A Time of Change

Personal opinion:

At least that’s what is supposed to happen every four years in the USA. A time when a new president is voted into office and one-third of the senate rolls over. It is also a time where many local issues find their way onto the ballots, including such things as tax increases that must be put before the people before such can be implemented. Unfortunately the political machine in this country has become so huge, and has been on “the take” for so long that what we see is cronyism in the Nth degree. So whoever ends up in the presidency or has ended their time there it is “no change and business as usual”. And with corruption running rampant in Washington D. C. it is of no surprise that the laws of the land are ignored – namely the U S Constitution.

I doubt that one could find too many politicians anywhere, (here and in the world) who could be considered honest, and aren’t “on the take”, lining their own pockets at the cost of their citizens. We see nonexistent borders, (here in the USA) that are more porous than a sieve. And a government that makes sure these illegal immigrants have all the rights of citizens including the right to vote. They support them with welfare, SSI, Social Security, and cater to their wants and needs over the rights of their citizens. In fact it has been shown that if you add up all the freebies these illegals receive they’d have a salary of over $30 an hour, while most Americans struggle to pay their monthly bills.

We see laws passed that are completely against the Constitution. Such things as Obama Care – A Ponzi scheme so huge that it is killing this country. A President, who is more of a dictator, who has far exceeded the limitations of his office, changing laws and bills when they come to his desk, because they weren’t the way he wanted them to be. Where, and by the Constitution, he must either sign the bill into law or reject and send it back. We have seen the office of the presidency used to illegally sell weapons to the Mexican cartels, with this attempt to undermine the second amendment, and so many other illegal activities and dealings that are far too numerous to list here. Enough that if the congress did what they were supposed to do, in other words their job, then he would be impeached and in jail for his crimes. This president’s actions make Watergate look like a walk in the park on a quiet Sunday afternoon in comparison. And with the Watergate scandal the president resigned! If we were to compare what we are seeing to any of the communist countries existing now or in the past we would truly see very little difference, as regulations and restrictions continue to rise.

Of course I cannot leave the media out of this since they have more power to influence the outcome of any of these elections, and they take special care to ensure their chosen candidate is the one who is elected. Since most major news services are owned by large corporations or international conglomerates, they have a desire to have candidates and elected officials who are favorable to their way of thinking in office. It only makes sense, to them, to be sure that what is presented to the public favors their choice, and defames the challenger, so they can keep the status quo. What ever happened to reporting the news and facts honestly? Whatever happened to answering the basic questions to get to those facts? You know “who, what, where, when, why”, things like that. Now it’s, “Let’s see how we can spin this so that we can get the maximum benefit out of this and to hell with the truth.” Pravda is probably more honest.

You know, I wonder what the different governments, (city, county, state, and federal) do with those taxes they ask for every time there’s an election? There’s always a demand for the educational system, for some special project, or because they need to cover this or that special program or debt. All of us must live within our means, within the monies we have available, or face bankruptcy. Yet our government, whether it is local, county, state or federal, cannot seem to do this. It is time we, as citizens, reject any and all tax increases. I truthfully haven’t seen a raise in my personal income, and must live on what I bring home even though prices continue to rise, causing the “belt” to be tightened. Our numerous governments must do the same and quit asking or demanding more. Soon it will simply be this: “How much do you earn? Send it!”

The two candidates, this time around, have widened the gulf and division among the citizens, (Not that the existing president hasn’t done the same, because he has) as we look at a non-politician on one side, and a die-hard politician on the other. And while I could give my opinion and the reasons why, I’m not here to start a wildfire, which would be the result. I can only  say this: If the election goes one way we, as a people, as a nation, will have lost, and this nation will be on its way to obscurity, suppression, and the unavailability of goods and services. Our individual freedoms will become no more than tendrils of smoke vanishing into thin air of a cold December morning. Suppression will be on the rise, and that Constitution will be no more than pieces of paper with some words on them with no meaning.   We will lose everything our forefathers fought and died for. I believe that we are down to our final opportunity or chance of saving this republic and the U S Constitution. If it goes one way all our chances will have been used up and the existing corruption will rise to unprecedented levels and what this country was will be a distant and past memory where the ones living in this country will be saying, “Oh yeah, I remember when . . . when we had a chance, but we ignored it, and now there’s never going be a way of going back – ever.”

The sad thing is that this country, this nation, is the last one to embrace the principles of citizen rights, and at this time we are on a slippery slope that has predators at the bottom just waiting for the moment to take us down. I’ve heard, in the past, a statement that said that one can equate or compare life, and the world, to the game of football. In the game the object simply is to get the ball across the goal line, and because of this whoever has the ball becomes the target. And so it is in life. If you have that ball, everyone is after you. And this applies to nations also. And when you look at recent history it has been this country carrying the ball, and the way things have gone is the result of the rest wanting to bring us down, and become the ball carriers. And there are many within this nation whose only interest is to destroy what we have, and many of them are our elected officials. And while history may show that nations have been destroyed by forces outside, many times, before this happened, it was what preceded this destruction, a weakening within that led to the nation becoming vulnerable, and as a result became an easy target for invasion and being conquered. We are so very close to this time here.

So all of us in this country – this nation be careful. Be so very careful. Because it will be this time when future generations will look back and either say, “What were they thinking? They had a chance to save and keep their country, keep their nation great, but gave it away.” Or will they say. “Look it really was a close thing. It could have gone either way, but they stepped up to the challenge and saved their nation.” So which will it be? Will we lose it all, or will we wake up in time to save our nation from the fall that is closer than you think. And hold the vote counters accountable for it has been shown that corruption is high here. Let alone software that has been available for a long time that can go in and change the votes that have been cast to whatever the politicians want. (And if you think this last point is fictitious I can provide a link of  testimony before congress giving these facts before a congressional committee.) All of this is in yours and my hands. Do we go status quo and lose this nation, or do we find the courage to bring this nation back to its roots? God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)



Time of Isolation, Chapter 6, Part 4

The two leaders probably thought that once they were free and clear of the primitives, found shelter, supplied it the best they could, and got the remnant of the scout team settled that their problems would become minor. Yet, if anything, it has become more difficult as the natural traps that exist in any wilderness area almost took a life. With this came the knowledge that one of the women is pregnant. This was something that Shellian had related to her brother of the possibility because of their situation. Both hoped such could be avoided since they are ill-equipped to deal with this additional burden or the complications that may arise.

After the rescue of Stone Saige goes off by himself and tries to come to terms with all that is happening and tries to deal with the tough decisions that are still ahead. Shellian joins him and they discuss what lies ahead, with Saige stating his fears and the wish that he could turn over the leadership to someone else, but it is no more than idle thought. Shellian relates her thoughts about the women, when Saige asks her a personal question. And it is here, this week, where we pick up the conversation with Shellian answering. (The Survival Trilogy: Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past are available from your favorite E-book retailer.) And with this introduction we close out chapter 6:

“Now before you ask, no I am not sleeping with Saar – not that the temptation isn’t there. After all, I get cold at night and the thought of a warm body next to me to keep me warm is a temptation – one that I have been able to ignore for now. Like you I’m trying to be an example, and while I know that I’m in charge of the women here, as you the men, and then the two of us together the whole group, it still is something that is hard to ignore. I was just hoping that this wouldn’t begin until late into the winter. Then if we had some pregnancies at least when they came to term it would be good weather. Now with them starting this early there is a chance that we may be still fighting bad weather further complicating things. As you have pointed out we have no idea how long winters last up here.”

Silent for a moment Saige contemplated what Shellian had just told him, he then said, “And you feel there’s nothing we can do about it. So should we conveniently ignore it? Or is there another solution that you have in mind?”

Shaking her head she said. “No, I have no answers for you. Other than the two sexes living in two different locations and not in the same cave would there be a slight, and I mean slight possibility of preventing this. But we are all together in close contact and there is no any way to change that. So no I do not think we can ignore it but I don’t know how to prevent or present it either.”

Sighing he said. “Okay then, just another of the many problems to face. Not that an increase in our small population is a bad thing. But as you have stated, we are not prepared for the consequences that this will present. And maybe that is the way we need to present it to the rest. Especially now that it’s out in the open with Sorrel being the first to prove that there has been coupling going on. After all she cannot deny it since it is the only way one can become as she is.”

Laughing lightly even though the weight of leadership was upon her she said. “Oh I am sure she would try, but there is only one other way to get that way and we have no way of providing that service here.”

“That’s very true. I only hope when she reaches term that the birth is not complicated since we are in no shape to handle complications here. Since our annual is 540 days, and how long does a woman normally carry before she gives birth?”

“Roughly half of that time, give or take a few on either side. But there can be complications that could endanger both the mother and unborn child. That’s the greater worry, since we are so unprepared to deal with this.” Then shrugging she continued. “But I guess women have been doing this since the beginning so if it was successful, and since we are here, then I guess we can learn to survive – although I for one would not want to be birthing without the pain relief drugs that we use. I’ve had it described to me by mothers who say it’s like being ripped apart down there and that when the drugs hit that it is a welcome relief.”

“So, why would one put themselves through it more than once? I mean I understand the physical draw and need between the sexes, but to experience that kind of pain and then go back and do it again, that almost sounds masochistic to me.”

“Again I have no personal experience yet. Although I know my time will come. But from what mothers have said that once the child is born then you forget all about that pain and are instantly in love with this new completely helpless person who must depend on you totally for everything.”

“I guess that’s as good as explanation as I’ll ever get, and since it is something as a man that I will never face . . . I guess I will never really know. Oh well, I guess since we are once again snowed in for a while I might as well present our situation to the group. Maybe we should start calling ourselves a clan or something since our birthplace is now gone and in a sense we are starting over far away from our home. And maybe we can start venturing outside our naming and not stick with names beginning with “S” as our city did.”

“Do you think that’s a good idea? I mean there is a chance that we will be able to reestablish it sometime in the future and our society has always required that the members of any city be named with the primary letter being the same as the city.”

“True, true. But we are now without and we have no guarantee that we will be able to rejoin our people and the city was destroyed. This new leader of the primitives has them organized well. I don’t know how easy it will to bring him down, or if that does happen, if it will be enough to break the ties that exist right now between the tribes. I suspect that they will break up once he is gone, but I cannot say whether that’s just speculation on my part or fact. Anyway that’s in the future and this isn’t passing on what we just discussed so I guess I better just get to it.” He got up went over to the fire where the majority were located, signaled a gathering waited until all were there and then said to all.

“We came close to losing a few of us today. This area appears to have many hidden dangers. It still hasn’t solved one of our main problems and that’s being located in only one place. If we were found then we would lose completely. We have nothing, no caches no place to go, nothing. So if for some reason the primitives came looking and found us I suspect that we then would become no more just as our city has become. I, like you am hoping that the snows and storms we have been experiencing will keep them out of the mountains. Plus whatever superstitions that seems to make it an area they stay away from, but again at least in the lower areas it does appear that the hunters do come to hunt the grazers. So even with the danger we have to find a second place, stock it, and make sure all of us know its location. This search and subsequence supplying of the second camp will take much of our time during this winter. Yet when the weather is like this we will be doing very little, which brings me to my second concern . . .” Pausing a moment before continuing, he was still a little reluctant to broach the subject but it had to be done.

“Okay all, I know we are a mixed company here, and that all of us that have survived are fully grown and are quite aware of the biology of life.” Taking a deep breath before continuing and also looking at each one of them he said. “We are to try and avoid coupling since we are in no way prepared to handle pregnancies, births or any of the many complications that can arise from them. But it has been happening, and I know that it is something that will naturally happen – especially this time of the year when not much can happen and the nights are very cold.” He could see the reaction from them and some appeared to have a guilty expression on their faces. So if he needed proof it had been happening it now was proven. “One of our women is indeed pregnant.” Waiting to see their reaction he glanced towards Sorrel and still saw that smug look on her face and defiance in her stance. Well he would see how well she handled birthing when it was her time. “No I am not going to put a name to the one, but shortly it will be obvious to all who it is. While it is something that is hard to do all I can do is ask all of you to try and avoid any more pregnancies. We have nothing here to make it easy and we men outnumber our women and we cannot afford to lose any of you women. As it is to you our future belongs, and without the proper care when you are carrying we could lose any of you. That’s all I am going to say on that subject for now.

“We will be continuing our mapping and patrols once this storm subsides. We have to find another place and soon. While I know from what we are seeing that up here the winters are long and harsh, but if we have not established our second camp before spring then I really believe that we will be in deep trouble. Okay then let’s keep the camp we have here well supplied and clean. Our doctor can only do so much and we are responsible for the hygiene of our living areas.”

* * *

Trying to find a way to broach the subject to the team the two leaders continue to discuss the situation that is before them. It is during that conversation that Saige sees a possible way to pass on what will become obvious in the near future. And with this he decides it’s time to talk to all the team members and brings them together by the communal fire, passing on what has transpired with the rescue, since part of the team wasn’t present, and then breaches the subject that one of the members is pregnant and what this could mean. He admonishes the remainder to try to avoid the same thing since they are ill-equipped to handle complications. And, much of winter is still ahead of them and all it entails, and with this we close out chapter 6. Have a great week and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

A Time of Isolation, Chapter 6, Part 3

The problems and dangerous situations keep coming and as soon as they solve one another crisis arises. At least they won’t be bored. Word comes that one of the women is now pregnant and it begs the question of how long before others join her. What Shellian feared and then related to Saige has happened. Then no sooner is this knowledge gained when one of the team members who is out exploring has fallen and is in a life threatening situation that will require all the men to rescue him.

Once in the area where the incident takes place they begin the rescue attempt only to come close to being victims themselves, by almost falling into one of the many hidden traps these mountains seem to hold. Now with this before them everything has been complicated further. Again time is against them since it’s cold and where Stone is located there is no guarantee of how long he can hold on. The narrow ledge could collapse at any moment, and if it holds together then it might, in the end, be the cold that will kill him. (The Survival Trilogy:  Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past, are all available from your favorite E-book retailer) With this before the team we open part 3:

As he looked over the now very dangerous situation, he cautiously peered over into this newly opened area, he shook his head and stated, “I don’t know, and I am obviously open for suggestions. This opened a pretty good section and looking at the edges of that lava that was revealed . . . well, it looks as if it would cut our rope to pieces let alone any one of us. And you are right, not only can we not be sure of our footing, but even looking inside this tube we cannot see its true direction and we will possibly see another collapse if we cross it, and it is between us and Stone.” Then looking up because it suddenly became shadowed, he saw that clouds were starting to build which probably signaled the arrival of a new storm in the near future. “And if I am reading this sky right we will be having new snow soon. Come on everyone we need to get Stone and get back to the cave.” Then yelling he said, “Stone! How are you faring so far?” He then listened hard and heard a distance voice say.

“Getting very cold, and I think this may have been a place where that tube that I just heard collapse pushed out the side of the mountain. Maybe the collapse was a good thing, and one or two of you could carefully lower yourselves into it and see if you can find where it pushed out the side. It will be above me. When I fell through I found myself on a smooth slide and my momentum almost carried me completely over. The only way I was able to prevent it was by grabbing desperately at some vegetation that had been growing here. Thankfully it held, but there is no way I can climb out without help.”

“You’re the expert on this stuff. Okay maybe it’s the best answer and right now I do not have any other ideas – okay we will try that.” Then turning to the others he said. “Alright you heard him, I want you Seve and you Staven to be the ones to go down. We’ll use the rope we have tied to the tree to get you down there and then you two can take one of the other ropes, then see if you can find the side tube that he fell through. We’ll keep the rope off the tube’s edge so as to not have it cut. But I have to admit that from what I can see, other than where we broke through, it’s very dark down there. Did we bring anything that we can make a torch with?” Looking around he saw Seth reaching into the pack he had brought, bringing to light the materials to put together a torch. At least one of them had thought about the possibility of needing one. “Okay let’s get moving on this we are running out of time once again, and why does it always seem to be that way?” He wasn’t expecting an answer to his final question, but it did seem that every time they ran into some emergency or need that the time constraints would push them into the solution before they had time to truly work it out.

Now working carefully they lowered the two into the tube and watched as they lit the torch and then disappeared from sight. Now all they could do was wait. The rest could do nothing so they pulled back, dug down through the snow to the bare ground and with care built a small smoky fire. While dead wood was plentiful, it was full of moisture, which tended to hiss, pop, and spit as the moisture was forced out the wood as it burned. They could hear the voices of the three but could not make out their conversations. As they waited by the fire they would rotate one member to the tube edge to watch for the other three. Eventually the one who was watching signaled them, and they all then came over to the collapsed area. They could see that all three were now there and ready to be pulled out. Saige breathed a sigh of relief, and once they were out they headed back to the cave. The winds had picked up again and the sky was dark and ominous. Shortly it began to snow once again and by the time they had reached the cave it was snowing heavily. The temperatures had dropped considerably and they were chilled to the bone just wanting to stand around the fire until they felt comfortable again.

Going off by himself for a brief period of time Saige asked himself, “What’s next?” He knew that they still had to get out and explore when the weather allowed. If they depended only on this one location they found, and if discovered they would be in real trouble, not that they weren’t already. There needed to be at least one other location, and not close by, that was stocked and ready if the need arose. So again, now what? They were finding out that this mountain they presently were staying on was riddled with lava tubes and the incident today came close to taking them all out or at least severely injuring them, which was just as bad. Deep in thought he did not hear his sister approach and was surprised when he heard her speaking. “What’s going on Saige?” She asked.

Looking up at her since he had been sitting and leaning back against one of the walls in the shadows he asked, “What do you mean? There’s a lot happening as usual even for a place and time such as this.”

Shaking her head she said. “You know what I mean. It sounded like this rescue could have been much worse than it turned out, and now we have one of the women carrying, and you know that with as much time that we will probably be in here that she may not end up being the only one. Nothing you or I could say will stop that from happening. It’s cold and many are showing signs of being lonely. You and I are being kept quite busy trying to lead them, but there is not enough to do to keep all of them active. So they are drawn together for warmth and then it ends up going further than any had planned. But I suspect that there are no regrets. With all the hardships and losses that all of us have endured it is surprising to me that the reaching out to each other hasn’t happened earlier. So I suspect even as small a group as we are we will see a rash of pregnancies soon. We have no birth control other than abstinence and that’s not going to happen.

“Then once these women start birthing then what? Again we are not prepared to deal with new lives. We have nothing – nothing at all and with only Saar who never was one to take care of women . . . well, you can see where this is going.”

Reaching up and pulling her down beside him he said. “I never thought that being a leader could be so hard. It is driving me crazy. We need to establish a second camp yet from the incident today it is much more dangerous out there than I first thought. Yet, we cannot stop looking, but do I send someone out into this unknown knowing that they could fall to their death or injured and die in this weather? Yet. If I don’t, then we risk discovery, and if found then there would be nowhere to go and with all of our supplies here . . . Well, you can see there is this problem and now this other one has been brought into the open by the pregnancy of Sorrel, and as you just now pointed out, you are sure it will not be the last. I guess I should have guessed that it was going to go that way, but was hoping it was something that wouldn’t. I tell you this if there was some way I could just give this up and let someone else do this job I would. But Shayne put his trust in you and I, and I can see that the rest look to both of us for decisions. So I guess we are stuck.” Then looking at her he shrugged.

* * *

Problems, problems, problems. And so it goes for the two leaders. Many times when one is watching from the outside, observing something one is unfamiliar with. makes it appear that whatever it is being observed is something that is easy to do. Never realizing it’s the one in charge or doing whatever it is making it appear to be easy. And once you try your hand personally at doing the very same thing then it is at that very moment you learn it’s so much more difficult than you ever imagined. And it is this way with Saige and Shellian, as they learn of the many problems and difficulties of being leaders, even with so small a team. Have a great week and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

Time of Isolation, Chapter 6, Part 2

With the brief conversation between sister and brother, as they stand outside of the cave, both are aware of possible unforeseen problems that may lie ahead. Still even with the success of finding this shelter time was still against them as the snow began to fall about the time they had gotten all they could prepared for the unknown winter ahead of them. Much of what they accomplished is only temporary in nature since they didn’t have the proper equipment to make it right. Still one does what one must and in the end hope for the best.

And with the two returning to the warmth of the cave we finish out part one. What lies ahead of them, and with this new knowledge, something that Saige should have thought about before it was brought up by Shellian, further complicates a less than ideal situation. And with this we pick up part two with the storm still raging keeping the team inside the cave. (The survival trilogy: A Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past, are available from your favorite E-book retailer.) And with this introduction is part 2:

The storm continued to unleash its fury for another four days before it broke clear and cold. Still, all were eager to get outside and breathe air other than what existed inside the cave. The world they were now seeing had completely changed. With ice hanging from exposed overhangs and trees, the area was completely white. The trees held a heavy frosting of snow in their branches and the world around them, after the winds ended, was silent. It was not known who started it, but suddenly they were all involved in a huge snowball fight. Laughing and acting like children, this continued for a while. It was a sign that finally they could let down a little from the pressures of the recent past. Their breath was coming out in great clouds in the crisp air, and once the initial exuberance had been burned off, they relaxed for a short time. Then as they began to retire back into the cave, each person grabbing additional firewood, to restore their depleted supplies, heading back to the warmth that the cave provided. They smelled of smoke, and when first breathing the fresh air, realized that the cave itself had to smell that way. Having been in it continually they had become used to the odors and no longer even smelled them. Now returning from the outside, it was quite obvious. Storme then said to no one in particular, “Oh this place stinks. I think it would be a good idea to open our front entrance and air this place out!”

“What? And then lose all of our heat?” One of the guys yelled back. “After all it didn’t bother you until now.” That brought a laugh from everyone.

Saige thought that this was probably the first time in a long time that the spirits of the group were up. It was a good sign, but he knew as they all did that winter here was just beginning. This first storm had dropped enough snow that it was between their knees and the ground. He wondered just how much would fall, and with no experience he had no answer. One of the first things that struck him once the fun was over, was that footing had changed. How did one get around in this stuff? It was something he hadn’t even considered, again not surprising since where they were from it never snowed. Then calling for attention he said, “Now that was fun, and it has been a very long time, too long really, since we’ve had much of that. But something came to me while we were out there. Since we all come from a place where we never see this stuff, especially this close and personal, how does one walk in it? I mean right now it is to our calves and we cannot see the ground underneath. Everything now is hidden under this white stuff, so again how does one hike in it without both hurting and tiring oneself? And this is only the first storm. I don’t even know how deep it’s going to get before winter is over. But if this first storm is any indication I suspect we will be digging out just to keep our entrance open.” These questions quieted the group down and he could see it was something that had not occurred to them either.

Stone replied saying, “There must be a way, since we are not the first to ever live in this stuff. I mean there must be some way that we do not have to break trails through this stuff, you know stay on top of it, but I have no idea how.”

“Okay people, I think this is the first real problem that we have to solve. We need to be out here and learning as much as we can about these mountains. We need to be able to locate other areas that we can go to if we need to leave here. We did not have time to find anything else, and if we were found now and had to leave, we have nowhere to go at all. We have left ourselves no safety net, no escape, and I know that we really had no choice given the time limits that we had, but now with winter upon us I do not think we will have any problems from the primitives. So as severe as this is it will be our chance to find those other places that we can retreat to if the need arise.”

Then one of them stated, “Now Saige why did you have to go and ruin all the fun. We’ve been running, fighting, busting our butts to finally get where we are now – and we have lost many a good person along the way. Finally we’ve had a chance to let down just a little, and then you go and spoil it with what you just said.” This brought a chuckle from the group as it was recognized for what it was. It summed up what had happened to them, and then for the first time they had taken a break, giving them all time to forget, even if just briefly. Now before they even had a chance to warm up, Saige was already hitting them with the new responsibilities.

Shaking his head and smiling Saige said, “You are so right, and I am sorry. But since Shayne has placed this position upon both Shellian and I, I just do not want to fail in that trust – not only to him and his memory, but to all of you. If we all die out here, yeah I know we won’t know anyway, if we all die out here then I have failed in that trust.”

“That’s all right.” Another yelled. “If we all die out here we will kill you for failing,” which brought another laugh.

Shaking his head again Saige continued. “Okay, point taken. We will just take this day off and tackle the problems tomorrow.”

* * *

It then took them the better part of the major moon cycle to finally solve the problem of walking in the snow. They had tried a number of different methods, from breaking new trails in the snow, to trying to work a drag to break it up, and none of them worked. Then Stone suggested that they try to figure out how to walk on top of the snow, which brought a laugh since no one could see how it could be done, they were just too heavy. But that got them thinking and they realized that if there was a way to distribute their weight over a greater area then it could be possible. The first attempts were ugly, awkward, very difficult to use, broke often, but it proved the concept. In fact it was almost freeing to be able to move across the snow in this fashion. As time continued to pass, they made small improvements until it worked. They were finding muscles that they never used as working with these “shoes” required learning a new way to walk. Yet they found as the soreness worked out, they could cover a greater amount of territory not having to worry about obstructions as they had, when there was no snow on the ground.

Then one of the women turned up pregnant and neither she nor her lover would admit to anything. With everyone in so close proximity; it was surprising that any could find a place to get physical without being found out. Yet it now was obvious that was exactly what had happened. And it was the flirt Sorrel, so it could have been anyone. Looking at her he could see defiance and smug look on her face. Shellian had warned him and here was the proof that she had been completely truthful and right in her conclusions – now what? Then, in a short time came another shock. One of the two who were out on patrol, searching the areas and mapping it so that they could find a second location, came back into the camp winded and quite excited. Steen yelled. “I need help now! Stone fell through some of the snow that had hidden a crevasse and has fallen out of my reach. He doesn’t appear to be hurt but, he appears to be on a narrow ledge and there isn’t anywhere he can go but down and it is a long drop.” It was midmorning and the two of them had been out since dawn, so there was a good possibility that where he had fallen was not close. No one said leadership was easy, and it just appeared that the problems and near disasters kept coming faster than he, Shellian and the rest could find answers.

Leaving the women in camp, Saige and the six other men followed Steen as he led the way back to where the fall had taken place. As they worked their way to the site, Saige saw that this was in an area that none of them had ever been. As he had feared it took them a few hours to reach the place of the accident. As they approached, he had them slow down and then use poles to check the depth of the snow. They did not need another to join Stone, complicating an already difficult situation. In the distance he could hear another one of the many waterfalls that they had encountered. At least, he mused, there was no lack of water. Now it was time to work out the rescue. Working slowly up to the edge, he looked down and saw Stone standing on a too narrow ledge that just looked like it could collapse at any moment. Then slowly withdrawing, they tied a rope that they had brought around one of the large trees that was close by, and with that anchor worked their way back to the ledge that had been revealed under the snow. But before the rope could be lowered, there came a sound of shifting snow, rock, and soil, and part of what they had just been standing on gave way and disappeared. Had they remained there even for a second more it would have caught all of them. They realized that they had been standing on top of one of the many lava tubes and this one had been thin. It had taken the additional weight of the snow and when they added their own body weight it became too much and collapsed.

Looking down at the fallen earth and snow they could see that the drop even to the piles that were just created was at least ten meters. What next? The collapse was between them and where Stone had fallen. “Now that complicates things.” Saar stated. “And if it collapsed here where else does this tube run? And is it just as thin-skinned as this portion just proved to be?”

“Hey doc, we have enough problems here without you coming up with questions that bring even more to our attention.” Steen commented. “Okay Saige I’ll add my own, now what?”

* * *

Nobody said it would be easy. And while the snowshoes, (although as we will learn this is not what they call them) have made traveling easier, it still doesn’t prevent one from falling into the many natural traps that these mountains seem to hold. And as we close out part 2 we see the team facing a major issue of multiple traps all in one location that could have taken all of them out. And with one of the team stuck and in a dangerous situation, followed by the cold, facing hypothermia, again time isn’t their friend. Next week we follow the team as the try to solve these problems without becoming victims themselves. Have a great week and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

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