"My God! It's full of ... stories !"
All stories are copyrighted by
Shields. Thank you for your interest in my writing. I
have included the following selections for your enjoyment. I will
add more as time allows, these will be obvious from the 'new' indicator
next to them. I welcome your comments, if you feel so inclined.
- Death Machine - (NEW) "Maybe
Henris didn’t hear him. Maybe she was running blind … in shock … on
automatic … lost in her fear with her heart pumping. Whatever it was
it didn’t matter. The loud angry hissing filled Claibe’s ears as the
crimson beam of light once again illuminated the area around Claibe,
Danvil and Henris. Henris
was headlong in flight, four meters ahead of him and to his left.
Claibe turned his head just in time to see the sizzling beam sweep
left, instantly burning all the way through Henris just above her
elbows. Her scream was a hoarse gurgle and what was left of her fell
in three neatly cauterized, dissected parts. Even from this far away
Claibe could hear … and smell … sizzling meat. The hissing beam
continued to track left for another full second then winked out of
- The Hard Way - (NEW) -"The plan had been simple; sneak
into the system, hide in all the mining traffic around the station,
cloak his Ship, land in an older part of the station that hadn’t been
used in years, sneak in to the main structure, break out the Apalan,
get back to his Ship, do a fast burn off of Hysz, haul ass back to the
more civilized parts of the galaxy, deliver the Aplan chemical engineer
back to his family, get paid and be on his way. It would have been nice if it had worked that way … but it hadn’t. "
- The Trade - (NEW) - "Ganth and Garyn had brought their Ships down in a wide
plain on the edge of the nomads’ camp and waited. When the nomads had finally approached in a
small group, Garyn and he had left their Ships and presented gifts to the
elders, a custom which Garyn explained was as important as it was necessary. Garyn had introduced Ganth to Ftyjha and the
other leaders of the tribe. After that,
he had brought out examples of his merchandise and placed examples of the local
minerals and elements that he would accept as payment for each. Ganth helped Garyn set up his wares and in a
short amount of time, the two star roamers had created what had amounted to a
bazaar around their Ships with anxious buyers haggling with them over prices
and bartering their wares in turn."
- The Tree - (NEW) - "The thunder and lightning had reminded him
of a war long ago, a war he had been part of. Lucas looked at his
cell phone … January 18 … twenty years ago to this day he had been
sitting on the hood of a HumVee watching the bombers stream north and
wishing he had a cold Coke. That had been Operation Desert Shield
which quickly became Operation Desert Storm. Now, twenty years
later, he was in the bed that he had grown up in, in his childhood home
thinking about the storm from the night before. Life was funny like that; twenty years gone in the blink of an eye."
- The Laser Gunfight at the OK Corral - (NEW) "The waspish
looking silvered weapon hissed angrily as it spat a lurid red beam,
thick as a 10-penny nail, clear and straight across the holding pen.
The laser beam struck a pile of thick stacked wood siding, charring the
lumber pile and setting it ablaze before passing through it
completely. Frank McLaury, who had been hiding behind the wood and
using it for cover, never even had time to scream. The laser beam
instantly burned a sizzling hole two fingers wide, from front to back,
clean through the center of McLaury’s chest. With a surprised look on
his deeply pained face, the mortally wounded man made a deep sighing
sound and slumped to the ground in a smoldering heap. A thin wisp of
black smoke began to slowly rise from his crumpled form."
- Tomcat Terror versus Gunboat Diplomacy
"Battle stations! All hands to
battle stations. This is not a drill. Repeat. This
is not a drill. Commander LeFey, please report to the command center now.
Commander LeFey, your presence is required in the command center at once. All
assault shuttle pilots are to report immediately to briefing room twelve on Deck C.
Full flight gear. This is not a drill."
The rewritten history of James Ward's
1977 classic doomsday RPG from TSR
(a company sadly now long defunct). Journey to a post-apocalyptic Earth, in the 30th
century. Read how Mankind conquers his planet, the forces of gravity, energy, and
the various auras of the holistic spectrum, only to nearly extinguish himself in a
cataclysmic display of arrogance and ideological foolishness.
- Slipgate- ID Software once ran a contest to come up with a background story for
their new 3D first person shooter "Quake." This is what I wrote as the history of the
"Quake" game, though I never submitted it to the contest
- Art of the Kill-
"Cyan tracers leapt past the Mas Soldat, falling gracefully away as Garth held
the stick and felt the G force start to crush him, the gelatin went thick again, easing
the crushing force. He threw the stick hard right and up. The Mas Soldat responded with
avian-like grace, rolling and climbing inverted, looping and then dropping down behind the
- The Obsolete Soldier-
"The rusting hulk of an abandoned Pact Gunther H4 tank was silhouetted
against the urban images, it had come to a stop near an intersection, half on the street,
half on the pedestrian walk. Its right track and bogey assembly was smashed, loose ceramic
track lay on the road. The three other independent motor assemblies looked intact. The
crew hatches were all open, the turret was traversed and locked at a forty-five degree
right angle away from the hull, the twin main guns aimed down the street. Water slowly
dripped off the long barrels of the 100mm smoothbore repeaters."
- Starship and Survivor-
"Three meters of gleaming alloy, a bipedal structure, humanoid, yet
featureless. A high sheen covered the surface, which appeared to be made of nothing more
than a liquid held in suspension. Like moving ice. A fluid solid. A polished sphere,
roughly the size of a human head, hovered near the shoulders, apparently not linked at all
with the other being. It moved in perfect sync with the body, though no visible means of
attachment existed between the two pieces. It stood there, outside the door.
When this galaxy was still
new, when the oldest stars were still young, hot and bright, the Old Giants
arrived from afar and chose to rest here but for a short while. Their stay and
their influence among the life they found here in this galaxy were remarkable,
and would have far reaching consequences that would trickle down through the
An artificial world without end must
- Ghintara - The Bounty of
She sighed, nonchalantly blew
a strand of hair from out of her face and flipped the two Cole Spanda T-306’s
up in front of her. She pushed the nearly weightless blasters forward as
easily as if her hands were empty, taking aim at her selected targets and
squeezing the triggers in unison.
of Sorrow- "This morn’s dawn will bring an end to your
trials, an end to your time as a child, an end to your teachings. Those of you
who are selected by the elders will be given the task of completing the
greatest journey yet ahead of you; the rite of passage."
truth is that the inspiration for this set of stories came from many
sources (including a childhood nightmare that my mother had when she
was very young). The inspiration draws upon the works of Mick
Farren, H. P. Lovecraft and Warren Publishing’s
classic black and white illustrated comic magazine series “The Rook”
from the late 1970’s. Sackler’s story
can best be described as a combination of Mick Farren and Dean Kootnz
adding their special sci-fi and horror touch to every Clint Eastwood
cowboy movie ever made (especially “The Outlaw Josey Wales”) with a
pinch of H. P. Lovecraft to sweeten (or sour) the recipe.
Throw in Yul Brenner as “Chris, the gunfighter” in “The Magnificent
Seven” and again as the cold unfeeling android gunfighter in “West
World”, add in Warren’s tangled tale of the time and space travelling
gunfighter from “The Rook” and just about any other supernatural /
science fiction / horror that involves cowboys and you’ll be spending
time in the playground that I’ve set up for my characters.
tried to write this story (and any other story in this series) in such
a way that it scares me, I write about stuff that would spook me and
I’m not easily spooked (the man in the rubber monster suit really
doesn’t do it for me).
Whether I succeeded in that goal is up to you, my readers, to decide.
for a plot, well, there isn’t any right now. There are several
elements that run through the story but I really wanted to create an
open-ended playpen where I could explore my own ability to create
horror and mix it in a wild west setting with the hint of science
fiction and a bit of old fashioned magic from time to time.
- The Stage Coach - (NEW) - "The
Cowboy closed his eyes for the count of five, then for five more and
felt his eyes burn behind his eye lids. He would need sleep, soon, and
more sleep than he'd like to admit that he really needed. A good meal
and a hot bath might not be a bad idea, either, if he could find a town
or someone who could put him up for the night and was willing to do a
little trade in return. There was a time in his life, years ago, no, a
lifetime ago, when there were no good memories ... when everything but
his mind had been shattered and lost and burned to ash and swept to the
four winds and now this smell, this scent in the air, reminded the
Cowboy of that dark, miserable time. A time of war, of a nation
divided, and a time he thought he could forget with the passage of
years and a bottle of whiskey in front of him but even that hope had
faded. The Cowboy shook himself out of his memories and gently prodded
his horse on, riding and thinking and against his better judgment ...
- The Thing on the Plains - (NEW) - "He
looked behind a second time and immediately wished that he hadn’t …
Less than a hundred yards lay between the beating hooves of his horse
and the edge of the strange glowing mist thing that pursued them. His
hat left his head, held aloft in his wake only by his draw string, now
stretched taut, under his chin. He turned and glanced behind him
again. As he watched, thin whips formed from the mist, each with a
large bulb at the end. Three, seven, easily twice that, and then there
were too many to count at a glance. All of the whips were reaching and
waving in the air before the mist, waving like wet ropes in a strong
storm wind and the sound that those pale, luminous whips made as they
reached for the Cowboy and his horse was the sound of strips of wet
leather being struck by the shaving razor at a barber. It spooked him
but it did his horse even more so. Behind
him was death, unnatural, horrible, flowing, glowing, whistling death
swatting at the air with its whips and ropes of mist."
- The Campfire - (NEW) - "The
Astronaut rolled over on her blanket, supported her head with her hand
and looked at the Cowboy sitting there across the campfire from her.
The flickering flames cast dark dancing shadows in the long lines of
his face and he returned her stare from under the rim of his hat.
Cold, hard, knowing eyes … eyes that almost glowed a pale luminescent
blue there in the dark; eyes that had seen far too much for far too
long. Sometimes she wondered if the Cowboy was a human being slowly
turning into something else … or something else slowly turning into a
human being. She could see the argument going either way at this point
and even she wasn’t quite sure which probable outcome was the case."
tactical wargames that have survived
for more than 30 years,
Steve Jackson's original take on 21st century tactical land combat involving giant
cybertanks and the armored forces that can stand up to a
slugging contest with them. Find out more in DATAPULSE.
No Free Lunch
- The snake skimmed the ground, hypersonic, NOE, its FATS system hungry for blood
and the Pan tracklayer's PDS was having fits hunting the snake...
Soldier's Diary -
I wasn't even getting a locator beacon on her suit which was bad.
Two Enlisted Smith was our EO, a lot of our suits had her unique 'touch' to
them. Our electronics were modified, not exactly to field regs either.
One of the reasons we had survived as a squad as long as we had. If Smith was gone,
we would be in the hurt locker until we could get another competent EO from reserve
draw. And tomorrow was her birthday ...
Dawn of the Bear -
Sword Seven reduced speed to its port track drive
assembly and the huge vehicle slid in the hard pack, using power and traction
supplied from its starboard drive track assembly, steering around a Pan light
tank that was being consumed in its own blazing
She stared to the West, at night the heavy guns would have been beautiful when
they opened up, in the day light, she might be lucky to catch a few flashes, if she looked
hard enough. But it was the passage of the rounds that affected those under them the most.
The big guns rounds were HyVeloc, moving many times faster than the speed of sound,
outrunning their hypersonic shockwave, hurtling towards the enemy, leaving nothing but a
hole punched in the sky.
Two explosions framed
themselves against a parked Pan heavy lifting the turret from the chassis. The
crew inside was vaporized instantly in the orange and black fireball that
devoured the interior of the enemy armor unit, melting through bulkheads and
flowing through each compartment in a liquid cascade. Two klicks behind him, the
Combine MI began to overrun the enemy MI located on the skirmish line. One full
squad managed to break into one of the pillboxes and dismantle it from the
The Sorriest Parade Ever- Cargo. I was nothing more than cargo for this ride,
something to be fetched and brought back. That’s exactly how I felt and cargo
was exactly what the aide considered me to be; baggage, a requested asset to be
retrieved for Braddock, the man on the other end of Peterson’s leash. So this
guy was Braddock’s errand boy, sent to fetch whatever Braddock needed and
apparently Braddock needed me and my troop. So far I wasn’t impressed with his
choice in staff but then rank never has impressed me much probably because I’ve
got such an aversion to what it tends to pin itself on and stick to.
- (unfinished) -
Archetype Crucible- Rettig’s envoy to Bethelshire spent five days marching into hell, down from
the mountains, through the mire that was the late Winter melt, and losing
himself among a group of refugees where he found shelter on his second and
third night. The 5mm select fire caseless repeater was hung from a strap
beneath his right arm, ready to be grabbed and fired through the rags that he
had draped himself in, but the refugees were beyond thievery and banditry.
Their morale was gone, they were already lost souls, wandering the Earth,
looking for the basics of survival. He adjusted his stature and his pace from
that of a disciplined soldier to that of a broken and destitute soul. They
accepted him as one of their own, silently, asking no questions, and offering
nothing in return.
- (unfinished) -
- Gravedigger- "It's
hard to breathe. The air is cold, pure. Artificial. Bottled. I see them standing around me
now, distorted through the visor of the helmet."
"I stared at the flat black oval in my hand, a military grade
environmentally sealed case. Cool, yet alive with a barely perceptible hum. Shielded,
electronically and digitally. It had only two ports to the outside, both heavily defended
with hard black ice and direct linked to a greater array of softer, though none the less
volatile ice. What I held in my hand was a ghost. A two kilo ghost." -
The Decedent Reconciliation
Maishin, Japanese for "push forward,
struggle ahead," is the gritty collection of cyberpunk tales that follow Quinn DiArdo
from the hot jungles of South America, to the vast urban underground sprawl
where shady deals are made and everything and everyone has a price. In a world
where everyone wears a face, nothing is as it seems, and deception is considered
a business formality, the payoff for a job well done can be tremendous. If you
fail, you can be replaced easily and your body parts and organs will bring a
tidy sum to whoever can claim them for sale. And if you ever go on the run
and want to hide, you're going to have to do more than change your face, your
habits, and your name ... you're going to have to change your very DNA
Experience the illusionary interface of the global
network, marvel at the twelve kilometer high atmoscrapers and the intrigue of global
multinational corporations that have their own life, giant creatures that control the
Earth through commercial and political pressure. Their blood is composed of information
and it moves at the speed of light. Ride the Beanstalk up the gravity well to the shining
crystal palaces floating majestically in the LaGrange points high above the Earth and
from there catch a rocket to the moon where lives that are lost in mining accidents are considered to simply be
part of the cost of doing business for the corporations.
It's a long way out
into the black but the ride back is worth it
for Quinn DiArdo. A person, who, like the rest of us, is just trying to make a decent
living. But no one ever said anything about that living having to be honest or that you
would be the same at the end of the game ....
In the future, you can lose a lot more than your
You can lose your soul ....
heat carried through the afternoon air in a visible wave. Washing over everything, bathing
it in a sweltering cloak. A insect buzzed over the tops of the jungle canopy. A man made
insect. A multi-directional turboshaft encased in a hard metal shell floated and darted
the deadly insect about on its mission, it's scream was enough to drown out other natural
insects and predators below. Dark green paint, faded identification and insignia were
man's answer to natures natural markings. A multi-faceted cockpit canopy allowed the pilot
a wide angle of vision, and looked all the more like a
compound eye of some weird tropical fly.
- The Lazarus Contract-
black nylon shoulder holster held a Porsche Mephatia 5.4mm snubmachinegun, a
work of art from the ergonomics department, ugly to look at, but easy to use
and brutal in its effectiveness.
- Hard Copy- "I actually imagined
that I heard the shuttle's frame sigh with release as the docking clamps engaged. I
started to remove my harness as a final groan and the hiss of atmospheres matching in a
French kiss of gasses echoed through the passenger compartment."
- The Means-End
Inversion-"It only becomes a occupational hazard when you mix artificial heights
with natural gravity."
- The Janitor of Buddha-
"Then came two of the sweetest sounds that I have ever heard in my life... The first
was the sound of the Samandi unit coming to life in my hand. The second was his surprised
Decedent Reconciliation- "People were going to get hurt one way or the other.
Either by stray fire or the panic that was going to follow. Some might die. That was life.
They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Karma. Not my problem."
Power Windows- An interview with Christopher T. Shields on his work,
- Terms- A
comprehensive list of terms and slang used in Maishin.
- The Morning After- A true
story. OK, not really, but it shows you what I can do in five minutes with a simple
idea and a text processor (AKA MS Notepad). Here's one example of why you need to check out
who your employers are before you go to work for them.
- Incident At Night-
"I glanced at the instruments and saw that
we were doing one ten and holding. I continued to weave in and out, keeping the patrol car
behind me. I looked over at the other patrol car, still on an intercept course that would
bring it onto the road just in front of me. Then I did a double take! Bo was leaning out
the passenger window and taking aim with a double barrel shotgun at me and my car! Why did
everyone have to pick on my car?"
Line, Black Road- "I knew a hero once. Saved my ass. Seems
like a long time, now. In reality, the whole thing happened just a few months ago, when
everything came right down to the wire. A time when my life went from being all in order
to resembling that of a white hat wearing hero in a cheap spaghetti western. Or a bad
Bruce Dern movie."
- The Blinding Of The Witch-
"Those who built the temple must have prayed to an unknown and forgotten deity, or by
the general arrangement of the statues, to many deities. Thus did the place become to be
called the Temple of the Nameless Ones. The Ruins were the most ancient in the known
world, having been built long before the first page of history was recorded, even before
the people of the world had learned to farm and tend animals or to work metal into
- The Long Dark
Night-The world that you now
perceive is nothing more than a sugar coated topping. There is another world, a much
darker world, that lies waiting underneath.
- Shades Of Gray-
"Pain is an delusion of your senses, despair a delusion of your mind. Every man
is but a brief spark in the vast chasm of darkness, by the time he is noticed, he is gone
forever. A dim after image that quickly fades and is obscured by newer and even brighter
lights." Death says.
The best laid plans of mice and men
oft go astray. Here are works that I started with the best of intentions
(i.e. of finishing them) but which have sat gathering dust for years now.
These are unfinished works, so be warned; don't get attached to any characters
or situations in these stories. If they provide inspiration for others, so
be it. I may or may not get around to finishing these stories, but until
then, they remain ... fragments and pieces.
He switched off a dimly lit bank of pull switches, shutting down the last of his
non-essential power requirements to conserve what little energy his shattered
solar panels could still provide. Beyond that, the rather limited amount stored
in the high density crystal batteries could provide energy for a few days more.
The passive damage readouts for his TIE fighter told him a grim story, his solar
panel equipped wings were shattered, and the main spars leading to the control
pod had been buckled, severely restricting the amount of power available to him.
For real stories and humor related to fast cars
and a fast life
FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT.