Bryan, I take great pride in my name and…”
Ryan glanced at Sawyer who was pretending to sleep. This was going to be a long flight.

* * * * *

After landing, Ryan loaded their luggage into Mikhail’s truck and rode with him to his house which was just outside the Kiev city limits. Once home, Mikhail introduced Ryan to the rest of his family. Most were pleasant, but one was fat and loud. His name was Dmitri, and he went on and on about nothing.
“What do you do?” asked Ryan
“Work?” laughed Dmitri “I don’t have time for work! My family provides me with whatever I need while I provide them with whatever I can.”
“And what do you provide them?” Ryan asked
“Knowledge.” Said Dmitri “I know things that most people have no idea about. Did you know that our government intentionally caused the Chernobyl disaster just so it would have an excuse to keep people away from that area so they could build a secret military facility? There’s no radiation there!” said Dmitri
“I think there is.” Said Ryan
“No, I spent days there. And look! I’m perfectly fine!” said Dmitri
Ryan passed up the chance at a joke.
“Did you find the military base?” asked Ryan
“No, but I was ready for it. I had half of my weapons cache with me.” Said Dmitri
Sawyer’s ears perked up and Ryan blurted out, “You have a weapons cache?”
“Yes. Want to see it?” asked Dmitri
Dmitri brought Ryan and Sawyer to his home down the street. Once inside, he pulled away a rug and opened a hidden door in the floor. Ryan expected to find old World War II weapons, but was shocked at the quality of the weapons and attachments.
“Where did you get all of this!?” Ryan exclaimed
“My sources.” Said Dmitri.
Ryan picked up an M-4 carbine with an ACOG sight, a riot shotgun, Colt .45 pistols, ammo for all and even a few grenades.
“How much for all of this?” asked Ryan
“Why do you need it?” asked Dmitri
“I’m on a mission. I have no weapons or ammo and I need these to do what I need to do.” Said Ryan
“Very well. I’ll take your dog.” Said Dmitri
“No you won’t.” said Ryan without hesitating. “$2,000, American.”
“$3,000.” Dmitri countered.
“2,800, and throw in this and this.” Said Ryan as he picked up a silenced Dragunov sniper rifle and a Taser.
“Deal.” Said Dmitri.

* * * * *

Ryan worked in the fields of Mikhail’s farm for a week. While he worked, Sawyer would sneak into town with their laptop and look for wireless signals he could use to search for clues.
‘There just doesn’t seem to be anything happening here.’ Thought Sawyer
He clicked on a few more pages, but gave up and closed the laptop. As he was leaving town, he noticed a billboard with a picture of a memorial on it. It was of the firefighters who died trying to contain the Chernobyl disaster area.
‘Chernobyl… Why didn’t I think of that before? Tours there are illegal and the ones that do take place are restricted. I bet we could find clues if we went to those restricted locations!’ he thought to himself.
Sawyer ran all the way back to Mikhail’s farm where he found Ryan putting away his tools for the night.
“Find anything yet?” asked Ryan
“We need to check out Chernobyl. That’s the perfect place for such a hideout.” Said Sawyer
Ryan agreed and the two spent the evening reviewing maps and preparing their gear. Sawyer was checking his M-4 when Mikhail walked in and saw him holding the weapon. It was the first time he had been speechless since Ryan had met him.
“Mikhail! Relax! He’s okay.” Said Ryan
Sawyer set the gun down and dropped to all fours like a normal dog.
“He’s with me, Mikhail. We need to leave in the morning. We’re on a mission.” Said Ryan
Mikhail regained some of his composure and asked, “Are you here for the general and the doctor?”
“General Evil?” asked Ryan
“He is, yes. I could feel it when he came here. The general and the doctor with the iron jaw. They came and took my son. I was going to call the authorities, but they threatened me with an army of robots.” Mikhail sobbed.
“Yeah, that’s him. General Evil. Give me a picture of your son and I’ll look for him. Do you know where they went?” asked Ryan
“They went north.” Said Mikhail
“North!” said Sawyer. “Chernobyl is north of here!”
“I will help you.” Said Mikhail
“Three’s a crowd, Mikhail.” Said Ryan. “Let us handle this.”
“I won’t be in your way, but when the time comes, I will be there to assist.” Said Mikhail
“We appreciate it.” Said Ryan. “I don’t know who the iron-jawed doctor is though. Was there anything else about him you remember?”
“He wore these strange glasses. And his face was burned so badly.” Said Mikhail
A chill ran down Ryan’s spine as the fur on Sawyer’s back stood straight up.
“It can’t be…” said Ryan. He and Sawyer looked at each other and said it at the same time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cold Blood

Out on the road, but driving aimlessly, Ryan and Sawyer needed a plan. It had been a week since they had watched one of General Evil’s robots blow up their house, but were no closer to finding him. Ryan decided to call Phil to see if he could help somehow.
“Phil, do you think you could check online for something for me?” asked Ryan
“Sure. What is it?” said Phil
“Anything having to do with flying robots, robots armies, evil general controlling robots... Things like that.” Said Ryan
Phil checked the internet, but couldn’t find any reports of UFO’s or strange robot armies anywhere on the web.
“You think it’s General Evil then?” asked Phil
“Pretty sure. If not, I want to question, then kill him anyways, so why not check into it?” said Ryan
“The last time you saw him was in Detroit, right?” asked Phil
“Yeah, Central Station.” Said Ryan
“Well, maybe he left behind some sort of clue. It’s worth checking out.” Said Phil
Ryan agreed and thanked Phil for the suggestion, then hung up the phone. He and Sawyer drove to Detroit and parked outside the old, abandoned Detroit Central Station. There were cops patrolling the area, so Ryan couldn’t get in, but a stray dog probably could. Once the sun went down, Sawyer snuck in through a hole in the fence and made his way inside. There he turned on a flashlight and walked upright trying to find clues. He had some bad memories of the place and the dark hallways didn’t make the search any more pleasant. He got to the room where Ryan had fought the Mecha-Sawyer and freed him from the mind control that General Evil had on him. A quick scan with his flashlight revealed a rusting pile of metal in the center of the room. He could hardly believe his eyes. It had been almost a year since that fight, but still in the middle of the room were the rusting remains of the Mecha-Sawyer. Sawyer approached them solemnly, remembering the chaos of the fight and how close Ryan had come to being killed. Sawyer searched the destroyed robot for clues, and found one. On the back of the robot’s head, Sawyer found writing. It wasn’t in English and he couldn’t read it, so he took a picture with his phone. After further examination and no more clues, Sawyer turned to leave. He was startled by the sound of something falling nearby, so he swung his light in that direction. There he found a small dog cowering in the corner of the room. He appeared hungry, cold and definitely afraid of Sawyer. Sawyer took off his backpack and took out the cheeseburger he had been saving for later and placed it on the ground.
“Good luck, friend.” Said Sawyer in his own language.
The small dog hesitated, and then made his move towards the cheeseburger as Sawyer continued on his way.
Sawyer jumped in the car where Ryan was waiting and explained what he saw as they drove away. After spending the night in the car, they headed to a nearby café to analyze the information and make a decision on their next step.
“It’s Russian.” Said Ryan
“I don’t think so.” Said Sawyer
“Well, it’s not English, it’s not Arabic, it’s not anything I can read.” Said Ryan. “It just looks Russian to me.”
“Pretty sure it’s Ukrainian.” Said Sawyer.
“How can you tell?” asked Ryan.
“This website has a chart that compares the English alphabet to the Ukrainian alphabet. It’s the same.” Said Sawyer. “And I think I can tell what it says using google translator.”
Sawyer went back and forth between the two pages and the picture he had taken for a minute, then hit ‘enter’ on his computer.
“Yup. Ukraine.” Said Sawyer. “Part of this robot was assembled there.”
“Any idea where?” asked Ryan
“Nope, but it’s a start.” Said Sawyer.
Sawyer closed his laptop and looked up just in time to make eye contact with a familiar face. Sawyer growled as Ryan quickly turned his attention to where Sawyer was looking. There he saw Brant sitting at a nearby table with a computer of his own. Brant moved like he was about to stand, then winced in pain as he grabbed his right shoulder and slowly sat back down. Ryan walked over to him with a hand inside his hoodie, pretending to have a gun at the ready.
“Well, well, well.” Said Ryan. “If it isn’t my favorite battered woman.”
Ryan sat down across from Brant as Sawyer moved in next to him.
“What do you two want from me?” asked Brant, fighting back tears.
“Why are you not in prison and where’s your boss?” asked Ryan
“I was released. Good behavior. Besides, I wasn’t really guilty of anything.” Said Brant.
“And Elementis?” asked Ryan
“My Dearest… she abandoned me!” Brant sobbed uncontrollably.
“Do you know where she is?” asked Ryan. “She’s dangerous and needs to be brought to justice.”
“I can’t betray my Dearest…” Brant’s voice trailed off.
“So you do know.” Said Ryan. “Look, the cops may not have been able to get you to talk, but I promise you, he and I will make you spill your guts- one way or another.”
Brant looked down at Sawyer who was snarling back at him.
“She’s… in Chicago.” Said Brant. “I’m sure of it. Her hideout was on top of the Sears Tower. She had always dreamed of putting a weather machine up there. It would freeze the entire country.
Ryan and Sawyer knew now that Ukraine was officially going to have to wait. They brought Brant with them to their car as they drove five hours to Chicago and parked a few miles from the Sears Tower. Ryan and Sawyer took their usual weapons and hid them. Ryan also snuck a revolver inside the waist of his pants.
“Brant, when we get up there, I want you to go in first and do your best to convince her to surrender to the police, but don’t tell her we’re here.” Said Ryan
“Okay, no problem.” Said Brant, clearly bothered by the thought of deceiving his Dearest.
“Remember, she screwed you over without hesitation. Now’s your chance to grow a pair.” Said Ryan, sensing his hesitation.
“You think he’ll do it?” asked Sawyer under his breath.
“Nope.” Said Ryan, bluntly. “Not a chance.”
After a long climb, all three reached the top of the Sears Tour. Brant stepped outside and closed the door behind him.
“Dearest? Are you here, Dearest?” called Brant
“How did you know to look for me here?” came a familiar voice.
“Dearest! I forgive you!” proclaimed Brant
“Shut up, I did nothing to you that you didn’t deserve.” Said Elementis.
Ryan and Sawyer waited inside, but could hear everything.
“Come on, Brant. Stand up for yourself!” Ryan thought out loud.
Sawyer just shook his head.
“But my Dearest, I was shot for you…” said Brant.
“I was shot, too, fool. Where were you on that one?” Elementis shot back, pointing at her thigh.
“I’m so sorry.” said Brant. “Never again. I will never fail you again.”
“What a pussy!” said Sawyer
Brant stood there, cold, heartbroken, and desperate to win back his mistress. Then he thought of a plan.
“Hold me, Dearest.” Said Brant
“No, you fool! Can’t you see I’m busy trying to finish this weather machine?” snapped Elementis
“But Dearest, I need you to be close to me.” Said Brant
Sawyer buried his face in one paw.
“I think he’s going to blow our cover.” Said Ryan, preparing his shotgun.
Brant hugged Elementis, who did not hug him back, then whispered in her ear.
“That jerk that shot us and his dog are behind that door.” Said Brant.
Elementis shot her gaze towards the door. She pulled out one of her weather pistols and fired a bolt of lightning at it. The bolt struck Ryan and Sawyer, knocking them unconscious. Brant tied them up, then splashed water in Ryan’s face.
“I will never betray my Dearest.” Said Brant. “You should have known that.”
“I’ll keep that in mind next time.” Said Ryan
Sawyer woke up after he too was splashed with water. Elementis ordered both of them to the edge of the building. Ryan stepped up to the ledge, then felt his revolver on his waste.
“Stupid skank didn’t even frisk me.” He thought
“Get a paw free.” Ryan whispered to Sawyer
Sawyer was already working on doing just that. Once he had one free, he nodded to Ryan.
“You’re a disgrace, Brant. Your woman owns you. She walks all over you. She uses you. She doesn’t even love you. In fact, I think she hates you and you don’t see it.” Said Ryan
“We are in love!” Brant shot back.
Elementis rolled her eyes.
“Are those your last words?” said Elementis, impatiently.
Ryan turned to face the edge of the Sears Tower. It was a long drop from the top and he was terrified of heights. He and Sawyer would likely only get off one shot, if that.
“On three.” Said Ryan, under his breath.
Sawyer, unsure of what the plan even was, flexed his free paw in preparation for whatever it was he had to do.
“One, two... three!” said Ryan, under his breath. He turned his back to Sawyer and lifted the back of his shirt. There Sawyer could see the grip of Ryan’s revolver. He lunged for it, cocked the hammer back and swung it towards Elementis.
“Dearest! No!” cried Brant as he dove in front of Elementis.
Sawyer fired. The bullet struck Brant in the chest as he fell.
“My Dearest…” said Brant as he died. “I saved you…”
“No you didn’t, you idiot.” Said Elementis as she fell on Brant’s body.
The bullet had traveled through both of them.
“.357, for the win.” Said Ryan as Sawyer handed him the revolver.
“Elementis is still alive!” said Sawyer
Sure enough, Elementis was wounded badly, but still alive. Sawyer rushed to her aid. He put a paw on her wound and pressed tightly. Elementis coughed up blood and breathed deeply as she struggled to hold onto life.
“You’re going to pay for all that you’ve done.” Said Sawyer as he tried to stop the bleeding.
“She can’t understand you.” Said Ryan
“Help me!” said Sawyer. “She has to face justice.”
“Justice?” said Ryan. “Here’s her justice.” Ryan pulled the hammer back on his revolver and fired a bullet into her forehead, her eyes wide with shock.
“What the hell is wrong with you!” cried Sawyer as he shoved Ryan with bloody paws. “You just murdered her!”
“She killed plenty of people on her own. That’s what she deserves.” Ryan shot back.
“You’re not the law!” said Sawyer.
“The law keeps letting these idiots free. The law tried to lock me up for a murder that may or may not have happened. The law is sitting around eating donuts while Annie is who knows where. Shut up about the law, Sawyer!” said Ryan
Ryan and Sawyer silently made their way back to their car and drove off.
“Please don’t do that again.” Said Sawyer. “You know it’s wrong. You’re better than that.”
“Sawyer, I’m going to do what I have to do to end this. All of this, once and for all. Even if that means killing the bad guys.” Said Ryan
Sawyer just shook his head. He had come to grips with the fact that Annie could be gone forever. Now he wondered if he was losing Ryan too.
“Ukraine?” said Ryan, trying to change the subject.
Sawyer looked back with sadness in his eyes. “Ukraine.”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Back in the Hunt

Phillip Bauer took off his jacket and hung it in his closet. After removing his tie and putting it away as well, he sat at his desk and logged into his computer. There he found a folder containing pictures from a fishing trip he and Ryan had gone on as well as pictures from the hockey league they played in. He sighed deeply as he thought of the many memories. He and Jen had just returned from Ryan’s funeral. In a matter of weeks he and his wife had lost two friends and all he wanted was one answer:
“There’s a tow-truck outside.” Said Jen. “Looks like they have Ryan’s old car.”
Phil stood and walked to the front door just in time to see the truck driver back over his mailbox.
“Of course…” said Phil.
“Sorry about that.” Said the driver as he handed Phil a clipboard.
“What’s this for?” asked Phil
“Apparently it was willed to you by someone.” Said the driver. “Now if I could get you to sign here and initial right there and there, I’ll be on my way.”
“And the mailbox?” asked Phil
The driver scratched his head and looked back at the mailbox.
“It’s an easy fix…” said the driver.
Phil signed the paperwork and the driver left. He and Jen stood in the driveway admiring their new car, but did not notice someone walking up behind them on the sidewalk.
“What are we going to do with this?” asked Jen
“Well, the gas mileage is terrible, but it is a classic.” Said Phil. “I could probably sell it for a decent amount.”
“Sell it!?” said a familiar voice behind them.
Phil and Jen turned quickly and saw Ryan standing there with a look of disbelief that rivaled their own.
“Ryan!” said Phil. “How the heck…”
“Yeah, long story man.” Said Ryan. “But I’m fine. I’m going to go look for Annie.”
“Why did you give me your car?” asked Phil.
“Because if I didn’t leave it for someone, it would have been auctioned off or something.” Said Ryan. “Speaking of which, here’s the deed to our house. Just hold on to it. Annie and I will be moving back in one of these days.”
Phil took the deed and stared at it as he shook his head.
“I just came from your funeral, man.” Said Phil.
“Oh really?” said Ryan with a laugh. “How was it?”
“Sad.” Said Phil. Clearly not amused. “Jen, could you get us something to drink?”
“Sure.” Said Jen. “Glad you’re not dead, Ryan.”
“Thanks, me too.” Said Ryan.
Phil waited for Jen to walk inside, then asked:
“Where’s Sawyer?”
“He’s back at the house getting some supplies ready. Guns, ammo, camping gear. Pretty much everything we might need.” Said Ryan.
“I hope you find Annie.” Said Phil. “How are you going to pay for the trip?”
“Yeah, about that…” said Ryan. “Have you checked your bank account lately?”
“Yesterday. Why?” asked Phil.
“Check it again.” Said Ryan.
Phil pulled out his phone and opened his bank account info.
“Oh my freaking g---!” said Phil as Ryan covered his mouth with his hand.
“OK, so it worked.” Said Ryan. “That’s the deposit from my life insurance. I need that.”
“That’s $100,000!” said Phil.
“I started a new account with a new name.” said Ryan. “Just transfer $95,000 into it and buy a boat with the rest. Or whatever you want.”
“What name did you make the account under?” asked Phil.
“Gordon.” Said Ryan. “Gordon Howe.”
“You wish.” Said Phil with a laugh.
“I also need you to register the car in your name.” said Ryan. “That’s all.”
“Alright, I suppose I could go do all that now.” Said Phil. “Do you have any idea where Annie could be?”
“Nope.” Said Ryan. “Not a clue. But she’s out there. Somewhere.”
* * * * *
A man wearing a white lab coat walked down the hallway of a poorly lit building. He reached into the pocket of his lab coat and pulled out a single key. He stopped in front of a door, unlocked it and slowly opened it.
“Mrs. Easton.” He said firmly, but respectfully. “Please come with me.”
Annie couldn’t see who it was since the person was standing in darkness, but she was somewhat relieved as this was the first time the door had been opened in weeks and he didn’t sound threatening.
“Who are you?” she demanded. “I’m not going to cooperate with you until you start cooperating with me!”
“We have met before.” Said the man as he stepped forward into the light. “My name is Doctor Apocalypse.”
Annie gasped at the sight of the man standing before her. His face and hands had been severely burned and his lower jaw was missing. In its place was a crude steel jaw that looked to have been hastily made by someone with little skill in such tasks. He also wore a strange pair of goggles on his eyes and seemed momentarily bothered by the light he had walked into.
“Your face…” said Annie.
“Nothing to concern yourself with.” Said Doctor Apocalypse. “I just needed a moment to adjust to the light. As you can see, I have had a few run-ins with your husband and his dog.”
Annie thought for a moment then recognized his voice.
“You’re the one who kidnapped me and took me to that warehouse.” Said Annie. “All you wanted was one of Ryan’s hockey sticks.”
“Yes, you are correct.” Said Doctor Apocalypse.
“He destroyed the stick last year.” Said Annie. “You’ll never get it now.”
“We don’t need the stick. We need you.” Said Dr. Apocalypse. “We need your mind.”
Annie looked confused.
“What do you need my mind for?” she asked
Dr. Apocalypse pulled a piece of paper from his jacket pocket and handed it to Annie.
“The original plan was to kill you and Ryan outright, but while following you around your college campus, we learned a little more about you than we thought we would.” Said Dr. Apocalypse
“This is my research paper.” Said Annie. “How did you find it?”
Ignoring her question, Dr. Apocalypse continued:
“We need you to recreate those bacteria. It’s resistant to extreme heat and…” his voice trailed off.
“And what?” asked Annie.
“It’s so very deadly.” Said Dr. Apocalypse, unable to fight back a sneer.
“I found them by accident.” Said Annie. “I had no intention of making something so powerful. Even if I could recreate them, and there’s no guarantee that I can, I would never make them for you. You’ll hurt people!”
Dr. Apocalypse took a radio from his jacket pocket.
“She says she won’t do it. Are you ready with the ultimatum?” he said
“Yes. Bring her.” Said a voice through the radio.
“Come with me.” Said Dr. Apocalypse. “You will want to see this.”
* * * * *
Ryan pulled into his driveway and parked the car. Sawyer met him outside with a few bags of supplies.
“There’s more in the garage.” Said Sawyer. “Do you think you can get it? I wanna see if Buffy is home so I can say goodbye.”
“Yeah, sure. Take your time.” Said Ryan. “Wrap it before you tap it!”
“She’s classy!” Sawyer snapped.
Ryan finished loading everything into the Malibu. His shotgun, Sawyer’s AK-47, ammo, pipe bombs, fishing gear, camping gear. Gear, gear and more gear. Ryan and Sawyer had no idea if they would need any of this stuff, but they sure weren’t going to risk not having it if they did need it.
Sawyer came back after an hour and jumped in the Malibu, ready to go.
“You alright?” asked Ryan as he got into the driver’s seat.
“I’m fine. She’s sad.” Said Sawyer. “Let’s get going before I have second thoughts.”
Ryan pulled out of the driveway and headed towards who knows where. He looked into the rear view mirror at his house, wondering if he would ever live in it again.
“There it goes, Sawyer.” Said Ryan, still looking in the mirror. “All those good times.”
“What the heck!?” cried Ryan and Sawyer.
Their house had just exploded in a ball of fire. Debris was raining down all around them as a robot flew over their heads and out of sight.
“Well, we just got our first clue.” Said Ryan.
“General Evil…” growled Sawyer.
* * * * *
“That house was empty.” Said a man in the dark trench coat as he turned off the video feed from the robot that had blown up Annie’s house. “The next one will be loaded with your family members.”
Annie buried her face in her hands and sobbed. “Please just leave us alone…” she said.
“Agree to help us and no more harm will come to your family.” Said the man in the trench coat.
“Agree to help us and we will reward you when our plans have come to fruition.” Said Dr. Apocalypse.
Annie weighed her options. If she didn’t help them, they would kill her family. If she did help them, she would be helping them kill someone else’s family. Unless…
“I’ll do it.” Said Annie. “I hope your plan fails, but I’ll help. Just leave my family alone.”
“You won’t regret your decision.” Said Dr. Apocalypse. “Guards, take her to her laboratory. We will start right away.”
Two guards escorted Annie from the room. Dr. Apocalypse waited for them to close the door behind them, then spoke:
“I have not been able to contact the lawyer for days, Evil.” He said.
“No matter. He did what we needed him to do.” Said General Evil.
“Did he?” Apocalypse challenged. “Ryan Easton and his dog disappear off the face of the earth the same day the man who tried to put him in prison does? He’s going to come here…”
“And he will die.” Said General Evil. “This is all too prefect, really.”
Dr. Apocalypse looked uneasy as he placed a hand on his steel jaw.
“One of these days, my luck will run out.” He said.
“Don’t worry about Ryan and his dog.” Said General Evil. “If he is alive, and I doubt he is, I have a surprise waiting for him.” General Evil motioned towards a reinforced iron door.
General Evil changed the subject:
“Have you gained her trust?” he asked.
“She will never trust either of us. Nor should she. But she will cooperate.” Said Dr. Apocalypse.
“Good.” Said General Evil with a sinister grin. “Cooperation is all we require.”