A Post Atomic Apocalypse Story
Charles W Bird
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. This story may not be copied by any means without my express written permission.
Prologue; Nok set the Cadet Warriors to mingle with the newcomers, particularly their children, telling them of life in the Territory. Like boys throughout the ages, games soon began to appear, the newcomer parents were astounded as they watched a ball game develop on the parade ground, boys of all races came to join the teams. Mothers stood with their daughters as girls from S'Geo invited them into their homes and shared their playthings with them. When the newcomer children began schooling, the boys were invited to join the Cadet Warriors and a Girls organization was created, The Girls' Auxiliary. The girls trained in hospital care of the warriors wounded in battle, any girl from any of the races was asked to join. What most of them did not know, it was War Leader Nok who was insisting on this integration of the races. It was a time of new beginning, the re-colonization of the Territory was underway with a new and vibrant culture, taking what was good from all the races and combining it into a way of life for everyone.
NEW FOUND WEALTH
The newcomers were encouraged to seek their fortunes in the Territory and many found farmland ready for the plow, while others became shopkeepers and tradesmen. Within weeks, new buildings were being erected to house smithies and foundries.
An Ogre tailor set up shop near the Warrior Barracks and began producing uniforms for the warriors.
An older Human man had read in the Before People books about printing presses and he began experimenting with wooden block type and he was soon producing a weekly newspaper, using wheat straw to produce a coarse paper for his newspaper.
Two Ogre brothers started a business building freight wagons and they went into partnership with Chief Red Feather's people to supply horses for the wagons.
Several farm families went together, both Human and Ogre, to start a truck farm raising vegetables, melons and fruits. At their first harvest, they opened a market in the Territorial Capital City of S'Geo and sold their produce.
The demand for coinage became so great that the twins had to ask their Great Grandfather, Prince Morg, to supply them with a set of dies and stamps so that they could mint coins from the silver being produced from local mines.
War Leader Nok began a training program for a Reserve Warrior Force that would be trained and could be called up in time of emergency. Older Warriors and young men, those occupied in the trades and farming, were encouraged to join. They need only give up a few days a month for training and they would be paid a stipend to be on call during an emergency.
As the warm season progressed, some of the farm women, both Human and Ogre, formed a co-op and began preserving the abundant fruits that were ripening. They produced jams and jellies, dried fruits and fruit products to be sold in their own store.
An enterprising drayman purchased a wagonload of their products and hauled them to the National Capital, Ora. His load was sold out in a single day and he had a bag full of silver and copper coins.
On his return trip, he bought stelbar that he sold to the new forges and foundries that had been built in S'Geo. He immediately put in an order for two more wagons and he hired crews and horses from Chief Red Feather's folk to work the new wagons.
The wagon traffic became so great, the pass into High Reaches had to be widened and a hotel was built in High Reaches to accommodate travelers needing to stay the night.
All this traffic did not go unnoticed by the rogues and criminals, wrecked wagons, with their cargo and passengers gone started to be found abandoned along the road.
In answer, War Leader Nok assigned Warriors to accompany the wagons as far as High Reaches. He purchased horses from the local tribes and formed a Warrior Cavalry to protect the trade route. He established a small fort at High Reaches and stationed Cavalry Warriors there to protect travelers and merchants. He placed a Human Warrior, Pel, as Fort Captain and assigned a Far Speaker there for communication.
The Ogre Folk at High Reaches asked if they could contribute to the Warrior Force and that it provide protection to their local mines and enterprises. Nok was agreeable and the folk of High Reaches raised their own company of Warriors, placing it under the command of Fort Captain Pel.
With armed Cavalry Warriors accompanying the freight convoys, attacks on the wagons greatly diminished but the strain on Nok's Warriors was becoming hard to fulfill all his commitments, so he began a recruiting campaign throughout the Territory.
Many Tribal Warriors flocked to his call as did local Human, Vampire and Ogre youths looking for adventure and a steady income. Fort S'Geo had to be enlarged and Nok called upon his Cadet Warriors for officers to command the troops.
By the time training was completed, there were twelve companies of Warriors at Fort S'Geo and another four companies at Fort High Reaches. He had stripped the Cadets of leadership to supply Captains to lead the Warriors; the Cadets went on an enlistment campaign to replenish their ranks.
There were some proud households, both Human and Ogre, when their sons were selected as Cadet Officers.
To support his troops, War Leader Nok activated three Girl's Auxiliary Hospital Corps units and equipped them for field service. He stationed one Auxiliary unit at Fort Far Reaches and the other two at Fort S'Geo. He knew that, with all the newfound wealth in the Territory, it was only a matter of when the Rogue Ogres, Cannibals and Ghouls attacked them.
That first warm time ended and the success was so great, the Twin Princes Royal ordered a holiday to be planned in celebration.
There would be dancing, entertainment and games to be enjoyed. The game of bis was a national pastime and two Cadet Companies challenged two Warrior Companies at a game of Bis.
Betting on the teams was ferocious and silver coins were changing hands, each betting on their favorite team.
Chieftain Red Feather's Tribal Warriors challenged the Fort Warriors to a horse race and even more betting took place.
The time for the four day celebration arrived, Nok was taking no chances, he assigned Warriors and Cavalry around the perimeter of S'Geo and stacks of weapons and spears were placed strategically around the town.
A holiday atmosphere broke out at dawn, foods were prepared for sale and music began to be heard. Young Warriors were escorting their girl friends around to all the booths set up and the Bis Teams started warming up.
Horses were curried and decorated for the big race to be held right after the noonday meal.
The first Bis Game was the High School Cadet Warriors challenging the Headquarters Company from Fort S'Geo. It was a stoutly fought game. The High School Team had a slight edge as they had several more Vampire Cadets than the Headquarters Company had Vampire Warriors.
The Cadets held their lead throughout the game and won the match!
Right after lunch, it was time for the horserace. There was no advantage for a Vampire Warrior over a Tribal Warrior as a horse is a horse. The Tribal Warriors were clearly the winners in every heat as they rode bareback, while the Cavalry was hampered by their heavy saddles.
The second Bis game was more evenly matched after the horse race. The score went back and forth, with the Fort Warriors of Company Three eking out a one run advantage over the High School Cadet Company Two.
They ended the day of festivities by a traditional song fest, first the Tribal Warriors would sing their Tribal Chants and then the Fort Warriors would sing songs, some of which dated back as far as the Before People.
With a spirit of friendship and camaraderie, all the participants retired to their homes or barracks for the night, except for the increased Warrior Patrols that War Leader Nok had ordered.
Fortunately, it was a quiet night and no alarms were sounded.
The second day of festivities began with a community breakfast and entertainment from jugglers and athletes. The High School contributed two teams of tumblers and they kept the crowd spellbound with their feats.
Then the next game of Bis got started, the Warrior Team from Fort High Reaches had challenged a Warrior Team from Fort S'Geo. It was a closely fought game, high score going back and forth until the last inning when the hitter from High Reaches hit the ball out of the park and brought himself and two other runners home.
That afternoon would see the Warrior winner from the day before and that day's Warrior winning team in a match for Warrior championship.
The Cadet Warriors had challenged the Warrior Champions to a "grudge" match for Territory Championship. The betting was heavy and silver was passing hands at an alarming rate. The second game began while betting was still going on and runners were rounding the bases.
The Fort S'Geo Warriors took an early lead and kept it, winning the game by two runs.
The Challenge game between The Cadet Warriors and the Fort S'Geo Warriors would take place the next morning.
The day ended with another group meal and teams from Fort S'Geo and the Tribal Warriors in songfest.
The third day saw the eagerly awaited Championship Bis game between Fort S'Geo Warriors and the High School Cadet Warriors.
Enough silver had passed hands in bets to feed the town for a year.
It was an evenly fought battle; betters were getting worried that it might be a tie game. The Cadets were up first in the last inning, batting in four runs before losing a third out.
The Fort S'Geo Warriors' team began with high hopes, but the Cadets slipped in a new pitcher. He was an Ogre boy who had a tremendous arm and he fanned the first two hitters up to bat out before they had a chance. Finally, a Warrior got to first base and their hopes began to rise. The next batter was out before their runner ever made it to second base!
The High School Cadet Warriors had won the challenge and were Bis Champions!
They went dancing off the bis field, headed for the showers. The Fort Warriors were shaking their heads! They had been bested by a bunch of high school boys!
The bet payouts were enormous; nobody had ever expected high school boys to beat grown Warriors in a game of Bis! War Leader Nok had bet heavily on his High Schoolers and walked away with a smile on his face and a heavy bag of silver coin in his hand!
The festivities that night and the next day were almost anticlimactic, despite the rivalry of the Bis game, there was a closeness between the Fort Warriors and the Cadet Warriors that was to be envied. The Tribal Warriors wanted in that comradeship and they sent a delegation to War Leader Nok, asking that they might become Warriors under his command.
Nok considered their request and sought advice from his father, Prince Jat and also from the Twin Princes Royal.
Knowing their troubles with rogue Ogres, Cannibals and Ghouls were not over, Nok was advised to absorb the Tribal Warriors into his command. So it was that the call went out to all the tribes that Tribal Warriors would be welcomed into the fraternity of S'Geo Warriors.
As the cold season began, Fort S'Geo saw an increase of nearly 1500 new Warriors, most were fully trained Tribal Warriors, experienced in warfare and equipped with their own arms and officers.
New barracks and facilities were hastily constructed and the nearby tailors were kept busy sewing uniforms. The Tribal Warriors were proud of their new rates and ranks and were a welcome addition to the Territorial Army.
It was a happy marriage of tribal forces and standing army forming the final bridge between the Kingdom of AZ and the indigenous folk of the high plateau.
They were becoming one people, one nation.
As with any frontier, war was always just over the horizon. War Leader Nok trained his Warriors like he trained himself, without mercy.
He knew it was only a matter of time before the hordes from hell decided the folk of the Territory were easy pickings. His Warriors rode patrol on a constant schedule and Nok established a Communications Command of far speakers, who were in constant communication with the outposts, tribal areas and Fort High Reaches.
Nok had established small forts and outposts against attack and rotated his Warriors regularly, so that they all gained experience in the remote areas of the Territory.
A sub-Captain and a squad of Warriors were assigned to every Tribal Chieftain and War Leader Nok expected a far speaker report from them daily.
Nok's clerks kept records of every report and maps of sightings sent in of rogue Ogres, Cannibals and Ghouls. He had a map on his wall with colored pins showing every sighting.
Slowly, a pattern began to emerge, the majority of the sightings showed traffic in and out of the ruins of the Before People city of S'Lak, with routes to G'River and on to Vega to the west.
He sent distance messages to the Reigning Prince Morg, stressing the danger to him from Vega.
Prince Morg replied with a message that he was gathering Warriors to attack Vega under the command of War Leader Prince Barth.
Several days later, the Twin Princes Royal summoned War Leader Nok to Government House.
When he arrived, his father, War Leader Prince Jat was waiting for him and escorted him before the two Princes Royal, Lok and Gorl.
Prince Lok said, "War Leader Nok, kneel before us."
Prince Gorl continued, "By order of our Great Grandfather, Reigning Prince Morg, we herby name you Prince Nok of the Kingdom of AZ. Rise War Leader Prince Nok."
Prince Lok said, "This is commanded by Prince Morg, so it has been said, so shall it be, let no man say otherwise."
Nok stood there, numbed by what had just taken place. His father, Prince Jat, hugged him and whispered in his ear, "You are the second of our folk to rise and my pride in you is without bounds, my son and heir."
The S'Geo newspaper produced a special edition and the bold headlines read, "War Leader NOK raised to the Peerage of AZ". It continued in smaller type, "War Leader Prince Nok, our hometown Warrior has been named Prince of AZ by Reigning Prince Morg!"
Nok was still slightly dizzy when he returned to the fort.
There, he was met by cheering warriors of all races, his officers clapping him on the back on congratulations!
Late that same night, the Duty Captain of the Communications Command sent a runner to Prince Nok, telling him of movement on the frontier.
Nok came at once and the Duty Captain showed him the new pins placed on the map. Nok's first question was, "How many intruders?"
By now, all of Nok's officers knew they would be questioned, so the Captain was ready, "The observer reports about 120 individuals, it was too dark to determine their race."
Nok made an immediate decision, "Call out Companies 8, 12 and 16, notify Hospital Auxiliary 3 and Tribal Scouts Platoons 5 and 9. We ride in one hour!"
He raced back to Government House to brief the Duty Officer, who in turn, roused the Princes Royal immediately. After quickly briefing the Princes and also his father who was awakened by the disturbance, he headed back to Fort S'Geo to meet his troops.
The Hospital Auxiliary would follow the troops in 4 wagons behind the Warriors who were all mounted troops. They headed north at a fast trot, the horses covering the miles at a rapid pace.
It was a two day trip to the vicinity of S'Lak, a pall of smoke from cooking fires hung over the ruins, an indication that a large force was waiting for them.
Nok called his forces to halt while still back in the trees. If the Cannibals and the Ghouls had spotted them, which was unlikely, they would not have any idea how large a force was upon them.
He let down his shields slightly and listened, he heard no mention of their arrival among the mental chatter coming from S'Lak.
He sent a messenger back to intercept the Hospital Auxiliary and keep them hidden far back in the forest.
He sent Companies 8 and 12 to the north and west side of the ruins. There could be no escape to the east, Ghouls would rather die than get wet in water.
He had no idea how deep the lake was, but any depth was a barrier to those fiends.
He would lead Company 16 himself and he put the Tribal Scout Platoons to stop any escapees from running between the companies and disappear in the darkness.
He told the Company Captains and the Sub-Captains in charge of the Scout Platoons that that his drummer would send the signal to attack and all the Platoon and Company Drummers were to repeat the signal so that nobody would miss the order.
The observers he had sent to spy on the folk gathering in the ruins reported back that there was much merriment and laughter heard in the Ghoul and Cannibal camps.
Nok decided to wait until the celebration had quieted down, hoping the enemy was tired and possibly drunk.
As the sounds of celebration quieted, Nok gave the order to advance on the encampment. Scouts reported a large concentration of captives being held in the center of the camp.
He immediately called his Captains and sub-Captains to conference. After discussing the matter of the captives, he ordered his troops to make every effort to spare the captive's lives.
He felt, if they delayed any longer, they might be discovered and then the fiends would kill all the captives in an attempt to escape.
He had a distance message sent to the Hospital Auxiliary Unit that there were captives and to be ready to treat wounded and abused folk held captive by the raiders.
The advance was resumed and they fell upon the sleeping raiders in a fury, all the warriors had been told that no captives were to be taken of Rogue Ogres, Ghouls or Cannibals.
When the warriors saw the pitiful condition of the captives, their fury intensified, raider body parts were flung in all directions as the warriors hacked their way through the encampment.
When all the raiders were disposed of, the warriors turned their attention to those being held in captivity; they picked up wounded children and abused adults to carry them to the hospital wagons.
The medics and their helpers were appalled at what was being brought to them.
The Chief Medic was a young Ogre woman, Mala, and she calmed her workers by telling them they could grieve and rage later, save these folk NOW!
They worked through the night and into the next day saving the lives of the captives; of the over 500 captives, they were able to save 430 of them. Mala's medics were so angry, had a raider suddenly appeared, he would have been torn to shreds!
The overwrought young woman sat on a rock and cried as those who had not survived were buried in the soil of that terrible place, Nok came over to her and placed his arm around her in comfort, "Chief Medic Mala, mourn those who have died, but remember all those whom you saved. But for you and your medics, they, also, would be buried in this place."
Chief Medic Mala looked up at War Leader Nok through her tears and gave him a wane smile, "Sir, I mourn the dead because I could not save them, I have not the knowledge nor the skills."
Nok smiled at her and replied, "Perhaps not, but you did have the knowledge and the skills to save the ones that you did save, had you not been here, none of them would have been saved."
They walked back to the area of their camp, arm in arm. Little did either realize that time would pass and they would come together in a more permanent relationship in the near future.
It was a slow march back to S'Geo, the injured captives were too numerous for all of them to ride in the wagons. Everywhere Nok looked, he saw grizzled warriors carrying an injured child in their arms as they rode slowly towards home.
They were met at the edge of the town by the Princes Royal and Prince Jat.
Each former captive was personally welcomed.
The many children among those rescued had no parents and Nok, remembering his own youth, spotted an Ogre boy standing alone by a tree.
Nok went over to the child and began talking to him. He liked what he heard and offered the child a place in his home.
The boy looked at Nok and replied, "I cannot abandon my baby sister, sir."
Nok quickly asked, "Where is she?"
The boy replied, "Sir, she is being cared for in the Hospital Wagon."
Nok held the boy's hand as they hurried over to the wagons. He spotted Chief Medic Mala and he asked about the child.
Mala said, "Prince Nok, the child has been severely treated, but she is healing."
The Ogre boy looked at Nok and began to cry, Nok knelt down and hugged him, "What is wrong, son?"
The boy replied, "Yuuu yu you don't want a poor orphan boy OR his sister. You are a Warrior Prince!"
Nok asked, "Son tell me your name and that of your sister that I might announce that you BOTH are my children!"
The boy told him and Nok stood, "I, Nok, War Leader of The Territory, Prince of AZ declare that Mob and Beli are my son and daughter. This I declare, let no man say otherwise!"
Nok carried a sobbing boy back to his quarters in the fort and sent his orderly searching for clothes for Mob, while he bathed his new son.
Some hours later, Chief Medic Mala brought a tiny baby girl, Beli, to his quarters. The two adults sat comfortably and watched Mob play with some new toys on the floor while the baby, Beli slept peacefully in a makeshift crib beside them.
Thus began the courtship of Nok and Mala.
The next day Nok was introducing his new son to his staff. The Commander of the Communication Company looked at the boy closely and then took Nok aside, "War Leader, Prince Nok, are you aware that your son is a powerful telepath? For him to be so powerful at such a young age is unheard of, right now, he is more powerful than half my command!"
Nok was a fair 'path himself, so he queried Mob and the boy sent back immediately, "Are you not pleased, Papa?"
Nok responded by pulling his son into his arms and hugged him fiercely. He said, "Mob, my son, I would be pleased if you had no abilities, that you are a 'path has no bearing on my love for you and your sister. I would love if you had none."
Mob snuggled into his Papa's embrace and let out a contented sigh. Mala was watching the interchange between Nok and his son and thought to herself, "I could love a man like that."
She heard a mental giggle and a boy saying, "You would make us a good Mama, Medic Mala!"
She looked sharply at Mob, who smiled sweetly and hugged Nok.
Nok continued the patrols, he knew that the fiends at S'Lak were not the only such in the area. His Warriors discovered little pockets of Cannibals and Ghouls, along with a few Rogue Ogres spread over a wide swath of the Territory.
The patrols wiped out these pockets of filth wherever they encountered them.
The newly enrolled Tribal Warriors had no experience fighting the filth from hell, it was not until Captain Tall Tree and his company came across a small village that had been wiped out by the cannibals and ghouls that they knew of the awful practices of those foul folk.
The Company Far Speaker let out such a mental shriek that all of S'Geo heard him.
Two hours later, War Leader Prince Nok was in the saddle, leading three companies of Warriors to the east. He left behind a terrified little boy, Medic Mala was holding him as he cried for his Papa.
They swept towards the northeast, driving the Cannibals and Ghouls ahead of them. Out onto the badlands they forced the fiends, until they reached a broad river they could not cross.
As Nok and his forces swooped down upon the Cannibals and Ghouls, the fiends attempted to kill off their captives, but Nok had detailed three squads to circle around and separate the captives from the Cannibals and Ghouls.
No fiend survived their onslaught, they had been reduced to scattered parts and slime soaking into the sandy soil.
The captives were in pitiful condition, Nok had the Far Speaker call to Chief Medic Mala that she should send out a wagon and medics to treat the abused captives.
The next thing he was hearing was his son, "Papa, we are on our way, Mama Mala is leading and Beli and I are in her wagon." Nok was amazed at the power his young son had, he was a mere child and could reach out to him from such a long distance. As he was thinking about Mob, he heard a boyish giggle and then his son sent to him, "Papa, I can reach you easily, all you need do is call me and I can establish rapport with you."
The Far Speaker rushed up to Nok and said, "Who is this Mob that he has such power. Never have I heard such a strong Far Speaker!"
Nok beamed and replied, "That is my son, Mob."
As dark began to fall, the Hospital Wagons arrived to care for the captives.
Mob sought out Nok and shyly asked, "Papa, you are not displeased with me are you?"
Nok gathered up his son in his arms and hugged him tightly, "No, my son. I am surprised is all, that you are such a powerful distance speaker."
Mob looked down at his feet for a moment and then said, "Papa, there is a boy in the Hospital Wagon who is like me, may I go and meet him?"
Nok replied, "Let us both go meet him."
He led Mob over to the Hospital Wagon and they looked inside, there among the injured captives sat a small Human boy.
Mob went to him and drew him towards Nok, "Jef, this is my Papa, he will protect you and care for you."
The boy's mental cries were very powerful, but undisciplined. All the far speakers among the Warriors were holding their heads in pain.
They learned that the boy's name was Jef and both his parents had been killed by the fiends. Mob looked at Nok with pleading in his eyes, Nok could not resist, he announced, "I, Prince Nok, War Leader of the Territory claim Jef as my son. This I have said, let no man say otherwise."
Again, Chief Medic Mala was observing.
They returned to S'Geo at a slower pace, allowing the injured captives a period of rest that they might recover from their wounds.
Little Jef was often found riding in the arms of War Leader Prince Nok and Mob sitting in the saddle behind his Papa.
Upon their return, Nok presented the three children, Mob, Beli and Jef to his own Papa, Prince Jat. Jat was impressed with the children and opened his arms and his heart to them.
The three would become great favorites of their Grandpapa Jat and were regular visitors to Government House.
With the Cannibals and Ghouls suppressed for a time, Nok was able to train his forces and fully integrate the Tribal Warriors into his army.
The next warm time season saw the Territory expanding its farmlands, they were becoming the food basket of the Kingdom.
Huge convoys of foodstuffs were driven across the pass at High Reaches and down into the Kingdom. Wealth began to accumulate in S'Geo, a group of folk, Ogre and Human applied to the Princes Royal for a charter to establish a bank in S'Geo.
The charter was allowed and S'Geo Exchange Bank came into being. The deposits were heavy and the bank began to loan out funds for such enterprises as the Fruit Co-Op and the Water Pump Company.
The need for workers became desperate and Prince Jat, once again, traveled throughout the Kingdom encouraging folks to immigrate to the Territory. He encouraged tradesmen as well as farmers to emigrate and made a special effort to get school teachers to go back with him.
All during the warm time season, emigrants arrived at Government House. Farms were springing up all over the Territory. Nok had to double and then double again his patrols to protect the folk.
He kept roving patrols all over the lands once inhabited by the Cannibals, Ghouls and Rogue Ogres, only occasionally would a wandering fiend be reported.
It was not in his nature to relax his vigilance. Nok knew there would be attacks in the future. Nok commanded the largest army in the entire Kingdom of AZ and he was determined to keep his folk safe.
He even began using the Senior Cadets from the High School to help patrol their lands.
NEW PRINCES ROYAL
It was apparent that the Princes Royal, Lok and Gorl, were expecting sons. It was unusual in that they had, long ago, declared that they were both brothers and mates.
The gestation period for Vampires is greater than that of humans, what it would be if both parents were Vampire was not known. Chief Medic Mala assigned a staff of medics and nurses to care for the Twin Princes and the whole nation settled down to wait the coming of the newest heirs.
As they became more unwieldy, the Royal Twins withdrew from public appearances and War Leader Prince Jat performed their public duties.
The season made yet another circle before the pair were ready to deliver, as soon as they experienced their first labor pains, Chief Medic Mala had them rushed off to bed.
They refused to be separated, so Mala had a conference room fitted out as a double delivery room and they settled in to wait.
Lok was first to go into labor, he was delivered of twin boys, both with flaming red hair and powerful lungs.
Hardly had the new twins been cleaned up that Gorl began labor.
Within in minutes, he was delivered of two golden haired twins with equally strong lungs!
Nok had Far Speakers ready to send the information to the Reigning Prince when they heard a young mind sending the information and telling of contacting the minds of all four new Princes Royal.
Then they heard the mental voice signing off as Mob, son of Prince Nok.