Chapter 1

“Lucan, I cannot express my thanks that you would come to this meeting of the clans during your matrimonial year.  By all rights, you ought to be home with Amanda getting better acquainted.” The older man dressed in the clan colors of Elphinstone spoke gravely as he looked at the men gathered around the long mahogany table that was said to have come from the Olden time, before the Great War. Lucan stood and addressed the clansmen.

“I take my responsibilities to my wife seriously, sire,” Lucan replied. “However, she and I both take our duty to the clans in even higher respect.  We plan on growing old together; that can’t happen if we are under attack constantly by such as we are discussing.”

The other clan heads nodded. 

“Truly said.” answered the Headman. “ So let me bring all of you the latest information I have.  Most of the clans are at peace; true, there are the usual small brush fire incidents on borders, no one expects those to go away; after all, we will always have young men, they get a little hot headed, they have to blow off steam.  As long as there are elders, we will talk those out.  However, there is a disturbing occurrence that started two months ago, while you were busy rebuilding Clan Falconer.  It appears someone or something is targeting clan headman’s families.  So far, one wife, five children have been kidnapped, always at evening, always in total quiet, nothing left behind to even show signs of struggle, and there are no ransom demands, no notes, nothing.  There is no pattern to the kidnappings. It is as if they have walked through a door and gone missing.” There were concerned murmurs.

“I’ve heard,” said the head of Clan Whiteclaw, “That the Southern clans have also lost family members. I think we need to speak with them as well and see how large this problem might be.”

Interrupting the meeting, the large door at the end of the hall swung open, there was a trumpet blast and with a decisive, swaggering step, David the King of the United Clans of America marched in, followed by his advisers and bodyguard. The guards placed themselves inside and outside the door, by each window and directly behind the King as he marched to the head of the table. Clan Kincaid’s chief stood up and gave him the head place.

“Your majesty!  We had no idea you were coming, no preparation has been made for your stay,” sputtered the clan head of Kincaid.

“None is needed.  I heard you were assembling about this grave threat and that there would be personages from most of the tribes here. I am on pilgrimage and I needed to speak with you all, so I hustled my hostelry folks to get me here in time to greet you. There is a grave threat to us all.” He sat down in the proffered seat. His men  stood behind him and his advisers stood on either side.

“I know you are talking about the kidnappings.  I wanted to let you know what it appears like from the capitol of the United Lands.  You have had six kidnapping in this region: I am here to report there have been in actuality fourteen kidnappings; the clan heads are meeting to your south and west on the same problem and have called upon me to give guidance in this difficulty.”  The men murmured at the table. ” It appears it is always the headsman’s  family members being taken. I understand you have had a wife as well?  She seems to be the only adult taken so far from this region, is this not true? In the east it has been one wife, one infant, in two different families.”

“Sire, she was taken with her newborn babe.” answered the headman from clan Armstrong.

“Then the kidnappers may have needed her to care for the babe; that is actually hopeful.  They may be keeping them alive.  Has anyone received any kind of note or demand?  No?  Neither have the other families.  The children range in age from the newborn you just reported to 18.”

“Do we have any idea where they are being taken or by whom?” asked the head of Clan MacLeod.

“None of the scrying I have done seems to have effect; as soon as the children cross the clan lands boundaries they disappear. While they are on the land, they appear to be horseback; as soon as the territorial boundary comes, they disappear.” spoke a voice.  Allytha seemed to float into the room, she moved so smoothly.  Sister to Lucan, she had all the skills of a sorceress, but with a heart as pure as mountain spring water. “I have spoken to other wise people, it is the same in their clans.”

“Well, if you can’t locate them, how can we?” asked Lucan’s brother Samuel.

Nichaelmas entered the room. “If his Majesty will tell me the other clan’s names and when they were taken, it is possible there will be pattern we can follow.”

“My son, Noasta, will be here this evening with all the information we have to date compiled.  The is one more bit of business I must attend to before I leave. Lucan, please stand.” The king left his place and came to stand beside the young man.

“By virtue of the fact that you saved the kingdom from your brothers and have acquitted yourself in honor as a wise man, it was decided in High Council to combine your holdings Falcon hold and Hightower, to be combined under the name of Falconcrest. It was further decided that since the title of knight was already conferred upon you, that it is acceptable to admit you into the rank of Lord. You will help with the governance and protection of our Kingdom, and your lands will be free of taxes for the next five years. All will be done to establish you as a Lord, and you will join us at the House of Lords Spring and Fall  Councils to assist in the running of this Kingdom we all love. What say you, Lucan?”

Lucan took a deep breath.  “I am most honored by your confidence in me, considering three years ago I was just the youngest brother in a family of seven brothers. I only aspired to be a goof farmer back then.”

“destiny and the Creator had another idea,” smiled the   King.  “Much has changed in three years. You and your brothers have proven yourselves in battle and peace to be leaders. Michael, Samuel and Francis, come forward. You are to be knighted for your services and serve here in Falconcrest. A manor home will be built for each of  you, close enough to protect and lead the forces in all the Northern clans yet mainly based here. David, brother of Lucan, you are advanced from simple healer, which you no longer are, to the full rank of Medical Lord. You will be in charge of all the clinics and healers within the Northern clans. Since the old Lord Ravenheart died, you are to take his place. You bear the title Knight Doctor. Kneel, all of you.”

The King took his sword and laid it on the heads of each of the four men in turn. He then gave each man a small casket, holding their pay for the first year in gold. He gave each man his writ of office and title in a precious wooden reliquary, and he gave each man a small jewel box with their official chain and key to the kingdom, along with some jewelry for their wives showing their rank.  He tuned to the other men.

“Now, goodmen of the Kingdom, what say you?”

The clansmen cheered and congratulated their new leaders. The King smiled.

“Then I expect you to take their word and commands as coming from your King. Help them in this quest to stop these monsters, whomever they are, that are stealing our children. This is my command. Now I must leave now to meet with Hadrian. Then I am off to visit the Shrine of St. Mark and ask the good brothers to pray for us in our time of need.”

He stood as did all the rest of the clansmen. He greeted each man in turn, clasping their arms in solidarity as was the custom of liege Lords. He bowed to the ladies present and marched out.

The clansmen looked at each other and sat down.

“That settles it in my  mind,” declared Jonah, head of Clan Noman.  “Lucan, with all your Magikal comrades and connections, we want you to head up the search for our children. We will all provide whatever help you need.   My daughter Anna, just seven, was one of those taken. Her mother is beside herself and I find I do not think clearly as well.  I look at her place at the table and cannot eat.  She is our only child.”

“I would ask also,” Illia, headsman of clan Macilroy spoke up.  “My son Jacob, a good lad, just entering training to become a knight, is gone.  He went to bed and next morning did not come to breakfast.  His bed was neatly made, his room closed when we went upstairs to find out where he might be.  An open book lay on his desk where he had been reading before bed as was his habit.  He did not take cloak or boots.  Nothing was disturbed, as if he had never been there.  Yet from the open book, I know he was.  He is my eldest, my heir, just age 11 and he must be found.”

Lucan sat with his head bowed.

“And meanwhile, Falconcrest will go without a head to care for them, and my dear wife will be alone again.  Yet I do not begrudge this fight and she will not.  Brothers, will you join me in this quest?”

Samuel, Michael, David, and Francis, his brothers, all agreed with a nod of their heads. 

He turned to his sister Allytha.  “And will the wise ones help us in the quest?”

“I speak for them all,” declared his sister.  “We will not stop until this has come to full justice.”  The wizards present nodded in agreement. 

“And is the church behind us?” he asked of the clergyman present. Father Osgood nodded. “We can pray, we can watch and people talk to us. We will pass what we find at once.”

Dovic, fire wizard, closed his eyes and then opened them. “Hadrian says he is expecting the king and offers the support of the Wizardtown Aisenbald to the quest.  He says Godspeed.  You need to go to the slaver’s town, Myantha, and look for one named Lyla, indentured at the inn.  Free her and bring her back to Falconcrest.  She will be invaluable later.”

“I shall go provision myself from your larder, if that is acceptable, and leave as soon as I have gotten the  information from the king’s son, perhaps as early as at dawn,” said Lucan.  The clan head nodded. “God be with you all.  Keep us in prayer.  I may call yet on some of you to help me.”

“We all pledge to help in all ways we can,” intoned the clansmen.

“Then we will provision as we pass your lands. If we need more, we shall ask.”

Lucan stood, as did the others. “I shall send word to my wife.” 

  “Then we shall go home and wait your summons for help.  And we will all send a man and a wench to Falconcrest to aid your wife in taking care of the house while you are absent.”

“I have no need of hostages to keep me to the task,” Lucan said stiffly.

“Not hostages, they can come and go, but they will stay and help her. She will have need of those of her people around her before it is over,” said his sister. “I should suggest the couples from Clans Kincaid, MacLeod, Macilroy go to Hightower. Your people are excellent with animals and the flocks are there this time of year. Those from clans Noman, Elphinestone, and Whiteclaw go to Falconcrest. She is more in need of fighters there, and women who have skill with herbs.”

“You think this evil will turn into a war?” asked Lucan.

“Anything fights if cornered, and we will corner it.”

 “Then have the king’s son come to me as soon as he has arrived. My sister and I and my brothers have much to plan and we shall retire to our tents to do so.”

 

Here’s just a small part of the newest work:

 

Introduction

Curiosity and the Spirit made you pick up this book: the idea of escaping a hum-drum, inadequate form of spirituality has intrigued that part of you that still has hope; the normality of having a commonplace experience instead of what God intended  gnaws at the edge of your mind. If you are reading this book, I am assuming the idea of getting closer to God in just a few short weeks has intrigued you, whetted your appetite  and touched your soul.  You may be  a searcher, or someone dissatisfied with a lukewarm state of soul or you may be someone who has long walked with Him and feel that for some reason nothing is working anymore.  You feel as if the prayer warrior within you has gone on vacation and shows no sign of coming back from the beach.

At any rate, you have tried and failed to set up anything that has worked for long to bring you closer to God and the peace of mind that brings. You are tired of halfway change.  Your Christianity has turned into yearly resolutions that are kept about as well as sudden diets. You may think the routine of daily life does not allow you time to bring yourself in sync with God; there are not enough hours in the day to pray and study; keep up with everything  leaves you feeling dissatisfied and upset. Whatever the reason, you are looking for some way, some  reason, some formula or schematic or equation to make the unease go away.  I felt that way once and what I learned about escaping that feeling is the rationale behind this book.  I have hope for you, based on my own experience, solid provable research into how your mind works and a faith that this is what God wants me to write for you.  I was where you are once.  I found a way out, and I want you to come along the constantly narrowing path to God-achievers. 

Among the roles I fill in my life are Wife, Mother, Grandmother, church  planter, shepherd, farmer, author, artist and Social Worker.  The ways people live their lives  fascinates me.  I never have quite enough time to read all the journal studies done about people.  I do try, although sometimes  I find  it’s hard to comb through all the jargon to find small nuggets of truth that I find useful in my work in counseling and coaching people.  Over the years, the gleaning and application of what I learn  while doing private study to what people who come to me need is a cause and effect sort of serendipity not unlike a choir or music group playing; you know it works, but unless you’re the orchestra conductor or the composer you are never quite sure how it goes together, it simply does and it makes the listening a pleasure.  The aha! moments I see in my office as something clicks within people is a wonder I don’t get over.  I like to see it happen so I keep track of what seems to be the most problematic for my patients and for my church members and then  I go into research mode to find answers for them and in doing so, often find it helps me as well.  In the last few years of work, I have noticed people are frustrated by mediocrity; they are tired of the sameness, they want something to pull them to a safer shore, but a shore where there is creativity and kindness, love and no loneliness, a place of acceptance and energy.  They want to make changes, especially within their spiritual lives, but the habit of get up, eat, work, home again, shower, TV/social media and sleep, over and over, is killing them.  The habits of a drone like existence makes them lonely, angry, bitter and helpless.  Since we weren’t designed to be hermits, nor to run along a hamster trail, it’s no wonder our habits are destroying our lives.

A short while back, I got very interested in habits; habits being automatic behaviors that have been wired into our brains through repetition; I wanted to find out  what it takes to make them, what it takes to break them, how we can control them.   Too many of the people I  work with were struggling with stopping the consequences of habits they’d made early in life and now were paying for, yet felt helpless to do anything.  Their habits were killing them.  They’d developed them  early in life and they wanted them to go away.  They wouldn’t go easily without a struggle and the struggle is what we need to make stop.  You can’t get rid of consequences, they happen as cause and effect.  For instance, you smoke two packs a day for twenty years, you will most likely develop lung cancer or some form of lung disease.  Will stopping smoking stop the disease?  No, of course not. It will help you get stronger, but you will still have to fight the cancer battle which your own actions caused to occur. 

It’s a little like  taming lions.  When a lion is little, (or so I am told. I do not raise lions, only children, alpaca, Pomeranians,  canaries and Siamese cats) when a lion is less than three months old, they are cuddly and easy to play with and they are simple to get away from.  You stand up, slip them off your lap and walk away.  They may give chase but they really aren’t all that hurtful. When a lion grows larger, say nine months, they are much more determined, stronger, and it might take someone helping you, interceding as it were, to get away from a determined young lion.  You’ll come away with bites, scratches and a decided decision not to go in that cage again.  But once a lion is full grown, you need someone with a gun or a tranquilizer dart to slow it down or kill it outright and you will not get out unscathed.  You will get hurt.  You could even die.  The same is true for habits.  You can smoke a cigarette or a joint once or twice with friends and put it down.  You can overindulge on alcohol, or tell white lies, or cheat on your taxes and probably get away with it for a  time. You can neglect to pray daily, and think to come back to it.  As time goes on, and you continue to smoke, the poisons that are addictive get stronger and harder to overcome.  You can still stop doing it, but you may need some help, like nicotine patches, a support group or a good scare from your doctor.  As time goes on, not praying, not actively putting God first will gradually lead to a sort of spiritual ennui that is much like Alzheimer’s-you remember things in the past but the present state of your soul eludes you.  The Spirit wants to talk to you, and sometimes you rouse yourself enough to go to a revival meeting for a few days, but after the hype is over, you slip and nothing changes except the load of guilt you feel.

I know from experience, the longer you let it wait, put it aside, and think I’ll do it tonight, or tomorrow morning, or when Lent comes or  it’s going to be my New Years’ resolution next year, you come to the place where it seems too hard, there are simply too many distractions to  read the Bible, or think of Him, or talk to Him.  You have officially drifted and eventually that Old Serpent will whisper you’ve gone too far, it’s too hard, you’re too busy, nobody does that anymore and you wander into a complacent mode.  You know you’re a Christian although you can’t quite remember to call on Him when needed, or where that verse in the Bible was that you need right now, and your soul somewhat closes its’ spiritual eyes and goes to sleep.  The Spirit, in an attempt to wake you  up, sometimes resorts to extreme measures to get your attention,  and sometimes, even that doesn’t work anymore. Has God moved?  No, you lost anchor, you are out to sea and you need rescued.  When it gets that far, you need a complete revival, a re-doing of  your habits, a turning back, repentance if you will,  in order to regain that first love, that flush of affection, that security that He is there for you.  It’s not something to day dream about or reminisce about, it’s a call to action. Sometimes something out of the ordinary comes along and you suddenly realize you’ve neglected Him so much you’re afraid to talk to Him.  The cancer comes or the car wreck happens, or the marriage problems start, you lose your job,  whatever the crisis may be, and you find yourself lost  with no one to comfort you and you wonder where is God?  He didn’t go anywhere.  You wandered.  The fact that you have gotten a copy of this book may be a leading of the Spirit to bring you  back to Him.  This book is written to help you find your straight path out of the bad habit of ignoring the Lord of the Universe and engaging in behavior that will being you closer to heaven.  This book will help you develop a habit of putting God first and accepting His leading and His rewards.

So if you’re trying to get back to Him, or perhaps you never knew Him in the first place, or perhaps you’re a new believer and wanted to make changes in the right way,  whichever is the case, let me assure you, He is a gentleman, He is a lover, He is still there waiting for you to make an appointment with Him every day.  The question you ask me is simple: how do I get from point A-which is where I am- to point B, where I want to be, in the shortest, fastest way possible?  I am glad you asked.  With a prayer and a song, let’s begin our odyssey, the pilgrimage we are beginning to activate our God Habit.

 

 

 

Dan let us put in a sample chapter of his latest:  This is from The Majestic Spectrum of God’s love, out April 30,2019

Chapter 1

 Please Read This First

There are very few chapters in this work that can be considered stand-alone. There is an underlying theme that is being built, rather like building a house or a cabinet. It needs to be built in an orderly fashion. You don’t start with the roof; you start with a foundation.

I’m setting a foundation here so we are all talking and thinking on the same idea before I add to it. Once you have been through the work in its entirety then going back to particular chapters makes more sense and you will comprehend better what I am trying to say.

Two times in the fourth chapter of John’s first letter, John uses the phrase, “God is love.” In verse eight he says this, “He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.” “…God is love.” I have come to say this is THE prime axiom, the PRIME axiom – a statement self-evident from common experience. From this all else hangs. All aspects of life and learning have something to say about love, how it works, how to (or not to) live it. This phrase is the root, the background, the framework of this study.

Up front I am going to lay down some bullet points which will be further developed later but these assumptions are needed to provide some sort of foundation on which to build our discussion. Our first accepted assumption is simple and I am repeating it just because it is so important:

  • God is love. All other assumptions listed hang on that idea. It is the central prime axiom of life.
  • The purpose of our existence is to be part of a web of relationships. We were never meant to be alone and we fill a need in God’s love as He fills a need in ours.
  • “Doctrine” comprises expressions, descriptions of specific aspects of reality. A simple analogy would be this; white light passes through a prism and spreads into colors. The colors are called a spectrum. Looking at the spectrum tells us something about the source of the light. Each color, each line provides another bit of information. Spectrum analysis is used to determine what a tested substance is made of; doctrine does the same thing. It’s not God; it’s not His Son or Spirit; it’s simply a description of what He is like and what we need to be like. Often it describes how relationships work.
  • The Bible is our foundational resource for understanding several qualities of love and reality.

The Bible isn’t just a book. It is a library in a single binding. The Bible is comprised of the work of forty authors writing over a span of 1500 years.

  • There are observations we can draw from life, living and language that can aid our understanding of concepts raised in the Bible.
  • Words are sound symbols into which we pack ideas. Every field of study has its language and nuances of meaning. Learning what God is about certainly has its lingo. At times it may seem a little tedious or even strange. Unless our understanding of the language we use is in close agreement we can wind up just blowing vortexes of heat and smoke and miss what is meant to be understood.

Numerous “systematic theologies” have been written. Many churches and associated entities have a “creed” and/or “statement of beliefs.” They all read like a table of contents. Occasionally a text is written that is based on a statement of beliefs and expands the statements to make them more palatable. While they are all carefully, accurately and truthfully written, by very well-meaning scholars; in all such statements and books I have seen they are all fundamentally flawed. That flaw tends to lead to a perspective that misses the essential point of the whole exercise. To merely generate a list of doctrines (with their supporting references) found in the Bible is to miss the point of the doctrines. They are not built on the first three bullet points noted above. As God’s love is studied it fans out into an array of doctrines and expressions. Some of those doctrines are going to be addressed in this work but we are going to do our best to cast them as fragment expressions of God’s love. They are a piece of a picture. Taken together, they show a wonderful Creator, Redeemer, Lover.

There is another idea that bothers me about “Christian evangelism.” We approach people as if they have an understanding of what “salvation” is about and assume it is something desirable they want. Why would I want to be “saved” and live forever? For most people there is an innate desire to live. Even so they may wonder why. To some people sitting on a cloud, playing a harp and singing praises to God sounds like head splitting boredom. I prefer a pipe organ to a harp. It doesn’t do clouds. Many Christians look forward to heaven where there is no sickness, old age, death, pain, discouragement and so on. The suffering that we face here won’t be there. Well, that’s all to the good. But once the pain is gone, what now? The idea of spending eons around the throne praising and adoring God is good, but somehow, there has to be more than that. After a while, won’t it sound repetitious and robotic? You can count me out of that one too. Of course there is a place for God to be our god and due adoration presented. On the other hand, He gave us these wonderful brains; He meant us to use them, and singing the Hallelujah chorus every day throughout eternity is not going to keep our interest when there is going to be so much surrounding us. We present a heaven too small to keep our interest. We paint a dim picture. There is more than enough room in heaven’s plan to live, learn, play, work, fellowship with fellow humans, other “people” in God’s creation, angels, in addition to rightful and central fellowship with God. What about travel and sight-seeing? Even if we revved up our RV and went galaxy hopping, it would take a few million years just to get the “lay of the land” and find a few things we would like to come back to learn about. Believe me when I say all the animators in Hollywood and other places could not dream up much of what we are going to visit.

I hope to provide a sensible, delightful perspective on citizenship in God’s kingdom in present and future tense as generally described and experienced from expressions from the past.

In no way is this a definitive study. As a young fellow I climbed a fire observation tower in a state park. The staircase spiraled upward inside the frame of the tower. The entry point was at ground level on the east side of the tower. Each time I came to the east side of the tower I had a different, less limited perspective on the scene around me. When I got above tree level the vista broadened greatly. With this study we enter a tower of knowledge and understanding at ground level. Each time around will build on previous background and see things from new perspective. Even as we walk into eternity this model still fits.

 

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Book two is in the roaring 20-50s!

 

I decided to put Chapter 6 in for you to read: it’s one of my favorites-this is the Oberllyn family starting 1920 and progressing through the century…

Chapter 6

 

“What’s that smell?” Gordon wrinkled his nose and fanned the air as he entered the hotel room.

“One of the ingredients for the death ray is an extract from musk. Only musk I could get here was from those two skunks over there. I put them to sleep so I could extract it safely and put it to distillation.”

“You mind if I open a window?”

“Must have dropped shut while I was working, yeah, good idea.” He went back to work at the plans. “Now, if I add Sulphur to this …”

Jerome looked at his brother.

“You know, back in 1888, when Noah was in Europe the first time monitoring Wilhelm’s succession to Kaiser in Germany, he felt that there was a lot of animosity there. What do you think if perhaps we are thinking too much of the Black hand thing and not enough to what’s behind some of the other activities of that government?”

“What do you mean?” quizzed Gordon.

“You know, 1888 was a really interesting year. In our own church, the big meeting over righteousness by faith nearly tore the congregation apart. A.T. Jones and his friend Wagoner presented messages that upset all the brethren, being backed up by Sister White, and she ended up in Australia.”

“Yeah, so? It ended up for the best. We now have a well-established work in that country. The dear lady is safe in California now.”

“And Wilhelm came to the throne and some of his first actions were to declare himself Supreme War lord and amp up his generals? He keeps making those speeches and firing up his people, while on the other hand saying he doesn’t want war.”

“I think we all know it’s a given he is going to try and make this war happen.”

“I know, and Noah is back in Europe trying to get a handle on the feeling of the people. His last report says he isn’t sure of the Black hand.”

“Didn’t Wilhelm say that Czar Nicholas of Russia and he are cousins?”

“Yes, and they’ve been sending telegrams back and forth for some time now.”

“I sure don’t like the sounds of that shaping up.”

“We best keep an eye on it. Now, let’s look at this machine. What did Tesla call it?”

“He said three machine plans were taken from his lab, a death ray, an earthquake device which he thinks has already been used to cause the San Francisco earthquake and to sink the Titanic, and some sort of mind alteration device. This is supposed to be the death ray. I can’t make heads nor tails of some of his ideas.”

“Well, the incidents do fit into the time line of when his plans were stolen and they did cause damage.” looking back to the plans, he sighed. “He does make interesting notes.”

“Well, if the earthquake machine is in operation, it could cause no end of difficulty.”

“Well, so could Wilhelm. At least I understand most of his ramblings. Say, if you studied the earthquake device we are pretty sure works, could it help you understand this one?”

“One better. I’m turning Adam loose on it as soon as he arrives. He’s worked with Edison and finished his engineering degree; I suspect he’ll understand this better.”

“He comes in at noon. It’s nearly that now. I’ll go meet him at the station.”

“And I believe I’ll send a telegram to Noah.”

The two men went out.

Gordon went to the telegraph office and quickly sent out a message to Noah. “Noah Mathis: Watch Serbia. BH pullback, Caution advised, safety plan in place for you/yours. GO” he paid the operator and headed for the train station.

As he got closer, he checked his watch as he heard the train pull in from several blocks away.

When he heard gunshots, he started to run. He came upon a scene that seemed surreal for all of a second as he took his bearings, got into a position behind some trunks and returned fire.

His brother Jerome was on the ground, rolling for cover. Adam had climbed to the top of a box car and was lying flat to make the smallest target available. Two people were lying on the ground, others were still inside screaming.

“What the devil, Jerome? All you had to do was pick up Adam?” He called.

“And I almost did when three men jumped aboard and started firing. I have no idea if it’s a hold up or what.”

“Adam’s up top. Do you know if he’s hurt?”

“I don’t know, but one of the men tried to grab him and was dragging him to the front of the car: Adam objected to being used that way. When the men started shooting at passengers, he got free and jumped overhead. He pretty well incapacitated the would be kidnapper on the way up. Don’t know if they were going to use him as a shield or if he was the object.”

“We’ll assume he’s the object. If we remove the object, we may be able to stop the carnage.” Gordon said.

Just then a sheriff and deputy joined them.

“What’s going on?”

“We think it’s a robbery. People inside are hostages. Don’t know who the robbers might be.”

“Well, we need to stop this. Folks are getting hurt. Any word on what they want?”

“Nobody has said anything.” Just then, from inside the car, a man called out.

“We don’t want to hurt anybody else. Just give us the man we came for, three fast horses and we’ll go.”

“What man?” yelled the sheriff. “You already shot a couple out here.”

“And for every minute you delay, we’ll shot another and toss them out.”

“What man?” yelled Gordon.

“We need a young man supposed to be on this train named Adam Oberllyn. He has something we need and we’ll just take him and go.”

“That’s our little brother, sheriff. I don’t know who these men are but Adam just came back from school. He couldn’t possibly have anything they want.”

The sheriff eyed them cautiously. “I don’t want any more shooting. We don’t know who it is in the car that’s doing the shooting. Can’t rush the car that I can see.”

“No, but maybe we can flush them out,” said Jerome.

“How we going to do that?” The sheriff looked dubious as he watched the train.

“I got an idea. Try to delay them, sheriff, while Gordon runs back to the room for something. He’ll bring back three horses so it looks like we’re cooperating. You keep the robbers talking to you.”

“This better work.”

“Hope so.”

“This is Sheriff Bateman. We don’t want anyone getting hurt. I’ve sent a man for some horses. Now who is this person you’re looking for?”

“He’s a tall thin boy, about 18, just got back from university, has a carpetbag with him and a case. We need him.”

“What you want with him?”

“Never you mind. You get him.”

“If he was on the train, is he still there?”

“No, he ran off after breaking my brother’s leg here. He went out the other side. You got to find him. We need him now. And we need the doc for my brother’s leg.”

“You going to hurt this young man?”

“No, we just need him. Our boss says he’s real smart and he wants to hire him for a job.”

“Your boss always kidnap the people you want to hire?” asked the sheriff speculatively as he stood up to get a better look.

“He wouldn’t come with us gentleman like so we had to try and persuade him.” replied the kidnapper.

“Can we get help to the people lying out there you shot?”

“You for sure bringing the horses?”

“Yes.”

“You can move the people and put the horses over here by this door. You sending someone for the doctor?” he paused. “How are you going to find Oberllyn?”

“He’s not over here, and you shoot at whomever comes out of hiding. How do you expect us to find someone? He’s most likely in the bushes on the other side of the station. He’s not in the station back here. As for the doc, we don’t call him until the shooting stops. Not risking the only doctor in miles on a gunfight til it’s over.”

“My brother needs a doctor.”

“No doubt. This Oberllyn anything like the rest of his family?”

“What do you mean?”

Just then, the sheriff noticed both Jerome and Gordon had left the horses tied by the train as the men specified. On the opposite side of the train, bricks were thrown through windows and much cursing ensued, followed by a few gunshots and two men being tossed out the door. Gordon was on the roof, and helping Adam down the back side.

The sheriff stood up, he and his deputy with their guns drawn.

Three men were on the ground, gasping and shaking.

“Can’t breathe,” gasped one.

“Lordy, what is that stuff?” Other passengers were coming out of the train car, also red faced and gasping.

Jerome came from behind the car.

“It won’t kill you but you may not be able to smell for a while. It’s skunk musk. The two skunks are loose in the train car, mad as hornets at being woke up and flung through windows so you’ll need to give them a while to simmer down. Those men are your kidnappers-I got them each with a full grown skunk to the face so it may take a while for them to breathe. I’d suggest getting their weapons and locking them up pretty quickly.”

“That the man they were looking for?”

“Yes sir. My name is Adam and I just returned from working with Thomas Edison. They must have thought I had information on secret projects or something.”

“Did you?”

“No sir, I just acted as his go-fer all summer. I fetched things, carried, cleaned, you know, what they always do to interns. I was on my way here to meet up with my brothers and these men told me I was supposed to go with them to meet their boss and when I wouldn’t and the train pulled into the station, they grabbed me and started to haul me off. I kicked my way free and got out the other side and climbed on top. I had no idea they would start shooting people.”

“They mention who this boss was?”

“I don’t think so; they said something about my special talents being need by black hand or something like that, maybe it’s an Indian tribe?”

Jerome’s eyebrows went up. He slightly shook his head. Adam continued, “Anyway, thank you for rescuing me, sir.” he turned a little white and shaky. The injured were being carried to the doctor. “Are they going to be OK?”

“Doc will deal with them. I don’t want to be unfriendly, but maybe you boys better pull out of town.”

“It was my thought as well. We’ll go pack our things.”

“Man, Bill, whatever they got hit with, how we going to keep them in the jail?”

“We’ll put them in the back cell together. You can be on foot duty for a few days so you don’t have to come in. “

“I don’t even think tomatoes are going to cut that smell.”

Doc stood up. “His leg’s not broke, he’s got a good sprain is all. He’ll need to stay off his feet for a few days with it elevated. You boys give him a couple shots of rotgut and he’ll sleep. He’ll feel better when he wakes up.”

“Yeah. Well, until he realizes he’s in jail. Let’s get them locked up, Mac.” He jerked the men to their feet, grimaced and told them to walk in front of him, the brother with the sprain between them, supporting himself on their shoulders. Once at the jail, he locked up two of the brothers, then gave a half glass of whiskey to the hurt brother and sent him into the cell to lie down. Locking the door, he went out, shut the door to the jail and went out to wash up.

“Bill, those Oberllyn’s must have an interesting life to be carrying skunks around.”

“Doubt they have much of a social life,” muttered Bill as he tried to wash up at the pump.

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

Our first medieval future fantasy

 

Just the introductory preface and first chapter-you can get it for free April 1 thru 5th as a download-thank you for enjoying our books!; Lucan is a young man as he starts this book and matures as he grows older and we hope wiser…

Introduction

 

Good day!  My name is Lucan of the clan Falconer.   My tribe is an old one, and proud and long in the service of our good King David.  We have sworn allegiance to the King and his clan and the United Country of the Americas.  I live with my family; my father Da is our headman and my Ma is wife and lady of the manor, my seven brothers and two sisters complete our family.  This journal is to explain why I am what I am, and how the Clan Falconer went to war with itself, and kept the Kingdom from crashing on the stones of time.  My story begins when I was asleep in my bed.

“What is that?” I muttered to myself as I looked around. The room was dark, the only light coming from the glowing of a torch. My eyes fell on a man in a dark robe, his jet black hair brushed to the side. His shining blue eyes were almost too bright, darting this way and that, as though looking for someone in the shadows. Thin as a wheat stalk, swaying as he stood, his eyes calculating his next move. I squinted to see his face and suddenly realized it was my older brother, Andrew. He’d always been tall, but when did he get so thin, so gaunt?  Was he ill?  He held a porcelain bowl, almost a vase that I didn’t recognize.  It appeared to be the finest porcelain from our neighboring clan, but the markings on it were unfamiliar. A voice came out of the darkness and instinctively I reached for my sword but it wasn’t there. It appeared I was as a wraith and they could not see or hear or feel my presence in the room. The voice said,

“Drew, we need more blood in order to complete the power spell you need give me. Otherwise, you won’t be able to take over this wretched clan.”

“You think I don’t know? Pass me the blood we have and gather my seven brothers together so that we can begin to sacrifice clan folk to fulfil the spell.”

“Yes, brother.” He hefted the half-empty porcelain jar  and went to a small cage holding a terrified small dog. I recognized it as one of the pups from Da’s last litter of hunters.   Reaching inside, pulled it out by the scruff, slit it’s throat and drained it’s blood into the vase.  He took it’s carcass to the fire and tossed it in.

“Andrew, make certain that no evidence is found to give us away.” I could not place the voice in the shadows. Andrew, my older brother I knew. I knew myself and my seven brothers. But who was the voice?

Andrew bowed so low that he almost spilled the blood. He wiped up the table and the drops that spilled on the floor, then removed the cage.  After handing the bowl to the person in shadow, he scurried away out the door with the cage.

The voice came out of the shadows and to my horror; I found it was my oldest brother Isaac. He strapped his sword belt on, then chuckled to himself as he drew his sword to look at its’ edge. “It is now time for the glorious battle against these sheep.”  He went over to the fire and tossed something in and the flames flared.  He poured blood on his sword, the drank the rest.  Placing the bowl on the mantle, he turned and I got a good look at his face.  He stood gaunt, pale, but not thin; his eyes on fire.  There seemed an odd glowing around him that slowly faded.  Wiping his sword on a cloth, he threw the cloth into the fire and strapped on the sword. He slipped into the darkness and disappeared. I woke groggy and trembling.  I shook my head and got up.  What sort of nightmare was this for a clan head’s son?   My brothers were true men, not sorcerer’s or witches.  Shaking my head, I pulled on my tunic and trews and set out to find my breakfast.

Chapter 1

 As I walked down the hall, I had to keep shaking my head as the vision kept returning, flashing on and off in a sort of persistent shudder.  All I saw went against all I knew to be true.  Oh, there was magic in the world, all right, left over from the great wars of the past, from before the shining time of death, when all changed, the old world and the people.  We lost our cities; we lost millions of people when the Shining came.  Now we lived across this great land as clans held together loosely by Kings of regions.  The Kings met yearly to settle disputes between adjacent Kingdoms.  But no great cities or flying machines remained as those mentioned in the Old Ones books.  Some machines still were made, some used, but much of what was called technology was lost, and was being forgotten.  Still magic remained, inherited in family lines.

 For a few minutes, I almost thought I was still in that cave with my brothers. I think the clan is in danger. I thought to myself. But when did I become a soothsayer?  I’m past the age when gifts show.  I stood still a moment but  my Ma called me “Lucan, it’s time for breakfast. Are you coming?”

“Coming,” I said. I stepped back into my room and I strapped on my sword for no reason I could put my finger on, other than a sense that something was not right.  I went down stairs where the smell of hot oatmeal and fresh fruit, homemade rolls and tea met my nose with a welcome. Ma always made enough food for an army. But then, we were an army.

Isaac was oldest, and expected to inherit Father’s position as head of the clan, a warrior in his own right, having been on guarding and raiding parties;  followed by Andrew, who loved to study, to read the Old Ones’ books, then Michael, who didn’t like to read at all but could shoot the eye out of a bird with a sling at 50 paces. Allytha was next, off apprenticed to a wizard as she seemed to have the gift. Samuel, next in line, was slow of speech but good with a sword-really good. David, named after our King,  loved medicine and healing. He was apprenticed to our wise woman but would be going in the spring into town to become a real physician. He seemed to have a way with healing. Francis, the next brother, seemed to dream a lot, and was always finding ways to make things more efficient.  Da would give him a task and he’d start it at once, certainly, as a good son should, but shortly would be found doing it differently and it almost always ended up being done better and faster.   Da claimed he was simply lazy and he was just thinking of ways to make it easier so he’d not have to labor so hard.  Our wise woman expected him to develop a gift for foretelling but so far he hadn’t had any real dreams, just day dreams that kept him from doing his chores soon enough for Da, and made him tinker with just about anything mechanical. He could keep our housebots running, and he’d made improvements on our windmill. Da thought he’d make a good priest since they have their heads in the clouds a lot. My next sister, Morgana, is the family darling. She sings, she dances, she helps mother and makes everyone smile. I am the last, and no one can quite figure out what I’ll be good for, so I am being trained to fight, and I am learning to be a farmer. I love animals and would like to be a beast master but Da says we have no place for that.  All we need are common farm animals to support the farmstead.

Da said the grace, and we dug in.

“I had an odd dream last eve,” I began.

“Oh?” asked mother.

“Aye, I thought I was in a secret room in the keep, and someone was doing spells.”

Da looked uncomfortable. “Did you see who was in the dream?” Thinking quickly, I shook my head. “Nay, but they were planning on doing the clan harm this day. They needed blood for some power spell.”

Da frowned. “Tis not good to speak of such things, but as you have started it, I have had a similar dream these last two nights running. A dark room I do not recognize, two men, a jar of blood. Is that what you saw?”

I nodded. “Sounds about like.”

“I’ve had a dream vision like the one you mentioned many years ago,” he leaned over and said softly to me so the rest would not know what was being said over the general noise of breakfast in a large family. “We were able to fight off the enemy but before I killed their leader he pointed to me and shouted so everyone could hear ‘You will be very prosperous and have many children.’ At first I thought he was giving me a blessing but then he said something that sent a chill down my spine. “One day one of your sons will betray you and kill everybody in your wretched clan and the Kingdom will fall”  I killed him and I ran to my best friend who was badly wounded and he said to me ‘I swear one day your sons will be able to defeat the demon spawned son of yours. He will save the clan. I’m sorry I can’t stop the curse.” He died there before my very eyes and I thought to myself Mother of God, I’ll have a family responsible for a rebellion.  I had no idea what the dream meant or what my friend meant and no way to find out. I had that dream the first time shortly after I became clan head. I had it again last night. And now you have had it. After breakfast, we’ll go to the wise man and ask what he thinks is going on. In the meantime, wise it will be for us both to keep out swords and dirks handy.”

I sat there pondering this when my brother Isaac came in, tousled and tired after what should have been a night’s rest. If I had truly seen a vision, he had been up, not sleeping, last night. I wondered if he was the one who would start this rebellion.   He sat down and started eating.

“You’re late, Isaac. Is not your ma’s breakfast a good enough incentive to be here on time?”

“I was out late with my friend Daniel. Remember he was staying the night?”

“Oh, yes, I remember. Where is he now?”

“He left before dawn, said he was needed at home. I thought it strange.”

“Well, food’s been blessed. Finish up and head to knight training at the armorer’s. You may have need of knowledge of swords.”

“Fine, da.” he started stuffing his face, literally. No one can shovel in food like my brothers. I don’t know how Ma keeps up with it.

“Isaac, mind your manners at the table!”

“Sorry, Ma,” he said after he swallowed.

After breakfast Isaac left quickly to the training area of the manor house to work on his weaponry skills. All of us, even the girls to a certain extent, were trained in archery, spear, staff, sword, and unarmed combat. Sword was the most popular among us boys and no one had ever bested Isaac at swords, though Samuel came close. I was still working on my lower stances. We have training bots who grade us on our performance and then pair us up for practice according to our skill levels. We are taught by bots and then apply our day’s lesson on each other. I was still in the lower forms. Isaac hardly ever fought with us anymore since he was even better than the bots programming. If I had to go up against him, I was in trouble.  He worked directly with the head knight.  However, this day, since I was youngest, I helped my Ma with the cleanup.   She shortly dismissed me and I then joined my brothers on the training field where my brother Isaac was fighting against a newly acquired training bot-it had more levels than our other ones. Since he had mastered the old ones, and the Knight assigned us had more things to do to arrange the security of our keep, Da thought Isaac needed to be challenged and for once I was seeing him sweat. He was parrying, hacking, and dodging but he couldn’t really land a blow on the robot who had several times tapped him and left paint marks. The bots had paint in their swords. Bots were programmed to pull their blows and paint you-everyone could see a record of your errors all over you. Usually, my brothers mail was unmarked but today, he had several bright green spots in various places and it was evident he was getting really upset. I decided to give him the arena and I headed over for staff practice. I set the robot to gain so that it would slowly get harder and harder to defeat him.  After last night’s dream, I wanted to ease into practice today. I dodged the first blow but I didn’t see the other side of its staff coming fast enough to react and it struck me right in the stomach. I fell to my knees gasping for air. The robot’s staff came down on me, but I knew that play and this time I knew it was coming. I dodged and swung my staff. I struck it in the head from behind. Sparks flew and the robot lurched forward but quickly reprogrammed itself to a higher level and it turned with its staff outstretched so the flat of its staff would strike me again. It came so fast that an average human being wouldn’t see it coming but I jumped and spun on my staff. I kicked it in the head and put a dent in the bot’s face. It struck my staff and I fell to the floor again. The bot decided to finish me off and it sent its’ staff down once more. I parried with the center of my staff and used the side of it to strike it in the face. The blow landed and the head came off. It went back into the floor to be repaired then I heard a voice behind me say, “Great job, midget.” Thinking it was one of my older brothers, my little brother battle instincts kicked in. I swung my staff and found it was parried by a sword. Isaac sliced my staff in half and had me at sword point in a matter of seconds.

“Oh, good morn, Isaac. How was sword training? You look a little green.”

I put the other half of the staff under my arm, showing I had no interest in fighting him. He lowered his sword and said, “Oh, it was just fine. I was pretty shocked at how much better that new bot is compared to the older ones. I suppose the older one will become yours now.” He smiled at me. I studied him wondering what I should say. He had some new bruises on his body where that bot hit him but turned out that it could have been worse. I nodded. 

 “It has gotten better, huh?” I rubbed the bruise on my stomach and winced.

“Are you okay?” Isaac asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I think that robot got me good.”

“Okay. Let me look at it and you might be heading for the first aid bot.” He reached down to take off my shirt but when he did the bruise wasn’t there. I touched the place where the bruise was but the pain was rapidly departing.

 “That’s weird. I swear it was there a little bit ago. Is this normal?”

“No, it isn’t. There are very few people who can heal themselves. However, there are none in this clan who actually can heal that fast at all, except the ones in our family. It’s a very strange ability. Did you know you were healing yourself?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“I don’t know why that would be your first ability anyway.  Has this happened before?  You’re old to be developing abilities.”  I stood up, shook myself and felt strangely warm.

“Good to know I can heal myself. Da and I were going to go to the wise man today anyhow so I can ask him about things.  I’ve been having odd dreams.”  I looked at him steadily and Isaac got an odd look on his face.

“Hey, you want to train on each other?”

“Isn’t that dangerous? I mean sharp blades, wouldn’t that hurt?”

“No. I just put a guard on my sword.” He hit his sword against a staff in the racks to show me it clanged against the staff instead of slicing it in half like my staff.

“See? Besides you’d be able to heal yourself right?”

“I am not sure da would approve of this at all. Just because I seemed to heal once doesn’t really prove anything. It could have been a fluke of some sort.”

“Being a coward is not becoming. You need to get ready to help the clan protect itself and how better to do it than by fighting someone stronger and better than you.” he drew himself up to his full height and grimaced.

“En Garde!” I hardly saw his lunge coming. I ducked; after all, I did not even have my sword in my hand, just a half of a staff-which he cut in half again, letting me know his sword was not shielded anymore.

I drew my sword and parried his first attack but I thrust my sword at his chest. He dodged and with one downward swipe of his sword hit my sword hilt, disarmed me and I was at his sword point again. “Well, you ready for round 2?” He said.

“I wasn’t ready for round 1,” I picked up my sword, raised it and attacked. I parried and in one quick move disarmed him with a move I had seen one of the bots use when Da or the knights trained. I was surprised when it worked for me, but Isaac stood there shocked.  He  opened his palm and the sword flew back into his hand. He charged me. I parried his first attack and he had me put into a stand still. I tripped him, he fell, I disarmed him again and put my foot on his sword so the it wouldn’t fly back into his hand. I put my sword to his chest and he lay there defeated. His eyes got large.

“I’m sorry.” I said handing his sword back to him.

“Sorry? When did you learn to do that? That was awesome!!!! Do it again!” He leapt to his feet.

He charged and I parried; he put me into a stand-still and with one quick circular motion with his sword he flung my sword out of my hands and had me at sword point once again.

“Beginners luck?” he questioned.

“I guess.” I replied. I picked up my sword and charged him. With one quick slash of my sword, I got one ugly cut on his hand. I spun around and launched his sword out of his hands and had him at sword point. Then out of nowhere he had his sword in his hand again and disarmed me. He had me at sword point yet again, reached up and flicker cut my shoulder.

“How do you do that?” I asked.

“Do what?” Isaac asked.

“How did you get your sword back? It was all the way across the room.” I said. “It can’t have been the magnetics.” All our swords were attached to us by magnetic fields so we would not lose them in battle practice. We had wristlets we wore that controlled the pull but they were only good for a few feet.

“Oh, that could be your next ability. When you practice long enough, your weaponry becomes one with you.  At least it did with me and Samuel.  It’s that way with Da.  I suspect it will be with you if you live so long.”

“Great, my next ability is a living sword, that’s just great.” The door to the practice room burst open and my Ma shrieked. “Isaac! Lucan! Come on, we need you outside right now!”

The presence of evil can be felt. It’s cold and thick and clings to your soul. Isaac stood quietly as I ran out to the front of the building. As the door closed behind me, I drifted in and out of vision. I trembled in silence.  This time I saw Andrew come in quietly to the lair of my brother Isaac.

“It’s time for the next injection. I distilled it from the blood as required. There was only enough blood to make a smaller dose, but it should suffice to bring you to another level of power.  Injecting is so much more efficient than drinking the blood.”

“Excellent, give it here.” He injected the potion into his vein. He dropped the syringe, reeled back, screamed and fell backwards to the ground. Andrew moved forward to see if Isaac was dead only to have a hand clamp around his neck, cutting off his breathing. He was lifted into the air and then was thrown across the room to land in a heap by the wall. Andrew sat up coughing and gasping for air with a smile on his face.

“Yes. Yes, I can feel the power coursing through my body.” Isaac looked at Andrew and pointed. “You,” he said in a voice that was not his own, “go and gather the others together. We are about to attack this clan. No one is the wiser. No one knows what is going on.”

Andrew straightened, bowed and ran out the door to fetch the others, laughing at what he had caused. “The fall of the clan starts now.” Isaac disappeared into thin air. I came to with a start as my mother shook me. “Lucan, what’s going on? How can you fall asleep standing up? Come along! Da needs us right now! We’re being attacked!”

I looked around and I didn’t see my brother’s lair, but the hallway to the front of the house. I shook my head to clear it and looked up, then ran with Ma down the long hall. What in the name of all that’s holy was that about? I thought. Did I just have my another vision? Why would my own brother do this? Is he really going to try and destroy the clan? He can’t be! I have got to ask the wise man-and how did I heal myself?

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

Just a hint of the wild times coming in the latest book, coming out next week, titled Kith and Kin Together Again…and I promise 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.

 

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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.”