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Gallery Folders

Featured
Ghost Widow Portrait by Sabtastic
Rikti Mez by Techta
Disney style City of Villains by syrusbLiz
Seed of Hamidon by DNA-1
Art by David Nakayama
Rocketboard by DNA-1
Elemental Armor--ICE by DNA-1
Elemental Armor--FIRE by DNA-1
Malaise by DNA-1
XX Signature CoH + CoV Characters ONLY XX
Save our City Banner small for forums by CMKook-24601
Save Our City FB Banner by CMKook-24601
Save our City FB and forum icon by CMKook-24601
Mako Tattoo Design by plangkye
CoH + CoV "Heroes" ONLY
Fighting Back by AutoBubbs
Unleash the Beast by AutoBubbs
Taste of Power by AutoBubbs
Oni Face mk-2 by AutoBubbs
CoV + COH "Villains" ONLY
The Goddess of Malice Li'Illannia 2024 by MisfitTalon
Surprise by AutoBubbs
Toasty by AutoBubbs
Casual by AutoBubbs
CoH + CoV Multiple Character Art ONLY
PadreSZ - S A N D S by JoeMDavis
Pharonix by SphinxMagoo
The Good Doctor Color by slippyninja
Relax, We're Doctors... by RichardVale
CoH + CoV Sequentials ONLY
E Holdtorch by plangkye
Returning to Paragon City by mattwo
Defender Dames - 025 The @$$ Magnet by GR-Tracker
Defender Dames - 024 by GR-Tracker
Artists' Alley Submissions A-M
Commission- Light Armor Lunafreya by cric
Commission- Female Seth by cric
Commission- Sexy and Wet at The Desert by cric
Commission- Riding Across the Cyberpunk City alt by cric
Artists' Alley Submissions N-Z
Commission- Volcanic Man by cric
Noodz by Battlewraith
COMMISSION: Lady Istanbul by taghuso
COMMISSION: Poison Ivy? by taghuso
CoH + CoV Fan Fiction ONLY

Mature Content

COH Story 27 Hunting for the Ice ageSeason 8 Episode 7Hunting For The Ice AgeIt was snowing when they arrived. But then again it was always seemed to be snowing here. The air always had the crispness and cold of winter and the moisture that foretold of a coming storm or one just past.They had gone through a long list of questions at the airport in Bangor Maine. Have you had any of the following issues: influenza, typhoid, cold (of ANY sort) and a long list of issues he had never heard of. Also they had to confirm they had been vaccinated against an impressively long list of diseases. Most he had also never heard of except from the previous list.Finally they had to sign a release form that absolved the U.S. Government of any liability for injury or transformation occurring during their visit.Then the four people and a hundred pounds of camera, sound gear and even a camera drone and their personal possessions were loaded onto a S76 helicopter.The flight in had been rather boring at first. It had been sunny and warm August day when it took off and headed out to sea. Quickly the sky grew overcast and it got noticeably colder. Then it started to snow quite heavily. They noted that the pilots were flying using radar as the wind grew worse and the snow falling heavier.The view outside the window was completely obscured by driving snow and ice. He placed his hand against the now ice-covered window. The cold ran thru his hand and he pulled it back. “Wow that’s cold!”“Be careful. The cold is really bitter here but it lightens up once we get closer to the lodge,” the pilot warned.“How much further?” The man asked. He was tall with short, reddish blonde hair that told of Irish heritage somewhere in his family tree. A smile readily came to him in most times but at the moment he looked nervous.Seated across from him was his team. The black man wielding the camera was Allen Miller. He had been with the host for many years and they had gone all over the globe together.The brown-haired woman next to him was a little on the short side but had a body that was well toned. It spoke of someone who exercised but not overly so. She was holding the mic that was recording everything the host was saying. Like Allen, Barbara had been with the show since the start.Usually for a show like this there was a half dozen other people doing all the myriad tasks needed to film. But considering the extreme situation it was decided to go with a bare minimum of people. So aside from Barbara and Allen there was Fred Mason. His official title was Technical assistant. Which meant he dealt with anything the other three couldn’t.All were bundled up heavily in parkas, gloves and arctic, cold weather gear. Back in Bangor it seemed like an overkill but now he wondered if it was enough.The helicopter slowed and there was a soft bump as it landed. “All out,” the pilot commented. “We’re here.”“Where is here?” One passenger asked. He tried to look out the window but it was frosted over.“The ice age,” the copilot responded.The side door slid open and let in a blast of frigid air whipped through the compartment. The leader stepped down and found himself standing on a concrete platform partly covered by snow. The passengers and their luggage were quickly piled on the ground. In a spot not too covered with snow.In addition to the camera and recording gear they had 2, large, arctic tents, 4 heaters, enough survival rations for a week and their own personal gear. They were experienced enough to limit themselves to a single bag each for their personal items.The wind whipped up as the helo took off; turning the air into a raging blizzard. It was several moments before the blowing snow had settled down. It revealed a landscape of deep snow and deeper wilderness. The area around the landing pad was clear of vegetation aside from a few small shrubs. Beyond that all he saw was tall, coniferous trees towering up and crowding close around. What impressed him the most was the silence. Once the noise of the helicopter had faded they were left alone in the silence of a forest. Only the soft whipping of the wind and the rustle of the trees.He wasn’t sure where he was but it certainly wasn’t the same world he had just left.“I’m glad I remembered to bring along my thermal underwear,” Allen muttered."Dr. Livingstone I presume?"He turned in the direction of the voice.The last of the wind finally died down revealing a figure standing close to him.It was not human.The powerfully muscled body of a prime predator was sitting barely ten feet from him. His fur was a grayish white color that blended into the snow easily. His body had the lines and shape of a lion but without thick mane. The feline examined him with the gaze of a hunter.“Hello,” he said trying to remain calm. “I’m Jonathan Williams.” He pointed to the three people with him. “And this is my crew. We’re here from the television show Great Expeditions.”“Welcome,” the feline said in a powerful, male voice. “I’m Dr Philip Ferguson.”“And I’m Dr Samantha Ferguson,” A female voice said. “We’re big fans of your show. We watch it all the time.”Jonathan turned in the direction of the voice and saw a female feline seated a mere ten feet away. She looked like a lioness but larger and her fur was gray but with spots of black scattered about.“Th – thank you for meeting us,” Jonathan said trying to stay calm.The lioness gave a cough that might have been a laugh. “I’m sorry if we frightened you.”“You’ve been waiting to do that for a long time. Haven’t you?” Jonathan asked.“Welcome to the Ice Age,” the lion said as the two felines slowly came towards them. It allowed Jonathan a better look at them.The lioness was some 6 feet long from nose to base of tail and stood at least 3 feet tall at the shoulder. She weighed around 800 pounds. The male was even longer taller and heavier. Bigger. He was at least 1000 pounds and some 7 feet long.“You’re a cat. A BIG cat!” he stuttered.“Wow!” The lion said sarcastically as he looked at his body. “I hadn’t noticed!”“When they said you had gone native I didn’t think they meant it literally,” Jonathan joked.“The best way to learn about something is to experience it firsthand,” the lion explained.“We’ve learned so much already,” Samantha commented.“Let’s get all of you over to the main lodge and out of the cold,” she said. “Thankfully it’s not too far.”The new arrivals picked up their gear and the group with it’s feline guides headed out.**************The forest was quiet as they trudged through the snow. The path had been cleared recently so the going was easy.He looked around and all he saw was a primeval forest that stretched off in all directions. “Where are we? We still on earth?”The lioness paused for a moment. “Sort of. This is the earth of 10,000 years ago. It is actually a pocket dimension.”“So we’re in another dimension?” Jonathan asked. “Amazing. What exactly IS a pocket dimension? How big is it?”“A pocket dimension is a small reality,” she explained. “A complete universe with all it’s own laws of physics.”“No one is quite sure how large it is,” The lion responded.“It can’t be smaller than my first apartment,” Jonathan quipped.“How?” the man asked and paused. “I mean. How does someone create their own personal reality?”The lioness gave an almost human shrug. “We have no clue. We have several physicists here studying just that question.”After what had only be a few minutes but in this cold and with all the gear it felt like hours; a building loomed up in front of them.The building that came into view looked to be an old hunting lodge with walls of worked stone and thick timber beams and columns. The roof was of large wooden shingles. It looked to be capable of withstanding the worst blizzard. They quickly went inside and the sudden warmth was a great relief.Electric lights lit the interior showing an odd mix of old and new technology. Wood furniture was arraigned in front of a large stone fireplace. On a wall next to it was a large TV screen showing the world news. It hung over a stone fireplace in which burned a good-sized log fire.A wooden desk held a top-of-the-line computer. Seated in front of it was a large Dire wolf who was working the mouse with her right, front paw.Two leopards lay stretched out on one couch and a smilodon occupied another. All were watching the news on TV. Another smilodon was curled up in a chair that was far too small for her. Yet she seemed comfortable and sound asleep. With all four legs sticking up in the air.A wolf and a cave lion were sitting at a card table and playing some sort of board game.Another leopard lay on her back in front of the fire reading a book. The book itself was floating in the air at eye level. Held there by powers unseen.“People!” The lion announced loudly. “Our guests have arrived.”“Be nice as they are recording this all for their TV show,” the lioness added.The group stirred and a half ton of fur covered predators came at them.She pointed to one of the leopards. This feline had several mystical symbols dyed into her fur. “This is Dr. Helle Livandi our resident expert on the mystical arts. She has come to us from Estonia.”“Tere tulemast. Meeldiv tutvuda,” the leopardess bowed. “Greetings. I’m pleased to meet you,” she said in a voice with just a hint of an accent.Mystical arts means you are a mage?” Jonathan asked.The leopard nodded. “A bit of a crude title. I prefer faunalogist as I specialize is animal magic.”“She didn’t need to change when she arrived,” another leopard added in a male voice. “She arrived already a feline.”“This is my natural form,” Helle explained. “I was born a leopard in a previous life.”The lioness pointed to the male leopard. “This is Robert Hawkins.”Samantha pointed to two smilodons that were coming into the room. “The two long tooths are Dr Justine Lebas, one of our veterinarians. And Dr Aseem Hadad is here to see what the animals whose bones he’s been excavating for twenty years looks like in the flesh.”Jonathan extended his hand in an almost reflex motion. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”The sabertooth looked at the hand for a moment.“I’m sorry. How do felines greet each other. I know wolves and dogs sniff each other’s tails,” Jonathan commented. “And that is out.”That got a round of laughter and growls he hoped was laughter.Aseem extended his right front leg and Jonathan shook it carefully. He got a good look at the paw and found that it was actually a hand; complete with fingers and a thumb.“Sabā il kẖayr,” the sabertooth said.“Sabā in noor,” Jonathan answered, giving the appropriate response.Aseem’s ears perked up. “You know Arabic?”“I was on the dig at Gebel el-Silsila for 3 seasons.” The man explained.“That’s great,” the smilodon responded cheerfully. “I was there for seven seasons.”“I noticed that you don’t have a paw. You have a hand down to an opposable thumb.”Aseem held up his left leg and waved his fingers and thumb about. “A complete set on both.”“A compromise Geimhreadh agreed to,” Justine explained. “For somethings you really need a thumb.“This is Dr Julio Rodriguez from NOAA,” the lion explained and pointed to a man standing nearby.“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” the man said and shook Jacks hand. “I hope it’s not too cold for you here.”“I’ll admit it was shock just how cold it is here,” Jonathan responded.“That’s why I am here. To study the extremes of the weather,” the scientist explained. “My specialty is cold weather.”"Is it fun being a meteorologist here?""The study of the weather is fascinating. The forecasting, not so much." The Doctor admitted."Oh?" The TV show host asked."There's only so many ways I can say that we're gonna have snow,” Julio laughed.“Have you discovered anything exciting so far?”“Well. So far I’ve discovered fifteen new types of snow,” the meteorologist answered.“We’ve got you all a room on the first floor,” the lioness added.“So what do you think of our little lair?” A wolf asked. “This used to be the HQ for the old lab but we reworked it to something more comfortable.”Jonathan laughed. “Looks like the Ponderosa from Bonanza. All we need is Lorne Greene and Michael Landon.”The lion and lioness gave a cough that was hopefully a laugh.“Did you think we’re living in caves?” The leopard joked.“Well,” Jonathan said slowly. “The reports does make it sound like that.”“We haven’t given up all of civilization,” she said. “Just certain parts.”“We have all the essentials; food, water, shelter and high speed wifi,” the wolf joked.A dozen humans joined the group.“And here is the two-legged portion of our group.”Introductions were quickly made and Jonathan was soon overwhelmed with names and affiliations.“This is Professor Debra Andrews from Hostra.”“This is Amanda Berkstein from the University of Stuttgart.”“Francois Utrand.”“From Collége Bois-de-Boulogne.”“From Brookhaven National Labs. She’s trying to figure out where we are.”“Carnegie Mellon University, dept of physics.”“Also trying to figure out where we truly are.”He quickly lost track of who was who. Thankfully Fred was there dutifully taking notes. Later he would fill Jonathan in.“Do you really run tours?” Jonathan asked. “You’re website mentioned day tours and hotel accommodations.”“Yes,” the leopard responded. “We have the day trippers who come over just for the day. They get a tour and then time for petting and feeding some of the animals.”“And of course, the obligatory picture taking,” the leopardess answered.“The school trips are really popular,” the leopard commented. “The kids love all of this.”“They are always fun. Teach them when they’re young to appreciate nature and help preserve it,” Amanda said.“We also have guests who stay from a week to a month,” the lioness explained.“What type of people come and stay?” The host asked.“Mostly scientists coming to study and tourists who want a really different vacation. We do have a sociologist who is studying the tourists. But we also have hunters who come to experience an old-fashioned hunt,” the lion said. “Like a real hunter.”Jonathan shook his head. “Sounds a little too hard core for me.”The leopard nodded her head. “It’s only for a few people.”“Where exactly are we? Dr. Ferguson said we are in a pocket dimension,” Jonathan asked. “What exactly does that mean?”“Means we are in a closed world,” the leopard Helle explained. “Everything curves back in upon itself.” He pointed a point at the door that lead outside. “Go out that door and walk in a straight line away from the lodge and eventually you will wind up back at the lodge.”“Confusing,” Jonathan said and laughed.“Not really,” the leopard countered. “Means it’s hard to get lost.”“Unless you want to be lost,” the leopardess added. “We had a hunter came six months ago and walked out into the wilderness. Haven’t seen her since.”“She dead?” He asked.“No. We spent two days tracking her down thinking she needed help,” the leopard commented.The leopardess gave a growl of laughter. “She has resigned from civilization and is happy living as a hunter-gatherer in the ice age.”“Is she still human?” He asked.“Yes,” the leopard responded and paused. “Well. At least physically. I mean you have to wonder about a person who deliberately abandons everything to literally live in a cave.”“Like a Hermit,” Jonathan added.Jonathan shook his head. “Sounds like a pretty hard lifestyle. A short one too. I mean what happens is she gets hurt? She can’t just call 911.”“We’ve explained that to her several times but she is adamant. She doesn’t want any contact with other people,” the female feline responded and shook her head.“Some people just want to be alone.”“I have to ask,” Jonathan started. “Why an animal? I mean you’re not even humanoid.”The group was silent for a moment. “It’s so exhilarating being this way.”“We’ve been studying animals all our lives,” the lioness explained. “Since high school but only now are we really starting to understand them.”“We’ve learned so much,”“It’s so different!”“It just feels right.”“And we haven’t totally given up,” the leopardess. “Like that hunter. We’re just selective of what we want.”The leopard nodded in agreement. “We are happy here with our mix of nature and technology.”“And for us it wasn’t that big a change,” the lion explained. “We are biologists and we were already spending eight or nine months a year out in the wilderness. Now we’re better adapted.”Jonathan looked around. “All I see here are predators. Any prey species?”“We have a few,” the lioness responded. “We have some Przewalski’s horses and some reindeer and Giant Elk.”“No one tried out a Mammoth?” Jonathan asked.“Not yet,” came the response. “It’s a big change.”“REALLY big change.”“Ah!” The leopard said. “The other side of the food chain has arrived!”The horse that clomped into the room was stocky in build and shorter than horses he had seen before. He was some five feet at the shoulders and some 6 feet from nose to tail. His coat was a light, dusty tannish color with a black mane and tail. Jonathan recognized the breed immediately. This was no domesticated stock of horse but a Przewalski’s Horse. A very endangered breed.“This is Cezary Bielicki from the university of Bialystok. He works with a herd of real Przewalski’s horses in Poland,” the lion added. “He’s getting to know what it’s like on the other side of working with horses.”“Indeed,” the stallion responded in a very accented voice. “I have already learned so much.” The stallion bobbed his head. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”Not sure of what the formal greeting was when meeting a stallion; he bowed. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”“How do you keep from getting eaten by mistake?” He asked.The stallion turned his head and lightly nibbled his right shoulder. There was a large blue stripe that went up his shoulder, across and down the left side. “That’s my safety stripe. Means I’m off the menu.”“At least to the intelligent hunters like us,” the lioness commented.“He’s on his own for the others,” the lion added.Jonathan nodded his head. “What’s it like being at the bottom of the food chain?”“Hard,” the equine responded. “Means never letting down my guard. But being able to gallop free and wild is amazing! And once I go back to Poland I’ll be closer to the herd I cared for there before. I’ll understand them better.”“So all of this was created by one person?” Jonathan wolf asked.“Geimhreadh is his name,” Helle responded.“What is he? I’ve gotten several explanations but to be honest it was all confusing.”“He is a Nature spirit,” the mage explained. “that’s not exactly a complete description but good enough I suppose. Such creatures have their powers tied to a specific place or group of plants and animals. His powers are specifically tied to the Pleistocene era,” the mage explained.“So he got power from the Ice age?” The wolf reporter asked. “What happened when the ice age ended?”“He went dormant,” the mage explained. “Some of the ice age plants and animals survived but most went extinct. The ones that survived allowed him to survive but not enough to let him wake up.”“So what woke him up? A 10,000-year alarm clock?”The mage laughed. “The people at ABERA did with their attempts to bring back the Ice age species. With each successful birth of an ice age species Geimhreadh gained a little bit more power.”A blonde-haired gentleman came over to them.“This is Jean Jacobson, facilities manager here,” the lion explained.“He runs the joint,” the lioness added. “Without him everything would fall apart.”“Welcome!” Jean said and smiled. “Let’s get you to your room so you can place your stuff.He led them to a corridor and he stopped at the second door down.“We’re a bit short on rooms so I hope you all don’t mind sharing,” Jean said as he opened the door. “Bathroom is at the end of the hall.”Their room was fairly decent sized if sparsely furnished. Bunk beds lined two walls and a small desk sat near the window.“This is pretty nice,” she said.“The floors are wood and not mud and the roof doesn’t leak!”“It HAS a roof!”“And we don’t have to share it with any livestock.”The man looked at them a moment. “Are you joking?”Allen shook his head. “No. We’ve been all over the world and stayed in some rough places over the years.”The man laughed and pointed to the window. “Don’t be fooled. Out there it’s the ice age and VERY dangerous.”Jonathan face grew serious. “We understand how dangerous things can get and came equipped. Arctic clothing and extreme cold weather tents and heaters.”“So I see,” Jean commented laconically.The new arrivals had placed all their gear in the middle of the floor and it was filled with an amazing amount of gear including tents, sleeping bags, cold weather gear along with the expected camera gear. All specially winterized and waterproofed.“Dinner is at eight tonight,” Jean commented.“Dinner?” Barbara asked.“You know – food. Eat.”“Is it formal? I forgot my tux,” Jonathan commented.“Casual,” Jean answered deadpan. “But humans have to wear clothes.”*************Dinner was interesting. When he was told that dinner was at eight he wasn’t sure what to expect.The dining room was a good sized one. Decorated like an old Adirondacks Great camp with timber and log walls with a large fireplace in the middle of one wall. It could easily hold 30 humans. But many of the diners weren’t human or even humanoid.Two thirds of the attendees were human; various staff, scientists and a half dozen guests. The rest were a mix of leopards, lions, sabertooths and wolves. All of a species that until recently had been extinct.None of the prey species were there. The presence of so many predators eating lots of meat made them understandable nervous. They had their own dining room nearby.The human diners were seated on wooden chairs and the four-legged ones were ensconced on wide benches.For the humans the meal was lamb stew with vegetables or vegetarian stew for those who avoided meat. For the four leggers dinner was simpler – beef and lamb cooked to varying degrees depending on the diner.To drink there was soda, coffee and tea but nothing stronger. With all the fur, teeth and claws present alcohol was off the menu by universal agreement.“Are meals always this formal?” Jonathan asked.“No, but it’s not every day we have a famous TV personality here,” a woman responded. “So we decided to celebrate.”Tobias nodded his head. “Usually it’s pretty scattered. People eating when they want.”“And many of us are usually out in the field,” A sabertooth added.“Are you self-sustaining?” Jonathan asked.The lion shook his head. “No. There simply aren’t enough prey animals. So we heavily supplement things with food brought in.”“Each week we need almost half a ton of meat,” the lioness added.“That’s a lot of meat!”“We lions can eat some 150 pounds of meat in a week,” The lioness responded.After dinner many drifted away to projects that needed to be done or other things. But a good-sized group drifted to the main lobby and gathered around the fireplace.“We thought you’d enjoy a hunt,” a smilodon commented.“One of the bull mammoth’s is acting erratically. “He’s always been violent. So we need to weed him out before he goes completely crazy.”“A real mammoth hunt!” Jonathan said. “That sounds exciting, bold and dangerous. Have you ever done a mammoth hunt before?”“Well,” the feline paused. “There’s a first time for everything.”“So, that’s a no.”“Correct.”“I’m not sure my health insurance covers being trampled by a hairy elephant.”“We have a complete and modern hospital here for both human and animals,” the smilodon said cheerfully and showed more teeth than intended.Jonathan looked at the camera for a moment. “You’re not inspiring confidence.”The lioness laughed. “We’ve almost never lost anyone.”“Almost?”****************Morning came VERY early. A loud thumping on the door elicited only vague grunts from the sleepers.A loud, predatory roar echoed thru the building. Shaking the walls and rattling the doors and windows.All four sleepers woke up immediately. Jonathan rolled out of bed and hit the floor with a body jarring thump.“We’re up!” Barbara shouted as she sat up in bed.“Wow!” Fred commented. “That’s one hell of an alarm clock!”They all gathered in the dining room for a quick breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, meat (lots of meat) and coffee and tea."Let us slip you into something more comfortable for hunting. What form do you want?”“Form?” Jonathan asked. “What’s wrong with this one? I’ve had it all my life.”“Well if you want we can outfit you like a STONE AGE hunter,” the leopard responded. “Stone tipped spear and wearing animal skins.”Jonathan shook his head. “If I’m going to wear an animal skin it has to still be on the animal.”“So what animal do you want to be?” The lioness asked.“A wolf,” the man answered quickly.“Why a wolf?” The lion asked.“If I go for a cat my dog will never forgive me,” He joked.The whole group laughed.“I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous. I’ve never been changed before.”“You’ll be fine! It doesn’t hurt at all.”“It does itch a little.”*******************Morning dawned clear and warm. The snow had stopped and the sun was shining. There was only a few clouds in the sky. The moment they stepped outside they were momentarily blinded by the light, leaving them fumbling as they try to remember which pocket had their sun/snow glasses in.Geimhreadh was waiting for them out front of the lodge.The creature looked similar to a Smilodon but it was unlike any they had seen before. It was huge, at least six feet tall at the shoulder and twenty feet long. Its fur was the deep blue of ice cold water with slightly lighter blue highlights. Strange mystic symbols of a bright, blue glow ran down his spine all the way to his shoulders and hindquarters and then down to his paws. Similar runes covered his massive teeth. Icicles dangled from the ends of his fur and on the ends of his sword-like incisors. It turned and looked at them with eyes the same color blue as that of long frozen ice. Those eyes cast a cold and menacing gaze upon him.“So,” Jonathan said slowly. Trying not to panic. “How does one greet a ten-thousand-year-old force of nature. I assume Hi Spirit is out of the question?”“Be polite,” the leopard said calmly. “He is a fairly mellow person but our modern world confuses him.”“It confuses me too,” Jonathan quipped. “A lot.”“No jokes please,” the mage warned. “Human humor confuses him sometimes.”“Ok.” Jonathan responded. “Play it straight.” He took a deep breath to calm himself. And stepped forward.The massive creature towered over him. Casting a large shadow. He could feel the cold coming off the massive entity. “Oh boy!” He uttered loud enough for the microphone he was wearing to hear. “It’s like standing next to a glacier. Reminds me of that time in Iceland.” He was silent for a moment. “A block of ice broke off and almost hit me.”He bowed deeply. “Good morning. It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Jonathan Williams from New York.”The large creature bobbed his head. “Good morning to you as well traveler,” he said in a deep, mellow tone.“Thank you for allowing me the privilege to experience your world,” Jonathan said earnestly.“What do you think of our world?” Geimhreadh asked.“It’s exciting and so different,” he answered.“Are you ready?” Geimhreadh asked. “Ready to experience it even deeper?”Jonathan took a deep breath. “Yes. Yes I am.”“You might want to remove most of your clothes,” the Lioness commented. “Saves having them ripped apart.”"You want me to strip in this cold?!" Jonathan asked.“You won’t be cold for long,” someone joked. But don’t strip all the way down.”“We have to keep the show PG rated,” the cameraman joked.Jonathan quickly removed his jacket and cold weather pants. Then he removed the pants and shirt under those. This left him in his underwear. The cold wind blew across and made him shiver.“Aren’t you glad you wore clean underwear?”“I know my mother will be,” Jonathan responded.The massive creature leaned close and breathed on him. The cloud of ice and snow that enveloped him didn't hurt, it didn't even feel cold. It was like a cool fall breeze at first but it seeped into his flesh and bones.Thick, gray fur sprouted and raced across his body covering all his exposed skin. His face started to elongate into a suitably lupin muzzle as his ears migrated from the side of his head to the top. Jonathan could feel his body changing from human to lupin. He felt his center of gravity shift and he toppled forward onto all four limbs. Which were now all the same length. What amazed him was the total lack of any pain or even discomfort.Jonathan was closer to the ground now and the changes seemed to have stopped. This gave him the chance to come to terms with his new body.He looked at his front legs – he could no longer call them arms. They were covered with thick, short, gray fur and ended in paws. Lifting up his right front paw he found it was actually a hand, complete with a thumb and fingers. He checked and found his left hand was also there.The new wolf stood up and walked around. Moving on four legs seemed perfectly natural to him now and he gave it no real thought.Everywhere there was a cornucopia of sounds and smells that overwhelmed him. It was several moments before his brain managed to absorb it all and adjust to its new wolf side.He could hear people nearby talking and his highly enhanced sense of smell told him it was two humans. A man and a woman. Smells from the kitchen told him that beef stew was for lunch. A soft breeze brought with it the smell of pine trees and newly fallen snow.The most astonishing thing was that everyone had a different scent. One unique to just them. Everything had a unique scent he had never realized existed before and it all smelled interesting. The whole world was full of sounds and smells he had never known existed before. No wonder his dog was always sniffing everything.“Allen,” he said to the camera man who was filming. He sniffed and caught a smell that was a mix of plastic, metal and human. He realized that the camera smelled like the man who used it and visa versa.“You smell like your camera,” the wolf joked.“Well,” the man responded. “I AM a cameraman!”“He goes everywhere with it,” Barbara joked. “He even sleeps with it.”“This is amazing!” The new dire wolf exclaimed. “All the new sounds and smells! Everything is so different! It’s like discovering a whole new world.”“Or rediscovering one long lost,” Philip added.“Anyone have a mirror?” Jonathan asked excitedly. “I want to see what I look like.”“Here,” Fred pulled a flatscreen TV from a pack and placed it carefully on the ground.It was a small tv, with a screen of barely 16 inches. The entire thing was heavily winterized and shock proof. A long cable ran back to the camera. It showed what Allen was recording.Jonathan looked carefully at the wolf on the screen carefully. It was hard to imagine this wolf was him. He raised his left from leg and the wolf on the screen lifted his leg. It took some effort but after a moment he managed to wiggle his ears.Jonathan gave a bark of laughter. “I can wiggle my ears!”“Try your tail,” someone commented.Jonathan looked behind him And became aware of the long, bushy tail that was now there. “Great!” His tailed wagged energetically back and forth of his own accord.“What am I? What type of wolf?” Jonathan asked. “It looks stockier than other wolves I’ve seen.”“Canis Dirus,” Aseem responded. The smilodon was seated nearby. “The Dire Wolf. The ice age version of the timber wolf.”“And here is your new pack!”A trio of wolves came forward. One male and two females.She pointed to a pair of the wolves. “This is Galina and Nicholas.”The remaining female came forward. “My name is Alisha Bennett.”Jonathan had met and been close to wolves before but this was obviously different. The biggest difference was sound and smell. Especially smell.One sniff told him an astonishing amount of information about each; age, gender, where they had been and even what they had recently eaten.“Now that you are properly dressed,” the lion commented. “We need to get moving.”“We have a mammoth to hunt down and eat,” Galina added.“So you really intend to take down a full grown mammoth?” Jonathan asked.“We do,” Philip responded. “But we can’t take him down alone. First we’ll stop off in town,” the lion commented.Jonathon looked puzzled. “Town? You have a town?”The lion paused for a moment. “Well, it’s more like a village.”“So,” Jonathan commented. “We’re going to meet the Village people.”************************So the group set out. Four cave lions, two smilodon, three leopards, four dire wolves, three horses, two elk and the three-person television crew. It made for an odd-looking procession as they moved through the snow. It had stopped snowing and the sun was out showing snow covered trees that glistened in the light.“Is it always winter here?” Jonathan asked. He was walking with the two Ferguson felines. Lion and lioness.“Not always. You missed fall several weeks ago,” the lion explained. “But things are always cooler. At the height of summer it never gets warmer than 80 degrees.”The lioness walked up and joined the conversation. “Geimhreadh’s coloration changes with the seasons. “I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of him when he first woke up. All covered in ice.”The wolf nodded. “He looks like something that’s been frozen in ice for ten thousand years.”“In summer the ice is gone and he has a distinct greenish tint to him,” came the addition.“He does seem to prefer the cold of winter. Last night’s storm was for your benefit.”“What species are you?” Jonathan asked. The lion was a full foot taller and at LEAST 800 pounds heavier. Being so close to such large felines made the wolf nervous and he tried to alleviate it by talking.“Panthera Leo Atrox,” Samantha explained. “The North American Cave lion. The largest land predator to exist since the dinosaurs.”Jonathan walked alongside Alisha. The wolf was trotting along at a pace that wolves can do for hours. He also fell into the pace naturally. “I never got the chance to get properly introduced. “I’m Jonathan.”“I’m Alisha Bennett,” she responded. “I’m excited to meet you. I’m a big fan of your show. You always seem to be enjoying yourself.”“Thanks!” He answered. “And I do enjoy it. The excitement and the adventure. Seeing new places and meeting people.”“Why are you a wolf?” He asked. “What has brought you here and onto four legs?”“I run the Allegheny wolf sanctuary in Clarksburg Pennsylvania,” the female wolf answered. “This lets me get close to my wolves. To really understand them.”He trotted alongside one of the leopards.“Welcome to the ice age,” the leopard said in way of greeting. “I’m Paul Peterson.”“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Jonathan responded.“What do you think of our cool world?” The leopard asked as they walked.“It’s fascinating, exciting, confusing, strange and truly scary,” the wolf answered honestly. “Being a wolf has been an exciting adventure.”“Why are you here?” The lupine TV host asked. “What brings you to the ice age?”“My family owns Backwoods Brand gear. We make all manner of hunting and fishing gear and clothing. Your crew are using some of my families gear!” the leopard joked.Jonathan looked at the camera. “Honest. We didn’t plan that folks!”The feline and lupin laughed.“We’re laughing,” the wolf commented. “But right now back in Los Angeles there’s a lawyer going ‘Oh crap! Oh Crap!’ ““Grandpa was an avid hunter and fisherman and decided to turn his hobby into a career. Made a lot of money doing it,” Paul explained.“Why are you involved with this?” The wolf asked.“I’m an avid hunter,” the feline explained. “I’ve always loved hunting. The thrill and the excitement. The chase. But I’ve never used guns. Somehow, hunting with a rifle seemed unfair. Cheating. There are people in Africa who are hunting elephants with assault rifles and machine guns!” He snarled and bared an impressively large set of sharp teeth. “MACHINE GUNS. That’s an abomination. Wiping out such an impressive species.” He shook his head. “Sad.”“Doing this meant getting back to real hunting. No guns, bows or spears. No weapons whatsoever. It really shows me the other side of the hunt.”“Now you’ve really leveled the playing field,” Jonathan commented. “What do you think about it?”“It’s a hard life and a short one. I think I’m done hunting,” the hunter answered solemnly. “I’ve been offered a job with the Bronx zoo. I think I’ll take it.”“A job with the zoo?” Jonathan asked. “As what? A keeper or an exhibit?”The feline laughed. “I think it’s a little of both. It’s to help promote wildlife conservation. Which is a worthy cause. And also see what I can do about those damn elephant poachers,” he snarled.************A twenty-minute trek soon brought them to the village.The village consisted of a half dozen huts arraigned in a circle and surrounded by a fence made of wooden posts. In the center of the settlement a large fire burnt driving back the cold.They were greeted at the gap in the fence by a dozen people all dressed in furs and animal skins. They seemed to be an even mix of men and women. Some carried wooden spears with stone tips. Three were carrying bows and all seemed to have a stone headed axe on their belt.At the front of the group was a man who was a little below normal height. He looked impressive none the less decked out in animal skins and home spun. The spear in his hand was almost as tall as he was.This is Brian Clark,” the leopard explained. “He is the senior paleontologist here.”“A pleasure to meet you,” Jonathan said and wagged his tail.“Why are you all here?” Jonathan asked. “Why a village?”“It’s part of an experiment,” Brian answered. “To really experience what life was like back then.”“What have you found out so far?”“Life back then really sucked,” the woman commented dryly.“Even something simple like staying warm and dry is a real effort,” the man explained. “I’m always cold in the winter.”“And I’m never clean.”“And even the most trivial injury can lead to serious problems,” the one man said. “Even a broken bone could be dangerous. It is physically impossible to stay clean. A compound fracture would almost certainly become infected. Any injury could easily become infected and that could be fatal.”“Most of our day is just taken up with finding food,” the woman explained.“And there is never enough,” the man added. “So far I’ve lost thirty pounds.”“The thing I miss the most,” she said. “I miss my family and friends. Being out of contact with them.”The rest of the group nodded in agreement. “I mean there is only so much you can do over the phone.”“The huts have thatched roofs and walls made of wood of branches interwoven and covered with mud,” the woman explained. “It’s surprisingly watertight and does keep out the wind.”“Does your cozy little village have a name?” Jonathan asked.“We call it Gjormete,” came the answer. “It’s Norwegian for muddy.”Jonathan looked around at the village and noticed to mud everywhere. Around the central fire, between the huts and even splattered all over everyone. His own paws were covered in it. The muck squishing between his toes. “How appropriate.”"And you have no idea how big of hard some were fighting to name the town 'Bedrock', good thing clearer heads prevailed,” Brian commented."Yeah, by a single vote." Standing next to the scientist was a tall man dressed the same as Brian. His skin color marked him as African American. To some people that mattered. But to Jonathan, who wasn’t even human at the moment, skin color seemed a trivial difference. I mean wolves paid no mind to the color of their fur.He smiled at the wolf. “I’m Darrell Williamson. The resident medic and all-round master hunter.”“Glad to meet you,” Jonathan raised his right paw to handshake and realized doing that was not really feasible.Darrell bent over and shook the extended paw with all dignity. He smiled. “I’m happy to meet. I’m a big fan of the show.”The wolf found himself looking up at the man. “I’m always glad to meet a fan.”“Everyone is so tall,” Jonathan commented.“As a wolf Jonathan this is a man you’d best be nice to,” The leopard said and pointed to a black man who was walking up to the group. “This is Dr. Reuben Michuki. Veterinarian for the Kenya Wildlife Service. He specializes in exotic species.”“Every animal here is exotic,” Jonathan joked. “But I am glad to meet you.”“We met a few years ago,” the doctor added. “You were in Kenya filming.”“That’s right!” Jonathan yipped and wagged his tail. “We were doing a show on endangered species. It’s good to see you again! How are you doing?”The man smiled. “Very good. The family is doing well. I managed to get time to come here.”“What do you think of all this?” The wolf asked.“It’s COLD,” Reuben responded and hugged himself. “I miss the warmth of Africa.”The wolf gave a yip of laughter. “So do I. But I seem to remember sweltering in the summer heat in Kenya and wishing it was cooler.”“Well,” the Doctor responded and laughed. “You got your wish.”“I’ve got a question,” Jonathan asked. “Do you really intend to hunt a mammoth?”“Yes,” the doctor responded. “Stone age people seem to have done it routinely.”“Let me get this straight,” Jonathan asked. “humans using weapons just like yours HUNTED and KILLED mammoth? How? I mean it’s like trying to destroy a tank with a cap pistol.”“With the most dangerous weapon of all,” she tapped the side of her head. “Their brains.”Jonathon nodded. “Takes a lot of courage to go after something the size of a bus with a few pointed sticks and some ideas.”“Good ideas.”“So what are these good ideas?” Jonathan asked.“We’re going to use fire and noise to drive him into the woods where he can’t charge or move around well,” The one wolf explained. “Then we’ll ambush him.”“We’ve dug a U-shaped ditch in the woods,” Darrell explained. “That should corral him in. He won’t have the room to turn around.”“Once trapped we’ll take him down as fast as possible.”Seated nearby was a black-haired woman who looked to be in her twenty’s. Sabrina Andino was a third-year student of archaeology at the University of Madrid. After several weeks of the cold and snow she was beginning to reconsider if this was worth all the credit she would earn.Kristen walked over to the woman and sat down. “I have something for you.” Hanging from her neck was a canvas pouch. Using one paw she pulled out something that looked like a small, orange pistol.Sabrina took it from the leopard and found it was plastic flare pistol of the type that was standard safety gear on most boats. Attached loosely to the handle was a clip of four flare cartridges.“This is going to be a tough hunt. If things go bad,” the leopard explained. “Shoot a flare right at the mammoth’s head. The noise and bright light are sure to scare him off. No telling where he will go so be careful.”She nodded her head. “I understand.” She carefully placed it in the canvas pouch she carried on her hip.**************************The place chosen for the ambush was few miles from the lodge. Where the trees crowded close to the trail. Right across the trail was a ditch around twenty feet wide and five feet deep. At each end of the ditch was another one that ran parallel to the first. It created a U-shaped obstacle.“We’ll use the humans riding on the horses and elk,” Paul said. “They’ll use noise and fire to steer the mammoth towards the trap. Once he reaches the ditch he’ll hopefully stumble and fall or stop. The remaining people will shower him with spears and arrows. When he is weakened the predators will close in and finish it.”“If things go wrong,” Kristen ordered. “Back off. Find a nice, tall, thick tree to hide behind. There are plenty that are big enough that he won’t be able to knock them over easily.”Along the way they came upon a herd of mammoths grazing peacefully on the bushes and trees. Some were using their trunks to push away the snow and reveal grass and lichen hidden there.“Don’t get too close,” Alisha ordered. “They tend to be mellow but only if we keep a respectful distance.”He looked up at one of the Mammoths. Even from a distance it was intimidating. The massive creature towered over him like a skyscraper. “No need to worry about that.”"Ah. I forgot to bring along my howitzer.""Hunt THAT? I don’t even want to be near it!""You wanna eat? Then you hunt!""Couldn’t we just order out? I know this great Italian place in Bangor. They deliver."****************Since getting a famous tv show host and his crew trampled to death by a rampaging elephant was considered a bad idea; Jonathan and his crew were left back at the ambush point. The hunt and chase was filmed by a drone flying high overhead.Barbara, who was flying the drone stood nearby with the rest of the humans. She was calling out information like announcer at a football game. “There not too far away. About a mile. Boy is he moving fast.”Jonathan’s sensitive wolf ears picked up the sounds of horns in the distance. Then he saw points of light bouncing about. They grew larger as the hunting party got closer.“Stay sharp!” Kristen ordered. “This is where it gets ugly.”There was a rumbling that he more felt through his paws than heard. Then there was the crashing of trees and voices shouting.The voices and sounds grew louder and suddenly two trees went crashing to the ground and the mammoth charged into view. A half dozen horses and elk were scattered alongside and behind him. Each with a rider.One elk moved closer and her rider stood up in the saddle and tossed a spear then pulled away. The projectile hit the mammoth and lodged there for a moment before falling out. Unphased, the elephantine creature charged onward.They mammoth quickly came up to the trap and charged straight into it. The mammoth stopped suddenly, just short of the ditch. It seemed to pause to consider his options. He turned around sharply, in a move that was surprisingly fast and agile for something so large.A group humans and predators were clustered by the opening to the trap. They had expected it to be caught up in the ditch. It wasn’t.The mammoth trumpeted loudly and charged straight at them. The group saw 6 tons of fur, muscle and tusks coming at them like a living avalanche.“BACK OFF!” BACK OFF!” Paul ordered between curses.“SCATTER!” One of the lions shouted. “Let him pass and escape.”This male didn’t want to escape.Enraged, he wanted to fight and take out his frustrations on these annoying, little creatures. He charged a man who wasn’t quick enough. The mammoth swung his huge head and caught the hunter dead square in the chest with one of his ten-foot-long tusks. The hapless man was tossed into the air and sent flying into a snowbank.He swung his head back in the opposite direction and caught a pair of sabretooths’ and the woman with them. All flew in different directions like leaves in the wind. Trying to avoid those ivory weapons. Humans and animals scattered, some running others tossed by the mammoth.Jonathan looked up to see the monstrous creature bearing down on him, trumpeting loudly and out for blood. He turned and started to sprint away but didn’t make it. One of the massive tusks caught him on the side and sent him tumbling into a group of bushes.Sabrina fumbled in her bag for a moment; finding everything but the one item she wanted. Finally her fingers wrapped around the plastic handle of the flare gun. Pulling it out she fumbled for a moment trying to load the cartridge.One of the sabertooth’s was lying still in the snow with a second standing over. The mammoth charged intent on killing both.Two humans rushed forward with long spears and jabbed the trunk and face of the massive creature. Intent on defending their friends. With their life if need be.The mammoth paused for a moment, surprised by the sharp pain in a sensitive place. This was new to him. Something so small shouldn’t cause so much pain.After what seemed an eternity the flare cartridge slid in and she closed the gun with a click. She aimed the gun at the head of the rampaging beast.The mammoth was trying to rush the humans and felines but the sharp points of the spears and their wielder’s determination kept it at bay. For the moment.She pulled the trigger.Whump! The cartridge shot out the tube and a bright, orange light hissed as it streaked across the distance between them. By luck and aim it hit the mammoth in the side of the head. The flare bounced off and dropped to the ground. It hissed loudly as orange smoke billowed out competing with the light given off for attention.The strange sights and sounds frightened the creature as nothing else had. The mammoth turned and charged away leaving a trail of shattered trees and injured people in his wake.There was a profound silence for several moments broken only but for the fall of a tree limb."So that delivery place in Bangor,” Philip asked slowly. The cave lion was lying in a heap nearby. “Do you have a coupon?"“Everyone check in!” Kristen called out. “Who’s hurt?” The leopard slowly stood up from the pile of snow where she had been thrown.“Everyone,” came the sharp answer.“Guys?” Jonathan asked and looked around for his TV crew. “Allen, Barbara. Fred?”“We’re fine,” the woman said. The trio were off to one side. “We got it all on film!”“Call out!” The leopard ordered.“All the lions are fine,” Philip said. “Except for some cuts and bruises.”“We prey species are all right,” Cezary responded. “Thank God for nimble hooves and strong muscles.”“How can something that big turn so fast!”“Last time I was attacked by something that big it had treads and a turret,” someone muttered.“Philip is not moving,” a woman said in a pained tone.They all turned to find a woman kneeling over the prone form of a man. A spear lay next to him. As broken as it’s owner.Kristen cursed in several languages. She sprinted over to the two. In moments she was joined by a half dozen others. Human and animal.Philip was laying still but there was a tear in the fur jacket he had on from which blood was seeping. His clothes were torn, ripped and covered with mud and blood.“Get the medevac here NOW?” The leopard ordered.Tobias pulled out a modern looking canvas bag. Opening it he took out several things and started examining the man. “At least four broken ribs and a deep laceration. Definite concussion. He’ll be all right but I’ll need to get him to the hospital.”“Sasha is hurt too,” Reuben said. “Broken right front leg and a broken shoulder blade.” The man was kneeling over the prone form of a sabertooth. A second was sitting next to them.“Stabilize him and we’ll put him on the chopper with Philip,” Kristen ordered. “There’s room.”“What about Cindy? She won’t leave him,” Reuben asked.“There’s room for her too,” Kristen responded. “Never argue with a thousand pounds of angry wife.”Jonathan and his crew were off to one side. “Well,” the TV host said to the camera. “The first hunt went badly. No one was killed but I learned just how fast a wolf can run. With the right motivation.”“Having a six-ton hairy mountain chasing you was great motivation. My shoulder is fractured and I have a minor concussion. I’m not in any pain. Courtesy of a painkiller I was just given. I did learn one thing today. I learned that wolves can fly!”“Unfortunately, I was upside down, screaming and my legs flailing as I was thrown twenty feet by that tusk.” He commented. “Still I wonder if it counts towards my frequent flier miles?”Darrell was carefully and skillfully tending to the wolf’s right side. There was a foot-long gash there that he was stitching closed. The man worked with the skill of a long-practiced doctor.“I didn’t know you were a doctor,” Jonathan said. Trying to take his mind off the wound the black man was sewing closed.The man smiled. “Well, technically I’m not.”Jonathan looked at the camera for a moment. “So . . “ he said slowly. “Medicine is a hobby? A good one I hope.”Darrell laughed. “I was a Green Beret for five years. Technically I am a combat medic but I’m qualified up to surgery level.”“Ah, so you’ve done this before,” Jonathan said, relieved.Plenty of times,” the man responded. “This is simple. No one is shooting at us.”“That’s reassuring.”Darrell finished with the suturing. From his backpack he took out a large very modern looking item of plastic and metal. Carefully he placed it on the injured shoulder. “This is a sonic healing enhancement. With it you’ll get a months’ worth of healing in a few minutes.”“Stone age medicine?”He laughed. “I am all for recreating the past but I have my limits.”“Thank God for modern medicine.”The device started to hum and the sound seemed to go right through him. He felt his whole body relaxing as the pain vanished. “Oh! That’s nice!”He man smiled. “I’ll give you some pain pills as you’ll really feel it in the morning.”The rest of the pack clustered close around him. Their closeness was reassuring.How are you feeling?” Alisha asked.“A little battered and bruised,” he responded “But I’ll live. Anyone else hurt?”Nicholas shook his head. “Aside from a few bruises no. We managed to get out of the way.”“Just barely,” Galina added. She picked up something from the ground and dropped it in front of Jonathan. “A gift for you. Your own Worry bone.”Jonathan looked at the gift and found it was a good-sized bone – over a foot long. It looked and smelled to be a be a beef bone.“Gnawing on an old bone is really relaxing,” Galina explained.“I hope you enjoy it,” Alisha joked. “Some cow gave her all.”“The rest of her was delicious,” Nicholas added.“Dust Off is inbound!” Kristen announced loudly. “Keep back.”A loud whining noise filled the air and a large VTOL aircraft slowly descended. The downdraft from it’s powerful blades whipped up the snow into a momentary cyclonic snowstorm. The pitch of the engines lowered as they were set to idle. The winds died down to something tolerable.A large loading ramp lowered and two men wearing the modern clothing of an emergency worker raced out. Both were carrying stretchers.Kristen trotted up to them. “Two patients and two passengers. Two are human, the others feline.”The flight officer nodded. Philip the human was loaded onto one stretcher and Sasha the smilodon was loaded onto the other (specially reinforced) stretcher. Both were quickly taken aboard the ambulance with their worried wives.The engines roared loudly and the cyclonic winds returned briefly. Everyone huddled down until the VTOL had lifted off taking the strong winds with it.There was silence for a moment as they watched the aircraft race from sight.“Where are they headed?” Jonathan asked.“The island hospital,” Reuben answered. “It’s a fully equipped, modern one for humans and animals. They’ll get great care.”“How did our ancestors do this?” Someone asked. “Without getting everyone killed.”“Next time I see one I’ll ask.”“They did have several thousand years of practice.”“How would they have handled Philips injuries back then?” Jonathan asked.The archaeologist shrugged. “We’re not exactly sure but they seem to have had a basic knowledge of simple medicine. Broken bones and light injuries were easily handled. But a major injury would ultimately be fatal.”“I wonder how many of our ancestors died doing the same thing we tried?”“No telling really. But we do find remains all the time with injuries or signs of healed ones.”“Now I understand why their life expectancy was thirty-five,” the one man said as he bandaged his right arm.“Let’s get back to the village for a rethink on our strategy,” the leopard ordered.*******************The group gathered around the fire that burned at the center of the village. Chairs and mats were brought out for comfort. Food and drink soon followed and the depressed mood soon brightened.“That was a lot harder than expected,” someone muttered.“We all live and learn,” one of the humans added.“I knew it would be hard but I didn’t think it would be THIS hard.”“From now on,” Kristen ordered. “On every hunt someone will carry a modern rifle. Just for emergency.”“A hunting rifle won’t stop him,” Brian commented. “Unless it’s one of those big .50 Cal guns. ““How about a Javelin Antitank missile.”“How about an assault rifle with a grenade launcher attached. If the bullets don’t do it the grenade will.”“An excellent idea.”“That’s all good for the future but what about now? So how do we do this?” Phillipe asked.“Herding him using fire and noise worked well,” the sabertooth said. “We were able to get him to go where we wanted.”“Things got ugly when we got in close,” Jake added.“He’s a lot more agile than I expected.”Darrell nodded. “No wonder they invented the bow, spear, javelin and atlatl. All ranged weapons.”One of the lions extended a paw with his claws out. “That’s not really an option for some of us.”“They used to stampede herds off cliffs,” Brian commented.A woman shook her head. “No cliffs. We do have some steep hills.”Jonathan was seated by the fire and listening to the conversation as he gnawed at the bone. He did find it oddly soothing and relaxing. “How about a large pit trap. Really just a deep hole, camouflaged.”“That could work but how deep would it need to be?” Kristen asked.Brian pondered for a moment. “At least twenty feet deep and fifty long.”“That’s not a hole, it’s an antitank trench.”“It would take forever to dig a hole that big.”“The ditch didn’t work. Why should a hole?”“The ditch was a good idea, Kristen countered. “We just didn’t expect him to stop so fast or turn around so quick.”“We should have camouflaged it.”“What if we maneuvered him out onto the ice? If it was slippery, he couldn’t move fast. Make him an easier target.”“If it’s too slippery for him it will be too slippery for us.”“What if we dug away one side of a hill? So instead of the hill gently sloping down it will be a sudden drop off. We scare him up the hill and he falls down.”“We can plant spikes at the bottom! Make it more deadly!”“If we pour water on it; it will freeze and make the slope slippery.”“it will mean a lot less digging.”“I can help with the earthmoving,” the leopard said. “I know a friend who can help.”“Sounds like a good plan!”Several people nodded in agreement.“We’ve called in reinforcements,” the lioness said in a humorous tone. “We’d like you to meet Donald. Head of security.”The figure that walked into the village was . . . B I G!The bear was at least five feet tall at the shoulder and he was walking on all fours! He had to weigh at least half a ton; all of it muscle, claws and teeth.“Good to meet you,” the bear growled in a strong tone. “I’m a big fan of your show.”"Thank you,” Jonathan stuttered as he looked up at the mountain of fur in front of him. “BIG fan. Dear God you’re big. I’ve had cars smaller than you.”That got a round of laughter from everyone.“Everything here is big!”**************“The basic plan is the same,” Paul explained. “We’ll chase him into the trap. First the mounted group will locate him and steer him towards the trap. As he gets closer the wolves will join the chase. When he gets to the hill don’t get too close. When he goes over the top he’ll hopefully tumble down to the bottom. At that point everyone closes in to finish him off.”“One of the humans will have a high-powered hunting rifle in case things go wrong,” Paul added. “And he will also administer the killing shot. No need for the animal to suffer.”The group all nodded in agreement.“Philip and Sasha are doing fine,” Kristen said. “They’re airlifting Philip to the hospital in Bangor. The cats will be staying here in the infirmary. Cindy threw up on the flight in but at least managed to aim it out the door. Much to the relief of the flight crew.”***************Kristen came over to Jonathan. “We’re going to get you more involved,” she explained. “We’ll have you with the rest of the pack. Please try and not get killed.”“It would be great for the ratings!” Nicholas commented.“Oh anything for the ratings,” Jonathan commented sarcastically. “But hopefully dying isn’t in the script.”“No. Dying isn’t in the script.”“But has the mammoth read the script?” Jonathan asked.“Next time I meet him; I’ll ask.”*****************Everyone retired for the evening to the warmth and safety of the village. Room was found inside for all, including the horses and elk who got a larger hut/stable for themselves. They all needed a good night’s sleep for the work tomorrow.Jonathan decided against sleeping in a group with the rest of the wolves and went to share a hut with his television crew. The bed was good sized but consisted of a low wooden frame piled high with blankets and pillows. It was large enough for all four of them.He spent several minutes re-arraigning the pillows, blankets and sheets into a comfortable little nest. He resisted the temptation to walk around in a circle several times and just settled down to sleep.*******************Morning came early. Too early. Jonathan slowly stood up slowly as pain shot through him. Everything seemed to hurt or was stiff and sore or all at once.Thankfully Justine was a trained veterinarian and the Smilodon had given him some pain killers. The pill helped take the hard edge off the pain.Breakfast included hot coffee which tasted differently when Jonathan lapped it from the bowl. Breakfast was mostly meat (of course) but well cooked.It took a while to find a suitable location. Ironically it was only a short way from the site of the first ambush. The hill rose up gently on one side and dropped off fairly steeply on the other.Helle went to a large rock nearby and scratched complex symbols on it with her claws. She then started chanting and singing in a voice that was surprisingly soft and smooth for a leopard.After several minutes of chant something stepped out of the rock. It was vaguely humanoid and seemed to be made of solid stone it had come from.She spoke to it for a moment in a language no one but them seemed to understand. She made some digging motions and pointed to the hillside.The stone creature nodded slowly and set to work. It’s massive hands scooped huge gouges out of the hillside. Tossing the half-frozen earth off to one side. At the base of the hill it dug a deep pit. In a few minutes it did work that would have taken them weeks.Helle bowed her head in respect and said something in that strange language. The stone creature bowed in response. It stepped into the rock it had come from and vanished.While that was going on a group cut down some branches and sharped both ends. Buckets of water were hauled from a local stream and splashed onto the slope. It was hardly a death slide but it did make the slope all the more hazardous. At the bottom a dozen stakes sprouted. Their sharpened ends pointed uphill.“I think we’re ready,” Kristen commented.*************“Stick together,” Galina said. “Remember the pack is strong together.” All four of the wolves were waiting several miles from the hill. The horse and elk and their riders were off chasing the mammoth. Hopefully in the direction of where the wolves waited.“We are pack!”“We are STRONG!” She howled loudly. A loud, wailing howl.Jonathan and the other wolves tilted their heads back and joined in. The sound echoing endlessly in the woods. Warning all that the wolves were here and were hungry. Telling all that this was their territory and their prey.***********Not far away something flew quietly through the cold, morning air. It was silent and graceful like a bird but was not one. Instead of wings and feathers it possessed motors and blades. Still it moved with the certainty of an old flier. The woman controlling it was located not far from the site of the ambush. The distance between her and the drone was of no consequence. She could see and hear through the drone as if she was the one flying.She had only the vaguest idea of where the hunters and their quarry were. So she went hunting. Flying high like a hawk, moving slowly as she scanned the world below. Taking in all that the drone could see.Wherever the drone looked it saw trees and snow. It gracefully danced around a tall pine tree. It’s branches laden with snow. It hovered for a moment and filmed a squirrel hiding amidst the pine boughs. It was surprised to be seen so high off the ground and scampered deeper into the branches. For the perceived safety there.The drone moved onward, coming upon a large meadow. The snow that covered it was pristine. Untouched by any living creature. A small bush at the edge held two large hares. Both were sitting there, boldly looking at this new, flying intruder. Trying to gauge if it was a threat or not.Movement off to the left caught it’s attention and the flyer headed that way. Leaving the two rabbits to themselves.The huge form of a mammoth broke out of the tree line and lumbered out into an open field. It was a massive thing towering some ten feet high and weighing over 6 tons. It resembled the elephants that still roamed earth in abundance. But he was larger and covered with a thick, brown fur that kept him safe from even the coldest of winter. It was moving remarkably fast for something so large.More figures came out of the woods. A horse of the short and stocky wild breed that had lived in the wilds for millennia was in the lead. On his back was a man dressed in animal skins and rough, homespun clothing. He was trying to shoot arrows from his bow from the fast-moving horse. All without falling off.Trailing right behind was a bull elk, it’s antlers sharp and making for a formidable weapon. On his back was a woman, dressed the same as her husband on the nearby horse. In her right hand she held a half dozen spears which she was trying to throw at the mammoth with her left.The drone took up the chase falling in right behind the horse and alongside the elk. Keeping close enough to catch all the action.The woman on the elk smiled and waved at the drone and then turned back to the task of slaying the mammoth.More horses and another elk came up swiftly. Some going to the right of their prey, others to the left. All were shouting and some were carrying burning torches to add to the confusion and panic in their prey.But for all the confusion there seemed to be they had a plan in mind and were carefully guiding the creature in a specific direction.***************It was quiet. The wolves were all waiting patiently and quietly for the hunt to reach them. It was not snowing but that already on the ground muffled sound and deadened scents. All Jonathan could hear was the faint rustle of the trees in the wind. He caught a faint scent of a rabbit and for a moment considered chasing it down. But he didn’t. Far larger game was headed their way.All around them was the wild, winter forest. There was no trace of humanity or its civilization here. Just the wilderness of a place and time long gone but now brought back.It didn’t seem like he was still on earth. And in a sense he wasn’t. Instead he was in a place where time had rolled back and given humanity a priceless look at the past. A place of deep snow, cold winds, powerful prey and fierce predators. Where life was hard and short but never boring.“Showtime!” Paul announced suddenly. Excitement creeping into his voice. The leopard was looking off into the distance.The faint sound of shouting and crashing came to his sensitive ears. Looking in the direction the sound had come from he spotted something off in the distance. It was large and brown and there were other figures racing alongside it.“There he is!” Nicholas announced. “Remember. Don’t get too close and try and herd him up the hill to the trap.”Jonathan and another wolf stood up, ready to join the hunt.“Wait for it,” Galina ordered. “Let him get closer.”Jonathan could feel the excitement building and he was eager to get going! He had a hard time holding still but he tried. Reluctantly he sat back down. Afraid he might spook their prey by revealing his presence too early.The riders and their mounts were swarming around the creature. Gliding in closer to shoot an arrow or throw a spear before moving out and out of reach of those deadly tusks.It seemed to take forever for the mammoth to get closer. “Was he standing still? Why is he taking so long? Maybe he suspects another trap?”The mammoth was more visible now and he could see the horses and elk galloping alongside more clearly. One of the riders had a bow and was shooting arrows at their prey.“GO!” Galina barked suddenly.He leapt up and hit the ground running. All four legs moving with the power and endurance of the wolf. Jonathan felt heart pumping exhilaration and an adrenaline rush as he raced along in the snow. He barely noticed the chest high snow and felt the cold not at all.The other three wolves were with him. Powerful hunters moving effortlessly as a highly coordinated killing pack. No wonder his human ancestors were so terrified of wolves.His world shrunk down to just himself, his pack and their prey. All that mattered was the prey. Catching it, guiding it to its inevitable death. So they could all eat. Survive another day. All moving together in a dance as old as life itself. And one not seen since the glaciers had last receded and the world warmed up.There was the smell of blood in the air and he saw a score of wounds; big and small on the mammoth. He couldn’t help but bark loudly as he surged along. Leaping over rocks and patches of ice. He saw the fleeing mammoth and instinctively picked up speed and angled closer. Intent on catching the prey. “CATCH IT! CATCH IT!” He barked.Running closer he came alongside an elk with a man riding. He was trying to stay in the saddle while trying to shoot his bow. He could smell the scent of the elk and it’s rider. He could smell the excitement of both. Jonathan kept his distance from them aware of the fact that neither was food. In spite of the instincts to chase something that was running and bite down on one of those tasty looking legs.The pride raced past the elk intent on larger prey. “SLOW POKE!” Alisha barked at it.The elk snorted in response and picked up speed.Jonathan gave the elk no more notice. He was not food but an ally. The wolf put on more speed getting closer to their prey and barking loudly with excitement.“Jonathan,” Nicholas warned. “Not too close. The idea is to run him to exhaustion and into the trap.”He forced himself to pull away from the mammoth. He easily kept pace with the huge animal but stayed a respectful distance off to one side. Jonathan kept barking, aware that the sound of a fierce predator so close would frighten the prey.“The hill is just up ahead,” Alisha barked. “So be careful.”The wolf in him wanted to speed up and catch it but the human wanted restraint. So the dire wolf slowed down a bit but not too much. The ground rose up and running became harder.Suddenly the ground dropped off and the massive creature tumbled over the edge.Jonathan skidded as his legs scrambled to try and stop him as he cursed loudly in several languages. His large canine body came to a halt just short of the edge. The remaining wolves joined him a moment later. The elk and rider came galloping up the hill and stopped. Several others quickly joined them. The man hopped off and both joined the rest in peering over the edge.The hill seemed to drop straight down to the bottom which looked to be a long way down. At the very bottom the mammoth could be seen thrashing about.“Wow. That’s steeper than I thought!” The elk commented.The drone left the top of the hill and drifted downward.At the base of the hill the mammoth flailed around in the dirt, snow and ice.“Attack it!” someone shouted.“Where?” One of the lions asked. “It’s like trying to bite a house!”One of the hunters charged in. The woman was carrying a large, thick spear. She ran right up to the struggling mammoth and rammed the spear into the creature’s fur covered side.The mammoth struggled to get up; smashing the stakes and ground around him.The cave bear charged forward, moving faster than Jonathan thought possible. He reared up on his hind legs towering over eleven feet high. He flung his massive body against the mammoth knocking it back to the ground. His powerful claws ripped into the mammoth’s flesh easily.The remaining humans closed in showering the struggling creature with arrows and spears. A cave lion leapt onto the mammoth’s side and sank claws and teeth deep into the heaving flesh beneath him.“Time to finish. No need for him to suffer.” Jake said as he slowly walked up to the mammoth. In his hands was a large, modern rifle. He stopped short of the creature as its struggling slowly diminished. Then judging the moment right he aimed at the creature’s skull.BAM!The massive animal jerked once and lay very still.Jonathan tilted his head back and let loose with a long wailing howl. The other wolves crowded close and took up the song of victory. The sounds echoing loudly throughout the woods. Proclaiming that his pack had succeeded on the hunt. Tonight they would feast!Paul walked up to the still form and placed both front paws on it’s side. “We thank you for your sacrifice and may your next life be better,” he said solemnly.*********************Everyone was ready for a celebration. To celebrate the successful hunt and the outcome of the fight. And that no one else had been hurt.Even Geimhreadh attended in a smaller form only slightly larger than a regular sabertooth.There was wine (red, white and blush), beer, soda, coffee and tea (both hot and iced). For food there was mammoth steaks, mammoth burgers, Mammoth sausages, mammoth chili, mammoth hot dogs, mammoth stew and Veggie burgers (for the prey species).Music was provided and everyone was relaxed. Also a few touches from home were added.“What is this called?” Geimhreadh asked as he looked at the thing on the table in front of him.“Pizza!” Justine responded cheerfully between bites of her own meat lovers pizza.“All the meat is nice. I recognize the bread but what is the red? That’s not blood.”“It’s tomato sauce,” she paused. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a tomato. It’s a plant that bears a red fruit. We pound the fruit to a paste and add items to make a sauce. On top of that is cheese and ground meat. Lot’s of meat.”Sasha was seated nearby. His leg and shoulder were in a bandage but it didn’t stop him from enjoying his own pizza. His muzzle and a good portion of his head and front legs and the area around him was covered with splattered sauce and bits of cheese and meat.“I’ve never seen eating pizza turned into contact sport.”****************After the last commercial the show returned to see Jonathan (back to being a human) seated behind his famous desk back in New York. It was piled high with the various bric-a-brac he had collected on his many adventures.“Well,” he said slowly. “They did warn me it was going to be a wild adventure. I just didn’t realize how wild. It was so amazing running and hunting as a wolf. Absolutely fantastic.”“I did bring back a useful souvenir,” Jonathan said. He reached under the desk and pulled out the large bone he had been given as a wolf. “My worry bone!”“It’s for calming down after a really hectic day,” He started nibbling on one end of the bone.“Jonathan,” a voice said from off screen. “The producer has decided on your next adventure.”“Great! Where are we headed now? Space? The moon?”“Karatota,” came the answer.“Isn’t that the island where they have that volcano erupting?” Jonathan asked nervously.“Yes!” the voice responded excitedly. “Lots of flame and lava. Make for great footage!”Jonathan looked at the camera for a moment. Then he tossed the bone off screen.BONK!He smiled broadly. “It does have other uses!”*****************
COH story 28 A Return To the Island part 1A Return to the IslandsBy Christian OkaneIt was a fairly normal day in the city of Bangor Maine.Bangor’s life and culture had always been tied to the sea. Since its earliest years. Even now with far fewer ships at sea the waterfront was always busy. The days of the wharves lined with scores of cargo ships was long gone. The fleet of fishing boats was still there, Headed out each day to fill their holds. There was countless privately own boats ranging from small dinghies to large multiengine yachts and everything in between. And there were still cargo ships that came and went but the traffic was a mere ghost of past times.And the city was always a favorite destination of cruise ships. During the summer and fall it was a rare week that didn’t have at least two or three smaller ones docked there. While the larger ones anchored out in Penobscot bay. Each flooding the city with it’s cargo of tourists.One regular sight were the ferry boats. There are over a hundred islands scattered all about. They ranged from big to small and many were inhabited. The ferries moved everything from people to supplies to entire vehicles to these islands.One ferry had a special run. It was not for the tourists or the locals. It was headed to a private dock. There weren’t many passengers on board. Mostly it was food including grain, hay and fish but mostly it was meat. Very large quantities of beef, pork and chicken. Her name was the SS Williwaw, or as it's nicknamed by the crew The Meatlocker.The ship was old. It had spent decades running cargo and supplies in various ports. It was a bit slow and it rattled and clanked in the wrong places and at the wrong times. Still, the hull was sound and her engines, although a little old were working fine. She was owned by the Smithsonian Institution. And if she hadn’t been running supplies she would have long ago been retired to some museum.The harbor was busy today. Pleasure craft of all sorts were running about and just plain getting in the way as people enjoyed one of the last good weekends before winter took hold.The ship had to go even slower than usual and wend it’s way through the traffic. Still having a 10,000-ton displacement meant she had the right of way.On the bridge Captain Philips was watching and guiding. He had made this trip once a week for the last six months so he was an old hand at this. Twenty-five years in the navy had given the man the skills needed to handle whatever came his way. And he still wore his officer’s uniform with pride.“Bangor traffic control this is SS Williwaw,” the captain said over the radio. He paused for a moment and waited for the Coast Guard controller in a building on the Bangor waterfront to answer.“Go ahead,” came the reply. “This is Bangor Traffic.”“Bangor Traffic this is Williwaw. We are leaving the dock and headed to the exclusion zone,” the captain explained. “ETA 1 hour till we cross the line.”“Acknowledged. You are cleared to enter. Please advise upon arrival at dock and when departing.”“Understood and acknowledged. Williwaw out,” the Captain responded.“Captain. I’m picking up a ship bearing 345 degrees and headed in our directions,” the radar operator said. “She’s doing about 75 knots.”“Seventy-five?” the captain asked. Surprised. That type of speed was banned in Penobscot Bay. He walked over to the window and looked for the approaching boat. Wasn’t too hard to find it.The boat was moving so fast that it drew his attention. It was small – barely 120 feet long. Its powerful engines were pushing the boat at over 75 knots. The propellers were throwing up a huge rooster tail of water. Its massive wave spread out behind it like a miniature tsunami swamping everything it came into contact with. That was bad enough but what really drew his attention was the gun turret plainly visible on the bow.The captain swore loudly in several languages. “Sound the alarm. Call the Coast Guard and tell them we are under attack!”“I can’t contact the Coast Guard or anyone,” the radio operator said with a twinge of nervousness. “I think we’re being jammed.”BOOM! The cannon on the approaching boat fired and the shell came screaming in and splashed into the water. Just short of the ship.“Fire a distress flare,” the captain ordered.A sailor went to the wall were a flare gun rested on hooks. Taking it down he quickly loaded a cartridge. Stepping through the door he aimed the pistol up and pulled the trigger.Whump! The cartridge shot out the tube and a bright, orange light hissed as it arced up into the air. It reached the apex and hovered there a moment. Then it started to descend. It’s path slowed by the parachute it was attached to.“Where’s the Police boat?” the Captain asked.“I think I’ve found it,” first officer said in angry tones as he pointed off to the north.The captain looked to where the officer was pointing and spotted a pillar of smoke rising from something stopped and burning in the water.A man stepped onto the bridge. The African American was wearing jeans and a tee shirt. Over that was a leather bikers’ jacket. On the back was written “The Road Lords’. He was the only Road Lord left but he continued to wear his favorite jacket. To honor all his lost friends.His official name, the one Robert chose was The Biker but the public started calling him Biker Bob. And despite his best efforts otherwise it’s the name that has stuck.“What’s going on?”The captain pointed to the attacking boat. “Pirates.”“I knew things were going too quietly,” the superhero muttered. “Let me give them a little Keep Off message.”He raised both arms and pointed at the onrushing gunboat. A bolt of electricity leapt from his fingers and streaked towards the attacking boat.The gunboat instantly slowed to a stop and thick oily smoke started billowing up from the bow.“There we go!” He smiled broadly.A half dozen figures lifted off the now burning gunboat and started hurtling towards the ferry.The smile left the Supers face and he cursed several times. “Damn Sea Wolves.”He reached into a pocket and pulled out a cell phone. Bob dialed a number and waited a moment. “Yeah,” he said to whoever was on the other end. “The Wolves are here. Come quick.”A long object rocketed out from one of the approaching people. It slammed into the side of the ferry.“BOOM!” the ship shook from stem to stern.“REALLY quick!” The Super added.“Who are the Wolves?” The first officer asked.“The Sea Wolves,” Bob explained as he put the cellphone away. “A gang of Super Villains. Pirates.”Bob turned to the captain. “This is going to get really ugly. Get your people into the lifeboats and away to safety.”“Understood,” The captain nodded. “I’ll be the last to go.”“Time to earn my pay,” Bob said. “I’ll delay them as long as possible.”***************Penobscot bay was a large, irregularly shaped thing and many small inlets and harbors dotted it’s coast. Many boats and ships never went further than this and didn’t make the trip up the winding Penobscot river to Bangor.From one of these small inlets a powerboat shot out into the bay itself. Low and fast this Cigarette boat was designed for one thing only; going fast. This one was rocketing along at over 90 knots! Throttle wide open. Some would say it’s just a turbine engine attached to some wood and fiberglass.Four people were crammed into the open cockpit of the boat. All were strapped into their seats but were still hanging on as the craft bounced each time it hit a wave. This jolted everyone and everything inside.“We need a plane!” The woman shouted over the roar of the massive engines. The woman had shoulder length blonde hair that snapping about in the wind and the spray like it was a living thing. She was wearing a full body suit that could only be described as LOUD! It had broad, bright green and blue stripes and looked more appropriate for a circus performer. That didn’t bother her. Since she had been Trickshot the Amazing! Worlds greatest shooter. Using her astounding shooting skills to entertain audiences. At least till the Rickti invaded. She turned her skills from shooting harmless targets to shooting the invaders.“Aren’t superheroes supposed to be able to fly or have some cool hover car?” The man shouted. He was huddled in the back corner of the boat. He was wearing a t shirt and jeans and a faded denim work jacket that had clearly seen better days. Tucked under one arm was a large pottery jug of the type usually used in old movies to carry moonshine.“Now Moonshine those high-tech gadgets don’t come free. This was a gift from the city of Bangor,” Orca countered. She was wearing a skin tight wetsuit that was colored white and black in imitation of an orca or killer whale. Her black hair was slicked back with a gel that Olympic swimmers used to protect their hair.Moonshine laughed. “They confiscated it from some drug runners.”Orca laughed. “There’s something karmic about that.”At the wheel of this boat. Was the only one dressed for the wet ride. The man was wearing yellow, rubberized hat, jacket, pants and boots. The type of wet weather gear that New England sailors had been wearing for centuries. His code name was Nor’easter.With his ability to control the wind and the weather he could fly but not as fast as this power boat could do. And he was the only one who could drive it.He weaved the high-speed boat around traffic and out into the open bay. With the traffic cleared away he pushed the throttle wide open and the boat rocketed along even faster!“Slow down a little,” Trickshot shouted. “I need to get off a few shots.”She stood up and tried to balance herself against the windshield. Slowly she brought up her rifle. It was a large beast. Handmade and specifically turned and balanced for her. The gyroscope built in activated and no matter how the boat bounced and swerved the rifle remained rock steady.The woman peered through the scope and caught sight of the ferry. Bolts of electricity arced out from the ship. That marked where Biker Bob was. So she followed one of the bolts and spotted a half dozen figures buzzing along, just about the water. One seemed to be held aloft by a pillar of water.She concentrated on him trying to be sure it wasn’t a friend.The first thing she noticed was that he was colored in alternating patterns or dark and light blue. Even his hair was light blue. The color of deep ice. The man was dressed in a close-fitting suit of protective clothing made of exotic fabrics and plastics. Not truly bullet proof but offering at least protection from the cold wind and rain. Not that he needed it. His powers of cold and water control made him immune to the rain and cold.The woman recognized him as Killer Storm, an old enemy. “You first,” muttered and pulled the trigger.Killer Storm seemed to shiver and then dropped to the water. He tumbled a few times before coming to a halt. Sending huge gouts of water in all directions.She smiled. “Gotcha!”Killer Storm rose out of the water seemingly unharmed. He slowly brought up both arms. His hands clenched and each fist was covered by a ball of water and ice the size of a bowling ball. He motioned both arms at the approaching power boat and the balls of ice rocketed out.“Incoming!” Trickshot shouted and dropped back down into her seat.Nor’easter twisted the wheel and the boat heeled over to port that the rail was underwater for a moment. In spite of the maneuver both balls struck the boat dead amidships. The boat shook and bucked and then came to halt. It bobbed there rocking in the waves.Nor’easter stood up and stepped into the passenger seat. “Take over. I’ll give us some cover!”“All right!” Moonshine shouted. He hopped into the drivers’ seat. The man took a long drink from his jug!“GREAT!” Orca snarled. “Now both boat and driver are gassed up.”Moonshine bent the wheel hard over with his left hand as he jammed the throttles wide open with the other. Sending Nor’easter tumbling backward over the seat and into the one behind him.“God help us if the Coast Guard is watching! We’ll get a thousand tickets!”“We’re heroes!” Moonshine shouted between swigs from his jug. “We’re allowed to do dumb things!”Another figure among the approaching villains had something long and thick in his hand. He threw it at the heroes. The large, 3-foot-long missile went a short way before the rocket motor ignited. The guidance system locked onto the cigarette boat. And moving at 500 miles per hour it went racing at the power boat.Moonshine didn’t seem to have control and turned the power boat into a tight loop to port sending everyone it (but himself) tumbling to starboard. Still moving at over 90 knots the out of control speedboat narrowly missed the rocks of Little Bermuda island.The approaching missile tried to compensate for the sharp turn but couldn’t. The deadly missile missed the boat completely and slammed into the rocks of the island.Moonshine then spun the helm around to the right and the powerboat swerved wildly to the starboard. Sending everyone in it (except him) tumbling to the port side. Another missile flashed past the boat harmlessly but again hitting the island.“The ferryboat Moonshine,” Orca shouted. “Go to the ship. And try not to hit it too hard.”“What?” Moonshine asked. Seemingly confused. He turned to the woman and his arm brushed the throttle, pushing it all the way down. Into reverse. Thrown into reverse the boat nosed down as it slid to a halt. Sending the people (except for Moonshine) tumbling forward. Nor’easter bounced off the windshield and then slid off and to the deck.Moments later two balls of ice and snow zoomed past the bow. Where the boat should have been.Nor’easter got up off the floor and pushed the throttle forward sending the powerful boat again towards the enemy. “Ferryboat,” the man shouted. “Get us to the ferry.”Moonshine nodded and aimed the boat at the ferry. Which grew larger with each passing minute. Their own boat was weaving back and forth like a drunken sailor.Trickshot was trading shots with Killer Storm who was still not able to hit the speeding boat. But she was having a hard time hitting him as he didn’t stay still long enough for a decent shot.Nor’easter held up both hands and slowly waved them. A soft breeze started blowing and with it came a light haze, that quickly became thicker and thicker until the boat was engulfed in a world of gray fog.Moonshine slowed the boat down.“Keep going straight,” Nor’easter ordered. “The ferry is right up ahead.”A massive shape loomed out of the fog in front of them and resolved into the form of the ferry boat.“Pull alongside,” Nor’easter said. “Get close and we’ll use the magnetic mooring line.”“I’ll get the line!” From a small locker Orca took out a long length of rope. One end was tied off to side of the boat. The other end had a large, flat metal disk attached.She used her great strength to toss the magnetic disk at the side of the ship. It hit with a loud clang and stuck. With just her strength she pulled the boat closer till it bumped against the ship.A rope ladder came down from above.“Hurry up,” a voice called.Looking up they saw a sailor leaning over the rail.Nor’easter scrambled up the ladder aware of just how exposed he was. When he got to the top he climbed onto the deck. The ship around him was shrouded in fog and all he could see was vague shapes in the blanket of gray.Standing there was a tall black man dressed in the clothes of a sailor. He was holding an old M1 rifle.“Where’s Bob?” Nor’easter asked as he climbed onto the deck.“Bridge,” the sailor said and pointed toward the bow.A figure charged at them. Wickedly long spines on his arms ripped through the air, barely missing Trickshot.“Keep going,” The Drunken Master said. “I’ll entertain our friend here!”His opponent was dressed in a full body suit that was gold with stripes of red lines slashing across it at odd angles. Long and deadly sharp spines covered his arms, legs and his whole body.Moonshine took a long drink from his jug and staggered toward his opponent. “I brought the drinks,” he said and waved the jug around. “You bring the chips and dip?”***************
COH Story 28 - A Visit to the Island part 2When the group entered the bridge they found Bob. He was standing in the doorway on the opposite side. He leaned out and sent a bolt of electricity crackling down the deck. Just as quickly he ducked back inside.A three-foot-long harpoon slammed into the doorframe smashing it and sending splinters flying in all directions.“Trickshot go back on deck,” Bob ordered. “Go up front and go around the bridge. Killer Storm and Whaler are trying to get in here.”“Where’s Maelstrom? Nor’easter asked.“I’ve no idea but she can’t be too far,” Bob responded.“Who are you?” Moonshine slurred as he avoided the sharp spines slashing at him. “Captain Pincushion?”“I’m the Stonefish!” The man snarled. "Touch me and die."Still staggering along the deck he jumped up and twisted his body in a way a person shouldn’t be able to. He landed nimbly on the railing. The spines that should have hit him missed. They embedded into the deck instead. Ripping up the wood planking.Sea Viper lunged at him, appearing suddenly from a hatchway. Her katana sliced thru his vest and jacket and cutting into his side.“Hey!” Moonshine shouted. “That’s a new shirt!” He swung his jug and caught Sea Viper dead square in the chest.The woman tumbled back into the hatchway she had just come from and out of sight.Without bothering with his injury or even noticing it Moonshine staggered backwards along the rail and closer to the bridge.********************The captain was still at the helm. He seemed to be an island of calm in the chaos going on around them. “I’ve lost contact with the engine room.”“Means there is someone down there,” Bob commented. “And that means at least one more Seawolf around.”“In addition to the new one Moonshine is fighting,” Nor’easter added.“Where did she get all these new people?” Trickshot commented between shots.A harpoon slammed into the doorway and exploded in a roar sending debris flying thru the air like deadly missiles. Everyone went flying across the bridge and landed in a heap.Moonshine came into view still fighting and trading blows with both opponents. Twisting, staggering, jumping and dodging all while punching kicking and swinging his jug about.Trickshot started cursing. “Their boat is headed our way. And it has reinforcements.”“How many?” Bob asked as he slowly stood up. He pulled a several large splinters from his arm and side.“I see someone standing on deck. I cant tell who,” Trick Shot reported. “He’s all covered in metal. Either a robot or power armor.” There was a pause. “Are those HORNS on his head? There has to be at least one more person. I mean someone has to be driving.”A moment later a blast of bitter cold, arctic air swept thru the twisted remains of what had been the door. Fist sized hailstone hammered everything in the bridge, including the occupants.Bob turned to Trickshot. “Stop that boat. We have enough problems. Orca. You greet him when he gets on deck.”The two women ran to the railing and leaned over.The villain’s boat pulled alongside and Bob smiled when he saw the turret on the bow was ruined. Just smoking, twisted metal.The figure standing on the boat was over 8 feet tall and covered with silver metal all over. And it truly looked like a minotaur. The bull creature from Greek mythology. Complete down to the hooves, tail and bovine head with long and wickedly sharp horns.The minotaur easily jumped the 10-foot gap between boat and ship. It hit the side of the ship with a loud clang. It’s metal covered hands easily puncturing the steel plates making up the hull. Steel covered hooves punctured the hull lower down giving the villain a stable hold. He started to climb the side of the ship puncturing holes in the side as it went up.Trickshot emptied an entire thirty round clip into the villain without any effect. The bullets bouncing off like ping pong balls hitting a brick wall.The villain stopped. And slowly turned to her. With one hand he ripped off a piece of the hull plating and almost casually threw it at her.She let a long string of curses and dodged the 500-pound steel missile.Flying backward (out of throwing range) she pulled out the empty magazine and loaded one with black tipped armor piercing bullets. Firing carefully she put several rounds into the minotaur. Some shots bounced off but others penetrated.If they bothered the creature he didn’t show it. Instead it ripped off another part of the hull and threw it. This time she wasn’t fast enough and the projectile caught her on the side and sent her tumbling to the deck and into the side of the deckhouse.Trickshot lay there a moment trying to clear her head. She slowly stood and tried to work past the searing pain in her ribs. “I cant stop him.” She shouted desperately. “He’s too well armored. It’s going to take a while to chip thru all that armor.”She looked around and found her rifle laying nearby. “We have about a minute before he gets up here.”“I’ll deal with him!” Orca said. “You help on the bridge.” She looked over the rail again and saw a second person climbing up. He was using the handholds and footholds the minotaur was making.“The minotaur has brought a friend,” Orca commented.The metallic villain climbed over the rails and onto the deck. “Steel Horn will smash you!” The minotaur said in an oddly mechanical voice.Orca didn’t wait but hit Steel Horn hard twice in the face. Her powerful fists hammering on the metal muzzle.The minotaur simply ignored her attacks and swung at the heroine with powerful metallic fists.Right behind the minotaur a man came clamoring over the rail. He was wearing a close-fitting suit of slick plastic that seemed to be both protect from the cold water and against attack. There was a light blue film over all of it. The blade in each hand glistened with the same bluish liquid that dripped slowly off and onto the deck.Orca had fought this one before. His name was Man o War. Named after the poisonous jelly fish. The blue gel he was covered with wasn’t a deadly poison, but it stung badly.“This dude is tough! And now Man o War is here too,” Orca shouted. “I can’t stop both of them alone.”“We need help,” Bob shouted.“We’re getting creamed,” Nor’easter said. His clothes were ripped, torn, burnt and frozen all at the same time and he was bleeding from a dozen wounds. “We need to retreat.”“We can’t abandon the ship and the people.”“If we stay, we’re dead,” Nor’easter said. He staggered to the doorway and send a blast of howling wind down the deck.Bob turned to the captain. “Are all your people off?”“No,” the captain responded. “Still a skeleton crew in the engine room.”Trickshot and Bob were still dealing with Killer Storm and The Whaler. Moonshine was trying to fight Stone Fish and Sea Viper. Now they had two more to fight.“Go,” the captain ordered. “There is a time to stay and a time to retreat. Now it’s time to retreat.”“I WON’T abandon you and your people,” Bob countered.A large flash and a bang rocked the bridge knocking everyone but Moonshine to the ground.“You’re not abandoning us,” the ship’s officer responded as he stood up. “And don’t worry about us. Those crooks need us to sail the ship.”Bob leaned against the wall for a moment to let the ringing in his head stop. He was quiet for a moment amidst the chaos and noise in battle. “We’ll be back!”“Moonshine,” Bob shouted loud enough for all to hear. “Your jug is empty.”The drunken master stood there a moment. He easily avoided the blows of Stonefish as he took a swig from his jug. “I’m out!” Moonshine said and tipped his jug upside down. Nothing came out. “I’M OUT OF HOOCH!” He screamed. “Time to get a refill!” He flung the jug hard down onto the deck.BOOM!!The jug exploded with a searing flash and bone shaking blast that sent the villains tumbling backward. Huge clouds of black smoke billowed up instantly blocking all vision for a moment.When the smoke finally cleared the Sea Watch was gone. None of the heroes remained.*********
Miscellaneous CoH + CoV-Related Content ONLY
City of Nuts ISSUE 6 by LJ by VexXxa
Screenshots
City of Heroes Flaming Fir Bolg Head by CaptFox
Previous Years FArt Competitions
Timber Pixie prize by JonathanWyke
City of Heroes HOMECOMING
CoH + CoV Character REFS
Pellet by DashMcCool
CoXso Prize Artz
Star Century  by MMOART by ChristopherRobinArtz

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YES! IT IS TRUE! CITY OF HEROES IS BACK!  

After all these years we can finally go home! Check out the link below and make your way back to the city we call our own.

www.reddit.com/r/Cityofheroes/…

Happy HOMECOMING!
Howdy Folks,

It has been a really rough year for many folks around the country and around the world.  We could really use many of your heroes here in the real world.  Since that isn't possible, hopefully some of you are fighting crime and supporting your communities in other ways.

Thank you for continuing to support this group with your fantastic art of your characters from our very missed  Paragon City and Rogue Isles. Maybe 2019 will be the year we all get to join together in a new city to call our home.  Until then,  keep up the good fight.

Stay safe and well. And may  2019 be kind to you all.

Happy New Year!

Merrily Yours,
~ VexXxa ~
Howdy Folks,

Another year has slipped by in the blink of an eye. And we have seen quite a few new character pieces added to our galleries over the past year. It's always wonderful to see your toons still holding your interest and the interest of those of us who still find our galleries entertaining. It's always wonderful to pop in and see another image of one of your heroes or villains posted to one of the galleries. Please continue to share them with us.

Thank you to all of you who continue to support our group and who continue to find inspiration in the City of Heroes and City of Villains characters.

May 2018 bring you all much joy and good health 🤗

Merrily Yours,
~VexXxa~
More Journal Entries

Group Guidelines - Established 12/16/2010

Thank you for visiting the official unofficial City of Heroes Group on deviantArt!

City of Heroes was and always will be the World's BEST Superpowered MMO, where thousands of players had crafted superpowered identities for themselves and joined other Hero and Villain characters in the constantly expanding universe of Paragon City and the Rogue Isles ™ to battle a host of foes. This dA group is a growing community for people who played City of Heroes/City of Villains and for artists who have a history of drawing City of Heroes/Villains-related commissions. If you were a City of Heroes player or an artist who has done and is regularly accepting commissions for City of Heroes-related artwork, you’re welcome to join the group.

People who are interested in joining the group must include a message explaining their ties to City of Heroes or City of Villains and why they want to join. Otherwise, the request will be denied. This is to prevent the group from being spammed with non-City of Heroes/Villains related art.

City of Heroes players joining the group are assigned Member status and are permitted to post art to the following folders: Heroes, Villains, Multiple Character Art, Sequentials, Screenshots, Miscellaneous CoH Content, and Fan Fiction. Please keep all submissions to these folders City of Heroes and City of Villains related. Artists who take City of Heroes/Villains commission work are assigned to the Artists' Alley group and are permitted to post deviations to the Artist Submissions folders, which are organized alphabetically by *artist dA name*. Art submitted to these folders can be non-CoH/CoV related. Please maintain some level of selectivity and refrain from flooding the folders with all your deviations. Noteworthy submissions will be selected by the Gallery Directors moved to the Featured section.

All deviations submitted to the City of Heroes Group must be family friendly. No NUDITY, pieces of private parts ("bits") of either gender or extreme violence is NOT permitted to be posted to this group. Any content that does not fall under these general guidelines will be removed from the group, with repeat offenders having their memberships revoked.

If there are any questions, please feel free to send a note to the group. Thank you!

UPDATED: 17 October 2013

Comments


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:icontaghuso:
taghuso Featured By Owner May 31, 2019  Professional Digital Artist
Did I mention???
CoH is TOTALLY BACK and FREE!!!
www.reddit.com/r/Cityofheroes/…
Reply
:icontaghuso:
taghuso Featured By Owner May 31, 2019  Professional Digital Artist
www.reddit.com/r/Cityofheroes/…
REALLY REALLY BACK!!!!
Reply
:iconsuichitanaka:
SuichiTanaka Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2019
Everyone should know that City of Heroes risen from the ashes and is now playable on private servers. What started off as an incredible story of secret cabals, *actual* wide reaching conspiracies, and power corrupt madmen eventually resulted in the release of the source code necessary to make and run private servers.

There's still a lot of work to be done, there's still a lot of bugs in the code, and the test server that's up right now is being hammered past it's capabilities. But CoH/V is alive again.
Reply
:iconsodacan:
sodacan Featured By Owner May 24, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Where can we find out more?
Reply
:iconsuichitanaka:
SuichiTanaka Featured By Owner May 24, 2019
www.reddit.com/r/Cityofheroes/ has info on how to get on the various servers.
Reply
:icondashmccool:
DashMcCool Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2019
I spent 3 hours last night watching videos from the reborn test server that Leandro et al created. Just hearing the sounds of Paragon City again was amazing. /em salute to the heroes who rezzed CoH.
Reply
:iconlozcollector:
LoZCollector Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
I will never, never not miss City of Heroes. No game has ever come close in terms of customisation, immersion, community, setting, story or sheer scope, especially within the MMO or superhero genres. It deserved so much better than what it got; the fans deserved so much better than what they got! Paragon frickin' Studios deserved so much better than what they got after creating one of the greatest games ever to grace our computers-!

And to think the rights almost got free from NCSoft's clutches, only for them to say no to use Statesman and Ghost Widow in a crappy MOBA that didn't even last a year. It's disgusting and disheartening...

But we're heroes, every one of us. We don't stop just because our backs are against the wall. We don't give in just because the situation seems bleak and hopeless. We keep fighting, keep hoping and holding on for a better day ahead.

And we're villains. We've seen setbacks, we've seen failures by our lessers, by we do not let that stop our ambitions. We know better than any the burning hunger that will keep us ever seeking our goals, no matter what.

Never forget Paragon City. Some day, we will have our home again.
Reply
:iconvexxxa:
VexXxa Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Amazingly said! And I totally agree! 😃
Reply
:iconlozcollector:
LoZCollector Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Don't lose hope. There's a team out there worthy to stand with the Freedom Phalanx; the Super Entity Game Server, SEGS. I found out just the other day. They're painstakingly re-created the base code of City of Heroes, from the ground up, through trial and error, completely for free, to try and bring back the game we loved. They're at version 0.5 so far.

Show them whatever support you can, please. They need to know they have the support of all of us behind them! Imitators won't cut it; we want our city back!
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