Posted in Recovery by The Historian

Thus ends the first novel of the Ex-Earth series. My thanks to all the participants. While I have not had the time to pursue the second book, some of my collaborators have been doing some fine writing of their own. Here are their web sites:

Never So Few


The FutureVerse

My only wish is that I had been born a hundred years from now when some of this might become reality.


The Challenge of Love

Posted in Recovery by Andrew Stuart

Mariana decided to stop by Hanna’s for a drink on the way home from the Lab. With two sets of Twins running around and a third set on the way it was the only place she could find a few minutes of piece and quiet. At the Bar she grinned at Hanna, “Bless the world for the effects of quick heal and make it a double please and make it Andy’s latest, I am not a masochist like the guys.”

Hanna just grinned as she built the drink, “You may not be but I think Kat is wondering about herself!”

Mariana turned to the room and saw what Hanna had alluded to. Kathryn Jamos sat in what was obviously a very strained conversation with Lewis DeWalt from the newcomers. The strain was obvious to anyone who knew them both. She watched as Lew stood and left the room and knew she had to stick her nose in. Walking over to Kat’s table she asked in her best jab a friend tone, “So what’s biting at your butt Bitch?”

She was stunned when Kat replied, “Sit down, I need someone to talk to you asshole.”

Mariana in disbelief just pulled up the chair Lew had just left and sat down; raised her glass and waited.

After a long moment Kat raised hers and began to talk. “Bitch, do you know how lucky you were to find Andy, do you ever worry about him dying; No Way. Just as Gabe does not fear for Elana or Ash for JoAnn. Hell, even Jai has John who will go down in the face of Hell itself. That Kid DeWalt has gotten to me and I admit it. Mariana I am afraid to love him.

“You of all people know how many I have lost, I can not open my heart to someone I am afraid can’t handle the load!”

Mariana could only stare and gasp, Kat was in Hell itself and could see no way out. “Have you thought about waiting a bit and seeing what He can do? Maybe He is just good enough to open up to. You have a History of being fairly closed after all. It would be easy for your friends to tell him to chill for a while.”

Kat’s face showed the strain She was under, “That’s the problem, I don’t want to. You have no idea how He has gotten to me. In the old days I used to laugh about you and Andy. Know now that I know how it felt but, I am scared. We are going back into the fire and you know it, I can’t live with constant fear. I will pass on love to avoid that!”

Mariana carefully considered her reply as she stared over Kat’s shoulder and saw the drawn face of Lew DeWalt in the doorway. “Kat, why don’t you just give it some time. Hell I waited five years. You can give it a couple of months. Lew might surprise you!”

* * * * * * * * * *

Andy was setting going over production data when SFC Nug came into the room. “Sir, we have someone here with a strange request!”

Lewis DeWalt strode into the room and locked into a perfect Parade Ground stance, “General Stuart, I wish to challenge the Alchibah Special Forces Q-course.”

“Boy,” Andy asked, “do you have any idea what you are asking for?”

“Yes Sir, I do and I feel I have no choice. I am at a do or die point Sir.”

“Would this happen to have anything to do with Gunnery Sergeant Jamos Major?”

“That might be surmised Sir!”

“OK, if you want to go through Hell and fail; I am not going to deny you. Right of Challenge has been recognized for years. Understand that I will cut you no slack?”

DeWalt grimaced, “Yes Sir. I understand I get no slack at all!”

“We will come find you on the morning of the challenge, you get no warning. God Help your Soul Son.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Ash sat and waited quietly for the sleeping figure to awake. When he did he reached for his gun as a reflex. Ash grabbed his wrist and drawled, “That ain’t smart Son.”

Lew stopped in his tracks as he recognized the voice, anyone who flew anything on Alchibah knew the voice of the Ghost. “So what do I owe this visit to?” Lew asked in his best controlled tone.

“Because you have in Honor bitten off more than you can chew, Pup. I have looked at your file and you are good but, what you are fixing to wade into just flat ain’t in any Peaceforce Training POI I ever read. Spec Ops is a whole different world and the difference could get you flunked or dead. I am here to introduce you to the one person who might have the ability to fix that. We can not train you in public for a challenge but, some of us don’t want to see you fail as it might break a friend of ours heart. So you get to meet the living breathing epitome of what a one-on-one training program means.

“Lewis DeWalt meet John Pierce call sign Scythe. I can go no farther, what happens from here on is up to you two. Just understand that Scythe was trained by the best there is. He is quite familiar with the care and feeding of a budding and eager Spec Ops candidate. He learned it the hard way. If you don’t frack up your Challenge might just happen when John here thinks you are ready.

“Make up your mind, is She worth it? Because the suck starts now!”

* * * * * * * * * *

“Wake up Asshole,” the voice bellowed in his ear, Lew tried to move and was stopped by a hand that was like a force of nature. Lewis DeWalt knew he was in the grasp of MCPO Gabriel Benjamin. Now two hours later he was here naked in the middle of an unknown environment with two pieces of paper.

One said, “Survive,” the other was a set of coordinates. That had a tag labeled Clothes. Carefully following the directions he moved to the location, ten minutes of careful searching found the cache. It contained a set of clothes, an empty canteen and a strange single bladed ax with a skinning knife type blade as a back side. A note contained directions to his next point and the following admonition:

Welcome to a test of everything you are and wish to be. This will not be impossible but will at times seem to be. It will be as hard as we can make it for a reason. You will face terrain and predators of a frontier planet. You will also face obstacles designed to test your brain, stamina, awareness and skills. You face nature and Man as you will in real combat. Somewhere if you survive you will find weapons more advanced. Red Magazines are lethal and Yellow Magazines are blanks. Scythe says good luck.


“Andy he has a pack of Vargs on his tail, what do you want to do? His first real weapons cache is several hours away.”

“Well Gabe, how did he do with the bear pit at the swamp bottleneck?”

“He found it no problem, dropped him a tree for a bridge and was out of there in thirty minutes.”

“OK, take Ash with you and let three of the pack through. If he can’t handle three with a bow and an ax he’s gonna flunk anyway.”

“Damn that’s cold Boss!”

“Yes, but very necessary. Shit Gabe I want this kid to make it but, we can not give it away. He is the first from Task Force to try it and the town is abuzz with the rumor that this Q-course is going on. You and I know that sometime we are going to have to look Kat in the eye and swear he did not get it cheap. Beyond that consider how important this is to the total force. This will prove that there are no favorites. You get put where you do the best, period.

“We are 75% Reserve now and I damn sure mean to keep it that way. This kid will be proof that that works. Gabe, I am tired of fighting for a good long time; I just am not dumb enough to think we are through fighting.”

“So Professor Stuart, when do we fight again?”

“When someone shoots at us or creates a situation so intolerable that we can stand aside no longer. Is there any other reason to fight Gabe?”

Gabe’s reply was indirect as he spoke into his wrist comp, “Ash, saddle up; we gotta go snipe some Varg.”


Lew could not figure out why his directions told him to stop here until he took a long thinking look at his surroundings. The cliff face was almost all flint, from that realization to a fire took about five minutes. Varg was not the greatest meat in the universe but, it beat nothing. Not only that but the light from the fire showed the location of a cache. Lew lovingly caressed the shape of an Alchibah CAW and two Red mags along with three Yellow mags. “I guess we are gonna play now!”

He could have been asleep no more that two hours when the sharp report of a .338 followed by the splat of a paint round woke him up. As Lew scanned his surroundings the form of Connor Benjamin appeared in his chameleons with one hand waving in that universal “Move it Out” motion. Lew guessed that was all the rest he was going to get.


Thirty hours later a tired and beaten Lew DeWalt dug up his last cache and read the note contained therein. “Cross the Line on the Ridge though Hell and Heaven stand Between.”

Lewis reached out with senses that he had not known that he had, Situational Awareness could be honed to a fine edge in even the most normal person; his was now a jangling, screaming alarm system. For the first time in his life felt true fear. Hell was coming for him from up on that ridge.

At the top of the crest Gabriel sighed and said, “I’ll go stalk him.”

The silence was broken by Andy Stuart, “No, Kat deserves no less; I will be his Hound. And if He fails, I will be the one to fail him. He deserves no less.”

In his hide DeWalt felt the threat begin to move, even though the ridge line was back lit by the rising sun he saw no movement. His brain raced, “Magic is out, she’s too pregnant. Angel started this, so it’s probably not him. Ghost, maybe; then his mind froze in alarm; Dear God, it’s the Reaper himself. OK, odds of winning outright, none. Chance of hiding out till he sweeps by me, best chance. Find a place to hide idiot!”

Andy was in his chameleons sweeping down the ridge to the early spring swamp. At least DeWalt had not tried the dumb move of trying to win outright. They had almost caught Jai Benjamin that way, right up until she ducked and covered proving that that move had been a fake all along. He found a trail that had been covered well to someone who was not yet completely familiar with Alchibah and followed it. He was flat dumbfounded when it stopped. “Damn Boy learns fast,” he thought. He started using the optics and picked the trail back up, less than a hundred yards away it disappeared again. “Did I mention the Boy learns fast,” he thought again. Where the hell was Sinopa when he needed her?

He reached out with that other sense and felt for DeWalt, there he was less than 50 yards away. Sunk in the ice cold muck with a breathing tube in his mouth. Pulling his spotter scope and scanning the area he felt he found him. It was so small, just the bare two inches of his tube sticking above the muck.

“OK Andy, could anyone beside you or Sinopa find him?” The only fair answer was no! Andy stood and deliberately walked twenty yards down slope then found a stick on the ground. Deliberately steeping on it producing a loud snap, he broke right fast and silent. Keying up the sub-vocal mic,

“Magic, he’s behind me. Dumb shit has guts for sure.”

“Reaper, Magic; how are you sure?”

“I cheated. No way a Normal could have found him, I had to let him by shit, he’s too good not to.”

“Reaper, Angel: I have to ask. How good is he?”

“Gabe, I cheated hard. I think maybe Wildcat or Magic might have found him – they would have been cheating to do it though. Hell, Sin and Chavez would have had a time of it.”

“Reaper, Magic; you realize that you have to beat that Honor Code into our kids don’t you?’

“Magic, Reaper; please don’t remind me. Set it up this guy’s going to make it.”

Dripping muck and shivering Lew crawled up the ridge line inches at a time. His eyes always focused on the military crest. Suddenly a pair of boots landed in front of his nose and the Parade Ground voice of MCPO Gabriel Benjamin roared out, “Stand Up Academy Boy and look behind You!”

DeWalt stood shakily and turned, behind him was a white line on the ground he had not even seen, even though the chalk from it decorated his knees and elbows. Behind that line stood the figure of General Andrew Stuart.

“Stare at that line Candidate, for no one who has ever failed to cross it has ever worn this Patch and as you live and breath you must never allow anyone to do so. Tag him Master Chief!”

Lew felt himself spun and the right hand from Hell exploded into his left chest. As he hit the ground he heard a chorus of, “Welcome Nug!”

Looking down he saw the Patch upon his chest. Marina Stuart knelt down awkwardly and said, “I could have had Kurt come to do the post-mission Medical. But, this one is personal. I know why you did this and where you want it to go. Just remember, if you break her heart; don’t worry about Andy, Gabe or any other Male. You worry about me. Kat is the Sister I never had. Think about it Son!”


Andy was sitting in the den of Stuart House with a breakfast in front of him when Lew stumbled out from the Guest Room / Medical Holding Room. “Damn Tools, it really is possible for a human to sleep for 48 straight hours. Dig in there’s plenty here, Mariana was checking on you.”

Lew stopped in his tracks, “Tools, who the hell hung that on me!”

Andy just had to laugh, “Well you don’t get to pick your first call sign, it gets hung on you. There are a couple of us who remember the DeWalt brand.”

Lew snorted, “I just wish I had been remotely related to that very distant branch of the Family. I know it’s breakfast but, do you have any booze around here. I think I deserve one as a jump start.”

“Back Corner Tools, if you wear that Patch you never have to pay for booze here. Unless Mariana flags you for Medical reasons and the Green flag is up for you. Ready to hear the second reason I wanted to see that Patch on you?”

“Yeah, I know the first reason. Cripes, I did not know the whole gang was so hung on Kat. I am afraid Magic is going to shoot me if we have a fight.”

“Nope, that ain’t gonna happen. Tools you should be around for some of our fights. Leave Kat in the dirt because you are an asshole and you might need to start looking over your shoulder. Of course there is always the fact that a flat out asshole would not be sitting where you are.”

Lew sat over his drink for a long pause, “You found me didn’t you?”

Andy likewise paused over his coffee, “Yeah and only two and a half people in the Universe we know could have. Sinopa and I for sure, Chavez maybe. But we were out there to evaluate, not destroy. You are good never doubt it. So good that Ash wants you to finish getting your Deep Space Wings and take over as the XO of Assault Squadron. Lord knows we need a good one as Jai and John seem hell bent on populating Alchibah all by themselves. The current XO don’t cut it and I can not convince Hunter to take it.” Andy said grinning over his cup.

“Yeah Right,” Lew laughed, “OK, I am in for that. Just I need some time to figure out my private life!”

“Oh Hell,” Andy laughed, “I figure you have around 15 years. Take your time, Kat is probably going to slow you down a bit. Hell. You thought your Q-Course was tough!

“But, here is where I find out how honest you are. In your considered Military Opinion, how should the First Battle of Alchibah have come out?”

“With all due respect General, we should have kicked your ass! You only had one ship that could even scratch the paint on Deathfang, the F-91’s were heads up with your MK-IVs and outnumbered you. Without the interference from the PD and the Dumb Ass Rogon’s we would have won.”

“Precisely Major, that is why here is your background task no matter what your real job is. What do we need to do to stop the next threat? Anyone around here who has any kind of Staff experience is going to be thinking about that. You figure out what we need and I will build it. My greatest fear is something I have not thought of!”


The next morning Lew walked into the dining room at Hanna’s Place. The Black and Silver uniform was still stiff and new. The gleaming patch upon his chest drew stares from the room. At another table Andy, Mariana, Ash and JoAnn frantically started typing on wrist comps as the pool began building. He walked to the table where Kathryn Jamos sat slumped over her breakfast. “OK Kat, what else do I have to do?”

Kat’s jaw looked like it was trying to hit the table as the contents of her fork fell back to the plate, followed loudly by the fork. Mariana almost convulsed as she watched Kat’s mouth move repeatedly without a sound.

The room suddenly became deathly quiet as Lew turned towards Hanna, “If you don’t mind, I’ll have what she’s having,” as he eased his obviously sore body into the chair opposite Kat.

As one of the Palmtree arrivals who had found a job at Hanna’s, came out with the plate and mug he slowly leaned back. A devilish grin came over his face, “The ball’s in your court woman!”

For Kat it seemed like a lifetime before she could make her mind work, she and the other females had made many jokes about bad proposals but here was one in her face. She knew one thing, Lew had gone through hell for her.

Part of her was scared but for the first time it was not fear of loss, it was fear of inadequacy. What if she was not worth what he had done? She could only think of a line from JoAnn, “Sometimes it just comes down to do you love him, if so frack it and go for it.”

“Ah…….Ah…….Ah……,” Kat grabbed a swallow of her coffee wishing for something stronger. “I guess we have a wedding to plan.”

From the Clan Stuart table came the voice of Ash Andrews, “And the winner at 4 minutes and 26 seconds is…… Awww Dammit, Hanna Parker.”

Most of the room turned to see Hanna’s victory dance behind the bar, “Reception is on me,” she whooped.

Meanwhile Back on Earth

Posted in Recovery by Andrew Stuart

Galbraith Lyon strode into the underground bunker obviously confused. “Sure and dammed Rafe, what be going on?”

“Well first Gal, you can drop the dammed Brogue. I know that you speak clear common English.’

“Sorry Rafe,” Galbraith replied, “the act becomes the person sometimes. What do we have?”

Rafael Scott grinned back. “Hell and Damnation it seems. Everything is down save for the old Ham Radio operators and they are telling a tale beyond belief. They claim the UNCCC and Point Murgo are holes in the ground; also we have lost contact with every Geosynchronous satellite that you would care to name. The UNWG Security Conformation Service is gone. Not just down but gone. It seems that the Hammer of God has landed on the UNWG and if the last messages are to be believed, we are a 100 Million richer.

“Not to mention that five minutes after the communications blackout started, we got this message from somewhere out in the belt on a old Morse Code Amateur Cypher.”

“Emerald Isle Pass to the Lion from Green Mountain

‘The Bairns have fled, The Angel watches over.
Their Hurts shall be healed for the Magic is upon them.
The Butcher and the Reaper are drinking buddies.
The Clan never Named, shall never Fall.’

This site will burst encrypted in two days on Relay 1; Freedom Lives!

End It.


Rafe leaned back and asked, “Why in the hell was he being so cryptic and then stick his name there in the clear?”

The man called “The Lion” just leaned back and grinned. “Because Connor Benjamin does not care who in Hell knows he sent that. The question is what does the rest mean, I have one guess. The Green Mountain reference means Gabriel and Kathryn made it.”

“I can fill in the Reaper, my last tour before I blew out the knee was with the SSEAL’s. I worked for a COL Andrew Stuart call sign Reaper, his partner was a blackballed MD call sign Magic. I think Kearns was her last name. I know they retired rather than go UNWG, think Hamilton might have recruited them?”

“Well Rafe, that would surmise that the reported deaths of those two would have to be a lie; especially as they were married by that time. You don’t mean the UNWG would lie to us do you?”

Rafe’s only reply was an extended finger salute.

“Sean, dig into that database and find out who the Commander of the Alchibah Expedition was.”

Sean O’Malley went to work on his definitely non-networked computer and had the answer in less than two minutes. “Commodore Hunter St. James Lion, more commonly called the Butcher of Ceres.”

“Well, “Lion said, “we know who did what but, do they have any idea the damage they have done? They have no way of knowing the changes in the Security System the the UNWG has put in since they left. Dear God but people are going to die!”

“Gal,” Rafe asked, “did they not have to fight the battle they knew? Look at what they hit, nothing that anyone would deny was a Military Target!”

“Yes Son, but they have no idea how the UNWG has tied the Civilian side up since they left. This is going to be far worse than I bet you they guessed at! Not to mention that Security will use this as an excuse to ‘Eliminate Undesirables’.”

“Boss, can’t we use that also to hide a bunch of people and claim they are dead?”

“Might work Sean, start digging up a plan.”


Posted in Recovery by Andrew Stuart

Alchibah, Stuart Compound, Spring Year Three.

I was sitting with my feet up in the first pair of boots that had not hurt my feet since the famous party when we first set down after The Raid. The Universe has no idea of the grief I have taken from Mariana walking up to take a swallow of my drink, getting one sniff of booze and throwing up on my boots. That was a hell of a way to announce that she was pregnant with our second set of twins.

At least it had sparked the research into the effects of Quickheal. Turns out that if you have two shots and you are Female, you are going to have twins. If you get three shots even if you were already pregnant, you are going to have explosive growth of the kids in the last two weeks. Alchibah giveth but, she puts problems in the way also.

At least we can now do adequate research unlike the early days when it was survive or else. The accounts of the deaths on Earth are frighting but, they are systemic to the fall of a totalitarian regime. Would we have done what we did knowing the result? What choice did we have?

At least the troops who participated have nothing on their souls, that burden lies on two people and two people only. General Andrew Stuart and Commodore Hunter St. James, for we were the Commanders who built that Battle Plan. Even we had underestimated the incompetence of the UNWG for the death toll had exceeded our worst case estimate. In fact we think that the UNWG used the excuse to eliminate some classed as “Undesirable”.

At least in the Alliance of Free States or the Free States Alliance depending on who said it; the death count had been low to non-existent depending on the region. Proof of the incompetence of a totalitarian state. Still those deaths were going to live on mine and Hunter’s souls. We send as much aid as we can but, even with our advantages we must be discrete. The idea was to stay hidden after all.

We have the Molecular Beam Epitaxy rigs running up in the spin axis of Mayflower, Hibbs and Chandler can smell money even if they are eggheads. We will turn out copies of the array in around 60 days. After that our computer capability will expand by leaps and bounds. Steel and precision tools plants are running full speed and they are pouring out civilian needs. For once the military needs take back seat. Even at that we will start construction of the first home built space ship next year. Ash is gloating over that.

War and the Military are definitely back burner now. Expansion, growth and exploration are the order of the day. Sharon St. James has Mariana and the Lab staff running doing micro-biology for her as she does the work in the sea that Kara and Summer are doing on the land.

I am happy just building things for a change and the habit we developed of backing anyone who had a viable business idea is paying off. This place is developing a buzzing economy and anyone who can’t find something to do just is not looking. There are a couple of female Marines from Hunter’s crowd who have a booming daycare business and they don’t plan on going back to fighting. Good for them!

If someone had asked me a few years back what my idea of heaven was, the answer would have looked a lot like this!


Posted in Recovery by William Bartlett

Alchibah - Northern Spring - Year Three:
   Janie and I were relaxing on the quarterdeck of our schooner the Bluenose. Winter had broken very early this year and it was quite warm already. Our two oldest children, Tammy and Karl, were happily underfoot, and whenever we weren’t watching them ran off to play in the ships rigging. It would be another year before we would let them go aloft without a safety belt and lanyard. They both complained but to no avail, and we kept videos of the complaints and of the slips and falls. These might prove good ammunition to keep them in line in a few more years, but more likely not.

    The Jeep and EmyCee took care of all the sail duties and just now, in the light breeze, we were making little more than steerage under a single foremast topsail. We weren’t in any kind of hurry, but would be in a couple of hours unless the breeze kicked up as predicted. I would have sent the bots down below to crank us along a little faster if Janie hadn’t said, “You do that Bart I will be going down to help them. They need to get the sun and fresh air too.”
   It didn’t make any sense to me but I loved her for the thought.

   We never spent a lot of time talking about the past, too many things to worry about in dealing with the future, but today was an exception as it was the third anniversary of our arrival, we called it ‘Landing Day’ and it was one of two holidays we introduced to our Alchibah calendar based on our experiences here. The other, ‘Victory Day’, was in honor of our fight for freedom from the Rogon/UNWG and in memory of those who lost their lives in the process.

   We were heading up river and were going to tie off at the Liberty dock in time for a full day of celebration, food, fireworks, and friends. I had been thinking about the cold rough trip down to South Alchibah just after the Rogons left us.

   When the Guardians threatened us over technical aid and interference in the South, it seemed using the Bluenose to go and pick up the Jeep and RoDan was our only option. That was a voyage to remember… Janie interrupted my thoughts and started to reminisce herself for a change. I paid attention without saying much, admiring the view, scenery and Janie both, when not watching the kids.

   “I was so glad when they came back from Earth without any casualties,” Janie said. “But I worry that all of the real hard edged fear we all felt at that time is somehow being softened, almost forgotten, and we will fail to remember it the way it was but instead how we glorify it. I guess choosing to forget is a more natural strategy. Who wants to remember the ultimate horror of war, the things that keep so many of us awake at night, and causes others to go marching without any thought to the sound of the drums.
   “The fear is lost on this new generation. Fighting for the right is one thing, something that needs to be done, at all times and in all places. But if you have never felt the fear,—fighting for glory, for what we call honor, for esteem and the respect of the regiment, can become a stand in for only fighting as a last resort, when all else has failed.
   “Should fighting always be a last resort? I can think of no reason why not. So long as the alternatives are known and the cost of not fighting to resisting oppression, is considered. But, the battle we fought, righteous and necessary as it was, happened without us doing anything to bring it upon ourselves. It was forced on us and we did what had to be done.
   “Now, with so much left to do here, lifetimes won’t be enough, there are already people who want to go through the second wormhole and see what’s on the other side.
   “I am all in favor of doing what we can to guard the gates but I just don’t see a need to take a chance on inviting problems.”

   “For now I have to agree with you Babe, but sometime down the road we are going to have to go and see what’s out there. The danger we don’t know about can kill us just as dead and a hell of a lot faster than the danger we are aware of. But enough worry for today, it’s good to be out on the water and even better we get a chance to talk about the past and remember old friends.”

   “Speaking of old friends both the Neilson brothers are going to be in town and I want to talk to Lars about chartering out the Bluenose. She needs to be worked and you and I never seem to find the time.”
   “There aren’t many who have the time or can afford to charter her Bart.”
   “Sure. I know that Babe, I just want to give a few people the chance to enjoy the ride. Someday we’ll want to redo or replace the Bluenose and it’s good advertisement for Pam and the boatyard. Lot of small craft on the blocks and there’s always maintenance but she needs something big to keep her from dwelling on the past like we are now!”
   “I intend to get with Hanna, Kara, and Mariana, and loosen that woman up a bit. With the ration of marriageable women to men as lopsided as it is she needs to start enjoying herself more and that is one way isn‘t it darling.” My dear wife did have a way with priorities.

   “Hold that thought Janie! The wind is finally picking up and it’s time I got busy. Jeep!! Lets get up some sail!”

   Half an hour later we tied up at the dock and went ashore. The people doing the rope handling were mostly new to the job but it wasn’t all that difficult so no problem. We could have tied off without any help. It was good to see that unlike last years try at a celebration, when the animosity was still running high, the majority of the people from the Earth ships pitched in with a will and not just to operate booths and make some extra credit from the preparations. Sure they did that but were participating in the festivities and enjoying them as well.

   The long Alchibah year was changing the way we thought about holidays and the way we scheduled them. Traditional Earth types, such as Christmas and Easter, we arraigned to have twice in an Alchibah year or at the same time, close as we could figure, when they would be celebrated on Earth. Alchibah specific dates we would keep to the Alchibah calendar. Due to being infrequent they seemed extra important and special. I liked that.
   We would work it all out in the long run, and planned on having a lot of years to make it work.

   Les Reye came out of retirement for one day and delivered a speech that was perfect in tone hitting all the right notes. Later in the evening, a bunch of us gathered at Hanna’s and just enjoyed ourselves, talking, drinking, and watching the fireworks, as Alchibah itself cooperated with one of the most spectacular auroras we’d seen all year. It was a night to remember.

The Lazy Days

Posted in Recovery by Richard Redmond

Alchibah Bay View
Spring, The Third Year

The building looked like a giant grey caterpillar half buried in the ground. The Colonials called them bubbles and hundreds had been set up at the end of the first winter when housing was in such short supply and it was still too early to cut timber.

On the Mayflower, slag left over from refining metals, had been heated to form glass and then foamed with nitrogen. The bubble sections had been cast in microgravity and then assembled on the planet, doors and windows were cut and the result was a strong though ugly, multi-use structure. Most families eventually built more conventional homes and the bubbles were put to other uses.

Hunter St James emerged from the door of one of the two such buildings on Bay View, his freehold. He had spent the afternoon inside helping Sharon cut up, and preserve all manor of sea creatures she had collected on her last dive. Sharon had filled the bubble with aquariums full of Alchiban sea life and a large and growing collection of specimens.

Her work to date had resulted in many discoveries beneficial to the colony. The latest was a dye-like compound in one of the sea plants, that apparently could cause dead or damaged Human nerve tissue to regenerate.

As He walked toward the main house he glanced back towards the forest at the other bubble, which served as a barn. There was nothing to be concerned about, and if there were, the two Labrador Retrievers accompanying him, Canis Major, and Canis Minor, would have noticed first.

A large war-bot stood motionless near the barn. An 8 ton torso on 3 meter legs, the War-bots weren’t much good for performing labor but unlike the GE-3’s brought on the Mayflower; war-bots could actively protect the human settlements. This one had killed a rumbler a couple weeks back, destroyed it really, a 25mm Oerlikon gun tears a rumbler up pretty good. For smaller pests like Slizzards the war-bot was equipped with a Rogon style plasma cannon. Each settlement had at least 2 of the hulking machines.

The main house was a rambling structure built of hand fitted natural stone and giant hewn timbers topped by a peaked roof of red tile. The girls had done much of the stone work. Wearing powered exoskeletons his teenage daughters had no trouble fitting the half ton rocks together like a puzzle, to form massive walls. The York twins had proven equally adept, as the two sets of twins happily competed with one another. Wearing an “exo” a teenage girl could do more work than any robot,

Hunter truly felt he had the most beautiful home on Alchibah. The sea crest settlement hugged the coast a hundred miles south of Liberty city. Nestled on a broad shelf between the ocean and the 1000 meter ridge that paralleled the coast, there were dozens of freeholds overlooking the ocean, and even more in the valley just over the crest. Jace and Emily York, had a farm nearby, where they raised turkeys, rabbits and little York’s, Guy and Carmen Anselmo were just a few miles further where they had by now the most children of any family on the planet.

Hunter sat on his porch and reached for a bottle out of the handy cooler. A gift from Andy Stuart; the whiskey was getting better each year.

A hundred yards of lawn gently sloped down to the edge of the cliffs, and the ocean beyond. Hunter and Sharon had planted trees on the lawn; Earth trees genetically modified to thrive on this different world. The beach below had been the source for most of the boulders that were used to build the house. Now the cleared beach was used to park the big aluminum “Mike” boat, with Sharon’s mini-sub on board.

As the sun dropped below the top of the mountain a shadow swept over the farm, the line of last sunlight racing east as the sun approached the true horizon. Across the darkening waters the straight edge of the eastern horizon was broke in several spots by distant islands. The waters in between, while not a true bay, enjoyed some shelter from the open ocean, and were now, as usual calm and peaceful.

In the winter all that changed; storms sent tremendous waves crashing against the 100 meter cliffs, but as winter set in, the pack ice prevented much wave action and the seas became calm again. In the bay, pack ice drifting in melted as a result of the heat produced by geothermal vents on the sea floor, these helped to moderate the temperature of the coastal estates. That same warm water attracted the Alchibah Sea monsters, larger than the pliosaurs of Earths Jurassic period, the 40 meter leviathans could often be seen leaping and cavorting in the open water.

It was in the early days of last winter when he began having dreams… dreams of a battle in space. Nightmare visions of being on an unrecognizable alien space craft. The crew around him were strange, but impossible to make out. It had taken Hunter many nights to realize that in his dream, he too was an impossible alien. By mid winter, he could take it no more. It was no problem finding volunteers to take out a dragonhead and go chasing after his dream.

The alien ship had been partially crushed when it impacted the asteriod in orbit around the gas giant Alchibah IV, and there it had waited for untold thousands of years. Hunter and the crew had spent a week studying the ice bound ship before heading home. There would be many trips back to the wreck and someday its secrets would be revealed, but for Hunter St James the bad dreams had stopped.

So much had happened these last few years, building Bay View and the new settlements, new families and projects, for so many, new lives. Several trips had been made back to Earth. Trade with the resistance was going great.

News from Earth was pretty grim; the best estimates put the death toll after the UNWG collapse at over 1 billion. Some parts of Earth had fallen back to the darks ages. The UN had become far more tyrannical than before, but there were large geographical areas where the resistance was in open control. The belt and Mars were free of Earth control and the Rogons didn’t seem to mind. Still billions live as slaves and it will be years before we can finally drive the Rogons away, then without the Rogons, the UN will fall and freedom will return.

Stars were beginning to be visible through the darkening sky. The dogs had run off, but were now returning with Sharon close behind. This had become a daily tradition, so there was no need for words, as she sat down and leaned against her man.

Tonight was more magical than most because the full moon Oliver was rising, as if, from the sea, much brighter than the Moon of Earth.
The silvery rays of moonlight caught the flowering trees in the most amazing way. Hunter and Sharon quietly enjoyed it all knowing it was a gift from God; the sea, the sky, the moon, and the cherry blossoms.

Did Someone Say Party Time?

Posted in Recovery by Andrew Stuart

Onboard the Deathfang Inbound to Alchibah

The party had started, Official or Unofficial; it was in full swing. Two disparate Military Forces were coming together in the best possible terms.

Strike Force was asking, “You slipped what past those idiots?” and Task Force was asking, “You blew up What?” Both sides slowly realizing that their respective Commanders had been working from one ornate and simple battle plan.

Sharon St. James had circulated like the Commanders Wife she was, regaling Task Force personnel with what she was starting to think of as the “Legend Of Jai Benjamin” as often as possible. Letting them know that Stuart had sent his best could not hurt. She paused to have her wine glass refilled as she listened to Guy Anselmo describe his first meeting with Strike Force.

“I was already out cold when they pulled me in and I thought the first gal was hard, then this LTC comes out and asks me if I was going to do anything stupid. She hated us and had as cold-blooded killers eyes as I had ever seen but, she was not going to be the one to break the rules.

“Then she goes down and shoots the Political Directorate off of the Commodores wife. Can I stay here please?”

Sharon laughed as she turned back into the press and spotted the one face she wanted to talk to, “Dr Kearns, oh I mean Stuart. Sorry I just now saw the name tape.”

“Hunter, you need to let me go down first in the MK-V’s and take the York kids with me. We will land at the temp. field up by the Fort, then move the temp. transponders down to the main field where you will have room. Take us about 15 minutes and there will be one MK-V on the main field.

“Be ready for me to ask you to delay slightly so the crowd can move down there.”

Hunter stared quizzically then said, “OK, I can do that but why?”

“Because, you just brought the key to the heart of Alchibah.” Grinned Andy, “And I know how to sell it.”

Five Hours Later

The MK-V’s came in in stack formation, Natasi and Glenda had peeled for the Mayflower right after Launch, so four came in and settled to the ground in perfect diamond formation.

Andy and Mariana Stuart piled out of the first bird and immediately ran for the second bird. They went up the ramp as LTC Jai Benjamin came off the ramp. “Hanna, did you get them here?” She asked in her best Parade Ground voice.

Emily walked up and said, “Yes Jai we are here what’s so important?” Jai just turned and yelled, “Come Here Turkey!”

The scruffily dressed male figure shuffled down the ramp until Emily could see his face, the scream of “JACE” almost deafened people close to her.

As the two figures grasped each other, Mariana and Andy came down the ramp piggy backing two young ladies whose clothes and foot gear were clearly not ready for Alchibah. “JJ,” said Andy, “these are your Nieces or Cousins or however you count relationships. Anyway they are Jace’s little Sisters, I think that makes them Family.”

As the cluster moved away Hanna came up and as the tears rolled from her eyes asked the question that everyone wanted to know, “How did you do that Andy?”

Andy shifted to that carrying Command Voice, “I didn’t Hanna, Hunter did. He did not order someone to do it, He did not ask someone to do it. He went and did it himself.”

30 Minutes Later, Main Landing Field

Guy Anselmo guided Revenge down toward the marked landing zone, it seemed to be surrounded by what the Colonists called Jumpers. “Sir, are we going to be attacked?”

Hunter St. James was grinning in relief, “Major DeWalt, if you can find anyone in this crowd who can manage to pay for a drink tonight; please send them to me. They have a Career in Intelligence in front of them. Sharon, what did Andy sell these people?”

His wife grinned, “According to Mariana, it was going to be nothing but the bare truth. Funny how that works around people like you two!”

The Book of Jedediah

Posted in Recovery by Jedediah Dobswell

Alchibah: Southern Winter - The Second Year

From out of the wilderness came the Serpent,
and the tribe of the Serpent was powerful,
and the venom of the Serpent was strong.
As was prophesized: We met them on a great plain.
And left their bones to rot.

I shall speak for my son, and in his own words,
as they were spoken to me,
and as he spoke to the Almighty.

Jedediah 25.1-2

“I have taken over the day to day direction of my people. For I now call the Leviticans my people. Ever since my father Jedediah withdrew so completely from normal society and took to leaving his studies only for high priestly duties, I have taken over from him. I know though, that we are the chosen of the Lord, and that I lead only by His grace, and I struggle to remain humble in His sight.”

“During the winter we live along the coast where the warm ocean currents moderate the temperature. My mother Miriam takes care of the domestic needs of our section of the camp. Hosham, of the Agorah, handles the details for the ever so much larger native encampment. Life is pleasant and the days are temperate, but it is much, much, colder, even a few dozens miles inland around the Crater Lake’, which is where the four remaining Rogons must live and are restricted to.”

“Sister Helen now attends to me and my needs for we have wed. The Agora brought her back from whence the Rogons left her when they fled from the Lords’ judgment. Father gave his blessing; with her husband dead there could be no shame, and thus it was fitting. My wife is even quieter than before her first husband’s death, but after all she has been through her faith is unshakeable. She is several years older than I, and perhaps for that reason I find her a calming influence.”

“Not calming at all times by any means. She was already with child when she returned to us, and gave birth to a son five months later, a boy we named Seth. She is with child again, for we have both accepted, and I have learned the meaning and spiritual nature of Gods commandment to be fruitful and multiply.”

“Sister Martha stays at the Crater Lake and lives alone. She is in overall charge of mining operations and handles most dealings with those in the North. Outwardly she adheres to the faith, but I can sense she no longer holds it in her heart. I pray for her and make sure she gets copies of all of my sermons delivered by Soessossin or my sister Ruth, for we have given up all forms of electronic communication. I fear that Ruth is influenced over much by Sister Martha, but this she may outgrow, and there is no other woman near her age that she might talk to.”

“By insisting we maintain our simple life on this continent the Guardians were acting as an agent of the Lord.”

“The Rogons take care of keeping the simple equipment at the mines operating and they are quite useless when it comes to deciding such things as scheduling or expansion. The Llamas are being trained in these matters and soon I hope the Rogons will not be needed for anything. I at first tried to show them the Truth in order to save their souls, but it seems quite hopeless. Perhaps in time.”

“Of Soessossins, only the most devout are permitted to work at the mines for the temptation to evil is much greater there than in the countryside and the wilderness where the Word of God is more plainly heard.”

“We do not as yet have all of the tribes on a firm path to salvation. The Yelsig are still holding out in mass. I think it is by virtue of their former direct relation to the Guardians that pride will not admit has ended. And of the Guardians, we have not seen nor heard anything. They may be well and truly gone.”

“In time it is inevitable, that all on this planet embrace the true faith, and the Kingdom of God must encompass all men. I shall devote the rest of my life to making it so.”

And my tears did water the desert,
and bring forth the desert bloom,
and even, I sayeth, cause rivers to overflow their banks.
When I wept in ecstasy; a witness to Aaron’s faith,
I was at peace.

Jedediah 25.34

Resignation and Rebirth

Posted in Recovery by Les Reye

Alchibah - Northern Summer - Year Two:

“I’ve done it Judith, told the other council members I resign and will not stand for reelection.”

“How did they take it dear?”

“Well, nobody cried but they all understood. It’s hard to imagine how far we’ve come in the last year. We have spent so much time just getting by and I spent too much time worrying that my initial involvement with Jack the Blade would come back to haunt me. It still could but I don’t really think so, too much water under the bridge. He’s dead and Burt Buchanan too; there was a truly evil man, but some how we survived and so did most of the rest of us.”

“Any idea who is going to run to take your place?”

“Don’t know and don’t particularly care. Our farm came through pretty well. Sure, we slaughtered and ate almost all of the older animals but we have a little breeding stock left and enough of the new births lived that we will be busy enough. We can always go out and get some more unicows and alchelos but we are owed a lot of tube time so we can get more of the real human cows going as well. And the pigs are doing better than just fine.”

“You know what I really worry about–don’t you Les?”

“I am afraid I do dear, but I think we have lost him, Mike isn’t going to come home again to stay after he marries the Seaworth girl.”

“What do you think he will do?”

“If I had to bet on it I’d say he is going to stay in the reserves and go off and work for Bartlett and Fortson. That march they made after the shuttle crash last year was his defining moment. Even more so than the fight against the Rogon. Now with it agreed we need to spread out and not just add on to Liberty City his experience in the wilderness will pay him back over and over again.”

Les had been writing up his notes from the days work and the lack of response to his last statement caused him to look over at his wife. She was sitting quietly knitting something for a small child and a tear was sliding down her cheek from a corner of one eye. Les said nothing else and continued with his data entry.

All that Les predicted did come to pass. Mike did spend the early part of the summer getting the farm back into shape but right after the wedding he and Laura, along with a few dozen of the new arrivals went eastwards a couple of hundred miles into the heartland of the continent and on the shore of a large inland lake began laying the groundwork for a new city.

Fortson went out to supervise for the month and he took the portable sawmill out with him. That one unlike the large new permanent high capacity ‘Bartlett and Fortson’ mill at Liberty was still owned by the colony as a whole. When Joe returned to Liberty City Gene Washburn came out to finish Mike’s training and shortly Mike and Laura were left in charge of the mill.

By virtue of being original colonists, Mike and Laura each had a bot of their own. Mike called his R. Fletcher after one of the two Nash bots that that were destroyed when Karl died in the ruins of the First Inn. A long way from the ocean they were, but the lakeshore would have to do. Laura had her own bot, R.Pops, and she never lacked for something to keep it busy.

The township labor pool still had thirty unassigned bots but they were spoken for and as the children of the founders grew older, there would come a time when that pool would be no more. A dozen got sent out to help set up the new town but there was still so much work left to do in rebuilding Liberty City that most were working on that. And the town was getting rebuilt and surprisingly rapidly. The new Township Hall, along with Hanna and Jules’ First Inn and the Church, were already completed. Very close, near exact, copies of the originals and that was something to be glad about and a remembrance for all who had worked so hard on the originals.

The rest of the town, laid out with the same plot plan was considerably different. The construction materials were the same, timber and stone, but even with what had been destroyed what was on the UN Colony Ship and brought back from the raid on Earth gave them a higher tech base than they had started with that first year. All except for the robots.

There were some robots that came along with the newbies but they were all a much simpler model, without the AI enhancements Hamilton had paid for. The kind that any well to do person on Earth might have owned. They helped a lot but without even a hint of initiative, they took constant supervision and except for the most basic jobs, like weeding, loading and unloading production equipment, and the like, could be more trouble then they were worth. There had been some grumbling and unavoidable jealousy between the two groups and Les was becoming more and more certain there always would be. Human nature doesn’t change with distance from Earth.

“Who are you knitting for these days Jude?” Judith unlike a few of the older women had turned down the option of having more children naturally and they hadn’t even volunteered to take one of the first from the incubators. Too many wanted that chance and it wouldn’t have been right to use his position as Council President.

“Why am I not surprised you had to ask Lester?” his wife said but not disagreeably. Even with all of the work to do to keep the farm going she had been very cheerful the last couple of weeks. “It’s for Mike and Laura. They haven’t said anything yet, but I knew as soon as I saw her last week. We are about to become grandparents.”

Money for Nothing

Posted in Recovery by Shintok

Alchibah - Southern Spring - Year Two:
Shintok; elron-A was relieved the winter was finally over. Along with his broodmates argo, huk and teth, he found the long winter spent underground, sleeping and dreaming but for a day or so every month, when he got up to eat and eliminate accumulated metabolic waste byproducts, extremely unsatisfying. On balance he was glad he lived but worried that as more time went by without contact with others of his race that his opinion on that matter might change. His broodmates seemed happy enough.

For a week after the SwiftStrike left in such a hurry leaving them stranded all of them felt complete and total despair. They had their weapons and the skimmers, and a mostly empty continent, so no matter what, with food of all types so plentiful, in the short term they would eat. But they couldn’t plan on holding out, stopping capture or worse, if the Humans, or even the Soessossins made an issue of their presence. And if they tried to hold the ponies to their proper place they were sure to be noticed and dealt with sooner rather than later. It was the accursed and hated Guardians that indirectly provided the reason they still lived.

A robot, a certain R. JP, located them several days after the SwiftStrike departed and left them stranded. In their distraught condition they did not point a weapon in its direction as it approached. All the robot did was drop off some communications equipment and demonstrate its use. The robot left heading towards the sea. Using the com gear some days later a deal was struck.

When the Guardians banned any kind of advanced technology on South Alchibah the Rogons were granted a reprieve, of sorts. The Humans in North Alchibah wanted and needed the mineral wealth from around the Crater Lake and the Human Leviticans had no desire to aid them in acquiring it. The Rogon’s might not know much about much, but they did know about extracting mineral wealth from a new and to them hostile planet. So that was the basis of the deal: In return for operating the mines and overseeing as many Soessossins as they could enlist to help start and work them, elron and his broodmates would live.

All things considered it wasn’t a bad deal, but it was so much worse than elron, as a Rogon, would normally expect or experience, that he had no words to express his frustration. Even to think about what he felt compelled to do, figure out a way to get off this planet and back to his people on the Rogoss caused him no end of internal conflict. His broodmates always agreed with whatever he said when he talked about the situation at hand but they seemed for the most part very happy with it, not understanding at all the ridiculous nature of their position and wealth.

When not working at the mines they spent hour upon pleasant hour, watching the few percentage points of gold and other non radioactive minerals they kept skimming of the top build up in the storerooms in their underground home. With out a thing to spend any of it on but low tech trinkets the amounts were staggering, and utterly meaningless.

None of the Human Leviticans ever came to the mine diggings other than to mark their own share. Ten percent of whatever came out went to the church as a prerequisite for doing business, the rest went to pay for labor where another the percent was given to the church. That money was used to trade with North Alchibah for whatever they desired, the Humans never seemed to want anything but low tech.. Often ornamental items for the churches they were now having built. Sometimes hand tools and cloth and building supplies.

The Soessossins doing the actual mining were a mix of religious and not. After a time all those in the not category seemed to migrate to the other side. To elron the whole thing was a bunch of nonsense but something he had to put up with. They were all pretty sharp and hard workers to boot; those eating meat almost as large and strong as a Rogon,. He often remembered how good they had tasted, cooked or raw, the memory was delicious, but he had to purge the thought as quickly as it occurred. A lot of meat in South Alchibah but none of it was Soessossin anymore.

And yes, they were getting rich, as rich as the highest Broodmaster, but without females and descendants, or much of anything they hadn’t already purchased to spend the profits on, there didn’t seem any practical reason to care about a storeroom full of gold. He made himself a vow to do anything required to get off planet; even go to the north continent and work for the Humans if that would make it possible. He would not tell his broodmates about this decision, the part about working for the Human, until and unless he had a chance to make it become real.

Shintok; elron-A was not certain he would join with the Humans, and if he did it would only be a temporary measure, but he saw no other way to get off planet again and perpetuate his family line. The Humans had the kind of spacecraft that could manage that if he could ever get hold of one. What his broodmates didn’t know would cause them no harm and they couldn’t reveal, so he spent a lot of time dreaming, working on a plan, and waiting for a break.

Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Probably.

All Contents (written or photo/artwork) not attributed to other sources is
Copyright (C) 2006 - 2011 by Jeff Soyer. All rights reserved.