The Spirit Of The Forest

by W. D. Wilcox






Crouching very low to the ground, William crawled to the edge of the meadow. He removed his hat and lifted his head up just enough to have his eyes clear the tall grass, giving him a good field of view. Then, quickly ducking down again, he moved off to the right, remembering to never stay in one position for too long.


William's fluid and gliding movements were like an animal, hunting down its prey. Every muscle of his body was tensed and poised.  He clutched his forest bow tightly with his left hand and a white arrow with his right. He knew he would be able to defend himself if the need arose.


Straining all his senses now, William scanned the meadow. There was a strong smell of wild flowers in the air and the sounds of buzzing insects, but all animal noises were missing. He thought he had heard something earlier, not far ahead. It wasn't a sound natural to the forest and if he didn't find out what it was soon, he'd be stuck crawling around on his belly all day.


There was suddenly a loud rustling in the bushes directly in front of him as two kwal were flushed out and took to the air in a flurry of squawks and feathers. William quickly rolled and came up with an arrow notched and ready in his bow. He took aim at the intruder, but he forced his muscles to slowly relax as he stared down at what had caused all the commotion.


"What the... what are you doing way out here child," William said as gently as he could.


A small boy about twelve years of age, with blond matted hair and a very dirty face streaked with tears, looked up at him. Fear and terror were in his eyes. Startled by William's sudden appearance, he began to cry uncontrollably.


"Please help me. Please...," he sobbed.


"Tell me what has happened," William asked sympathetically. "Are you hurt?"


"Strange men came and attacked us," he said. "Men wearing armor. They came out of nowhere, killing everyone in the village." He seemed to shudder at the thought. "Why would they do that?"


"All right boy, calm down," William said as soothingly as possible. "You're safe now. Tell me everything, from the start."


He finally stopped crying and began to speak. "Mom and I were collecting herbs when they came," he said. "She was talking to me and joking around like usual, she could always make me laugh. Suddenly, a large man in armor burst through the woods right next to us. Mother screamed then pushed me hard into the bushes. I saw a bright red light pass right through her, and...she fell.  Smoke was coming from a large hole burnt in her chest and clothes. It had a bad smell." The boy started to drift off somewhere deep in his mind; remembering.   "I was so scared," he said. "I..., I hid there in the bushes. I didn't make a sound. I just stared at my mom. I wanted her to be alive again. To get up and hold me like always when I'm afraid, but she never moved. After awhile, I knew..., she was dead."


"Tell me what else happened," William asked trying to get the boy to talk about something else.


"They didn't see me," he continued. "Because the one that killed my mom finally went off towards the village, joining the others in the attack."


The boy began to cry once more and William's heart broke to see such a small child going through this. It does something to children when they see their parents killed. William knew, because it had happened to him.


"I saw what they did from where I was hiding," he said. "So many of them...killing everyone. My people never had a chance." The boy shuddered at the thought. "They had a big cage with them," he said.


"Cage? Were they taking prisoners?" asked William.


"Yes..., the children!" he yelled. "They were putting the children in the cage!"


"What happened to the children?"


"It was like a bad dream," he said, "a nightmare! I could hear them screaming and crying. Some tried to run and hide, but they were captured and put in the cage." He kept slowly pulling grass from the ground as he talked, as if it helped him to concentrate. "There was this other one," he said, "bigger then all the rest, like he was the leader, and he was looking at the children carefully, searching for something."


"What did he do?", William prodded.


The cleared his dry throat and choked back some of his tears. "He would grab one out of the cage," he said stiffening, "and he'd look at their hands for awhile, then he'd do something to them, I couldn't tell what, but they would stop struggling after that. Then he'd just drop them like a broken doll on the ground, and grab another one. It was really bad. There were kids laying all around him. Some were my friends, but I couldn't help them. I never saw any of them get up and try to run away. I guess they were all dead."


William tried to comfort the boy some by kneeling down and patting his back softly. He knew he would have to investigate the village. The boy's story was beyond belief. "Who would make war on innocent children?" he thought angrily.


"Didn't anyone try to fight back?" William asked.


"The warriors...," he said, "the warriors of our village, ran out to stop them, but...their weapons couldn't hurt them, " he said looking into eyes fiercely, trying to make William believe his words. "Their armor was stronger than our swords. So hard, that even arrows were bouncing off." He was frantic now, and talked as if he were going into shock. "And their eyes....their eyes shone red, I saw them through their helmets. And then this red light comes out, killing everything it touches."


"Was it like magic?" William asked.


"Yes," he said, "it must have been magic, but different."


He looked William over now, for the first time. Studying his face and clothes.


"You're one of the Foresters, aren't you?" he asked.


"You are very observant for one so young," William said. "Yes, I'm a Forester."


"I thought your kind were nothing more than a story for children." He looked at William again then reached out and touched his hand as if to make sure he was real. "Do you know who these invaders are?" he asked suddenly. "Will you help me find them and kill them all?"


William did not respond immediately to his question. The truth was, that he had never heard of men in armor attacking other villages before, and did not wholly believe it now.  Something had happened, though; something terrible, that much was certain.


The child must have read the doubt in his face because he stood up abruptly and began pulling hard on William's hand, as if to lead him down the trail to his home. "Come on Forester, please...come and see for yourself. They're real, I tell you!"


"Wait boy," the Forester said. "I'll believe you for now, but it is not yet safe to enter your village. The enemy may still be there, and it is much too dangerous for you. Rest, while you can. You look like you can use it, and you may need all your strength soon."


This seemed to calm him a little. William then offered him some water and a small bit of food from his pack. He took it greedily as if he had had nothing to eat or drink for days. William waited until he had refreshed himself a bit.


"What's your name boy? What do they call you by?" asked the Forester as he squatted down to sit next to the boy.


"Tom," he said between mouthfuls of food. "Tom Garnor from the village of Stoort. My father is, or was...Robert Garnor, apprentice to the head Elder  Nooniss," he said loftily.  William had heard of Nooniss. He was indeed a powerful Elder, and could wield mighty forces of magic. If

Tom's story were true..., how could this have happen?


"My name is William," he said, extending his hand "and I'm very pleased to meet you Tom."


Tom reached up and grabbed the offered hand. He could feel the strength of the hardened grip and knew that, here was a man he could trust and depend on.  A real live Forester.


"Tell me of the Elders ?" William asked. "Didn't they use their magic to protect your people?"


"Oh yes...," he answered. "They made the Circle of Power, and then touched their staffs together. I watched as they began to glow. "My father," said Tom, "and the other apprentices, circled the Elders, chanting spells and making an invisible shield to keep all of them from harm."  Tom seemed very proud of his father. "But... the men in armor were brutal," Tom said horrified. "They attacked without mercy, killing everybody, even the women, like they just didn't care." He folded his knees up into his chest and wrapped his arms around them. "They could move very fast," said Tom, "and their swords were by that time already covered in blood when they smashed into the Circle of Power." Tom smiled grimly at that thought. "But they couldn't break-through. They tried over and over again; but couldn't do it. Their red beams of light just danced like a wildfire all over the shield; but the magic was strong, and the shield held."


Listening to the boy, William could tell he already possessed a considerable amount of knowledge about the workings of magic. Probably learned from his father, but it was very rare for a young child to have such a natural talent and understanding of these things. He would make someone an excellent apprentice.


"Then, our Elders attacked," he continued. "They threw their magic right at the enemy. There were bright explosions and blue beams of light shooting out in all directions. It was unbelievable to see." The boy stopped to catch his breath a little.


"Were they destroyed?" William asked.


"Yes, some were knocked over," said Tom excitedly, "with black smoke coming out of them. It was very strange to see. Others spun around and around like crazy people and crashed into trees and huts. You could hear the people shout-out with hope when they saw this; didn't last long." The boy stopped; lost again in his terrible memories. He stared back down the hill towards his home and a tear ran down his dirty face.  "There were too many of them..." he said distantly.  "They began to dodge the Elder's magical bolts and more of them came from over the hill to join in the attack. The Circle of Power began to weaken," he said painfully. "It started to glow bright red. I could see my father with the other apprentices struggling to hold each other up on their feet...but their strength was gone and they began to fall to their knees." Tom clenched his jaw and balled up his fists, then despondently said, "One minute they were all there in the Circle, a blink of an eye, the magic just seemed to give out and they...disappeared." Tom wiped his nose across his sleeve. "After that, anyone that was left alive started to run, but all were killed."





William suddenly sensed something coming...and he quickly silenced Tom. There was a perceivable buzzing sound coming up over the hill. He instinctively grabbed the young boy with one strong arm and swiftly stepped behind a large tree. He wrapped his green and brown cloak around them, and they became just part of the tree, almost invisible. The buzzing sound turned into a whirling noise, and something William had never seen before appeared over the hilltop. It looked like a large man in a black suit of armor; not walking, but gliding along as it moved over the ground, searching for something. It had a slot in the helmet at eye level and a small round hole for the mouth. Inside the slot, you could see something red moving. William also noticed its two metal arms ended in spinning tri-blade swords; rotating so fast that they created that dreadful whirling sound he had heard as it approached. It came closer. William and Tom didn't move. The Forester knew that their best chance for survival, was to stay hidden until it passed. If it passed, because from Tom's story, William also knew, that the men in armor could use some type of magic, and this was not a good time to see if that was true. 


It started slowly heading right for their hiding place, as if it could sense they were there. The whirling became louder. William, desperately thinking, reached up for a tree branch. He bent it back towards him further and further until he could almost feel it break. The muscles in his arm were strained and bulging but he held the branch tight. The armored man approached. The tree branch made another loud cracking sound but William held it firm. With his left hand he slowly reached down and grabbed the hilt of his sword, waiting for the exact moment.  The man in black armor heard the sound of the cracking branch and quickly rolled right up to the tree. William released the branch perfectly, and a discernible swishing sound was heard; followed by a loud clang, as it caught him head on.


Totally taken by surprise, the armored man was knocked to the ground by the force of the whipping branch. In a flowing motion, William pulled his sword and charged out from the opposite side of the tree, screaming a loud war-cry made up of both adrenaline and fear. Before the thing could recover, William was upon it, swinging his sword down on the metal head with all his might and smashing his blade into it like a hammer hitting an anvil. The sword broke, but the hilt had embedded itself deep into the armored head.


Suddenly, there were loud popping and sizzling sounds coming from it, and smoke began to pour from the helmet like a smoldering campfire. Tom came running out from behind the tree as fast as his little legs could carry him, but he cautiously stopped short when he saw the smoking thing lying on the ground. He at first seemed frightened but then his anger took over and he ran up and kicked the man in armor as hard as he could. 


"That's for my mother and father", yelled Tom and he kicked it again, "and that's for the people of my village." The armored man rolled a little this time, and pieces of metal fell out of the gash caused by William's sword. Tom then fell upon the machine, straddling its' smoking body and smashing his little fists into it as if he could cause it more harm.


His left hand suddenly jammed into its' eye slot and Tom screamed out in terrible pain.


William leaped to grab him but it was too late. Tom's hand had somehow been severely burned by something inside the hot metal helmet.


Tom jumped up clutching his burnt hand. He began spinning around in circles trying to escape the pain, but he could not out run it.


William quickly grabbed the boy and poured water over his hand.


"Be still boy," yelled William. "I cannot dress this properly with you moving all over the place. Now, open your hand and let me take a look at it."


Tom clutched his hand desperately to his chest, refusing help. The pain was intense.


William gently grabbed the boy's face and looked deep into his eyes. Tom stopped moving. He then made a mark on Tom's forehead with his finger and pressed his thumb between his eyes.

The pain immediately left Tom and he sat upon the ground as if in a trance.


William carefully took the boy's clenched hand and slowly opened it to have a look at the wound. He noticed it was a severe burn, but perfectly cauterized in the shape of a circle with a triangle in the center. It was bright red and William knew he would have to get some healing herbs on it right away.


"Now keep still," said William, as he looked around in his pack for the right type of recuperating plant. After finding what was needed, he applied a smelly leaf extract to the wound, then put a bandage around Tom's hand, to keep infection from starting.


Once William was done, Tom started to come out of his stupor a little. He opened and closed his hand several times to discern the amount of damage and pain.


"What did you do?" he asked, "the pain is almost gone."


"Good," said William, "I'll teach you how some other time." He was distracted by something he saw while looking at the armored man. "We must leave this area at once. Can you walk?"


"Yes," said Tom, "I feel fine, really."


William smiled and rubbed Tom's shaggy head of hair. "You're a brave one Tom," said William, "but don't confuse bravery with foolishness."


Tom smiled back at the Forester, grateful for all he'd done. "I'm ok," he said. "I don't know why I did that. It was stupid."


"We must go," said William looking back at the armored man once again. "But first, I think we can learn something about the enemy, if we examine this dead one more closely."


"Are you sure it's dead?" asked Tom.


William reached down and grabbed the metal helmet with both hands. He pulled and twisted it with all his strength until it finally came loose in his hands. There were more popping sounds and the smell of something on fire.  "It's dead," he said. "If it was ever really alive."


What they looked at was not human. Inside the neck they could see flashing light and what looked like very thin vines of every color, and even larger ones hollowed out with liquid running through them. They both stood there staring at the armored man with totally puzzled expressions on their faces.


Tom's mouth fell open. William looked around, then quickly laid out his cloak and wrapped the head inside.


"We'll take this to the Elder of the Forest in Rondon. His magic is very strong and he may help us understand what type of creature this is."


Tom then helped William drag the body of the metal man to the brink of a cliff; then pushed it over the edge.


For the first time, Tom finally felt that these things could be defeated. It wasn't hopeless after all.  They could be destroyed, and that's exactly what he longed to do. He felt his revenge burning brightly inside him.


William, slinging the cloak over his shoulder, prepared to leave. "Come, young Tom. We have a long journey ahead and it's not safe to remain here any longer. I will come back later to investigate your village and bury the dead, but right now we are in danger of being discovered.

We must hurry and push on before dark."


Tom stared back towards his home, probably for the last time. All his family and friends were gone now, and there was nowhere else to go. He slowly turned and followed William deeper into the wilderness.





Traveling through the thickest part of the woods and off all the regular trails, William led the boy towards Rondon Village. Tom would surely have been lost by now if not for William's skill and knowledge of the forest and his ability to find his way even in the dark. Finally, William stopped to let Tom rest. He gave the lad a much needed drink of water from his canteen.


"We can't light a fire or torch until we get closer to Rondon," explained William. "We may still be followed by the enemy, though I haven't heard or sensed anything tracking us."


He gave Tom a piece of dried meat from his pack and more water. Tom ate without speaking, sitting with his back against a giant tree; his thoughts were his own. William could tell the young boy was worn out, but it couldn't be helped for now. They had to keep pushing on.

Unexpectedly, there was a noise in the darkness ahead, and William motioned to the boy to be still, as he smelled the air and strained his eyes to see through the woods. Then William silently moved off to the left and disappeared into the shadows. Tom waited holding his breath...afraid to



After awhile Tom heard a strange whistling sound. Then a long silence and another whistle.

Something was approaching his position through the brush directly in front of him. It took all Tom's courage just to keep from bolting blindly through the dark into the forest. Finally, William burst through the thicket smiling, followed by the largest deer Tom had ever seen. It had huge antlers and stood taller than the Forester.


The animal stomped its front foot, then snorting, he lowered his big head. With large brown eyes, he stared deeply at Tom, as if he was studying the boy.


"This is Bogo," said William. "We're old friends, he and I.."


Bogo sniffed at Tom then made a very loud snort... and suddenly sneezed all over him, wetting Tom's face and hair. William had to let out a laugh. "He's not used to your smell yet."


Tom wiped his face with his sleeve. "Some friend," said Tom, "does he always greet people like this?"


"We are very lucky to have found him," said William grinning. "This is not his normal territory. I think he has been forced away from his home by the enemy." William scratched behind Bogo's ear. "We go way back, Bogo and I. Once, long ago, I saved his life from a hungry pack of wolves. It seems," he laughed, "that he's grown some since then."


Tom reached his hand out to touch the massive head of the deer. Bogo let him pet his forehead.


Then William quickly reached down and picked Tom up by the waist and gently set him down on the back of the immense deer. Bogo snorted again. "Hang on tightly to his neck Tom," said

William, "Bogo will carry you while your little legs rest. I will lead him, but if danger should come upon us, Bogo can quickly carry you out of harms way. Remember, to just hang on."


Tom sat astride the gigantic animal, searching for a good hand hold. Bogo looked even bigger from his back than he did from the ground. "Are you sure this is safe," asked Tom a bit frightened.


"We must journey fast while it is still night," said William. "We will reach Rondon by morning if all goes well. Rest while you can."


William started off and Bogo stayed close behind with the small child clutching tightly to his neck.


Tree branches slapped Tom in the face as they moved through the forest now at a much greater pace than before. Tom was finally forced to lay his head down upon Bogo's neck to protect himself from the stinging branches. He was soon lulled to sleep by the rhythm of the great animal. 


All the horrors of the day played over and over again in Tom's head. He felt like it had all been a bad dream. A dream he couldn't wake up from. It seemed, his mother was gently rocking him in her arms. Soothing and comforting him; making everything all right.


"Mother..., I was so scared," mumbled Tom, "I had such a bad nightmare."


The sun was rising on a brand new day, as William looked down from the top of the hill at the village of Rondon. The smoke from the campfires rose like clouds of magic mist through the trees. He checked the sleeping boy on the back of Bogo to make sure he was still secure, then slowly turned, and started down the hill.





In a spaceship that could only be designed by beings from another world, sat Lox3, leader of the attacking forces. He was humanoid in shape, but there was nothing human about him. He sat in a mountain of alien steel and artificial light.


All metal and wires, components and resistors, that was Lox3. He stood approximately 8 feet tall and had incredible strength compared to any human. His computer mind had logged many cycles of time away from his homeworld, Nemisis.


"Ah..., Nemisis," he thought, "full of steel and metal towers reaching miles into the beautiful black sky. How I miss it. There are none of these "life forms" running around. No lakes, forests, or mountains; only beautiful piles of scrap metal."


His thoughts of home were distracting, because he knew this mighty spaceship would be the only home he'd ever really know. 


"Searching... always searching for that one filthy humanoid," thought Lox3. There was never any real proof that this human even exists or ever will exist. Those ignorant astronomer robots and their stupid prophesy. They've turned sound science into nothing more than astrology!"


He'd always have this argument with himself. He truly missed his home planet.


"It's just not possible to find this "one child" way out here in uncharted space, so far away from home. Not possible!"


Lox3 felt sand in his gears as he thought about his orders for this mission. "These new robots today, they think they know everything! Changing all the old ways. How can they be so sure of this future they see? How will I ever be able to find this alleged 'Conqueror'? This so called 'One', who will lead armies of humanoids out into space, destroying all machines and robot kind. Ridiculous!"


Now, here he was, stuck on another strange planet. This one, invested with life-forms of all kinds. "So impractical," thought the robot leader. "Like trying to find a short in a circuit."


Lox3 sat calculating incoming data from all his scout-drones, while relaying crucial information back to his attack force.


"All resistance has been eliminated from sector 7," reported a head drone.  "We have not found

'The One' for your examination. Over."


"Message received and logged," said Lox3. "Continue the search until further orders."


Lox3 was deeply concerned about a missing scout-drone sent deep into the forest area. The last report, said the drone had made contact with something ... Lox3 didn't like unanswered questions; it somehow bothered him.


"Why do these foolish biological beings try to oppose us? It is obvious their technology is no match for my forces... yet, they do seem to have some type of power that is quite strange to me. It is generated without any machines or power source that I can detect. This knowledge must be discovered and reported to home base immediately.


"Lox3 to all scout drones: Have you found the missing 'drone-2435' yet?"


"Affirmative," said the scout, "mechanical parts were discovered on the ground at the edge of the forest and at the bottom of a cliff just outside sector 11. It is presumed 'drone-2435' has been destroyed."


"Has the area been searched thoroughly?" he asked.


"Yes, Leader," stated the drone. "Human tracks were found, but no body-heat signals could be detected near the area. It appears they were here some time ago."


"Perhaps, this could be it," thought Lox3 "This could be what we've been looking for."


"Follow the tracks," he said, "I want to know who could destroy one of my scout-drones and survive."


Three scout-drones, moving very slowly at first, followed the tracks through the heavily wooded area. Then they fired their jets and took to the air. They would eventually find out where the tracks led, and who made them.


It was just a matter of time.





William was a Forester. Their knowledge of the forests and wilderness areas was essential to the lives of all the people on the planet, especially the Elders. Only the Foresters knew where to find the rarest healing herbs and plants that were used in the making of the Elders' strongest magic. The Foresters were trained to be wizards, as well as mighty warriors. To protect and serve the 'Spirit of the Forest'. This knowledge was passed on to them only by other Foresters, who would each choose one apprentice from the wisest children of the villages. Seasoned Foresters always walked alone, and lived apart from all other people and things. Dedicating their lives to the 'Spirit of the Forest' and all that nature could teach them. Helping to guide the Elders in protecting the forest and all its inhabitants. There were few of them left now, but whenever they came into a populated area, they were always treated with the highest respect and honor. So, on that day, when the people of Rondon saw a Forester entering their village, with early morning campfire smoke swirling all about him, while he lead the largest deer anyone has ever seen before, they became quite afraid.


"It has been foretold," cried out an old woman. "It's the prophesy...!"


"Spirit of the Forest," yelled a warrior, "protect us!"


People ran in and out of their small huts in utter confused excitement. Children were crying and dogs barked loudly. Some of the people actually fell down upon the ground mumbling prayers, as they now looked up at Tom and Bogo. Still others were chanting protective spells to ward off any evil forces from a meeting such as this.


William suddenly realized why he never liked to enter villages.


Tom sat atop Bogo's back grinning from ear to ear. He had never been the center of so much attention before.


"What is wrong with these people," asked Tom of William. "Have they lost their minds?"


Bogo, nostrils flared and feet pawing the ground, kicked up clouds of dirt and dust as the people closed in around them. He seemed ready to bolt to safety at any second. It took all of William's skill to calm him with gentle  reassuring words.


Then, from around the corner of a hut, three Elders were literally being pulled towards William by some of the crazed villagers. William recognized the head Elder as Tasoon, a good man and loyal friend of the forest. They had met several times before in the wilderness areas exchanging knowledge. William knew him to be a wise and extraordinary man. Tasoon may have even been a Forester himself at one time.


"William of the Forest," said Tasoon, "welcome to Rondon."


"May the Spirit of the Forest guide you Tasoon," replied William.


The people pressed in upon them, trying to hear what was being said.


"It is, as was foretold to us...," cried out a villager, "the prophesy has come true!"


"Silence...!" yelled Tasoon to the crowd, "all will be revealed."


"What prophesy?" asked William, "have you all fallen under a spell? What is this all about



"You have fulfilled a terrible prophesy for them," said Tasoon, "and they are frightened." He held up his hand for silence once more, until all fell quiet.


"It has been foretold," started Tasoon, "that a man of the forest would someday come, leading the Spirit of the Forest; and upon the back of the Spirit, would ride the last hope for the future of all humanity."


People began to reach out and try to touch them, but William had had enough of these superstitious fools. He angrily stepped back, swinging his bundled cloak at them, clearing a little room for Bogo, Tom, and himself. Then, he lifted it up for all to see.


"This... this is the future," he yelled waving his cloak high in the air. This, is what is coming. Not prophesy, but real danger... to us all."


In one quick movement, William unrolled his package upon the ground for all  to see. The metal sphere tumbled out towards the feet of the Elders like a decapitated head. The entire crowd gasped.


"What is this?" asked Tasoon curiously, looking at the armored head. "What danger is coming?"


"The Enemy," said William grimly. "An enemy that does not just wear armor, but is armor; living armor. Not flesh and blood, like men...but men made of metal.


After dispersing the crowd, William and Tom were escorted to a small hut made of cut trees and branches. They were both fed and Tom's wound was cleaned and new bandages applied by some of the apprentices, then both of them fell immediately to sleep upon soft beds of animal fur. After several hours of rest, William was awakened to meet privately with the Elders in the basilica. As he was leaving the hut, he looked down at Tom sleeping so soundly and realized that he had finally found his new apprentice.





"We have studied the metal head," began Tasoon. "Only to find pieces of metal so small and well crafted, that it could not have come from our world. No one here has that kind of knowledge.

Which raises even more disturbing questions for us...who are they...and, what do they want?"


"What about the children?" asked William. "Why are they interested in only the children?"


"We will answer all your questions. That is why we have called you here," answered Tasoon.

"We must know more about the enemies intent, as well as how to defeat them."


"We can not wait to find out," said William. "They are already on the move and threaten to destroy us all."


"Yes, that is true," replied Tasoon. "We have sent runners to all the villages in the surrounding areas as a precaution. They are to tell every Elder to evacuate their people and pull back to the village of Gormon, hidden in the deepest part of the forest. There, together, we will prepare to make a final stand against the invaders. What we want you to do, is to discover more about these Metal Men. You are to leave tonight, in the cover of darkness, to get as close to them as possible and gather as much information as you can. Only a Forester could do this."


"What about Tom?" asked William.


"Tom will stay here with us until your return," said Tasoon. He looked at William with the love and understanding of a father. Putting his hand upon William's shoulder he softly said, "We will not be sending you empty-handed William. We were able to discover some weaknesses of the enemy from the metal head you brought us. We were also able to magically read some of its memories. Although very strange to us, some of its recollections showed the search for a child with a distinctive mark. The same mark we found on Tom, when his bandages were removed this evening."


"What..., what does all this mean, Tasoon?" asked William.


"Once again, it is unknown to us," stated Tasoon. "But he appears to be the one they are looking for."


"How could a child be a threat to these monsters?" asked William in astonishment. "Surely they would not kill so many people just to find one small boy."


"It was the only real memory we could find in the thing," said Tasoon. "We are all depending onyou to get the answers we need."


Tasoon reached down and picked up a bundle of wrapped furs. He gently laid it upon the table.

"As I said, you will not be sent empty-handed. This," he said pointing to the bundle, "will help you on your journey."


He unwrapped the furs to reveal a silver sword like none that William had ever seen. Its hilt was engraved with trees and foliage of every variety; and its blade glistened in the firelight with unearthly colors. Along side it were a quiver of arrows.


"This sword was made from a piece of metal found long ago by my closest friend, and your teacher, Abram." William could not believe what he was hearing. Master Abram had told him once of a fiery ball he saw come crashing to the ground from the sky. Could this sword be made from that same falling star?


Tasoon picked up the sword and raised it above the metal head they had been studying, then he let the blade drop lightly down upon it. A deep slash was left in the helmet as though the metal head was made of mere wood.


"I had this forged magically for Abram years ago, out of friendship and love" said Tasoon. "He never lived to see it. Also," he continued, "the heads of these arrows were made of the same material."


William looked at the dozen or so arrows in dismay. Never had he seen their like. The arrowheads were honed so sharp that you could shave with them; and the shafts were bright green made from the Yolt Tree, the hardest wood known.  The feathers of the kwal bird topped the shaft. In the forest, they would appear to be almost invisible when loosened upon a target.


"Unfortunately, this is all we have of the strange metal," said the Elder,  so use these weapons wisely."


"Thank you, Tasoon," said William while receiving the weapons. "I will leave at once."


"May the 'Spirit of the Forest' guide you," spoke Tasoon.





Tom awoke feeling disoriented. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes then looked around the small hut for The Forester, but found him missing. He was immediately alarmed, and jumped up from his bed of furs wide awake. Rushing outside, he noticed the sun had not yet peeked through the trees. The campfires were burned out and smoldering. Tom suddenly felt panicked. "Where was

William?" he thought.


The sound of a twig snapping, made Tom turn with a start; but it was only a guard stationed on the fringe of the village, making his rounds. Tom's senses were heightened by the fear he felt at the pit of his stomach. Something was wrong; very wrong.


As he looked to the west, he saw movement through the trees, there was something pushing its way through the brush. He heard one of the guards yell out just as a bright red beam of light flashed overhead. Tom's mind whirled with confusion. Terror reached up and seemed to grip his very soul.


"We're under attack," thought Tom. "The Metal Men are here!"




William had just reached the summit of the tallest hill that surrounded the village of Rondon. The sky was still black with night but to the east it was beginning to change color. Bogo had been leading the way and picking the best trail for William in the dark, but now he stopped and snorted, smelling the air. William walked up to him and rubbed his large neck.


"What is it, old friend?" whispered William. "Do you smell something?"


Bogo shook his head up and down, as if he was answering. His ears were perked straight up, and his nostrils were flared.


William checked over the area ahead, but noticed nothing unusual. He didn't understand why

Bogo was acting so spooky.


The sun began to peek over the hill behind them and William looked back towards Rondon, thinking of Tom at that moment. He already missed him. He happened to notice smoke rising from the village, it seemed, so far away now  He hoped Tom would understand his leaving without waking him to say good-bye. "Tasoon would explain it all to him and keep him safe until his return," thought William.


"It's just early morning campfires." He told Bogo as he turned to go down the next hill. "We must hurry and push on. They are counting on us to succeed."


Bogo would not move forward.


William stopped and stared again back at the smoke from the village, conscious of something.

Horror gripped him as the fumes he saw earlier, turned into lapping orange flames. The forest was burning! Rondon was on fire!


Without thinking, he quickly jumped upon Bogo's back.


"Fly Bogo!" he yelled. "Run to Tom! Run!"


The large deer took off running down the hill. His feet seeming to hardly touch the ground at all. William hung on tightly, keeping low to Bogo's neck  He was amazed at the sheer strength of the animal, now running at full speed down hill, back to Tom. He jumped a huge fallen tree that lay in their path, as if it were no obstacle at all. William felt exhilarated by the stamina of the deer.


"Hurry Bogo. Run boy!" shouted William. The deer unbelievably seemed to go even faster with the urgings of its rider. The miles it took them half the night to attain, now appeared to be no distance at all, as Bogo closed in on the village.


William thought he had heard his own voice somewhere in the distance, echoing all around. He then realized, that he had been yelling a fierce war-cry without even realizing it, so caught up in the sheer power of Bogo's flight.


They were almost upon the outskirts of the village. William could now see some burning huts and two of the Metal Men moving through the inferno, searching the devastation. He saw one of them reach down and grab a child.  Tom!" he thought. He instinctively drew his sword and headed straight for them.


William began yelling again, waving his sword. Then from the corner of his eye, he noticed a movement off to his right.


Without warning, a red bolt of light pierced the large deer's body just as he was jumping the final barrier that surrounded the village. It felt as if someone had kicked poor Bogo in the stomach; a great oomph of breath was forced through his mouth; his head went down, and his front legs buckled; William found himself flying through the air towards the trees. There was an explosion of pain as he hit hard and his body seemed to crumble there on the ground, then all light slowly faded into darkness.





The three scout-droids made short work of the Village of Rondon. Everything was ablaze and anyone who opposed them were killed, but some were able to escape through the dense under-growth of the forest. The stand of trees made it too difficult for the droids to chase them.

They seemed content to hunt through the waste they had already created. They'd catch up with the others later.


Tom hid under the rubble of the hut he had slept in the night before with William. He covered himself with the furs he had used as a bed, hoping the Metal Men would overlook him. From his concealment he heard the shouting and screams of the people, and was reminded of what had happened before in his village. He instinctively curled into a little ball under the hot stuffy furs, while his whole body shook uncontrollably.


After what seemed forever, everything became quiet; but now the smoke of the fire began to choke him. His eyes were burning and his throat tickled fiercely. He couldn't breathe. He longed to cast off the furs and run from his hiding place; to smell fresh air once again.


He was suddenly alert to a noise of something moving the debris nearby.  They're looking for me," he thought. "They know where I am."


Then, faintly, he thought he could hear the war-cry of The Forester. "He's returned!" Tom's heart nearly skipped a beat. "William has come back for me." He couldn't restrain himself any longer. Even as the smoke began to make him cough violently, giving away his position, Tom threw off the furs and decided to run.


The first thing he saw was the scout-droid standing right in front of him. It looked exactly like the one William had destroyed just a day earlier. Tom froze with fear. The droid moved closer.  Tom's body suddenly came to life with all the hatred and memories that burned inside him. He desperately searched the ground for some kind of weapon. Then he quickly reached down and grabbed a burning pole that had once been part of the hut he had slept so safely in. Fighting back his fear, he attacked with all the courage of a warrior.


"I will kill you all!" he shouted in defiance, swinging the pole at the six foot metal giant.


Then, something picked him up from behind and lifted him roughly off the ground. It tore into the skin of his arms and made him wince with pain. He dropped the pole and began kicking and screaming but he knew he had been captured. He was a prisoner of the Armored Men.




William awoke with intense pain in his head. He saw a blurry faced Tasoon bending over him, removing a bloodied bandage.


"Lie still, my friend," said Tasoon. "You have a severe head wound that I have not yet finished attending to."


"Tasoon, where... where is Tom?" asked William, suddenly becoming frantic.  What's happened to Tom?"


Tasoon looked into William's eyes. "Tom was captured, Forester," he said solemnly. "There was little we could do. They attacked us just before dawn. Most of my people were killed in their beds, asleep; but some of us were able to escape into the forest." Tasoon continued to treat William's wounds. "You must rest now," he said. "You were nearly dead when I found you."


William laid back his head trying to remember what had happened to him. It was all slowly coming back... his foolish charge at the invaders, the glimpse of Tom being captured, the unnoticed enemy off to his right, probably guarding the other two. He remembered the flash of red light, and Bogo falling.


"Bogo!" William yelled. "What of the Great Deer, Bogo?" he asked Tasoon frightfully. "What a fool I was commanding him to the attack."


"The Spirit of the Forest has left him William," Tasoon said grimly. "He lays not far from here. His body guarded by one of the warriors. Neither man nor beast has been allowed to approach him. Your weapons have been retrieved and lay now here beside you, awaiting your return to health."


William tried to sit up and get to his feet, but everything started spinning and the pain in his head made him moan aloud.


"You cannot help them now," said Tasoon, "except to rest, and heal yourself for the trials yet to come."


William fell back into the bed, unable to rise. He had failed miserably in his mission. Tom was

gone and Bogo was dead. He now wished for the same fate


The overwhelming darkness reached out to greet him, and cover-up his misery and self-pity like

a burial shroud. He faintly heard himself saying,  forgive me Bogo."





'Droid-3107' reporting to Lox3: "We have found 'The One' and are now returning to base. I repeat. We have found 'The One'."


Lox3 silenced all other in-coming communications. "Could it be...? Did he hear correctly?"


"Droid-3107," this is Lox3, "are you sure? Does the child wear the mark?"


"Yes, Leader," hummed the reply. "The humanoid child bears the mark as described by the astronomers' prophesy."


"Do not harm him in any way," ordered Lox3. "Bring the humanoid to me directly, with the utmost care."


"It shall be as commanded," the droid answered.


Lox3 was almost unable to contain his enthusiasm. "So now it will end," he thought. "I can finally go home, triumphant." He sat down upon his command chair musing of the promotions he would attain with this one simple victory. His life was going to be a lot less complicated now. He would be able to pick and choose the tasks demanded of him. Stay close to his homeworld. Leave the explorations of space for the next 'up and coming' general to deal with. His circuits vibrated with happiness.





When William awoke he felt stronger. His head didn't hurt anymore, and the blurring was gone from his vision. He saw Tasoon sleeping in a chair next to him. The old man looked beyond his years, tired and wrinkled, with deep set eyes. William sat up and swung his legs around, placing his feet firmly on the ground.


"William," said Tasoon awakening, "you should be lying down."


"How long have I slept Tasoon?" he asked bluntly.


Tasoon looked him over as a healer does his patient. "You've been asleep three days now," he said. "I poured some healing broth into you only last night, but even that did not awaken you."


"Three days?" he asked. "Tom has been with those things for three whole days? Tasoon..., why didn't you do something?"


William attempted to stand up and Tasoon arose to support him. "I've got to save Tom," he said urgently. "There's no time to waste. He's probably dead already, like the others." William looked around for his weapons and found them near the bed. Tasoon put out a hand to halt him.


"I don't think he's dead William," Tasoon said. "It has been something I've been contemplating about day and night. I believe Tom is very much alive."


"How do you know this?" asked William.


"For one," he said, "there have been no more attacks upon the people of our world. I have sent runners out daily for any news they could find about the enemies movements. The Metal Men have been very quiet." Tasoon scratched his old face in contemplation. "Tom is who they were looking for," he continued  "and I don't think they would immediately kill what took them so long to find. I also believe that this wasn't the first place they've searched. I think it is highly probable that they can travel from star to star, and, that they have done so searching for

Tom Garnor."


"That's incredible Tasoon, but it does not explain why they want him," said William, "or, what they plan to do to him."


""The impressions I received from the armored head you brought to us," said Tasoon, "told me that they are afraid of Tom and what he can do, or will do in the future, to them."


"Have you devised a plan we can use against them?" asked William. "Some way that we can rescue Tom before it is too late?"


"We have not been idle," answered Tasoon. "Our warriors were able to track them down to their fortress hidden in the Valley of Boltz. We have been watching them day and night now for the past two days."


"That's just a days journey from here," said William. "We must leave immediately."


"I'm afraid, though, that the latest report I've received is not good news," said Tasoon reaching for a scroll that laid upon a table.


"What do you mean?" asked William with fear growing in his eyes. "What news have you received?"


"It appears they are getting ready to leave our world. All the armored men have returned to their fortress in the valley," said Tasoon unrolling the scroll, "and, as I've told you, they have the ability to travel the stars, and I believe they are preparing to do so now."


"I must get there," said William, reaching for his sword. "I have to stop them. I can't let them take Tom."


"How would you do this William?" asked Tasoon. "You cannot fight their entire force. Even a

Forester could not win such a battle alone."


"I am prepared to die trying," said William with a look of utter conviction. "Tom is depending on me, and I am his friend."


"I know you care for the boy," said Tasoon, "but to hastily run off wwithout a plan is dangerous t us all."


William lowered his head, not being able to look Tasoon in the eyes. He had rushed in to save

Tom before, and now Bogo was dead and Tom was captured. Shame came surging back into him; his foolishness could indeed be perilous to everyone involved.


"Look at this," said Tasoon flattening out the scroll on the small table. It was a map of the Valley of Boltz. "Since the news came that we were no longer under attack, we have gathered all the Elders and their apprentices to these surrounding areas of the forest." Tasoon pointed out four locations on the map in and around the Valley of Boltz. "We have, from our last report, over four hundred warriors amassed here and here on opposite sides of the valley. We could draw the enemy out of its fortress somehow, then lead them through the valley to the awaiting Elder's and their forces. Now, from Tom's account of what happened at the Village of Stoort," he continued, "I believe that our combined magic can deal a devastating blow to these invaders."


"We could all be killed too," said William thinking of the lives already lost.


"Yes, that is true," said Tasoon matter-of-factly, "but it could give someone a chance to slip into the fortress unobserved and rescue Tom, kill their leader who controls them all, and maybe end the battle."


"An aggressive plan my friend," smiled William, "if timed right, it could just work. Let me be the one to enter the fortress alone, Tasoon. I owe it to Tom."


"I was hoping you'd say that, William of the Forest," said Tasoon smiling back at him. He grabbed both of William's shoulders and looked him directly in the eyes. He then embraced him heartily and slapped him on the back.  Shall we go then, Forester?"


"Yes, Tasoon," said William forcefully, "may the Spirit guide us to victory.





Tom found himself tied to a large metal chair in the middle of a room filled with armored men.

They all seemed to ignore him, as they busied themselves around the outer edges of the room.

Tom watched them as they stared at small bright windows that flashed letters and numbers of some kind; or turned wheels of various sizes while pressing little colored buttons that blinked with light.


He struggled to free himself, and in so doing, found that his arms and legs were tied securely to the chair. There were pale colored, hollowed out vines stuck into his arms, and some strange looking liquid was running through them, right into his body. He could sense the stuff entering his arms and hated the feeling.


The noise was deafening in there, everything was pounding or buzzing, like bees, building a giant nest out of metal. Some of the noises were familiar, but most, were sounds that Tom had never heard before and dreaded to hear now.


A huge door opened, not from the side, but straight up from the top, disappearing into the roof. An enormous man wearing blue armor entered the room. Tom knew this must be the leader. His face had human features and qualities, but surprisingly, you could see right through his whole head, as though it were made of glass. Inside the head, Tom could see sparks exploding of every color and more of those hollowed vines, pumping some sick looking juices.


The monster, moving with such speed and agility, slid right up to the chair. He bent down, and stuck his massive glass head just inches from Tom's face. Tom let out a startled outcry.  "Leave me alone!" he yelled and spit in the thing's face. "I'm not afraid of you anymore. Get away from me!"


The Leader went around behind the chair, and Tom couldn't see him anymore. He was doing something with the chair. Then a large metal hat came over the back and was placed snugly upon Tom's head. Tom froze, trying to look at what sat upon his head, now very much afraid.


"What are you doing to me?" Tom asked as he struggled again to get free.


The Leader came around to the front of the chair and began pressing and poking at the top of the metal hat. It started to hum and vibrate. Then he lowered something from the top of the hat and covered Tom's eyes with it. He stepped back and again studied Tom. He then reached down and grabbed Tom's hand, and gently turned it over looking at the mark burned there. He seemed to be saying something, but to Tom, it only sounded like clicks and hums. He released Tom's hand and then quickly reached up and touched the side of the metal hat. Tom looked directly into the

Leader's face; it seemed to be smiling.


Tom waited for death, but instead the hat, seemed to come to life. He was no longer strapped in the chair, but stood on another world, filled with metal and darkness that extended everywhere, and mounted up into the sky, forever. He felt he was being shown someone else's memories, flashing across his eyes then stored into his brain. Languages of other worlds and peoples, numbers and formulas, all began to make sense to him, all were memorized. He instantly knew spaceflight, and saw solar systems, suns and planets. Eventually, he even saw his own planet from orbit, and knew it to be his home-world.


He then stood upon it and could smell the air and feel the warmth of the sun on his skin. He looked up at the treetops and beautiful blue sky, then something roughly turned him around and he found himself looking directly into the face of Lox3.





William saw the storm coming in from over the mountaintop with great flashes of lighting already building up within the dark clouds. He knew the Elders were busy working the weather, could even feel their magic upon the air. The strong wind was coming through the trees now; an invisible giant roaring for revenge, moving the treetops that somehow stood there defiantly, howling from the force. The noise was deafening, like the sounds of rushing water, falling over an enormous cliff.  William got himself into position, then wrapped his cloak around his body for cover from the approaching storm.




A large band of warriors led by seven Elders, marched out of the fringe of the forest, and stood in the Valley of Boltz, halting before the great structure of the armored men. The Elders formed the 'Circle of Power' as the warriors waited just behind them.


Great gusts of wind and rain were then sent hammering into the fortress of the armored men.

Lighting began to strike the outside of the craft for what seemed like forever, causing smoking black charred marks to appear on the metal surface. The Elders and warriors then moved off down the length of the valley, trying to clear their eyes of the bright flashes they had just witnessed.


"That should get their attention," yelled Tasoon to his warriors, "the Valley of Boltz is well named today."


Finally, a terrible creaking sound was heard, as the doors of the fortress opened at one end and troops of armored men came pouring out. As they left the craft, some were hit directly by lighting, and they began to melt down and burn in tall pillars of jet black smoke; the ones left standing, charged headlong after the fleeing humans.  The warriors then began a comfortable jog down the center of the valley, letting the armored men slowly close the gap between them, but not letting them get too close. As they ran, they watched more bolts of lightening crash down into the midst of the enemy, destroying many of them instantly. The warriors were now in a dead run with the armored men right behind them. As they approached the end of the valley, a signal was given from Tasoon. All the warriors halted, pulled their swords, then turned towards the armored men, and charged.


The Elders, from behind, shot blue bolts of magic over the tops of the warrior's heads as they ran, directly into the enemies front lines. There were only a handfull of armored men left now.  O cue, a huge volley of fire-arrows were launched from the outskirts of the forest, and dropped among the remaining armored men, hitting some, and sending others into total chaos.  Blue bolts of magic could also be seen shooting into the invaders from the opposite hilltop, and exploding every armored man they hit into pieces of scrape.


But in a clamoring of jets and wheels, all the metal men that were left inside the fortress, came streaming down the ramp. The rain and lightening made it hard for them to target their weapons, but they now saw the trap, and hurried forward to meet their prey. They filled the hillsides as they approached.


Another signal was given from the summit of the hill, and giant trees, that had been felled and waiting for this moment, were pushed down the slopes, bowling over anything in their path.

Scout-drones flew into the fray shooting their red beams at the rolling trees, setting them on fire as they avalanched down. The entire forest seemed to erupt into flames, and many fearless warriors died at that moment.





William was very close to the enemy fortress when the full attack of the storm hit. A bolt of lightening hit so near to him, that if he hadn't had his cloaked pulled over him at the time, he would have been blinded from the flash.


He was hiding almost where the ramp had come down, and after the second wave had passed, he sensed that the fortress was empty. "I'm coming Tom," he thought as he put an arrow to his bow, "just hang on." He saw his chance and darted up the ramp, entering the enemy stronghold.




"Can you understand me human?" asked Lox3 while he held Tom six feet off the ground. "You have shared my memories in an instant and now know everything I know, and what I want most."


Tom was screaming. Lox3 had released him from the straps but when he picked him up by the head, he forgot to pull the needles from Tom's arms, and they were yanked out causing him excruciating pain as the Leader lifted him up off the ground.


"Let me go!" yelled Tom in agony, "let me go, you overgrown piece of scrap metal!"


" do understand," said Lox3 ignoring Tom's discomfort. "Good... I have much to ask you about before I kill you."


Tom had learned so many things from the direct link to Lox3's mind. His brain was stunned and

reeling from the experience. He, as yet, was unable to put things into perspective, but he could feel the burning hatred Lox3 had for all living things, and why they had come to his world.  The ship was then hit with a barrage of lightening bolts and any drone that was plugged into the main computer was immediately fried. Tom saw arcs of lightening jump out of the sides of the ship, going from one station to another looking to ground itself on anything close by made of metal.


Huge cascades of sparks shot in all directions as the command center quickly turned into an electrified frenzy.


Lox3 dropped Tom hard to the deck of the ship and began giving orders to his minions for an all out attack.


"Capture the ones that carry the staffs," directed Lox3. "they are the cause of all this. They have some kind of power source they can tap into; I must know what it is. Kill all the others!



"We understand and obey, Commander," answered scout-droid '228'.


Tom saw many of the drones leave the area and file out through another large doorway. Smoke and small fires were evident all around the command center. 


"Damage report," demanded Lox3, "immediately, all decks report; and get some help up here on the double to extinguish these fires."


Tom could only hear parts of the multiple conversations Lox3 was engaged in, but it didn't sound good for the invaders.


"What is happening outside?" asked Lox3. "Give me an external view of the area." A vid was

pulled out from the wall by a nearby drone and the outside of the ship was shown. "Why are my forces being destroyed? I want some answers now!"


Tom was able to see the vid screen from behind Lox3. It showed many warriors and Elders ambushing the drones from above.


"There!" yelled the Commander, as he displayed an image of some Elders attacking from the top of the hill, "they're hiding in the trees. It's a trap of some kind. Very clever little humans."


Lox3 smashed the vid with his arm, and then spun around towards Tom.


"You think you can actually defeat us?" exclaimed Lox3. "We have destroyed planets like yours throughout the galaxy. We are unstoppable! This ship alone could demolish your entire planet from orbit if I commanded it. But not just yet... I'm not quite finished with your hopeless efforts.  Watch... I'll show you."


Lox3 swung another vid out from the wall and stuck it in Tom's face.


"Attention, all droids," announced Lox3, "defend the ship at all costs. Kill the humans on the hilltops, now!" Lox3 chuckled out loud. "You can sit here and watch your people die first."


Tom could hear the rumbling of every drone on board as they headed for the exit ramp. He knew they would do anything to protect the ship, and that meant killing everyone that attacked it.

Tom's hopes had just been smashed. His rescuers were soon to be the victims.


"Tell me human..., Tom," asked Lox3, now able to contain his anger, "do you control these others somehow? You are the 'One', are you not? The 'One' with the mark of our creator upon his hand? Speak!"


"I know nothing of your creator," said Tom backing away. "I'm just a boy, not the 'Conqueror' you think I am. Look at I look dangerous?"


"All droids, from the Rulers to the simplest worker, carry the mark of the creator inside them. We are 'made' with it imprinted upon our very circuit boards." Lox3 looked at Tom to make sure he was comprehending all he said.  “Tell me, how you.... human, are able to have the same mark?"


"It was all an accident," explained Tom. "My hand was burned by one of your scout-droids that you sent to attack us. I never would have gotten it if you hadn't come and invaded our planet."


Tom was able to glance at the vid screen while talking and could tell that his people were winning the conflict outside. He could scarcely keep his enthusiasm from showing on his face.

He saw many drones on fire outside or smashed by the rolling trees sent down upon them. He knew he had to try and keep Lox3 distracted from the battle, for as long as he could.


"Don't you get it?" asked Tom, coming up with a plan, "You created me. If you hadn't arrived, I would never have existed. Now I know all about you, and your world...and I will destroy you all."


Lox3 reached down and grabbed Tom by the arm. He threw him across the room into a wall of computers. Tom hit hard and collapsed to the floor with blood trickling down his face from a deep slash in his head.





William entered the command center as cautiously as possible, but when he saw Tom lying in a broken heap against the wall, he felt he may have come too late.


Across the room stood Lox3, totally distracted, watching something that shined brightly, coming out of the wall.


William had never seen anything like him before; he was a giant from out of some nightmare.

Without hesitating, William shot his first arrow.  He hit the monster square in the middle of its back, penetrating the armor up to the feathers with the head going all the way through to the other side  William had already notched another arrow in its place and let it fly, even as the giant quickly turned and started towards him. This one hit Lox3 full in the chest and went right through his body. William could hear him make an audible roar as he charged.


The Forester had to move out of the way of the reaching arms as they tried to snag him in their grip. Barely dodging the huge hands, he sprinted to the other side of the room and shot another arrow as he ran. This one missed and stuck into the wall behind the brute.


"William, the head," yelled Tom, now weakly trying to stand using the wall for support, "you must hit the head!"


William let loose another arrow. It hit the glass head and careened off to the side only leaving a crack.


Lox3 was done playing cat and mouse, and fired his lasers. Even though William was moving, the blast still knocked him off his feet. Lox3 closed the gap between them and seized William by the back of the neck and then slung him, as hard as he could, at the metal chair in the middle of the room


The Forester lost his bow but reached for his sword even as he scrambled to get up. Never had he fought against anything that possessed so much strength before.


Lox3 came forward again and stepped down upon the Forester's bow, smashing it to bits. He seemed to feel evil satisfaction at the thought of disarming this puny human. Vital fluids were gushing from the holes in his back and chest, as he lifted his leg trying to smash William before he could get to his feet.


William, desperately, called upon his knowledge of magic, and a bright blue bolt of energy shot

out from his fingertips and caught Lox3 completely by surprise as it hit him in the leg and almost blew it entirely off.


William struggled to move out of range of the lumbering giant but Lox3 was able to get a hold of the Forester's leg and lift him up. He cruelly bent the leg backwards very slowly, until the sound of breaking bones could be heard. William, screaming in anguish, was still able to bend his body around enough to use his sword and hack off the arm that was holding him. He fell to the ground with the severed limb still grasping him, and the jolt to his leg when he hit, almost made him black out.


With all the strength left in his body, William lifted his sword and swung it at Lox3's remaining leg. It was cut almost in two and the Leader fell to his knees in front of the Forester.


Lox3 grabbed the blade, yanked it from his leg and threw it behind him. Then, with his one good arm, he grabbed William around the throat and started to gradually squeeze the life out of him.


Tom saw William dying. His body went instantly into action, as everything around him seemed to go into slow motion. He knelt down; picked up William's sword; he came up behind Lox3; and with all his might, swung the sword down on the head.


There was an explosion and Tom lost his grasp on the sword. He was blown backwards like a leaf, as large pieces of metal went whizzing by his head, and glass shards entered his body like so many pins. He found himself on the floor, but still alive.


He heard loud gasps of air and looked up to see William trying to pry away the mechanical hand from his throat. Tom crawled to help him. Lox3 was scattered pieces all over the ship.


"You call that a rescue?" Tom asked William as he moved closer. "I think we both died."


"Rescue...?" answered William smiling now and crawling towards Tom, "I just came by to see how you're doing. I can't say I like your choice of friends."


They both started laughing painfully as they rolled over on their backs gasping for air. Their hands were clutched together and they were never going to let go.





© 2002-2003 by W. D. Wilcox.  My name is Bill Wilcox and I live in Calif. Like all kids growing up in the

‘70s and ‘80s, I wanted to join a band, play music and become famous. I hitchhiked to Hollywood at the young age of nineteen, where I lived with the drummer of a great band called the ‘Buffalo Springfield’. He liked my original songs and introduced me to several publishing companies and A&R men from big time Recording studios. I sold several songs that were published by ‘4StarMusicCo.’. I now enjoy writing short stories for my kids and live a quiet life.