I Think We Bought a Zoo! The weather was warm one morning in the Renaissance Villa across from the Progressive Town Hall in the city of Darat. General Flavius Belisarioos, IronClaws’ Magister Militum, was watching many of the wolves of IronClaw dancing around the Mighty Maypoles in the park across from the MK I, tank factory, when a very large, fearsome weasel faced Bucellari cataphract entered the room. He snapped his heavy boots together and stood patiently until the General turned to face him. “General Belisarioos!” he nearly shouted with a voice dripping with urgency well short of panic. Hiding his exasperation from his trusted warrior. “Yes, Valentinian my trusty body guard and friend? What unforeseen calamity have you brought to disturb my contented existence today?” “Rhythwyn of the Wynners has lit the warning beacons along our borders in Tuulech. Something named Galatians2 is stealing their sectors. We must do something! They are our closest friend and ally in all of this Forge of Empires.” After draining his flagon of truly Arrogant Bastard Ale, Belisarioos looked at his best friend and body guard. He knew that inside this lethal beast of a man, Valentinian’s heart, cared only about the safety of his liege, the defense of Darat, and the success of the IronClaw. Above all, Valentinian was a man dedicated to honor and virtue and faithful in his and his General’s words and promises. “Valentintian, you know we will. So tell me this, do we know if this is a Ghost Guild from the Galatians?” Valentinian cast a respectful glance at his General. He knew that trust in this world was based on loyalty to the agreements made. He had seen what happened to those with no honor. If you lied to Belisarioos, you would suffer a countless time in regret. Valentinian said with a smile, “No, I don’t think so. baddaboom seems to be an honorable bloke.” The General put on a stern face and said, “I agree my friend, let me call Baddaboom and see what he can tell us.” Before Belisarioos could touch the electronical talking device, his other huge hulk of a bodyguard, Anastasius, burst into the room. He slapped his mailed fist against his glistening breastplate of Dragon Skin Steel. The bold, visceral shock of the strike reminding his liege and his comrade Valentinian of the immense power held in his massive body. Many times they had seen him literally split a foe from head to hip, leaving two oozing piles of flesh. Calmly, he stood fingering the pommel of his immense Stradioti Sabre that Belisarioos had presented him after defeating General Celeas at Tarmelman. The sword was found under the altar in the Monastery they built to protect the city of Darat. Anastasia gained his Generals’ eye and spoke in his deep baritone voice, “Sire, sr walther’s sent couriers, the Galatians have taken Mahkynhul!” Belisarioos looked at Anastasius, he knew he was only the messenger, so he spat a muted reply, “What a damnable nuisance!” Anastasia knew the bile was rising in his liege. He was pleased because he knew his lord would exact the most exquisitely extreme form of retribution. With a sigh, Belisarioos said, “I was hoping our Wolfen Warriors could look forward to a little respite before we began our new campaign in the northern ages.” Anastasia and Valentinian looked at each other and grinned. They knew how much the General wanted to lead his growing Legion of Tanks and Snipers into a new campaign of conquest for IronClaw. After a moment, the trusted guardian friends could see that their General was doing what he usually did at times like these, focus on the present and the road to immediate victory, their General spoke calmly. “Send word to Lord sidearmer to release his warriors from Alcatraz and help sr walther take it back immediately. Also, send someone to let the Truck Runner know what is going on. He is dear to Rhythwyn. Don’t restrain his anger. He will want to utterly crush the enemies of Wynners. These usurpers have awakened a Kraken sized force.” Belisarioos chuckled at the imagined wrath of the Truck Runner. Belisarioos firmly placed his hands on the campaign map laid out before him. He looked and saw the opportunity to rally friends and allies to gain and share more power, prestige, and medals over the carcass of this upstart guild of brigands led by no less than what could only be a madman. The radio squawked and the caller ID was for baddaboom, leader of the newly befriended Galatians. IronClaw had recently fought victoriously alongside the Galatians in Terre Mauvais and Scythe’s Edge. baddaboom seemed to be an honorable and intelligent leader. This mystery of a renegade Guild with a similar name reeked of the recent experience with the Roman Empire. Although that had eventually turned out well when the General insisted that their leader, in return for the IronClaw not destroying them; would stop fighting and keep their word, honor treaties, and not attack mutual friends. So far, they had and Belisarioos thought they could be a great ally in the future, if they kept their word. Grabbing the handset of the talkie-walkie, Belisarioos spoke calmly into the mike. “Baddaboom, I hope you are well and enjoying this Forge of Empires. I have need of your knowledge my friend.” “Belisarioos, we are growing in strength and look to when we can join you in another campaign. What is it you need of me?” “Who are Galatians2? Surely they are not part of you?” baddabooms serene voice came back, ‘No my friend. This is truly a sad story. They are the remnants of our Guild splitting up from a awhile back. They are now run by a madman!” “What’s his name?” baddaboom replied in a terse voice “he is called madman200! An unfortunately fitting name.” Continuing on in a somber tone, “He thinks he can take on anybody without any friends or allies. He is foolish! That is why the Guild split. The sensible members stayed with me and he dragged the foolish ones with him and started GALA2.” Belisarioos replied, “I regret you had to go through this, but it is the way of the Forge. Can you provide any help?” baddabom paused, shaking his head, “We are out of position to help you unless you need off-shore support, but you should crush them. madman200 is irrationally relentless. I saw that he was harassing Wynners and the Sky Soldiers elsewhere in Tuulech and warned him not to take on established Guilds without help.” Belisarioos smiled. He’d seen this before. He knew what must be done. He felt a small mesare of pity for the followers of madmen200. Their fate was sealed to his folly. “baddaboom, tell our friends in Second Home and SunDevils to watch what happens when Guilds work together against a madman! Try talking to madman200. Warn him about what is to occur.” baddaboom looked in the screen and said, “I will, but I do not think he will listen. Good luck, make it swift.” Belisarioos put the handset down and wondered when his old SkySoldier friend would call. He knew he would. From across the headquarters room a warrior voice shouted: “Sire!” “Yes Valentinian?” “Your old friend from the SkySoldiers, mrlostrebel, has sent a message for you to get in touch.” A smile creased Belisarioos face. Aloud to no one in particular, Belisarioos spoke, “Ahhh, the Skysoldiers! Maybe we can finally work together! They are a good people.” Valentinian chimed in, “Yes, sire. and I hear that smgrant03 is now a Skysoldier!” Belisarioos laughed heartily, “That is good news! He is another force to be reckoned with!” Belisarioos went to his guardian friends and put his arms about their shoulders. Pausing for a moment, he grunted and said, “First, let’s talk to Rhythwyn of the Wynners and see what they are doing about this irritating upstart.” Belisarioos thought to himself, the Wynners have skip56, he’s a stalwart fighter! They are led by Iceman 316, he is a sound tactician. They have been silent for too, long in Iron Age. Warchest is wary of their commitment to their allegiance. He went to his desk and unlocked his diplomatic dossier. Compiled from meticulous record keeping and help from the Cubicle Gestapo, C.O.V.N.E.T., and the SCP Foundation; the dossier revealed that GALA2 was a new, weak band of brigands and that madman200 was not as powerful as he should have been if he was going to personally fight all the battles. If he had more followers at his level, GALA2 might have been able to fight and win a long campaign. He did not. He was not Captain Wallace….. Startled from his pondering, Belisarioos turned to face Valentinian. “Sire!” “Yes Valentinian?” “sr walther & sidearmer report that Mahkynul has been retaken. They report that the Galatians cannot withstand a Champion with a legion of rogues. They also report that the Gala2’s keep having their sieges on our neighbors repulsed with impugnity.” The General smiled, Ravaging Wolves from IronClaw! He muttered to himself, “I must tell sr walther & lord sidearmer “well done.’ They are fierce Grey Warrior Wolves.” Switching channels on the electronical device, the logo for the Sky Soldiers appeared. Belisarioos day was about to get better. “mrlostrebel, it is good to greet you again. How are you doing?” Through knashed teeth and a tight square jaw, mrlostrebel said, “You know of GALA2?” “Yes my friend. They have decided to foolishly attack us here.” “The have troubled us in other eras. We dealt with them and now we want to excoriate them.” “So do we. I hope this time we can work to get you back into the Iron Age of Tuulech. Especially after that nasty business a while back with Seven Seas.” “Belisarioos, yes, that was most unfortunate and frustrating. Now we’ll show what good friends can do in this Forge of Empires. This madman must be taught a lesson. Very quickly they shall feel the wrath of the Sky Soldiers. In a couple of days we shall land upon them and cut them to pieces.” Belisarioos didn’t feel sorry for madman200, but he knew madman’s people would suffer. Belisarioos spoke into the mouthpiece with utmost sincerity, “We look forward to fighting together with the Sky Soldiers.” The signal faded, but the urge to fight was set on fire. Quickly, Belisarioos picked up the handset and dialed the line to the Wynner HQ. It took a while to get everyone on line and in agreement. It was a long quiet conversation that ensued between two long time friends about what should be done. When he finished, Belisarioos beckoned his body guards to come closer. “Valentinian & Anastasius, please come over here and let’s look at the map together.” “Yes sire.” Waving his hand across the map, Belisarioos went over the situation. “Rhythwyn is most annoyed by this madman of Galatia. She will appreciate any and all help.” Valentinian said, “I agree.” Anastasius quipped, “We should teach this madman the folly of friendless efforts and demonstrate the power of friendship between Guilds.” Belisarioos looked at his two warriors and said, “We intend to put Galatians2 in jail to teach them a lesson. The Skysoldiers will be landing on the East Coast of Tuulech and will crush the madmans’ Galatians. If Wynners can muster forces, we can put an end to these guys.” Suddenly the door nearly burst off it’s hinges with the entrance of an out of control 18-wheeler. “Sire!” “Yes? Oh venerable Truck Runner.” “General Belisarioos, you know I must leave IronClaw and go fight in defense of the Wynners!” “Yes, Truck Runner, of course you do. Go forth and rally the Wynners.” The Truck Runner stormed out of the room and hit the road. Belisarioos looked at his two mighty friends and said, “He will always be a Grey Warrior Wolf from IronClaw, even though he only stayed for a couple of weeks.” Anastasia snorted, “Some vacation for that guy. He was always ready for a fight!” Valentinian snarled, “He is almost as dangerous a man as me.” Belisarioos raised an eyebrow at Valentinian. Valentinian shot back, “Of course Big Daddy Rat, Sidearmer, and Deathsdealer are just as dangerous.” Anastasia nodded and said, “Don’t forget about Lkjunior 58 and sr walther. I would want them in a fight at my back!” Belisario said, “Let’s get some rest. This will be a vigorous but quick campaign. We need to stay on top of the Gala2’s!” ————————————————————————— After several days of futile attacks by madman200, Galatian2 forces in VATSULNUL, then VATHYNACH, TAHYNTHI, ZICHOSNIM, ZIRYUL, and KAREUTH were crushed under a hail of countless darts, arrows, and legions of rogues from the allied forces of Skysoldiers, Wynners, and Ironclaw. Madman200 tried to avoid IronClaw to no avail. In the end, the Allied Forces of Wynners, SkySoldiers, and IronClaw had bottled the Galatians2 into the northeastern sector of PARHYNGU. On the adamantium gate of the fortress of PARHYNGU hangs a sign: PETTING ZOO for madman200, not for Public view. Release date unknown. Proprietors: Skysoldiers, Wynners, and Ironclaw.