Subject: [PMFFML] [fanfic][ranma] Bedlam Fire Chap. 9
From: Allyn Yonge
Date: 2/27/2001, 10:39 AM
To: ffmlrefuge@listbot.com, ffml@patchmonkey.net, ffml2@listbot.com

The  characters  of the Ranma 1/2 universe  are  the
creation   and   possession  of  the  brilliant   Rumiko
Takahashi.  They  belong  to Rumiko  Takahashi  and  her
licensees   (Shogakukan   Inc.,   Kitty-Fuji   TV,   Viz
Communications   Inc.)  No  copyright  infringement   is
intended.   
          


"The Green Lantern", copyright ALL-AMERICAN COMICS
 # 16 (July 1940)   
               
(Note: Green Lantern #16  provided the inspiration for this story.
However only the colour green remains.)



WARNING: This story contains scenes that some readers may
find sexually suggestive and/or violent.          


Extended author notes will be added at the end of
of Chapter one and again at the end of the final chapter.


*************************************************
          

          Bedlam Fire


     
Chapter 9

*************************************************

     "I don't think there's any question," Guri watched as the
pitiful remains of Aziza were tenderly placed atop a cairn of
stone. "she was hunted, like a beast. And tortured . . ." The
Amazon's voice broke and she took a moment to regain her
composure. "I don't understand why she didn't call out. Her trail
shows she was never farther than a hundred meters from camp.
Once she must have come within a meter of the camp guard . . ."
Guri fell silent, beating her fist against her thigh in silent frustration.
"I don't understand why no one _heard_ anything!."

     "She probably couldn't," Nabiki wanted to turn away
from the Amazon burial preparations, but felt, somehow, it was
her responsibility to watch, "call out, I mean." She elaborated at
Guri's questioning look. "If it was Ak . . .if it was the
 daemon-----It can do things . . ." swallowing hard as memories
came flooding back,  Nabiki was grateful for Ukyou's arm
around her shoulder.

     "Akane can do stuff," Ukyou had no trouble giving a
name to the enemy. "Stuff I've never seen before. She's fast.
Faster than Ran-chan. Faster than anything. And strong. She cut
my spatula like it was made of paper." Her hand clenched
involuntarily on the shaft of the replacement pole-arm that hadn't
left her hand since they'd found Aziza.

     "Sh . . .she can fly. And move things. Without touching
them." Nabiki pressed her hands to her temples, trying to block
out the memory. "She likes pain. She probably . . .she probably
thought it was fun to kill her so close to camp. To let her get close
. . .let her feel safe. Then chased her back into the dark. Again.
And again. Until----oh god." Nabiki dashed to the rocks and
was noisily sick.

     "We have no choice," Guri's eyes were cold. "Mani,
have everyone drop packs. Cache them, in case we can come
back later. Take only weapons, full ammunition-load"-- the
Amazons had produced an amazing assortment of rifles and
automatic weapons they'd kept hidden--" trail rations and
canteens. Leave everything else."

     "We're going to be sorry if we get caught in a storm
without our tents and stoves." Mani observed.

     "We're going to be sorrier if we get caught by whatever
got Aziza." She looked at Nabiki, being helped to her feet by
Konatsu, then over at Ukyou and Kasumi beyond her, talking to
some of the Amazon's who had remained out of sight until the
Musk and Phoenix-people had left "Have four travel litters made.
We're going to be moving too fast for them."

     "HEY!" Ukyou bristled at the suggestion she needed
help. "I can do anything----"

     "Spatula girl run down hill? Run up? Four, five day?"
Shan Pu looked her in the eye. "Shan Pu having trouble. Air too
thin. Too long from mountain.  Japan make soft."

     "You don't have any choice. You can't keep up in the
mountains." Guri pulled a pouch from her belt and placed a pinch
of something between her cheek and gum. "And we're not
stopping until we get home." She handed the mixture of coca-
leaves and other stimulates to Mani. "Give some to everyone and
tell them we move out in five minutes."

     "Five . . .!?" Mani took the pouch automatically, "but
Aziza! We haven't . . ."

     "We've given her to the sky." Guri jerked her head at the
carrion birds that were already gathering. "See that her weapons
are at hand and she has what she needs for the journey to the
cloud-lands. I have her soul stone," she pulled a largish ruby,
threaded with a braided silver chain, from an inner pocket. "so
the Dream Walker can help her if she loses her way." At Mani's
mulish look, Guri stepped forward until she stood toe to toe with
the younger woman. "The full ceremony will have to wait. We are
too few and the daemon is too strong. I promise," Guri's voice
was cold and hard. "I promise you, we will gather The People
and send this thing to hell."

     Nabiki had recovered a bit and returned in time to catch
Guri's speech and noticed Ukyou nod in agreement. She wished
she could disagree with the sentiment.  On the other hand, when
Ranma found out what the Amazon's had planned
. . .they might all wish they were back on this mountain with
nothing more than a homicidal daemon to worry about.


*************************************************


     It moved across the ground like a forest fire, with a
sharks predatory will, devouring everything in it's path. It had
regained it's greater part, and with it---- unparalleled strength. 

     In earthly terms. 

     In comparison to it's normal self, it was still weak and
half asleep. But all that would change soon.

*************************************************

     Zhang Jiangun, commanding general of the Nanjing
Military Region watched two squadrons of J-11 fighters vanish
from  radar. Only slightly less capable than the J-12 prototype
lost  days earlier, they had been launched from the Capitol
Defense Force as soon as the intruder had been detected,
already _over_ the Bayan Har Mountains and headed directly for
Shanghai.

     The intruder had been moving slowly, less than two
hundred kilometers per hour when the J-11's had screamed in at
over Mach 3. And vanished, like soap bubbles. Vanished like
everything in the path of . . .whatever was making the fuzzy hard-
to-hold-return on his air-born radar.

     "Have the Thousand Eyes maintain the greatest
separation  possible, without losing contact." he ordered quietly. 
The Chyan Yan Jing was a  heavily modified Russian
TU-154MD and, despite the hopeful name of "Thousand Eyes",
wasn't a true AWACS platform. But it was the only air-born
radar the PLAAF had in it's inventory.

      "The Quick Reaction Squadron is authorized to take off
immediately to relieve the Combat Air Patrol while the CAP
refuels." General Zhang paused, then continued. "All fighters are
to hold position at thirty thousand feet." The young lieutenant
relayed the order to the orbiting radar platform and the fighters.
Zhang waited another moment to make sure the orders were
received and acknowledged. 

     Fighter pilots wanted to attack--that's what made them
fighter pilots in the first place. But he had only a single  squadron
of J-8MII's and he needed them to guard the aerial radar that
was his eyes. If he lost that he would be blind. He had four
squadrons of the far less capable J-8's and another squadron of
obsolete J-6's  on the ground. But after what had happened to
the J-11 "super fighters"  he might as well shoot their crews
himself as send them out against the intruder.

     "Captain Lei," he turned to the middled aged operations
officer, "contact the Long-Bow Air Defense commander and
activate 'Red Storm'."

     "Sir?" The moon faced PLAAF captain's shock clearly
showed. Red Storm was a war alert plan that instantly activated
all the Nanjing Military Region's combat assets, excepting only
nuclear weapons, which could be released, but only on orders
from Bejing. While parts of Red Storm had been activated during
training , an actual Red Storm signal had _never_ been given,
even during the most realistic exercise. Red Storm had only one
meaning----invasion. 

     "Carry out your orders, Captain."

     "Sir," sweat beaded the Captain's upper lip. "Sir, do you
also want the Autumn-Four encryption link with Beijing?" this
was the ultra secure line used _only_ to communicate the release
of atomic weapons.

     "No Captain. We will not use fusion bombs over the
homeland."

     With some relief Captain Lei activated his secure
communications console, little dreaming that in a few hours death
would be a release and mere nuclear annihilation a blessing.
          

*************************************************

     "Inbound passing Hefi," the sergeant announced as the
threat board was updated. "contact firming up."

     Colonel Ting watched the purposeful activity with
satisfaction. Most people had thought him far too junior to
command the Long-Bow Air Defense System that defended the
skies over Shanghai. But in the modern age his advanced
engineering degree from MIT was far more important than
"political" correctness. Additionally, he had attended classes at
the war colleges of the United States, Great Britain and, most
recently, Israel ---- the source of a great many of the PLA's 
upgrades ----which gave him an insight into the tactics and
methods of potential adversaries which more senior officers
lacked. Of course, he admitted wryly to himself, the picture of his
father and Mao, standing with their arms around each other,
prominently displayed on his desk, didn't hurt. Perhaps his
superiors were correct, perhaps he _had_ been corrupted by
Western thought. He still thought it boded ill for his country that
his high marks in Maoist doctrine meant more than graduating
with honors from CalTech.  It was just too bad the People's
universities were not yet up-----

     "Change in course and speed," the announcement jerked
his attention back to the threat board. "Intruder coming to new
heading," numbers scrolled across the huge back-projection
screen that filled one end of the command trailer. A "gift" from
the Israelis. As was the software which drove the display. Ting
watched the angry orange icon that designated the intruder swing
wide to avoid a lake, then accelerate to almost two hundred
knots as it steaded on it's new course.

     Interesting, Ting thought, this was not the first time the
intruder had avoided bodies of water.  A design limitation of it's
propulsion or stealth gear? Or perhaps some sort of battle
damage? 

     Who or what had invaded the Peoples Republic had 
been the topic of hot debate since the first incursion four days
earlier. The loss of three fighters and their crew had driven the
PLAAF wild with anger and the need for vengeance, while the
PLA, tasked with Air Defense, were only marginally less
consumed with a lust to kill. Additionally, the Peoples Navy (the
junior and usually forgotten service) had put to sea with
everything that would float and carry a gun, and quite a few things
that did neither very well. 


     "Alert all batteries," Ting ordered his executive officer,
who passed the order down the chain of command" we will
engage at eighty  kilometers." this was thirty kilometers _inside_
the Fei Tung 2000 Surface-to-Air-Missile's engagement
envelope. The big SAM could move a two hundred kilogram war
head at almost Mach six, and had both Infrared and Active-
Radar Seeker-Heads. Which made them hellishly expensive and
explained why his single battery was one third of the PLA's total
inventory of the weapon. Fortunately he had more, if shorter
ranged, missiles and guns. By waiting until the target was within
eighty  klicks he could instantly hand off to the S-300's, then the
KS-1's and so on, down to the final defensive ring of rapid-fire
cannon.

     With a rumble, the blast shields slid in place and he felt
his ears pop as the out-side vents slammed shut and the hiss of
oxygen bottles replaced the quiet hum of the air conditioner. The
exhaust fumes from the rockets would blister beryllium-steel;
what they did to human tissue was indescribable. 

     A small television monitor in the corner showed the
truck-mounted box-launcher shudder as the vehicle's shock
absorbers locked into place. 

     "Ninety kilometers, Comrade Colonel." The lieutenant
was a _most_ earnest communist. 

     "Tracking mode," Ting ordered, watching the monitor as
the SJ-302M2  phased-array radar sent eight million watts of
power down half a degree of arc. The fuzzy target brightened,
becoming slightly less fuzzy. However it took no evasive action,
which worried Ting. Were they _that_ confident of their
superiority. Recalling the pride of the PLAAF that now littered
the ground like so much trash he admitted to himself that perhaps
they had reason.

     "Solid return," reported the lieutenant. "we have lock." A
steady tone indicated the seeker heads of the SAMs had locked
onto the reflected radar energy.

     "Fire." the order was relayed to the FT-2000 crew and
Ting could see the four big cylinders of the vertical launcher belch
fire and smoke. The command trailer shook  as the twenty meter
long missiles leapt straight up on a column of fire before vectored
thrust engines turned them toward the target as they climbed to
their cruising altitude. 

     "Fifteen seconds to impact," the lieutenant called out,
while Ting watched the green icons crawl across the threat board
as  his missiles and  the intruder raced toward each other.

     "Ten seconds."

     Not much longer now. Ting wished he had more air
support. He would have like to combine a fighter strike with his
missiles, but they couldn't leave the air-born radar----

     "Missiles detonated. Target slowing."

     Slowing! Ting glared at the display. It should have been
destroyed. Tough bastard.

     Still . . .they'd gotten a piece of it. If he couldn't destroy
it outright, he'd settle for nibbling it to death. Even as he finished
the thought the ground shuddered as S-300's ripple fired from the
three batteries in engagement range. He had six more, scattered
around the city, but they were too far away.
     
     Twelve new icons moved across the threat board,
designating the PLA's answer to the American Patriot missile,
though faster, longer ranged and with a heaver war-head than the
Patriot.

     They _must_ have hurt it, Ting thought exultantly,
watching the intruder icon turn away from the incoming SAM's,
accelerating desperately. Two missiles lost lock and wandered
away. Then another, and one more, as the intruder jinked
violently in a bid to escape. Eight missiles remained locked,
closing at Mach 6.

     The threat board blossomed with fire as the S-300's
detonated, obscuring his electronic eye for a moment. Then,
amazingly, the orange icon _still_ staggered across the liquid
crystal display, moving like a punch drunk fighter, but moving.

     "What does it take to _kill_ this thing," Ting didn't realize
he'd spoken aloud until his XO turned to him.

     "Sir?"

     "Never mind," he ran through his options quickly.
"Launch the reserve fighters." The J-8's and J-6's had been at
plus five since the first missile had been fired. They should be able
to handle the intruder, crippled as it was. Besides, he wanted
pictures of the bastard.

     "Yes sir," the major saluted and turned to give the order.

     "SIR!"

     Both men spun as the frantic call.

     "Colonel Ting, the intruder----it's changed course."

     And speed, Ting noted, a cold lump forming in his belly
as he watched the intruder swing wide to the south, then start a
high speed run north, toward the heart of the city.

     "Order the CAP to engage!" he snapped.

     "Colonel," his XO, as a good executive should, began to
object to a possibly dangerous maneuver  "if we pull the CAP off
station the AWACS plane will be unguar----"

     "The damn thing's going for the heart of the city." Ting
growled, "We've got to kill it and the fighters may be able to
position it for the SAM's. Have the reserve squadrons  move to
support as well." 

     Blast shields slid open and he could see crews struggling
to reload the S-300's. "Start moving," he looked at the map,
"we'll form up here," he pointed to a spot just west of where
Nanjing Donglu road  crossed the  Henin Zhonglu highway. They
wouldn't be far from the Huangpu river and beyond that, the
harbor. He'd better see if the navy had a frigate or missile armed
gun-boat in range. He briefly considered moving some of his
other Anti-Air-Artillery or SAMS but dismissed the thought
immediately since he might just as easily move them _away_ from
the intruder as toward it. Better to leave them in place and try to
drive the intruder into their field of fire with his small mobile force.

     "Yes sir," the Major saluted, then hesitated. "Sir, the
S-300's will take at least thirty minutes to re-load."

     "Tell them to expedite," Ting turned back to his map.
"we're not waiting." His eight LY-60's didn't have off-road
capabilities but the trucks were surprisingly fast and carried five
radar guided missiles each, with a fifty-seven millimeter cannon
for close defense.  


     The intruder was going to cross the engagement envelope
of at least three other batteries of S-300's in the Long-Bow
system on its present course. There were other missile and gun
emplacements but the S-300's were his best remaining asset.
They might down it. Or the fighters might . . .

     He quickly dismissed the fighters. He'd come to the
conclusion that fighter missiles weren't powerful enough to stop
this thing. But the fighters could slow the intruder, move it into
range of his SAM batteries----.

     The command trailer lurched into motion and he steadied
himself by grabbing the edge of a console, watching the S-300
crews wrestle loaded box-launchers into position on their
carriers. There _weren't_ any reloads for the 'Fei Tung', and
wasn't that a wonderful state of affairs. Perhaps he could use this
situation to get a larger appropriation in the next budget. 

     The tracked M-90II gun carriers  moved out, tearing up
chunks of asphalt as they sped down the road at sixty five
kilometers per hour, followed by the missile trucks, support
trucks and vehicles carrying search and tracking radars. As the
command trailer took it's place in line Ting could see the big 203
millimeter self-propelled guns swing into the end of the
procession. At least ten kilometers per hours slower than the rest
of the convoy, they would be late arriving. Ting only hoped he
wouldn't need the four big guns.

*************************************************


      It started simply enough, with a grass fire. Mingxing
District, Fire Station twenty-three, dispatched the Senior Station
Officer, a light rescue unit, a hose unit and two tankers.  Rainfall
had been lighter than usual this month and it was best not to take
chances.

     Another call came in, a minor structure fire to the east off
Zhangshan Nanlu Road in the Old City. This was followed by
alarms from the Jade Buddha temple, north of city hall and a third
at Zhongshan Park in the west. Small, one-alarm fires. Nothing to
get excited about. 

     Three hours later the Divisional Officer on Duty _was_
beginning to get . . .if not excited then at least agitated.  Half of
their equipment was out fighting minor fires, leaving very little in
case of a real emergency. However most of the attention was on
the ariel battle taking place between the Peoples Army and the
Invader. 

     At least one four-alarm structural fire had started when
three fighter jets had slammed into a school complex. Further
assets were dispatched to deal with fire and damage from falling
debris.  Attention was so concentrated on the sky  or local
emergencies, no one had yet noticed that Shanghai was slowly
being surrounded by hundreds of tiny fires, like a city under siege. 


*************************************************

     "Set up, set up!" Ting was hoarse from shouting and
shaking from exhaustion. He watched his crews fumble to errect
the Search and Tracking Radars and set the out-rigger supports
on the missile trucks.

     "Thousand Eyes reports Intruder in grid W3," a voice
called from the command trailer as Ting lent a hand removing the
travel safeties from a box launcher for his last S-300 launcher. A
commander was supposed to command, not get caught up in the
details, at least that's what they taught at the War College. But
he'd lost too many men in the last six hours and too much
equipment. He was down to a single S-300 and three LY-60's
plus his remaining close support cannon and the four 203's, which
hadn't caught up yet. At that, his was the single most potent force
still active in the once mighty Long-Bow system. 

      He'd lost contact with General Zhang at around eleven
hundred hours, not that it would have done him much good if he
could still talk to the General. He already had all the AAA,
SAMs and fighters there were to be had. It would have been nice
to know he wasn't all alone, though. His internal communications
were beginning to break down and soon his remaining fixed and
mobile batteries would be thrown into local control, fighting as
individuals rather than as an organic whole.

     "Tell them to illuminate the target," he wrenched his
exhausted mind back to the present, "we're not going to get our
fire control radars up in time," and thank god he still had the
AWACS. Good communist though he was, he'd been praying to
every god he could think of, from Allah to Zeus, for the last four
hours. If he lost another missile truck he was going to start asking
his ancestors for help.

     "Message from the 203's. The bridge won't take their
weight and they're going around."

     "Tell them to hold," Ting ordered instantly. "Wait until we
know where it's going next." he had little faith they would stop it.
Not with over half his missile trucks gone. And all his air-cover.
The CAP had melted like snow in a furnace, leaving him with
_three_ J-8MII's and a single J6 to defend the AWACS.  He
had no idea why the Thousand Eyes had been spared, but
without it he would have been completely blind. 

      "Have them load with Boosted Anti-Air. We may turn it
toward them." The big 203's only had a few of the
 rocket-assisted smart weapons, but they more than doubled their
range.

     "Tone, tone," an excited voice called. "Locked. Target
closing."

     Ting dashed for the command trailer and a private
slammed the door behind him, double checking the seal before
pulling on his oxygen mask, handing Ting another mask with his
free hand. Everyone had become especially diligent since a seal
had failed in the number three radar truck.  Some of the
equipment had survived the toxic rocket exhaust. None of the
crew had.

     "Firing," the sergeant called, even as the computer
automatically launched when the target passed a pre-determined
threshold.  Almost before the SAM's rippled from their tubes,
auto-cannon swivelled on their mounts and went to continuous
rapid fire, burning through eight hundred rounds in half a minute.
The gun cameras, on special shock-absorbing mounts, sent back
remarkably clear pictures of a blazing green tear-drop shape that
streaked across the sky.
               

     The air shuddered as the intruder broke Mach 1 in a
sprint,  three hundred meters above the ground. All but two of the
missiles lost lock, but one of those exploded almost on top of it
and Ting saw it shudder and cork-screw toward the ground. 
Hope blossomed and he ruthlessly tamped it down. He'd thought
he had it before----Ting groaned as, at the last instant, it
straightened, regaining control the height of a tall mans head
above the ground. 

     The cannon depressed, trying to stay on target, but it was
too close and too fast. Zig-zagging frantically, like a rabbit chased
by hounds the Intruder barely out-ran the fifty-seven millimeter
cannon fire. Suddenly the green tear-drop reversed course and
the cannon moved to follow. A sharp  explosion rocked the
command trailer and blacked out the gun camera image.  Ting
realized sickly that one or more cannon had tracked the Intruder
_across_ one of his radar trucks.

     "Radar two is gone sir," came the quiet voice of the
captain who had replaced his executive officer when the major
had taken a metal splinter in the groin. The premature explosion
of a SAM in the process of re-loading a missile truck had also 
killed or wounded twenty irreplaceable men, and destroyed
radar-one. 

     "Acknowledged. Where is----"

     "Reversed course, sir," answered the private monitoring
the radio link with the sky-born radar, reading his colonels mind.
"It's new heading----" he hit a function key and the orange icon
of the intruder changed course on the threat board as the new
coordinates were down-loaded.

     It would loiter at low speed, Ting knew. It always did
after it took ground fire. And it still avoided water. He was
convinced it had taken damage of some kind. Or perhaps he only
hoped it had.

     "Move to intercept. Have the 203's run parallel to our
route. Maybe we can catch it between us." It couldn't stay lucky
forever. They'd almost had it this time. Just like they'd almost had
it the last time, or the time before, a tiny voice jeered at him from
the depths of his weary mind.

     "Sir, the 203's report fire blocking the roads."

     "Let me see the map," Ting struggled to unroll a section-
map as the trailer bounced along the road at high speed. "This is
Ting," he held a microphone in one hand, wedging himself in a
corner between the table and trailer wall. "move west until you
come to," he traced a road on the map, "Madang Lu. Continue
north to the Peoples Square. We'll try to link up at the parade
grounds." Ting waited for an acknowledgment then handed the
microphone to his executive officer of just a few hours. 

     "Sir?"

     "Yes XO?" Ting watched the man flush slightly with
pleasure at being so addressed. He was glad _someone_ had
enough energy left to be pleased at something.

     "The Ruijin hospital system is in that area. And the power
plant. Shouldn't we try and form a defensive perimeter?"

     Ting dismissed the thought after a momentary
consideration. "No, if we set up near the hospitals we're likely to
_draw_ fire onto it. Continue on to Pengiai Park. We'll try to
intercept it there. Otherwise we'll link up with the 203's at the
Peoples Park Parade Ground."

     "Sir, the scout car says Zhonghua Lu is blocked by fire,"
the communications officer called. 
     
     Controlling an impulse to swear Ting scanned his map.
"Order the column to turn right at Penglai Lu and continue until
we hit Henan Nanlu. We'll take that north until---- "

     "Sir," the communications officer interrupted, "Thousand
Eyes reports a massive traffic jam on Penglai Lu  and---- "

     "Dammit, find a way around," Ting snapped. "all the
roads can't be blocked."

                    
*************************************************
     
     Fire crept around the city, lighting the twilight with
tongues of yellow and orange flame. Small fires fused, to become
large fires. And large fires became greater fires as they ate into
the bowels of homes, schools and factories.  Emergency trucks
and motorcycles screamed through streets crowded with people
fleeing the flames and frantic calls hammered the overloaded
telephone systems. Calls that brought off-shift firemen back on
duty and called reservists out of retirement. 

*************************************************

     Shanghai was fighting for its life, ringed by a thundering
cyclone of flame. Thousands of  voices, shrieking crying and
praying made a hellish counterpoint to the roaring fires and
exploding buildings. In the west a factory---- manufacturing
complex polymer adhesives ----burned like a roman candle; in
the south a pesticide plant blazed with a bright blue flame. A
series of thunderous explosions shattered windows and tumbled
twenty ton fire trucks like thistle down as a munitions plant in the
north detonated like a small atomic bomb.  The animal cry of
terror from people fleeing the destruction was  a sound out of
hell. Overworked and outmatched fire fighters and emergency
workers fought the fires and fought rising panic. They still had
water pressure in the mains, still had most of their equipment
intact. They just had to follow procedure, contain the fires.
Evacuate the civilians. They could beat this thing.

     At fourteen minutes past ten, the Shanghai Refinery
exploded, sending a column of fire two thousand meters into the
air, as one thousand _million_ cubic meters of 
petro-chemicals  and fuel-oil detonated, showering the inner city
with fire, and destroying the last remaining bridges over the
Hangpu River, the last bridges out of hell. 

*************************************************

     *three fires burn* The poisonous promise was whispered
on the winds of dream.

     The heat from the fires rose quickly, pulling fresh air from
the bottoms of shattered buildings and along twisted alleys and
roads blocked by abandoned cars, busses and trucks.  The new
oxygen fed fresh combustion, sending vines of flames winding
through and around abandoned building, seeding fresh fires with
sparks of flame that turned  blocks of tenements into gardens of
fire. 

     Flames rushed along roof tops, down narrow streets and
across courtyards until they----joined.  

*******
     *death* 

     The death cries of a long dead nation echoed across the
centuries.

******

     The outer ring of flame and the thousands of individual
fires in the interior of the city  mingled in a fiery lovers embrace.
The towering column of burning gas, greedy for oxygen, pulled
fresh air into itself from all sides until a hurricane wind blasted
through the shattered city.

     Shanghai was drowning in an ocean of flame. Towers of
flame howled a thousand meters into the sky and all over the city,
concrete and glass exploded, with a thunder that rocked the
ground.  The wind increased in strength as the fire demanded
more and more oxygen----ninety, one hundred kilometers per
hour and more, pulling a sheet of flame across the ground until the
blazing wind sliced across the city at over three hundred
kilometers per hour. Twice hurricane strength, the wind sucked
cars, buildings and people into it's insatiable maw. 

****
     *life*

     A mothers prayer for her son's life  was answered with
the birth of a man-made sun that burned the children of the 
sun-goddess to ash.

****
     Ten million people shrieked and screamed and moaned
as they tried to escape the inescapable----brands of fire that
tumbled from the sky to set clothes and hair afire, sparks that tore
at flesh and burned eyes so that people staggered blindly into
flames that ripped the air from their lungs,  burst their flesh like
pigs roasting on a spit. 
     
     
     Terror. Fear. Trapped in the center of a roaring howling
maelstrom of flame ten million people were drowning in terror,
choking on fear as they lurched around in a mad mindless frenzy
to escape, clawing at the ground, dashing themselves against solid
walls like moths trapped in a jar, only to suddenly burst into
flames, or to become entombed in molten glass and stone as
building melted around them.

     The hoarse maddened shrieks from ten-thousand-
thousand souls begging for escape were heard-----

     *power*
     
     The fires met . . .merged . . ..and a funeral pyre for ten
million people roared into the sky.

     The final seal shattered.

*************************************************
End Chapter 9

notes:
UPS wanted to send
one of their "technical"
experts to fix the monitor
they broke. ^_^
I expressed some amazement
as the revelation that UPS not
only delivered packages but
also repaired electronics.
After some "discussion" I
finally got UPS to come pick up
the broken monitor. (took them
several tries) With luck I'll have
the insurance straightened out in
another week or so.
I just broke down and
ordered a refurbished DELL 
system. (I'm going to replace the
monitor and computer at the same
time) Hopefully I'll be able to write
and C&C before FFML is back up.
Again, I apologize for the delay in 
writing, C&C and replying to e-mail.
Thank's  to everyone for reading
BF and writing to me. I'll answer
ASAP. ^_*

{According to the DELL
order page the system has
been shipped. And just in time.
This elderly IBM monitor is
starting to flicker. }

Post Script:
If you've ever written
asking for C&C or for
any other reason and I haven't
answered it's possible
your e-mail got lost in the
electronic confusion I've been
having. Please always feel free
to keep writing. I do try
to answer everyone. 
-
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