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Mountain Home
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Thread: Mountain Home

  1. #1
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    Mountain Home

    ok folks, be gentle...this is my first attempt to actually sit down and write something. this story is in a very rough form and will be going through several changes at least. feel free to comment in this thread, especially if you see anything glaringly wrong, lol.

    ok........here goes:

    Chapter 1
    Jack Mitchell was a thirty-eight year-old recent divorcee, who was considered by most to be rather odd. That was probably fairly accurate. Jack believed in being prepared, something most people thought unnecessary. It was more than an idea to Jack, it was his life. He had spent most of his life, and a considerable amount of his parent's money on getting ready. Ready for what? Well, ready for anything. Jack didn't have a specific event to prepare for, as far as he was concerned, there were many things that could happen. As a result, his preparations covered a broad spectrum.

    And now it seemed that Jack had had the last laugh, if anyone could laugh at recent events. No one knew where the plague had come from, but before anyone knew it, it had swept the globe. Now Jack was headed for his shelter home, returning from a trip to visit friends. The plague had come upon the world quickly, and Jack had decided to hunker down where he was, at first just to avoid other people, then later to care for his friends as they caught the bug and eventually died of it. The miracle of it all was that Jack seemed to be immune to it, whatever it was.

    Jack was driving his "bug out" vehicle, a 1967 Uni-mog. The 'mog' was an ugly beast of a truck, a 4WD built in Europe as a general purpose farm and utility vehicle. It had a 90 hp 'multi-fuel' diesel engine, power take-off winches front and rear, and 17 inches of clearance underneath. It could just about go anywhere.

    Driving home, he had decided from the start to avoid the major roads, and in keeping with his preparedness mindset, had an alternate route all laid out. The route would take him through the "blank" national forest for at least half of his journey, which should help him to avoid people problems.

    -------------------------

    ©copyright Christian For Israel

    I hereby reserve all copyrights not espressly granted to Timebomb for any works of fiction posted at Timebomb under my pseudonym - Christian for Israel

    Members may copy for their own personal use.

    Any other copying or distribution is expressly prohibited

    COPYRIGHT NOTICE

    This Story is the copyrighted property of their authors, used with permission.

    NO COPYING ALLOWED WITHOUT EXPRESS WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE AUTHORS, EXCEPT FOR PERSONAL USE.

    Violators will be FLOGGED, BROKEN AT THE WHEEL, BOILED IN OIL, BEATEN, JAILED, AND CALLED NAMES.

    And if that doesn't work, we'll sic a bunch of Lawyers on you!
    Last edited by Fleataxi; 10-03-2006 at 12:28 AM. Reason: Adding Copyright statement for the author

  2. #2
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    Chapter 2

    A couple of miles into the national forest, Jack noticed something out the window and hit the brakes.


    Off to the side of the road sat what appeared to be a young lady. Aware that it could be a trap, he cautiously got out and approached her. The girl, who looked to be about eighteen, appeared to be crying, and her clothes were torn and dirty.


    Jack walked slowly up to where the girl could see him and waited for a moment. When the girl noticed him he said “Hi, my name’s Jack, can I help you?”


    “ I don’t know if anyone can help me Mr., My name’s Pamela.”


    “ Why don’t you think anyone can help you Pamela, what’s happened?”


    The girl turned to Jack and cried “Because my parents are dead and I'm all alone."


    Jack’s heart went out to this girl, who he would later learn was only 16. “Pamela, calm down. You’re alive, and if you want to come with me, you’ll be safer than you are here. I have food and I'll take care of you."

    “You'd take care of me?" the girl asked, looking up. Jack said "sure I will, come on."


    Pam stood up and hugged Jack, still sobbing, but beginning to feel safe for the first time in weeks.

    Putting his arm around her, Jack led her to the truck.


    As they rode along, Jack and the girl began getting to know one another. "So, where were you when the plague started?” Jack asked. "At a campground in Ligget" said Pam. "We were on vacation when my parents got sick.” "Ligget? That’s over twenty miles from here. How did you get all the way over here?”

    “I don't know, after they died just I hung around at the campground for a while, until the smell got so bad that I had to get away. Then I just started walking.”

    “How long have you been walking?”

    "I don't know, a couple of weeks I guess.”

    “Well, you don't have to walk anymore" said Jack.

    At that the girl looked at him and smiled.

    They continued talking as they drove. Jack found out she was from Virginia, and that she was an only child. Her family had been taking the first vacation they'd had in years, driving all over and seeing the country. Jack told her that he had a place in the mountains, more than a hundred miles away, that was stocked with everything they'd need to live for years. All they had to do was get there, which was more difficult now that survivors of the plague were starting to prey on each other.

    "How long do you think it'll take to get to your house?” Pam asked.

    “Hopefully not more than a couple of days. It all depends on what condition the road is in, and how many people we run into."

    As it started getting dark, Jack began looking for a safe place to stop for the night. Seeing a dirt track off to the right, He turned down it and soon found a clearing that wasn't visible from the road. Looking the site over carefully, he determined that it should be safe enough.

    "Ok, we should be safe here for the night, come on let's start setting up camp.” He and the girl got out of the truck, and began to clear an area for them to sleep. Jack instructed Pam to clear an area for a fire as he went off to gather enough wood to cook some dinner.

    Jack prepared freeze-dried beef stew from his supplies. After they'd eaten, he said to Pam "you can have my sleeping bag, and you can set it up on the other side of the truck. I'll wrap up in some blankets and stay on this side. Before you get into the bag, brush off your clothes. If you don't, the dirt will mess up the bag and it won't keep as you warm.”

    Looking at Jack nervously, not wanting to be too far away from him, Pam said she understood. As she moved to the far side of the truck and began to crawl into the bag, Jack grabbed his shotgun from the rack behind the seat and made sure it was loaded with 000 Buck. Assured that he was ready for any trouble that might come, he too got ready for bed.

    --------------------------

    Jack awoke with a start at the sound of Pam's scream. As he struggled to wake up and get to his feet, he was aware of a figure standing over the girl, holding some sort of weapon. Instinct took over and he brought up the shotgun, firing it at the figure at point blank range. Instantly the figure dropped. Jack fired twice more into the body, making sure it wouldn't ever get up again. Grabbing his flashlight he saw that the weapon was only a golf club. Looking around, he saw Pam cowering next to the truck, goose bumps starting to rise on her bare arms from the chill night air. Telling her to stay put, he scouted around, assuring himself that there was only the one assailant. Returning to the truck, Jack was hit by an hysterical Pamela. As she clung to him she begged him not to leave her alone again. "Please let me sleep on this side of the truck with you Jack, I don't want to be alone anymore!" she begged. Jack knew there was no way the girl was going to get back to sleep unless he was with her, and said "Ok Pamela, pull the bag over here and we'll bed down together.” The girl did as Jack said, while he dragged the body of their assailant off into the woods.

    After dragging the body away from their camp, Jack got under the blankets next to the trembling girl. Pam turned to face Jack and, still shaken up from the attack, asked him to hold her. Jack put his arm around the frightened girl and held her until she fell asleep. Finally, Jack was able to get back to sleep as well.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

    http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y29...diplomacy2.jpg

    http://www.n3kl.org/sun/images/status.gif

  3. #3
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    Chapter 3

    The next morning, Jack woke up, fully aware of the girl lying next to him. As he got up she woke up also, looked up at him, and smiled. "Good morning" she said, in a way that made Jack uncomfortable. Jack mumbled "good morning" and stumbled away to find a tree. When he returned, Pam was up and putting the sleeping bag and blankets away. When she saw him, she went to him and gave him a long hug. Jack hugged her back for a second, and then Pam turned her face up to his and tried to kiss him. Jack immediately let her go and stepped back. "Pam, I don't think that's such a good idea right now.”

    “Why Jack, we're all alone and there's no reason not to, it's not like we're likely to find anyone else to be with.”

    "I know that Pam, but we've both been through a traumatic situation, and we may not be thinking clearly just yet.” Pam looked hurt, and Jack tried to ease up a bit. "Look Pam, after we get to know each other a little better, maybe things will work out like that, but there's really no rush, right? I mean, we'll likely be together for a very long time, why jump right into this?”

    “I guess you're right, Jack.” Pam said, all the time thinking to herself 'I'm not going to give up Jack, I'll get together with you yet.’ Pam backed away and Jack moved off to get breakfast together.

    After breakfast, they gathered up their stuff and started off down the road. Pam was thinking about the guy who attacked her, and said to Jack "who do you think that was last night?” Jack looked over at her and said "probably just someone desperate for food. All he had was a golf club, but if I hadn't shot him when I did he'd have hit you with it. He looked to be wearing the remains of a suit, so I'd guess he was some sort of a businessman before the plague.”

    Pam thought about that, and then said "well, I’m glad you stopped him when you did Jack, you saved my life.”
    Jack looked at her and smiled. "No problem kid, I’m sure you'd do the same for me.”

    Pam took exception to being called 'kid'. She realized she had no chance with Jack until he saw her as a woman instead of a child.

    They drove the rest of the day, never seeing another soul. Back when the plague had first struck, Jack had heard on the news that as much as 90% of the population of the world was infected. Since everyone who got sick up to that point had died, and it was unlikely that anything had changed since then, it wasn't unusual that they hadn't seen anyone. People were going to be very scarce for a long time to come.

    At the end of the day, after finding another place to stay for the night, they set up camp and started getting ready for bed. After they had eaten, Pam crawled into her bag, and Jack got under his blankets, making sure to lie down at least five feet away from the girl. Pam noticed and didn't like it, so she tried the same trick from the night before. "Will you hold me Jack?” He looked at her and said "not tonight Pam, I think we need to relax and keep to ourselves tonight.” She wasn't happy with that, but decided that she'd just have to prove herself to him, so she rolled over and went to sleep as if it didn't matter a bit to her. Jack was surprised at her reaction, and decided that maybe he'd been wrong about her intentions. Feeling easier around her than he had all day, Jack also rolled over and went to sleep.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

    http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y29...diplomacy2.jpg

    http://www.n3kl.org/sun/images/status.gif

  4. #4
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    Chapter 4

    The next morning they got up early, ate, and immediately packed away their gear. Jack said "We should be able to get to my place by tonight if everything keeps going so smoothly, we're only about twenty miles away now.” Pam was happy to hear that, as she was tired of traveling.

    They got moving, and by that evening had arrived at Jack's home. At first Pam didn't realize they had arrived, as she didn't see any sign of a house. "Where's your house Jack?" she asked.

    "It's under us Pam, I own an old missile silo. I bought it years ago and converted it into a home. It can withstand a direct hit from a nuclear bomb, and I thought it'd make the perfect shelter."

    Jack walked over to a concrete pad in front of where he'd parked the truck, and opened a metal cover. After punching in a code the heavy concrete doors that covered the silo started to open. When they had opened all the way, an elevator rose flush with the top, and Jack was able to drive the truck right on to it. After he stopped, Jack pushed what looked like a garage door opener mounted on the dash of the truck, and the elevator started to sink. As they descended to the parking area inside, the doors began to close back over their heads.

    Pam was impressed, this was just like something from the movies! When they had stopped, Jack turned off the truck and got out, motioning for her to follow. As soon as the doors had closed completely, the lights went on overhead. Pam guessed that a switch was activated by the closing doors. Now that there was light, she could make out details in the room. Jack told her this was the garage silo, the elevator was part of the original equipment, but, like the doors, had required extensive reworking to get it to function again. He said "this is one of three silos in the complex, it used to hold Titan missiles about 50 years ago. The other two missile silo's have been converted into storage, and don't open anymore. There are also a couple of silo's that were used to house antennas at the other end of the complex, and I converted one of them into the primary entrance." as Pam looked around, she saw that the doors were a good thirty feet above her head. There were two other levels they had passed on the way down, and Jack told her they held other equipment. The room was about forty feet in diameter, and had several levels below this one. Ahead of them was a large opening, and Jack said that it used to hold fuel for the missile, but he had converted into a garage where he could work on the truck. To their right was a smaller opening, and it was through there that Jack was moving.

    As they emerged from the side tunnel into the junction, Pam got an idea just how big this place was! The main tunnel seemed to go on forever in both directions. Jack saw her look of wonder, and said "The main passage is about a quarter mile long, and twelve feet in diameter. To the left are the other two missile silos, and to our right is the main house.” As they turned right and began to walk down the passage, Jack said "The entrance to the house is about a hundred and fifty yards down from here. If we kept going down this tunnel we'd eventually get to the two antenna silo's, one of which is the main entrance. The original entrance tunnel was filled with debris and capped when the military closed the base."

    Pam was looking around herself in amazement and asked "how many people could this place hold? It’s huge!” Jack replied "well, when it was operational it was supposed to be able to hold a hundred and fifty people for up to thirty days, but that was when it was filled with equipment. Now that most of the equipment is gone, I'd guess you could triple that easily.” Pam was shaking her head when they reached the next junction. Turning right, Jack and Pam walked down the short passage to a door. As Jack opened it, Pam stopped and stared in awe. Jack said " this is the main house, my apartment is on the next level up. I had originally set this place up to house several friends of mine that I knew from the internet, like-minded people that were Christians and preparedness minded as well. Unfortunately, as far as I know, none of them survived the plague, although I'm still hoping some will show up some day.” Pam had closed her mouth by this time, and was able to ask "how big is this place?” Jack looked at her and smiled, saying "well, this used to be the control dome. The dome itself is forty feet high and one hundred feet in diameter. This bottom level is divided into four apartments, and the whole top floor, about sixty feet in diameter, is mine.” By this time they had reached the end of the hall and stopped before an elevator. Jack pushed the button, and the door opened immediately. They both got in, and Jack pushed the button for the upper level.

    As the doors opened, Pam looked out onto a conservatively decorated living room. Stepping out she saw that around to her right was a small kitchen area, and to her left was what she decided must be the bedroom. On one side of the living room several couches were arranged in a conversation area. On the other side was a computer station. Against one wall was a large flat screen television. Pam asked about it. Jack said "well, there's no TV signal anymore, of course, but I have an extensive video library. All the TV's and Computer terminals in the complex are networked together, with a central server. Part of that network includes several thousand movies stored in their own server. To access a movie, just use the remote to choose from the selection provided, and hit "play.” Also, since all the terminals are connected, we don't have to be in the same room to play games or talk.” “Cool" Pam said. Jack said " all the apartments have their own terminal, as well as a TV. Speaking of which, we need to get you set up in a place of your own."

    Jack led the girl back to the elevator. "There are more apartments in the old power dome, but I think you'd prefer one of the nicer ones on the bottom level of this dome.” Getting off the elevator they went to the first door on the right and entered the apartment. It was nice, also conservatively decorated, and about eighteen hundred square feet in all. Pam was impressed, and said "I could get lost in here.” Jack told her they could eat together at his place, but this was a space she could call her own and get away when she needed to. Pam looked around and thought 'I could do worse...a LOT worse.’ She told Jack that it was perfect, but if he didn't mind, she'd prefer to stay with him when she wasn't sleeping. Jack said he understood, and he also felt the need of companionship strongly right now. Pam thought about something Jack had said, and asked "where is this 'power dome', and how big is it?” Jack told her it was across the main junction from this dome, and was even bigger. It was sixty feet to the top of the dome, and the bottom floor was a hundred and twenty feet across. "It's divided into three floors. There are six apartments on the bottom floor, along with the main dining room and a small control room. Also, the main armory is there and a clinic is in a tunnel just outside the entrance to the dome.” Jack said. "The second floor has eight small apartments, and the top floor has the chapel, along with a recreation area. All in all, we're set up to house about eighteen families, or around a hundred people."

    Jack continued "And we have enough food and other supplies to feed that many for a minimum of five years, which means there's enough for the two of us for more than a century. We have two wells that open inside the shelter, all the equipment necessary to keep the air fresh and circulated, and enough stabilized fuel to provide back up power for up to a year if necessary.” Pam asked "where do you get the electricity you're using now? From that back up generator?” Jack responded "no, there's a small private hydro-electric dam about thirty miles from here. It was set up to provide electricity for a manufacturing concern, and I contracted with them for my power. It's not connected to the power grid, and was designed to be as maintenance free as possible. It should keep us in power for the foreseeable future.” “ Wow" Pam said "you have everything covered.” "I sure hope so Pam, I sure hope so.” Jack said.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

    http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y29...diplomacy2.jpg

    http://www.n3kl.org/sun/images/status.gif

  5. #5
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    Chapter 5
    After showing Pam around her new apartment, Jack and the girl returned to his place. Pam wanted to know how he had managed to do all this, so Jack told her the story. "I've always been into preparing Pam, it's sort of a hobby of mine. For instance, I bought and rebuilt that truck we came here in, soon after I got out of high school. It took me more than a year, but I finally had something I'd wanted my whole life, a truck that could go just about anywhere. The first ten years of my life after that time were spent mostly on learning. I was into all kinds of preparedness, from how to survive a Nuclear war, to what to do if the Yellowstone caldera exploded. I joined a couple of internet bulletin boards that were created around the idea of getting ready, and I made a lot of friends that I am still close to today."

    "Then, about eight years ago, my parents and sister were killed in a mudslide that collapsed their house in california. It was a freaky kind of thing because it happened without warning, after a fairly light rain. It devastated me, and sent me into a deep depression. I had warned them about the potential for that sort of thing happening where they lived, but they had always thought I was strange for being into this 'survival' stuff anyway, and never listened to any of my warnings. They were what my internet friends referred to as 'sheeple'." At that, pam giggled. "Finally, with help and good advice from my online friends, most of whom are christians and have also had trouble in their lives and could therefore understand what I was going through, I started to work my way out of my depression.

    My father had been a businessman, the vice president of a large New York based corporation. He'd made a lot of money in that job, and had made a lot more in the stock market. He set aside trust funds for my sister and myself in an offshore account so the IRS couldn't get to it. Fifty million for each of us, but both came to me because Susan was killed also. I couldn't touch the principle, you understand, but the accounts were earning 16% and the interest now came to me." Pam was awed by the amount of money Jack was talking about. She figured she'd found the right guy to 'get involved' with. Then a thought occurred to her...with the collapse of society, money was worthless. this idea shocked her, and she sat stunned for a moment. Perhaps sensing what she was thinking, Jack said "of course, that's all gone now. But the good news is, what I built with it is still here for us to use." Pam thought about what he said, and realized he was right, and she was truly thankful that he'd found her.

    Jack continued his story "I'd always been intrigued with old government installations, the military in particular was always over-building things, and so I got on the 'net and started looking for government surplus properties. That's how I found this place. It wasn't much to look at when I first saw it, but the price was right when you consider what all was included, the complex and ninty acres of land for 1.5 million. Needless to say I bought it, along with an additional two hundred and fifty acres adjoining it." Jack stopped while he got soft drinks from the kitchenette for both of them. "The renovation was where the real fun started. First I had to hire a team to come in and remove all the asbestos and PCB's and stuff, mess the military had left when they abandoned the place. Then we had to drain the bottoms of the silos and put pumps into place to keep the water out as the bottoms and walls were being recovered with waterproof concrete to keep them from flooding again. Finally, we had to rework much of the machinery to get it to function. The military left most of it in place when they left, but age and damp conditions had taken their toll. all in all it took close to three years and more than twenty million dollars to get it to where it is today."

    Pam was impressed, she'd had no idea that so much work had been involved. The results certainly looked worth it though, especially considering what had happened in the world lately.

    "Mostly we left the complex itself alone, simply refurbishing the interior and reworking what equipment we could salvage" Jack said. "but after the main job was done, I added something I'd always wanted, an underground hangar for my planes." Pam's eyes lit up, "you have an airplane?!" Jack smiled at her. "Actually I have several, I kind of collect small military surplus and experimental aircraft." The girl was even more excited now, she loved to fly. "The hangar isn't built to the standards of this place" Jack said, "but we did the best we could without breaking the bank. We had a hole dug so the hundred by hundred foot steel building I wanted would sit with the roof only a couple of feet below the surface. then we covered the whole thing with eight inches of concrete, and filled the hole in with dirt. it won't support a lot of weight on top, but it hides the planes from view." "But, how do you get the planes up to the top to fly them?" "We built a hydraulic elevator next to the hangar and covered it with metal doors." Jack replied. Pam wanted to go look at the planes right then, but Jack said that it was getting late and they could do it the next day. "We both need to eat right now, then we can bathe and get ready for bed Pam. "Ok" Pam said, "but we WILL go look at the planes tomorrow, right?" Jack assured her that they'd do many things the next day.

    After they ate he told the girl to return to her apartment and get cleaned up and in the bed. Pam asked if he would come with her until she got to sleep, but Jack said he had a lot to do up in his place and that he'd see her in the morning. A disappointed Pamela agreed, and left for her own place.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

    http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y29...diplomacy2.jpg

    http://www.n3kl.org/sun/images/status.gif

  6. #6
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    Good start, and thanks to you and all the other writers who post for all the rest of us to read.
    "I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself." -DH Lawrence
    People are crazy and times are strange
    I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range
    I used to care, but things have changed

  7. #7
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    How about mountian home?
    While your at it hows about a few more chapters?

  8. #8
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    you're wish is my command!

    Chapter 6

    The next morning, Pam was up bright and early. She got dressed and pushed the button on the intercom for Jack's apartment. Jack, who'd been up for about half an hour, told her to come on up. when the girl arrived, Jack said "have a seat Pam, I'll have breakfast ready in a minute. You do like eggs, don't you?" Pam said that she did, and that the food smelled wonderful.

    After they'd eaten, Jack said "we have several things we need to do today, the first of which is to get you some clean clothes." Pam's clothes had seen better days. They were torn and dirty, and hadn't been washed in weeks. Jack said "there are a lot of sizes and styles of clothes in storage, why don't we go and find some things you like?"

    "sounds great Jack, lead the way."

    Most of the clothes in the storage area were made to be durable and long wearing, but Pam was still able to find some things she liked and could wear. After she'd picked out several sets of clothes Jack told her to go get changed, and bring him her old things to dispose of. Returning from her apartment to his, Pam looked like a totally different person. She was on the small size for her age, but even then the jeans and flannel shirt made her look more sure of herself. Jack told her he approved of her new look, making her feel better about herself.

    Next, Jack told her that, while she was here, she needed to be armed. He said "we need to find a rifle and pistol you can use in case you have to defend yourself, and teach you to use them." Pam smiled and said to Jack, "I already know how to use guns, my father and cousins used to take me to the range all the time. I even went hunting a couple of times." Jack was impressed. He asked "what kind of rifle did you hunt with?"

    "I usually used a .243 for hunting, but I didn't like it too much, it kicked a lot. I was a lot happier with my .22 rifle."

    Jack assessed the girl, she stood about 5 feet 2 inches tall, and didn't appear to weigh much more than a hundred pounds. "Well, if a .243 was too much recoil for you, I may have just the thing." going over to a cabinet set in one wall, he reached in and grabbed an M1 carbine. "This doesn't have much recoil at all Pam, but it's still a decent self-defence gun and effective out to a couple hundred yards with the jacketed hollowpoints it's loaded with." As he was showing her the rifle, Pam glanced into the cabinet. "Wow. Let me guess, you collect guns too, huh?" Jack laughed, "I guess you could say that. This is my personal collection, there are others in the armory that were supposed to be used by the group for defense of the complex, if that was ever needed." Pam took the M1, "this is light. You say it doesn't kick?" "No more than a .22." Jack replied. "We can go topside later and you can try it out for yourself. Right now though, I want you to take this belt that goes with it to your apartment. It holds ten fifteen round magazines for the rifle. Put it somewhere where you can find it quickly, but it doesn't have to be out in the open." Pam grabbed the belt and went to the elevator. "After you put that away, come back up here and we'll get you a pistol and then go upstairs and let you try them both out." "Ok Jack," she said.

    When she returned, she saw that Jack was putting some things into a green duffle bag. Jack turned and handed her a small black automatic. "this is a Walther PPK, it shoots a .380 acp, kind of a short 9mm. It doesn't kick too much, and is light weight and easy to use." The girl took the small pistol. "I've never shot a pistol before Jack, just rifles." "that's ok, I'll show you everything you need to know. The important thing to remember is, a pistol is only for fighting your way to your rifle, that's your real combat weapon. If it's in any way possible, only use your rifle to fight with."

    "How am I supposed to carry it?" she asked.

    "I'll get one of the shoulder holsters from the armory for you to wear. After we get you set up, I'd like you to have the pistol on you at all times, and keep the rifle available in your room."

    When they had her outfitted, they went down to the main entrance. Pam saw that they were going through one of two doors. "What's behind the other door?"

    "That's the other antenna silo. there were two that were used to launch the missiles. I've converted that area into an emergency wash down room now, it would have been used if there was a nuclear war and people needed to wash off fallout before they entered the main shelter." As they passed through the door, Pam saw that another elevator, like the one Jack parked the truck on, was waiting for them. As she stepped aboard, Jack pushed a button and the overhead doors began to swing upwards, causing the lights to go off as well. "Why do the lights go off when the doors are open?" Pam asked. "In different circumstances, different defenses are needed." Jack replied. "If there was a war going on, possibly even one with our own government, we might not want to be seen by the outside world. If the lights stayed on as the door was opened, they could give us away. it's a small detail that could have saved all our lives." She nodded her head in understanding.

    Arriving at the surface, Jack walked a few feet away from the elevator, stopped and took a small folding canvas table out of his bag. After setting it up he put the bag down on it, and removed a couple of empty soda cans. He quickly stepped off seven paces, set up the cans a few feet apart and returned to the table. He went over the basic rules of gun safety with Pam, then handed her the pistol, after removing the magazine and clearing the chamber. After showing her how to manipulate the controls, he asked her to point it at one of the cans and gently pull the trigger a few times. When she was comfortable with the pistol, Jack explained that, after the first shot, it would be cocked, and let her try dry firing it with the hammer back. Pam said she felt comfortable with the gun, so Jack gave her some ear plugs and put his in as well. Then, handing her the loaded magazine, he told her to load the pistol, chamber a round, and try to shoot the can.

    Pam's first shot went into the ground about half way between them and the cans. Jask said "relax Pam, take a deep breath and pretend the gun is still empty." Pam did as she was told, and fired again, kicking up dirt less than a foot from the can. "Good!" Jack said, "keep going." She was happy with Jack's praise, and kept shooting, eventually hitting the can. Jack was smiling at her, and said "you did great!" He handed her another magazine from the bag and told her to keep practicing. Stepping a few feet to the side, he drew his own gun, a Colt Python, and proceeded to put all six rounds into the other can. When Pam saw how good he was, she was determined to practice until she was just as good. Which was Jack's intention when he started shooting.

    After they'd spent about an hour with the pistols, Jack told her to load the Walther and put it away in her shoulder holster, and to wear it from now on. He said she could practice whenever she wanted, but he wanted her to get in at least an hour a day for the next week. Grinning from ear to ear, Pam said that was no problem, shooting the little gun was fun! Reaching into the bag, Jack pulled out and assembled a small metal frame. He attached a target to it, and then paced off a hundred yards and stuck it into the ground, before returning. Jack went over the controls of the carbine next, showing the girl how to change magazines, and how to charge and clear it. Next, he loaded the rifle and handed it to Pam, asking her to show him how good she was. Pam took the gun and, after a few practice shots to get used to it, proceeded to put ten rounds into the middle of the target. Needless to say, Jack was impressed, 'this girl was pretty good!' He said "Wow, you DO know how to use a rifle. consider it yours from now on." Pam was thrilled, she liked the little gun. The recoil was no worse than her .22, and it wasn't even that loud, at least, not like that .243.

    They continued to shoot for a couple more hours, when Jack said they needed to go back below and get something to eat. Packing up all their stuff, Pam said "thanks Jack, that was the most fun I've had in a long time." Smiling, Jack said "well, feel free to come up here whenever you like, just let me know first so I don't panic when I can't find you." Having finished cleaning up, they got back on the elevator and went back inside.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  9. #9
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    to help everyone visualize this a little bit, here are some maps.


    this is a map of the missile complexes around mountain home AFB. this story takes place at the northern most complex, marked with a red star and labeled "569c".
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    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  10. #10
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    this is a diagram of the Titan missile complex. the missile silos are at the top of the pic, the domes are in the middle, and the antenna silos are at the bottom.
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    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  11. #11
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    *this next chapter took a lot out of me, it really came from the heart*


    Chapter 7

    After they had finished eating, Jack asked Pam to have a seat on the couch, he wanted to discuss something important with her. Pam got excited, thinking that he was about to suggest they get more 'involved'. She hurried to the couch and sat down expectantly. Jack was a little confused at her excitement, but determined to go ahead with what he needed to say.

    "Pam, are you a christian?" he asked.

    Somewhat taken aback by the question, Pam stammered out "uh...I guess so, my parents were I think, but we never went to church or anything."

    "Do you believe in God?" He asked.

    "Sure."

    "Do you think you're going to heaven when you die?"

    "I guess so Jack, I hope so."

    "I'm sure you've heard of the Ten Commandments, have you broken any of them?"

    Pam thought about that for a second. "I don't know, maybe."

    Jack said "all right, let me put it like this. Have you ever taken anything that didn't belong to you?"

    Pam was uncomfortable with such personal questions, but she wanted to see where Jack was going with this. She also remembered that he'd said this was important, and she trusted him. "A few times, mostly when I was younger."

    "Have you ever told a lie to get someone else in trouble?"

    She remembered back to a time when she'd lied about getting into her fathers liquor cabinet, and blamed it on her cousin, who was staying with them. She wasn't proud of what she'd done, and was embarrassed to tell Jack about it. "Yeah, I've done that." she said guiltily.

    "How about this, have you ever looked at someone and had lustful thoughts about them?"

    Now she was really embarrassed...just a few minutes ago she'd been doing that very thing to Jack. "I guess so." she said.

    Jack said "you know, the Bible says that lusting after someone is the same as adultry, and is a sin, right?"

    "I-I didn't know that." she said, not meeting his eyes.

    "So, not to be blunt, but what you're saying is you're a liar, a thief, and an adultress, right?"

    At this, Pam wanted to be anywhere but here with Jack. What must he think of her? She was all those things, and worse. How could anyone, even Jack, like her now?"

    Jack continued "you said you believe you're going to heaven, why do you think that?"

    Pam had no answer, all she could do was stare at the floor at her feet, remembering all the bad things she had done. After a minute Jack said, "is it because God is good?"

    Pam perked up, that must be it! "Yeah...yeah that's it Jack, God IS good."

    "You're right about that Pam, God is good. But tell me this, imagine that a serial killer was brought before a judge, having been convicted of murdering a bunch of people. Imagine that he said to the judge 'your honor, I confess to killing all those people, but I don't think you'll put me in jail, because I heard that you're a GOOD judge, and I know you wouldn't let that happen to me.' Now, if the judge is REALLY good, what will he do?"

    Pam spoke immediately, this was an easy one. "He'd put the man in jail Jack, he deserved to go for what he'd done."

    "That's right Pam, but that's also the problem. You see, God really is good, and it's that goodness that won't allow a sinner to go to heaven."

    Pam sat stunned, feeling lost and afraid. She was so sure Jack would show her a way to get away with what she'd done, but now she realized that she deserved to be punished for her sins.

    "Ok Pam, now imagine this. It's you in the court room. You've been convicted of a terrible crime, and the judge looks at you and says 'you have been found guilty. It is the sentence of this court that you either pay a 25 billion dollar fine, or serve 25 years in prison.' Now, you KNOW there's no way you could ever pay such a fine, so you're resigned to your punishment. but as you start to leave the court room, the judge says 'wait, I have just been informed that someone you don't even know has paid your debt...you are free to go.' How do you think you'd feel?"

    Pam was still thinking about her sins, but seeing a glimmer of hope, she said "I'd feel great."

    "Well Pam, that's just what Jesus did for you!" You see, God made the law, and you broke it by sinning. But God loves you SO much that he sent Jesus, His son, to come to earth and pay your debt.
    The Bible says 'the wages of sin is death' Pam, that means that in order to pay for your sins, Jesus had to die...and He did, He went to the cross and died for your sins. All you have to do is confess your sins to Him and ask and He'll forgive you and save you from hell. Remember, He already knows about your sins, He wants you to confess them for your good, not His."

    Pam couldn't believe this. Here she had been thinking she was going to hell, and deserved to go, and now she'd found out what God...what Jesus had done for her. She just sat there, unable to speak. finally Jack said "Talk to Him Pam, Jesus wants to have a personal relationship with you. All you have to do is talk to him in your own words."

    Pam slid off the couch and onto her knees. With tears streaming down her face she began confessing her sins to God, asking for forgiveness and salvation. After a few minutes she stood, still crying, but with a smile forming as well. She looked at Jack and said "I feel different Jack, like I was a different person." Jack knew she needed a hug, and opened his arms. as he held her, he said "you are a different person Pam, the Bible says that when you're born again the old you is gone and you are a brand new person."

    Stepping away from the girl, Jack went to a book shelf and picked up a Bible. "This is for you Pam, it's God's word. This will tell you everything you need to know to begin a personal relationship with your Savior. Jesus wants to have a relationship with you, but it was up to you to make the first move."

    Pam took the book. She hadn't even held a Bible since she was small, but now there was a yearning within her to read it, to find out what God wanted to say to her. Jack suggested she go to her apartment and start reading. He even marked where the Gospel of Matthew started and told her to begin there. He said the Old Testament was important too, but the New Testament would have some answers for her. Pam said she'd start reading it right now. She gave Jack another hug and said "thank you so much for sharing this with me Jack, I never realized how much I needed Jesus, I think you have changed my life." Then she left and went to her place to start reading.

    Jack knew she'd be busy for several hours, so he took the time to go back to the garage and take care of a few things. First he decided to empty his friends' stuff out of the back of the truck. He put the personal stuff in one pile, and the guns, tools, and other useful items in another. After it was all out he gathered up the personal stuff and took it to his apartment, storing it away in a closet. Returning to the garage, he gathered up the tools and other stuff and took them into the maintenance area. With that done, he checked over the truck, making sure all the fluids were topped off and that it was ready to go if needed. He went over to one wall and flipped a switch, turning on the diesel pump. Then he grabbed the fuel hose from it's wall mount and filled the trucks' tanks. With these jobs taken care of, he returned to his apartment to get cleaned up and start dinner.

    When dinner was ready he went to the intercom and called Pam, and a minute later she stepped off the elevator. Jack was amazed, the girl positively glowed! She really did seem like a totally different person. As they sat down to the table, Jack said grace. For the first time, Pam said Amen. When dinner was over, they sat on the couch and talked. Pam was full of questions, and Jack did his best to answer them, referring to scripture whenever he could to show her the verse. Pam soon asked for a pad and pen so she could write down the verses and read them later. Encouraged by her enthusiasm, Jack got them for her.

    "One question I have Jack, is about baptism." Pam said.

    Jack said "now that you're a believer, we do need to take care of that. You do understand that baptism itself has nothing to do with salvation, right?"

    "But then why do we do it?" She asked.

    "We do it because Jesus told us to Pam, but baptism itself is symbolic. it symbolizes the washing away of our old selves and the birth of our new."

    Pam said she understood. "so that's why the man on the cross next to Jesus was saved, even though he wasn't baptised."

    "that's right Pam. Baptism doesn't save you, and it isn't necessary for salvation, but we are told by the Bible to baptize everyone if possible. Since we are servants of Jesus Christ, we do as He asks us.

    "Ok. So, are you going to baptize me?"

    "Sure, we can do that right now." With that, Jack got up. He led the girl into his bathroom, which had a large whirlpool tub. He filled the tub with warm water, and when it was full he asked Pam to get in. She felt strange getting into the tub with clothes on, but knew there wasn't any other way. She really wanted to do this, it was almost a need. after she'd gotten in and settled on her knees, Jack put one hand on her nose and the other behind her head. He said "Pamela, you have confessed Jesus Christ as your savior in my presence, and stated your willingness to be baptized. You have said you understand the symbology of this act, and that you are fulfilling the command of Jesus, is that correct? She nodded her head. Jack said "then I baptize you in the name of God the Father, His son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit." With that Jack pinched her nose closed and leaned her forward until her head was under water. He quickly raised her back up, and as she came out of the water she smiled from ear to ear. "Pamela, you are a new creature in Christ, welcome!

    Pam got out of the tub, gave Jack a big hug, then went back to her apartment to change into some dry clothes.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  12. #12
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    Chapter 8

    The next morning, Pam awoke feeling wonderful. As she lay there enjoying the feeling, still half asleep, she started thinking about Jack, imagining what it would be like to wake up in bed with him. After a few minutes however, she realized she was falling into the same routine as before, and that what she was doing was lusting, and it was sinful. Suddenly she didn't feel so wonderful anymore, she felt remorseful instead. Getting out of bed, she dropped down on her knees, and begged God to forgive her, although she wasn't sure if He would. After all, she was supposed to be different now, right? That meant she wasn't supposed to think like that anymore. Unsure of what to do, and needing answers to her questions, she suddenly felt the need to confess her thoughts to Jack.

    Pam stepped off the elevator, intent on talking to Jack. As she stepped out she saw him on the couch, with his head in his hands. Suddenly concerned that he was upset or sick, she quickly crossed the room and sat on the couch across from him, asking "are you ok?"

    At the sound of her voice, Jack looked up and asked her to hold on a moment. then he bowed his head again, and she heard him say softly "these things I ask in Jesus name, amen." Looking up at the girl, he said, "yeah, I'm ok, why do you ask?"

    Pam said, "I thought you were upset or sick, the way you were sitting with your head in your hands like that."

    "No, I was praying. I try to read the Bible and pray every morning before I start the day. You might want to consider doing that also, it really helps to get you focused on serving God every day."

    Pam was relieved, and said, "ok, I'll try that." She looked at him and hesitated, then said "I have a confession to make Jack," she paused, "I've been having...thoughts, about you..." He kept a neutral expression on his face, waiting for her to continue.

    "Sexual thoughts..."

    Jack smiled gently at her "I understand Pam, and I was aware of it."

    "You were?"

    "Yes, but now you understand that it was wrong, don't you?"

    "I know, but the thing is...I had those thoughts this morning also."

    "And?"

    "And I thought I was supposed to be a new person. What happened Jack, did I mess everything up? I asked God to forgive me again, but I don't know if He will. I'm so confused." Pam was becoming distraught.

    "No, you didn't mess everything up Pam, what happened to you is normal, all new believers, and a lot of old ones, go through this. Of course God forgives you, what's important is that you recognize that what you were doing wasn't right, and repent of it."

    "Repent? what's that?"

    "Repent means to turn away from your sins. Think about it like this, God stands at one end of the road, and sin stands at the other. When you're following sin you're walking away from God. When you repent, you're turning away from sin and walking to God."

    "Ok Jack, I understand. but how many times can I repent? is there a limit?"

    "No, as long as you truely repent, God will always forgive you. Sometimes we christians make the same mistake dozens of times, even hundreds, But God is ALWAYS faithful to forgive us. Remember, we are God's children. When a child makes a mistake, like spilling his milk, does his mother or father hate him, and turn him away? And even if he makes that same mistake many times, as long as he's sorry the parent will always forgive him, right?"

    "Oh, NOW I understand! Thank you for explaining it all to me, I'd be lost without you to help me."

    "No you wouldn't, because you have God to answer your questions now. All you have to do is pray and read your Bible, and God WILL give you all the answers you need."

    Pam was feeling better now, and soon their conversation turned to other things.

    "What are we going to do today?" she asked. Jack replied "How would you like to go flying? I thought we'd take one of the helicopters and have a look around town, and even look at the base."

    "Really! That'd be awesome!" the girl squealed.

    "I thought you'd like that" Jack smiled. "Ok, after we eat, we'll get ready and go. As soon as we're done here, go get your rifle and that belt of magazines and come back here."

    A little while later they were walking down the tunnel to the hangar. Jack had a rifle also, an M1 Garand and a bandoleer with several clips in it. He also had a 1911 in a shoulder holster. The door to the hangar was about half way between the dome and the entrance to the complex. Upon entering the large room, Pam stopped and stared. Before her were at least a dozen planes, most of which were small, but one large one was near the front. "What's that?" She asked, pointing to the large craft.

    "That's a C-2 Greyhound. It's a passenger version of the US Navy's E-2C Hawkeye airborne radar plane. It's the largest plane in my collection that can fit on the elevator, and only then because the wings fold back."

    "Are we going to fly that today?" Pam asked

    "No, it's more for long distance flying. I thought we'd take the Scorpion."

    "Which one's that?"

    "It's the small helicopter near the elevator. It's a nice reliable homebuilt that I put together several years ago. It's pretty strong, and lots of fun to fly. Also, since it's near the door we don't need to move everything around to get it out." Jack winked at her.

    "Ok, cool." Pam said.

    Before going to the craft, Jack went over to a rack near the entrance door. From it he removed a couple of boxes, handing one to her. "Put that on your belt Pam, it's a combination radio direction finder and emergency locator beacon. If anything happens while we're out, and we get separated, turn it on and point the antenna all around you until you find the strongest signal. That'll be the shelter, here. Once you have a signal, follow it and it'll take you home. If you get hurt or trapped, lift the red cover and push the button underneath and it'll activate a signal that I can use to find you."

    Pam took the unit and clipped it to her belt. Jack said "there's an emergency pack beneath the seat in the chopper also, in case you need it."

    They walked to the doors, and Jack pushed a button to open them, which also opened the doors above the elevator. Then he went over to the tail of the helicopter and, pushing down on it, caused the nose to lift so he could roll the small craft onto the elevator. Once there he pushed a button labeled 'up', and they began to rise. On the surface he quickly cleared the tie-down strap, and told the girl to get in. Starting the craft, they were able to take off a few moments later.

    Jack brought them up about fifty feet, then angled towards town and tipped the nose over, quickly gaining airspeed. Pam was thrilled to be flying, and had her face stuck to the canopy, watching everything around them. After a few miles of fairly open country, during which time they'd risen to about a hundred and fifty feet, she saw that they were starting to pass over more and more homes and businesses. Within twenty minutes they had arrived near the town proper. Seeing a population area for the first time since the plague, they both felt ill at ease. It seemed to Jack like they were flying over an empty motion picture set, or a ghost town. They didn't see any people at all.

    Circling downtown a few times, Jack decided to land. He flew over to main street near the center of town, and found a spot clear of power lines to set it down. As they came close to the ground however, the stench overcame them, the smell of death and rotting corpses. They both began to gag, and Jack quickly increased throttle and altitude until they were again above it. Back in the clean air they looked at each other, knowing that, in this town at least, they were likely the only living people around. Starting to feel a little better now that they were above the smell, Jack told Pam he still wanted to check out the airbase, so he turned towards the southwest and they started off at a sedate pace, still looking for signs of life below.

    The area of the town they were travelling over now was different than the way they'd come, and they could see the occasional body out in the open. Also, they could see a few animals around, and signs that some of the corpses had been partially eaten. The sight made Pam sick again, and she asked Jack if they could go home. He said they could as soon as they checked out the base, and increased speed, gaining even more altitude until the details below were harder to make out.

    At the airbase, the smell was even worse. Jack realized that it was blowing in from town on the prevailing breeze. Realizing there was no reason to continue until that smell had gone away, he turned around and started for home.

    Arriving back at the complex, Jack circled the property to assure himself that no one had come up while they'd been gone. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary he landed on the elevator and shut down. As soon as the blades had stopped turning they got out, and Jack secured the rotor with it's tie-down strap. then, hitting the 'down' button, they descended back to the hangar. Upon reaching the bottom, Jack wheeled the Scorpion back to it's parking space. Telling Pam to return the direction finders to the rack, he walked over to a small electric aircraft tug, which was attached to a fuel trailer, and drove it over to the bird and topped off the tanks. when he was finished he returned the tractor and the two of them walked to his apartment.

    "Well, that was disappointing." Jack remarked.

    "It's so sad...all those people." Pam mumbled.

    "I wonder how many are left, around the world, I know that Mountain Home isn't a good gauge of the rest of the world, but I have to believe that there are at least a few groups of people left, somewhere."

    "Do you think we'll ever find any?" Pam asked.

    "I don't know...I hope so. This world would be mighty lonely with just the two of us."

    When they got to Jacks apartment, he got them a couple of cokes and they sat and talked. Both were somewhat depressed after their trip, although they both had known it'd probably be bad. After a bit, Jack stood up and said "it's too early for lunch, and I don't think either of us has much of an appetite after that, so why don't we take a walk and I can show you some of the rest of this place?"

    "Ok Jack, that sounds good."

    They stopped by her place so she could drop off her rifle. Jack had put his away when they were upstairs. Then they walked down the tunnel, towards the power dome. As they passed the junction they came upon a door to their right. "This was the original entrance," Jack said "but the military filled it with debris and capped it with concrete when they left. I guess we could have cleared it, but there wasn't really any point as I intended for the antenna silo to be the main entrance." A little farther on they came to the first of two doors on the left side of the tunnel. Jack opened it and they went inside. Pam looked around and saw that the room was a tunnel section about a hundred feet long, and filled with a massive engine.

    "This used to be one of two water storage areas. I opened it up and now use it to house the emergency generator. The complex used to be powered by four eighteen cylinder diesel generators that were housed in the power dome. Without all the equipment we don't need nearly that much power, and I had plans for that dome, so I had this area converted. The engine and generator came out of a locomotive, and can put out as much as three megawatts of electricity if necessary." Pam looked at the huge engine and was impressed. "If you're down in this part of the complex, once in a while you may hear the engine crank up and run for a few minutes. It does that automatically to keep the engine from sitting idle too long. It'll definately startle you when it happens, but it's nothing to be concerned about."

    At the next door Jack showed her the clinic. "this room is the same as the last, an old water tank. But as the clinic, it can serve as a dentist's office, emergency room, and even a surgery if necessary. One of my friends who was supposed to come to the shelter in case of an emergency was a practicing veterinarian, he was going to be our doctor."

    Pam made a face and said "a veterinarian?! Why would he be the doctor?"

    "Think about it," Jack said "most people doctors are either specialists, or general practitioners. A specialist only really knows his area of expertise, and a GP rarely has any experience with anything other than viral infections, bumps and bruises. But a good country vet often has dealt with bullet wounds, major trauma, and all manner of diseases and ailments that animals get into, but that any other doctor would likely never see in his career. Also, a vet has to have a working knowledge of a dozen different anatomies instead of just one, and switching from them to human isn't all that difficult."

    Pam thought about it and, even though it made sense, it still sounded weird. They walked on, and soon came to the door to the power dome. Inside, Pam saw that the room was a partial circle, with tables and chairs around. "This is the main dining room. the kitchen is off to the left, and to the right is the control room and armory. straight ahead is an elevator to the upper floors and also a passage to the apartments on this level." Pam was looking around, realizing how many people were supposed to be using this place, and started to feel a little bit lonely.

    Jack showed her the control room, pointing out the security monitors and alarm systems. He also showed her the controls for what the complex could use for defense. There were ten high pressure, remote control flame throwers around the outside of the complex. Jack said that each one had an aiming camera mounted on it, and was capable of shooting burning jellied fuel up to two hundred yards.

    "They each have a two thousand gallon tank, which allows a full minute of fire, and they're set in such a way that their fields of fire overlap, giving us a major defensive weapon in case of attack. Each weapon is stored below ground on it's own hydraulic elevator, and can be raised in about ten seconds if needed to defend the complex. The reason I went with flame throwers instead of machine guns, is that the laws are very loose concerning them, as many farmers use smaller ones to clear brush. Machine guns and heavier weapons are difficult if not impossible to obtain legally, and for christians, the Bible tells us to obey the authority of the land, which means 'don't break the law'." Pam nodded her head in understanding.

    "The security monitors and motion sensors, along with other kinds of sensors, are tied in to the computer network. if a sensor goes off a warning buzzer sounds from the computer terminal in my place, and the ones in both my second and third in commands' rooms. Also, this pager I carry has a wireless link to the system and will alert me. From any terminal I can access the monitors, and either issue basic defensive commands to the system, or call a 'red alert'. because of this, we don't need someone monitoring the system all the time. that's good, because no one was going to be here except me unless there was an emergency."

    At the far end of the control room was the door to the armory. Within, Jack showed her one of the fifty sets of combat gear. Each set included a set of body armor, an H&K 91 rifle along with a dozen magazines, a set of load bearing equipment, and an M1911 .45 caliber pistol. He said that, if the place was ever attacked, this was their last line of defense. they'd try anything else they could first, but if push came to shove, the residents themselves would do whatever it took to defend the place and their families.

    Leaving the control room, Jack explained that the entire second floor was made up of apartment units, so they instead went to the top. There, Jack showed her the small chapel, and the recreation area, which had a few comfortable couches and chairs scattered about, several computer terminals, and a cabinet with games and books. "The computer has a library of nearly twenty thousand books you can read from any terminal, but some folks still prefer to hold the book in their hands, so we have some of them as well."

    Pam spent a few minutes looking through the games and reading the titles of the books, when suddenly, Jack's pager started buzzing.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  13. #13
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    Chapter 9

    When his pager went off, Jack went over to one of the recreation room terminals and turned it on. As the screen came up he logged in and brought up the security system. A motion detector for the main gate had been tripped, and he selected the camera for that area and examined the picture. There appeared to be a beat up old truck not far from the gate, and he could see a couple of people moving about. He said to Pam "looks like there's someone at the front gate, but I can't make out who it is from here. let's go to the control room and see if we can zoom in on them." With that, the two went back downstairs.

    Arriving at main control, Jack went to the monitor station and selected the gate camera for the large monitor. Zooming in on the truck, he saw that it was old and rusted, and the bed was piled high with stuff. He counted three people moving about, looking like they were discussing something. Two of them he was sure he'd never seen before, but the third looked familiar. after a minute it came to him, that looked like Melissa!

    Jack said "I think I know one of them, that looks like the wife of one of my friends who was supposed to shelter here. I don't know the other two, but they don't appear hostile, they seem to be discussing something as equals." Thinking for a moment, he continued "Pam, stay here. I need you to watch my back. I'm going to go out there and try and bring them in. I don't think it's likely, but Melissa may be being held against her will, being used by the others to get in here. Sit here and watch the screen, they're not in range of the nearest flamethrower yet, but if they shoot me and come inside, as soon as they get past that orange post next to the road, they will be. Remember, it takes a few seconds for the weapon to raise up and get in firing position, so wait until they get about half way between the post and the flamethrower before activating it, so they won't have time to retreat even if they see it. as soon as it's up, hose them down." Jack quickly showed her how to operate the weapon control station and select the appropriate gun, and said he'd try to keep out of it's area of fire so she wouldn't toast him as well. Pam was nervous and very serious, realizing that this wasn't a game and that their lives were on the line.

    She said "Jack, do you have to go? If anything happened to you I don't know WHAT I'd do. I think I'm falling in love with you, I don't want to lose you now." She pleaded.

    He looked at her. "I care about you two Pam, and I'll be careful. But those are people out there and even if they're not the ones I'm thinking of, there are dang few people left. We as christians have to do everything we can to help others, if we were to lock ourselves away from others who need our help, how could we face God when the time comes? Besides, if that IS my friend, we'll be a lot better off with her and her friends in here with us."

    Pam knew he was right, but she was still scared and worried for him. still, she said OK, and watched nervously as he left the room, stopping at the armory first and picking up a rifle and vest. She wished that she'd asked him to hug her goodbye, but she didn't want him to think she was trying to come on to him again. Suddenly he walked back in again, and Pam's eyes lit up. He said "I almost forgot" and reached for a couple two-way radios in a charger along the wall. Handing one to her, he said he'd call her if he needed her. With that, Jack walked back out of the room. Pam slumped back, she'd been sure he was coming back to give her a hug.

    Walking out into the tunnel, Jack was thinking about Pam. 'Maybe I should have given her a hug to reassure her before I left,' he thought, but he didn't want to send the wrong signal to someone who had so recently confessed to having a problem lusting for him. Putting thoughts of the girl out of his mind, he walked towards the garage silo.

    Entering the garage, Jack contemplated driving the mog out to the gate, but decided that it might scare whoever was out there, if they weren't who he thought they were. Deciding that keeping it low key was best, he got in the truck and drove it into the tunnel that led to the maintenance shop, clearing the elevator. Then bringing the elevator up to the next level, he selected one of the Max six wheel drive vehicles and, climbing in and driving onto the pad, he hit the button that opened the doors and raised him to the surface. Exiting the silo, he made his way towards the main gate, being sure to detour far enough out so that he wouldn't cross into range of the flamethrower. As he approached the gate, he saw that the people there apparently had heard him. there was a flurry of activity as they dove for cover, and a second later a shot rang out!

    Jack immediately dove off the Max, the vehicle continuing on a dozen yards until it came to rest, idling. As jack tried to make himself one with the ground, he called Pam on the radio, letting her know he wasn't hit and telling her to remain alert. Then he called out "MELISSA!, IT"S JACK. STOP SHOOTING!"

    Immediately he heard voices from the gate, then "JACK? IS THAT REALLY YOU? I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD."

    "Well I'm not yet, but I WILL be if people keep taking shots at me!"

    The woman called back, "we're coming out Jack, please hold your fire." and with that, all three of them stood up and put down their guns. Jack stood as well. He walked over to the Max and got aboard, driving it cautiously over to the gate.

    As he pulled up, he said to Melissa "thank God you're alive! Are Jerry and the kids..."

    "They're dead." Melissa said sadly "They died a couple of weeks ago from the plague."

    Jack opened the gate, quickly going to the woman and holding her for a moment. Stepping back he said "I am so sorry Melissa, I know how much you must be hurting. I wish I could do something to ease your pain."

    "It's ok Jack, God is helping me to get through."

    Trying to change the subject, he said "who are your friends?"

    Visibly pulling herself together, she gave him a weak smile and said "This is Eric Williams and his friend Robin Jeffrey. We found each other on the way here.

    "Nice to meet you two. Well, why don't we get inside, I'm sure you're all tired and hungry. After you've had a chance to rest you can tell me about your journey."

    "Sounds good to me, I've been trying to get here for more than a week." The woman said.

    Jack called Pam on the radio to let her know everything was ok and they were coming in. Pam immediately replied "thank God! I was so worried." At the sound of a female voice coming from the radio, Melissa gave him a curious look, but said nothing. After they pulled their truck through, Jack closed and locked the gate. Then he led them back to the silo.

    Jack instructed Eric to pull onto the elevator pad, and to stay to one side so he could get the max on as well. When they were set he pushed the button and they descended into the complex. Jack stopped them at the second level and put the Max back where he'd gotten it, then comtinued down to the third and told the group to grab their stuff and follow him.

    At the junction to the main tunnel, they were met by Pam. She jumped into Jack's arms nearly hysterical, saying she'd thought he was dead when that shot was fired. He reassured her that he was fine, calming her down, but aware of how nice it was that she'd been so concerned for him. When she'd regained control of herself, Pam turned to the newcomers and said "I'm Pamela."

    Jack, remembering his manners, introduced the others to the girl, and they started walking toward the dome, Pam sniffling and trying to dry her tears.

    Arriving at his apartment, Jack told the others to have a seat while he got lunch together. As he went to the kitchenette, Pam followed him saying she'd help. Jack was aware that she seemed to be sticking close to him, and figured she was just a little shy around the others.

    Serving lunch, Jack said "So, tell me about your trip Mel.

    "Well, after Jerry and the children passed, I wasn't sure what to do. I wanted to die myself, and I figured it'd happen pretty soon. After a few days had passed and I still didn't get sick, I thought about forcing the issue. I was just so torn up about losing them. In my depression I actually prayed for God to kill me too, but while I was praying, God gave me peace instead. It was then that He led me to understand that He wasn't through with me yet, that He knew I had suffered greatly, but He still had plans for me. After hours of crying and praying, I pulled myself together enough to make some plans. Our plan was always to get here if we could, so I tried calling you, back before the phones went out. I couldn't get ahold of you, no matter when I called, day or night, and finally figured you'd died of the sickness as well. Finally, after praying about it, I got my things together and started trying to get here."

    "The going was rough at first. Apparently something had caused a mass evacuation panic in Eugene. The roads were jammed solid, not just the highways, but the secondary streets as well. I ended up driving through yards and parking lots, and it took me three days just to get out of the area. Then, as I made my way through the mountains, there were occasional accidents that sometimes blocked the road completely. some of them I was able to clear with the winch, but others were too bad, and I was forced to backtrack and find other ways to get through. Eventually the road became clearer, and I was able to start making good time. That is, until I got to a small town called Harper. While driving through the town, someone started shooting at me from among the buildings. I heard a shot hit the truck, and floored the gas, trying to get away from the area. After a bit the truck got hard to control, I think they hit one of the wheels. Anyway I kept going a couple of miles, but ended up losing control and hitting a parked car. The truck wasn't fixable quickly, and I didn't want to stay in that area, so I grabbed what I could carry and headed off into the brush. After a while I decided that no one was following me, so I took off down the road. Coming to the next town, called Vale, I started looking for a place to spend the night."

    Jack had been through Vale a couple of times, it was just across the border in Oregon, a tiny berg on an old state road, with nothing to make it stand out.

    "I hadn't seen anybody the whole time I was traveling, unless you include the person who shot at me, and I didn't even SEE him. So, when I finally got to Vale I just went to the first store I came to, which was a gas station. I tried the door, and it was unlocked. It was getting dark, so I went in and locked the door then went to the back and got out my sleeping bag. I got into some candy from a rack, and lay down and went to sleep. The next morning I woke up because I heard glass breaking. I looked out into the store, and saw Eric and Robin standing just inside the door. When I spoke to them I thought they were going to jump out of their skin, but after talking for a bit they calmed down. They told me they were hungry, and just looking for food. I told them to help themselves to what was there, and they went right to it, stuffing themselves with the candy like they hadn't eaten in a week. Afterwards they told me they were all alone, and had nowhere to go. I told them I knew of a place that had food and supplies, and asked them if they wanted to go with me."

    At this point, Eric spoke up. "After my parents died, I didn't know what to do. When I'd eaten everything there was in the house, I started looking in the other houses in town. That's how I found Robin. She was hiding in her home, having lost her whole family as well. We'd gone to high school together but in different grades, I'm a senior and she's a freshman, but we knew each other at least. We started looking for food together, and had just about decided to try to get to another town, when we found Melissa in the 'Stop 'n Go'. When she said she had a place to go, we both were so relieved, we jumped at the chance to go with her. I had my truck outside, so we helped her get her stuff together and in the truck, and left."

    Mel spoke up again "we traveled all that day, and ended up in Boise. Knowing we needed some guns, we found a pawn shop there and got a couple."

    Jack had seen their guns, a .22 rifle and an old Marlin .30-.30.

    "There wasn't much ammo in the pawn shop, but there was enough. I gave the 30-30 to Eric, and took over the driving for the final leg of the journey. When we pulled up to the gate, I realized I'd forgotten the code to unlock it. As we were trying to decide what to do, we noticed you coming this way. I thought you were dead, and didn't know who would be coming towards us from the inside, so I told Eric and Robin to get down behind something."

    "I'm sorry I shot at you mister, but Melissa said that there wasn't supposed to be anybody here. Anyway, it was just a warning shot. Heck, as bad as I was shaking, I doubt if I coulda' hit ya' even if I was tryin'."

    Jack said it was ok, he understood. "I might've done the same thing in your place Eric."

    Eric looked relieved.

    "Well, that's our story. Now, what's yours?" Jack told them that he'd been staying with some friends in Butte when it all started. Then he gave them a rundown of the events up until that time. When he was finished, everyone decided it was time to call it a night. Jack showed Melissa to the apartment across from Pam. Then Eric and Robin, who said that, while they weren't a couple, they didn't want to be apart right now, to one further down.

    Lying in bed that night, Pam was having trouble sleeping. She kept remembering the sight of Jack diving off the ATV, and her thinking he was dead. Then, after learning he was ok, she'd felt something totally different when she'd watched him on the monitor, walking through the gate and hugging this new woman. She'd been watching that woman since she'd come out from behind the truck. She appeared to be in her mid thirties...like Jack. Then, when she saw Jack hugging her, Pam felt something kind of like anger inside herself, and she realized that Jack would never want her with a grown woman here.

    It was a long time before Pam got to sleep.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  14. #14
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    c'mon folks, make some comments!

    if ya don't, how am i supposed to know if anyone's even reading it? it really gets depressing to come here every day and never see any posts but my own.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  15. #15
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    we are trying not to clutter up the story with comments.
    I know this has already been said but you are doing a great job!! I know it is tough writing a story with multipal characters and we all appriciate your endever!!


    Besides you don't have time to read comments; you are supose to be typing the next 30 chapters by monday now get cracking

  16. #16
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    thank you GG! that's exactly what i wanted to hear.

    as for cluttering up the story, feel free. if it goes to 50 pages, what does it matter?
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  17. #17

    Keep it up!

    I'm reading. I didn't want to clutter up the story with comments either. I'm finding the story to be very interesting. You are doing a great job! Keep going. I'm waiting for the next chapter LOL!

  18. #18
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    Chapter 10

    Early the next morning, Pam got up and went up to Jack's place. Stepping out of the elevator she realized that Melissa was already there, and she heard them talking and giggling as they got breakfast together. Hearing the elevator door close, Jack turned, saw her and said. "Good morning sleepy head, did you have a good night?"

    Feeling jealousy rise up within her, Pam got a sour look on her face and mumbled "guess so." Then went over and sat on the couch, picking up the remote and flipping on the TV for the first time since she'd been there.

    Somewhat curious at her gruff reply, Jack started to walk over, when Mel caught his arm and turned him back, pointing to the eggs and saying "don't let them burn, Jack." Turning back to what he was doing, Jack decided to let it go. She was probably just not feeling well or something.

    After a few minutes, Eric and Robin appeared also. Mel said, "good morning. Have a seat, breakfast will be done in a minute."

    Seeing Pam, Eric shyly said "hi." Then sat with Robin on another couch, the two of them remaining silent as Pam browsed through the selection of movie titles.

    Calling everyone to the table a few minutes later, Jack said grace and they all started to eat. He noticed Pam was refusing to make eye contact with him, but pretended not to. After they'd started eating, He spoke up "folks, I really enjoy everyone meeting up here and hanging out, but for meals, there really isn't enough room. These apartments weren't designed for dinner parties. I think we'd all be more comfortable eating in the dining room from now on." The others looked at him a little taken aback, but realized there really wasn't much room at the small table.

    "Where is the dining room?" Eric asked.

    "It's in the other dome, not far from here. I'll take you all over to see it after we're done eating.

    After the meal, while walking to the other dome, Jack tried to talk to Pam and find out what was wrong. Still feeling hurt and resentful, she refused to say anything, quickening her pace slightly and moving away from him. Seeing what he was doing, Mel moved closer to Jack, preventing him from pursuing the girl. Mel was very much aware of the situation. It was obvious that Pam was jealous of her, and equally obvious that Jack was interested in the girl. Determined to nip this in the bud before it got out of hand, She made a point to try and keep Jack away from her.

    Entering the other dome, Jack began pointing out the various areas of interest. Mel asked about the kitchen, and he led the group off to the left side of the room. The door to the kitchen led through a short tunnel to what Jack said used to be the ventilation room for the power dome. "When this place was operational the four large diesel generators put out a lot of fumes, and the builders solved the ventilation problem by building intake and an exhaust rooms, one on either side of the dome. The exhaust room was converted into the control room and armory, and the intake and filter room into the kitchen." Looking around, they saw the room was about twenty feet square, and had a door leading off to the left. There were stainless steel counters, sinks, and a huge range around the walls, with a large oven and a rack of pans and utensils in the middle. Jack told them that through the door was a walk-in cooler and freezer, with dry storage beyond that. He said that this was only short term storage, long term was in silos two and three at the far end of the complex. When necessary, one of them could use a small electric cart to bring in fresh supplies, but the food that was already here should feed them all for several months at least.

    Mel thought she could get used to this, she'd always dreamed of a kitchen like this! As she was looking around and asking questions, Jack asked Pam to show the others the rest of the place. Giving him a sour look that Jack was having trouble interpreting, Pam, thought 'great! A wonderful time for him to be alone with HER'. Nevertheless, she nodded her head and said "come on," leading the others out. When they were gone, Mel turned to him and said "what's going on jack?"

    "What do you mean?"

    "Oh come now Jack, it's obvious you've got a thing for her, what are your intentions with that child?"

    Jack, beginning to get uncomfortable and not liking her tone in the least, said "oh I'd hardly call her a child Mel, especially after what she's been through."

    "Uh huh, so how old is she anyway...fifteen?"

    "She's sixteen, and that has nothing to do with it." jack replied in a low tone, he was starting to get upset.

    "Oh, SIXteen, that makes ALL the difference."

    "Mel, I said that has nothing to do with it. Look, you need to realize a few things. The first is, please remember who's shelter this is. Second, this is not the world we knew. Most of the world is dead, your husband and children among them. There are DAMN few people left out there, and we're going to have to set aside some of society's misplaced values if we're going to have a chance to survive as a race. And third, Pam ACTS like an adult, she has to make decisions like an adult, and she deserves to be treated as an adult. Do you realize that she was in the control room when I went out to meet you yesterday? She was manning the defenses, ready to burn you all to a cinder if you tried to storm the place. Well, if she's old enough to kill to defend her home, then as far as I'm concerned, she IS an adult."

    If he'd slapped her in the face, Mel couldn't have been any more shocked. Suddenly she burst into tears, and Jack moved close to hold her. As she cried, she said "you're right Jack, I don't know why I'm acting like this. Everythings just so crazy now. Yes, if anyone can fight for their home, they're old enough to make other decisions. I guess I was just trying to pretend everything was the way it used to be. Please forgive me."

    "There's nothing to forgive." He said gently. "You've been under a tremendous amount of pressure, we all have."

    "Yes, we all have. You have too, and I haven't been helping. I've been acting like I own you when she's around, and that's why she's been acting so strangely. She's jealous Jack, I think she has a crush on you."

    Jack was surprised, but it all made sense now. Still, he wasn't sure how to handle the situation, without leading the girl into more trouble. He explained his concerns to Mel.

    "Don't worry Jack, I'll talk to her. I'll help her to see why I've been acting as I have, and let her know I'm no threat to you and her."

    "Mel, I don't necessarily want to jump into anything with her right now, I just don't want her to hate me or be mad at me anymore. If later on we decide to get more involved, so be it, but for now we've all got too many other things to worry about. Also, Pam just became a christian and she's not too sure about a lot of things. What she really needs is a woman friend, someone who can help and guide her."

    "I think I can handle that." Mel smiled.

    After she got herself together, they walked out into the dining room to await the others.

    A minute later the gang stepped off the elevator. Jack stood up and asked "who wants the grand tour?"

    Pam, seeing the two of them together, said sullenly "I've already seen it, I'm going to my room." and stomped off.

    Mel whispered to Jack, "I'll take care of it." And started after her.

    ------------------------------------------------

    Catching up to the girl, Mel said "got a minute? I need to talk to you."

    Giving her a withering look, Pam said "what."

    "I need to apologize to you Pam, I've been acting badly."

    At that, Pam softened a little and asked "what do you mean?"

    "When I was outside, trying to get here, I convinced myself that once here everything would be normal, back to the way it was. Then when we arrived and I saw the way you and Jack were acting towards one another, something inside me said 'that's not right', and I started trying to do something to stop it.

    "There's nothing going on with us." Pam said defensively.

    "I know there's nothing physically happening, but I've seen how you feel about him from the way you act. And, I think he may feel the same way."

    Pam suddenly got embarrassed, but said nothing.

    "Look, I thought I needed to do something to get you two apart, to protect you from each other, but while you were upstairs Jack pointed out a few things to me. The world's different now, and some of the things society used to believe, have changed. We're all going to have to get used to that, and one of those changes is going to have to be in how we treat each other. In this new world, we can't afford to hold young people back because they haven't reached a certain set age. Instead, if someone acts like an adult, we need to treat them like an adult. Conversely, no matter how old someone is, if they act like a child, we all need to treat them like a child."

    Pam just looked at her, trying to understand what she was saying. "Do you mean that if I act like an adult, Jack will treat me like a grown woman, even have a relationship with me?"

    By this time, they'd arrived at Pam's apartment, and both women went inside, continuing their conversation.

    "Well, I can't say about the relationship part, all I can say is there's a chance. It's definately not an area where anyone needs to rush into anything, but, if you'll just be yourself, eventually it may happen. One thing that's started to drive a wedge between you two is the jealousy you've been showing. It's got him upset and confused, and that's not good for any friendship. Jack said you just became a christian. I've been saved for a while now, and I thought maybe I could help you to understand a few things."

    Pam smiled, realizing both that she had a new spiritual sister, and that she'd found a friend as well. Maybe with her help, she and Jack could get close again.

    "One thing that's going to be important for you to understand, is that selfishness is the core of all sin. Take jealousy for example. When you feel jealous, you're not thinking about my happiness or Jacks, but about your own. And that makes you do things that cause you more problems, like upsetting the man you're trying to get to like you."

    Pam nodded, that made sense.

    "A christian puts God first, and others above themselves. When you do that, you'll find that it makes you feel better, and those around you happier as well. Remember, anytime you start looking at self you're in danger of sin, and you're going to act in a way that makes others not want to be near you."

    "I think I understand, thanks." She said, feeling within her heart that Mel was telling her the truth. "I also understand why you did what you did, you were thinking about what was best for me and Jack."

    "That's right Pam, I want to assure you that I have no interest in Jack as anything other than a friend. I loved my husband dearly, and my children, and just lost them a couple of weeks ago. I don't know if I'll ever be ready to try again with anyone else, but if I do it'll be a really long time from now.

    The two women continued to talk, stopping only when it was time for lunch. Getting up, they headed for the dining room together to prepare the meal for everyone. Pam knew she had a wonderful new friend, and was ashamed of the way she had acted earlier. She also resolved to apologize to Jack the next time she could get him alone for a second.

    ---------------------------------------

    While the two women were talking, Jack had been showing the others the rest of the complex. When they reached the maintenance bay, Eric got a big grin. "Man! you could do anything in here!" he exclaimed.

    "Speaking of which, how's that pick-up of yours running?" Jack asked.

    Embarrassed, he said "well, not too good, I never could afford to do much to it."

    Jack had an idea. "Well, if you want, we could spend a few days taking a look at it and getting it back into shape." he suggested.

    Eric's eyes lit up. "Could we? That'd be great Jack."

    Smiling at the boy's enthusiasm, he said "good, why don't we get started after breakfast tomorrow." From the reaction he got. Jack thought he may have found a friend for life.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  19. #19
    Keep up the good work, we are all enjoying your time and effort.


  20. #20
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    Chapter 11

    Looking at a clock on the wall, Jack said "Wow, it's just about lunchtime, I wonder if Mel's getting us something together to eat. What say we wander back to my place and find out."

    Robin looked up from where she'd been leaning against a work bench and said "I thought you said we were supposed to eat in the dining room from now on?"

    Laughing, Jack said "that's right, I forgot. Well, let's go see if she remembered also."

    The trio entered the dining room and looked around. Not seeing anyone Jack turned to leave when he heard voices coming from the kitchen. Walking in, he saw Mel and Pam getting lunch together. "Need any help?" He asked.

    Mel looked up at the sound of his voice and replied "nope, we've got it. go on back to the dining room, we'll bring it out in a minute." Jack noticed that Pam had looked up also. As he turned to go, she gave him a quick smile.

    In the other room, he said "looks like I was the only one to forget. They said they'd be bringing lunch out in a minute." As he waited, he remembered Pam's smile, thinking 'boy, that was fast. I guess everything's all right now'.

    As the ladies brought out the food, Jack noticed that Pam seemed to be back to her old self. But more than that, she seemed to have formed a special friendship with the Mel. That was good Jack thought, a girl her age needs an older woman to guide and help her. Also, it may help Mel get over the loss of her family more easily to have someone she could confide in. Jack was aware that there were some things a woman just wasn't comfortable talking to a man about, no matter how close a friend he was.

    After lunch, Jack stood up to speak. "Now that we're all here, I need to say a few things. The first day after Pam and I got here, I told her that I expected all adults to be armed at all times as long as they were living in this shelter. Now, I know that some of you were considered children before the plague, but things are different now. As long as each of you pull your weight and act like an adult, you'll be treated that way. As adults you each will have responsibilities, and will be expected to follow directions. One of those responsibilities is to be ready to defend this place and the people living here. But with responsibility comes authority as well. That means no one will be watching over your shoulder all the time. You'll be expected to look after yourself and make good decisions without having to be told what to do."

    "Now, is everyone in agreement with this?" Jack looked at the others, especially Robin, as she was the youngest. Everyone nodded their head without hesitation, so Jack continued. "Good. Now, is there anyone here who has misgivings about handling guns or using them to defend this place?" Looking around again he saw that no one was making a move. After a moment, he continued. "Great. well, if you'll all come with me to the armory, I'll get you set up with your individual weapons."

    In the control room, Jack stopped before the door to the armory. "When I set this place up, I decided on a standardized rifle and pistol for shelter defense. The rifle I chose is the H&K-91. This is a .308 caliber semi-automatic rifle, and it does have some kick. Because of her small stature, I decided to Give Pam the M-1 carbine instead, as I'd prefer a person be comfortable with their gun. having made that point, if any of the rest of you aren't comfortable with this rifle, or the M-1911 pistol that goes with it, please tell me and we'll get you something else."

    Everyone nodded, and Jack began handing out unloaded rifles and pistols. Looking at Pam he said "run over to the kitchen and get the electric cart, ok?" Pam smiled and said "sure." And ran off.

    As she left, he asked Eric to help him move some of the target stands from the back of the armory out to the dining room. Then he grabbed a case of .308 and brick of .45 acp, and followed him. As he arrived Pam also walked up with the cart, and they began to load it with their stuff. Finishing, they started for the main entrance, Jack hoping to qualify everyone before it got too dark to see.

    It took two trips to get everyone up to the surface, as the cart was so big. As soon as they were up, Jack and Eric walked out and set up targets at a hundred yards, and Jack put a couple at 10 yards for the pistols. He explained to the group that everyone had to qualify to his satisfaction before they could carry full time, and then took each one aside to find out what they knew. He asked each if they'd ever shot a rifle or pistol. If they said yes he went over the controls with them and told them to show him what they could do. If they said no, or if they needed work, he explained things further and worked with them. Finding out that Mel and Eric were proficient with pistols but needed help with rifles, he asked Pam to take them to the side and bring them up to par. Pam was thrilled with the responsibility, but didn't let it go to her head. Robin on the other hand wasn't very good with either one, and Jack started working with her on the pistol first.

    Jack was having problems with Robin. One reason was that she was very shy. She wouldn't tell him if she didn't understand something, and only mumbled when he asked her questions. Getting fed up, he called Pam over and asked her to work with the girl. Pam told him she'd gotten Mel hitting the target consistantly, but that Eric still needed work. Jack told Mel to keep practicing, while he got together with Eric. After a while the kid was doing pretty good, and Jack was satisfied for the moment. Seeing that Pam was still trying to work with Robin, he sent Eric to see if he could help. Pam came over and said "I think that gun is too big for her Jack, can I let her try my walther instead?"

    Realizing that was probably a good point, Jack told her to go ahead. Finally, as it was starting to get too dark to see, Robin started hitting the target. Deciding to call it a day, now that Robin was good enough to at least keep a pistol on her, Jack called everyone together.

    "Ok, I think everyone's good enough to carry their pistols in the shelter, so as soon as I show you how to clean and maintain them, I want you all to carry them from now on. Robin, I'll get you a pistol like Pam's when we get downstairs and you can work with her tomorrow on the rifle, but if it's too big, please don't waste our time by not saying anything, let her know and we'll find you something else. All right, let's everyone clean up and go back inside and get some dinner. Oh, and I want everyone to try and practice at least one hour a day for the next couple of weeks." Bringing in the targets and picking up the brass, they reboarded the elevator and went back inside.

    --------------------------------------------------

    The next morning, as Pam was helping Robin learn to shoot a rifle, Jack and Eric went to the maintenance bay to start on the old pick-up. Moving the 'mog' out of the way they pulled Eric's truck inside and started going over it. Seeing that mostly it was just old and rundown, Jack said that, while he was able to machine some parts like the ball joint they needed for the left front lower A-arm, some parts he couldn't, like belts and hoses. For those they'd have to find a parts shop in town.

    While they were working, they started getting to know one another. Jack asked "Eric, are you a christian?"

    "You better believe it, I couldn't have gotten through even one day after my parents died without Jesus to lean on."

    "That's great to hear. How about Robin?"

    "Yep, we used to go to the same church. Every morning we read our Bibles together and pray before we leave our apartment."

    Jack was relieved to hear this. "Tell me Eric, what exactly is the relationship between you two."

    "We're not involved, if that's what you mean." The boy said. "We're just friends. It's funny, before the plague we hardly even noticed each other, me being a senior and her a freshman and all. But after we went through so much, I guess we both just needed a friend."

    Jack smiled, he knew exactly what he meant.

    "So you're not a couple?"

    "No. Not yet anyway."

    "you've talked about that, haven't you?"

    "Yeah, back before we met Melissa. But we decided we weren't ready for that, at least not until we had a permanent place we could live. Also, we both decided a long time ago to wait until we were married before ever...you know."

    Jack, impressed with the boys' maturity, nodded and said "Well, if you ever feel the need to talk about anything, I'm here for you."

    "Thanks Jack, I appreciate that."

    "You know, Pam just got saved a few days ago, right?"

    "She did? Praise God."

    "Yep, she's a brand new believer, and she has a lot of questions. If you feel like it, why don't you talk to her about it, at least let her know that you and Robin are believers too and a part of her new family."

    "Ok Jack, I'll do that." Eric started thinking about what he'd say.

    "What do you think about starting a group Bible study" Jack asked.

    "Sounds good to me, I'm sure we all could learn something, and it'd be a great way for Pam to learn more as well."

    "Ok then, I'll bring it up at dinner tonight." Jack said.

    The two of them continued to talk as they worked on the truck.

    -----------------------------------------------------

    At the impromptu range, Pam was talking to Robin as she helped the girl with her riflery. After trying the H&K, Robin said that the kick hurt her shoulder. Pam nodded knowingly, and suggested the girl try her carbine instead. Robin fired it a few times and agreed that it was a lot better. Using up the ammo they'd brought for the M-1, Pam went below for some more. Running into Mel along the way and telling her what they'd decided, The older woman suggested they try using an AR-15. Pam asked what it looked like and what kind of bullet it shot, and Mel described them.

    "I think I've seen one of those in Jack's gun cabinet" She said. "I'll be right back."

    Going up to Jack's apartment, she went to the cabinet and looked around. off to one side she found what she was looking for and grabbed it, looking around on a lower shelf until she found the right kind of ammo. Taking several boxes, she returned to Mel to make sure it was the right one.

    "Mel said, "yes, that's the one. I know because Jerry used to have one. It's one of the few rifles I've tried to shoot, and the only one I really liked."

    Thanking her for her help, Pam returned to the shooting area and showed Robin how to use the gun.

    'Now, this is a rifle I can shoot' Robin thought, as she proceeded to fire the gun and started hitting the target. After a while they traded places and Pam tried it too, but decided she preferred the M-1.

    As they shot, they talked. "So, what's the deal with you and Eric?" Pam asked. "Are you guys...you know...doing it?"

    Robin looked at her and said "No, I made a deal with God that I would wait until I got married before I did that, and so did Eric."

    "Wow, you're both christians?" Pam asked.

    "Yes" the girl said.

    "Cool, so am I. Jack told me about Jesus and what He did for me. It completely blew me away, I'll tell you!"

    Robin smiled as she continued to practice.

    "I didn't know God wanted me to wait until I'm married to 'do it' though, I'm not sure I could wait that long."

    "It's worth the wait" Robin said. "My mother told me that God isn't against sex, He just wants us to do it in the right way. As my mom said, every time you have sex with someone, you give a piece of yourself to them. If you've had sex with other guys, there's nothing to give your husband when you finally do get married. But if you wait, then you have plenty to give to him, and he has plenty to give to you also, and you really become 'one flesh', as the Bible says. My mom said that sex outside of marriage is about as satisfying as a sneeze." At that Pam giggled. "But when done in the right way, with both of you married and serving God, it's unbelievably wonderful. That's why I decided to wait."

    Pam thought about that. It sounded like a no-brainer to wait, but the whole idea of getting married, even to Jack, was freaky. As she thought about it, she realized that she wasn't ready for such a big step yet. Suddenly, her whole situation became more real to her. She realized she'd been living in a fantasy world, but reality was a lot different. Decisions she made now really did affect her whole life. From now on, she decided, she'd think things over carefully before jumping into anything.

    She wondered where this put her and Jack, then she remembered that he'd said that he really needed a friend more than anything. She decided that that was what she needed too, and resolved to be a friend to him, and not worry about going further than that.

    That evening Jack praised Pam's handling of Robin's rifle issue without having to hunt him down and ask what to do. "That's what I was talking about when I said to act like an adult." Pam said she'd been concerned that he'd be mad at her for going into his gun collection without permission, but that he'd told her to handle it and that's what she did. Jack said that, if she'd done it for no reason it'd have bothered him, but since she was following his instructions, she'd done right.

    As the days passed, they began to settle into a routine. In the mornings they each spent time in prayer and reading their Bibles. then they'd gather in the dining room for breakfast and to go over whatever they needed to do that day. meeting again for lunch, they'd go to the range for a couple of hours and practice, then meet again for dinner. After dinner they'd gather in Jack's apartment for Bible study and fellowship, before heading off for bed. After a couple of days of this, Mel made a decision. She said that, as she was doing most of the cooking, and as her apartment seemed so empty with only her there, she was going to move to one of the smaller apartments in the power dome. A few days later Eric and Robin decided to follow her, and by the end of the week, even Pam had made the move.

    Since everyone but Jack was living in the other dome, they started spending their free time in the third floor rec room. they also started having the Bible study there, which relieved Jack. He had his apartment all to himself again and, even though the others often visited, he could now relax and not worry that someone would come in unannounced and catch him in his underwear.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  21. #21
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    Chapter 12

    Three days later, they'd done everything they could to the truck with what they had available. Crawling out of the pit after doing a fluid and filter change on the transmission, Jack said "Ok, that's it. How 'bout we get cleaned up and in the morning make a trip to a parts store I know of up in Mayfield?"

    Handing him a towel to wipe his hands on, Eric said "sounds good to me Jack, are we gonna fly?" He'd heard about their first trip out in the helicopter from Pam, and thought it sounded like fun.

    "You bet'cha" Jack said, as the two men headed down the tunnel towards the power dome. Reaching the junction, Jack said "go get cleaned up, I'll see you at dinner." With that, he went to his apartment and jumped in the shower.

    After dinner Jack announced to the group what he and Eric had planned for the next day. Robin spoke up and asked if she could go too, but Eric quickly replied "no, the chopper only has two seats." Seeing the look of dejection that formed on the girls' face, Jack thought that he needed to try and spend some time with her as well, and maybe take her flying also. He was aware that he'd been playing favorites now that there was another guy here that he could pal around with, and that wasn't fair to the others. He had to keep reminding himself that in some ways they were still kids, and they all needed to feel important in his eyes.

    -----------------------------------------------

    The next morning after breakfast, the two of them grabbed their rifles and gear. Discussing what they needed to find as they walked down the tunnel towards the hangar, Jack said "at the very least we need belts, plugs and wires, and a distributor cap and rotor. If we can find them, it'd be good to get tires and hoses also. Nodding his head, Eric stopped and looked on in wonder as Jack opened the door to the hangar, this was the first time he'd seen inside it. Jack chuckled at his reaction, then motioned for the boy to go on in.

    "This is so cool!" Eric exclaimed, looking around at all the airplanes.

    Jack walked over to the rack and retrieved two direction finders, giving one to Eric and explaining how it worked. Then he led him over to the Scorpion, and told him to stow his rifle and gear inside. Walking around to the other side to do the same, he was wishing they had some way to stay in contact with the people here. Suddenly stopping in his tracks, he slapped his forehead and proclaimed "I'm an idiot!"

    Eric looked at him with a smile on his face and said "ok, if you say so."

    Jack, ignoring his comment, said "here we've been wondering if there's anyone left alive in the world and how we'd find out, and all the time there's been some really good radio equipment a friend of mine installed a few years ago back in the control room. After my cell phone stopped working I'd kind of given up on long distance communications. I never even thought about that short wave gear. Come on, let's go take a look at it and see if we can figure out how to get it to work." With that Jack headed back towards the power dome with Eric right behind him.

    Entering the dining room and seeing the others were still there, Jack told them what he'd finally remembered. With the whole gang now in tow, he headed for the control room. As he looked over the equipment, turning things on he said "David, a friend of mine, installed all the radio stuff about three years ago. He was supposed to come here in an emergency and run this stuff for me, since I never got around to getting my license. He showed me enough so that I could use it, but that was a while back. I just hope I can remember enough to get ahold of someone."

    As he got the gear powered up, Jack turned on the terminal next to him. "David connected everything to the computer, and I should be able to set things up so it can monitor all the frequencies. I'm also going try to set it up to transmit something, like every six hours, asking others to contact us at a set time. If I'm right, I should even be able to get the system to alert us when we receive a message, so we won't have to hang in out here all the time." After playing with the terminal for about ten minutes, he stood up and said "that's it, as far as I can see it should work."

    "How far will it reach?" Mel asked.

    "Around the world according to David. He said something about morse code and packets, but it was all way over my head."

    Jack watched the screen for a while, but it remained blank. Either he'd done something wrong, or there wasn't anyone left who had this sort of equipment. Going over what little he knew about radios, he suddenly realized what he'd missed. "Aww man, I almost forgot. The antenna needs to be raised." Going over to a row of switches on the control panel, he found the one marked 'antenna'. Flipping it to 'raise', he explained." Because we didn't know what sort of emergency we'd be dealing with, we decided to make the antenna retractable. The antenna itself is forty feet long, and it's mounted on a hundred foot telescopic tower." Looking at Eric he said "don't let me forget about that thing when we take off. I'd sure hate to run into it."

    Looking startled at the thought of going down in flames before they'd even left the property, Eric resolved to make sure to remind him.

    After a minute, the indicator light next to the switch turned green. Almost immediately they started getting stuff over the radio. At first, Jack was excited, but looking over what was coming through, he couldn't make heads or tails of it. It seemed to all be gibberish. Noticing the frequency, he checked in a book that David had left and found that it was a military channel. After a few minutes of looking at it, he decided it was some sort of automatic signal, and it was likely encoded, which was why he couldn't read it. Going to the keyboard he set the automatic alert to avoid military and commercial frequencies, and only let them know if someone responded to them on civilian ones. He also isolated those frequencies in the computer so they would avoid all the automatic signals, and be able to tell if an actual person was trying to contact them.

    With the radios up and working, Jack went over to the wall mounted chargers and selected two portable SW radios. "These have a range of around fifty miles, at least according to David," Jack said. When we go see about the parts for the truck we'll test them.

    Turning to Eric, he asked "you ready?" Eric said he was.

    As they again walked towards the hangar, Eric looked at him and asked "so, what happened to David, anyway?"

    "I don't really know, I guess he died in the plague. He didn't live that far from here, only about two hundred miles south, and he was supposed to get here if he was able. But I haven't heard a thing from him since this all began."

    "Why don't we go see if he's still there?" The boy asked.

    "I don't know. Honestly I'd never considered it. Most of the members live so far away that it's out of the question, but I guess we could, if everyone agreed." Thinking about it for a second, he said "tell you what, we'll bring it up after dinner tonight, ok?"

    "Cool."

    Arriving back at the helicopter they quickly got it on the elevator and up to the surface. Stowing their gear, Jack did a quick radio check. "Loud and clear Jack," Pam said.

    "Acknowledge."

    Cranking the craft, they were soon at operating speed. Eric reminded him about the antenna, and Jack made sure to give it a wide berth. A few minutes later they were cruising along about a hundred feet up, headed north to the town of mayfield.

    As they approached town a few minutes later Jack slowed down so they could look around. The store was on the north side of town, and as they made their way there he spotted a used car lot. Thinking about it, he said "Eric, what do you think about trading that old puck-up in on a newer model?" And indicated the lot below.

    Eric looked down and said "sounds good to me, I always hated that old ford, it was always breaking down on me."

    Jack grinned, "that's why they say 'fix or repair daily'."

    "And they're right." The boy agreed.

    Looking around, Jack found a place to set the bird down. Coming in slow and smelling the air, he decided that, while they could still smell decaying bodies, it wasn't too bad and they could deal with it. Landing, he shut down and the two got out.

    "Ugh! that's a horrible smell." Eric said.

    "Yeah, but it was ten times worse in Mountain Home."

    Walking over to the lot, they saw that there were several vehicles that looked promising. Jack started looking over a mid nineties Dodge 4X4 diesel pick-up, but Eric was drawn to a tricked out Toyota land cruiser. He called to Jack, who walked over and saw that the Toyota had been raised, with big mud tires mounted. Looking underneath he decided that the truck had been professionally built, and would probably give even his 'mog' a run for it's money. Raising the hood he noticed with satisfaction that it had a four cylinder turbo-diesel engine.

    Turning to the boy he said "looks good, professionally done. let's look inside and see if we can find some keys, then we'll see if it still cranks."

    After a quick search of the office, they found the keys, but when they tried them they found that the battery was completely dead. Figuring that all the others would be also, Jack suggested they go on to the parts place and see if any of the new batteries there still had a charge.

    Returning with a large marine battery that still had the plastic on it, they quickly installed it in the truck and tried the ignition. The engine turned over, but refused to run, so Jack grabbed the can of ether he'd picked up at the store and sprayed some into the breather. after a second the toyota cranked, running rough but smoothing out as it warmed up. The vehicle had about a quarter tank of fuel, and Jack decided it would be more than enough to get it back to the complex.

    "Why don't you drive back over to the parts store, while I fly over. Then we'll load up on spare parts for the truck and head back?"

    "Why do you want to fly over?" Eric asked.

    "I don't know, paranoid I guess." He replied. "I just don't want to get the vehicles separated unless we have to, in case something happens."

    At the store they grabbed replacement belts and hoses, cases of Delo motor oil, and more cases of Pri-D fuel stabilizer. Loading everything into the truck, Jack said "if you can get back to the house from here, I'll fly over you and keep a watch. If I see anything I'll call you on the radio."

    "Ok jack. By the way, didn't you want to call home and make sure the radio's would reach this far?"

    "Yes I did, it completely slipped my mind. That's what happens when you get older I guess." That prompted a grin from Eric.

    Grabbing the radio from his belt, Jack pushed the button and said "Jack to home base, can you hear me Pam?"

    "Loud and clear Jack, what took you so long to call, I was beginning to worry?"

    "Sorry, I lost track of time."

    "Did you find the parts you needed?"

    "Better than that, Eric got himself a new truck. We'll be bringing it in, about half an hour from now. See you then."

    "Ok Jack, we'll be waiting."

    Putting the radio back on his belt, Jack walked to the helicopter as Eric shut the back of the Toyota and started the engine. After an uneventful drive, they arrived back at the complex.

    Jack called Eric and asked him to stop near the hangar elevator and wait for him to land. After landing and shutting the bird down, he walked over to the truck and got in for the ride to the garage silo. When they got there, they had to play musical vehicles. First they had to raise the mog and drive it out of the way, then get the ford out of the maintenance bay and bring it to the surface as well. Once it was up they took everything Eric wanted and put it in the Toyota, then lowered it into the silo, fueling it and moving it into the tunnel to clear the elevator pad. Finally they put the mog on the pad and lowered it back inside as well. after they were all done they drove the ford back next to the hangar and left the keys in it, deciding to leave it there and use it for running around the property.

    When they walked inside, everyone was curious about what they got, and they had to walk all the way back to the garage silo and show off Eric's new truck. Everyone thought it was great, much better than the ford. Melissa especially was happy, she said that old truck was a rattletrap, and she was sure it'd break down before they ever got here. Finally, they returned to the dining room for lunch.

    After lunch Jack brought up the discussion he and Eric had had concerning David. He said they'd have to take the Greyhound, and would likely be gone overnight. He also said that at least two people needed to stay there to keep an eye on the complex, and asked for volunteers.

    Mel spoke up "I'm not so sure that's such a good idea Jack, that's a long way to go and he's almost certainly dead, you know."

    "I know that mel, but I feel I should do this, he was my friend and I owe it to him. Also, it'd give us a chance to see more of the country around us, and we'll be flying high enough that nobody could bother us even if there was anybody around to try."

    "He was my friend too Jack, but I've come to terms with the fact that he and the rest of the group are all likely dead." She sighed. "Still, it would be good to have him here, no one can use those radios like he can."

    "I agree, and that's another reason to go. Don't worry, I'll be very careful and won't take any chances."

    "Ok Jack, then I guess I'll volunteer to remain here." Turning to Pam, she said "would you stay with me?"

    Startled, Pam said "sure, I guess so." Feeling kind of special to have been asked, although she really wanted to be with Jack.

    "Ok, it's settled then, we'll leave in the morning. Robin, do you want to come with Eric and me?"

    "Sure! I'd love to go flying." the girl responded.

    "All right, remember to bring your rifle and other equipment. We'll leave right after breakfast."

    ------------------------------------------------

    After breakfast, the three grabbed their rifles and gear and headed to the hangar accompanied by Mel to see them off. Pam had said goodbye, then went to the control room to handle the radio.

    Jack told Eric and Robin to stow their gear in the aircraft, then went over to the electric tug. Disconnecting it from the charger he drove it over and attached it's tow-bar to the front wheel of the plane. Then he walked over to another craft and started pushing it out of the way so he could maneuver the larger plane onto the elevator. As he was moving the small craft Eric came over to help. The thing sure was odd looking he thought, it didn't have a wing, just a large fan with a seat in front of it. Asking him about it, Jack said "it's called a para-glider. You attach an air foil parachute to it, and start it moving. As the air fills the parachute it creates lift and raises the thing off the ground. it's not very fast, but it's simple to fly and a lot of fun."

    "Cool" Eric said. "Sounds like a blast."

    "If you'd like I could teach you to fly it some time."

    At this Robin, who usually didn't say much, spoke up. "I-I'd like to fly it." She said hesitantly.

    Jack smiled at her and said "tell you what, as soon as we get back I'll teach both of you how to fly it."

    Robins' smile said it all, and Jack decided she may finally be coming out of her shell.

    When the para-glider was out of the way, Jack hit the button to open the doors, then used the tug to maneuver the big plane onto the elevator. After he raised it to the surface he moved it to the side and returned to the hangar. Hearing a scraping noise from below, Eric looked down the elevator shaft and saw Jack moving the Scorpion into place on the pad. Soon he had it on the surface as well, and Eric was giving him a confused look.

    "Who's going to fly that?" The boy asked.

    Grinning at him, Jack said "I am."

    Looking even more confused, Eric asked "Then who's going to fly this?" Indicating the larger aircraft.

    Again, Jack said "I am."

    Chuckling but not saying anything more, Jack walked over to the Greyhound and connected a cable from the tug to it, then went inside and started the auxiliary power unit. A second later the ramp at the rear of the aircraft came down and Jack came walking out. He went over to the Scorpion and, pushing down on the tail, started moving it towards the ramp. Eric now understood what he was doing, and went to help him get it inside the larger craft. Once inside, they tied it down securely, and Jack explained "The closest airport where we can land is about twenty miles from David's house. The fastest and safest vehicle that would fit in the Greyhound is the Scorpion, so I decided to use it. When we get there I'll need the two of you to stay with the plane and protect it, while I fly over and see if I can find him."

    Eric said he understood. He was disappointed that he had to stay with the plane, but he saw the wisdom in the decision as well.

    Jack went back outside and disconnected the cable from the tug, and moved it back onto the elevator pad. Then he walked over to Mel to say goodbye.

    "Take care of them Jack." She said. "We have no idea what things are like out there."

    "I will," he said. "We should be back either tonight or early tomorrow morning. I'll call you on the radio as soon as we're high enough to achieve line of sight."

    With that he went inside the plane and told Eric and Robin to get belted in. Going to the cockpit, he hit the button to extend and lock the wings, then started the engines and let them warm up. After doing his pre-flight, he advanced the throttles and was quickly in the air, turning towards the south. As he retracted the landing gear and flaps, he called Pam in the control room.

    "Pam, we're on our way. We'll be back either tonight or tomorrow morning."

    "Please be careful Jack, Please come back to me." She pleaded.

    Jack could tell by the sound of her voice that she was close to tears and said "Don't worry, we'll be fine. I'll come back to you, I promise."

    Standing up, the tears already running down her face, Pam walked out into the dining room and sat down. A few minutes later Mel walked it. Seeing the tears on her cheeks, she went to the girl and hugged her, saying "don't worry Pam, trust God."

    "But what if they don't come back? What if something terrible happens?" She cried.

    "We have no control over that Pam, it's in God's hands. The Bible says that worrying is a sin, and that we can't even add one day to our lives by worrying. Instead, we have to lay our burden at God's feet and trust Him to take care of them. Remember, whatever we ask, if it's according to His will, He'll do it for us, ok?"

    "Ok, I'll try," she said, making an effort to dry her tears.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  22. #22
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    Chapter 13

    In a little under an hour they were nearing David's hometown. Banking and coming in from the east at treetop level and just above stall speed, they looked for signs of life, but saw none. The airport, as Jack knew, was on the west side of town, and when they reached it he brought them straight in, landing and coasting to a stop. As soon as he'd set the brake and shut down the engines, Jack unstrapped and went back to the cabin. Eric and Robin were just standing up, and helped as he started untying the Scorpion. As soon as it was free Jack worked the lever that opened the ramp and rolled the small craft out.

    "Ok Eric, I want you two to keep a sharp eye out. if you see any movement, call me on the radio and i'll get back here fast. If you see anybody and it's at all possible, try to stay out of a fight, but if you have to, do what you must to protect yourselves."

    "Yes sir," Eric said.

    Unstrapping the rotor, Jack got in and cranked up, waiting for the RPM's to come up, then lifting off and heading southeast. The town sat in a valley between two small ridgelines. David lived across the southern ridge in the next valley over. Crossing the ridge, Jack dropped to about a hundred feet and watched for signs of life as he headed to David's house. Thinking about how spooky it was flying over whole neighborhoods completely devoid of life, not even seeing much in the way of animals, Jack finally reached the right street. Setting the bird down in David's front yard he shut down, grabbed his rifle, and walked up to the front door. Before he even got there, the smell told him everything he needed to know. Opening the door he was hit by a wave of noxious air, causing him to stumble backwards, gagging. Jack knew there wasn't any need to go further, so he went back to the chopper and grabbed the radio.

    "Eric, this is Jack."

    "Go ahead," Eric said.

    "I'm at the house...they're both dead" Jack reported, struggling to keep the emotion out of his voice.

    "Oh," the boy said, "I'm sorry Jack"

    "Well, it wasn't unexpected. I'm on my way back, I should be there in about twenty minutes."

    "Ok, we'll be ready to go. There's no sign of anything moving at all here."

    Returning to the Scorpion and starting it up, Jack was soon headed back towards town. As he was approaching the ridge, he heard what sounded like something hit the helicopter. Looking at the gauges he saw that his oil pressure was dropping and the engine temp was rising. Again he heard the sound, and it finally dawned on him that someone was shooting at him! Banking to the left and dropping the nose, he traded altitude for airspeed and tried to get away from whoever was trying to kill him. As he got to the ridge, he brought the nose up and started to rise high enough to clear it, but by then the engine temp was redlined and the craft was starting to shake. realizing that he needed to land right then, he began looking for a place to set her down. At that moment the engine siezed, and he was forced to auto-rotate right where he was.

    He hit the ground hard enough that the shock stunned him for a moment. Shaking his head to clear it, he waited for the rotors to stop, then got out of the craft, grabbing his rifle and the emergency kit from under the seat. Knowing that the risk of fire was minimal as the fuel tank was above and behind the engine, he stopped to appraise the condition of the bird. As soon as he looked at it, he saw to his dismay that the little ship would never fly again. the skids and lower cabin were crushed, and the tail boom had snapped from the impact. Knowing he was lucky not to be hurt worse than he was, Jack gathered his things and moved off away from the wreck, traveling several hundred yards before finding a place to hide and observe the scene, thinking that whoever had shot at him would soon be there to investigate.

    Jack pulled some of the sage and weeds over and around his position to better conceal himself, then set out his rifle in case anyone showed up. With that done he took stock of himself. He noticed that he had a cut on his cheek that was bleeding slightly, but didn't remember how it had happened. Also his left ankle was throbbing, but seemed to be functional. Reaching into the emergency kit, he retrieved his first aid kit and applied a bandage to the cut. He then grabbed his radio and called the plane.

    "Eric, you there? this is Jack."

    "Right here Jack, is there a problem?"

    "Someone took a shot at me. the Scorpion's toast, I had to set it down hard just south of the top of the ridge. I'm not injured, and I'll be making my way back to the airport just as soon as I make sure that no one is following me."

    "Oh no! I'm on my way. turn on your locator beacon and I'll be there as soon as I can."

    "Negative! stay with the plane. You can't leave Robin there all by herself, and that plane is our only way home. Just stay alert and make sure nobody messes with it or you, I'll start making my way back to you as soon as possible."

    "Yes sir," the boy answered reluctantly. He hated the thought of just sitting around while Jack was in trouble out there, but he knew he was right, Robin couldn't protect the plane all by herself and losing it wasn't an option.

    "Good man. If I have any other problems I'll call you. I probably won't make it back tonight, so you two need to think about protecting the plane. I want someone awake and on watch all through the night, so maybe one of you should try and get some rest now. I'll call before I bed down for the night, if not before." With that, he turned off the radio and started watching for movement around the crash site.

    After an hour, there had been no sign of anyone around the site. Jack decided that, whoever it was, must be on foot and was likely too far away to give him any trouble, so he got up from his position and started off towards the airport. Cresting the ridge, he started down the other side, his ankle giving him a little trouble, but still working well enough. By the time he was about half way down the side of the hill it had gotten dark enough that it was getting hard to see. Deciding that injuring his ankle worse by stumbling along in the dark was a bad idea, Jack started looking for a place to spend the night. Finding a depression that would offer him some cover, he set about clearing a place to sleep. He used the sage that he'd removed to increase the natural foliage around the depression, making it harder for anyone to spot him. Eating an emergency lifeboat ration from his kit for dinner and taking a long pull from his canteen, Jack called Eric and told him he was settling in for the night, and to keep alert. He then unfolded the space blanket from his kit and wrapped up for the night, making sure the rifle was next to him and ready to go.

    ---------------------------------------------------

    Alarmed at the turn of events, neither Eric nor Robin thought they could go to sleep. Eric did lie down and try to rest however, realizing he'd need it in order to stay awake on watch that night. He understood that falling asleep on watch could get both of them killed, and Jack also, if he came back to the plane while it was in the hands of an enemy. He told Robin to get him up as soon as it got dark, and she did so about a minute brfore Jack called. Acknowledging the call, he told Robin to get some sleep, he'd wake her at midnight for her turn. Then, grabbing his rifle and climbing on top of the plane, he started his shift. Robin was sure she'd never be able to sleep. But probably due to the stress of the day, as she lay down and closed her eyes, she was soon snoring softly.

    Having hunted a few times before, Eric knew that moving around could give his position away. Therefore he got himself set up in a comfortable position where he could see all around himself without having to move more than his head. As the night passed he was thankful for the nearly full moon, as it meant he could see pretty well. Finally, as his watch reached midnight, he eased himself off the top of the aircraft and went inside to wake Robin. He helped the girl to get on top of the plane, then gave her some instructions on how not to give herself away. Impressing on her the importance of not falling asleep and making sure she was good and awake, he finally went back inside and went to sleep.

    An unknown amount of time later, Eric was brought forcefully awake by the sound of rifle fire. He had no idea what time it was and couldn't make out much in the dark aircraft. Rising up, he spotted a figure standing on the ramp, coming inside the plane. He knew it was too large to be Robin, and Jack would never approach without calling first, so he drew his .45 and fired at it. the figure doubled over and fell, not moving further. Calling out to the girl that he was coming out and not to shoot him, he cautiously made his way past the body and out of the aircraft, noticing that the moon had set and it was much darker than earlier.

    "Robin! Are you ok?" He called.

    "Y-Y-Yes, I'm all right."

    "Do you see anymore of them?' He asked.

    "N-No. Eric, I think I shot one of them!" She said, sounding nearly hysterical.

    "It's all right babe, I'm coming up."

    Reaching the top of the aircraft and looking around, Eric couldn't see anything moving. Then he went over to the girl and gave her a hug, trying to calm her down. The girl clung to him and shook violently, but soon got herself under control.

    "Eric said "you did great babe! If you hadn't fired when you did I wouldn't have been able to get the one sneaking in the plane. Your quick action saved my life!"

    Looking at him to see if he was kidding, she saw that he wasn't. Suddenly she was very glad she'd fired at what she thought was a shadow, when she saw it move. Also, she was very much aware of how much she loved Eric, and what it would have meant to her if she'd lost him. It was a very long time before she let him go.

    Jack had been sleeping lightly, when he heard the sound of rifle fire from a long ways off. Sitting up cautiously, he heard what sounded like a pistol shot also, then silence. Waiting a few minutes so as not to give away the kids' position if they were the ones doing the shooting, he finally coundn't stand not knowing any longer, and called them.

    "Eric, this is Jack, is everything all right?"

    "Jack, this is Robin, Eric told me to come back down, he's keeping watch now."

    "Oh, ok Robin, I thought I heard the sound of shots being fired, is everything ok there?"

    "It is now Jack, a couple of people tried to get to the plane, but we shot them." the girl said matter of factly.

    Jack was startled at the way she said that, but put it down to nerves after all the excitement. "Are either of you injured?"

    "No, we're both ok. Eric said he doesn't think anyone else will bother us tonight, but he's going to stay on watch anyway."

    "He's probably right, but I'm glad he's still watching." Jack said, understanding that the girl needed to hear that so she wouldn't get any more afraid. "Ok, I'll be leaving here at first light, and I should reach you by mid-morning. let Eric know, ok?"

    "I'll tell him, Jack. Good night."

    Amazed at the girl's calm, and her matter of fact attitude, Jack got ready to get moving, knowing he'd never get back to sleep after all that.

    As the sky began to lighten, Jack started off. Within six hours he'd made it to the perimeter fence around the small airport. Stopping at the fence, He called the kids and told them where he was and that he'd be there in a half hour at most. Finally reaching the plane, he noticed the body lying a short way away from the ramp, and the blood trail leading inside. Calling out, Eric and Robin walked out to meet him. Jack saw that Eric was holding a large bowie style knife.

    "Where'd you get that?" He asked.

    "From him." The boy responded, nodding toward the body. "He had it in his hand when I shot him."

    "Ok," Jack said, "tell me what happened."

    Robin spoke up "I was watching from on top of the plane. It was around three o'clock I guess, and the moon had set, making it really dark. I noticed a funny shadow off a ways from the plane, and as I watched, it moved. At first I thought it might be you, but you said you weren't going to come in until morning. Also, I figured you'd call first, and wouldn't be sneaking and trying to hide. Anyway, as I watched, it moved again, so I shot at it. the flash kinda blinded me, and the sound of the gun made it hard to hear, but it sounded like someone was rushing through the brush, trying to get away. Then I heard a shot come from inside the plane."

    Eric spoke up now. "I woke up when Robin fired, and as I sat up I saw a person coming in the back of the plane. I knew it wasn't Robin because it was too big, so I drew my pistol and shot it. After I made sure Robin was ok, I checked the body, but he was dead. That's when I found the knife."

    Hearing all this, Jack asked the girl "where exactly was the shadow when you shot it?"

    "Over there about fifty yards or so, I guess." She said.

    Jack walked over to the area the girl had indicated, and soon found an area that had obviously been trampled. He saw that some of the sage bushes had blood on them, and there was more of it on the ground. He also saw the stock of a rifle sticking out from under a bush, and picked it up. It was a Winchester hunting rifle, 7mm magnum, he saw. Looking around he saw that several bushes had blood on them leading away from the plane.

    Walking back to the plane he said "I am so proud of the two of you! You defended the plane, and probably saved all our lives."

    Eric said "it was all Robin's doing, I was asleep."

    Jack looked at the girl and said "You did great! I couldn't have done any better myself."

    Robin started to blush at all the praise, but she also realized she'd measured up when it really counted, and felt good about herself for the first time since she'd fired her rifle.

    "Well, there's nothing else we need to do here," Jack said. "Let's get on board and get back home." The two kids smiled as he said it and headed for the plane.

    Getting on board, Jack soon had the plane in the air. as he passed back over town he looked, but still couldn't see anything alive down there. Climbing high enough for the radio to reach the complex, he called "this is Jack, is there anyone home?"

    "Jack! Is everything ok? Are you coming home?" Pam said excitedly.

    "Yep, we're coming home. I'm afraid David died in the plague."

    "I'm sorry Jack," the girl said, "how long until you get here?"

    "About forty five minutes, we'll see you then."

    As she got off the radio, Pam almost squealed in delight. She rushed into the dining room to tell Mel the news, then closed her eyes and said "thank you Jesus! Thank you for bringing them home safe!"

    Mel agreed with her and said "Amen!"

    About an hour later Jack brought the plane in for a landing at the complex. As he taxied over to the elevator pad he saw that both women were waiting to greet them. Bringing the plane to a stop and shutting down the engines, the three of them climbed out and walked over.

    Pam saw immediately that Jack was limping, and rushed over to him to help him walk and find out if he was ok. As Mel walked up as well, she could tell by the look in his eyes that something was wrong.

    "What happened?" She asked.

    "We had some trouble down there. The Scorpion was wrecked, and the kids had to defend the plane from an attack during the night. Let's get inside and I'll tell you all about it." With that he got busy moving the plane onto the pad and folding the wings. After they got it taken care of and put away, the whole group went into the dining room and Jack filled them in on the details. After the story was told, Pam was looking at Robin in a new light, impressed by her actions. Mel just sat there shaking her head.

    "What's happened to people Jack? they're acting like animals."

    Jack just shook his head, and everyone realized that the old world was truely dead, and that in this new one, everything outside their little complex was little more than jungle.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  23. #23
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    Chapter 14

    The next several weeks passed smoothly as no one in the group was inclined to go on any more trips outside the complex. Jack spent the time teaching anyone who wanted to how to fly, which soon became everyone there. He started out with the para-glider, mostly to get them used to being in the air, as it wasn't anything like flying a real airplane. Next he started taking them up in his two seat ultra-light. The craft had all the controls of most other fixed wing aircraft, but was slower and more forgiving of mistakes.

    Learning to fly was much simpler for this group than it had been for Jack. With the collapse of society, all the regulations and bureaucratic nonsense was stripped away, and they all were able to learn at their own pace. Out of the whole group, Eric took to flying the easiest, followed by Mel.

    After the boy soloed in the ultra-light, Jack started him on his only other helicopter, the Kestrel. This was a special two seat version of the kit that he'd put together the year before, mostly because it was unique. Instead of having an engine mounted on the airframe and turning the rotor through a transmission, this one had two small pulse-jet engines mounted on the tips of the rotors. the benefit to this was that there wasn't any torque placed on the airframe and therefore, no need of a tail rotor. that meant the craft was much easier to fly than any other helicopter, more like a traditional fixed wing. The down side was that the ship was a lot louder, it couldn't lift as much, and it used a lot more fuel, giving it less range. All that really didn't matter to most owners because it was a recreational vehicle, not a working craft, and the ease of operation combined with all the abilities of a normal helicopter made it an attractive alternative.

    As with the other aircraft, Eric took to it like it was second nature, quickly getting used to the peculiarities of the craft and soon soloing. Mel was right behind him, and Pam wasn't much farther back. Robin seemed to love the ultra-light, and showed no interest in going beyond it. She spent a couple of hours a day flying it, usually with Eric, and quickly became quite good with it.

    With everyone flying now, Jack noticed that they were starting to eat into their supply of fuel. He decided that, whether the others wanted to go out or not, they would have to make a trip sometime soon and get some more.

    By the end of the forth week, Jack was ready to start training Eric on the greyhound. He figured that, if the boy had been able to handle the big twin engine craft the last time they went out, things might have happened differently.

    The time since the attack on the plane had been one of healing, both physically and emotionally, for the three of them. Jack's ankle had been sprained, and the weeks of rest had done wonders for him. But more importantly, the time had allowed Eric, and especially Robin, to heal emotionally. The shock of actually having shot someone, likely killing them, had been rough on the girl. At first she seemed to withdraw back into her shell, never leaving Eric alone for even a few minutes throughout the first few days. For his part, Eric had seemed to deal with the incident pretty well, but Jack had noticed that he didn't seem to be as eager to practice shooting with the rest of the group, and he never mentioned going outside the complex anymore. Jack gave them room and hoped that, by getting on with life, they both would eventually be ok.

    At the end of the third week, as the group was gathering in the dining room for breakfast, Pam walked in and said "hey everybody, guess what. Today's my birthday! I'm seventeen today."

    As everyone smiled and stood to congratulate her and wish her a happy birthday, Jack asked "so birthday girl, what do you want for a present?"

    Thinking that she knew what she REALLY wanted, Pam just smiled and said "surprise me."

    Catching the funny smile she gave him, Jack felt warmed inside. "Ok, I guess I'll just do that."

    Watching this exchange, Mel smiled knowingly to herself and kept quiet.

    Jack went all out for Pam's birthday surprise. While the others decorated the rec room, he was busy making her a birthday cake from scratch. After dinner that night they all went up to the rec room and Jack brought in the cake, presenting it to the girl. After the others sang happy birthday, Jack presented her with a small box. Opening it, Pam saw an antique silver necklace with a sapphire and opal pendant.

    Stunned at the beauty of the gift, she said "Oh Jack, how...where did you get this?"

    "It was my mothers'. I wanted you to have it."

    Overcome with emotion at the thought that he must really care a lot for her to give her such a treasured family heirloom, Pam wiped away the tears and gave Jack a long and heartfelt hug. As he was standing there holding the girl Jack whispered in her ear "Happy birthday Pam, I love you."

    Hearing that, she was speechless. Stepping back, the tears started to flow again and she managed to say "thank you Jack, it's beautiful. would you help me put it on?"

    Taking the necklace and motioning for her to turn, Jack worked the clasp and hooked it around her neck. Turning her back around and holding her at arm's length he said "it's beautiful on you Pam, just beautiful.

    Pam had noticed that his eyes had not left hers the whole time he'd been saying that. The knowledge made her blush.

    The rest of the evening she stayed close to Jack, and before she went up to bed, he gave her a birthday kiss on the cheek.

    Walking up to her apartment, Pam felt warm inside. this was different than the lust she'd felt for Jack before, it was more solid, more real. As she got to her door she realized she was falling in love with him, for real this time.

    --------------------------------------------------

    From that time forward, Jack and Pam spent a lot more time together. And they weren't alone, Eric and Robin were also spending a great deal of time together, making Mel wonder if spring really was in the air.

    A couple of weeks after the birthday party, Eric caught Jack after lunch and asked to speak to him privately. Jack invited him up to his apartment, and when they'd gotten there and settled down, Eric surprised Jack by saying that he and Robin wanted to get married.

    "We've been thinking about this and discussing it since that night at the plane Jack." The boy said. We both thought we'd have our whole lives to do things like this, but that night showed us that either of us could be killed at any time in this new world."

    Jack knew what he meant, and remained silent. Eric continued. "Well, we don't want to take the chance that something could happen to one of us, so we've decided that there's no good reason to wait."

    Jack looked at the boy and said "I understand where you're coming from Eric, and I can't say you're wrong. I'm not your father, so you don't need my permission, but you have my blessing."

    Eric looked startled, "we aren't asking for permission, although I am proud to have your blessing, What we want is for you to perform the ceremony."

    Caught off guard, Jack sat back, slightly stunned. "Eric, I'm not a pastor..."

    "That's just it," Eric said, "we don't HAVE a pastor. Look, I've been studying the Bible on this, and I don't see anywhere in it that says you have to be married by a pastor. In the old society we were required to have a license and to be married by a person of authority, but that old world is gone, and with it the old authority. Also, I've read in my Bible that all christians will be priests when Jesus comes back to earth, and we are all equal. Therefore, any of us can perform this ceremony for the others, just like any of us can baptize another."

    Jack couldn't see any fault with his argument and said "I see your point. All right, let me think about this, ok?"

    "Ok Jack, I'll see ya later." And he got up and left the apartment.

    Going downstairs himself, Jack found Melissa and told her everything Eric had said.

    Mel looked at him and said "yeah, so what's the problem? I saw this coming weeks ago."

    "You did, how? And why didn't you tell me?" He wanted to know, wondering what he'd missed.

    "I don't know, intuition I guess. But you act like you have a problem with doing this, so...you want to talk about it?"

    "I don't know Mel, don't you think Robin's a little young to be getting married? after all, what is she, fourteen?"

    Mel laughed, "I'm surprised at you Jack, weren't you the one who said that as long as they acted like adults we should treat them like adults?"

    "Yeah, I know," Jack said uncomfortably. "But this just doesn't...feel right."

    "Believe me, I felt the same way until you straightened me out, now I can see that, like it was in the frontier days, in these times as well we have to understand that things are different. Besides, the Bible backs them up on this."

    "What? What do you mean?"

    "Well, traditionally among the Hebrews, boys had their Bar mitzvah, their passage from child to adult, at age thirteen. Girls went through it at twelve, and usually married soon after that. In fact, Hebrew tradition was that the husband usually was a good bit older than his wife, it being understood that an older man was more stable and able to raise a family. For example, Isaac was forty years old when his father Abraham sent his servant to get him a wife. The servant found Rebecca, who was still living in her fathers house, so she must have been quite young, and brought her to Isaac, and he married her. Also, Joseph was a widower, he'd been married once already when he was betrothed to Mary, who herself was also living in her father's house. Yet the Spirit of the Lord still went to her and filled her body with the child who would become Jesus. Apparently God had no problem with this practice, and I don't see where we should either, as long as the girl is ready for it, that is."

    Stunned at the thought of all this, Jack finally responded "Oh she's ready, Eric said it was her idea for him to talk to me." He said with a smirk.

    "It usually is the girl's idea," Mel said. "So, are you going to do it?" She asked.

    Shaking his head for a minute, Jack said "Uh, I guess so. Wait! I don't know how to do something like this, what do I do?"

    "Well, I'd suggest praying about it, then following the Lord's lead."

    Jack sat there and thought about it for a long time.

    ------------------------------------------------------

    The next morning Jack, after praying and studying his Bible, decided he needed to meet with both Eric and Robin individually. Taking them each aside, he asked them a series of questions, making sure they understood the seriousness of what they were getting into. He told them that this was a permanent situation, and that, if they went through with it, there was no turning back. He told them that God hate's divorce. He would allow it under a very few circumstances, but if both people were christians, they were expected to forgive each other and stay together no matter what happened, if at all possible. Jack didn't try to take it easy with them either, a part of him hoped that, by scaring them a little, they might decide to put this off for a while.

    Talking with Robin, he said "according to the Bible, wives are supposed to submit to their husbands. that doesn't mean that they're supposed to be slaves, but that, as long as he is submitting himself to God, and is leading the family according to scripture, the wife is supposed to put her husband's wishes and desires above her own."

    To Eric he said "a man is commanded by God to love his wife. that doesn't mean to feel love towards her, but to walk in that love. A husband is supposed to submit himself to God, serving Him and leading his wife and family in God's will. A husband is to love his wife as he loves his own flesh, because she IS his own flesh. He is to put her wants and desires above his own, taking care of her and providing for her, both physically and emotionally."

    After several hours with each, they both confessed that they understood the implications of the decision they were making, and Jack was convinced that they knew what they were doing. He saw no reason not to go ahead with this, and asked them if noon, two days from then would be ok. They both said that would be great.

    -----------------------------------------------------

    Jack spent the next two days studying and praying, seeking wisdom from the Lord so he would do this the right way. What he finally came up with didn't sound much like the traditional wedding, but it was what he felt God was leading him to do.

    On the day of the wedding, the group was gathered in the chapel. as the clock reached noon, Jack stood up and motioned for Eric and Robin to join him. As they rose and stood before him, Mel and Pam stood and moved into position on either side of the couple.

    "Eric and Robin, as witnessed by all those present, you have stated your desire to be married. Having convinced me that you understand the seriousness of your actions, and after much prayer and consideration on my part, I have agreed to perform this ceremony."

    "The Bible has this to say about love:

    Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.-1Co 13:4-8

    It would be good for you both to remember that."

    "As the Bible says, swearing or making promises is wrong, simply let your 'yes' be yes, and your 'no' be no."

    "Eric, will you lead Robin in the Lord, providing for her, loving her, taking care of her? Will you refuse to look at another, having eyes and a heart only for her, no matter what may come in your lives?"

    "Yes, I will." Eric said.

    "And Robin, will you submit yourself to Eric's authority, putting his desires above your own? Will you refuse to look at another, having eyes and a heart only for him, no matter what may come in your lives?

    Robin looked at Eric, and said in a firm voice "yes, I will."

    "Then, before these witnesses and in the presence of God, I declare you to be united in marriage. What God has joined together here, let no one come between. Eric, you may kiss your bride."

    With that Eric leaned over, and for the very first time, kissed the girl he loved.

    The others cheered, and Jack reached behind himself and picked up a bowl of rice.

    "Rice symbolizes prosperity, that your cupboard never be bare. With that in mind, I ask God to bless this union." With that he grabbed a handful and tossed it in the air over the heads of the young couple, to the applause of the others.

    As the ceremony concluded, everyone went over to the recreation room where Mel and Pam had laid out refreshments. Shortly thereafter the newlyweds retired to their apartment.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  24. #24
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    here's a pic of the kestrel jet helicopter:

    SPECS: length: 12'; height: 7'; empty wt: 180 lbs; gross wt: 440 lbs; payload (max) 260 lbs; engines (2): G8-2-20 jets; fuel: propane; fuel consump: 12+ gal/hr; rotor dia: 25'; speed (max): 95 mph (63 as ultralight); altitude (max): 12,500'.


    here's a link where you can see it and other homebuilt helicopters and even order kits and plans:
    http://www.prismz.com/helio/
    Last edited by Christian for Israel; 12-03-2004 at 11:24 AM.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  25. #25
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    Chapter 15

    Finally, the day came that Eric soloed in the greyhound. He spent his first flight practicing take-offs and landings, sharpening his skills. After several hours of this, with Jack watching from the ground the whole time, he brought it in for a landing and taxied up to the elevator pad, folding the wings as he came. Shutting down, he emerged from the big plane with a huge grin on his face, "man that's fun!" He said.

    As they started getting the plane put away, he turned to Jack and said "there's something funny about that field Jack, it feels rock hard. A couple of times I landed kinda hard, but the plane didn't sink in like I thought it would."

    "Well," Jack replied "that's because it's really a concrete runway."

    The boy looked at him funny and said "how's that?"

    Smiling at his inside joke, Jack said "remember, I built this place to attract as little attention as possible. When I put in the runway I had it built of reinforced concrete, but set half a foot lower than the surrounding ground. then I had top soil spread over it and a layer of sod put in place. The result is a firm, smooth runway that doesn't LOOK like a runway. In fact, even thermal imaging satellites would have a hard time spotting it unless they knew where to look. the same goes for the hangar, but it has two feet of dirt on top."

    Looking at him with even more respect, if that were possible, the boy said "that makes sense, no wonder it felt like rock. how big is the actual runway then?"

    "It's six thousand feet long, and a hundred wide." Jack replied.

    "Sounds like anything could land there."

    "Not quite, I wouldn't try landing a passenger jet, although many of them are rated for smaller runways."

    As they finished putting the plane away, the two men went inside, talking shop.

    Later that day, Jack was thinking about the fuel problem again. In reality there wasn't much of a problem with the avgas for the moment. He had ten thousand gallons in the tank, and it was stabilized to last for at least five years. They only had two aircraft that used it, the para-glider and the ultra-light, and a few ground vehicles, which consisted of two atv's, three Max six wheel utility vehicles, and a couple of dirt bikes. there was Eric's old truck, but they wouldn't be using that very much. All in all, he doubted they'd run out before it started going bad. He knew that eventually they'd need a new source of fuel, and that was one of his problems.

    The jet fuel situation wasn't so good. all of the other aircraft he owned used it, and he only had twenty thousand gallons on hand. He knew they could get more, and he intended to do that soon, but in time, that too would go bad and need to be replaced with new. He also had fifty thousand gallons of diesel fuel for the trucks and back-up generator, but it wouldn't work in the aircraft, except for the kestrel, he reminded himself. Diesel fuel was pretty much the same thing as jet fuel, but it wasn't clean enough and would clog up the engines fast.

    Remembering that he'd seen something on the internet about a guy who produced a kind of crude oil in a new process, from garbage, Jack decided to see if he'd saved the pages on his computer. Going back to his apartment, he sat down in front of the terminal and started looking. It didn't take very long to find what he was looking for, but he also found something that completely blew him away!

    Several hours later, Jack emerged from his room and made his way to the dining room. the rest of the gang was there, getting ready to have dinner, and Jack addressed them all. "You wouldn't believe what I found on our computer." he exclaimed.

    At his outburst, the others gathered around, asking what he was talking about.

    "Ok, first let me explain something," Jack said. "A couple of years ago, one of the bulletin boards where some of my friends were posting ran into financial trouble. At the time they were asking for donations, but I contacted the board owner and offered to host the board on my server for free. He agreed, and after getting it all set up I forgot all about it. Well apparently, since the server never went down, even though the net itself did, all the board files are still on it. That includes all the news articles that were posted right up until the net crashed. I've just spent several hours going over those news posts, and they seem to have had a pretty good idea of what caused the plague."

    At that, Jack found a chair and plopped down wearily.

    Looking at the expectant faces all around him, he continued. "From the news releases the government put out, along with speculation from some analysts I trust, it looks like it was the US that started it all with a bio-weapon they developed. The articles said that somehow the french got a hold of it. They changed it, making it worse,and then some french scientist went to work for the terrorist organization hamas. He brought the new and improved virus with him, and hamas organized it's release from a dozen cities around the world, at the same time."

    Jack looked at the faces around him. There were looks of anger and sadness, but none of disbelief. Shaking his head, he went on.

    From what the reports said, the virus was designed to mimic the common cold. As it was released around the first of March, cold symptoms weren't suspicious. The symptoms continued for a week to ten days, then got much worse and ended up killing the person. The report from the CDC said that it was one hundred percent lethal, once you were exposed. Also, it was an airborne bug, and could live outside a host for at least forty-eight hours. All of that combined to enable it to travel everywhere in the world before anyone realized what was happening, and the last reports I saw before we lost the net said that the communicability rate was estimated to be between ninety-eight and ninety-nine percent. They said at that time as many as four billion were dead, including most in the middle-east by the way, and the rest were sick. That was the last report, posted on the eleventh of March. that's the day the net ceased to exist."

    Stunned at the numbers, although they all knew it had to be that bad, everyone just sat and stared, lost in their own thoughts.

    Finally breaking out of her funk, Mel said "well, I have to get dinner out. Pam, would you help me?"

    Pam just stared at her uncomprehendingly for a moment, then said "uh...sure," and got up and followed her.

    Dinner was a somber affair that night, but then Jack made another announcement. "Ok, I've been looking at our fuel situation, and it's not good. We've used around three thousand gallons of jet fuel in the past couple of months, out of a total of twenty thousand that I started with. At that rate, we'll have exhausted our supply in about a year. A short term solution will be to go out and get more, but even stabilized, it won't be fit for the planes within five years or so."

    Jack looked around and saw he had their attention, and they understood the importance of finding a solution to the problem.

    Continuing, he said "Not long ago I was reading an article about a guy who had set up a process to turn garbage into a type of crude oil that could then be refined. The article said that the process gave off distilled water and fertilizer as by-products, and the plant was fairly simple to build and run. That's what I was looking for when I ran across the board files, and I found it. Being curious at the time, I investigated, and have the plans and materials list on the computer. I propose we try and build such a plant, that would ensure that we had a source of fuel for the rest of our lives."

    The others looked brighter with this news, and Eric asked "could we really do that?"

    "I don't see why not, the process is simple enough. If you want, we can all go to a terminal and I'll send you the information to look over."

    With that, Jack, Eric and Mel got up and went to the rec room to look over the information, as they could all have a terminal and stay in the same room to discuss the idea. Robin and Pam cleaned up after the meal, then went up and joined them.

    After several hours of discussion, heated at times, they decided to give it a try. Eric wasn't convinced they could do it, but saw no reason not to give it a shot, the benefits would outweigh any trouble they had getting it going. With the decision made, everyone got ready for bed. Pam hung back until the others had walked out, then turned to Jack.

    "That's a really good idea, I hope we can get it to work." She said, looking at him and thinking about something totally different.

    Jack caught the look she gave him, and found himself having to fight against the urge to take their relationship to a level that neither of them were ready for. Finally overcoming the urge, Jack said "we better get to bed Pam," then leaned over and kissed her briefly on the lips before saying "good night."

    Feeling slightly disappointed, but also glad in a way as she now wanted to wait until she was married to go to that level, the girl said goodnight and walked out to the elevator.

    ----------------------------------------------------

    After breakfast the next day, Jack said "we need a game plan folks. I believe the first thing we need to do is replace the fuel we've used, and store as much more as we can so that we'll be covered until we get the plant up and running."

    Eric spoke up, "So where should we go to get the fuel, and how do we get it here?"

    "Well, military jet fuel is already stabilized, saving us the trouble of trying to do it ourselves. So there are two choices, Mountain Home air force base, or Gowen field up in Boise. There's an Idaho air national guard base at the airport up there, and I think it'd be our best bet."

    "Why all the way up there?" Mel asked. "Isn't Mountain Home closer?"

    "Actually they're about the same distance, but Mountain Home is just an air force base, the national guard base is also home to the army reserves and regular Idaho national guard. It seems to me that, as we will need a way to transport the fuel we find, the guard base would be more likely to have military fuel trucks. Also, there are some airplanes up there I want to take a look at."

    "What planes?" Eric chimed in.

    "How about an A-10 Warthog for starters, and some C-130's as well."

    The boy's eyes got big as saucers and he said "A-10 Warthogs!, Those are great!"

    Robin now spoke up "what's a warthog?" She made a face. "It sounds nasty."

    "They're great, they're tank killers, and have a humongous gun and bombs and missiles and stuff!" Eric said excitedly.

    At this, Mel gave Jack a look and said "what would we ever need something like that for?"

    Jack sighed, he could have done without the boy's enthusiasm right now, this was going to be a hard enough sell anyway. "Look at it like this Mel, we'll have to go out occasionally. What if one of these times we get attacked? What if the people attacking us have gotten into a military base also and have an armored vehicle?" Jack knew he was reaching, and the likelihood of anything like that happening was small, but he had always wanted one of the ugly planes, and now was his chance to get one. "With a plane like this, if it were flying above the people on the ground, it wouldn't matter what they had, it could stop them cold!"

    Mel knew the look she saw in Jack's eye, she'd seen it often enough in Jerry's. Bowing to the inevitable, she said "Ok, that makes sense. So what's the plan?"

    "I thought Eric and I would take the greyhound up there and have a look around. I'd like to have someone else along also, as, if we find what we're looking for, one of us will have to drive it home, and we'll need another person to ride along for protection. And I'd like to have someone up in the kestrel to be able to scout ahead and let the driver know if they're getting into trouble."

    "Well," Mel said "You'd probably be the best choice to drive, as you've got experience with trucks like that. That leaves Eric to bring the plane home, and us girls for the other roles. Pam's probably the best shot with either rifle or pistol, so I guess she should ride with you, and me and Robin could be up in the helicopter."

    "That sounds good except for one thing," Jack said. "Someone needs to stay here and man the radios and shelter defenses. I know there's not really even a remote chance of us being attacked, but we need to set a precedent now, because that may change in the future."

    Everyone thought that sounded good, and they decided to do this the next morning. The rest of the day they spent getting ready, including briefing Robin on handling the defences and radios. Eric was nervous about flying home from so far out, but Jack showed him the radio direction finder in the plane, and said it would bring him to within visual range of the complex. Mel had soloed in the little helicopter the week before, but wanted to take it up one more time to be sure she could handle it on such a long flight. Not that it was very far to Gowen field, only about thirty miles, but she wasn't used to leaving sight of the complex. She also had one of the direction finders, tuned to home in on the greyhound.

    Finally, all the preparations were made, and everyone decided to turn in early, tomorrow would be a busy day.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  26. #26
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    Chapter 16

    The next morning after breakfast, Mel, Pam and Eric headed for the hangar while Jack went to the garage silo. Arriving and realizing the mog was still on the pad, he went to the toyota and moved it on into the maintenance bay, then moved the mog into the tunnel. Now that the elevator was clear he raised the pad up to the next level and selected a four seat Max and a trailer. Hooking them together and driving them onto the pad, he raised them to the top, noticing that the others had gotten the greyhound up to the surface already. Driving over to the plane he saw the kestrel rising up on the hangar elevator pad, with Mel standing next to it. As he arrived, Pam asked him why he was bringing the Max.

    "Well, it's a long way from the runway to the national guard armory, I'd rather not walk if I don't have to."

    Remembering that she'd be going with him, Pam thought that was a pretty good idea.

    Working together, they got the vehicles loaded and tied down quickly. Jack and Eric went to the cockpit and started the engines while the girls found seats in the cabin. Calling Robin and letting her know they were leaving, Jack advanced the throttles and was soon airborne.

    Sitting in the control room, Robin was thinking that she'd been foolish to stop her flight training at the ultra-light. If she'd gone on to the kestrel like the others, it could have been her up there going on this trip, getting involved instead of being stuck back at the shelter. She resolved never to give up a chance to learn something again, whether she was interested in it or not. Who knew when something she had learned might prove useful to the rest of the group.

    It was a short flight to Gowen field, and Jack never got higher than five hundred feet. Flying low and slow over the city of Boise, he didn't see anything moving, but experience had taught him that didn't necessarily mean anything. Circling the airport and seeing nothing dangerous, he set the plane down and rolled to a stop. As soon as he shut down, everyone got up and off-loaded the vehicles. With Eric and Mel staying to watch the plane, Jack and Pam got in the Max and took off towards the national guard buildings, looking for the motor pool.

    They found it within fifteen minutes, and Jack immediately saw what he was looking for. The truck was called a HEMTT-LHS. It was a ten wheel drive vehicle equipped with the pallatized Load System (PLS), which enabled it to carry a three thousand gallon tank of fuel, and pull a trailer with another three thousand gallons. It could also off-load the tank and be fitted with either a box or flatbed for use as a regular freight truck. Adding to that was the fact that it was designed as an all terrain vehicle, and therefore was perfect for their needs. In the motor pool there were four of them with their trailers, along with several extra tanks and other assorted gear.

    Also in the yard were several five ton six-by-six's, and some hummers. Jack noticed that the hummers had .50 cal Browning machine guns mounted, and he started thinking about trying to mount one on the kestrel to give it some bite. It would mean that the small craft would only be able to carry one person with the added weight of the gun, but it would be possible to then use it as an escort vehicle instead of just for observation. They were all aware that the area outside the complex lived by the law of the jungle, and if they were going to survive in it, they were just going to have to adapt.

    Setting aside his thoughts for the moment, he walked over to one of the tankers and tried the door. Of course it was locked. Next he tried the armory itself, and after shooting out the lock with his rifle, walked in along with Pam, and started to look around. Inside, past the office spaces, there was a large empty warehouse sized room. Along the walls of the room were cages built with cyclone fence, and containing crates of equipment. Going back to the offices, they started going through them. In the third one they found a metal box mounted on the wall and, hoping it was a key box, Jack began prying at it with his knife.

    "Next time We go out to do something like this, remind me to bring a crow bar and bolt cutters, ok?" He said to Pam.

    Smiling at him and trying not to giggle, she said she would try.

    Finally, the box came open, and it was indeed the key box. Inside were vehicle keys with the serial number to the vehicle on the tags. Also in the box were padlock keys, and Jack was hopeful that they would fit the locks on the cages in the other room. Remembering his priorities, he took the vehicle keys and they returned to the yard to try them out.

    Jack walked up to the first HEMTT, found the key that matched the serial number on the truck, and unlocked it. Climbing inside, he tried to start it and, although it turned over slowly, it refused to start. Climbing back out he looked around until he found where the batteries were mounted. Of course, it was a twenty-four volt system, but he hoped the added power from the Max battery would be enough to boost it and start the truck. Pulling the Max over, he connected the battery cables he remembered to bring, and got back into the vehicle to try it again. This time it fired up, and they were good to go. As Pam got the Max out of the way, Jack backed up to a trailer and hooked up. Then, going slow so Pam could keep up, he headed for the tank farm to fill the truck and trailer with fuel.

    Twenty minutes later they drove back to the plane, and Jack told everyone they were good to go.

    "Pam, why don't you let me and Eric take the Max back over to the armory. I want to go through those storage rooms and see if there's anything useful in them."

    "Aww, if I have to." the girl said. Reluctantly getting up.

    The two men quickly got aboard, returned to the armory and went inside. At the back of the room was a roll-up door, which they opened. Going back out to the Max, Jack drove it around to the door and into the building. Then they started opening cages and looking through the contents. In short order they found several cases of M-16 A2's, along with stacks of cases of ammunition. Jack knew they didn't need any more guns, but decided to take a case of rifles anyway. He also put five cases of ammo on the trailer, knowing that he could always return for more later. Next to those were stacked cases of .50 cal ammo, already linked for the Browning machine gun, and Jack grabbed one of these as well.

    Seeing this, Eric said "what do you need that for?"

    Jack filled him in on his thoughts about arming the little helicopter. The boy got a huge smile on his face, and enthusiastically helped load two more cases.

    They looked through the rest of the cages, but didn't find anything else they wanted, and soon drove back out to the yard, closing up the place as best they could, and especially locking the cages and taking all the keys. Jack didn't think anyone else would bother coming there, but why take the chance?

    Back in the yard, the two looked over a hummer and figured out how to get the machine gun off. Adding it to their load on the trailer, they left and went looking for Warthogs.

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    Finding the flight line, they soon were looking at two A-10's. both were fully armed and had bombs and missiles hanging off the wings. Jack said "I don't think we need all that ordnance, and I have no idea how to remove it safely. Why don't we keep going and see if we can find some other planes."

    Eric agreed, and they kept going. A few minutes later they found what they were looking for. Outside a hangar that Jack guessed was used to house ordnance for reloading, they found a Warthog with nothing on the wings. Looking over the aircraft, Jack figured out how to open the main guns' ammo compartment. He saw that the gun was loaded and ready to go. Next he climbed up and looked in the cockpit.

    The cockpit was different from any he'd ever seen before, and suddenly he wasn't so sure he could do this. Jumping down he said to Eric, "now that I've looked inside one of these, I'm not so sure I could figure it out."

    Starting to get a disappointed look, Eric said "sure you could, you're a great pilot!"

    "I don't know, the controls aren't anything like the greyhound. I've never used half that equipment and if I did the wrong thing I could crash. No, I think it's best we give up on this, at least for now."

    Looking really disappointed now, the boy said "aww, I guess...if you're sure." And returned to the max. Turning back, he said "But it is cool looking, isn't it?"

    "It sure is," Jack heartily agreed.

    As they drove back, Jack noticed the C-130's parked along the side of the tarmac. Turning toward them and stopping, he said "Let's just take a look, ok?"

    Eric was game, and soon they were inside one, looking at the cockpit. "Now, this is something I could fly." Jack said.

    "You want to take one?" Eric asked.

    Considering it for a moment, Jack said "No, not right now. We really don't need one for anything, and we can always come back if that changes."

    Not really caring one way or the other, Eric readily agreed.

    Eventually they made their way back to the plane. When they got there they found the women had topped off the greyhound's tanks from the truck, and gone back to the tank farm to refill it. Surprised, Jack asked who had driven it.

    "Pam did," Mel said. "I rode along, but she did really well, better than I could have done in a million years."

    Impressed that the girl would try something like that without someone there to show her how, Jack said, "good for you, do you want to drive it back to the complex while I ride shotgun?"

    Happy that Jack was pleased, she said "Sure, if you want me to."

    "Go for it." He said.

    Looking over the trailer, Mel asked about the 'big gun' as she put it. Jack said "Well, I thought we could mount it to the kestrel and give the pilot a way to actually protect those of us on the ground, instead of just observing."

    Mel thought that an excellent idea. "What about that plane, the hog...or whatever you called it? are you going to get it too?"

    "No, I decided against it," He said. "I wasn't sure I could teach myself to fly it without killing myself."

    Mel gave him an approving look. 'apparently he has more sense than most guys after all', she thought.

    As soon as they were set, Eric took off in the greyhound, Mel in the kestrel, and Pam climbed in to the drivers side of the truck. Jack got in the other side, secretly glad to be providing the protection. His H&K was far superior to the little carbine Pam carried. He wondered if he could convince her to move up to one of the full auto M-16's they'd found, if nothing else.

    As they started off, he brought the subject up. "Pam, I know you like that carbine, and it's yours to keep, but what would you say to using one of the M-16's we found instead when we go out?"

    "Why, is it a better gun?" She asked.

    "In some ways, yes." He explained. "It's the military version of the gun Robin carries. One of the features it has is full auto fire. What that means is, when you pull the trigger it fires three times instead of only once. It also penetrates a little better than the carbine's round."

    "So, it's better to fire faster?" the girl asked, looking interested.

    "Well, it can be. I mean, if you're able to concentrate and use your sights to line up on a target before you fire, it's not any better than semi-auto. But if you instead point the gun in the general direction and shoot hoping to hit something, what we call 'spray and pray', it's better."

    "What about a gun like what you carry, why is it better?"

    "Well, this gun has a larger, more powerful bullet. It is effective out to about a third of a mile in the right hands, about three times the range of the carbine or the M-16. And, since the bullet is larger and heavier, it'll penetrate light armor better also. The thing is, it has more recoil, and you said you didn't like that."

    The girl sat and thought about it for a minute. "Could I try it anyway? I might be able to get used to the kick, and I'd rather have the bigger bullet if it's that much better."

    "Sure thing, as soon as we get back you're more than welcome to try both of them, and you can carry whatever you're comfortable with." Jack said, happy that she seemed so willing to try.

    By this time they were coming to the fence that surrounded the airport. Calling Mel on the radio, she said there was a gate about half a mile to their left. Pam turned in that direction and soon they came to it. Driving through, they soon came to a road that served the local industrial park, called Orchard st.. Turning right and keeping it slow, they soon made their way to the interstate, where they were able to get up to about forty. Jack didn't want to go any faster as they didn't want to have to stop suddenly. Mel was staying about a mile ahead of them, but he'd rather be safe than sorry.

    The whole trip, they never saw a soul, but Jack had an uneasy feeling of being watched until they left the city behind. An hour later they pulled in to the complex, and Jack dropped the trailer off near the aircraft fueling area. then, opening the tank cover, he dumped the contents of the truck's tank into the underground one, filling it all the way up. Happy to have the tank full again, he said to Pam "We can go to back to Gowen in a few days and get another trailer and fill this one up again, but for now I'm happy."

    Smiling as she got out of the truck, Pam said "well, if you're happy, I'm happy."

    Giving her a wry look, Jack walked with her back into the shelter.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  27. #27
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    here's the HEMTT-LHS tanker from Chapter 16:


    here's an older HEMTT:

    here's a Max:
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  28. #28
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    Chapter 17

    The next afternoon everyone was taking it easy. Eric and Robin were spending some alone time together, Mel was at her place reading a book, and Jack and Pam were watching a movie. As he sat in his apartment with his arm around the girl, Jack’s mind drifted.

    He and Eric had spent the morning mounting the .50 cal machinegun to the Kestrel, only to find out during test firing that the vibration and recoil just about shook the little craft apart. Even with Jack sitting in the seat, the recoil made the helicopter move backwards, and he knew that the effect in the air could make the pilot loose control easily. After all that work, they had to remove the thing and look for another solution. Maybe the next time they went to Boise they’d look for a .30 cal, like an M-60 or something.

    He was also thinking about what he’d found in his encyclopedia software last night. The encyclopedia had automatically updated as long as the internet had been up, and therefore was as current as possible. When he looked up the HEMTT-LHS, he found that the truck and tanks were both designed to be transported by C-130. Thinking about it now, he realized they had a use for the aircraft after all. Also, he’d found that the C-130 was designed for short, rough field take-off and landings, and could land with half his runway to spare. It seemed to be much too useful an aircraft to ignore.

    Pam snuggled closer as the movie reached an intimate part, and Jacks’ attention was drawn back to her. He really felt lucky to have found her, she was everything his ex-wife wasn’t. Whereas his ex had been self centered and vain, Pam was giving and warm. He realized as they sat there that he was in love with her, but also realized she wasn’t ready for marriage yet. The thought of it seemed to scare her.

    Well, that was ok he thought, he was willing to wait until she was ready, no matter how long it took. Giving her a squeeze, he went back to watching the movie.

    When the movie was over, Jack stood up. Pam looked up at him questioningly, and he explained that he needed to get with Eric about going back to Gowen field. Standing up also, she said “I’ll go with you, I feel like moving around a bit.”

    As they walked out, Pam was thinking about marriage in general. Robin seemed happy with Eric, and that made it easier for her to envision herself married also. There was still a part of her that held back, but Jack seemed ok with that, and she felt he was willing to give her all the time she needed. The knowledge made the girl love him even more.

    Walking over to the power dome, they ran into Eric in the tunnel. “We were just coming to see you,” Jack said. “I want us to go back to Gowen and see about getting some of those HEMTT tanks. They can be loaded on one of the C-130’s and brought here, then we can stack them over near the hangar.”

    “Sounds good, but how will we move them around?” The boy wanted to know.

    “We’ll use one of the trucks there to load them on the plane, and use the one we have here to unload and move them. Also, we’ll send the empty one we have now back with the first return flight and fill it up also.”

    “Cool.” Eric said.

    “Also, we need to find some sort of armament for the Kestrel, maybe an M-60 or some other light machine gun, and I’d like to mount the .50 cal on the mog and make it an escort vehicle.”

    “Sounds good, when are we going to do all this?”

    “Well, we can mount the .50 whenever you like, there’s no rush as we won’t be needing it anytime soon. We can go after the tanks and stuff in the morning.”

    The boy said that’d be good, and walked off to talk with Robin. He’d been wanting to teach her to fly the kestrel, and the night before, when they’d gotten back from the airport, she’d told him she was ready to learn. As he saw it, now was the perfect time for her to start.

    Going back into the dining room, he saw Robin and called her over.

    “Hey, what do you say to us getting started with the helicopter?” Eric asked, half sure she’d find an excuse not to.

    “Now? Great.” She said, surprising him.

    As the two walked out, Eric thought about how lucky he was to have someone like her.


    After his conversation with Eric, Jack asked Pam if she’d like to take a walk before dinner. Agreeing, the two of them made their way to the entrance silo, and up to the surface. Walking around the open field, enjoying each others’ company, Jack spotted movement near the fence. Instinctively drawing his gun, He started moving closer to get a better look. A minute later he realized it was a dog and relaxed, putting the gun away. As they walked up the animal didn’t run off, and when Jack called out to it, it ran up to the fence, tail wagging. Getting close they saw that it was a mixed breed, a mutt, although it vaguely resembled a terrier. It was medium sized, and filthy, and looked as if it hadn’t eaten for a while. Pam’s heart went out to it, and she asked Jack if they could bring it inside. Liking the idea of having a dog around, he agreed, provided it didn’t have any obvious diseases and didn’t try and bite anyone.

    Walking to the gate, the dog following happily on the far side of the fence, Jack realized it wasn’t feral at all, and wondered about its owner. “You know Pam, it’s been long enough since the sickness that a dog like this should have gone wild. But this one seems like he’s been around people recently…I wonder if its owner is around also.”

    “How would we go about finding out?” The girl asked.

    “I don’t know, I guess we could take up one of the planes and look around, but they may hide from the sound of it. Maybe we should just leave a sign on the gate, and another one on the fence where we first spotted him. If the owner comes looking for him maybe he’ll be willing to take a chance and contact us.”

    “Oh, I hope so, it’d be good to have other people here. There’s so much to do as it is, that any extra help would be great.” She said.

    After letting the dog inside the fence and making sure it was healthy and friendly, they took it into the complex and cleaned it up. The others were excited about their new addition, and immediately took over grooming and feeding the animal. For his part, the dog seemed to think he was in heaven, and was loving all the attention he was getting.

    Jack made up two signs on plywood, putting hooks in place so it could be hung from the fence. They gave a description of the dog, and asked anyone who knew the animal, or anyone at all for that matter, to please go to the gate and push the button on the intercom panel there.

    Going back inside, Jack decided on a name for the animal, but when the others heard it they didn’t seem to care for it much.

    “But what’s wrong with calling it ‘Dawg’?” Jack wanted to know, he had always had a strange sense of humor and the others weren’t used to it was all.

    “It needs a REAL name,” Pam said, “and ‘Dawg’ isn’t a real name!”

    “Sure it is, besides, he IS a Dawg and that’s what I’m calling him.” He said in mock stubbornness.

    Sensing he was playing with her, Pam changed her position and agreed with him, to the astonishment of the others.

    “I guess Dawg it is,” Mel said, and the matter was dropped.


    Early the next morning, after deciding that they only needed two people for the trip as they wouldn’t be driving back, Eric and Jack ate a hasty breakfast and headed out. They took the kestrel instead of the greyhound, as the little helicopter could act as a runabout and take them anywhere they needed to go, as well as fly escort as soon as it was properly armed.

    They landed at Gowen field half an hour later, next to the National Guard armory they’d visited before. Immediately Jack walked to another of the HEMTT’s, carrying the jump-start box he knew they’d need. Getting the truck started he hooked to a trailer and, with Eric flying above him, drove to the tank farm. After the tanks were filled, they went to the flight line and selected one of the C-130’s. Using a ground power unit they found, they soon got the airplane’s onboard power unit started, and opened the rear door.

    Figuring out how to load the tank from the truck into the plane was tricky, but they managed it eventually. After loading both tanks they left the truck where it was, and with Jack flying the plane, headed back.

    When Jack had landed at the complex, Eric saw that he was grinning from ear to ear.

    “That thing’s amazing!” He said, “It almost seems like it can land on a postage stamp. It’s as easy to fly as the greyhound, and has a lot more power.”

    “Then I guess we’re keeping it, huh?” Eric commented, smiling at his enthusiasm.

    “You’re dang tootin’ we are!” He said.

    They unloaded the tanks and found that they could stack them. Jack wondered if it were possible to stack them in the plane as well, but later decided against trying, as the weight of twelve thousand gallons of jet fuel might be too much for the plane. Soon they were back in the air to get two more tanks, and by early afternoon had all ten of them.

    “That’s thirty thousand gallons more than what we had to start. I think that should handle our jet fuel needs for the foreseeable future.” Jack said.

    Deciding they had the time, they returned to the airport and went looking for a replacement gun for the kestrel.

    This time they went to the Army Reserve area. Landing, Jack’s attention was drawn to several helicopters on the flight line. There were two Cobra gunships, and several Huey’s. Deciding that the Cobra’s were overdoing it a bit, and besides, they could only carry two people, he went over to the Huey’s. When he got there he saw that one of them had also been set up as a gunship, and was fully loaded with rocket pods and .50 cal Browning’s. Knowing that this was what they needed, but also that it’d take the others a while to learn to fly it, He decided to put off taking it right then. As he walked away, Eric asked him “aren’t we going to take it home?”

    “We’ll come back for it. It’s not like the Kestrel, it takes a long time to learn to fly. If we used it then only I could fly it right now, and that’s too limiting a factor for us. If we could only find some other people, it’d make things so much easier.”

    Walking over to the buildings, Jack used the crow bar he’d brought to get into what he thought was the armory. Inside they started looking around and soon found the guns. One of the first they ran across was the M-249. This was called the Squad Automatic Weapon. It was small and light weight, and fired the .223 round, the same as the M-16. While he had really been hoping for something heavier in firepower, Jack realized that the light weight, combined with the almost non existent recoil would mean they could mount two on the small helicopter and still carry two people. Also, as the likelihood of ever using them was small, these would probably serve the role very well.

    Having discussed his reasons with Eric, they grabbed two of the guns and several boxes of ammunition and headed out. Strapping the gear to the frame of the machine, they got on board and started for the house.

    When the helicopter had been unloaded, the two men decided they had just enough daylight for one more trip. Returning, they went immediately to the Huey gunship and set about getting it running. After half an hour of working with it, Jack managed to get the turbine to fire, and soon had it idling and warming up. Signaling to Eric, he took off, with the boy following behind him. As they neared the complex, Jack saw an old man standing at the gate. Landing, he got out of the chopper and walked over, watching in case anyone else was there and wanted to jump him.

    As he got close, the man said “I thought I heard the sound of engines over this way, but I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw you all fly off a bit ago.”

    Walking up to the man, Jack introduced himself.

    “My name’s Douglas Peterson, the sign on the fence there says you have my dog inside there.”

    “Yes we do Mr. Peterson, we weren’t sure his owner was still alive.”

    “Oh, I’m still alive, for the moment anyway. Say, how many folks you got in there anyway?”

    “Not many, in fact, there are only five of us. Tell me, how are you set? Do you need anything to help you get by?”

    “Naw, I got’s all I need, except for any friends left, that is. It gets mighty lonely these days.”

    “Yes it does. Well, if you want, would you consider coming inside with us? We have plenty of room and would love to have you.”

    “Well, that’s mighty neighborly of you son, I just might like that. Of course, if I don’t like it I’d want the right to leave.”

    “Of course Mr. Peterson, we’d never think of forcing anyone to do anything they didn’t want to do.”

    “Please, call me Doug, and if that’s the case, sure I’ll take a look inside.”

    “And you can call me Jack. I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you in the gate and you can walk over to where I land, then we can all go inside together, how does that sound?”

    “Sounds all right.”

    With that, Jack opened the gate and let him through, then went back to the Huey and quickly moved it to the landing area. Eric, who’d been in the air all this time covering Jack’s back, landed next to him. “Is that the owner of the dog?” He asked.

    “Yep. He says his name’s Doug Peterson.”

    While waiting for the old man to walk over, Jack called the girls and told them the news. Soon everyone was there and introductions were made. Soon, Pam asked the man if he’d like to come inside and get something to eat, to which he responded in the affirmative. Pulling Mel aside, Jack said “not that I don’t trust him, but we don’t know anything about him. So please go with them and keep an eye out, in case he tries anything funny.”

    “Oh, believe me, I was already thinking that.” She said.

    ‘Good girl’, Jack thought.

    After putting the Kestrel away (there wasn’t enough room for the Huey yet, they’d have to move something else out first), the two men went inside for a late dinner. Afterwards Jack got with Mel, who said the guy was very nice and a complete gentleman, So he decided to let the guy stay the night. Showing him to an apartment in the power dome, they all said good night and everyone went to their rooms.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  29. #29
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    Chapter 18

    That night, Jack was having trouble sleeping. He tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable, thoughts jumbled in his head. Finally around three in the morning, he drifted off into a light, fitful sleep. In the morning he awoke and realized what had bothered him so during the night. As he lay there thinking, he remembered the day before when they’d brought Doug into the complex. Everything seemed normal and the man appeared to be nice enough. Even Mel had said he was a perfect gentleman, but the dog didn’t seem to even know him. The man had said it was his dog when they were outside, but that was the last time he’d mentioned him, not even asking about him after coming inside. Then when he saw the dog in the dining room, it had been friendly enough, but had stayed near Jack instead of him.

    Realizing the man had lied to them, Jack wondered why. The sign they’d put up had said that anyone was welcome, so why the deception? Resolving to keep a close eye on the man and find out what his intentions were, he got dressed and went down to breakfast.


    For his part, Doug figured he’d found the perfect marks. Never had he dreamed that people so obviously prepared would be so open to an outsider. Apparently they were Christians, and he knew he could use that against them since they weren’t likely to do anything to him anyway. He’d always taken advantage of Christians before, and they were usually easy, even if they appeared tough at first.

    One of the first things he’d noticed was that the girl, Robin, wasn’t armed like the rest of them. Thinking, he realized she was the weak link. Although the other teenage girl was actually smaller and would be easier to control, she had been armed like the others. Deciding that the best way to get control of this place was to get Robin alone and use her as a hostage to disarm the rest of them, he decided to keep a close eye on her and wait for his chance.



    Arriving at the dining room, Jack saw that he was late. Grabbing a plate of pancakes, he went over and sat across from Doug.

    “Good morning,” he said. “Sleep well?”

    “Pretty good, this is a nice place you have here.” The older man said.

    “Thanks,” Jack said. “So Doug, do you live around here?”

    “Yeah, I got a place up in Mayfield,” the man lied. It’s not much though, not compared to this.” He indicated the room around them.

    “Hmm, we’ve been up to Mayfield a couple of times, but we never saw any signs of anyone living there.”

    Doug hesitated a brief moment, then said “well, I keep to myself mostly.”

    Jack knew it was highly unlikely that anyone would avoid them out of a concern for privacy. Fear maybe, but not just because they wanted to be left alone. Not after what had happened, anyway. Letting the matter drop for the moment, but more suspicious than ever, Jack told him that he and Eric would be working on a project in the hangar that morning, and asked if he’d like to join them.

    “Sure. Sounds like fun. But first I need to run back to my room for a minute, all this food has got my stomach a bit upset. The hangar is that place we came in here last night, right?” Jack said it was. “Ok, I know where that is, I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

    With that the man got up and walked back to his apartment. Jack took the opportunity to get with the others and tell them of his suspicions, cautioning them to watch the old man closely. To robin he said “I’ve noticed you’ve stopped wearing your pistol.”

    “It’s uncomfortable,” she said.

    “I’m sorry, but I want you to wear it from now on until we get to the bottom of this thing with him, ok?”

    “Ok Jack, I’ll put it on right after I finish cleaning up from breakfast.”

    “Good girl.”

    As the others left to take care of their projects, Robin started gathering dishes and headed back into the kitchen.


    Watching from the hall behind the elevator, Doug saw the others meet, but couldn’t hear what they were saying. Finally they left, all except Robin, who went back into the kitchen. Knowing this was his perfect chance, Doug walked casually across the room and through the tunnel to where the girl was working.

    As he entered the room he saw her standing in front of the sink, beginning to fill it with dish water. Walking up behind her, he grabbed a knife from off the counter. Reaching her he wrapped his left arm around her, covering her mouth with his hand. Roughly pulling her back he pressed the knife against her throat, and told her that if she moved or screamed he’d cut her throat.

    Robin was terrified. At first she struggled, but when she felt the knife against her throat she realized she was in big trouble and stopped moving. Thinking about her gun back in her room, she realized she was defenseless. Also, she knew it was unlikely the others would come looking for her anytime soon.

    Holding her at bay with the knife, Doug grabbed a dish towel and, tearing off a long strip, forced the girl’s hands behind her back and tied them there. Then he turned her to face him and looked at his prize approvingly.

    “My, but you’re a pretty little thing,” he said, leering at her.

    Afraid she knew what was coming next, Robin remained silent. After a moment, the man used the knife to cut away her shirt, exposing her bare skin to his view. Feeling violated as the man roughly grabbed at her chest, Robin realized that, unless she did something, he was going to rape her and likely kill her as well. Remembering that the intercom on the wall had a panic button, and knowing that if she could only push it everything said in the room would be broadcast from every speaker in the complex, she readied herself and looked for an opportunity.

    Doug was enjoying himself. He’d done this sort of thing many times before, and was confident he had the situation well under his control. As he groped the girl roughly, savoring her fear and the thought of what was to come, Robin made her move.

    Seeing that he was distracted by what he was doing, and that the knife had moved away from her throat a bit, she readied herself and kicked out with all her strength, hitting him in the one spot no man likes to be kicked.

    Feeling the explosion of pain deep in his gut, Doug let his grip on the girl slip for a brief second. Robin took the chance he provided and broke away, hitting the panic button with her forehead and calling out “HELP! I’M IN THE KITCHEN!”

    By this time Doug had recovered enough to grab her again. Sure that no one could have heard her since they had all left the room outside, he said “You’re going to pay for that you little B****, now I’m going to really mess you up!”

    With that he slammed her down on the counter, ripping at the button of her jeans. Believing the worst was about to happen, Robin closed her eyes, just as she heard an angry female voice shout “GET YOUR D*** HANDS OFF HER, YOU SON OF A B****!”

    Startled, Doug looked around. There in the doorway stood Mel holding the largest gun he’d ever seen, and pointing it right at him.

    “Th-this isn’t what it looks like.” He stammered, trying to move into a position where he could get control of the girl and force the other woman to drop her weapon. But as he tried to move, Robin kicked out and caught him in the belly, doubling him up. A moment later the rest of the group got there and Eric raced over to the girl, taking her into his arms and holding her tight. Realizing that it was over, Robin started sobbing hysterically as Eric moved her out into the dining room, trying to calm her down.

    By this time Jack had moved over to Doug, grabbing him roughly and tying his hands severely with the same cloth he’d used on Robin. Protesting that he had rights and they couldn’t do this to him, Doug resisted as Jack pushed him back into the store room. Ignoring his pleas, he tied the man’s feet and gagged him, then locked the door and went to see about Robin.

    Seeing that the girl was all right and that Mel had gotten there in time to prevent anything more serious from happening, he told Eric to take his wife back to their place and take care of her. As the young couple got up and left, he turned to Mel and said “good job, but I’m surprised you didn’t shoot him.”

    “I would have if I could,” she said, “but I couldn’t fire without taking a chance of hitting Robin.”

    Nodding his understanding, he said “well, now that we know what his game was the question we have to face is, what do we do with him?”

    “I know what I’d like to do with him,” Mel said, an angry look in her eye. “I’d like to stand him up and shoot him right now, trash like that doesn’t deserve to live.”

    Pam just stood there, agreeing silently. Unconsciously rubbing the butt of her pistol with her hand.

    Fully understanding where she was coming from, Jack said “well, he’s not going to bother anyone else right now, I suggest we all pray about this and figure out how we should handle it. I have no problem with shooting someone in defense of others, but now that it’s over, I’m not sure we can justify it before God. We all need time to calm down, and we need to make sure Robin’s really all right. I think tomorrow will be soon enough to deal with this, and he’s definitely not going anywhere.”

    The women reluctantly agreed, and they went as a group to check on the girl.

    After the others had left, Robin, who hadn’t really been hurt physically other than the cut on her forehead where she’d hit the panic button, got up and went into the bathroom. Undressing, she turned on the shower, running the water hot. Getting in and standing in the scalding stream, she tried to wash the feel of the man’s hands off her body. After more than an hour she got out, her skin lobster red from the hot water, and went into the living room where she asked Eric to hold her some more. Thinking about what Jack had said, the couple got down on their knees, and sought out God’s wisdom to deal with this mess. As she prayed, Robin laid the whole matter at God’s feet, and immediately felt the burden lift from her. After that she was able to forgive the man for what he had done, and the black mass of anger within her dissolved. Standing up again and again holding her husband, she felt much better, and silently thanked God for helping her to deal with this.


    The next morning after breakfast, the group gathered around a table and discussed the situation.

    “As I said yesterday,” Jack began, “while I have no problem killing someone in self defense, or in defense of others, I don’t see how we can execute someone after the fact. I know the Old Testament has verses about an eye for an eye, but Jesus taught us in the New Testament to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us.”

    Looking around, Jack saw that the others agreed, though Eric looked reluctant. Continuing, he said “we know that we all are sinners, and that we all deserve death for the crimes we’ve committed against God. But God saw fit to let us live for as long as it took for us to repent of those sins. If we execute Doug for what he did, as I see it, we’d be taking the decision out of God’s hands, and cutting him off before he had the same chance. That is something I’m not comfortable doing.”

    After a pause, he said “Of course, we also can’t let him stay here, as he’s already shown us that he’s dangerous and not to be trusted. And if we let him loose outside, he’s likely to continue causing us trouble. Therefore I propose we carry him off somewhere, several hundred miles away, and effectively exile him. Chances are pretty even that he’ll die anyway, and if he ever does the same thing to someone else they’ll probably kill him anyway, but at least his blood won’t be on our hands.”

    Looking at the others, he said “what do you think Robin, you were the one attacked after all?”

    Hesitating before answering, the girl said “When I was praying last night I gave this whole thing to God, and I forgave Doug for what he did to me. I think you’re idea is a good one, maybe this last chance at redemption will be the one he’ll take, and he’ll turn his life over to God before he dies.”

    Jack looked at the girl with pride, glad that her faith had allowed her to see things so clearly. Eric on the other hand was still struggling, and Jack could see that a part of the boy still wanted to bring harm to the man. But he seemed to be controlling his emotions well, and he voiced his agreement with his wife.

    After the group had reached their decision, Jack and Mel went into the store room to get Doug. They found him laying over on his side, asleep, his hands turned blue from the bindings. Waking him, they dragged him, protesting, into the dining room where they passed sentence. Loosening his bindings while the others held their guns on him, Jack said “we have decided not to kill you. We are Christians, and that means that we forgive others even when they try to hurt us. But we still have to remove the danger you represent, so we’ve decided to exile you from this area. We’ll take you in a plane to an area far from here, and there you may be able to find enough to survive on. After that you’re on your own, but you need to know that, if we ever see you around here again, we’ll shoot you without warning.

    Rubbing his wrists to bring back the feeling, the man said “you can’t do this to me! I’ve got rights. I want a lawyer! I want to see my lawyer D*** it! You can’t do this!”

    “We can do anything we want. We could kill you where you stand if we wanted to, just be glad that our faith tells us to act differently. Instead of crying about your rights, you should be considering this chance God is giving you…it may be the last one you get.”

    Having said this, Jack retied his hands, not so tight this time. Then, leaving the others to guard him, he went to the hangar to prepare the greyhound for flight.


    In the plane flying southwest, Jack got out of the pilot’s seat, leaving the plane in Eric’s hands. Walking into the cabin he saw Doug sitting sullenly on the floor, with Mel across the cabin holding her rifle on him.

    Getting his attention, Jack tried to witness to him. As he talked, the man began to curse him, spitting at him. Finally, Jack gave up, and went back to the cockpit.

    Several hours later they landed on a deserted stretch of highway, a few miles outside a small town. Opening the ramp, Jack led the old man outside, then went back inside and got a canteen and small pack of food. Taking them out to the man, he put them on the ground several feet away. Also, he put a Bible down, telling the man that the truth was there if he was willing to accept it.

    Alternately cursing them and begging them not to leave him like this, the man tried to follow Jack back on the plane, when Mel fired a shot at his feet, stopping him. Looking at her with fear, he said “please…you can’t just leave me like this, I’ll die out here!”

    Jack looked at him and said “that’s your choice.” And turned back, closing the door. As they took off and circled around, they saw the man picking up the stuff they left. And as they turned back towards home, Jack prayed that the man would think about what he’d said, before it was too late.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  30. #30
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    Chapter 19

    The next several days saw a great change in Robin. No longer shy, she was self assured and confident. Jack was concerned that, after such a terrifying attack, the girl would retreat back into her shell forever. He had noticed after she’d been married that she had seemed more self confident, taking an active part in conversations and looking for ways to help others. When she’d first gotten there a few months earlier, she’d hardly said a word to anyone, always keeping her eyes downcast and sticking close to Eric. He wasn’t sure why, but marriage had changed all that, and she’d really started to open up.

    Now, with the attack and all, he’d been sure she’d close up again, but the opposite had happened, and he couldn’t figure out why.

    Lying in bed one night after the attack, Robin was thinking about her life and how much it had changed in just the past few months. Doug’s assault on her had shaken her up, but her own actions had surprised her. It was the first time in her life that she’d ever taken control, always before she had just accepted whatever happened to her without a struggle. But this time she fought back, and it was a liberating experience. She realized now that she had authority over her own life, that nothing had to happen to her unless she wanted it to.

    Just a few months before she had been the little passive girl her parents had raised, mimicking them in their reactions to the things around them. Her father would never have raised a fuss, no matter what someone was doing to him. He didn’t like guns and would never even allow discussion of them in the house. Her mother shielded and protected her so that she never had any experience with confrontation, and her father wouldn’t even allow her to talk about problems she had at school, let alone the things she saw on the news or heard about from her friends.

    When they died she felt that she’d died also, but in a surprising way her life seemed to have begun at that time. And now she was married, and to a wonderful husband. That had been her first act of self determination, and it felt wonderful. But during the attack, that was when she’d really taken control, first drawing attention to her situation, then actively fighting back. Since then she realized she didn’t have to just let things happen to her, and that was a wonderful feeling.

    Thinking of these things, and snuggling up to her husband, she drifted happily off to sleep.

    In the days after the incident with Doug, Eric and Jack took care of several projects. First they mounted the M-249’s to the kestrel, and fixed a trigger so that the guns could be fired from either seat. They mounted them to the landing skids, far enough forward that there was no way to get their feet in front of the muzzles, and close enough so they could reach down and change ammo boxes if needed. Each ammo box held two hundred rounds, and they set the guns up to fire alternately, giving each one a second to cool while the other fired. Jack knew that extended firing could warp the barrels, and hoped that by alternating between them when firing, they could avoid that problem.

    Next they tackled mounting the Browning on the mog. This had been kind of tricky, and they finally decided to cut a hole in the roof of the camper and put the swivel mount in front of the hole. They also fashioned a door they could close to keep rain out of the interior, and fixed a half inch steel plate to the front of the mount to give the shooter a little protection from return fire. Jack knew it wouldn’t offer much help against a well armed enemy, but he also knew there weren’t many people left, at least not in their immediate area.

    One other vehicle he wanted to arm was the ‘viper’. This was a homebuilt jet he’d bought several years before, and it was lots of fun to fly. He’d shown it to Eric, but so far they hadn’t had the time to fly it. The boy wanted to get checked out on it, so Jack made the time and took him up.

    Flying the little two seat jet was an experience. Faster than anything else in the hangar, it looked and handled like a fighter plane. After several days of instruction Eric soloed, and after that it was the only plane he wanted to fly!

    Arming it was tricky however. There wasn’t enough room in the nose to mount an internal gun, and the plane wasn’t designed to carry external weapons. Finally, the two men made a trip back to Gowen field, to the army reserve area to see how things were mounted on military aircraft.

    “You know, now that I look at it, mounting any sort of weapon is going to be tricky.” Jack said.

    “You’re right, the wings are just too small for anything to be mounted there, that’s for sure.”

    “I guess we could put a .50 cal under the belly, on the centerline, but how would we store the ammo?”

    “Hmm, could we cut a hole in the floor of the rear cockpit and mount a box there?” the boy asked.

    “Maybe, but we’d have to mount the gun sideways, and I’m not sure it’d work that way.”

    “Well, all we can do is try it, I guess.”

    After playing with one of the Browning’s for an hour, they found it would fire no matter what orientation it was in. next they went over to look at the plane and see if there was enough room in the cockpit floor for the ammo box.

    “This’ll never work, the control links are in the way.” Eric groused.

    “Actually, there may just be a way. If we offset the gun to the left, there should be just enough room to mount the box between the seat frame and the stick, without interfering with the linkages,” Jack observed. “See what I mean?”

    Looking, the boy agreed, and they spent the rest of the afternoon mounting and sighting in the gun. They had to make their own crude iron sights, but eventually they got to where they could hit a target at least three hundred yards out with fairly reasonable accuracy.

    “The ammo box only holds a hundred rounds, and there’s no way we can reload it in the air, but it’s better than nothing I guess.” Jack said.

    Eric agreed, and the two got in the small jet and headed back to the complex. One of the things Jack had been worried about when they mounted the gun offset was the effect it would have on the handling of the aircraft. Getting in the air, he was pleasantly surprised to find out that he couldn’t even tell it was there. Next, they wanted to see what would happen when they fired it while in flight. When they mounted the gun, they had cut a slot in the skin of the plane to allow the cocking handle to stick through. Pulling it to the rear to charge the gun, Jack got set up and aimed at a car on the outskirts of Boise. When the sights lined up he worked the lever they’d mounted to actuate the trigger, and the airplane bucked gently as the gun fired.

    “Well, that wasn’t too bad.” He said. And it looks like we hit that car as well.

    Landing back at the complex, the two went in to get something to eat, happy with their efforts, even if they never needed the extra firepower.


    Some time later, Jack walked in to the dining room with a smile on his face. Looking up at him, Pam asked “what are you so happy about?”

    “Do you know what day this is?” he asked.

    “No,” she responded, curious.

    “It’s the forth of July.”

    “It is? Really? Cool!” She said.

    “And I thought we could have a picnic topside, and maybe later even have some fireworks.” Jack said, grinning.

    At this, the others perked up as well. “Hey! That sounds great.” Eric chimed in.

    “Good idea.” Mel added.

    Suddenly everybody was busy planning what they’d do to celebrate the day. The girls got busy preparing the picnic, while Eric and Jack made a run to Gowen for some ‘fireworks’.

    When they returned, they saw that the others were outside already, and had blankets spread with food on them.

    Sitting on a blanket with Pam at his side and a plate of lasagna in his hands, Jack said “you know what would be really good on a day like this?”

    “No, what?” Pam said.

    “Fried chicken. I mean real chicken, not the textured vegetable protein from the storage foods, but real meat. We should see about finding some chickens to raise, that way we would be able to get real meat once in a while.”

    Pam thought about that and said “yeah, and some eggs too. I miss real eggs, and we ran out months ago.”

    Eric spoke up and said “What I want is a hamburger. I miss beef more than anything.”

    “Well, couldn’t we start raising our own livestock? It can’t be all that hard, and I’m sure there’s enough feed around that’s still good.” Robin added.

    “That sounds like a plan,” Jack said. “Why don’t we get started working on that tomorrow?”

    The others thought that an excellent idea, they’d all missed real meat more than a little, and this was a project they all could get into.

    Finally, as the sun was setting, the men got ready for their ‘fireworks’ display. They started off by bringing out several weather balloons they’d found at the airport in Boise. These they filled with helium and attached half pound blocks of C-4 to, with fused detonators inserted. After filling the balloons, they lit the fuse and released them one at a time, letting them float upwards to explode, to the delight of the group.

    Next, they got out an 81mm mortar they’d found, and proceeded to fire several explosive shells towards the fence line at the far end of the property. Finally, as it was getting fully dark, Eric brought up the mog, and started firing specially linked ‘all tracer’ ammo into the night sky.

    After they were done, the girls applauded and, going to their men, Pam and Robin gave them long kisses of appreciation.


    Over the next few days the group worked to prepare for raising livestock. Going into Mayfield they got fencing materials from the farmers co-op, and used this to set up places for the animals. They also got lumber and built a chicken coop, as well as stalls and a shelter for the cows, so they wouldn’t have to stay outside during bad weather.

    Finding a few cows wasn’t too hard, there had been several cattle ranches in the area. True, many of the animals had died off, but there were several that had had enough grazing area and were still healthy. Using a horse trailer they found at one ranch, they managed to get half a dozen cows back to the complex. Jack knew they needed a bull also, but they hadn’t found one, and he didn’t know what to do about it.

    Finding chickens was a different story. Most were raised in large factory type places where food had to be brought to them. Since no one had been around to take care of them in months, the flocks had died of starvation. Finally however, they found a few yard birds that had survived, mostly at houses in the country around the towns. Gathering them up, they now had a source of meat and eggs that they could maintain, as they had found several roosters to go along with the hens.

    An unexpected but welcome surprise came when they found a sow and eleven piglets at one of the houses where they got chickens. The piglets were obviously several weeks old, and Jack figured they could likely be weaned soon. The problem was, the sow was feral, and she didn’t take too kindly to strangers messing around her yard. In the end, they had to shoot her. Fortunately, the babies were big enough to survive on their own and as there were two males in the litter, they would provide another continuing source of meat. The mother also provided meat, and after all the animals had been settled at the complex, everyone took a day to rest and have a barbeque.

    They indeed had been able to find unspoiled feed, and had taken all they could store, by Jack’s estimate, they had enough to feed all the animals they had for at least two years. Also, the manure and byproducts from butchering could be added to the other waste for the oil converter, meaning they could finally start producing their own crude oil. The converter had been finished weeks earlier, but they didn’t have a good source of garbage material. As a result they had only run the thing one time, but that had resulted in sixty gallons of oil that they had then been able to refine into decent diesel fuel. Jack knew they would now be able to provide new fuel for their vehicles, if only they could find a good source of material to feed the process.

    A couple of weeks after their forth of July celebration, Mel noticed that Robin seemed to be under the weather. Talking with her, she learned the girl had been feeling badly every morning for weeks, but said that it soon passed.

    “Robin, when did you have your last period?” Mel asked.

    “I don’t know, it’s been a while. But my period has always been funny.” The girl replied.

    Nodding her head knowingly, Mel said “well, this time I think there’s a reason. I do believe that you are pregnant young lady.”

    “Pregnant!” the girl was stunned. “How?”

    Smiling, Mel said “well, I can think of one way at any rate.”

    Blushing, robin realized suddenly that this wasn’t a bad thing. She had been thinking that she would be in trouble if this was true, but now she realized that it was ok, she was married! In fact, it was wonderful!

    The girl suddenly smiled so big Mel thought her face would split. “Wait’ll I tell Eric!” they girl squealed, and started for the apartment.

    A moment later Mel heard a shout of joy from the direction of the apartments, and a few moments later the young couple emerged, each grinning like crazy.

    That night they had a party to celebrate the upcoming event. Pam was as happy as anyone for them, but a part of her was also envious. Realizing finally that she would never be in the same situation unless she came to grips with the idea of marriage, the girl resolved to pray about it, and follow where the Lord led her.

    Jack drew Mel aside after the party had died down. “Uh, do you know how to deliver a baby Mel?”

    “Well, I’ve had three of my own Jack, and it is a natural process.” She said, seeing the concern on his face. “Women have been having babies for thousands of years, somehow I think Robin will be just fine with only our help.”

    Realizing she was probably right, Jack decided to let it go for now and just pray that everything went all right.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  31. #31
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    here's the 'viper' from chapter 19. a sweet little homebuilt, to be sure.




    Performance Specifications
    Gross Weight Stall Speed 84 mph (73 kts.)
    Design Dive Speed 525 mph (457 kts.)
    Cruise Speed (True Airspeed) 400-450 kts TAS
    Range
    Range with 300 Gals. Fuel @ 25,000 ft. 800-1000 s.m. with 45 min reserve est.
    Rates & Distances
    Climb Rate @ Gross Weight 5100 Lbs. 10,000 - 12,000 fpm
    Take Off Distance 1,200 ft.
    Landing Distance 2,500 ft.
    Rotation Speed 120 mph
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  32. #32
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    Chapter 20

    Eric had been spending a considerable amount of time flying the Viper. He loved the little jet, and took it up whenever he could. One day, while accumulating flight hours in it and showing Robin how it handled, they flew over a small valley about sixty miles north of the complex. Looking into the valley, they spotted cows grazing, and knowing that Jack wanted a bull, the boy decided to fly low and slow over the area and see if they could see any.

    After several minutes, Robin called out “there’s one Eric, off to the right.”

    Looking to where she’d indicated, he spotted the animal also, and knew the others would be pleased. Circling back, he checked out the rest of the valley, then returned to the complex to tell them the news.

    After landing, the couple hunted down Jack and let him know what they’d found. Hearing about the bull, Jack got the details of the area and said “If that’s the same place I’m thinking of, that animal’s gonna be tough to get out of there.”

    “Why’s that?” Robin wanted to know.

    “Because there’s no road into the area, except for a dirt bike trail. Last time I tried to drive there, even the mog had trouble. There’s no way we’ll ever get that horse trailer in there, and that’s the only way I know of moving an animal that size.”

    Deciding that the bull wasn’t likely to leave the area anytime soon, the group agreed to discuss it with the others and figure out a solution to the problem.

    Upon hearing the news and finding out about the situation with the location, Mel said “you know, I saw a movie on TV one time where these guys carried a water buffalo under a helicopter. Do you think you could do that with the Huey, Jack?”

    Considering her suggestion, Jack thought it might be possible. “Maybe, but it’d have to be knocked out. I doubt if we could attach the sling to the animal with it awake, and if it thrashed about it could injure itself.”

    “What about knocking it out with a dart gun?” Pam asked.

    “Where would we get something like that?” He asked.

    “A veterinary hospital?”

    “Hmm, I guess we could look, anyway,” He replied.

    That afternoon Jack, Mel and Eric took the Huey into Mountain Home. Jack knew there had been a large animal clinic in town that had serviced many of the ranches in the area. Finding the place, he landed in the parking lot. Leaving Eric to watch the bird, the other two went inside to see what they could find.

    Walking inside, they were surprised to see the dried out body of a person in a lab coat lying halfway behind the front counter. Taking a closer look, Jack saw that it was the woman who ran the place, the Vet he’d dealt with on several occasions in the past, as he’d used her as a source for medications for the shelter. He figured she must have stayed here to take care of the animals, and eventually died here.

    Moving past her into the back room, the two were startled to see all the dead animals. Hesitating for a second, they stared into the cages.

    “Well, at least the smell is gone. It’s so sad though, you know?” Mel said.

    “I know,” he responded, “But it’s something we’re going to see a lot of as we go around looking for stuff, so I guess we’d better get used to it.”

    Looking around, they found the supply room. On one shelf was what they were after, a tranquilizer rifle and darts. Looking further, they found the anesthesia meds, and a dosage chart for various animals, including cattle. Taking everything, the two returned to the chopper.

    “Find what we needed?” Eric asked when they walked out.

    “Yep, at least I hope so, anyway.” Jack said.

    “We’d probably better test this stuff on a cow before we use it on the bull though,” Mel said. “I’d sure hate to go to all this trouble and then kill the dang thing by giving it an overdose.”

    “Or have it wake up before we get it home.” Jack quipped

    Agreeing, the group took off and went to a local cattle ranch where they’d left several cows. After finding one for the experiment, they filled a dart with the listed amount of the drug for cattle, and fired it at the animal. It took several minutes to have any effect, but eventually it went down and stopped moving. Approaching the cow, Mel checked for breathing and found everything looked all right.

    “We’d better wait until the drug wears off. That way we’re sure the animal is all right and we’ll know how long the effect lasts.”

    Thinking that last part of her statement to be the most important, Jack said “ok, let’s get something to eat, I packed some stuff in the chopper just in case.”

    Ribbing him about always being prepared, the others went back to the bird to wait.

    Two hours later the cow started coming around, and forty-five minutes after that, it got up and started to graze. Deciding they had seen enough to know the stuff worked, the they returned to the complex, as it was starting to get dark.

    The next morning the group met in the hangar. They decided that Mel would stay behind with Robin this time, and the others would go get the bull. Robin looked dejected at the thought of staying behind again. After all, she’d worked hard to keep up with the others so she wouldn’t have to be left out anymore. But they had convinced her that, in her ‘delicate condition’, playing with a full grown bull just wasn’t too bright.

    Jack had left the Huey on the elevator the night before, since they would be taking it back out in the morning anyway. It’d been quite a trick getting it squeezed into the crowded hangar, and in the end they’d had to disassemble two kit planes and move them and the Para-glider to the top level of the garage silo. Only the fact that this particular model of the craft, the 412, had folding blades made it possible, as the four blades stuck out almost twenty feet to each side, and the elevator was only thirty feet wide.

    Getting the craft set up for flight, the group got on board and headed to the valley in question. It took more than two hours to find the bull, and Eric was getting frustrated, swearing to the others that they’d really seen it. Finally they spotted it, hidden for the most part under some trees near a stream that ran through the valley.

    Knowing it would be impossible to hook up to the animal with it under the trees, Jack brought the bird in low, scaring it and making it run out into the field. When it was far enough away that there was little chance it would head back, he told Pam to go ahead, and she fired, hitting the animal in the flank. Within minutes it was down, and they cautiously approached. Determining the bull was well out of it, they spread the cargo net they’d taken from the army reserve base out behind it. Getting that done, Eric asked “How are we going to move it onto the net jack, it must weigh a ton!”

    “Watch and learn, grasshopper.” Jack said.

    “Grasshopper? Huh?” Eric said, looking confused.

    Realizing he was too young to remember the old TV show, Jack said “forget it, it was before your time.”

    Tying the bulls’ legs together, Jack attached a rope to them and tied the other end to the landing skid of the helicopter. Then getting in, he lifted off and gently pulled until the animal rolled over, settling in the middle of the net. Setting down again, they untied the rope from its legs and gathered the corners of the net, fixing them to the cable attached to the sling hook on the chopper.

    When they were all set they got aboard and Jack eased the load into the air. Traveling slowly so as not to set up a swinging in the load, they made their way back to the complex. The flight was uneventful, and they arrived an hour later. Setting down the load, Jack told Eric to get out and cut the bindings on the bull’s legs, then come back. When he returned, they lifted off and landed on the elevator pad, planning on retrieving the net after the animal awoke and moved off. With the task accomplished, the group went inside to grab a bite to eat.

    *

    Over the next several days, they observed as the bull got used to his new home. Eventually he took over the herd, and started mounting the cows one by one. This made Jack very happy, not only would they now have a renewable source of beef, but they’d also be able to collect fresh milk. The milk problem had always bugged him. Powdered milk was ok, but it didn’t last more than a couple of years in storage. Worse than that as far as he was concerned, it couldn’t be used to make ice cream, and he’d always liked ice cream. Now, with fresh milk available, they could make that and many other things besides, including real butter and cheese.

    Pam had also noticed the bull in action, but she wasn’t thinking about milk. She’d noticed that Robin’s belly was starting to poke out a bit, and it made her want to have a baby of her own. Finally coming to grips with the idea of getting married, she decided to talk to Jack about it.

    Calling him on the intercom one morning, she asked if she could talk to him about something. Jack told her to come on up and waited for her in his apartment. When she arrived he could tell she was nervous, so he invited her to sit down and relax, taking a seat across from her.

    “I can see you’re upset Pam, what is it?” He asked.

    “I’m not upset Jack, I was just wondering…why haven’t you ever asked me to marry you?”

    Startled by the question, he replied “well, for starters, I didn’t want to push you. I could see that you weren’t all that thrilled with the idea, and I figured that I could wait until you were ready.”

    Overcome with love for him because of his consideration, the girl said “at first I didn’t think I was ready, and the idea kinda scared me, but the past few months here have changed that. I want to marry you Jack, I want to be your wife.”

    With happiness filling his soul (he’d wondered if she’d EVER get over her reluctance to getting married), Jack took the girl into his arms and said “that would make me the happiest man alive babe.”

    Thrilled with his response, she said “so, when can we do it?”

    “First we both need to make sure we know what we’re getting ourselves into. You know that marriage is permanent, right? God allows divorce for only one reason, but even then He doesn’t like it. In a perfect relationship, the couple would forgive and work through any problem, and stay together. Also, if someone else came along in the future, someone closer to your own age, you would still be married to me and wouldn’t be able to just up and leave, no matter how much you liked this other person.”

    “Oh Jack, I’d NEVER want to leave you! No matter who came along. I love you, and I’d never do anything to hurt you, ever!”

    “Ok, as long as you’re clear on that.”

    The two spent several hours discussing the details of marriage, and in the end Jack felt the girl really was ready. But he also knew he was biased, and asked her to talk to Mel also, just to make sure.

    Mel was thrilled that the girl had finally made the decision, but she also understood the importance of being sure. After talking with her for the rest of the afternoon, she was convinced as well. Next, they had to decide how to conduct the ceremony.

    Pam suggested that Mel officiate at the service, but she disagreed. “According to scripture, women aren’t supposed to take a position superior to a man, and that rules out me performing the marriage. As I see it, there are only two options. First, as Eric pointed out when he married Robin, the Bible doesn’t say anywhere that a pastor or other official is needed. The reason we did it that way before is that the law said we had to, and the Bible DOES tell us to obey the authority of the land, which means obeying the law as long as it doesn’t oppose scripture. But now, with society and its laws gone, we can fall back on the scriptures themselves to find out how to do things. Therefore, if you two decide, you could simply stand together in front of the rest of us and declare your intent to stay together and fulfill the marriage covenant.

    “Second, you could get Eric to officiate, as he’s the only other man here, and therefore the only one able to fulfill the role. Why don’t you and Jack talk it over, and decide which way you’d like to go. I won’t mention these options to the others to spare Eric’s feelings if you choose not to use him, ok?”

    Pam said that would be great, and went to talk these things over with her husband to be.

    In the end they decided to do it themselves. Standing in front of the rest of the group in the chapel, they recited their vows, almost word for word the same ones Eric and Robin had said. Afterwards, Jack bent over and kissed his bride, amid the cheering of the others. Retiring to the rec room for the reception, Pam couldn’t wait to finally get her new husband alone. After a short celebration, Jack took his bride to their apartment, and they didn’t show themselves again for two days.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  33. #33
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    Can hardly wait for the next chapter

  34. #34
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    Chapter 21

    Just because the newlyweds didn’t leave the apartment for two days didn’t mean they spent the entire time in bed. On the contrary, mostly they sat and talked, watched movies together and generally enjoyed spending time together, just the two of them.

    When they finally did emerge, Pam was radiant with happiness, and Jack seemed more relaxed than the others had ever seen him. Mel thought it was cute the way they both walked around with a grin on their faces all that day, but she didn’t comment on it.

    For her part, Pam was deliriously happy. She’d been a little afraid on their wedding night, but Jack had been slow and gentle, being more concerned with her happiness than his own. The result had been an experience beyond anything she’d ever imagined, and way beyond anything her friends had ever talked about when she was in school. Thinking about it, she realized that what Robin had said was most likely true. When done right (in marriage), and when both people were serving God, sex truly was a thousand times better than if she’d just ‘done it’ with anyone who was available.



    As it was now early September, and Jack knew winter would be there before they knew it, he decided that the livestock would need better quarters for the long cold months ahead. Sitting down with the others, he sketched out what he thought would be needed. The rest of the group offered suggestions as he went, and they finally agreed on how to go about the project. After a trip into Mountain Home for supplies, they got to work. Two weeks later they were almost done, and everyone was impressed with what they had accomplished.

    The animal barn sat on top of the number three silo. This was one of the storage silos, and didn’t open anymore. There was however an access port that used to be used to fill the liquid oxygen tanks for the missile. That would give them access to the structure without having to walk through the snow that usually started some time in November. It was through this access port that they also ran the water and electrical lines, ensuring that the water pipes wouldn’t freeze. The barn was built large, and divided. The bull had his own area, built out of heavy steel pipe and angle iron, to make sure he didn’t break out. The cow area had one section set aside for milking, and another for calving. Dividing the cow and bull areas was a feed trough set up with an automatic feeder. They’d found it at the co-op in town and it would provide just enough for all the animals each day. The hopper was filled with enough feed to last for six months. Next to the trough was a water tank, also accessible by both sides.

    Going through the back wall one entered the pig house and chicken coop. these two sat side by side and also had automatic feeders and waterers. Doors to separate outdoor yards were set in both sides, and could be closed during cold months. All the pens had concrete floors, and there was a hose available to allow the group to hose down the pens to help keep the place clean. Heaters attached to the walls would keep the temp above sixty degrees automatically, and all Jack and the others would have to do was wash the floors down every few days and collect the milk and eggs.

    Almost finished, Jack and Eric had been wiring in the lights when Jack’s pager started buzzing. Dropping what they were doing, the two men raced down the access port and to the intercom at the entrance to the silo. Hitting the button, Jack called for someone to go to the control room and see what had set off the alarm system. A moment later Pam called back and told them that they’d gotten a message in on the radio.

    Jack had forgotten all about the automatic signal they were sending out, as there had never been a reply. Telling Pam they’d be there in a minute, he and the boy started off towards the power dome at a trot.

    Arriving out of breath, he saw the message on the monitor next to the radio.

    “G6WZZMJ calling whoever is sending out the automatic signal. Please respond.”

    Sitting in front of the terminal, Jack typed “hello? Can you hear me? Who are you? We’d about given up hope of finding anyone else around, this is the first time anyone’s called us on the radio.”

    After a moment, more words appeared on the screen. “Well I’m not surprised, as this frequency is usually only used for air traffic. I just happened to be bored enough to be monitoring it when I heard your automatic signal. My name’s Michael and I’m in upstate New York.”

    “Hello Michael” Jack typed, “my name’s Jack, and I’m in southern Idaho. How are things where you are? Is there anyone else there with you? Have you contacted anyone else?” He was full of questions. To actually be communicating with someone across the country was amazing to him after so many months of silence.

    “Well, things aren’t too good here Jack, I don’t imagine they are many places anymore. There are five of us here, myself, my wife, and our three kids. As for contact, I’ve spoken with several groups around the world, but no one has the ability to do more than just talk.”

    “Did you say your wife and kids? How did you all manage to survive the plague together?”

    “Well, I guess they aren’t really my wife and kids, although I think of them that way now. Jennifer I met about three months ago, and she found two of the kids along the way to where I’m at. The other child, Eddie, I found in his parents house not long after everyone around here died. I know they’re not really my family, but it makes it nicer to think of them that way.”

    “Sounds like they’re family to me Michael. You said things aren’t so great there, why is that? Is there some way we could help?

    “I don’t see how. We were doing great at first, but we live in a very rural area. At first I went all over looking for folks, and used up most all the gas I could find doing that. Now that we’re all together here, we’ve gone through the food quickly and there’s no more around. We don’t have enough gas left to go looking for more, and it’s too cold to walk, especially for the young’uns. By my figuring we should have enough to get us through to January…after that I don’t know what’s gonna happen.”

    Thinking for a moment, Jack said “Michael, I need to discuss something with my people here. Could you call me back on this channel in about two hours? We may be able to do something to help you all out.”

    “Are you serious?! Sure, I’ll call you back…what could you do?”

    “I’m not sure at this time, let me talk it over with my people first.”

    “Ok, talk to you in a couple of hours then… G6WZZMJ out.”

    Switching off the radio, Jack looked at the others and suggested they go into the dining room where they’d be more comfortable and discuss an idea of his. Getting up, everyone filed out.


    An hour later they were still ‘discussing’ Jack’s idea. Actually, discussion was too nice a word, in reality this was an argument.

    “I just can’t believe you want to bring them here Jack, especially after what happened with Doug.” Mel said, throwing her arms up in frustration. “Didn’t that whole episode show you how dangerous it is to open ourselves to outsiders?”

    “Mel, calm down, have a seat and let me say my piece…please.” Jack was weary, this wasn’t going as he’d thought it would.

    Pam, Eric and Robin hadn’t said much, mostly they just sat on the sidelines and watched, but Eric was decidedly with Mel on this one, he didn’t see any reason for them to open themselves to that sort of danger again. Thinking about what had happened before, he put his arm around his wife and drew her close.

    “Look, first off there’s no reason to get upset, I just want to put it to a vote. And I won’t do anything until we have a unanimous decision, so just relax.” Jack started. “Next, I have two main reasons why I want to do this, and after I list them we can vote. If just one here is against this, we won’t do it…fair enough?”

    The others looked at each other, nodding. Mel sat down, still looking upset, but willing to listen anyway.

    “Ok, reason number one. These people need help. They had no reason to lie to us as we’re thousands of miles away and they never thought we could do anything for them in the first place. They need help or they’re not going to make it through the winter. As Christians, our duty is to God first, and one of the things He tells us to do is help each other. As for the danger, as long as we are doing His work, we’re supposed to look to Him for protection, setting aside our fear and trusting Him to take care of us.”

    At this, Mel spoke up. “What about what happened with Doug, why didn’t God take care of us then Jack?”

    “Who says He didn’t? How do any of us know that without God’s direct intervention, Doug wouldn’t have dragged Robin off into some dark corner, like in one of the storage silos, and then raped her? If he’d done that, there’s no way any of us could have gotten to her in time to stop him, and she’d be in a much worse condition now, if he didn’t kill her outright. It’s obvious to me that God wanted us to witness to that man, which is why he came here to begin with. But God also was watching out for us, and that’s why Doug was stupid enough to attack one of us in an area where the others would be close by.”

    Mel wanted to keep arguing, but she saw enough truth in what he said to keep her mouth closed.

    Continuing, Jack said “now for reason number two. Robin and Eric are going to have a baby soon. Pam and I are working on that as well.” At this, Pam blushed. “So tell me…who’ll our kids marry when they get old enough? Each other, right? But who will THEIR kids marry?”

    Jack paused a moment, letting the others think about that for a second.

    “According to experts, it takes at least six hundred unrelated people of child bearing age to provide enough genetic diversity to allow a society to grow. Without that many, the descendants will eventually end up marrying their close relatives, and the society will die due to mutations resulting from compounded genetic defects, including retardation and sterility. The only way to avoid this is to get as many different people of child bearing age together as possible, at least six hundred, but preferably several thousand.

    “Look, letting others in here may have its dangers, but is that any reason to deny our descendants the chance to exist? Think about out grand kids, and our great-grand kids, don’t they deserve a chance? Well, we’re the ones who get to decide if they get that chance or not, and that decision involves just what we’re discussing right now…whether to gather as many people as we can and bring them here, or not.”

    “Ok, I’ve said my piece, why don’t we all pray and think about this tonight and vote on it in the morning…ok?”

    The others sat there stunned. They had never even considered the children or their future, only thinking about what was best for themselves. Realizing their own selfishness, they got up and went out of the room to pray and think about what they’d heard. Jack took the opportunity to call Michael and ask him to call back the next day, then went to his apartment.

    The next morning Jack and Pam walked over to the dining room. The night before, when he’d gotten up to the apartment, Pam had been in tears. As he’d stepped off the elevator she’d gone to him, hugging him and asking him to forgive her for being so selfish.

    “It’s all right, you didn’t know.” He said, trying to comfort her.

    “But you were right, Jack, and the rest of us were wrong. We HAVE to get other people here, I see that now. If we don’t our children won’t have any future at all.”

    Glad that she’d seen the light and hoping the others did now as well, he had continued to comfort his wife until they went to bed.

    Entering the dining room, they saw that everyone else was there as well. Mel looked embarrassed, and Eric still looked unsure, but Robin smiled at them when they walked in, and Jack thought that everything would probably be all right.

    They decided to vote before breakfast, and as Jack had hoped, it was unanimous in favor of bringing Michael and his family in.

    After they ate, Jack got on the radio and made contact.

    “Michael, my people have reached a decision and would like to invite you and your family to come stay with us. We have a large shelter I put together before the plague, and it has room for dozens of people, and food and supplies for a long time.”

    “Wow, that’s a generous offer Jack, but there’s no way. We can’t even get into the towns in this area, how would we ever get to Idaho?”

    “Don’t worry about that, we’ll come get you. Is there an airport near you?”

    “Well, I believe there’s one about thirty miles south, in Rome. I think it has a paved runway, but I’m not sure.”

    “That sounds perfect, where exactly are you from there?”

    “We’re near an area called ‘Michigan mills’. It’s right at thirty miles NNW of Rome. I can give you the coordinates if you want.”

    Jack got the coordinates and asked Michael to hold on a second as he looked it up on the terminal. Finding it, he typed “ok, that looks good. We could be there in the morning if that was acceptable. We’ll land at Rome and come up to your area by helicopter, if that’s ok.”

    “Sounds great.” He hesitated, “I have to ask one thing though…what’s the catch?”

    “Tell me, are you a Christian?”

    “You better believe it.”

    “How about the others there?”

    “Jennifer is, and we’re raising the kids that way as well.”

    “Excellent. Well, to answer your question, the catch is we live with the Bible as our guide here, and we would expect your group to do so as well. Also, as this is my shelter, you’d have to be willing to live under my authority, although we make most decisions as a group.”

    “What would happen if we didn’t agree on something?” Michael wanted to know.

    “Well, if we couldn’t work out our differences, we’d either bring you back to where you are now, or take you anyplace else you wanted to go, within the same distance.”

    “Sounds fine to me then, and yes, we’d love to join your group.”

    “Ok then, we’ll be there some time tomorrow morning. I’m sure you’ll hear us when we arrive.”

    “Great, we’ll be looking for you in the morning, G6WZZMJ out.”



    They spent the rest of the day getting ready for the trip. Knowing they would need to refuel at least once in order to make it home, and that it was too risky to take the chance that a fuel truck would still run, Jack took the Huey into town and found a gas powered pump at the local fire department that could be used to pump flammable liquids. It put out a hundred gallons a minute with the four inch lines that came with it, and he figured they could completely refuel the plane in about an hour and a half. Returning, he secured it in the C-130, then went into the hangar and brought out the Viper.

    “Why are you messing with that?” Pam asked.

    “We need more firepower than the Huey can provide hun’, in case these people aren’t so friendly after all. The wings come off easily, and we can put them back on and be ready to go within half an hour after we get there.”

    “Cool.” The girl said.

    Getting the wings off, Jack and Eric pushed the plane up the ramp and secured it inside the transport. Next they brought in the wings and tied them down as well. Lastly, they moved the Huey itself into the plane, using the winch to get it up the ramp. When it too was secured, they went inside.

    Jack had reconsidered the design of the small plane and its gun. Removing the rear control stick and moving control to the front cockpit only, he’d made it so that someone in the rear could reload the gun. They had since placed two more ammo cans in the rear area, giving them a total of three hundred rounds of fire power.

    Thinking about the situation, he decided they would have to break with protocol and have everyone go on this trip. Robin would have to be in the Viper with Eric in order to reload the gun if it were needed, and Mel and Pam would have to stay with the plane for security. Realizing they would need more firepower than just the H&K’s if anyone made a concerted effort to take the plane, he considered his options and finally decided to dis-mount the M-249’s from the Kestrel and have the girls use them. That would give them an impressive amount of firepower and should allow them to hold out until he or Eric could get back.

    Hoping all the bases were covered, he went inside for the night. Letting the others know they would be leaving at 2am, he headed for bed.


    At five past two in the morning, the group took off. Quickly climbing to altitude, Jack set the auto-pilot and went back to the cabin to eat breakfast with the others. The cargo plane wasn’t the most comfortable aircraft they could have chosen, but they made do. After hours in the air, the auto-pilot buzzed to let them know they were coming up on their destination, and Jack and Eric went up front to check out the area and bring them in.

    Scanning the area in the dawn light, they didn’t see anything moving. Lining up on one of the two concrete runways, Jack brought the plane in, coasting to a stop and parking with more than enough runway ahead of them to take off again.

    After getting the Huey and Viper out and bolting the wings on the little jet, the men flew over the airport in the chopper, looking for a fuel truck. Finding one, they set down and went over to it to see if it would run. To their amazement, it cranked up after Jack attached the jump-start box to its battery. Getting in, Eric drove to the plane, as Jack brought the chopper back.

    The truck had a little over a thousand gallons in it, and after putting that into the plane, they had to make several trips to the tank farm to refill it. The tank farm pumps didn’t work of course, so they used the portable pump they’d brought to fill the truck. Within three hours they had the plane fueled and ready to go, and Jack was feeling much better about the situation. Getting into the Huey again, he got into the air and headed towards Michigan Mills. A minute later, Eric and Robin took off as well, so they could be in the area when Jack landed and offer air support if it were needed.

    A few minutes later, after flying over farm land and a few houses, Jack came to the coordinates Mike had given him. Hovering next to a farmhouse, he saw the front door open and a middle-aged man step out. The man wasn’t armed so he set the bird down, making sure it was pointed at the house and the trigger for the rockets was armed just in case this was a trap. As he settled, the man approached, keeping his hands away from his body so as not to make Jack nervous. When he was a few feet away, Jack opened the door and stepped out, sticking out his hand to the man.

    Shaking the offered hand, Mike said “Jack, I presume?”

    “Michael. It’s good to meet you in person. Where’s the rest of your family?”

    “They’re inside. I wasn’t sure you wouldn’t turn out to be hostile, so I had them get into the basement while I came out to meet you.”

    “I understand perfectly Mike, as you can see, we too took precautions.” Jack said, indicating the armed chopper.

    Continuing, Jack said “well, if you’re convinced that we’re here to help, get your family and get aboard…it’s a long flight home and I’ll feel better when all my people are together and in the air.”

    Mike walked back into the house, and a moment later he emerged again with a young lady and three small children. All of them were carrying bags of belongings, and they walked out to the helicopter and climbed aboard, with Jack’s help. When they were all set, Jack called Eric and told him to return to the plane, then he took off and headed back as well.

    Everything went as planned, and as they were flying back, the two groups got to know one another. Mike turned out to be forty-six, and his wife was twenty-three. The kids were Allison, age eleven, Robert, age nine, and Eddie, who was seven. None of them was related by blood, but they were indeed a family, and they acted like it.

    Finally landing at the complex, Jack suggested they get everyone settled inside and put the equipment away in the morning. Everyone agreed, as it had been a long day, and after getting the new additions settled in their own apartment, everyone turned in for the night.
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  35. #35
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    Chapter 22

    Lying in bed one morning, Mike still felt like he was in a daze. The past few days had been a whirl, even more so than the first few weeks after the plague. Thinking back on events, he was amazed for the hundredth time that he was safe and in a place that was well stocked for the winter, and much more.

    When he’d first seen Jack, hovering over his front yard in the Huey gunship, he’d been sure he’d made a bad mistake, and that this stranger was about to kill him and his family. Then upon meeting him face to face and realizing they really were safe, he’d been too busy getting everyone aboard and settled down to really consider things. Landing at the airport a few minutes later next to the huge military cargo plane and then seeing the little jet fighter taxi up a second later had shocked him afresh, just who were these people, he wondered.

    On the long flight to Idaho he and his family had gotten to know Jack and his group, and he finally started to relax. These people really seemed to be what they claimed, Christians who simply wanted to help him out. That was a welcome relief, God knew they really needed help.

    On the flight they’d learned that Jack lived in an old missile silo, so landing and going underground wasn’t too much of a shock. The long walk from the entrance to their rooms was disconcerting, but by that time he was too tired to give it much thought. All he wanted at that point was to get his family settled and crawl in a bed somewhere. He figured everything would still be there in the morning.

    The next morning he had been filled with amazement. He’d always been into preparedness, and had even installed a shelter at his house, but nothing like this. This was the kind of place he would only have dreamed of, if he’d ever even thought that big. It was huge beyond belief, had enough food to feed the ten of them for fifty years, and obviously set-up by someone who put quality first. When Jack had shown him the control room he thought he’d died and gone to heaven. The radio and security equipment was top notch, better than what some countries had. Looking over the set-up, he’d been stunned to see how Jack had closed off almost all frequencies, effectively amputating ninety percent of the radio waves. It was sheer luck he’d been monitoring that air traffic control frequency and heard their signal, he’d never in a million years have thought to look there for anybody who was trying to make contact with others.

    Setting the gear up the way it should have been to start with, they started getting signals from other groups almost immediately. Jack had said he couldn’t believe there were that many out there, and hung his head as Mike explained what the problem was.

    That had been several days ago, and Mike had effectively taken over control of the radios. He had made contact with groups all around the world, many more than his old set-up had allowed for. Over the past few days he’d contacted everyone he could, at Jack’s request, and he was trying to find out how people were set and if they needed any help. Most groups seemed to be ok for the moment, and said they would probably make it through the winter without a problem, but there were a couple who were in a bad way. One was in Australia, a group of eleven, mostly teens and pre-teens, the survivors of a clash between two groups of plague survivors. They had fled when the adults were killed in the fighting, and made their way to the northern town of Darwin. They said they were scavenging daily just to find enough to eat, and didn’t know how long they could continue. Mike had told them he would see what he could do, and went to talk to Jack. Jack decided to wait until this morning to discuss it with the whole group, as by then many were already in bed for the night.

    Lying in bed that morning, Mike was grateful to God for the blessing of finding this place. Hoping the group could find a way to help the bunch in Australia, he got dressed and went down to breakfast.



    Walking into the dining room with Pam at his side, Jack saw that again Jennifer was helping Mel with breakfast. The younger girl was a fine cook, and seemed to love cooking for the whole group almost as much as Mel did. Sitting down at a table with Mike, the couple chatted with him quietly. Finally, the others wandered in and breakfast was served. Jack marveled again at what Jennifer had been able to do with storage food, and commented to Mike. For his part, Mike had gotten used to it, so he just sat there smiling and feeling proud of his new wife while Jack complimented her.

    After breakfast, Jack asked for everyone’s attention, and announced the news about the group in Australia.

    “Can I have your attention everyone. Our new radio expert has been able to undo the mess I made with our communication gear, and as a result we’ve been able to get in voice contact with over a hundred groups of survivors around the world.”

    He paused as everyone cheered for a minute, then continued. “Having spent the better part of yesterday talking with these groups, a clearer picture of the world scene emerges. It seems the plague reached all parts of the world, there were no groups of people who were not exposed and devastated by the disease. We have also learned that several of the countries took the opportunity in the last days of the sickness to launch attacks on their neighbors, apparently to settle old scores. That, combined with the sickness itself and even reports of survivors battling for resources with each other, has led us to conclude that as few as one hundred thousand probably survived until now, maybe less.”

    Stunned at the magnitude of the news, the others just sat there stunned, unable to even speak. Everyone was aware that a hundred thousand people was practically nothing, and really wondered if the human race would be able to survive this after all.

    “With so few left, and with survivors scattered around the globe, it’s very possible that many of humanity’s descendants will die out due to lack of genetic diversity. That’s why I feel it’s so important that we gather people together here…we may be the last chance humanity has to even continue to exist.”

    Having said that he paused then continued “I said all that to lead up to this, Mike has made contact with a group in Australia. There are eleven in the group, mostly kids and teens who escaped from a battle between surviving adults. They are in the town of Darwin on the north coast, and they need help. Mike has explained our desire to help, and the way things are run here, and they have agreed to live by our rules, if we can find a way to bring them to us. What I need is the approval of the group to make this attempt. It won’t be easy, there’s nearly seven thousand miles of ocean between us and them, but I think we can do it if God is willing. What I want everyone to do is, go to your rooms and pray about this. We need His direction before we can do anything, and I want to be sure we all get the same message from Him. After lunch we’ll see where we stand, and go from there. That’s all.”

    With that, the group got up and wandered off to seek God’s will on the issue.




    After lunch they voted, and Jack was pleased to see that it was unanimous to try and bring the group in. he knew it would be a dicey operation, but he truly felt in his heart it was what God wanted them to do.

    As they began to discuss how to go about this, Eric spoke up. “Well, first we need a plane that will make it. Jack, didn’t you say you had a long range corporate jet at the airport in Mountain Home?”

    “Yeah, but I don’t even know if it’s airworthy. I haven’t seen it since before the plague.”

    “A corporate jet?” Mike asked skeptically, “wouldn’t that be too small? And just how long is long range anyway?”

    “Actually it’s pretty big for a corporate jet, its Bombardier’s Global Express, and can seat up to thirty if you wanted that configuration. I wanted it for myself and a few friends, so I ordered it with seating for twelve, but it sure is luxurious,” he smiled. “And as for range, if we keep the speed down to five-fifty or so, it’ll go nearly seven thousand miles.”

    Staring at him unbelievingly, Mike said “this I want to see!”

    “Yeah, me too,” Eric spoke up. Besides, we need to see if it’s ok, don’t we?”

    “Ok, I guess that does make the most sense, its better than trying to fly a passenger jet for the first time over the Pacific Ocean anyway. Why don’t we go take a look at it, and go from there?”

    Agreeing, the three men got up and walked to the hangar. Getting the Huey out, they quickly flew to the municipal airport at Mountain Home. Landing in front of the hangar, Jack got out and unlocked the doors. Pushing, he got them moving and soon had exposed the plane for all to see.

    Upon seeing the jet for the first time, Eric was overcome. “It’s BEAUTIFUL,” he said, staring at it.

    Indeed, it was beautiful. It was long and sleek, its wings were swept back and had little vertical winglets on the tips. It looked like it was going fast just sitting on the ground, and Eric couldn’t wait to get in and fly it.

    Opening the door, the three went inside. Eric thought it looked even bigger on the inside than the outside. All the seats were leather, and suddenly he got a feel of what kind of life Jack had led before the plague.

    After a few minutes, Jack got back out. He went to the fuel taps under the wings and opened them to see if any water had accumulated in the tanks. Thankfully, it didn’t appear that any had. Walking over to the ground power unit, he got it running and, with Eric’s help, hooked it to the plane and went to the cockpit to try and start it. A moment later the engines wound up and the plane started to idled smoothly. After a while he shut it back down and, looking at the others he said “Well, that answers that question. I guess we’re good to go as far as the plane’s concerned.”

    Flying back to the complex in the Huey, they discussed what else they’d need for the long flight.

    Back at the shelter, having solved most of the problems with the trip, Jack sat with Pam and Mike and plotted their course.

    “I want to make sure that, no matter where we go to refuel, we have enough in reserve to get us back to the previous location.” Jack stated. “That way, if we can’t find usable fuel, we’ll still be able to return to the last place and refuel, meaning we’ll be able to make it home. Los Angeles is the first logical stop, followed by Hawaii. We shouldn’t have a problem finding fuel in either place, and each leg will be less than three thousand miles, giving us our safety margin. Where we go from Hawaii is the question, however.”

    Looking over a map of the south pacific, Pam said “man, there’s lots of islands down there…I never realized.”

    “Yep, but most of them are too small to be reliable, and there aren’t any US military bases on them. I know we used to have a base on Pogo Pogo in American Samoa, but I don’t know if it was still active. From there it’d be an easy shot to the Australian mainland, but I don’t know how we’d find out without going there to see.”

    Winding up their discussion late that night, they decided Pogo Pogo was their best shot. If they couldn’t find fuel they could always return to Hawaii and try somewhere else.

    The next morning they decided to leave that afternoon. Everything was ready as far as they could see, and Mike had spoken with the group that morning. The kids said they were going to move out to the airport and wait on them there. With everything settled, they decided Jack and Eric would fly, and Mike would go along to provide security. After lunch Pam flew Jack to the airport in the Kestrel to pick up the Global Express, wanting to spend as much time with her husband as she could. She knew this was the most dangerous trip they’d ever contemplated, and the fact that she couldn’t go with him made it that much worse.

    When they’d returned to the complex, Pam spent several long minutes holding her man, but finally relented and let him get on the plane. The others also said teary good bye’s, and after several long minutes the men finally boarded the plane and took off.

    The trip to LA was short and uneventful, and Jack let Eric do most of the flying, getting the boy accustomed to the plane. They landed and found fuel without incident, and were soon in the air again headed out over open ocean. This was the part of the trip that worried Jack the most. Fortunately the Geo-Positioning Satellites were still working, and they had no problem staying on course. After about five hours, they saw the island chain, and soon thereafter found a large airport.

    Landing, they quickly discovered that the fuel in the tanks at this airport had not been treated, and wasn’t fit for the plane. Debating what to do, they were startled to hear the sound of a rifle shot, and see a hole appear in the wingtip next to them.
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  36. #36
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    Chapter 23

    Realizing they were being shot at, Jack and Eric dove for the ground, while Mike brought the M-249 off his shoulder and started firing randomly in the direction the shot had come from. He had no idea where the shooter might be, and wouldn’t until he fired again. As Mike was returning fire Jack made his way to the other side of the aircraft. Getting up he climbed into the door and went to the cockpit, getting the engines started so they could get out of there quick.

    Finally, the shooter took another shot, and Mike had seen where it came from. The guy was on top of a hangar a couple of hundred yards away. He had no idea why the guy had chosen to shoot at them, but it didn’t matter. Lining the weapon’s sights on the area, he proceeded to empty the rest of his two hundred round magazine into it. As he started shooting, the planes’ engines turned over, and by the time he was done they were up to speed and the shooter had disappeared. Looking around for Eric, he saw a sight that made his heart skip a beat. The boy was laying face down in a pool of blood, and he wasn’t moving. Still watching out for the shooter, Mike made his way over to the boy and checked for a pulse. Finding none he rolled him over and saw the bullet hole in Eric’s forehead. Knowing there wasn’t anything anyone could do for him now, he picked up the boy’s body as best he could, backing towards the plane and calling out for Jack to come help him.

    Seeing Mike carrying Eric, Jack jumped out of the plane and went to help. When they’d gotten the boy inside, he too saw the damage and realized there was no helping him now. Overcome with grief at the loss of his friend, he fell back against a seat, feeling as if the whole world was closing in on him. Just then they heard another rifle shot, and he knew he had to get them into the air or they’d all be dead. Returning to the cockpit, he pushed the throttles all the way forward and took off across the ramp, not even bothering with the runway.

    After getting them into the air and climbing to two thousand feet, he programmed the auto-pilot to circle the area and went back into the cabin. Mike had moved Eric’s body into a seat to get him out of the floor, and was trying to clean some of the blood off him. He knew that Robin would be heart broken no matter what they did, but figured that every little bit they could do might help. Taking a seat across from the boy, Jack was at a loss as to where to go from here. Finally deciding that they needed to go back home, he told Mike he was turning around right now and heading back.

    “Jack, I know how hard this is for you, but think for a minute about those kids in Australia. They’re counting on us coming for them tonight, if we don’t show up they may not make it.”

    Looking at him as if he’d lost his mind, Jack said “Mike, are you crazy? How the h*ll could we continue after something like this? No, we have to get Eric back home now, those kids are just going to have to wait for another time.”

    Mike looked pained, but went on regardless. “Think about this for a minute, ok Jack? If we turn back now, we may never be able to make another trip. What if some of those kids died because we turned back now, would Eric have wanted that? Look, I know this is hard, but as I see it, if we turn back now, he died for nothing. But if we continue, it won’t change a thing as far as his body is concerned, but it will honor his memory if we’re able to save the lives of others. What do you think he’d want you to do?”

    Thinking about it for a minute, Jack realized Mike was right. Going on wouldn’t cause Eric any harm now, but going back could very well result in more deaths. Finally coming to grips with the situation, he told Mike he was right, and returned to the cockpit to try and find another airport where they could get fuel before going on. Sitting in the pilot’s seat, Jack cried quietly for a few moments. Then after a bit he pulled himself together and started looking for somewhere else to land.

    After half an hour of looking, he spotted an airfield with military aircraft. Circling, he landed quickly, and taxied over to the closest fuel truck. This time when the men emerged, they acted like they were under fire already. Mike went first to cover them with the machine gun, then Jack came out also, H&K at the ready. The nearest building was at least a quarter mile away from where they’d parked, and after a minute they decided they were safe enough. While Mike kept them covered, Jack checked the fuel and found it to be in good condition. Getting out the portable pump, he had them refueled in under twenty minutes. Stowing the pump, he went to the cockpit and cranked the plane, then signaled to Mike to get in also. Finally in the air again, they turned toward American Samoa.

    The flight took them almost six hours, and by the time they got there both men were emotionally drained. They had prayed for strength to continue with their mission in spite of their loss, but sitting in the same cabin with Eric’s body took a lot out of them.

    Finally arriving at the island of Pogo Pogo, they crossed to the south coast and saw an airport almost immediately. The drill was the same as their second landing in Hawaii, they refused to take any more unnecessary risks, and just like then, the place was apparently deserted. Pulling up to a fuel truck they found the fuel fresh enough, and quickly filled the plane, making sure there was enough for the return trip as well. That done, they boarded the craft for the final leg of their outbound journey.

    After six more hours, three of which Jack had been able to sleep through as the auto-pilot flew the plane, they finally arrived at the coastal town of Darwin. The sun was just setting, as they’d chased it half way around the world, and he realized they’d be unable to land anywhere in the dark. That meant staying here until at least midnight so they would have daylight for their return trip. Putting the plane on the ground, they first took care of the fuel requirements. Then, taxiing to the agreed upon rendezvous spot, they spotted movement inside a building. Feeling completely exposed, the two men exited the craft quickly, assuming a defensive posture. As they watched the building, first one, then several young people began walking slowly out towards the plane.

    As the kids began to emerge, the men relaxed. Approaching within speaking distance, the teen in the lead spoke. “You the blokes from America?”

    “I’m Jack and this is Mike. Which one are you?”

    “Donald’s my name, good to meet you.” The young man said. Noticing their obvious nervousness, he continued “you can take it easy mate, there’s no one else around here, we made sure of that.”

    Relaxing, Jack lowered his rifle. He was well aware that this could be a trap, but didn’t know any way to find out for sure, so he decided to take a chance. Sticking out his hand to the young man, Donald shook it, smiling at him. As the others came up, he introduced them one by one. Shaking hands all around, Jack turned to Donald and said “we need a place to rest before we head back. Someone needs to keep a look out in case anyone else saw us land and is coming to investigate, and we need some help taking care of one of our group.” At this point, he paused. “He was killed when someone attacked us in Hawaii, and we need to do something with his…body.” Jack finished remorsefully.

    When the others learned that one of these new people had actually died trying to help them, they were overcome. They were not unfamiliar with death, not after all they’d been through, but to know that somebody actually gave their life to save them made a deep and lasting impression. Removing Eric’s body gently from the plane, the young people carried him inside the building. There they finished the job Mike had started cleaning him up, and then wrapped him in a blanket. When they were done they gathered around, but obviously didn’t know what to do next. Finally, with the two men watching, one of the older of the kids began praying.

    “Father God, we thank you for bringing these people to help us, and especially for Eric. We ask you to cradle him in your hands, and comfort him until the day we are all together with you. We also ask that you help each and every one of us to bring honor to him, by living each day in service to you, that we may continue whatever work you had for him and that through us, his memory will live on forever. Lord, we thank you for his sacrifice, and for the sacrifice of all the others who gave of themselves so that we might live. In Jesus name we pray, amen.”

    As the prayer ended, the kids drifted off in small groups. Donald told the men that a watch would be posted, and someone would get them up at eleven thirty if they wanted to try and get some rest. Thanking him, they found a place to stretch out, and soon were fast asleep.

    Seemingly only a moment later, someone was shaking Jack awake. Opening his eyes, he saw a young girl of not more than ten, kneeling next to him and holding a candle. Thanking her he got up and roused Mike. After a few minutes to rub the sleep out of their eyes, they grabbed some candy bars from a busted vending machine the kids had been eating out of, and got everyone headed to the plane. They placed Eric’s body carefully in the back, out of everyone’s way, and the rest of the group found seats in the cabin.

    When everyone was seated, Jack started the engines, and a moment later began to taxi towards the runway. Getting into the air, he set a course for Pogo Pogo, then set the auto-pilot and leaned back, wishing for some coffee to help him wake up.

    An unknown length of time later he was awakened by the buzzing of the auto-pilot. Realizing he must have gone back to sleep, he looked at the GPS and saw that they were approaching the South Pacific island. He also saw that the sky in the east was lit, and that the sun was moments away from appearing. The land below was still dark, but he knew it wouldn’t be for long. Setting them to circle the area, he waited for enough light to land, wishing Eric was there to see the beautiful sunrise over the island.

    Twenty minutes later they were on the ground and the men were able to refuel quickly and get back in the air. Deciding to skip Hawaii, as they had more than enough fuel to get home from here, Jack set course for Idaho and went into the cabin to talk with the others.

    Donald had turned out to be twenty-two. He and his girlfriend Wendy, who was twenty, were the oldest in the group and the default leaders up until then. They were weary from the responsibility of keeping the others alive and safe, and were only too glad to turn leadership over to Jack. As they talked, Jack learned that Donald and Wendy were ‘born-again’, and several of the younger ones were Christians as well. There were a couple that weren’t, but he wasn’t worried about that, they had plenty of time to bring them into the fold also, if they were willing. If not, at least they’d be able to help them, and maybe one day they’d change their minds.

    After eleven hours in the air, they finally reached the complex. Landing, Jack taxied up to the elevator and saw the others waiting to greet them. Seeing Robin, Jack realized he couldn’t put the news of Eric’s death off any longer. He hadn’t said anything over the radio when he’d called to tell them they were close, but now he had no choice.

    Stepping from the plane ahead of the others, he made his way over to his people. Walking up to Robin he said “we were attacked in Hawaii Robin…Eric was shot.” Feeling horrible as he watched the girl’s face register the news and saw the panic emerge, he continued “I’m so sorry…but he didn’t make it.”

    “WHAT?!? Where is he!” the girl cried.

    “He’s in the plane, we cleaned him up as best we could, but…”

    “I WANT TO SEE HIM, NOW!” she demanded.

    Looking to Pam and Mel for help, he saw they were also in shock, and slow to respond. Finally Mel stepped forward and took the girl into her arms, trying to comfort her as she cried and demanded to see her husband.

    Going back to the plane, Jack asked the others to get out and bring Eric’s body. As they emerged, Robin broke away from Mel and screamed “NOOO!” as she ran to the body of her man and cradled it in her arms, sobbing uncontrollably.

    After a long while Mel and Pam were able to get the young girl up and into the shelter, and the others brought Eric’s body inside as well. They hadn’t been able to say anything to comfort the distraught girl, but they all wanted to help her and let her know how much they appreciated his sacrifice. Convincing them that later would be better, they took Eric’s body to the walk in cooler, planning on having the burial service the next day. Getting everyone settled into rooms, Jack went off to see if he could help in any way with Robin.

    Going to her apartment, he knocked quietly. Pam opened the door, and Jack saw Mel coming out of the girl’s bedroom.

    “I gave her something to help her sleep. I was worried that the stress of what’s happened would hurt the baby. Hopefully she’ll sleep for a few hours, but I don’t think it would be wise to leave her alone for a while. One of us needs to stay here with her tonight,” she said, indicating herself and Pam.

    “Ok, whatever you think best.” Jack replied, bone weary from the whole experience.

    “What happened?” Pam asked, “How did it happen, I mean?”

    Telling them the story, Jack pointed out that he died saving the lives of eleven others. “You may want to emphasize that when you tell Robin, let her know her husband died a hero and that those he saved are here with us now and want to honor his memory in any way they can. Maybe it’ll make this a little easier for her…I don’t know.”

    Feeling helpless, he said he was going to his apartment to try to rest. Letting Mel know she’d be down in a few hours to relieve her, Pam joined her husband, hating herself for her selfishness, she was still grateful to have her man home safe.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  37. #37
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    thank you thank you

  38. #38
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    here's a pic of the bombardier global express:

    Performance

    High speed cruise 935km/h (505kt) or Mach 0.88,
    long range cruising speed 850km/h (459kt) or Mach 0.80.
    Range with eight passengers, four crew and reserves at long range cruising speed 12,400km (6700nm).
    Flightcrew of two plus one or two flight attendants. Typical arrangements seat from eight to 18 passengers. Can be fitted with a galley, crew rest station, work stations, a conference/lounge/dining area, a stateroom with a fold out bed, toilet, shower and wardrobe. High density 30 seat corporate shuttle configuration offered.
    http://www.airliners.net/info/stats.main?id=124

    Attached Images
    Last edited by Christian for Israel; 12-16-2004 at 06:30 PM.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  39. #39
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    Chapter 24

    Jack stood beside the freshly dug grave. Looking at the newly expanded group around him, he spoke. “Lord, we commit the spirit of our young brother to you. Please take care of him and keep him safe, comforting him in your presence, until we are all together with you in Heaven.”

    Closing his Bible, he picked up a shovel and, assisted by some of the new people, began refilling the hole. Robin had been an emotional wreck since they’d arrived the day before, and now she was crying freely. As the first shovel full of dirt landed on the body of her love, she collapsed, weeping uncontrollably. Pam and Mel moved close and helped the young girl up, carrying her back inside the shelter. Jack was also crying unashamedly, as were most of the rest of the group. Quickly filling the grave and mounding the dirt on top, the group went back to the garage silo to put away their gear. Jack intended to go into Boise later that day and look for an appropriate monument for his friend’s grave, as soon as he could find the strength to do so. For now, simply walking seemed to take every bit of strength he possessed, and making his way to the dining room, he collapsed into a chair, the tears still flowing down his cheeks.

    A little while later Mel walked in and sat across from him. “I don’t know Jack, I’m worried about Robin. She’s taking this much harder than I would have thought. She hasn’t eaten since she found out, and only sleeps when we give her something. I don’t want to give her too much for fear of hurting the baby, but at the same time I’m afraid that all this stress will cause problems also. I just don’t know what to do.”

    Jack shook his head, “we have all that medical equipment, and no doctor to use it. I don’t know what to tell you, maybe in time she’ll come out of it.”

    “Maybe,” Mel said, not sounding hopeful.

    Pam walked into the room, “well, she’s asleep, and without pills this time. I guess the stress finally caught up with her.”

    “Well that’s hopeful,” the older woman said. “Maybe with time she really will be ok.”



    Later that day Jack asked the new people to get together with him. They met in the rec room on the third floor of the dome, and Jack told them he had several things he wanted to discuss. “First off,” he said, addressing the group, “while I know that you all have seen enough fighting to last a lifetime, one of the rules we have here is that all adults are to be armed at all times. We consider anyone to be an adult as long as they act like one, no matter how old they are. But along with that authority comes responsibility, and part of that is helping with the defense of this shelter. Hopefully we won’t ever have to defend this place, but we have to be ready just in case. Therefore, I need to know, how many of you have experience with guns, and how much?”

    Donald spoke up first, “all of us except Edward and Cindy have learned to use rifles and pistols, the group we were with insisted on it. They were too young as far as the group was concerned, which is why they never learned.”

    Jack knew that Cindy was the girl who had awakened him at the airport in Darwin, she was ten, and Edward was nine. He agreed that they were too young to be involved in shelter defense, and told them they were dismissed and could go find Mike’s kids and play if they wanted. After they had left the room, he told the others he needed to verify their skill, and asked them to assemble topside in half an hour.

    Riding the elevator up, he noticed the chill air. Realizing that winter was on the way and that they wouldn’t be able to get outside much more, he determined to get everything they needed to do, done before the end of the week. One thing they had to do was assign people to tend the animals. They would have to round up the cows soon and get them into the barn, where they could stay warm and dry.

    Thinking about all they needed to do, he walked over to the group. A little over two hours later he was satisfied that they all could handle themselves in a fight, and issued battle packs to each of them. As they were walking back to the elevator, Jack asked Donald “does anyone in your group have any experience with livestock?”

    “Actually, I do.” He replied. “I worked on a cattle ranch for three years, and I believe some of the others have done some farming as well.”

    Happy with this bit of news, Jack told him he needed to know who had experience, as they would soon need to barn their animals and he needed someone to take care of them for the winter. Don said he’d get right on it, and went to talk with the others.

    Returning a few minutes later, the young man reported that besides himself, Wendy, Matthew and Jason had all grown up on farms. Also, Ellen had spent a couple of summers at her uncle’s ranch, and was used to caring for chickens and milking cows. Jack was delighted to find so much experience, and asked Don to oversee the care of the animals.



    Later that week they got the cows and the bull into the barn, and not a moment too soon as it started to snow the next day. The storm kicked off the season right, dropping a foot and a half of snow over the next three days. On the morning after the storm, as he was sitting in the dining room eating, Jack was surprised to see Robin walk in and sit next to him. This was the first time she’d emerged from her apartment since the funeral, and all of them had started to worry that she would never recover from the shock. Looking at her, Jack saw that she had dark patches under her eyes, and she looked like she had been crying again just that morning.

    “Robin, it’s good to see you up, we’ve all been worried about you.” Jack said as the girl sat down.

    Looking at him, she said “I want to know how it happened…everything. I need to know, I can’t explain it, I just need to know.”

    Seeing that she wouldn’t be put off, he slid his plate away and looked her in the eye. “We had landed in Hawaii and were coming back from checking the fuel truck. I guess we had gotten lax because we hadn’t had any trouble since that trip to David’s place, and we’d let our guard down. I blame myself for that, more than anyone I should have known how dangerous it was flying into a totally new area like that. Looking back, I keep telling myself that I should have stayed away from the buildings…and I never should have allowed any of us to just walk around as if everything was normal…I’m sorry Robin, what happened was my fault.” Jack looked down, the tears coming again.

    Seeing his pain, she put her hand on his arm. “It’s not your fault Jack, it could have happened anytime. Eric loved flying with you, did you know that? He thought flying was the greatest thing in the world. He wasn’t even that upset that the plague killed everyone, he said that, if it hadn’t, he’d never have gotten the chance to do what he did. We both are grateful to you for that, along with everything else you have done for us.” She trailed off.

    Jack pulled himself together and said “I’m so sorry Robin, I wish I could change what happened, I really do.”

    “I know you do, so do I. but we can’t. I’ve been praying all morning, and God has shown me that everything happens for a reason, and even if we don’t understand why, we have to trust Him that He has a purpose.”

    Amazed at the faith displayed in one so young, who had already gone through so much, Jack simply looked at her, tears still running down his cheeks. After a moment, the girl got up and moved closer to him, hugging him and saying “we’ll be ok, God will get us through this.”

    Holding on to the girl, Jack dried his eyes and said “You’re amazing, after everything that’s happened to you, you’re still able to think of my feelings. You’re a good example for the rest of us, of how to think of others no matter what we’re going through ourselves.”

    Moving back to her seat, Robin smiled slightly and said “I learned it from God Jack. I learned it by watching Him.”

    Realizing that she was going to be ok after all, as long as she continued to lay her burdens at God’s feet, he suggested she eat something. Admitting that she was starving, Jack went to the counter and fixed her a plate. Soon Jennifer and Mel joined them from the kitchen, and the group was able to move on to other subjects.

    Jack announced that he needed to go out and brush off the wings of the C-130, now that it had stopped snowing, and asked if anyone wanted to help. Just as Mel and Jen were saying they had a pile of dishes to do, Robin asked if she could go. Jack thought that was a good idea, work would give her something to think about other than Eric. Telling her to get dressed and meet him at the hangar, Jack got up to follow his own advice.

    An hour later, with the job completed, Robin was feeling better. A couple of the new people had heard what they were doing and immediately went to help. With their aid, they got done sooner than they’d expected. As they were walking back inside, the new kids started throwing snow at each other and at Jack. At first Robin just watched from the sideline, but when Jack caught a snowball in the face, she smiled for the first time in a week. Getting into the spirit of the game, she also started throwing snowballs at the others. They were hesitant at first to return the favor, but realizing this was just what she needed, they soon were pelting her with snow as much as each other. Finally tiring, they decided to go inside and get warm, Robin as much as anyone enjoying the companionship.




    The rest of the winter they spent in the shelter. Mike had made contact with several hundred groups by the time the snow had melted. And the group was making plans to bring as many as possible to their home during the coming year.

    Mel spent the winter months setting up a school for the children. Assisted by Pam and Jennifer she was using the encyclopedia and other programs in the computer, and had turned the rec room into her schoolhouse, at least during the day. At first the younger kids resisted school, remembering how much they had hated it before. But this was completely different. They found that learning was actually fun, as long as the one teaching didn’t try to push them or hold them back. Mel had homeschooled her own kids before the plague, and was well aware of the reason kids didn’t like public school. She did everything possible to ensure that her students enjoyed themselves while learning, and that they each were able to learn at their own speed.

    By late winter Robin was bulging. Mel was amazed at how big she had become, but she seemed to be perfectly healthy. Except for needing help getting out of a chair or her tendency to waddle when she walked, she was as active as ever. Pam also appeared to be pregnant, and glowed, especially when Jack was around. The group had no way to be sure when either girl would deliver, but they knew Robin would be soon.

    One evening in early March, Jack and Pam were spending some quiet time together in their apartment when Robin’s voice called out from the intercom. “Please…somebody help me…”

    Looking at each other in alarm, they raced down to the girl’s place. They arrived just in time to see Mel emerge, helping the girl to walk.

    “What’s going on!” Jack demanded.

    Relax,” Mel said “her water broke, that’s all. I need help getting her to the clinic, I’d feel better delivering her there.”

    Understanding immediately, Jack got on the other side and helped get her to the clinic. After getting her inside, Mel told Jack to go get Donald. Thinking that made no sense whatsoever, he looked at her questioningly.

    “He’s got experience delivering cows, it’s the closest we have to a mid-wife.”

    A moment later he told them that Don was on his way. Standing off in a corner watching the women get Robin into position on the bed, he felt completely useless. Finally noticing him, Mel said “GO Jack, you’re not needed here and you’d just be in the way.”

    Not wanting to argue and glad for the excuse to be elsewhere, Jack beat a hasty retreat.

    A moment later Don arrived. He took one look at Jack and grinned, finding it funny that he looked as if he were about to pass out. Stepping inside and smiling, he told Pam that her husband looked like he needed some help as well, then he moved over to Robin and checked her out. Looking up at the others he said “this may take a while, but everything seems to be going along fine so far.”

    At this point the girl let out a scream of pain, shocking him and making him realize that she definitely was not a cow. Suddenly getting nervous, he continued to monitor her condition, but this time with a seriousness the others had never seen before.

    Outside, the others had gathered. Standing with them, Jack was nervous, but very glad that he wasn’t needed inside. Finally Mel came out and told them that it might take all day, and that she would let everyone know over the intercom when anything happened. Hearing this, the group broke up. Jack, for his part decided to go to the dining room and see if there was anything to snack on. Pam had been restricting his snacking lately, claiming that he was getting fat, and now that she was occupied, he thought it the perfect chance to go off his ‘diet’.

    Hours later, after an uncountable number of screams from the direction of the clinic, Pam’s voice came over the intercom. “Ok everyone, it’s all over. You can come down to the clinic for a short visit if you like, but Robin needs her rest, so make it short.”

    Getting up, Jack walked quickly over to the door of the clinic. As he walked in he looked to Pam. Noticing a dab of chocolate at the corner of his mouth and giving him a disapproving look, she said “she had twins! Two little boys.”

    “How are they? Is Robin ok?”

    “All three are doing just fine.”

    “Twins huh? Wow!”

    Just then Mel pushed the curtain back and Jack saw little Robin lying there with a baby in each arm. Smiling at her, he said “hello mommy, how are you doing?”

    “Ok I guess, just sore as heck.”

    “Have you decided on a name for them yet?” he asked.

    “Uh huh. This one came first,” she said, indicating the one on her right. “His name’s Eric, after his father. And this one, “she nodded to the other one, “his name is Jack, after you.”

    Stunned at her revelation, Jack sat down hard next to the bed. “I don’t know what to say, I’m honored Robin.”

    Suddenly a tear rolled down the girl’s cheek. “I only wish Eric had been here to see this.” She said.

    Jack couldn’t respond. He simply nodded his head.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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  40. #40
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    Chapter 25

    Near the end of March, Jack and Pam celebrated the first anniversary of their meeting. As both felt this was a personal thing, they kept it low key and simply spent the evening together in their apartment, talking about all that had happened over the past year.

    A few weeks later, as the snow began to melt, Jack called a general meeting in the dining room. When everyone had arrived and found a seat, he called for their attention.

    “We have several things we need to take care of this spring if we’re going to bring more people here this year. As I see it, the only practical way of moving people efficiently over the distances involved is to fly them, but I can’t do that alone. Therefore, I want to know who here is interested in learning to fly, and who would be interested in going with the others to provide security. Next, we will need to find some light aircraft that we can use to train pilots, as well as bring a couple more C-130’s here from Gowen to use to transport folks. One other thing we need to do is go back to the army reserve base in Boise and get some more M-249’s, along with some heavier armaments, so that the smaller groups that will be going on these trips will be better able to defend themselves.”

    Looking around the room, Jack saw several people had questions. Nodding to Donald, he said “yes?”

    “How many pilots do you need?”

    “Well, I’d really like everyone to learn. We all know that it’s a dangerous world out there, and we may very well lose people if we try this. We all need to be proficient in as many skills as possible so the loss of one of us won’t deprive the rest of the group of a needed skill. But for this job, I’d like at least nine people qualified to fly the C-130, a pilot, co-pilot, and a security person. That way, if a pilot is injured or killed while away from here, the other two can still fly home.”

    Ellen, one of Donald’s group, spoke up next. “How old do you have to be to be a pilot?” she wanted to know.

    Jack knew she had just turned fourteen a week earlier and smiled as he replied “as long as you can reach the controls and handle the aircraft, I don’t care how old you are. Remember, everyone who acts like an adult and can handle the responsibilities of an adult IS an adult in my book.” The girl smiled at this, and he asked “any other questions?”

    Pam spoke up, “how many people are we talking about Jack?”

    “For right now, I want to concentrate on the North American continent. As Mike has informed me, there are about eight hundred people in the US and Canada who have made contact with us. Undoubtedly there are others also, but they simply don’t have access to radio gear or have other reasons for not talking to us. If we can expand by several hundred people this year, then next year we can try to bring in people from other countries also.”

    Seeing that there were no more questions, he asked “How many want to be pilots. At the question, everyone’s hands went up. Smiling, he said “great. We’ll get started just as soon as the snow’s gone. Until then I’d like Mike, Donald, and one other to go with me into Boise to get more weapons and ammunition this afternoon.”

    With that the meeting broke up. Everyone wandered off in little groups, talking excitedly.

    That afternoon, Jack, Mike, Donald and Matthew took off in the Huey for Gowen field. The flight only took a few minutes, and soon they were at the army reserve building. Walking inside they saw that the storage rooms were still locked, and there was no evidence that anybody else had been there. Jack still felt uneasy in the area, but had faith that they could handle any problems they ran into.

    Opening the storage area that held the machine guns, they loaded up a dozen SAW’s along with twenty cases of ammo. Looking further, they found several cases of M-203 grenade launchers that mounted on rifles and got them too, along with a dozen cases of grenades for them. When all that was loaded aboard the chopper, there was barely enough room for them, and they decided to head back and unload before looking for more.

    An hour later they were back, and this time they came across a room that held anti-tank missiles, and a few more Browning machine guns. Taking two more Brownings and half a dozen AT-4 rockets, they decided they had enough and went looking for light airplanes they could use for trainers. Jack knew there had been a civilian flight school at the airport somewhere, and after looking for a while they found it. Sitting on the flight line, still covered with snow, sat three Piper Tomahawks and a Cessna 152. Landing, they got out to inspect the planes. Jack was delighted to find the Tomahawks, as the little plane was designed as a trainer. It had flight characteristics similar to much larger aircraft, and would be the perfect beginner craft to train his people to fly the large C-130.

    After inspecting the aircraft, they decided they looked air worthy enough, and made plans to return as soon as the snow was gone and try to get them back to the complex. Having taken care of everything they needed to do, the men got back in the chopper and headed home.

    By the first week of April they had gotten all the Tomahawks to the complex and begun flight training. The little planes had been structurally sound, but they’d had to replace the gas and engine oil to get them to run. Jack had filled a hundred gallon fuel bladder he had with stabilized fuel from his tank, and carried it to the airport, bringing Mel, Pam and Robin along to fly the planes. Draining the old Avgas from the tanks, they refilled them from the bladder. Next they found a good supply of oil in the flight school office, and replaced that as well. After they got the planes cranked and running, Jack found out that the batteries were too old to take a charge. Not wanting to have to jump start them every time they wanted to fly, he and Pam made a trip into town and found a battery supplier that had dry lead acid batteries in stock, along with a good supply of sulfuric acid to fill them with. Putting one in each plane, they were ready to go. After an hour of instruction on the flight characteristics of the little planes the girls got in and took off, followed by Jack in the Huey.

    Back at the complex, they spent the rest of the day instructing the others, including Mike and Jennifer, on the basics of flight. The next morning they began taking the students up and within two weeks, all but one of them had soloed.

    Deciding it was time to move on, Jack began instruction in the Greyhound for the better students, while the girls continued to work with the others. A few days later the last of the students, Rebecca, soloed and everyone was moved on to the larger Greyhound.

    Jack saw that things were progressing well and, turning over instruction in the Greyhound to Mel and Pam, he started working with Mike and Donald in the Huey. He’d been concerned that he was the only one qualified to operate a real helicopter (the Kestrel didn’t count as it was more like flying a fixed wing), and wanted others to know how as well, in case something happened to him.

    One evening in early June, as they were getting ready to eat dinner, the lights all over the complex went out. The group heard the generator kick in, and a second later the lights came back on, only half as bright as before. Jack came to the conclusion that something had happened to the power dam, and it would be necessary for them to fix it if they wanted to operate at full power from then on.

    The next morning he took the Huey, along with Mike, and went south to the dam to have a look. Following the power lines, they ran into the problem about five miles from the dam. The lines ran over a series of hills at one point, and apparently one of them had suffered a mudslide due to the spring thaw. Landing, the two men got out to take a look. The slide had knocked down one of the towers, and buried a couple hundred feet of line. Realizing that this was going to be a major job to fix, they got back into the chopper and continued on to the dam.

    The dam itself looked to be ok, and they soon figured out how to disconnect the flow of electricity so the powerhouse wouldn’t overload itself and so they’d be able to repair the damage without electrocuting themselves. Going back outside they saw that the lines headed off in two directions, and figured they could use the ones going to the factory as replacements for the ones that were buried. Back at the shelter, they informed everyone of the situation what they’d need to do to fix it.

    The next morning they got a crew together and headed for the site of the trouble. As they were taking off Jack remembered something that had been troubling him, and set the bird back down again. Getting out without explanation, he headed over to the box where the power lines entered the shelter. Opening the box he disconnected the switch, cutting the complex off from the incoming lines. The last thing he wanted was for power from the generator back feeding the lines and electrocuting one of them as they worked at repairing the damage.

    Returning to the chopper he told the others what he’d done. Giving him nervous looks, they asked if he’d forgotten anything else that might kill them, and he replied that he hoped not. This did not reassure them very much, and everyone was nervous as they finally lifted off.

    At the site Jack saw immediately that the tower would have to be replaced as well, to keep the lines off the ground. Looking at the mess of dirt and rocks, Mike said “Jack, there’s no way we’re ever going to clear away enough of this mess to erect a tower, not by hand anyway.”

    Knowing he was right, Jack replied “what do you suggest?”

    “What we really need is a bulldozer. Also, a backhoe would be useful for digging footings, and we’ll need them if we’re going to mount that tower properly.”

    “There’s no way we can get that kind of equipment in here Mike, we’re miles away from any kind of road.”

    “What about flying them in?”

    “Not likely, not with the Huey at any rate, its only rated at a ton or so in a sling load.”

    “Could we find another helicopter, a bigger one?”

    “I guess we could look, anyway.” Jack replied at last.

    With the crew seeming more discouraged than ever at the size of the job, they returned to the complex to figure out what to try next.

    That evening Jack got on his computer and checked the business directory for the surrounding area. Finding a logging outfit that mentioned having a heavy lift helicopter in Boise, he decided to go back to Gowen field the next day and try and locate it.

    Spending the better part of a day looking through civilian hangars, Jack was beginning to worry that they’d never find what they were looking for. Finally, about an hour before they’d have to head back for the day, he got a call on the radio from Jason saying they thought they’d found what he was looking for. Getting directions, he arrived a few minutes later. As he walked into the hangar, a grin appeared as he gazed at an enormous helicopter. Jason walked up and asked “what is it? Will it be good enough Jack?”

    “It’ll be perfect!” He answered, “it’s a Sikorsky Skycrane. They used to use these in Vietnam to move tanks around. If I remember right, it can lift about ten tons.”

    Turning back to the weird looking craft the boy said “it looks like it’d break in half if it tried to fly.”

    “I’ll admit it’s strange looking, but it’s just what we needed also.”

    After spending the rest of the hour getting it ready, they managed to get the massive chopper started and idling before returning for the night. The next day Jack took his two student helicopter pilots with him as he went after the Skycrane. Getting the ship running they took off and headed to a local heavy equipment dealer and found a twenty foot shipping container. This they secured between the legs of the chopper and began filling with everything they thought they’d need for the job. Then they flew it to the complex and told the work crew to get in the container as well, as there wasn’t room for them in the cabin. Finally they took off and headed off towards the site of the mudslide.

    Arriving, Jack set the container down near the work site and Mike got out to open it, letting the work crew out. Telling them to get everything set up he returned to the cabin of the helicopter and Jack lifted off, this time to get a small bulldozer. The men eventually settled on a D6 Caterpillar and got it running. They also worked on a backhoe, and planned to return for it as well. Slinging the D6, they carried it to the site, and Mike stayed behind to run it, as he had a little experience. By the end of the day they’d prepared the site for the tower. Having brought their camping equipment so they didn’t have to waste time commuting to the site, everyone got ready for bed.

    Over the course of the rest of the week they disassembled one of the towers from the factory side of the powerhouse, and transported it to their site. Bringing in concrete mix and water, they poured the footings, them erected the tower. Finally, they salvaged enough line from the dam area and spliced it into the line running to the complex. After everything was set, Jack flew to the complex and closed the switch that connected the outside lines to the shelter and returned to the dam to complete the connection. A few minutes later he got a call from Pam saying the lights were on and everything seemed to be working ok.

    Gathering his crew, they left the equipment where it sat and went home. Arriving over the complex they saw that the others had prepared a hero’s welcome for them, and landing, they took advantage of their new status.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.

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