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 Post subject: No Man's Land
PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 11:16 pm 
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No Man's Land - Railyard Massacre
The Great Zombie War

Rail yard
Late January 1915
Belgium
Rail Station located between Ypres and Vlamerthinge, Belgium

The first six months of the war were extremely fluid, but once the trench systems were built from the English Channel to the AustroHungarian border a stalemate had ensued. It was far from from a German defeat and could scarecely be called a French or Allied victory. Although winning the Race to the Sea felt like a victory it was in reality a stalemate.

German forces now controlled the industrial heartland of France and the allies seemed incapable of rolling back the German army. Both sides were looking for anything that could bring about a breakthrough in the war.

And that is what brought WO1 Roy Crawford to France via a consultative role with the British military. He was technically employed and well-paid by the Brits but he still maintained his rank and status as a First Sergeant with the Signal Corps of the US Army. He wore an American NCO uniform, with his British rank, in his daily duties. Although the Brits insisted that he be designated as a Conductor - Warrant Officer 1.

The goal was that the radio, which was Roy Crawford's expertise, would provide a breakthrough allowing the Allies to break through the lines, outflank the opponent and destroy them. Massed infantry and cavalry attacks across the no mans land of barbed wire and land mines would be well coordinated and reinforcements could be sent at a moments notice when a breakthrough occurred.

And while that was the plan, no one at the front wanted to spend time perfecting his radio. He was assigned to an area that had faced heavy fighting and needed someone that was a jack-of-all-trades. Less than four months after leaving Fort Reilly, Kansas he was in Ypres, Belgium helping the Brits sort things out.

The morning was peaceful, cold but peaceful. The sun was beginning to break over the horizon. The night had brought another light dusting of snow that he trudged through on the back way to the small yellow train station. The rail yard was creaking to life this morning. It was on the small side as far rail yards are concerned, but it was vital to the war effort. It consisted of main line which ran next to the station and one siding rail that ran directly along the other side of the station with two smaller spurs branched off from the siding. The rail yard was important not because of its size, but because of its proximity to the front.

Situated on the eastern side of the small Belgian village of Vlamerthinge, it was within a few kilometers of Ypres and close enough to the front line to be one of the final sorting points for men and material. It was also a convenient location for Signal Corps operations. The engineers and logisticians used the first floor of the building as a warehouse and sorting station. The signal Corps commandeered the small top floor and had a wall filled with telegraph operators.

There were about 300 men milling about the first floor as WO1 Crawford ascended the stairs to the Signal Corps detachment. The room was warm but still held a slight chill. Considering the single digit temperatures outside and the drafty nature of the room, the exquisitely detailed Goodin cast iron stove was doing an admirable job of warming water for coffee and tea while keeping the room just below comfortable.

Crawford was greeted by a mix of indifference from the two young officers in the room and a slight air of reverence from some of the enlisted men. Because of his strange interloper status as being "on loan" from the US Army and the odd rank of Conductor - Chief Warrant Officer, the officers ignored him and the enlisted and NCO's had learned over the past few weeks that he was extremely competent and resourceful.

He popped open his ruck sack and created a near riot when he set out nine freshly baked croissants on a small table on the far side of the room. The British Army Captain with the picture perfect mustache and perfectly pressed uniform cleared his throat, causing the enlisted men to scurry back to their stations. He looked over the remaining three croissants, lifted one to his nose and sniffed before taking a bite.

"Good work Conductor." The Captain said before turning his attention back to the lieutenant and the map they were studying on the wall.

Around 10 am Crawford and young Corporal Boden had just returned from fixing a broken telegraph line. He had placed his Browning A5 shotgun next to the small desk/table he had commandeered when he first arrived a few weeks ago. He was warming his hands around small blue coffee mug he was holding when the first shouts were heard from the men below.

"Incoming."

Everyone in the room temporarily was paralyzed until the first artillery round thudded to the ground next to the station.

"Incoming." Was yelled again as the whistling of artillery shells could be heard.

Although he had missed the action in October and November of last year, he had been at the front long enough to know that something wasn't right. The thud had not been followed by an explosion. He crept towards the window overlooking the yard. From the impact craters he could see beginnings of the release of a bright green cloud.

"Gas." He said mattter-of-factly.

"Gas, boys, get your gas masks on, quickly." He said as he worked the attachment at the top of window.

Crawford stuck his head out now open window. "Gas! Gas! Gas!" He yelled to the shocked troops below.

The lieutenant ran over to the window and nearly knocked Crawford out in his effort to get it shut. "Are you trying to kill us all? Keep the window closed and keep that gas out! That's an order you imbecile!"

Crawford ignored him as he walked back across the room and pulled his mask out of his backpack and placed it over his face, making sure that all the straps were tight and that everything was in working order. Corporal Boden, that he had accompanied on the earlier repair mission, nervously fumbled with his mask. Crawford walked over to him and calmly helped him with the straps at the back of his head.

With no orders from the captain or the lieutenant, Crawford walked over to one of the telegraph operators siting in his mask at his terminal. Leaning over he spoke with as normal a voice as he could muster.

"Private Woolrich, inform Division HQ that West Wipers* Station came under gas attack from German artillery at..." he paused to look at his watch. "10:30 this morning. Approximately 20 impacts all with unexploded ordnance and a thick green gas."


The thick green gas oozed out from the impact craters, across the frozen ground and into the station filled with troops. Most didn't even have their masks near them or ready to use. They began to scream and cry out in terror as the gas enveloped them and they were forced to breath it in after holding their breath for as log as possible.

Crawford grabbed his firearm, helmet and backpack in one motion as he walked over to the door to go downstairs and help in whatever way possible. "Conductor! Do Do Do .... Do Not o o o open that door!" Stammered the lieutenant.

"Worried you put that mask on upside down, sir?" He said as he opened the door and stepped onto the wooden stairs.

The results were quick and clear. Within minutes, of breathing the gas a horrible death ensued. There were few survivors. Of the original 300 men at the station, only 30 remained.

The gas dissipated relatively quickly. Crawford inspected the dead. Most had failed to even get their gas mask on and some had done so improperly. The survivors had all deployed their masks quickly and properly.

The Captain and Signal Corps operators all came down the stairs about 10 minutes after the last cries of the dying had been silenced. Crawford looked at his watch, it was 10:50, it had only been twenty minutes since the first impact of the gas barrage.

The Captain ordered the assorted remaining survivors to begin the grim task of moving the bodies into rows on the platform of the station. The four enlisted signal corpsman and an NCO were ordered back into the office to continue relaying information related to the rest of the war. WO1 Crawford and Corporal Boden were told to supervise the clean up operation. Noticing that there was no more green gas floating around and a slight breeze, Crawford removed his mask and stowed it in a pouch on his suspenders. When he didn't fall over dead, the others began to remove and stow their masks.

"Let's start with the farthest bodies first and line them up on platform. I'll start a fire and we'll try to get some chow and get warm as soon as this work is finished. Keep your rifles and mask with you, we don't know what might be next. And make sure to check and see if anyone is alive."

"You, medic, stay close to me, we may find one alive and I want to know where you are." He pointed at one of the thirty survivors wearing a white helmet with a bold red cross painted on the top.

He turned around and looked at Boden, "Corporal, get your gear and find out if there is any news on when we can expect someone to get these bodies."

"Right Sir, bucket boomstick and bag." He said as he ran back up the steps to get his important gear and an ETA on body removal.

Boden was descending the stairs with his rifle, backpack and helmet when he heard the good news.

"Aye! We need a medic! We've got a live one over here." A young private, Ned Tealy, from Newcastle shouted from 200 feet away.

Half of the body removal detail hurried over to where the excited shouts came from. The medic looked at Crawford and then began to move at a trot towards Private Tealy.

Tealy leaned over his comrade in arms, also a private. "Hold on there bud, we gots a medic coming for ya." The injured man reached out with his arms grasping Tealy's jacket and gurgled.

The tugs on the jacket became stronger. Tealy looked again at the injured private and became terrified at the sight of the bloodshot eyes looking back at him and straining neck muscles as he tried regain the use of his mouth.

The excited exclamations turned to the familiar shouts of panic. The "live one" had seized Tealy and pulled him close enough to snap a small chunk out of his neck. Tealy fell over backwards, screaming and grabbing at his neck with blood surging into the air. The group huddled around all quickly stepped back. Many tripping over other the other bodies on the ground.

The medic stopped in his tracks halfway to the scene.

The screaming quickly became interspersed with the wet gurgling moans of the dead.

The dead soldiers began to roll around and move towards a standing position. Those survivors who had the misfortune of falling down were now being grabbed and bitten by the dead.

Crawford looked around perplexed by what was happening. He couldn't believe what was happening. How did these dead men come back to life?

The medic began running back towards Crawford and the small station house. An arm reached up and grabbed him. He had a look of pure terror on his face as he fell down. Four or five of the dead climbed on top of him and began to chew on him and rip him apart.

"Agghh! Help! Agghh!" He cried out in vain.

For the second time in thirty minutes everyone seemed frozen in fear.

A gunshot rang out. Crawford saw one of the dead shot in the chest by a soldier continue on his journey to attack the living. Not even a gunshot seemed to stop these maniacs.

Crawford snapped out of his daze. "Squad Fall in!" He screamed. "Squad Fall In! Doubletime!" He hoped the commands in the commonwealth countries would be understood. He also realized these were mostly new recruits with minimal training.

"Form up skirmish line on me! Doubletime!" He kept giving orders hoping it would have a calming effect on the men.

Boden reached him first. And stood to his right. The other twenty or so remaining survivors were making their way to him. Three of them were taken down by the dead. Surrounded and killed in a blood bath.

The nineteen living were an odd collection of men from different units and different countries but there they stood in the middle of a railroad platform with at least 270 gurgling groaning angry dead coming at them from all sides.

"Gents form up in a square. Two in front three behind. I don't know what's going on here but let's make sure they don't get us too. Affix bayonets and prepare to fire on my order."

They had all seen what the gassed dead were doing to the survivors and to a man all knew it was unholy and unexplained.




* ypers was difficult for most British troops to pronounce correctly so they nicknamed the town Wipers.

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Last edited by KentuckyRifleman on Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Title forthcoming
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 6:45 am 
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+1 good start!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Title forthcoming
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 10:21 pm 
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MOAR please

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 Post subject: Re: Title forthcoming
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 10:54 pm 
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Oh yes, this has started splendidly. Please give us more, old chap?

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 Post subject: Re: Title forthcoming
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 7:58 pm 
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TheWarriorMax wrote:
Oh yes, this has started splendidly. Please give us more, old chap?

And I agree 100%. MOAR please.

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 Post subject: Re: Title forthcoming
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:13 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Title forthcoming
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:52 am 
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Chapter 1 Part 2 or maybe it's just chapter 2, but it seems a wee bit short for a stand alone chapter - First Stand

The nineteen soldiers had quickly formed a small box with each side consisting of two soldiers kneeling and three standing behind. Crawford stood on the side of the box with only four soldiers, two in front and he stood in the back next to Corporal Boden.

The dead were everywhere around them. Moving towards them at an ever increasing rate.

"Make your shots counts boys. Fire at will."

The first volley from the box of survivors rang out at once taking down a number of the closest creatures to them. Most fell down but then began the slow process of standing back up and continuing their march.

The men were holding their calm until some of the dead were standing again after being shot a second time. The entire mass of the 270 dead was beginning to fill in around them.

Crawford reloaded the shotgun, pulling the shells out of his side pouch and knowing that he had traded the utility of the shotgun for a reduced number of rounds that he typically carried. He would soon need to shift to using his pistol.

He looked around to the other sides of the box noticing the men falling in a little closer, which could hinder their ability to reload.

"Keep your spacing boys, nice and steady, take 'em down one at a time." He called out to no one in particular.

Crawford also noticed that a handful of the dead were shambling up the wooden stairs of the station to the plain door of Signal Corps office, which was firmly shut. They would have to deal with those on their own.

Crawford was beginning to lose his cool, it seemed like half of the dead he shot fell down and never got back up and the other half, brushed off the blasts as mere stumbling blocks. The entire mass of the dead was beginning to engulf them.

One of the men to his left started screaming, breaking under the pressure. Dropping his weapon and falling to the ground crying.

"Stand up soldier!" Crawford screamed at the man. He knew what would happen to this man in the British Army for cowardice in the face of the enemy. He would face a firing squad tomorrow morning if they survived this ordeal.

Crawford fired his shotgun until it was empty and steppped back and grabbed the soldier, picking him up and bending down for his rifle. As he stood back up to hand it to the sobbing private, one of the dead lunged forward. Crawford raised the rifle and fired, the .303 round left the Lee-Enfield rifle at nearly 2,500 feet per second. From fifteen feet away the bullet had enough force to turn the head of its target into a canoe. It instantly fell to the ground and didn't move again.

Crawford handed the rifle back to the man who had dropped it, "Aim for their heads son."

Crawford stepped back into his spot, "Aim for their heads, boys! Aim for the heads and they won't get back up!"

Crawford fired off five more quick blasts from his shotgun and was rewarded with five corpses falling to the ground again. The unfortunate timing of the revelation about head shots coincided with the zombies reaching their lines. The shell shocked private standing with rifle limply in hand was dragged down to the ground and ripped apart.

More screams from the living could be heard from behind him, but the rate of fire continued unabated. Crawford ran his shotgun down and reached for a reload only to bring an empty hand back up. He slung the shotgun over his shoulder and quickly grabbed the unfamiliar FN M1903 from it's holster.

Because of his strange journey to France, Crawford wasn't allowed to bring his US Army issued weapons and had to buy both his shotgun and pistol once he arrived in Belgium. Both he pistol and shotgun were manufactured by Fabrique National in Belgium. The shotgun was nearly identical to his US Army issued weapon and the pistol was in good working order. They had been expensive but available on the short notice. Now a few weeks later, his very life was depending on the .32 ACP pistol with a 8 round magazine.

He swung the pistol up and lined up the head of a dead soldier, squeezing the trigger and then watching the results of his handiwork collapse to the ground. He lined up another, and another and another . . .

Reload, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, click.

Reload, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, click.

Reload, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, click.

That was it. Out of shotguns shells, out of pistol magazines.

The door to the Signal Corps office finally broke open. The men in the room were terrified. The officers and men had barricaded themselves in to the warm office but could hear the barrage of gunfire from the cold station below.

"Stop. I order you to stop and return to the railway station at once." The Captain cried as a gruesome gray faced dead man with blood shot eyes headed towards the group.

The first of the dead grabbed a trembling Private Woolrich and dragged him to the ground where he was engulfed by the three shambling dead behind him.

The cries from Private Woolrich were excruciating and the horde continued after the others. The Captain appeared to be in a state of shock. The Lieutenant lifted his Webley revolver and pointed it at the dead man attacking Private Woolrich and fired.

Upon the lieutenant firing, the remainder of the men in the room began firing their weapons. Slowly the numbers of attacking dead and living in the room decreased. The Lieutenant reloaded his gun and raised it again. There was only one left! He was going to make it. The dead man rose from his crouched position ten feet away and began moving towards the lieutenant in a sort of crawling hopping manner.

The Lieutenant fired and missed, he fired again...... Another bloody miss! The dead man grabbed him and clawed at his torso. He fired again straight into the dead man's chest, and fired again. In a rage and panic the screaming Lieutenant pulled the gun up and held it against the back of the dead man's head and fired. He felt the body of the dead man finally go limp and he also began to feel burning sensation in his own chest and realized that the .455 bullet had smashed through the skull and kept going right through his own body. He fell to the ground grasping for something to staunch the bleeding, finding nothing, he lay silently on the floor. He realized that years of schooling and training to take part in a war were being undone in a matter of minutes by the monsters created by the German gas.

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Last edited by KentuckyRifleman on Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Title forthcoming
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:07 pm 
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Could this give PB's 1916 a run for it's money?It's off to a good start.

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 Post subject: Re: Title forthcoming
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 4:17 pm 
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Thanks everyone for the kind words. It is always helpful and appreciated to be encouraged.

It seems like the concept has received a warm welcome. If anyone notices aspects that are ou of place, please let me know. I am using a couple of WW1 books as references as well as a few docu-dramas. However I could very easily have some dates, locations or weapons in the wrong spots. If you notice something, please let me know and I'll make corrections. Although I may invoke Dramatic License.

I am trying to stay relatively true to the facts of the war while also incorporating the Zombie theme. Obviously I am not trying to diminish or make light of the War in any way. My grandfather was a sailor in WW1 and in some way I think historical fiction can often lead to increased interest in the underlying historical matter.

Just to be mentioned in the same sentence with PonyBoy is a great compliment. Thank you!

I came up with the idea for this a while ago but I wasn't quite sure how to put it into action. A few months later I came across PB's seminal work "1916" and was really pumped because he solved the problem for me in terms of it would be interesting. This isn't intended to go hand in hand with his work in any way shape or form. But, while writing it I have tried to make the zombie incubation period and some of their traits roughly the same. This story takes place in the beginning of the war and PB's is towards the middle. Theoretically the two could exist in the same universe...

I will try to get the next segment out today or tomorrow. However, I have a client presentation tomorrow for a social media campaign, a project that just landed on my VM, and the Dodgers are playing game 4 tonight and World War 1 zombies fighters dancing in my head. I'll do my best!

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 Post subject: Re: Title forthcoming
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 3:27 pm 
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Whoo! Liking this one so far! Love all of the historical references wrapped into the Z theme. Great start!

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 Post subject: Re: No Man's Land
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:06 pm 
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No Man's Land - Part 3 Arrest and Redemption

***** Sorry for the delay Gents. I'll post Part 4 a year from now!

I recently sold my business and I am going to have a few months off before I start my next venture, so I am hoping to update this on a slightly more regular basis. I think it is a fun premise and welcome any feedback.*****



The thirteen survivors of the blood soaked carnage staggered out of the train station. Crawford led the group to a nearby tree and had a corporal get a roster of everyone that was left and their originating unit.

Crawford walked back to the station, knowing that he needed to check on the status of the radio room. When he arrived he wished he hadn’t. The sights in the small room and the smell of death penetrated his soul. He the urge to vomit overcame him and he held one hand on the door frame as he retched next to the wall.

After composing himself he walked over to his work space and picked up his backpack and loaded it with his belongings before gingerly making his way back to the door.

Image

As he walked out of the building he watched as thirty or forty cavalrymen arrived at the station. They quickly dismounted near “his” troops who quickly snapped to attention. He saw one of the soldiers pointing in his direction. The group of cavalrymen made their way over to Crawford.
When the group made its way over to him he stopped, stood at attention and saluted.

The Major looked over his soiled American uniform and gave a him a disdainful look.

“Who are you?” He asked.

“Warrant Officer Roy Crawford, Sir. Attached to the …”

“I didn’t ask what unit you were attached to Conductor!” He snapped back.

“What happened here?”

Roy relayed the story regarding the events that happened earlier in the morning.

“So, you are saying that you and these men killed all of these soldiers?” His face a mask of terror.

“Sir, as I said, we re-killed them after the German gas turned them into … um … demons.”

“Sergeant, immediately arrest these men for treason. Take them to our field headquarters and hold them until further notice.”

Crawford quickly stepped forward and was caught on the side of the head with the Sergeant’s rifle butt, he collapsed to the dirty snow.

“Sir, the men were following my direct orders.”

“Orders that they knew were illegal. You and your men are sentenced to be killed tomorrow morning at first light by firing squad.”

The rifle butt came down again.

The cavalrymen quickly round up the surprised troops and put them into two horse-drawn wagons, unceremoniously throwing Crawford onto the floor of the wagon.

_____

Crawford was able to open his right eye, but couldn’t focus on anything. He raised his head up slightly.

“Oh boys, he’s up.” A voice that sounded like it was in a tin can broadcast to the rest of the room. “Let the guard know.”

A number of hands helped him into a sitting position.

The group of thirteen faces slowly came into focus. Someone handed him a small metal tin of water which he gladly took.

“Where are we and what happened?”

A cacophony of voices answered.

“That cocksucker Major Magee threw the all of us in the brig!”

“Right and says we’re ta be shot in tha morn’.”

“General Butler stops by and says the guards are to fetch ‘im once you’re back wit us.”

“Well, maybe he can clear this up for us.” Roy croaked as he held his head in his hands.

_____

The general stopped by the brig a few hours later. “Conductor are you wanting me to believe that you and these thirteen men killed 255 armed men by yourselves? I think your story doesn’t add up.”

“Sir, they were unarmed.”

General Bulter began to open his mouth before he was caught by Crawford.

“That’s not what I mean sir, this German gas turns them into some sort of bloodthirsty demon. They could care less about a gun sir they just want to rip you limb from limb and eat your brain!”

“Rubbish!”

“Sir did you say that there were only 255 casualties? There should have been … 300 plus the telegraph station makes 310. 310 minutes thirteen, fourteen. Sir there should have been about 295 dead.”

“This is serious business Crawford, the whole lot of you are going to be shot by firing squad tomorrow morning and this is your defense?”

“Sir, if those things are out there, more men and even civilians could be at risk!”

“You’re barmy!” Butler said as he walked away.

“We could find them for you sir!”

The door to their cell slammed shut.

______

Sometime in the middle of the night, the door to the jail burst open. The general and Major Magee burst into the room.

“Crawford! You were right! Get your men.” The general yelled.

Crawford and the men wearily stood.

“Get the bloody cell door open!” The general screeched at one of the guards who was fumbling with his keys.

“Looks liked you cocked it up General.” Came a voice from the darkness.

“You beligerent son of a . . . “

“Now now Major,” the general said, placing his arm across the Major’s chest. “I apologize boys, Chinese whispers and all, I should have put more though into this. Turns out there are reports all up and down the lines of demon like men getting possessed after they’re bitten and they refuse to die. Major Magee will accompany you and your men to find them and kill them.”

“Yessir, we’ll get cracking. We need our guns, coats and supplies sir!”

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 Post subject: Re: No Man's Land
PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:41 am 
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Cool setting and premise! Great read! Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: No Man's Land
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Really glad to see this one take off again. :clap: :D With this story and 1916 it kind of gives it an old school feeling, which I like.

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