Just a hint of the wild times coming in the latest book, coming out next week, titled Kith and Kin Together Again…and Ipriomise you, it gets wilder as it goes along!

Chapter One

 

President Timothy Cooper straightened his tie, cognizant of the fact that he was the leader of the Free World. It felt good to finally feel respected and listened to and he knew his Master must be pleased with him. He could hardly wait for the next Council. By then, the plan would have gone through and the world would be free of the useless eaters and polluters. He smiled, wondering at what his reward night be. A full Mastership perhaps? Control of a full region on his own? Being the stand-in President was good, but here in America, there were simply too many hide bound laws about free choice and freedom. Africa? India? Or perhaps Mother Russia? Now those places were subservient and able to controlled and led to the Way much better than here. That troublesome Cabinet simply put too many roadblocks in his full plans. And that Congress was a  horror to work with; he’d have to think about that. Today he would get rid of part of those problems. Today he would really become the leader of the Free World.

“Soon to be really free,” he smiled to himself in the mirror, giving a little nod. “Most will be released to the cosmos. Once we have destroyed those that block our progress, we can finish the plan, retire and allow this land to be retaken by Mother Gaia. And I shall undoubtedly be rewarded well.” He turned to his aide, put on his jacket and made his way to the Oval Office.

 “Do you have the lines so the people can call in?”

“Yes, sir. And we have set up the White House online presence to accept input from only our cells. All else will have blocking signals. We will be able to announce unanimous assent with the attacks.”

“When is the attack set to begin?”

“We have coordinated the attack to begin at 9:00, right after your speech. Most people will be watching the news broadcast’s talking heads digesting what you’ve said. By the time anyone is alerted to what is happening, it will be over. We shall declare temporary Martial law to do clean up and pick up of any stragglers while simultaneously releasing the reports of unanimous agreement with the speech and release the figures to support it. By the time Congress is back in session on Monday, we should be rid of those heathen and be able to move forward with our Divine Imperative.”

“Do not call them heathen,” admonished the President. “Misguided and unwilling to change to accept a new worldview, perhaps, but heathen? We reserve that title for our military populations” He adjusted his hair. “And I think my idea of attacking on a Friday night is a brilliant thought. Their religion forbids them taking action back.”

“Soon we won’t need military,” his aide pointed out. “And I don’t know about the not fighting back on Friday night. Are you certain about that?”

“Fairly sure. Noel has always refused to meet with the President on his Sabbath. Also, there will be those for some time yet who think they can fight us. For them, it is useful to have military.” They had arrived in the office and the President sat behind his desk. The teleprompters were set up, his speech in place.

“Mr. President, lift your chin just a little, yes, that’s perfect, lighting is ready.”

“Speech is to begin in two minutes. Is the staff assembled?”

“Yes, all here, waiting.”

“Excellent. Dr. Martin, are you ready to give the two minute eulogy to Obsidian, murdered in the line of duty?”

“Ready sir.”

“I shall spend the first five minutes introducing each of the new cabinet members; each will respond with the most difficult task they have in front of them as planned. That will pave the way for me to show the need for the State of Emergency I am declaring. After that, I shall give the rest of the speech explaining the rationale for the destruction of the so called Icons of Science, and the need for the populace to accept the new state of affairs. When I complete the speech, I will sign the documents in front of me on camera, and that will be the signal for the attack to begin.” Everyone nodded.

“Sir, on the air in 4, 3, 2, 1…now.”

“My Fellow Americans, after the untimely death of our President,  at my swearing-in ceremony,  I promised to move swiftly in the cause of justice and freedom and in finding the culprits who have caused all this pain to our country. I regret to inform you that even within this White House, we found those who were not worthy of our trust, those who were sympathizers to the traitors and so we have dismissed them. Charges for their perfidy will come later. In the interests of transparency, I want you get acquainted with those who have replaced the previous Cabinet Members. First, allow me to introduce Dr. Eric Martin, our new Surgeon General. Dr. Martin?” The camera was on Eric as he spoke.

“Thank you, Mr. President. I wish first to give honor to a person who was recently killed in the line of duty. Obsidian Charles, a wonderful lady, a veteran in the last war, a private person who did so much for her country as a researcher, was murdered this last month. Her body was found and is being buried with honor next week. Our intelligence shows that the last people she was seen with were Jasmine and Zyanya Oberllyn. They had lunch together. Her body was found that night. She had been poisoned and shot in the head. Of course, there is nothing definitive yet, but I want us to all think of this young woman and the service she had given to our country. I have a picture of her here, taken while she was in the military, serving as a nurse.” he held up a 5 x 7 picture. “And I want to thank the President for entrusting me with the position of Surgeon General. Our first task will be to stop the famine by cooperating with the newest combined research division of the federal government.”

“We grieve with you and her family,” replied the President. The next Cabinet member is..” and he started to introduce the next person in line.

Back at the Retreat center, Kai started a countdown.  “Everyone is on line. Are you ready, President Mileston?”

“Absolutely. I am so looking forward to blowing that man out of the water.”

“OK, interruption and broadcast in three, two, one – go.”

Noel spoke into the camera. “Ladies and gentlemen, we regret needing to interrupt our Vice President’s premature announcement. I am pleased to present to you our  real President, Francis Mileston, alive and well and talking to you from Colorado.”

On the screen in people’s homes, there appeared a split image. On one side, the Vice President was introducing his new Cabinet. His words were now being streamed along the bottom. On the other side, the previously thought dead President Mileston spoke to the American people.

“My Fellow Americans, I know this is a strange and complex night. I want to go on record as saying I am not dead; there was an attempt on my life and on General Markham’s life; we are both recovered and doing fine. I have not given up the office of President of the United States. As you can see from the people I am with,” the camera panned out and General Markham appeared, “I am fine. So is General Markham and his family. My own family appears to be held in our  own home on house arrest. I order the local Police to take over and take my family back to the safety of the White House. I am ordering the Secret Service to come to the Colorado lab of the Oberllyn family and take me back to Washington at once, where I will take my duties up again as President and I will deal with the usurpers who have ensconced themselves in my place. I repeat, I am still the President.  The attempted coup d’état did not work.  My Cabinet has not been dismissed, and the Oberllyn families around the world did not commit any form of treason or violence. Their only crime was in saving the world instead of trying to save just themselves.”

At the oval Office, President Timothy and his people were horrified.

“Cut that transmission! Do it now!”

“We can’t. We’ve been trying.”

“Then start the attack now. I want those people blown off the face of the earth!”

“Our communications with other countries are being jammed. The military outside the Colorado Dome are refusing to fire because they think the President is inside.”

“Then blow up the Command center in the Sanctuary. There’s no President there. If we can’t kill the pit of vipers, we can cut off its’ head!”

Inside the Sanctuary dome, the male family members took their places outside of the lodge, lined up a hundred yards apart with sagesticks burning and their hands held up in prayer. The women and children were in the middle of the land, in the vale houses, hunkered down and caring for each other until it was over. The wolf pack patrolled around the houses. In stark contrast to the bombardment outside the dome, it was eerily calm inside, no breeze ruffled the trees, and other than the men praying, and the feeling of the ground rumbling under their feet, peace prevailed. Through the dome, they could see the flashing of the explosions as the military switched to ever increasingly heavier equipment, guns, then grenades, then hand fired missiles. They could see military personnel dropping from the ricocheting bullets. The military drew their lines back farther but continued the bombardment. The men continued their prayers. The sky was blotted out above the dome by dust and smoke and blood spots dripped down the sides. Kai looked at Noel and his brother Gabriel. All three had tears rolling down their cheeks. They shrugged, lifted their hands higher, and continued to pray.

 

 

I’m adding the next one from Rebooting the Oberllyn’s: enjoy!  Go get some hot cocoa or coffee, a couple biscuits or cookies and relax-you deserve it!  Thanks for reading….

 

Chapter 1

“My Fellow Americans,   now is the time to make the changes we need so desperately in the world  – certainly this is not our parent’s world. I doubt my Father during his time in office held any idea what would happen just a few years after he retired from this great office; I am certain he thought he had left a lasting legacy of prosperity and peace. Unfortunately, his work was undone by the last elections. We have a chance to bring America back, to make it great again.” The crowd erupted in cheers as the candidate finished his opening remarks to the first presidential debate.

“He talks like his dad,” remarked Violet as she sat in her chair crocheting a shawl. She was dressed in her usual quiet dark business suit, with a fresh flower pinned to her lapel. She’d picked it that morning from their balcony flower pots, a single sweetheart rose in pale pink, with its’ stem inserted in a tiny bud holder broach, so it wouldn’t wilt. Her maroon briefcase  lay on the coffee table, mocking the quiet. She figured she could get one more row done before Noel came out of the bedroom and the kids had to be given over to their nanny for the day.

“Not unusual. Our son Kai talks like me,” her husband Noel stated as he lay down his newspaper on the table. “I miss our boys.” Noel was tall, spare, dressed in a gray pinstriped suit, longish salt and pepper hair combed back behind his ears. His smoky slate eyes glanced at the TV as he sat his maroon briefcase on the coffee table next to his wife’s matching case.

“Who’s  idea was it for them to go into the military after college? And there’s more tea in the kitchen and scones.” He nodded as he headed for the kitchen.

“I know, I know. They just seemed so young to go into the family business and I had no idea they’d volunteer for this kind of duty. I figured with Kai having that doctorate in genetics and Gabriel his master’s in chemistry they’d be headed for some  nice research division at skunkworks. They’re too young to actually settle down into a life work yet. I mean, Kai is just 24 and Gabe’s 20.”

“You didn’t try to block them with the brass, and you could have,” sniffed his wife. “I just hope they come home in one piece.”

“We always did.”

“We had some awful scrapes though over the years.”

“Most of them with elected officials now. I’d almost give anything for a good firefight instead of another congressional committee.”

“So why didn’t you agree to be on the joint chiefs?”

Noel growled at his wife, “Are you out of your mind? How could I keep track of my guys from the sit room?”

“You’re in there often enough.”

“Yeah, but as a consultant, I have more freedom.”

“So where are the boys?”

Noel sighed. “Classified, my dear.”

“My security clearance is higher than yours.”

“Not with me, it’s not.”

“Not knowing is killing me.”

Noel sat in thought. “I’ll just say they aren’t in a warm place.”

“So not the Middle East then. That leaves only 31 major conflicts. And I know they did not go into the research division as I requested they try for-it’s almost like they had to go fight.”

“We have good, patriotic sons. They want to do their duty. It is a heritage and tradition in our family to serve in the military. And they will be back in just another two months. Then there is two more years and they’re out.”

“A lot can happen in two years.”

Just then, Jasmine, their daughter called. Her picture popped up on the television screen.

“Hey, mom, guess what? I’ve been offered an internship at OSU.” She smiled. Her long hair was braided over her shoulder, she had dimples and tiny freckles across her nose.

“Really?”

“They really liked my master’s thesis. I’m going to work directly under Dr. Franken.”

“Marvelous. You’ll find him a great guy.”

“Don’t tell me-he’s an old colleague.”

“Served in the same psych unit back before you were a twinkle in my eye. He’s fair but won’t accept shoddy work, so be on your toes.”

“Will do, just called to let you know. How’s Micah doing?”

“He’s learning to cope with his autism. I mean, remember he’s just 8.”

“Yeah, but those algorithms he was working on…”

“Kai did the same thing at his age. He is bright. He’s not untalented. He just can’t handle people very well. He can’t read social situations; he can’t do crowds, he gets anxious easily…”

“I know autism mom, believe me. I did my thesis on it, remember? And having a little brother with it helps with the research.”

“Yeah, I keep forgetting you’re whizzing through college. You’ll always be my little girl sleeping on grandpa’s big bed, wrapped in grandma’s quilt.” Jasmine smiled from the screen.

“And besides, Micah is learning to cope: he spends a lot of time dancing.”

“Yes, there’s that. He’s learning the warrior dance for the next powwow.”

“He looks so cute in that new regalia.”

“Had he not grown so fast, he’d still be in his old regalia. Cute is not how I would describe regalia in the colors he chose, but he is sweet. Spaced out, but sweet.”

“Take care. I’ll be home for spring council at the land.”

“Can’t wait to hug you, darling.” As she closed the viewer off, Violet sighed. “I wish the boys would call, or write or something.”

“They might not be able to do that. They’re doing some pretty classified stuff.”

“But we have a lot higher security clearance and there’s nothing they could possibly be doing that we haven’t read briefs on already.”

“No, dear. They can’t. Trust me. They can’t. I’ll see what I can learn at the office today.”

“And I’m off to argue budgets for Human Services. Sometimes, I think macro practice is just insane. I should have stayed on the state level with this stuff; the bureaucrats here are enough to make a sane person consider a coup.”

“But you do manage them so well.”

“There’s just so many children without the basic necessities and this should have been fixed by now.”

“I’ve heard the population growth is making that impossible, and the graying folks of America are not putting in enough taxes..”

“They’ve been saying that since we were kids. It’s just an excuse for the rich to not face the problem.”

“You’re sounding a little Marxist today. I’m more worried about Lilianna. Have you heard from her?”

“Not since her last sighting in Chicago. She got away from that rough crowd, though, and she seems to be settling into study at the community college.”

“I wonder how long it will be before she takes off again?”

“I hope she comes to spring council so we can at least see her.”

“It would be lovely if she just called,” her dad fretted. “She always was a rolling stone. Not at all like the rest of the kids. I just don’t know how to deal with her. I almost feel like she’s in more danger than the boys. I have to go. Good bye and don’t hold supper for me. We’ve got some stuff in the situation room to discuss.”

“I’ll put it in the oven. I’m checking Micah and Serena and being sure they’ll be ready for the nanny when she comes.”

“You want me to what?” exclaimed Catriona Oberllyn, newly wed to Gabriel Oberllyn. “Now listen. This honeymoon was supposed to be on the shores of Tahiti, or at least that’s what you implied.” Catriona stood with her hands on her hips, glaring at her husband from her five foot three height. Gabriel was six five and decidedly uneasy as he faced his diminutive bride. Her curly red hair hung in long ringlets down her back. Her exasperation with the latest suggestion was evident by her effort to not burst into tears. “I really am tired and I just want to settle into our little rabbit hole house and hug little Gabe and have a nice glass of wine and sit in the hot tub…”

 

“We did make it to French Polynesia, dearest,” began Gabe. “And besides, hasn’t it been fun?”

“Fun? Gabe, in six weeks, I have ridden on a motorcycle over bumpy back county roads, on a plane that had an engine quit, picked up from the ocean by a helicopter, trail-ridden horses, flown a hang glider at night, got two days on a cruise ship, hidden in the back of an army truck, and I thought the camel went over the top but really, you want me to jump out of an airplane at night now? Why can’t we just drive over to the retreat center? Or have someone come get us? It’s not that far. I don’t think it’s even twenty miles from here. Why do wee have to jump out of a freaking airplane?”

“Well, it appears there maybe snipers nearby and floating down under cover of darkness…”

“Snipers? For heaven’s sake, when did we acquire snipers?”

“Not certain but Cougar contacted me this morning and suggested it might not be a good idea to just show up at the center by the usual transport. I had thought a nice slow walk might be a good way to show up at the vale, but he says there are snipers. We’re meeting him today to talk to him. If there are snipers in the woods surrounding the retreat center, I might need to do a bit of distraction.”

“Can’t we just call the folks and ask?”

“Tried that. No answer. It’s odd. I packed up our stuff while you slept and mailed them home. So all we need do is get to an airport and Cougar says there is a nice little private one near here. But we don’t have to leave the area until 5 so thought you might like to spend the day shopping a bit; that nice Amish fabric store you so like is just a mile from here, and we can come back by way of the ceramics shop, have a nice lunch and meander out to the airport, sort of a slow, expensive, quiet ending to the honeymoon…”

“My paints and brushes were all lost in the general mess when I was made a slave.”

“I know, but I talked to mom and you know where we had the craft stuff set up before? She said there’s a kiln and she is supposed to have had dad set it up in the little shed next to the craft shop. So if you buy some green ware and some paints, maybe you can do some things when you get home. We can have them shipped from here. We’ll meet Cougar around 5 after we’ve had time to shop.” Cat sighed.

“Shopping is the first thing you’ve said that made sense. I will consider the rest of it. Let’s check out.”

Since Gabriel had taken their clothes and mailed them home that morning while she was still sleeping in, Cat put on the clothes Gabe had laid out for her. She rolled up the clothes she had slept in and stuffed them in the bottom of her daypack. They went to the hotel office, Gabe signed them out and they turned in the key. Both wore daypacks, mostly empty, to carry their purchases. It was a lovely fall day and they started out for a walk, taking their time, window shopping near the little town of Berlin.

“Man at the hotel said there was a little Amish sandwich shop right along this road…there it is, right up ahead. Let’s have brunch, then walk on down to the fabric store. You said you’d like to get something to remember the trip by. Mom does that, and come to think of it, so does Jasmine.”

“I got a piece of Polynesian fabric in Tahiti, remember? But I need to put all the fabrics together to make a quilt of our honeymoon. Of course, the almost kidnapping by the goons in California and the almost being blown up event in Kansas and the cruise ship being taken apart by the storm will make it hard to find a pattern that brings it all together.”

“Guess there were some strange stuff I hadn’t figured on when I planned this little excursion and I am sorry about that. Still, our nights in the hut on top the mountain were nice.”

“Oh, the views on top those mountains were incredible. And that crazy raccoon that woke us up the first night; left all those little footprints on the boulders! I thought we had a bear!” Gabe laughed.

“He was a caution. We hadn’t expected the Ice Lady to have any minions left, but those freaks in California took the cake.”

“Did we get the camels back to the San Diego zoo? First time I ever escaped by dromedary.”

“Well, they’re big, strong, fast and pretty intimidating. Messed up their little kidnapping plot pretty efficiently. “

“How did you know the camels were tame enough to ride?”

“They give kiddie rides, right? How untamed can they be?”

“But technically we stole the camels.”

“No, we borrowed them. I know the keeper. He’s a brother. When he saw the guy with the guns, he knew there was trouble, so he let me borrow them. I shall remember with great fondness the look of abject panic on those guys’ faces as we charged them on camel back…and that glow in the dark spray paint we put on the front of them made it really look cool in the dark of the zoo footpaths. I made sure the animals got back to the zoo none the worse for wear and the paint washed out easily. After all, they are cousins to mom’s alpacas…how dangerous could they be?” Cat laughed as she shook her head.

“And I suppose this is all classified so I won’t even be able to tell our eventual grand kids about my honeymoon with the most romantically adorable, dangerous person on earth… But as for the fabric, I got some camel fabric for that part of the excursion. And the cruise ship had fabric with ships on so I got some of that. I have some mountain fabric. I have some sea fabric, and some with grass huts on it. I missed getting anything for Kansas, but I don’t know that I’ll find explosive jeeps fabric so may have to do a construction of an explosion.”

“Construction?”

“Yes, sort of an applique of yellow and orange-red flames over a jeep.”

“Sounds interesting. Have to admit I wasn’t expecting the jeep to explode like that. More minions I guess. So what fabric do you need?”

“I need something that denotes the love through all the mess.”

Gabe looked thoughtful. “So what color is love?”

“I’ll know it when I see it.”

“Well, If Zinck’s doesn’t have it, I don’t know who else would. They’ve got gobs of fabric. Mom loves that place.”

“Well, at least it ought to be quiet. Still, that Amish bed and breakfast place we stayed at last night was nice. Maybe I’ll get Mom some fabric too.”

“Well, you get whatever you need, darling. You’ve been a really good sport about this really strange, not quite as planned honeymoon.”

“Zyanya and Jasmine told me there’d be times like this. I have to admit I didn’t expect them on my honeymoon. It will be one to talk to the grandkids about if we live long enough to have grandkids and get it all declassified. I hope little Gabe likes his presents.”

“Oh, pretty sure that won’t be a problem.”

“I miss that little guy.” she paused. “And his sister for always.” Gabriel put his arm over her back as he nodded and pulled her closer.

“Yeah, me too. Sure hope the retreat is still standing when we get home. We had an awful lot of clean-up to do on this mess, and sorry it impacted us so much. Kai and dad were busting their backs too.”

“Is it over? And wonder how the kids are doing.”

“Gabe and Kai’s boys are getting really rambunctious. Mom was supposed to see if we could get their tutor back.”

“It’s going to be quite a change to have all the slaves gone, and just family and Amish workers there. I think I’m going to miss all the workers. I actually made some good friends while serving.”

“I hope they found us kind to work for. Here’s the fabric shop. Your daypack empty enough to hold it all?”

“You have a pack too.”

“There is that. I can move the gun to my shoulder holster and the knives to my boots…”

“Gabe! You’re packing?”

“After the last three weeks, I’d go paranoid if I didn’t. I just want to get home and to my own little hideaway in the vale among people who aren’t putting targets on our backs…” They entered the fabric store and spent a couple hours picking and choosing, having fabric cut and getting notions. As they left, Gabe’s phone rang.

“Really? Great to hear your voice again. Is everything OK there? Oh? I’ve got to meet Cougar in a couple hours and catch a flight to night drop in to avoid the snipers. No snipers? Really? But he sounded so sure. Sensors all up, nothing there, hmm? I’m supposed to meet him at 01600 hours at the airport. Honestly? That will be interesting. OK, thanks for the warning.”

“Was that your mom?”

“Dad. There may be more of a problem than we thought, but looks like no parachuting tonight.”

“Well, that’s good news. How much greenware can we buy? He’s the shop and I hope they can ship it.”

“Can we pack it in the fabric?”

“It will shatter. Let’s see if they deliver it to the retreat center.”

“Sure hope they put shelves up in the craft shed… Let’s go see what they have.” They browsed, chose and wandered back out, stopped to grab a snack at a little Amish bakery. Gabe kept his eyes open but saw nothing except shoppers, tourists and other wanderers. After stopping at a small grocery for sodas, they headed out cross lots towards the private airport Cougar had suggested as a meeting place.

As they passed a stand of trees by a field, Cougar stepped out of the brush.

“Brother, over here, quickly.”

Gabe walked over, keeping Cat behind him.

“Yoh, brother. I see you. How goes it?”

“Plans have changed. The airport is no longer safe. You are to take this and go meet Kai at the ancestral lands.” He pointed to a small flat area in the field. There was nothing parked there.

Cat looked at Gabe. “Gabe, the emperor’s new clothes?”

“Not sure I can drive one of those,” started Gabe.

“It’s just a ground effect machine like the southern swamp folk use. It’s very quiet.” He went over and appeared to be adjusting something. “There. Now this is forward, this is reverse, pretty much like a dune buggy.”

“I see. Has it got cloaking ability?”

“What? No, it’s just quiet.” Cat looked decidedly uncomfortable, looking first at the ground then at Cougar.

“Cougar, um, friend, have you maybe been hitting the juice?”

“What? No, of course not. Actually, I’ve been working out and sticking to Adam’s ale. Now get in, rev it up and go up the road about 2 miles, take a left at the old logging road and be careful. Once on the logging road, be aware you’re in dangerous territory. It’s about six miles to the drop point from there. What was that?”

Cougar suddenly spun around, pulled his knife and ran into the woods. He came back a moment later. “Just a deer. Can’t be too careful. I got hit this morning,” he pointed to his arm, which had a bandage tied around it.

“You want me to look at that? I have my medicine pouch in my bag.”

“Won’t stop bleeding, must have used an anticoagulant on the bullet.”

Cougar seemed to sway a moment. Gabe walked over and untied the bandage. Under it the skin was smooth and unbroken and there was no sign of blood.

Gabe motioned Cat over who looked surprised. “Yeah, that’s not good, Cougar.” she said, looking up at Gabe.

“You have a camp anywhere you can lie down for a bit? Seems like the bullet went right through.”

“I have to keep moving.” Just then, Kai’s familiar hummer pulled up. The bright roses painted on the side made it a little more spectacular than perhaps was needed, but did keep him from losing it, as he often said.

“Yoh, the family!” he called as he left the vehicle. “I’ve come to fetch you home. Long walk from here.” Cougar squinted at Kai. “Do I know this brother?” he shook his head. “What’s that buzzing?”

Gabe took his shoulders gently, then pinched his neck. Cougar fell into his arms.

“Kai, he’s as out of it as a jaybird on fermented berries but he doesn’t smell like alcohol.”

“He thinks he was shot and you just walked through the invisible swamp boat,” declared Cat.

“Really? He must have drunk the water.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’ll explain at the retreat. Let’s load you all up and get you home. We’ll strap down Cougar in case he wakes up. Best disarm him as well.”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Last week’s chapter  to share- book four of the entire trilogy is also book one of the Present history: is that confusing, hope not.  remember, this nine volume set is divided into past history, present history and future history. Here then is chapter one of The Infant Conspiracy.

Chapter 1 of The Infant Conspiracy

Kai Dante Oberllyn hid in the deep construction ditch by the road as he decided what to do next.  He hadn’t expected there to be quite so many enforcers out at this time of day.  There were too many police, too many black vans and all of them seeming to be stopping to ask him where he was off to, as if it should bother them that he was out walking with a fishing pole, a pack and a dog.  Oh, and this parrot-can’t forget the parrot-has to be some city injunction or rule about walking around with an African grey on your shoulder… He’d been walking for an hour, gotten not even to the edge of the city, and he really wanted to be out by nightfall.

It was now dusk; there was at least 8 miles to go until he would feel like he could breathe.  I just can’t believe this has happened.  I thought we were safe.  We had the all clear for the baby, and my work for the government ought to have kept this from happening.

Just this morning he’d had a feeling something was going to not be good today-no reason he could see, so he’d shaken it off, told Zyanya to be careful, call him at lunch, he’d see her and they’d go for their usual bike ride.  When she hadn’t called at noon, he had come home early from work and realized something was terribly wrong.   His wife wasn’t home: since her fifth month, she’d been home.  Nowadays, the law said pregnant women had to quit work in their fourth month to ensure the health of the child.    He and Zyanya had been out on vacation during her fourth month, so when they returned, she was told to go home.  It wasn’t unusual at all: but Zyanya had hoped her pregnancy hadn’t been reported yet so they’d be able to save more of a financial buffer.  However, she’d been greeted on her first day back with a smile, a congratulations and a staff party telling her to enjoy her time off; they’d see her in six months and they all wanted to see pics just as she was delivered.  She was a little miffed about it but had spent the time getting the nursery ready. 

Zyanya was a fanatic about her house being clean but the place looked as though it had been turned upside down.  He knew she had been taken.  So many women were taken now; generally in their second trimester for mercy delivery and then were returned, told their child had had defects and been terminated.  However her last appointment had just been last week: the baby was normal, there was no reason for his child to be taken.    He remembered at Christmas when they’d told mom and dad about the baby and mom had wanted her to stay with them.  Mom said she felt something bad was coming down, she wouldn’t elaborate,  just said living in the city wasn’t going to be safe soon.  He’d laughed it off, told her they’d be back when spring came.  After all, he had to work to support three now.  

“Son, it’s getting bad, try to get out before she has to quit work.  We have room for you both at Sanctuary,” mom began.

“Mom, I want Zyanya to be close to good doctors.  That old retreat center you inherited from Aimee is miles out in the country.  We could get stranded out there.”  

“Kai, promise me that if you get even a whiff of trouble, you’ll leave at once.  Just lock the doors and come.  We’ll have a place waiting for you.”

Kai promised just to make mom happy.  Now he was not so sure he shouldn’t have stayed. Zyanya might still be safe at Sanctuary had he gone then.  Second guessing will kill me yet…

He watched as a car passed: he wanted to get out of city limits before dark.  It seemed clear so he stood up and headed out of Euclid.

As he’d gone through his home looking for clues, he pondered the last few days. His security rank at the lab was high enough that he was seldom questioned about anything.  He’d created so many patents for the company and the grants he’d gotten for the University that he thought they couldn’t be touched.  Obviously he was wrong. Somehow, this didn’t seem like an average harvest of a mutant child. They’d been looking for something.  None of his guns or knife collection were touched:  Zyanya’s jewelry was all there so it wasn’t a robbery.  He’d methodically went over his house, top to bottom. Zyanya would have left something for him to find: the first hint was some of her clothes were gone.  He found her wedding band on the bed and paused – she never took it off. He picked it up. He’d found her cell on the dresser, and her wallet with her identity card in it.  She legally couldn’t go anywhere without those, yet here they were. Going into the nursery, he’d noticed Zyanya had had time to rearrange the changing table.  She’d been allowed to take some baby things with her, yet  she’d rolled up two baby blankets into a circle with a line through it-she wanted to make sure he got the message.  She’d been taken, and he was not to come.

 He’d sat down and considered his options.  Normally, he and Zyanya biked everywhere, using the car rarely as he knew it had a readable GPS chip in it.  It was too traceable.  If he hiked, he could make it to his folks in four days.  He had no doubt he was being watched. There was no real privacy these days.  He had no idea why Zyanya might have been taken.  Perhaps this was the government’s way of making him take on the genetics project he was being pressured into, or just as likely to get him not to take it on.

  What surprised him was the suddenness of Zyanya’s disappearance.  He’d kissed her good bye this morning, told her not to overdo anything, suggested they’d go to Charlie’s for supper.  She’d intended to go to the fabric store and buy some fabric for another baby quilt.   She’d designed it last night and nothing in that monster stash of hers was the right color.  It had to be perfect for this first baby. And when he got home, she was gone, and the house was by her standards, a mess. 

 He’d went to the closet where he and Zyanya had put their hiking packs – they had them stashed in case another riot started like the one last year – with dried food, water tablets, basic survival things but Zyanya’s was gone.  His was emptied but nothing taken. He repacked it and found a note from Zyanya.

“Go home. Red situation. Three.” 

They had a saying-he’d say three-for three little words-she’d say “2” for me, too.   They had codes at work; a code blue meant something not legal going down, like someone getting into confidential files.  Code green; bad but not dangerous. Code red-unknown danger, get out of the line of fire…what could have made a Code Red in his house?

He’d looked over the land line and found the bug almost immediately.  He’d looked over his pack and found another one.   He’d went through the pack and found a third.  He’d repacked it yet again, added some portable weaponry and his hunting and fishing license.  He’d added a fishing pole and some water bottles and went outside.

His neighbor was in the yard, working in his flower beds.

“You going fishing, Kai?”

“Got a couple days off work, Erick, thought I’d see if I could catch some Erie cats.”

“Sounds good-catch one for me.  Want me to watch your dog?”

“I’ll put her on her outside run and the food on the back porch, if you could be sure she has water?”

“Why not I just bring her over here?  She’d be safer at night inside.”

“If it’s not a bother…”

“Zyanya meeting you?”

“Not that I know of. Why do you ask?”

“Saw her get into a black van today with a couple other ladies, carrying a suitcase.  It wasn’t a mercy van. It wasn’t marked except it had government plates. Is everything ok?”

“She’d have called me if it wasn’t.  I left her a note.  Let me get the dog food.”

He went inside and got Bear’s food dish and a Ziploc of kibble.  Bear was a happy, noisy pom and he hesitated about taking him along.  He didn’t really know how long he’d be gone.  He put Grey, the African grey parrot, in his harness and put him on his shoulder.  He thought about it, and checked Bear’s collar: sure enough, another bug. 

He’d taken it off and went outside with some cat food.  The old stray tabby that haunted the neighborhood showed up and purred while he clipped the bug to a flea collar on her neck. He went in, locked up and put the dry kibble in his pack.  He’d added some Nutriberries and pellets for Grey and went outside, locking the front door.

“I decided to take Bear along, he’d like a good walk.  Thanks for offering.  When Zyanya gets back, can you tell her I went fishing by the sanctuary lighthouse and will be back in a couple of days? I suspect she just went shopping with friends.”

“Going north then to fish? Sure enough, I’ll keep an eye out for her.”

Kai didn’t know if could actually trust his neighbors.  The old man seemed nice enough but always seemed to be outside when they went out and he wasn’t family and he wasn’t tribal.  Kai went to the end of the street, crossed the road and cut down south. He ought to be home in 4 days.  He’d have to stick to side roads-interstates could be dangerous.  He prayed his wife would be safe wherever she was.  He prayed for his unborn son, and he prayed for a safe journey.  He lengthened his stride into the long lope that ate up the miles when he and Zyanya went hiking.  It was 97 miles to Mt. Vernon and then he’d have to locate his folks. He’d never actually been out to the retreat center.  Once he cleared Euclid, he was less cautious and hid less and he made better time.

 

 

First book of the entire series, to get you used to the family in all it’s generations….Chapter 1 of The Oberllyn’s Overland

“Well, mother, it’s just about all I can stand,” remarked Elijah Oberllyn as he stepped into the kitchen.

“What happened this time?” answered his wife Elizabeth.  She was busy rolling out the dough for homemade noodles on the wooden kitchen table.  Behind her on the woodstove was bubbling a rich broth to cook them in.  From the oven came the wonderful smell of peach pie baking, and warm bread stood on the counter, covered in tea towels.  Elizabeth was short woman, with her long black hair, just starting to show grey, done up in a bun at the back of her neck, wearing a solid brown apron over a calico brown dress, and she looked capable of taking on the entire army and feeding it at once.  Bustling as she rolled out the dough, she reminded you of a wren on a branch, swaying and hopping from task to task, chirping merrily in between.

“That neighbor Jacks,” began her husband.  “He’s let his cattle get into my wheat again.  He says he’ll mend the fence but this time he said it was my fault because if I hadn’t planted wheat, his cows wouldn’t have been tempted, and he is talking about suing me for tempting his cows!”

His wife looked at him and finally said, “You’re serious?  He is going to try suing you for tempting cows?”  She started to laugh out loud but hushed herself when she saw how angry her husband was.  “It appears to me the only person to benefit from that would be the lawyers.”

“He wants my field to add to his farm.  He won’t mend the fences on purpose.  He’s expecting me to do his fence. He’s doing the same thing to our son.  He offered him a pittance for his orchard, and when Noah wouldn’t sell, he started rumors about him being half crazed since the church kicked him out during the great Disappointment and not being right so some of our own neighbors are questioning us for having our own services and I simply am not sure what to do.   It’s bad enough he picks on us but really, taking off after my son is just about all I can stand.”  Elizabeth considered for a moment, then said quietly to her husband,

“It’s not much of a witness to be fighting with the neighbors. Joe wants to go to California to hunt for gold, but Catherine is not about to drop everything for a wild goose chase.  Noah seems content here.  I haven’t spoken to Mary or Emily about it.  I suppose we could consider moving but I hate the idea.”

“We’ve lived here peaceably with our neighbors for years.  It’s only since those Jacks moved into their uncle’s farm we’ve had trouble.  Our land is fertile enough, but when Jacks heard we’d tried to buy his uncle’s farm once, he took a dislike to us.  And now look.” Her husband poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down, blowing on it to cool it, then looking at is wife with a pensive expression on his face.

“California is a right far piece to go,” he started. 

 “Elijah!  I was only giving you ideas from different members of the family, not saying I wanted to go.” His wife turned with her hands on her hips, a distinctly displeased look on her face.

“It’s a good idea and I might have to look into it.  I don’t want to be run out of town on a rail and that’s just what that Jack’s fellow is going to try and make happen. Besides, it’s getting too crowded around here. It wasn’t so bad before that train got put in.  Now there are more people coming to buy land and settle in and it’s just too crowded.”

“Well, you need to pray about anything before you go off half-cocked,” she said firmly. “Now go do your chores whilst I finish up supper.”

Elijah went back to his barn and finished cleaning out stalls.  His wife’s jerseys would be up soon for milking.  They’d cost him a pretty penny when he’d gotten them, but had proven to be just what Ma’s dairy business needed.  They gave rich milk, it made wonderful cheese and butter, and their farm was getting known for its good fruit and cheese.  Until that neighbor had moved here, everything had been going along fine.  Joe had a good thought, though.  Out west, there was plenty of land and it wasn’t crowded.  They could worship as they pleased on Saturday and not be accused of being Judaizers or crazy or anything else.  He had two more children at home and there’d be no land to give them as a farm of their own if he couldn’t buy up some land.  When his son Nathaniel got married, it was a good thing he was a doctor who hadn’t time to farm.  The farm was just too divided up as it was, what with Emily and her brood, and Catherine and David over by the creek running the small fruits part of the family business. Miriam’s man Joe being a lawyer had helped; they’d just needed land for a house and little garden for themselves, no real farming involved.  Noah and Mary had taken over the fruit orchard and were making a good go of it, and he and Elizabeth still had enough for him to raise the best horses and oxen in the county and keep mom’s dairy running, but they needed more land.  It just couldn’t be divided anymore and there was Thomas and Johanna yet to be grown and have a part. He supposed Thomas could inherit their home but where would Joanna go?  And that Jacks trying to force them to sell land to him they didn’t have to spare, he and his dirty tricks.  Hard to imagine what he’d try next.  Maybe Joe had a good idea.  I believe I’ll just visit the land office and find out about land west of here.  It surely wouldn’t be bad to have a look.

He came out of the barn and stretched.  His son Thomas came dashing up; that child never went anywhere at a walk, always running.  “Pa, you got a letter.”

“Oh? Thank you, son.  Let’s have a look.”  He took the letter from him.  It was an official looking document from the US government.

“Haven’t seen one of these since well before you were born.”

“Was that back when you and mama lived in New York?”

“Yes, pretty much when you were a baby, before grandpa died and we inherited the farm.”

“Wonder what they want?”

“Whatever it is, your mom and I will deal with it.  You’re supposed to have seen to the goats.”

“Done.  You know the mom angora is going to give birth any day?” he grinned. “Can’t wait to see them. I love the way the babies sprong around.”

“Well, you keep a good eye on her.”

Thomas hesitated. “Pa, I saw Mike Jacks over looking at mom’s sheep.  He had this funny look on his face?”

“Funny like how?”

“He said his dad doesn’t like sheep, they ruin the field.  I told him it wasn’t his field so not to worry about it.  He said something under his breath and walked off.  I don’t like him much, pa.  I was hoping for a friend that would move in that I could do stuff with but I don’t think he likes me much.”

“Don’t worry about him.  There are other folks to be with that don’t cause such aggravation.  Just be civil and leave him be.”

“Yes, pa.  He made Johanna cry. Oh!” he covered his mouth.

“What?” 

“I wasn’t supposed to tell you.”

“Stop right now.  You don’t keep secrets from me, ever. When was Johanna crying?”

“She went out to get the cows yesterday and Ellie Jacks was waiting and called her a cowgirl and teased her about her hair.”

“What’s wrong with her hair?”

“It’s sort of red, I guess.  And Johanna was crying when she helped with milking.”

“I see.  And you weren’t supposed to tell me?”

“Johanna said we were having enough trouble with this family and God wouldn’t want her complaining about it.”

“I see.  Well, you just let me handle this.  Must be about time for supper, yes, there’s mom ringing the dinner bell.  Let’s go wash up.”

Dad and Thomas washed up at the pump and went inside, hanging their hats by the door.

“That smell sure chirks a fellow up, ma.  Can’t wait to have some of your chicken and noodles.” Elizabeth smiled.

“Johanna, would you mind getting the field tea I made?  I put it in the springhouse to get cold.”  Johanna nodded and went out the door, coming back with a pitcher covered in a towel.

“ Mom,” she frowned.  “I don’t think we ought to use the tea.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Somebody’s been in the spring house.”

“Really?  How do you know?”

“The cheese’s are all on the floor and the milk’s spilt.”  Mom and dad rushed outside to the spring house where they found rounds of cheese scattered all over, the five gallon milk cans flipped, polluting the spring run over.  They looked around at the damage.  Mom shook her head.

“I hate to think we’d have to put guards on our home, but this is outrageous.”

“If we tell the sheriff,” began Thomas.

“He’ll say it could’ve been done by animals, that someone left the door open. There’s no proof.”

“Why don’t we make a list of what’s going on at least and ask him to watch out with us?” asked mom.

“We can do that.  Are the cheeses ruined?”

“The shelves are broken down.”

“Let’s see what we can do. Thomas – call Mick and Mike.”  Mike and Mick were the family mastiffs who spent most the time in the back field with the cattle.  The dogs came to Thomas’s call.  “We’d best keep the dogs close to the yard or at least one of them here.”

“Then who’s going to protect the cattle from coyotes?” asked Thomas.

“It’s not the four legged ones I am worried about just now.”

Thomas and dad reset the shelves, and they helped mom wipe off the wax coated cheeses and set them back.  While they did that, mom set the milk cans up and opened the overflow wide so the water could drain out and run clear.  Finally they stood up and went out.  Dad shut the door to the spring house and set Mike by the door, telling him to stay.  He took Mick to the barn and set him there and they went inside to eat.

The meal was a quiet one.  Ma and Pa were tight-lipped and Thomas and Johanna were quiet as they passed food around.

“I don’t care what they say.  Johanna, you have got the prettiest hair in the world.  It shines in the sun like gold and when you wear your green Sabbath dress I have the prettiest sister in the county.”

Johanna looked surprised and her eyes welled up.  “Thank you,” she whispered.

“I agree with your brother.  I am not quite sure why he said it but thank you for noticing,” said Pa.  Mom and Johanna just looked confused.  Suddenly, there was a loud meow from out back.

“What on earth!” said Ma, getting up.  She went out back where a strange collie dog had her pet cat up a tree.  She took a switch and chased it off.  The dog ran to the end of the driveway where Mike Jacks was watching.

“Lady, you’d better not hurt my dog,” he yelled at her.

“Then keep him on your own land,” she replied.

“Well, this is going to be our land when my dad gets done with you,” he yelled back.  “You’d better not let those sheep overgraze it.”  Mom picked up a bigger switch and headed down the drive purposefully in his direction and he ran off.  A passing wagon stopped.

“You all right, Mrs. Oberllyn?” said the farmer driving.

“I don’t know, Zeb.  We got neighbor problems. My spring house was attacked, they insult us and we just never did them any harm.”

“I heard about some of that.  Mr. Jacks was in the general store last week boasting he’d have your land soon.  I don’t know what he was talking about but I was coming to tell your husband if he was going to sell out, to call on me.  I could use good fields like yours.”

“I thank you, and I’ll tell Elijah, but we have no interest in leaving our farm.  It’s been in the family for over a hundred years.”

“Thought he might be blowing smoke.  But still, keep me and my sons in mind.  I’d rather buy from you than Jacks. Oh, and best be careful.  There‘s some weird rumors going around.”  Elijah was on the porch and waved to his neighbor.

“Rumors?”

“I’m sure they ain’t true. You say howdy to Elijah for me.”

“Thank you, Zeb.  By the way, did he happen to say why he wanted my land?”

“He said it was the best land in the district and I have to agree with him.  Your orchards make the best fruit, your cheese is wonderful and you’ve always been real supportive of our community. Shame to have you leave.”

“Aren’t planning on leaving.”

“I hope not.  Well, I best be getting home.  You remember my offer.”

Mom went to the back where Thomas had climbed the tree and gotten her Maine coon cat down.  He jumped into her arms.  “There, there, dear.  I’m sorry he flustered you so.  Shh, now. Shhh.”

“Mom, why do they hate us?”

“I have no idea.”  They went inside.  “We’ve never had this much trouble.”

“Mom, did you know Jacks have got slaves?”

“What?”

“They have three of them.  I saw them out working his field.  And Mr. Jacks carries a whip.”

“I see.  Well, the good Lord never wanted slavery.  We earn our needs by the works of our hands, not the sweat of others.  Let’s try to finish supper.  It’s most likely all cold by now.”