A Few Thoughts

Before I get into this week’s commentary I’d like to say that here in the USA today is Halloween. So as dusk approaches children will be out in their costumes going door to door saying those words that really have no meaning to them, “Trick or treat!” They know that by saying such they get a treat. And for those first timers, the really young out on their first foray into this magical night it always brings a smile when the light goes on, and suddenly with those two small words, on this one night, they can get these small gifts or treats. Watch out for them as they sometimes do not pay attention and will dart out into the streets. Let’s keep it a time of joy and magic for our young, and not a time of tragedy. And now on to the commentary:

Very few? As we get close to wrapping up this series of short stories or episodes I felt I would like to add a comment from my point of view as the author. Of course for those who have followed the series to this point know, these episodes are actually part of a book. I’m still looking for a home for the story, and have queries out. I’ll also be looking at Amazon, and #PITMAD which will be open for one day on December 4 of this year.

While all my works, or books are fiction, they do reflect our world. In this latest, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown, I’d love to say that what we are reading is no more than fiction, and once we are finished and heading off into the real world that such doesn’t exist or happen. Unfortunately this is not the truth. We live in a world where violence is the way, and the wish for peace is great. Regional wars rage, warlords and their armies terrorize, rape, and murder, and we see much the same with the crime syndicates. Of course we can’t leave many governments, radicals, extremists, and terrorists out of this mix. It makes it appear that there is more of them, those prone to violence, than us.

Unfortunately when they destroy, many times, they create others looking for revenge, to get even for the atrocities committed against them, their families, and their homes. And in a sense who could really blame them? So it is no surprise to see Jay, and later Elsa wanting to bring heavy payback to the raiders who do this kind of thing. Tit for tat so to speak. Does such actions mean they are wrong? Does such actions mean they are right? For any of us on the outside it is easy to rationalize what we would want to do, or criticize those who face such tragedies when their actions are towards violence. And it seems it is more so (rationalization) for those who have suffered at the hands of others such as the ones stated above.

Again, as our population continues to grow on this small planet, and resources become less and less, eventually there will be fighting over what is available, and what is remaining. Since a region can only support so much, so goes a planet. And we are rapidly approaching a time when that limit will be reached. It’s not to say it will happen, as the trends appear to show a slowing of the growth.

This is one of the many reasons that writers like myself look to the far future, writing science fiction, reflecting one of the infinite futures that could lay ahead of us, which in the end may or may not become reality. In a past post I stated that the real problem we truly face isn’t the world around us, or the unknown obstacles that lie ahead, but we ourselves. We can always leave, change our location, explore space, find new worlds, but we will always be stuck with us.

Those tendencies of mankind, of cruelty, of selfishness, of hate and anger, or revenge seem prevalent. It’s not that we don’t have redeeming qualities because we do. Compassion, love, the helping of others, reaching out to strangers we’ve never met and giving all we can including our time, and many times our very lives are strong within us. It has always been a balancing act as to which side of us, as a species, will dominate. And for me I’ve always hoped it would be the side of good, of compassion, as stated here in this paragraph.

Yet, with the headlines, radio and TV, or the internet screaming terrorism, torture, murder and death, it is hard, at times, to realize that this other compassionate side exists. Still if we do not bring an end to our dark side then in the end it will not matter, because we will not be here. When we look to the universe, and its immense size, it becomes obvious there are others who have risen to intelligence on their worlds. And with the length of time that the universe has existed, again it becomes obvious that many have risen only to become extinct. We’ve seen large die offs, and extinctions here. So it is only natural to push what we’ve witnessed on our local planet, to the universe as a whole.

So as we follow Jay, Elsa, and yes even Ed, we can see our own world reflected through their eyes, through their reactions and actions. We can see the strengths and weaknesses that inhabit each and every one of us who exist now, have ever existed, and will exist in the future, until we are either no more, or have inhabited the stars. Spreading mankind’s seed to worlds throughout the milky way giving us a chance to become more than what we are presently.

Maybe to a time in the future where earth, our birth home will become no more than myth. And maybe this would be a good thing. I know from reading other sci-fi writers from the past that I’m not the only one who has looked to the far future and saw this possible outcome. Still as a writer we write our stories, and all such stories deal with the human condition. The worlds, the towns and cities, the countries, the wild lands are nothing more than the backdrops, the dressing, a simple place for these stories to be told as they have been for thousands of years.

So in a sense all of us who write fiction, who write novels, are taking from the many before us, making all of us plagiarist’s, since we are writing the same stories of adventure, love, loss, the fall of man, and his redemption from that fall. In other words our condition. And is this wrong? No. I say we need these stories to entertain, to inspire, and sometimes when the stories are dark, maybe grow. Grow beyond our infancy away from the mentality of villages – us against them. So here’s to the future – our future, and may it be great.

May there always be story tellers, weavers of myth and beauty, and yes even of our dark side. Otherwise we will end up with an old statement from our past when facing that unknown future: “There be monsters!”

* * *

Next week we begin the last of the episodes or short stories that constitute the book, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown. In comparison to the previous episodes it is rather short (only 4 parts). Part of the reason for this is because I plan on submitting the manuscript to a publisher instead of publishing it myself as an indie author. I presently have 4 books published as an indie, which are listed on my website. Even though this one is actually the 8th book I’ve written, for it to be considered by a publisher as a”debue or first” novel the word count must be kept down. It meant that I had to shorten the story somewhat and reduce my word count by roughly 30,000 words.

Does the story suffer because of this? No, it is complete as it stands. Still by doing this I’m taking a chance that it will work. There are many areas in this story that would have had fuller explanations, more depth, and more experience for our two main protagonists. Still I am happy with the outcome and direction the story took. And I even can be satisfied with the way it ends. In some ways it begs for a sequel, a second book. And believe it or not I have actually started one. Still it is sitting on the back-burner, so to speak, as I work on another titled, A World Apart, which is a little over half way written –  this being the first draft, of course. Once this one is complete and the editing done, I will probably move back to the sequel, presently titled, The Keeper of the Knowledge.

Still, in the end, time will tell, as I have 2 additional manuscripts started besides these two mentioned in the previous paragraph. They have titles of, And the Rains Came, and, Dreams. So if nothing else I have many stories and ideas to keep me busy for years to come. Still, as I have stated a number of times, I’m in my 60’s, and some day the creative well will dry up. At least I can say, even if it took retiring, I have been able to reach and accomplish one of my dreams or goals. And I have made my original goal of writing 8 novels, so what more could one ask, other than having readers enjoying the stories? Have a great week and see you here for the first part of the final episode titled, Reconciliation. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge, Part 8

Conclusion:

In the world that Jay and Elsa grew up there is nothing like what they are now experiencing – a world beyond their wildest dreams. They are walking a delicate pathway between what they want to accomplish, and the fact that if they fail they would dooming the world to control by the raider clans. What they know is this: If they fail, then the clans would begin to diligently search out the location of “The Deeps”, so they could lay their hands on these wonderful weapons. Weapons so far beyond their imagination that once they obtained them they would rule the world.

So the two train hard, study hard, and, even though they are novices, hope it will be enough. Still with all of human history at their fingertips they should, hopefully, avoid the pitfalls of the past. But, can they? Or better yet will they? For any who has entered into this series of short stories late I’m posting a link back to a post that gives a synopsis of the ones you may have missed. https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/a-review/ (And if this is the first time here the story begins in August and continues through September and into October 2015, or under short stories in the side panel on the right.) And here for your reading pleasure is the conclusion of “A Time of Death, Learning, and Revenge”:

After testing out the night vision goggles they no longer had any doubt about the descriptions presented in the archives and lessons. They then searched small scouting teams and found two groups that were used and were famous for their successes. Most of the time they would go in silently, do their assignment, and withdraw successfully, leaving their target confused and damaged, with minimal casualties. These two groups were known as the Navy Seals, and the Army Rangers. And since they were only two (There were other such teams in other parts of the world, but these were the better known.), the tactics used by these specialty forces would have to become their way. It had taken them over two years of hard work to learn what they could. Still with no one alive who had been part of either team, they could only use what they had, and hope for the best.

Then came the work of finding the encampments of the raiders, and now with this first one finally located, go in, using the tactics they had learned and find out if all the time and effort they put in was worth it. One thing for sure, if, in the end, they screwed it up neither of them would be alive to regret it. So here they were, leaning back against one of the banks of the wash, waiting for the sun to set. Soon it would be time.

* * *

It was full dark when they moved cautiously towards the canyon entrance. They split up and arrived from opposite directions. Even with the lookouts being high up it was doubtful they could be seen. Still it was better to be safe than sorry. They had chosen one of the darkest nights to make this attack. With the night vision goggles they had no problems seeing and moving in silence. Once they began their approach there would be no speaking and everything would be handled by hand signals. They had thought about taking out the lookouts with silenced sniper rifles but decided against it simply because they had no idea when the ones would be relieved and replaced with new lookouts. On this foray they carried 9MM automatic pistols for protection, leaving the rifles at their rendezvous point.

Leaning against the canyon walls that rose up into the night sky, leaving a dark shadow, blocking out the stars producing an almost complete darkness, they with their night vision equipment, had no problems at all. With the prearranged signals one led down the narrow trail with the other following and watching their rear. To the surprise of both of them the trail into this canyon turned out to be short. It opened into a large area where they could hear water running, and see many campfires burning. These fires indirectly lit the area reflecting off the canyon walls and revealed the number of tents within the encampment. It shocked both of them by the sheer size. It looked like this hidden oasis could easily hold twice of what was here, and the raiders who were here had to number in the three digits. One thing for sure they couldn’t afford to be seen. If they were there was zero chance of survival.

Now that they had a chance to see what they were facing, they set plastic explosives along the exit point of this camp. Then moving as close as they dare they set up a number of tripwire explosives with the plan of setting off a flash bang to startle the camp into action, and to hit the number of traps they had set. They lined the walls of the canyon with remote and tripwire claymore mines, when set off would shred the camp with its deadly loads. Both pulled back and began seeding the area with surface antipersonnel mines, followed by lining the canyon walls along the trail with more claymore mines. These would be set off remotely when they could see the majority of the raiders heading out of the canyon trail and beginning their exit into the desert, and additionally by the trail exit (Some, close to the encampment would have trip wires).

Once the two of them were back in the desert they set, in a fan shape, another series of claymore mines with every other one having a tripwire. The others could be individually set off as needed. Now it was time to get this show on the road. With Elsa remaining back at their rendezvous point Jay went far enough in so he could see the camp and tossed the flash bang, turned and immediately ran. He knew he didn’t have a lot of time before the camp would be stirred into action by the explosion.

The flash bang had a delay of about ten seconds giving him time to be at least half way out by the time it went off. He heard it explode followed by a flash of light that lit up the trail briefly casting heavy shadows on the narrow trail walls, turning night into day. It caused the images from the goggles to go white as the light overwhelmed the electronics. Just as quickly it returned to darkness and everything was as it was.

Only now it was as if he had stirred up a really nasty ant nest. He could hear screaming, shouting, and confusion coming from behind. After this came the next in a series of explosions as the traps were tripped setting off the explosive devices they had left in the camp. Then he was back in the desert. They had figured the guards, or lookouts would be looking back at the camp when the action started, and if not, that was exactly why Elsa was where she was. With the lookouts in her scope of the sniper rifle she could target and eliminate them if they proved to be a problem. Eventually they would be eliminated anyway. There were to be no witnesses to what was transpiring here. No one could learn of how this was done or by whom.

With his heavy breathing from running the full distance, Elsa could hear Jay approaching, and eventually she spotted him. He apparently was alone which eased the worry somewhat. There was still much that had to happen and she needed to return her concentration to those lookouts. Jay jumped into the depression where they had set up got his breathing back in control and began to watch the entrance. After what seemed like too long of a period of time, and with his impatience growing, the first of the raiders showed at the entrance.

This should mean the camp was on full alert status, and it was time to set off the charges they had placed around the camp including the claymores that lined the canyon walls along the narrow trail. Between the two traps very little to nothing should be alive afterwards. He pushed the button, heard and saw the glow from the explosions. He then counted to three and set off the claymores placed along the canyon trail. Both waited to see if any more of the raiders would be coming out through the opening. Jay picked up his sniper rifle and with Elsa took out the lookouts that had exposed themselves as they tried to figure out what was happening.

Then a small ragged element of the raiders entered the desert. They appeared to be pretty shaken and leaderless, but still began to spread out. All of them were in the range of the mines set up earlier, and most were killed when they tripped the claymores. The rest died from the ones that had been remotely set off, and then there was silence.

Nothing moved, the smell of gunpowder, and explosives drifted off into the night air and everything returned to the normal quiet night sounds. In the distance and in the area of the encampment they could see a glow. It appeared the camp area was burning. Both remained in the ready position not sure if they had accomplished their goal or not. Only in the daylight, towards evening, when they could venture back inside that canyon of death, would they know.

* * *

Back at The Deeps, they talked about the successes and failures of this venture (And there are always failures.). While it had been satisfying to give back what these raiders had been doing, it still didn’t give them any closure. It was a bothersome and painful thing to extinguish that many lives in such a short period of time. It made both of them realize that war is hell. And while this wasn’t a declared war, it was the same thing with them being the avenging ones against the destroyers. They expected to feel good about what they had accomplished but instead found it had left a bitter taste in their mouths. They had gone from innocence to the killers of men, women, and children. And no matter how they tried to rationalize it, both knew something had changed and they would never be able to go back. It seemed to have affected Elsa deeply, but it had left its mark upon Jay also. Still, to have been this successful on their first attack had been rewarding.

* * *

Success! Yet, until the actual destruction is revealed and we venture into that hidden canyon with them we will have no true picture of the destruction Jay and Elsa brought down upon this particular raider clan. What awaits us, and how will all the death and destruction the two of them have personally caused affect them? Next week I will break briefly with a post, as an author of these short stories or episodes, before heading into the last episode or short story titled, “Reconciliation”. This last episode is short in comparison to the ones alread posted, and will bring additional conflict between the sister and brother after they discover what their personal actions brought about. See you here next week for the commentary before the conclusion of “Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown”, titled Reconciliation. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge, Part 7

Why is it that some decide to do nothing but evil? What is it that drives such individuals, clans, raiders, or terrorists? I guess if any of us could truly answer such questions maybe we would be on the way to eliminating these problems. We have enough hardships in our lifetimes with no need to add the complications that are caused by these people. Yet as long as we have a “history of us”, they have always existed. What is it inside of our humanity that has this really dark side? A side where lives of others have no meaning. And with many to cause as much fear and pain to others seem to be their only goal. For me personally it is something I will never understand.

So in this story Jay and Elsa have decided to become avenging angels. To bring a bit of what the raiders gave back to them. They have been training hard. And they are realistic enough to know that what they are attempting could easily fail. Still thoughts of revenge are with them.  For any who has entered into this series of short stories late I’m posting a link back to a post that gives a synopsis of the ones you may have missed. https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/a-review/ (And if this is the first time here the story begins in August and continues through September and into October 2015, or under short stories in the side panel on the right.) And here for your reading pleasure is part 7:

How long had it taken for the two of them to track down these raiders? Too long, but all of this was becoming harder than either Jay or Elsa thought it would be. Both should have realized it would be that way since they had found, as they were growing up, what projects they were tasked to do always took longer than they thought. It was never as simple as it appeared when the work was first looked at. So why should this be any different?

The clues were difficult to find, and then to trace out. And every time they believed they were close the lead would disappear like the dust in the wind, or the smoke of a dying fire. And they would have to start again. Since it was only the two of them they also had to be very careful. In the old days they would have been called an insertion team – one too small, but such is life. One worked with that they had. If the ones they were tracking ever learned the two of them were doing such, an ambush awaited. And if the ambush didn’t kill them outright, both knew torture and a slow death would be their fate.

So many times they had almost given up figuring it was all a waste of time, and a waste of their lives, only to find something that moved them a little closer. Now here they were lying out in the desert behind a small sand dune looking towards a narrow entrance into what had to be a canyon. They had followed a couple of known raiders to this place. Still they couldn’t be sure if they had it right. The distance necessary to keep from being discovered was great enough that they had lost them here in this area. Carefully, and remaining out of sight, since if any were watching from the heights, they couldn’t afford to give them something to alert them, they searched beyond this narrow entrance and checked to see if maybe these raiders had double backed and were now heading in a different direction.

Any and all of these options were available. The raiders had to be good at covering their trail, remaining hidden, and being good in wild land skills. Then their leader, or whoever the leader designated, had to be good at planning attacks and retreats, otherwise they would have been destroyed a long time ago. So these ruthless individuals were the best at what they did. Jay, looking at Elsa said, “I don’t know. We can’t afford to make any more moves. And I suspect we won’t be able to get any closer to that canyon entrance. I haven’t seen any movement on top either. So, either this is the beginning of a trail that goes deeper into the hills, or it is simply an entrance into a hidden canyon. I don’t know which it is and we have no way of knowing. I guess we need to pull back and watch this place for a while. Unfortunately it appears the only way into this area is from the desert side, which means we are easier to see.

“At least we have these tools that allow us to see into the distance. When Ed first showed us binoculars I was shocked. Again it felt like magic . . . yeah I know, no such thing. And now here we are with the tools from The Deeps, which we cannot allow to fall into the hands of these raiders. Can you imagine how much worse it would be for ordinary people if they got their hands on what we have?”

“Yes”, Elsa said, “I can, and I agree there’s no way we can allow this to happen. So if this first attempt comes to nothing, well better that than losing, and giving them the advantage. Look, I think there’s some movement on top – in fact on both sides of on top. I mean on either side of the trail heading inside those walls.”

“Yeah, I see what you mean. You watch the one on the left, and I’ll watch the other one. We need to spot them so we know where they are exactly. Then we will see what we can do.”

“Works for me”, Elsa stated.

Jay signaled for them to pull back. They needed to wait until darkness before they could move into the next phase of their plan. With their desert camo clothing they were as close to invisible as one could be. Still from their studies he knew it was movement that caught one’s eye. And with the ones posted high on the ridgeline they knew these watchers could see great distances. Both hoped they were good enough to move in such a way that it wouldn’t give them away. Plus they had hope the ones watching were bored and would be staring out at nothing in particular biding their time when their duty was over and they returned to the camp.

When they had pulled back and dropped into a small wash that was deep enough to prevent any from observing them until the ones searching were literally on top of them, both relaxed. Neither had realized the tension and pressure they were under while observing that entrance. “Whew, glad that’s over for now.” Elsa whispered. Although why she was whispering she didn’t know. They were well away from where they had been, and with the winds this time of day it was doubtful any would hear them talking. Still it didn’t hurt one to be cautious.

“No arguments from me”, Jay replied. They leaned against one of the banks of the wash trying to find some place that wasn’t hot. The sands they had been laying on had been really warm and uncomfortable, and the heat almost unbearable. They had left their backpacks here and Jay opened his with Elsa following, grabbing something to drink, and both prepared to wait out the long afternoon and once dusk settled in to begin. With only the two of them there could be no mistakes, and when they left there could be no one left alive to let anybody know about what they were using or the fact they had even been here.

From Jay and Elsa’s point of view this would be the same as what the raiders did to the villages and small towns they destroyed, and this was to be a warning to the other raider clans out there that the rules had changed. Now they could become the prey instead of the regular status quo where it was they who did the preying.

Back at The Deeps, when they were researching and training for this, Jay had found a section in the archives that talked about the many small wars that seemed to spring up all over the world. It was such a surprise that it had been this way. But then again when they had learned how many people supposedly lived on the planet it seemed to them it had to be over populated. Meaning that as the population continued to grow resources would become scarce. And with the scarcity people desperate for the resources would fight to get them. This meant that with the pressure of the fighting, devices had been created to help one side have an advantage over the other.

When they began this they had thought small. Just learn to use the sniper weapons, take out a few, maybe one or two, harass the enemy, and move on only to do it again at a later time. What they discovered here changed all of that in an instant. They were in awe of the myriad of ways the human race had found to kill each other. The arms race, as it had been called, continued to bring out better and better weapons, and here in the present, in this time in history, they had the best by far. The weapons of the day were knives, long knives, bows, and pikes. Any personal protection normally was constructed of leather. Not the best but it helped.

While the two of them had flak vests and head protection for their personal survival, what they had gave them the advantage on the ground making them almost god like. They had learned about night vision goggles, with this by itself providing an unfair advantage. Nobody in this time had such, and had to rely on their night vision which was always poor. The first time they had tried these things on it had been one of the blackest nights out in the desert. They had used flashlights – flashlights wow – to see their way out of the garage area. Once out, they turned off the lights, waited for their normal vision to adjust to the darkness, and stood there afraid to move. The only real things visible were the stars. Then Jay put the night vision goggles on and was shocked. So much so he stated in a surprised voice, “Wow!”

He turned completely around and it was as if night had become day. He took them off to be sure it was still night and found he was back in the ink blackness of night. He turned to Elsa and said, “You’re not going to believe this. I don’t know how it’s done, but the descriptions we read did not lie. Here you try it and see if you agree.”

Elsa, could hear both the surprise and the enthusiasm in Jay’s voice, but still felt nothing could change night into day. Where would the light come from? Yeah, the explanations in the archives stated it gathered starlight. She looked up at those stars and while they lit up the sky, in the daytime one couldn’t see them even though they were there. So it didn’t make sense. Still her brother’s reaction surprised her. She shrugged, took the goggles, put them on and adjusted them to her. Instantly night became day. She caught her breath, and then realized she had been holding it and let it out slowly. Jay had been right. She could see everything as if it was daytime. Like Jay, “Wow”, was all she could say.

* * *

If you knew nothing about what is available to our military what would your reaction be once you were introduced to some of the tech? I suspect you’d be saying the same thing as Jay and Elsa. And as they await dusk and the night will their plans work, or will they utterly fail? Next week we conclude this story with part 8. Have a great week and return next Saturday for the conclusion of “A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge”. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

 

A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge, Part 6

Last week, with Jay and Elsa now owners of “The Deeps”, they learn what is required to keep the facility functioning and find it is a full time job leaving both to wonder how Ed had been able to stay even with the repairs. It is during one of these repairs that Jay, knowing that the abuse that Elsa lived through, can still see Elsa has yet to heal. And this leads him back – back to when it happened. It leads him in the direction of asking why they found this place, and maybe they can become ones who will bring death and destruction down upon the raiders. So he presents his case to Elsa and lets it sit. He feels that after a reasonable amount of time she will agree and they can begin their campaign against the raider clans.

This week we pick up the story a little later in time as their lives continue with “The Deeps” now being their home. But all is not routine, if such can be said. For those who are coming into this series of short stories late I’m providing a link back to a post that gives one a synopsis of the previous episodes which relate to the one I’m presenting here. https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/a-review/ (If this is the first time here, the story begins in August 2015, and continues in September 2015, or under short stories, in the sidebar.) And for enjoyment I present part 6:

He was just returning from his last foray into the desert and was most of the way through the park when over the speaker system he heard Elsa, “Jay, you need to get down here to the security office. I’ve confirmed the wall is closed . . . just in case.”

He felt a chill run through him as he asked, “Just in case what?” He knew she could hear him, and when he, or she for that matter, made a trip to the surface the other would monitor the situation from the security office where Ed had discovered them, so if something happened they would be aware.

“Just get in here, okay?” Was all she said.

He immediately began to run and in short order joined her. “What’s up sis?”

She pointed to one of the monitors that showed some distant images making their way across the desert. In their time with Ed they had learned a lot and had found that many of the security cameras had been destroyed both during the bombardment, which they finally had seen for themselves, and just the normal wear and tear. So they had replaced most of them and had added others that would monitor the open desert. This was one of them.

He stared at the distant images. Whoever this was wasn’t a small group of travelers. Using the zoom-in function he felt chills run down his spine followed by goose bumps. Once zoomed in it became obvious these travelers were raiders. There was no doubt. He turned to Elsa asking, “Did you know?”

With a grim look she said, “Yeah, I zoomed in, and before you ask, no, I didn’t recognize any of them, but it’s obvious they are heading somewhere. And both of us know when they are on the move like this someone is going to pay heavily for it – just like we did.” She was silent for the longest of time as she continued to watch as the raiders steadily moved on until they were no longer in sight of the cameras. She turned and faced Jay stating in no uncertain terms, “Others are about to suffer the same fate as we did, and while I really don’t know how much of an impact we can have, any we can save from that fate is a good thing. I’m in. When do we start?”

And just like that they began their planning, and training. With only the two of them they would have to be very good at what they planned and carried out. Sure they had what The Deeps could provide them, giving them an advantage over their enemies, but history had shown them time and time again that having superior technology never gave one a guarantee when it came to fighting, battles, or wars. Unfortunately they were not prepared at this very time, so whatever these raiders had planned would happen, and the ones who would be the target would suffer. It was something that pushed both of them hard as they prepared.

* * *

There were other more modern weapons they could have chosen but they settled on an old tried and true rifle. It was one both of them could shoot, so either could be the gunner or spotter. They had learned their lessons well. It had taken a lot longer for the two of them to become proficient with the rifles. Since neither had grown up around them, let alone had ever known such existed. They learned about positioning themselves, giving themselves escape routes out of the area if something unplanned happened. And one of the things that was continually stressed was the fact that the unplanned usually happened, so be prepared.

The weapon of choice, oh yes, was the military and modified for sniper duty M14, 30 caliber, with the 7.62 NATO round. Highly accurate it had been around forever. And with the specifications on file they had been able to fabricate a number of them and the rounds needed for the weapons. Then they practiced in a range they set up in the garage slash storage area, being sure to keep the bullets from going anywhere where they could damage anything. This was followed by forays into the desert where they could sight in the weapons for distance. Being sure to practice on days when the winds were strongly blowing, and days where it was variable. Plus learning to deal with the heat waves that always radiated off the desert sands which could distort images and distances until all of what they learned became second nature.

And, of course, during all of this training, they still had to maintain the facility. And at the end of those days out in the desert it was always nice to return to the coolness of the facility and take a long shower. Soon they would be ready. And it would then be time to see if all their efforts, all their training, would be enough.

* * *

The raiders had returned to their hidden canyon semi-permanent encampment. It was one of the many canyons that emptied into the desert. The leader felt they were safe here, and because they did most of their traveling through the edge of the desert before they moved in and attacked their targets, they were well away and hidden. No one traveled the desert. He had to admit it was even true for them. Yes, they traveled the edge of the desert, just far enough in to be unseen, but only fools went deep into it. It was a place of only death, not that they didn’t bring death themselves. This brought a smile and a slight chuckle. His mate who was lying in his lap looked up and asked, “So what is so funny”

Shaking his head he said idly, “Oh nothing, nothing really. Just thinking about the desert and how it’s a harsh mistress that nobody survives and only death comes out of it. And of course we are death.” They were in a large communal tent, and he heard chuckles from the others who were inside. Looking around he saw all the under-leaders of this clan and felt good. The last raid had been very good, and they had come away with much to sustain them in the style they liked for quite a while. And the females they had before they killed them and threw them away were fun. Not for those females, but so what, that’s what females were for, other than bringing brats into this world.

These thoughts brought warm thoughts to him again. Yes those young ones, those who had never experienced a male were very enjoyable. Their fear would tighten things up nicely increasing the pleasure. And to share them with all of them, what could be better? Then when done with them leave their bodies to the scavengers and birds so there could be no witnesses, no one to point one of them out. Although he suspected with the fear they showed, they probably wouldn’t remember any of them if they had survived the ordeal. After that it was simply taking the time to take what they wanted before burning the place to the ground.

It reminded him of the other outlaw clans he’d keep in contract with. About two-thirds of the leaders stated they worked the same way as his clan. Go in take what they wanted, killing all, and leaving no witnesses to their atrocities. But there were a few that would laugh stating they were doing it all wrong. There was profit in the slave trade. Shaking his head at these thoughts inwardly he laughed. Slave trade, right. More trouble than it’s worth. The ones who state they do this talk about their trek inland to the northeast somewhere towards the center of this land where there’s great expanses of grass and one can see forever into the distances. And that the journey takes many days.

He remembered laughing at these comments about the many days of travel. Then stating, “If it takes many days, that’s too long. All you have is trouble with the ones you’ve taken, and with that kind of distance one or more could escape and then get back to someone who could make it difficult for us. Not worth the time, not worth the effort, and definitely not worth the risk, in my mind.” He remembered the others who were involved in this slave trade laughing at his comments.

The one he had been talking with smiled casually and looked around to others who like him was involved in this trade. “No, as far as I know none have escaped. We know who to take and who to leave dead behind us. Besides, these we plan on selling in the markets to the east give us something to do with our time. The journey can be rough, or it can be pleasurable. And I personally prefer the pleasure we derive from our merchandise. It kind of prepares them for the life they are going into anyway.” Here he turned to the others of like mind asking, “Isn’t that so?” This brought about a lot of rowdy laughter.”

Still unconvinced, he smiled back stating, “Too much trouble for me. Besides my people prefer to go in, have a great party, take what we need, and leave with just the stuff we can carry to either continue on or to sell. Other than that we see such journeys as a waste of time and a chance to be discovered by others who don’t care for what we do. I really don’t think we’ll be changing each other’s mind. Yeah, I can see the pleasures that would be derived from such a trip, but it’s not something that holds any interest.” That finished the conversation, and the night was beginning to fall. It was time to return. Night was the time of movement and preparation, and they needed to move out and be back to their hidden encampment anyway.

Yeah, that last time they had gone to one of the clan meetings this slave trade had been pushed hard. But in the end the ones who did this type of trade weren’t able to convince any of us who weren’t interested. Suddenly he found his thoughts and concentration being broken by his woman. She began to tease him in such a way that his mind and body began to think of those physical pleasures. He looked down where she had been laying in his lap and could see a wicked grin on her face. She was very good at this kind of thing, and knew what to do to get him interested. He smiled down at her and she kept at it. Finally he whispered, “Okay you wench, let’s go and take care of this need.” She laughed but didn’t say anything as both stood and headed out the flap and proceeded to their own tent.

Soon they would have to leave the area, head north to one of their other camps, and let this area cool down. But such a move and the planning of that move was for later. Right now there was a greater need that needed to be filled. As he thought about what he had just said in his mind he laughed. It was an appropriate description – A need that had to be filled.

* * *

A decision made, and their future plans laid out. Such a responsibility, and as they train – Jay and Elsa – will it be enough? Since there is only two of them it can and will make what they want to accomplish that much more difficult. And, for the first time we get up close and personal with one of clan leaders and see their lifestyle and begin to understand – whether we approve or not – who and what they are. In two weeks we continue with part 7. I have some family business that must be taken care of and will not have access to a computer or the net leaving me no way to post on the 10th. Plus on the following week the post will be on Sunday the 18th, instead of the normal Saturday. Have a great couple of weeks and God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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