Colonist Diaries for Chapter:
6. Town Meeting.

Warning: Town Meeting

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Reporter

Colony Meeting
on Day 7, at 8:00 AM
Community Center (U1)
All colonists of legal age (not yet established,) are hereby notified and warned to meet at the Community Center (town meeting house) on Day Seven at Eight AM to transact the following business not involving voting by secret ballot except for the actual voting at the conclusion of the meeting.Articles of Business:

1. To appoint a moderator for town meetings for a period of one Alchiban year. Captain Travis will conduct this point.

2. To decide on a form of “government” by our town, whether by Mayor, Council, Select Board, Republic, or some other plan. To decide upon a “term” of offices and whether that term is renewable or is a “term limit.” As an example, we could decide on a lottery system where people serve for only one Alchiban year (about three Earth years).

3. To decide on how those town “officials” will be selected, whether by vote, lottery, or some other means.

4. To decide on a “legal age” for colonists.

At 10 O’Clock, Mid Day, we will adjourn for two hours for lunch and private discussion among colonists. Town meeting will resume at 2 PM (Two hours past Mid Day) to continue the Town Meeting.

5. Before voting on who will lead us, we will decide as a group upon a monetary or barter or other system to establish how we will be rewarded for work done, goods provided or bought, and so on.

6. To decide upon a fair system to recognize claims to land; to establish a system of homesteading, land allocation, and property rights.

7. Nominations for what ever positions had been decided upon during article 2. Any nominees must agree to abide by the decisions of the colonists regarding the previous articles.

8. By “Australian Ballot” which means a secret vote, with votes going to The Reporter
we will elect our government.

Finally, regardless of time of day or night, we will adjourn for a feast to celebrate Colony Meeting Day and our selected form of government.

6. Town Meeting — What’s in a Name?

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Historian

Day 7
. . . Travis continued, “The first order of business is to choose a town moderator. This is someone who will simply run the meeting, and any future meetings, for one year, or until the next town meeting involving elections. It’s not considered a position of authority other than to maintain order in the meeting itself. Rocco and I will assist as temporary “sergeant-at-arms” if things get out of hand. So,” he paused, “Are there any nominations?”

There were a few but in the end, almost by default the job went to Historian himself. Travis and Historian switched places and Historian looked out almost sheepishly and said, “I would like to start off with one item not listed in the warning. Could we, perhaps, give this town of ours a name?”

There was some laughter from many and potential names began to fly.

At this point, I, as the Historian, am going to switch the proceeds of the Town Meeting to individual recordings as each piece of business is considered. . .

I said to all, “So, what shall we call this wonderous new city, the birthplace of our future history?”

6.1 Town Meeting — Limits of Government

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Historian

Town Meeting, Continued…

“I think we’ve reached a consensus here,” the moderator, Historian said, “and one, I might add, that I am most pleased with. Henceforth, we declare to the heavens and to all who come here in the future — invited or uninvited — that the founding fathers have declared this town to be the City of Liberty!”

There was a round of grateful applause and cheering from almost everyone in the Town Hall.

“Now…” he continued, “Comes the interesting part!” — some laughter — “Article Two considers the form our government might take. I know that Captain Travis worked several hours with The Reporter to come up with the agenda for this meeting and I tip my cap — if I was wearing one — to them.”

“Uh-oh,” Travis was heard to say, “I suspect a big ‘but’ coming up.”

“Well,” Historian said, “It’s a little like putting the cart before the horse. I believe something has been left out.”

Travis smiled and said, “Probably a lot has been left out…”

“Yes,” Historian said, “With all due respect, Captain, you are a starship commander. There, your authority is absolute. You make the rules and you enforce them. Here on our new world, in our town called Liberty, things won’t be all that black-and-white. Before we can decide on a government and who will be that government, we need to decide upon what we want that government to do for us. Or not.”

There was general murmering amongst the colonists and even Travis was nodding in agreement.

Historian paused until it was quiet again and then said, “What do we as a people expect from our new leader or leaders? What are they responsible for and what are they not responsible for? What is their purpose? Their job description? What are to be the limits of the powers of our new government? When do we want them to stay the hell out of the way?”

There were some titters and discussion between the colonists, especially from the group where the Reyes, Buchanan, and Jack the Blade were holding court.

Historian continued, “Perhaps, before we hand over the keys to the ignition of our town, we’d better hand them a well-marked map so they don’t stray off the road. I think a simple constitution or bill of rights is in order!”

Buchanan rose and said, “Listen, Mr. Moderator, maybe you have all the time in the world to chat about this stuff but some of us have work to do!” There were nods and scattered applause from his crowd.

Ash said, “Really, Buchanan? You’ve actually decided to do some work?” Much laughter followed.

Historian rapped the makeshift gavel and said, “If you need to be somewhere, Mr. Buchanan, don’t let us keep you. As for the rest of us, for as long as it takes, I open the floor to discussion.”

6.3 Town Meeting — Select Choices

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Historian

Now, Article 3: How shall we select that council? By nominations and a vote? By lottery?

The floor is open to discussion.

Lunch Break

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Captain Travis

Day 7, Mid-Day

As the morning session of Town Meeting broke up, I walked over to Historian and said, “You surprised me! I thought you’d support having one of us represented on the council.”

He smiled and said, “I do, but it won’t do to rile up the natives so early in the day. Things will work out, you’ll see.”

We walked out together and Andrew Stuart came up to me. Historian drifted off…

This Should Have Been a Smoke Filled Room!

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

As Histy called for the lunch break, I held back from leaving until Travis was walking by me.  “Travis, if you will meet me in Hanna’s place in about five minutes I owe you a drink as I recall.”  I took his puzzled look and nod as a yes.

Making a speed run to the tent, I grabbed the full bottle of Ash’s donated Beam Daniels Grand Reserve and headed for Hanna’s Place.

Entering through the side flap, I saw Travis coming in the front entrance.  “Hanna, ice and glasses are all I need please!”  She handed me a bucket and two glasses with a questioning look, I just gave her a grin and a nod in Travis’s direction; her look showed even more confusion.

Walking over I said, “Glenn, as promised I am buying.”  Again that nod we had all come to know as agreement!

I sat down at a table in the farthest corner put some ice in a glass and poured three fingers of booze, then gestured at Travis.  He moved over took a glass with ice, poured himself about three fingers and gestured with the glass.

“Sorry to have hit you that way about Military separation but, it headed off some crap I was hearing at Buchanan’s table.  To be honest, there have to be some differences between the ground and space environments just to be safe!  Care to discuss me backing two cities; Liberty, Alchibah and Mayflower, Alchibah?”

Travis took a slow pull on his drink, thought a moment, and then said, “Here’s the thing, Andy, a ship – even one the size of the Mayflower, can’t be a democracy.  It just can’t and never in the history of all ships, water bourn or space bound has a democracy worked.  Oh, I captain with the lightest of touches but in the end, I have to be the final decision maker, arbiter of disputes, and sometimes, as was needed on the voyage here, cop, prosecutor, judge, and jury.

“Now,” he continued, “We have every intention of doing our best to protect you folks because firstly, you’re our friends and secondly, it’s in our own interests.  What threatens you threatens us. And we will work with you to those ends, without asking for anything in return.

“But realistically, our society will never resemble yours on the planet and just as we cannot – should not – presume to tell you how to run your town, so too, we need autonomy to run our lives as we see fit.”

It was my turn obviously, “I could not agree with you more Glenn, what we have to do is head off the idiots who do not understand Command Authority or why it is absolutely necessary.  So if you agree I am going to go back into that meeting and propose a Federal type system.  The council we are discussing is the Federal level and Mayflower has to be represented.  Then each city-state Liberty and Mayflower have their own councils and sets of rules!  How you have to gig a crewmember for leaving an air-tight hatch open should be none of our business.  Just as how we have to convince a ground bunny not to go out of protected areas without something big enough to drop a slizzard is our problem!

“Anyone who can even begin to understand the concept of a gravity well is going to realize that the bulk of the defense for Alchibah is going to have to come from Mayflower.  However, we don’t want the ground dwellers worrying about that.  They are going to have to learn their own survival skill set as I am afraid many of them do not understand how hostile a frontier can be!

“We are going to need each other but, we don’t need to be in each others business!”

“Exactly,” Travis said, “And that is why, from a governmental sense of things Mayflower and Liberty need to be considered as separate entities.  I’m sure that trade between the two of us will be profitable for both.  For instance,” and he paused, giving Stuart a pointed look, “I’m hoping you will support a little proposition I will make to the town leaders once land issues are decided.  In exchange for the four lifeboats – converted to have much greater range, shielding, and such armaments as we can currently provide, I’m hoping the colony will grant us a few acres of land in your town.  After all – I can’t very well deny my crew the occasional shore leave.

“There are many things that each colony can trade with,” he continued, “For instance, we will certainly welcome fresh foods, once your agriculture is up and running.  And it would be nice to have some real wood to work with here – if just to panel the cold steel walls of our ship’s cabins.  In exchange, we can provide the H3 and deuterium needed by you all to run those ships.  To that end, by the way, Hibbes is working on a safe storage system for fuels that can live by the landing area.”

Travis paused to finish off his drink and then said, “Also, until you folks have your own foundry going, we will, with our modest one, be able to provide steel goods for you once the fitting of the lifeboats is complete.”

I leaned back and finished my drink, “Might as well take a refill with you.  People generally trust someone with a drink in their hand to not be up to skullduggery.  As to your proposition, we are going to be the two halves of a whole.  I can see that as equivalent to a New York corporation having a resort in Arizona for their employees.

“Now if you will excuse me, Captain, I have to go play some backroom politics.  While we were on the Mayflower, I had a chance to return the favor and dig into your records.  In my opinion if there is a better, man alive to become Commander (Space) for Alchibah.  I have never met him!  Have a good day.”

Apologies, apologies, who needs apologies?

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Benjamin Family

Em and I were eating at Hanna’s, just sitting and chatting. Town meeting had just adjourned for lunch. I was really enjoying it (town meeting, that is – the lunch was just so-so). I remember going to a couple when I was a kid, with the whole family. That was back when grampa was governor, and me and dad and mom would go with him and gramma. Grampa was well respected, but at town meeting he was just another citizen, and he always said he wouldn’t have it any other way. And now we were making a government from scratch. Grampa would have loved this.

Anyway, back to what I was saying. Em and I were having lunch at Hanna’s while the twins were eating with dad and Kaiya. That was going to take some getting used to. Since mom died he hadn’t so much as looked at another woman. I want him to be happy of course, but the fact that she’s closer in age to me than to him is a little unsettling, I guess. All right, enough getting sidetracked.

So after a few minutes Lester Reye walked in the tent, obviously looking for something. Us, as it turns out. As soon as he spotted us he started walking over, though not particularly purposefully, stopping to chat with the few people who didn’t think he was a complete douche (he rather pointedly skipped Buchanan and Jack’s table though). Obviously he was up to something, but I doubted he was looking for another fight. You never knew though. I stood up as he got to our table.

“I assume you’re here to apologize?” I asked.

“Yes, yes. I don’t know what got into Burt. I’m just glad you stopped him before he did anything. And Jaisa, I know you did your best in cataloging the plants. It’s not your fault you missed a couple.” He wrung his hands. “I’m so sorry there was a misunderstanding about my intentions. I don’t blame you at all for overreacting when I started to correct Burt.”

“Liar.” Emily breathed, standing up. “You w-” I touched her arm. As she glanced at me I shook my head slightly and started talking.

“Of course, Lester. We both overreacted a bit. Let’s just call it a wash, all right? I’m really sorry if I hurt your wrist, and I appreciate you understanding about the plants.” I clapped him on the shoulder, gently squeezing a pressure point. He winced. “I’ll see you around, alright?” I turned around, sitting back down dismissively. Em took my cue and did the same.

“Why did you let him get away with that? We both know that he was going to shove me, at least. And now he just gets off the hook?” Emily asked, almost whispering. The tent was packed with everyone who just got out of town meeting and noisy as hell, and none of the slackers or snakes were near us, so I figured there was no harm in talking about this here.

“That’s the thing. You know and I know and so does my dad, but other than that that’s not what people saw. I realized what he was doing and reacted. Even the people looking right at us wouldn’t have been sure what happened. So now it’s the three of us and whoever believes us, which means Sinopa, the Stuarts, my family and your family basically. Maybe the Yamasaks, Kara, Joe, Bart and Janie as well, but that’s it. Beyond that as far as people are concerned I did overreact. The best we can do is downplay it and move on.” I laughed. “That’s not to say we can’t have a little fun with it though. I bet he’s fuming after we just dismissed him like that.”

“But…now you look like the bad guy.”

“Yup, and it’s my fault. If I had waited instead of just reacting everyone would have known what he was doing.” I shrugged, “Live and learn. I’m not used to all this politics crap.” I noticed Maylin and Liza coming over.

“What was that about?” Liza asked, putting her tray down and taking a seat.

“Reye just came over to ‘apologize,’” Emily said, obviously still smoldering.

“Ah. By your tone I assume the apology, um, wasn’t one.” May commented. Em nodded glumly. “Oh don’t worry about that little pissant bureaucrat. What goes around comes around, and that’s never more true than when you’re in the minority. And with this pit bull watching him,” she jabbed her thumb in my direction, “he ain’t gonna try nothin!” That prompted a giggle from Liza and an eye roll from me.

“Look, fresh meat!” May nodded towards Kaye, the white haired youth who got me to trip over my own tongue, the Reyes’ teen son Mike (who I had so far avoided meeting) and another boy (man?) I had seen around but not met yet. He was Asian and looked not quite twenty, probably six feet and you could just tell he was ripped even through his t-shirt. And handsome besides. May raised her hand to wave them over.

“No, don’t!” I hissed through my teeth, grabbing her hand down. “Kaye by himself is bad enough, but if both of them came over here at once I think my brain would just turn to mush! Oh god, they’re coming over.”

“Poor Jai. You could beat em up but you can’t talk to them. Aww.” May said. They laughed, while I turned red.

“I call dibs on the hottie,” May whispered, giggly.

“Which one?” Liza asked dreamily as they walked over.

“Mind if we join you ladies?” Kaye’s friend asked.

“Terribly, terribly. No, of course not! Take a load off.” May laughed. “I’m May, and let me introduce you to these lovely ladies of Liberty. This is Jai, the one with the temper – you may have heard of her,” she gestured towards me, “and this is Emily and Liza.”

“Ryu. It’s a pleasure to meet all of you. I think you already know who Kaye and Mike are.”

“G’day,” Kaye nodded.

“Hi,” Mike raised his hand awkwardly. “Don’t hold my parents against me, ok? They’re basically good people, but they’re in over their head. And I don’t know what dad just said to you just now, but he really is sorry for the other night. They sure managed to make a lot of people mad at them, so just pretend I’m an orphan or something, k?” I was expecting a mini Lester, but he didn’t seem all that bad, really.

“It’s good to meet you Mike. And you too Ryu.” Emily said. “I won’t hold your parents against you Mike, if you don’t hold their opinions against me.” She smiled.

We finished up lunch, talking about everything from what we’d been doing (sounds like Mike had actually helped out on the town hall, so he had one up on his dear old dad there), to where we had all come from to who we were thinking of voting for for the council. It looked like the voting age was going to be sixteen, which meant that all of us but Mike and Liza were going to be able to vote, and we weren’t taking the responsibility lightly. Buchanan and company might want to dismiss us as “kids,” but I think we get as well as anyone here the enormity of what we’re doing. We kids are going to be contributing members of our little society, whether everyone likes it or not.

Counting the Vote

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Les Reye

   “The apology went better than I thought it would.” I said to myself as I left the mess tent and walked over to the base of Windmill Hill where as expected Burt Buchanan was waiting. There were robots charging up on top but no one other than Burt within eyesight.

   “How’s it going Burt? Do I win?”

   “Gotta lock on it. Travis going public with his demand for a space jockey on the board will cinch it. Without him saying anything his candidate would have gotten ninety, ninety-five percent. Now he still gets some one on the council but he’s not a force with a huge block of votes to direct elsewhere.

   “Conner Benjamin gets some support but is not a sure thing. His daughter Jaisa will help to win a few votes and hurt with as many or maybe more. Those who figure it’s a lousy parent that has a wild child. His public positions from all the recordings our people have made in conversation with him, or when near enough to catch what he was saying to others, show him to be politically in about the same spot as your public persona. Using targeting software we have gotten position papers generated under your name directed at any that seem destined to vote for Benjamin. The people delivering them are naturally pointing out that two like minded people on a board can accomplish more than one. No one is organized against us so this is almost too easy.”

   “The Historians in… if he wants to be. Not sure he does though. Due to all his work in the E/A, the software, to coin a phrase, ‘Reads him like a book’. We’ll make sure everyone cross referenced as a natural supporter gets something from you showing similar opinions. He comes off fairly neutral and middle of the road at first glance but is actually a bit more complicate but for our purposes that is of little concern.”

   “What should have been a concern looks like it wont be. The small government types, almost half the population, aren’t putting up a fight. Neither Stuart, nor Bartlett, their strongest candidates have any interest in even running. Either or both of them would have gotten elected easily. As it is they will put up someone to act as a puppet who might not even make it. We will do what we can to get a few of those voters to go with us too. Originally I had planned to have proxies nominate a few more small government types to split the vote but the program says without a strong candidate to give em just one to vote for. Many in that camp who would once have given a vote to Travis will now send it our way.”

   “Damn! After this is over we really need to thank the good Captain for coming off as such an out and out authoritarian.”

   “There will be a few more fringe nominations. I even hear there is some support for Kara. We’ll get Jack the Blade up as a distraction cause he makes you look nice. Our hard core supporters will just vote for you and not even cast the rest of their votes thus limiting the total vote count an opposition candidate can receive. Before the nominations close we’ll know if we need to put up one or two more to insure the best mix for splitting up the rival parties and maximizing your count…. The key to this whole thing Les is that we are organized, and have the right political software. In politics organization trumps ideas every time.“

   “Burt you never cease to amaze me with your insight. If you had been running my campaigns back on Earth I would have been the Governor. I never knew those kinds of computer programs even existed”

   “You weren’t supposed to know they existed Les. And yeah your right about being Governor, but back on Earth you couldn’t have afforded me. Let’s finish this up. Here is a list of people you need to talk to between now and when the meeting reconvenes. And here is another for afterwards.”

   I took the papers, glanced at them then shoved them into my pocket. Burt was already heading back to the meeting area. I gave him a few minutes then followed.


Point Of Order

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

I moved away from the table where Travis still sat and tucked the bottle into the “Game Pouch” of my jacket. Moving to the bar I passed the ice bucket and my glass to Hanna!

Hanna reached for them and said,“My, but that seemed to go well.” I just nodded and said, “I have more in common with that man that anyone else on or around Alchibah. Command is a lonely place to be! Believe me, I know!”

I moved down the bar to where Histy was holding forth with several people I did not recognize. “Historian, if I may have a minute of your time?”

His surprised look was followed by, “Ladies and Gentlemen it seems business calls.”

He moved to an open table nearby and asked, “To what do I owe this sudden formality Col Stuart?”

“Well, Mr. Moderator. As soon as we reconvene, I would like to introduce a ‘Point of Order” to clarify where we are going here. As I understand the ‘Town Meeting’ concept ‘Roberts Rules of Order’ apply.”

His face cracked in a grin,”Why yes, I believe they do. If I might ask, did you and Capt. Travis come to some sort of accommodation.”

“Well Histy, R. J. damn sure would have known how much we have in common and yes I believe we did! So, do I get my Point of Order?”

“Well certainly but, if I may ask what has you so disturbed?”

“Sure Histy, the very life of Clan Alchibah; that’s all!”

As I turned to leave and ditch the bottle Ash came up. “Let’s get someplace quiet and talk.”

“OK, I was going to put this bottle up so mine and Mariana’s tent should do.”

When we got to the tent he said,”Somebody is running a phishing E-mail scam over the local net and I can’t crack it. It’s damn good and it’s firmware on somebody’s device.  It’s seems like nothing that would have been illegal even back on Earth.  But it has the feel of a well practiced Political Machine.  I don’t know what they are trying to do but, just as the ‘Town Meeting’ is going on. If it looks like a Rat and smells like a Rat, how far can Buchanan be behind it?”

I just stared, “So run a Traffic Analysis nexus on it and document where it came from! We can shove it up his rear later, from a Political standpoint!”

Ash flared up like a defensive Coon Hound, “Cause I don’t have that kind of computing power! Not with the array broken between the Astro search and Med Lab. All I can do is look like a dummy!”

I stood stunned, of course He did not know. “OK, Ash take this.” I said as I reached into my cargo pocket and pulled out the Granddad of the array. “Here, Mariana don’t even know this exists so keep your yap shut!”

He just looked at me and said, “Exactly how much of HP did you say you owned?”

Need to rest for a bit …..

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Hanna Parker

Well, now that it’s lunch break from the Town Meeting things sure have been hopping.  Between scrambling for ice, keeping an eye on all the backroom politicians and an ear to the ground for the inside story [can you imagine all the confidences entrusted to the barkeep!], I noticed that Jules looked wan and weary.  “Jules, how about if I have JJ and the girls cover while we grab a sandwich and cup of tea at the tent.”  When he agreed, we walked slowly and quietly to our soft-sided abode. 

“Hanna, I wasn’t going to say anything but I’m not feeling well.  I’m not sure what’s the matter.  But you must have already noticed, dear.  Thanks for getting me out of that din.” 

“Would you like to rest for a bit, sweetheart?  Maybe pulling watch last night and then jumping right into the meeting was a bit much for you.  May I ask Linda to have a look at you?  Maybe the shorter Alchiban days make some difference to your heart med.”

“Good idea.  You know, maybe I forgot to take my tablet last night.”  ……….

After Linda finished examining Jules, she said, “Dad, everything seems stable, and your vitals are fine.  Why don’t you lay low for the rest of the day, and if you feel any worse call me immediately.  I’ll send R. Flo over; what better nurse than Florence Nightingale herself! and we’ll spot check on you too.  Just to be on the safe side, I want you at the Lab tomorrow for a check up. 

And Mom, you should pace yourself.  No need running yourself ragged at the Inn; we’ll get more help for you.”

A Word in Edgewise

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by William Bartlett

Day Seven Lunchtime 00:07:11:40

“Janie and I were just finishing lunch. We had been able to eat outside because the weather was so perfect. Because of that we were there to see the Historian as he strolled along heading back to the Community Building. It looked to be twenty minutes before the meeting was set to resume, and as he passed by I said to him, “Hi Brice, got a minute?“

He glanced at his watch and said, “Sure Bart, why so formal, you only call me Brice when you want something.”

“Pull up a chair and I‘ll tell you.” I replied while pointing at a spot right beside us on the ground. As I watched him work a bit to settle down into place I was struck for the first time that he was old… I had never thought of him that way before but at 70 he was probably the oldest of all the Colonists.

When he appeared comfortable I continued. “Janie and I were thinking,… Well Ok Janie was thinking and I was watching, but when she was done I had to agree with her. Things are getting too much like they were back on Earth. How ‘bout you explain it Janie, just the way you told me?”

“Glad to Bart. I’ll just give you the basics for now Histy because I know the meeting will be resuming soon. Unlike Bart,” with a nod in my direction, “And it seems unlike many of the rest of the Colonists, I left Earth not because of a great wrong done to me or any of my family. On a professional basis I was outwardly doing rather well. But I felt stifled and always seemed to want to look behind me to see who was watching. It was the constant nag and sense of being over regulated and under the control of all the petty rules and authorities. I was dreaming and looking to find a place where I could do as I wanted most of the time. Sure I wanted to make a difference to those around me… yet not have to put up with the kind of regimentation and the ordering of every aspect of my life that was driving me to distraction. You could say I was looking for a kind of Walden Pond with friends and modern conveniences, and a good job too.”

“I can understand that Janie,” the Historian said with a hint of wistfulness in his voice. “Go on. Tell me more. But remember I‘ve only a few minutes.”

“I know it’s early in our time here but it just doesn’t seem to be working out the way I planned. I’m no dummy and Bart’s one of the smartest, most practical and certainly the nicest guy I’ve ever met. Yet in this place here and now, we are, both of us, misfits. It’s almost like we were the last Neanderthals swamped by the coming of the Homo Sapiens.”

“I could see by the Histy’s puzzled expression that the analogy hadn’t quite worked so I said, “What she means–”

Janie interrupted me by saying, “No, I’ll finish this Bart. I know that almost everyone here is a decent and honorable person, and Robert Hamilton,” she said looking the Historian right in the eyes, “Must have had a good reason for every selection. But listen to my list, and think about it.”

“ First we have Jack the Blade he seems more like a violent sociopath than anyone I’d have asked to come along. He’s at best a radical anarchist with delusions of grandeur. He is so sure he will get everything he wants that it’s scary. I‘m pleased but more than a little surprised that Eugene Washburn and the guy Jack used to call Wirehead, I forget his name, seem to be ok.”

“And that brings us to Burt Buchanan. He is a bully and a snarling contriver; he is a replica of every petty tyrant and bureaucrat that I thought was dead, brought back to life on Alchibah. And just like Jack, or maybe just with Jack, he figures he gets his way too. Can’t we ever escape that type?

“Now we go on to Lester Reye,” she continued, “who spends his time worrying about everybody else’s business rather than his own. And it sure looks like he gets elected to the Council in spite of it. Bart told me even he would have been voting for the bastard jerk if he hadn’t had the chance to see him in action when Reye decided he would be first on the block with a real house. Look at all the people following him. And as I told Bart ‘If you go with the flow…You’ll be caught in the flood’. His every word is unctuous to the point or hypocrisy. But enough of him for now.”

“And next I give you…. ” Janie began, but a cough from the Hist stopped her for a moment.

The Historian said, “I can see you’ve got much more to say Janie, more than I have time for now, I’ve got to get the meeting underway. We’ll continue this after our next recess but you have given me something to think about.”

Get the Right People In the Right Place

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

Ash Andrews

With me cradling Andy’s latest little surprise and chortling we left the tent. Walking towards Hanna’s place we were joined by Walt Davis.

“Well Andy,” Walt said “How should I vote?”

I was stunned thinking Andy would explode, instead he got the softest look on his face that I had seen in a long time!

“Walt,” he said, “I am not Jack, you vote the way you feel is right. When you came over to us you became your own man again. We are not going to hold deserter against you Hell, it showed good common sense. I will however give you a campaign speech. Do you know why I trusted you, the minute you came up to me that night?”

“No Andy, I have been puzzled by that for sure!”

“I was not there but let me guess what went on. You said something that betrayed the way you really felt. Then there was this Blonde staring you right in the face and asking a series of short sharp questions. What did you do?”

“Shit Andy, I sat down and gave her the whole story and I still do not know why!”

“Don’t worry Walt, you are not the first. You know that everybody on the old Teams had their call sign chosen for them; we didn’t get to pick ‘em. You can figure how I got mine, had it since the second Battle of Tehran. Smiling Dummy over there got ‘Ghost’ cause no one could ever figure out how he got on their ‘Six’. Now why do you think they called her ‘Magic’?”

Walt looked like someone just punched in the gut, “What the frack are you talking about?  And why do you want her on the Council? I thought you would want that job?”

“Why Walt would I want that? You know I would blow up at Reyes and ruin everything. Nope, let’s put the person most qualified to call BS on him where she can do the most good.”

Walt and I both asked at the same time, “But, what are you going to do?”

Andy replied, “What I do best! I intend to be Commander (Ground) Alchibah! Between Travis and myself we will defend this place. Ash, you asked a few minutes ago how much of HP did I own? About 25 Million bucks worth of it. We did not come out here for Fame and Fortune! We left it behind!”

With that, he turned and headed towards Connor Benjamin.

Walt breathed deeply, “Guess my past really don’t matter to him, does it.”

“Not since Mariana walked you up to that ridge line bubba! But I gotta go. I think I have a nomination speech to practice!”

Wheels That Go Around

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart


Leaving Walt and Ash behind me I went straight for Connor Benjamin, who was outside Hanna’s eating with Kaiya Yamasak and his twins.  “Connor, got a few?  I need to talk back room politics with you!  The rumor mill has it that you have some politics in your bloodline!  How would you think about standing for the Council, if I could promise you an Ace in the Hole to keep track of Reyes?  I am fixing to propose a Federal System with a Grand Council and then one each for Liberty and Mayflower.  Reyes influence on Liberty is the point I am really worried about!  We need a political infighter to oppose him and Buchanan!  You Game?”

“Let’s take a walk,” he said, standing up. “Kaiya, could you watch these two rascals for a minute?”

“My pleasure.  See you in a few.”

As we left Connor turned to me. “Well, you’re right about one thing, I do have it in my blood.  My father was Governor Jason Benjamin – led Vermont to secession, helped found the Alliance of Independent States, all that.  If he were here he’d kick Reye and Buchanan into the middle of last century.  I don’t care what they know about politics, he’d run circles around them.  But him I ain’t.  I didn’t follow his path.  That’s not to say that I wouldn’t be willing to stand for the council – I would, I’m just not sure if I’ve got the instincts you’re looking for.”

“Tell you what I am willing to bet on bloodlines and nerve.  Remember the slizzard, you did not turn and run.  You stood in there ready to do what it took!  That’s all I am really asking, stand in there and do what you think is right.  I am entirely the wrong person for this job.  I’ll get mad and rip Reyes head right off!  Maybe even do it literally, not figuratively!  That’s not what Alchibah needs; we need to try to beat him at his own game!  You are a better choice than me for sure!”

“Alright then.  Who knows, maybe I’ll grow into it.  And I’ll try to avoid any, shall we say, ‘physical altercations?’  Although I do remember some lovely stories of brawls in America’s early Congresses.  I’ll certainly do the best I know how for the colony.” He glanced back at the tent. “I guess the next question is what exactly they’re planning.  I don’t buy for a second Buchanan and Reye’s supposed ‘split.’  I’m sure they’ll run Reye, and no doubt he’ll get in on bullet votes.  None of the rest of them stands a chance though.  So it’ll be Reye, with Buchanan and Jack backing him.  I guess the other question then is what the hell do you mean by a Ace in the Hole?”

“Just keep an eye on Mariana and ask yourself why her call sign was ‘Magic’?’

Connor frowned, then his eyes widened. “Really?  I had he-.  Hmmm…that’ll be a plus.”

“OK, then we will have someone nominate you when the time comes.  That makes Histy, Mariana, You and we know Buchanan’s going to get Reyes in this.  Any ideas for a fifth?”

“I think most people outside of the slackers and snakes would support Kara, and she seems to have a good head on her shoulders.  I’ll make sure she’s nominated.  She probably would be anyway, but no reason to take the chance.”

“OK, I think we have a winner.  Finish your lunch, your gonna need it.”

“I’ll see you at the meeting.”

JJ Jumps In

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Hanna Parker

 JJ Parker

“Filler ‘er up?” Junior asked Rocco.  ‘Most everyone else had gone to their corners or into cliques.  Andy and Travis on one hand; Reyes and Buchanan on another.  As we glanced around the room, our eyebrows raised and Rocco said “I’d sure like to be the fly on the wall behind those guys.” 

Political intrigue and all that.  I thought to myself, which was better – to watch from the outside and hope that the upcoming candidates would be “alright” [I don’t trust some of them], or should I throw my hat into the ring?   “I see lots of tongues wagging, probably of promises being made that won’t be kept.  No use trying to outguess our fellow colonists.  Tell me, which colonists do you want on the council?”

“You, for one.”

“That’s a surprise.  Maybe I should think about it.”

“Maybe you should.”

And to myself I thought, “..and this time mention it to Linda before volunteering for another committee.”  I’d step forward just to prevent someone like Jack the Blade from getting on.  But I wonder what the format is for voting; I’d sure hate to pull votes away from someone like Histy.  With all the conniving going on during lunch, is this any different or better than on earth?  Time will tell. ….. and so will the votes.

6.4.5 Town Meeting — We Continue…

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Historian

Day 7, 2PM

It seemed a shame not to actually resume the meeting out-of-doors, given the lovely, warm weather, so it was with reluctance that I entered the hall and took my place behind the long table in front. The colonists were still streaming in, many talking animatedly with each other, hands waving in expressive motions in sympathy with whatever the heated discussions were about.

Finally, when it seemed that everyone was there, I checked my wristpad, setting it back to record and banged the gavel.

“The meeting will come to order,” I said, “Quiet please.”

I gave everyone another minute or two to settle down and then said, “So, my thanks to Hanna and Company for the fine lunch and now we shall get back to business. Before we move on to Article 5, regarding monetary matters, is there any old business?”

Andrew Stuart stood…

Not Bad Dummy

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

Day 7 Afternoon 1st Break

Ash Andrews

I basically sprinted outside and lit up a smoke. Andy walked up and did the same!

I asked him,”Well, you didn’t get everything you wanted!” His answer was a surprise!

“Says who? We have recognition of a Federal system in place. The Council for Liberty is an independent body and Mayflower is free to run themselves. That young firebrand friend of yours Jai has a vote and is a recognized Adult. The Council is constrained by direct vote of the people and nobody’s feelings got hurt! Care to tell me what we missed?”

“Damn Andy, you said you were not a politician!”

“Ash you jerk. You know what my last job in the service was. Please tell me how the Commander SOCOM could not learn how to play a little politics? Let’s get back in I am gonna love watching the next round!”

6.5 Town Meeting — Money Matters

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Historian

Day 7, 3PM

When everyone was back, I said, “Article 5 could be a sticky one. We need to consider, although we probably will not resolve, a monetary system. That is, how do we go about ‘paying’ for things we need? Do we adopt a purely capitalistic system, where the seller sets the price and if the buyers won’t pay it, he has to lower it? This has certainly worked well in much of our old world — at least until the UNWG decided to ‘re-distribute the wealth’.

“In these early days, we are all expected to chip in and provide the fundamentals for each other and most,” I paused to glare at a few people, “…most are doing just that.

“Still, some system needs to be devised. For instance, the supplies that Selco promised to the colonists are all here, now. Suppose we want something else from the Mayflower — how do we pay for it?”

I paused again as some murmering occurred between the colonists and then continued, “As another example, we’ve already discovered that there are some dangerous animals about. Many, most of you possess no arms but others have brought along quite a few. Those that did might want to part with one or two of them but how is a price determined?

“The final article we will discuss before the actual election is land claims, or parceling out the land in town. Not all might need all that land and will want to sell it to someone else who wants more property. What is the price?”

“Now — it could be that we decide on a simple barter system of goods or labor. That would probably suffice for now but again, at some point a more formal system needs to be developed. Also, again, I’d like to stress that we might not reach any conclusions in the time allotted today but I think that you all should have a chance to, er, float some of your ideas.

“We might wind up putting it off or charging our new Town Council with coming up with a system and reporting back to us at another Town Meeting, say in 30 days from now.”

That was probably the longest speech I’d given in four years, since leaving Earth. I took a sip from my coffee cup and then concluded, “So, I’ll open up the floor — let us set a time limit of one hour — for discussion.

“Who wants to go first? Ah, Mr. Reyes, please…”

6.6 Town Meeting — First Lands…

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Historian

I said, “We turn now to Article Six, the issue of land, property, maybe even property rights although perhaps that is best left until another day.

“It is beyond the scope of this article and meeting to address some millions of square miles of land around the planet so why don’t we just put our collective heads together and figure out how to divvy-up and claim property here in the City of Liberty. For that matter, what would be the size of Liberty.

“‘It’s growing,’ you say, ‘To whatever size it will be.’”

“Fair enough but let’s say that some colonists don’t want to reside within City limits. Where would that be? Do we set aside now, before we become a metropolis in a generation or two, conservation lands or parks within the city limits?

“Now, I also believe it prudent that some of the land here be designated as Town Property and reserved for future uses by the City. I’d further suggest that in our very immediate area, where the tents are, the Parker’s smaller eatery tent, the landing field, bio lab, and this here Town Hall (or Community Center) and, alas, our cemetary, be designated the town commons or a down town if you prefer, and be reserved either as a, shall we say, business district.”

I paused for a moment and then continued, “Claims for land for homesteads or other private uses should probably be outside of such a designated area although obviously the spot where Hanna’s is might be considered ‘private’ property.

“I simply throw these things out for your consideration. Certainly all of us here are entitled to a chunk of free property! What about the roads that will serve us? Easements? Again, no need to nail everything down now but these are things that need to be taken into account at some point.”

I looked at my notes, decided to cut my little speech short and said, “So, I open up the floor and . . . Yes, Mr. Reye, you are again the first with his hand up so . . . Please go ahead…”

A Meeting of the Minds

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Les Reye

Day 7 00:07:14:05

This session had been underway just over two hours with the Historian asking for nominations when one of Buchanan’s poll workers slipped me a message from Burt. It said to meet him outside. I gave it a couple of minutes then left the building. Burt was standing there.

“What kept you Les?” He asked, as soon as we were sure no one else was around.

“I waited just long enough so people wouldn’t think we left together.”

“I’ve been out here half an hour. Next time I give you instructions just follow them.”

“Humph! What about you Burt? You’ve hardly said a word in the meeting all day. How come?”

“Just consider me the Nuclear Option.”

“Nuclear Option? What do you mean by that?”

“After the way the land proposal went over you have a good chance of coming in first in the popular vote for Council. That now should be our goal. If any thing comes up before the vote that threatens to derail the possibility, I am going to support it strongly. My support ought to go a long way towards defeating that kind of issue.”

“Who is going to nominate me?

“I think it best if your wife does it. I was working on what she should say but let‘s just let her do it in her own words.“

“What about Jack’s nomination?”

“Pamela Nash.”

“Is she one of us?”

“She doesn’t know it now but she certainly is. She’ll do it to show her commitment to the gods of diversity and liberalism. Here‘s the nomination acceptance speech. Memorize it and be ready. Now get back in I’ll be in in a moment.”

6.7 Town Meeting — Nominations

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Historian

Day 7, 4PM

“We are about to accept nominations for the five positions on our new Town Council. They will, by our mandate, serve for not more than 200 days. Within 30 days, we will expect them to come up with proposals for the following:”

I looked at the list I’d been keeping and then said,

“1. Coming up with a satisfactory monetary or credit system to allow us to engage in commerce. Subject to final oral vote by the colonists.

“2. Coming up with proposals for a formal education system, which could be public, or private, or home schooling, or a combination of those three, and how such systems would be funded. Also subject to discussion and vote.

“3. Their own list of how their actions or powers as a Town Council should be limited and on a simple Bill of Rights for all colonists. All of this subject to a vote. The term of such Bill of Rights should be for the balance of the 200 days of their term of office. I call this the ‘humility exercise.’ Subject to discussion and vote.”

I turned to Captain Travis and said, “How long until you have a formal grid map of our new definition of the size of Liberty?”

Travis said, “Glenda and I will be leaving tonight, after the party. I’ll be returning tomorrow morning with the steel beams to creat the bridge on the river. I’ll photograph the area then and Monroe will put it all together in a day or two.”

I made a note on my list and then addressed the assembly again, “Meeting at night so they can fufill their other duties, the new Town Council will, within three days OR LESS perform the following duties:

“1. Assign and co-ordinate a list of things, projects that need to be started immediately, such as agriculture or crop raising. A more formal plan for defending the immediate area from predators, asking or appointing groups of colonists to begin design for such basics as a fresh water system. Lastly, because we don’t know what dangers await us, perhaps co-ordinating the building of a small hospital or clinic, also here in the immediate area, “Down Town” as it were.

“2. Using the map that will be provided by the Mayflower, designating what areas of the township are reserved for the town, a plan so all — besides their land grants — can, if they desire, participate in a “business district” in the Down Town area. And most importantly, hold a lottery — it can be as simple as slips of paper or randomly generated numbers that colonists can grab, and then begin selecting their properties.”

I paused and then said, “If you have any additions to that list, speak up now. Additionally, I open the floor to nominations to the new Town Council.”

6.8 Meet Our New Town Council!

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Historian

The Reporter sent me the voting results via wristpad. I looked them over and then turned to the collected colonists and said, “Fellow Ex-Earthers, Alchibans, citizens, I’m pleased to present you with the winners of the election for Town Council: Getting the most votes was Lester Reye, who will serve as Council Moderator. Also appointed to the council was Kara, Connor Benjamin, Mariana Stuart, and myself.

“Congratulations to all. I believe we have some celebrating to do and I brought down 40 fresh chickens, plucked courtesy of the Mayflower crew, plus fresh salad makings from the ship’s greenhouse, and other assorted delights. Oh, and two cases of assorted spirits from the ship’s bar!

“If there’s no other business, I declare this Town Meeting to be over.”

Leaving the Community Center. . .

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Historian

We were walking down the stairs, out of the Community Center, and he turned to me and said, “So for now, we spacers have NO representation on the Town Council.”

I replied instantly to Captain Travis, “Of course you do!”


I said, “I told you that things would work out.”

As we reached the landing, Travis took out his father’s silver cigarette case, withdrew one of our Mayflower Select and lit up. Other colonists filed past us, heading towards Hanna’s “Hash House” tent. Glenda had left the meeting early to lend a hand there. I took his case from him and helped myself to one of the hand-rolled cigarettes.

He said, “Well, I was hoping you’d be the Council Moderator.”

I said, “God no! This is the most difficult period of time for all of us. Everyone came here with a dream and while this planet looks splendid, there are dangers around every corner and the living ain’t easy.” I paused as I took a puff and then said, “It’s early and difficult days. Better that Reye should bear the brunt of complaints and dissatisfaction as his ego and inadequacy become apparent to all.”


“Look,” I said, “I have nothing against Les, per se, but he wants to rule the world in his own way. Or maybe, someone he’s connected with does. I’ve dealt with his type all my life. Nobody is going to control such a mixed, unruly crowd on this planet, this colony, for a long time to come. We’ll be too busy surviving for a while. I’m optimistic as always but things will be rough for many days–”

I stopped abruptly as Les Reye and his wife passed by us, as well as Buchanan and some of their friends.

When they were beyond earshot, I continued, “You now have the best of all worlds; you and the rest of your crew are on your own, totally independent from the capricious whims of the colonists. I, we are all depending on you to protect us from outside forces and Stuart seems like a perfect compliment here — planetside — for the ground forces. Reye wouldn’t have a fucking clue how to deal with a real problem if it were to  arise, and we both know that, based on what we knew when we left, within a couple years, it probably will, in the form of the god-damn goonies.”

Travis flicked his cigarette butt away and said, “I figure three and a half years, Earth time. One year Alchibah time. They had nothing capable of real interstellar travel — well, they did, but not anything of size that could transport any sizable compliment of troops. They’ll have to design it, finance it, build it, and then send it. My contacts, friends in the mining colony, were doing the same. I hope!”

“Exactly,” I said, “So we have time, you and Andy and Connor and the rest of us, to prepare. And we will. In the meantime, you and The Mad Doctor–”

“–You know,” Travis broke in, “Hibbes actually likes being called that, now.”

I chuckled and replied, “He’s a nut, but a really smart nut. Chandler will be a big help to him and all of us as well. Anyway, Reye hasn’t a clue of what we’ll soon be facing. We do. I suspect that Stuart does, too. In the intervening time, Reye will probably stumble along with his kabala. We’ll all do fine regardless of that. And, in two hundred days, Reye will be gone or demoted. Like I said, ‘Things will work out.’”

Heading towards Hanna’s, he said, “I need a drink.”

I said, “And we need to mingle and keep our ears open. . . .”

All right, you want to play? I’ll play.

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Benjamin Family


That little punk Buchanan. He certainly won this round, but damned if I was going to let any lasting damage come of it. The Council chair was in all likelihood going to be an essentially empty position title, but the fact that I let Buchanan game the very first election in the history of Alchibah was infuriating. But what’s done is done. Nothing to do but move on and deal with the consequences, and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Looks like the backroom politics have already started, and I’m about to throw myself into the middle of them. Buchanan has no idea what he just started.

A Word to the Point

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by William Bartlett

After the Vote    Day Seven 00:07:17:30

[Joint post by Bart, Janie, & Historian]

     We stayed after the nominating session and vote ended then shared a toast and a few words with the Parkers, Stuarts, Benjamin’s, Kara, and some of the others but I could tell Janie’s heart wasn’t in it. “Why not go back to the tent Janie? You’re hiding it from most but I can see you’re havin’ no fun at all. I should go and take over from Joe or Eugene so one of them can get back in and enjoy the festivities.

     “That’s a sounds like a very good idea Bart. But I’ll go with you so they both get a chance.”

     An hour or so later the Jeep signaled. I looked at my comp screen and saw the message “Man sized object moving towards you from the East.” The bots could send voice or text with equal ease. I can imagine a few instances where that could come in very handy.

     It turned out to be the Historian who emerged from the shadows into the lighted area where we were working. “Joe told me you were both out here and I figured I’d come out and finish up our earlier conversation from the point where we left off. But you don’t need to fill me in on the specifics of any of the other colonists…. I’m quite aware of their personalities and background. I’m also sure that this is more than a bitch session so go on with your proposal.”

     Janie began abruptly, “I’d like to leave the settlement. Oh that’s not exactly what I mean… I just think it would be best. Bart said that he wanted to leave with me. I know he really wants to stay… and I would tell him to stay, except… I’m just so sure leaving is right for both of us. And I was looking for a reason to change, but this afternoons session was the straw that broke this camels back. Look at all the rules proposed and all of the bickering. These are the kind of things we should have decided before we set foot on the planet. But I can understand why that wasn‘t possible… Still it just reinforces my conviction about getting away for a while. And just think, Jack the Blade goes down in history as the first person ever nominated for public office on the planet, and Les Reye gets the most votes for Council. It‘s just too much.”

     All the time Janie had been talking the Hist had been listening expressionlessly. He turned to me and said, “Bart?”

     “I don’t like it but I’m gonna stick with Janie on this. There surely is a lot of bickering. Somehow I felt we would almost all be small government types, but was I wrong! I see two ways Janie and I might work things out. The first is if I just ask Captain Travis for a spot on the Mayflower. I have little doubt I’ve proven myself to his satisfaction and as short handed as they are up there I think he would take us in a second. But what I really want to do is harder and will take some doing.”

     “I’d like, along with Janie and maybe a few others to do some exploring. My interest and training, that part I never got to use, was in Planetary Studies. Yeah I know most thought that it should have been named Earth Science for Dummies. But they didn’t take the courses and those that did learned differently. It included a fair amount of geology and climatology and a lot of other useful stuff. Even some botany geared to climate zones. We’ve got a whole world out here to work out the details, catalogue, and characterize. If I could get some support, maybe call it a sponsorship, from Travis and the folks downside. We could head north and eastward mapping and recording what we find. We can learn a lot from space observations and flyovers, but we can’t know the land until we walk it. We might even set up an outpost and live there for a time till things are settled here in Liberty and it looks like a place worth coming back to.”

     “And there’s one other thing. It wouldn’t have been ethical to vote on the Council members and then go running off to the Mayflower if I couldn’t get support for the expedition. So Janie and I just turned in blank ballots. But if we do stay with Liberty I am sure I’ll regret that. I’d be willing to do the trip on my own if we find the local life forms are ok to eat, and it does look that way now, but without support I won’t take Janie with me.“

     “Bart!… I’m no helpless Babe in the Woods.”

     “I know that Janie. But have you ever gone hunting? Or backpacking for more than a day at a time? Or even been camping anywhere else but a public campsite with water and restrooms?”

     She looked at me, expression glum, and shook her head. “Well that’s settled then. No support—- we go to the Mayflower.” I looked at the Historian and said, “What do you think? Will I get my support?”

     The Historian looked thoughtful for a moment and then said, “Bart, if it was up to me, you’d get your wish, whichever it is. But it isn’t up to me. Certainly we need to explore the planet and eventually, we will. Right now, though, we have a colony to set up. We’re still living in tents and carrying in river water in buckets! I don’t know for sure but I suspect that if you ask others around here they would say, could you wait a month till your lumbering services aren’t needed as much.”

     Further,” he said, looking at Janie, “Didn’t you tell me before lunch that you were ‘looking for a kind of Walden Pond with friends and modern conveniences, and a good job too.’ Not many modern conveniences out in the wild. At least here, you have support, refrigeration of food, and shortly, much more.”

     He paused a moment and then continued, “If you’d rather join the Mayflower crew, that is something you must take up with Travis. I need to remind you, especially you, Janie, that during lunch you also said that on Earth you always felt stifled, that you always felt you were being watched and that you didn’t want to put up with all the regimentation and petty rules. I have some news for you; on a starship, that’s all you have!

     The Historian looked at his wristpad a moment and then said, “I know there are some questionable people here. I can’t speak for old R.J. but I imagine that not everyone could be fully ‘vetted’ as all of us had to leave Earth three months before we were supposed to. Then again, even in an organization such as an army or the police, where screening is rather intense, you still wind up with a few bad apples.”

     “Look, why not give it a few weeks, at least, before you bail out on us either into the wild or onto the Mayflower. If you still want to go, I’ll throw my support, for what it’s worth, behind you. By then, the colony should have some permanent shuttles — the reconditioned lifeboats — and might be able to spare the two of you one of them for some exploratory journeys. Think it over. If you two still want to leave now, I can’t and won’t stop you. This is a free planet. I hope and will work to keep it that way.”

     With that, he turned away and headed back towards Hanna’s.

     Janie didn’t say a word as the Historian walked away but the look on her face said it all. “Cheer up Babe, I think I’m almost as disappointed as you, but look at it from the Histy’s point of view. He’s newly elected to a job that he has to make work if the colony is going to survive and not fragment into a hundred little pieces right from the git go. He needs all the support he can muster and then some. I’d say give him the few weeks he asks for and then we go… but the decision is up to you.”

     “Oh Bart… I had my heart set on this.” I remained silent, just waiting.  Finally Janie added. “Ok we try it his way, but you give me a crash course in survival skills in the meantime.”

     “Consider it a promise.”

A BBQ and a Test

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

Joint post by Andrew Stuart and Jai Benjamin

I had just finished my declination and the room was abuzz. I took that opportunity to wander over the table where the younger crowd was sitting.

“Jai, I wonder if you and the rest of the younger set would like to undertake a little mission?”

“A mission, huh? Sounds like my kind of shtick.”

“Mariana has declared the Slizzard as edible. What I would like you to do is organize a crew to dig a Texas Style BBQ pit and do up two quarters we cut off that sucker as a surprise for the Colony! I have a couple of other things but I’ll fill you in on the Wrist-Comp. Just like you will find all the instructions you will need in your e-mail stack. Are you a potential Team Leader or not?”

“Yes, I am.” For a split second she was deadly serious. Only that long though. “And a barbeque sounds incredible. I’m on it boss!”

I was pleasantly surprised, fewer questions than I had expected. “OK, Hype and get it done. If this works we lay the groundwork for the defense of Alchibah today!” She raised her eyebrow briefly, then met my gaze.

“Yeah, this crew will be up to it. And they’re certainly up to roasting a haunch o’ slizzard.” She scanned the email I sent her then turned to the other teens. “Alright people, we’ve got a slizzard to barbecue,” she whispered. “And keep it quiet, this is supposed to be as much of a surprise as we can make it. I’ll email you the instructions – check them on your writs comps. We’re going to have to leave the meeting early, but I’ll have my dad ping us when it’s voting time. John, you, Kaye and Mike go grab some shovels and a couple robots from the pool and start the pit, Em and Liza, get Red and R.Lewis and get some of the slabs over to the pit area for us to burn, Ryu…”

Will slizzard taste like chicken?

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Benjamin Family


Town meeting had just ended and the barbecue was well on its way. The spit was ready, compliments of John and Ryu, turning with a haunch of the mighty yet fallen slizzard over a good bed of embers. Everything had gone smoothly, from the pit being dug to a quick design for (and construction of) the spit to getting the slizzard and slabs and starting the fire. We’d be eating more than chicken tonight!

“Jai, where do you want the bots to put this next bit of slabs?” Emily asked.

“Over there,” I said, pointing to one side of the pit, “the wind’s blowing a little in the other direction. I doubt it’d happen, but the last thing we want is an ember landing on the pile and catching them on fire. And after that could you run back and grab the cobalt bowie from my tent? It’s one of the ones you cleaned – real wide, with a straight blade?” She nodded. “Liza, can you check with Hanna to see how the baste is coming? I’m no chef, but I think we’ll need it soon.”

“We’ve got the second piece up here – we rigged it up a few feet away,” that was Ryu. “As soon as this one’s done we’ll be able to start the next. I can’t wait to try it. It’ll probably taste like rubbery chicken, but it’s gonna be amazing to be actually eating something that no human ever has before, no matter what it tastes like.”

All in all I’d say the barbecue was a success. Everyone was doing their part and, more to the point (at least for now), the slizzard was coming along nicely. I only hope it tastes good.

Over by the big tent Andy and Travis were just standing up. Whatever we were cooking up was about to start!

This We’ll Defend

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

Joint Post by Andrew Stuart and Capt. Travis

Thanks to the effort of the younger set, we were ready.  I saw Histy and Travis having their conversation as I came out of the tent with the ice and glasses.  I waved the Bottle of booze I knew Travis recognized and nodded towards one of the outside tables.

Travis said, “I think I need one of those!”

I handed him the bottle, “Have at and it’s come time for the Million Dollar Question.  Do you have any idea why I trust you so much?”

“Well now,” Travis said and then paused for a moment, “I suspect we’ve both spent a lot of time in space and understand that the chief requirement there is trust in your fellow crew mates.  Close?”

“That’s a part of it Travis; That and I know how much the UNWG hate’s and fears you.  You see once upon a midnight dreary they tried to send the best they thought they were going to have to “Find and Eliminate” one Glen Travis, blockade-runner.  The idiots thought they were going to send ME!”  I carefully pulled out the other bottle and poured myself a drink.  “Care to have a short discussion about our mutual ex-friends?”

“Our friends…” Travis drawled and took a pull from his drink.  “I know they hated me, but I’m flattered to think they might also have feared me.  I didn’t think they feared anyone.  I remember one run I was making, my little Rust Bucket – that was the name, and apt description of my ship by the way, the Rust Bucket – filled to the proverbial rafters with antibiotics, insulin, and other medicines, and there was this one blockade cruiser that I just couldn’t shake for the longest time.  It had begun pursuing me the moment I left the cover of the asteroid belt.”

Travis held out his glass and Andy refilled it for him.

“Thanks,” Travis continued, “I wound up heading back into the belt and we spent three days playing cat-and-mouse with their captain cursing at me the whole time on the hail frequencies.  I finally lost him but it was probably only because of a particularly violent solar flare knocking all radar and other instruments out.  He didn’t know the rocks the way I did.  I barely made it to Mars with only fumes left in the He3 tank.”

“Galloping Ghost of the Belt is what the Black Suits called you.”

Andy laughed and continued, “Those jerks fear anything they can not control.  That’s why they wanted us to go get you.  We were flying the last of the U. S. built Hunter/Killer ships.  The one’s Bryce Harrison blew up rather than turn over to the UNWG.  When Col. Kearns and I resigned, every damn Operator Team in SOCOM followed us.  Ash wanted to take a HUK out and help you!”

I just leaned back and waited a long pause.  “Glen, the political pressures back there are such that they have to make a military strike at us in between three to four E-years or they are going to look like fools!  Two questions for you.  Do you think that they can pull off a Company sized strike in that time frame and the bigger question; can Space Command Alchibah be ready to meet it?”

Travis looked around to be sure that nobody was lingering nearby the table, listening in on their conversation.  Satisfied that there wasn’t, he leaned forward in his chair, putting his elbows on the table as he got closer to Andrew.  In a softer voice he said, “I trust you, Andy.  I also trust Mariana.  What I’m about to tell you must go no farther than the two of you.  Please don’t even tell Ash—“

Andrew started to protest but Travis put up a hand and waved that away, saying, “I know, I know, you would swear by him but I’m a cautious person and he joined our party while under the employ of the UNWG. I’m sure that in time I’ll consider him 100 percent but for now. . . . One thing I’m reasonably sure of is that if the Goonies were able to plant one operative, Van Vogt, among us, they were probably able to plant at least one other.  Don’t have a clue as to who that is but we have to assume that someone is a mole of some sort.”

Andrew gave a shrugging nod of acquiescence and Travis continued, “When we launched from the Titan Docks and after you all were in cryo, we continued, passively, to monitor the solarnet and other broadcasts.  The Goonies reported us as having been destroyed so as far as most people on Earth are concerned, we no longer exist.  So, it’s not for looking like fools that they will come after us, but – and Histy and I were discussing this earlier today – but ego or something else.  There’s something here, either in this system or on this planet that they want and I don’t have a clue as to what it is but it was enough for them to try to stop us from leaving for here.”

He paused to refresh the ice and Bourbon in his drink and then said, “We also figured a 3-4 year timeline for them to build a proper ship or three, to come after us.  They’ve already launched!”

Andrew exclaimed, “What?”

Travis said, “I’m just saying it’s likely, not that I actually know.  Remember, for most of you it seems as if you started on this voyage only a few weeks ago but it’s now over four years later on Earth.”


“They’re still four years away from us.  Anyway, we have to assume that they will show up with a sizable force of one sort or another.  Now, to get to your second question:  I believe we will be ready.  We’ve taken to calling Hibbes ‘The Mad Scientist’ and he really is.  He’s cooking up several ideas.  One is a new, small but very fast and agile craft he’s calling the ‘X-Fighter’, partially as a tribute to us ‘ex-earthers’ and partly due to the design of it. It’s the size of a cruiser but has four engines instead of one.  Each engine is mounted on a separate ‘wing’ so to speak.  That’s part one.  The X-Fighter would be useless without some kick-ass weaponry and he’s percolating an idea for that as well, based on plasma physics, his actual specialty.  Chandler will be a big asset as well and will help move things along much faster.”

Andrew refilled his own drink and reflected for a moment.

“Now,” Travis said, “Now for the third part of the equation, and it’s the one that requires me to ask for your and Mariana’s secrecy in case there really is a mole of some sort around here.  I don’t know how much of my history you actually know although I assume the UNWG was pretty efficient in those regards.  I grew up on Mars and as you’ve noted, I was a runner of bootleg supplies between Stelco and the Mars Colony.  Medicines, food, water, all that.  Plus some other things you probably didn’t know about.  We were leaving the colonists with several unregistered passenger ferries, maybe half the size of the Galileo.  They were hidden in the mountains and laying in wait.”

Andrew said, “What was the purpose of them?”

Travis took another pull on his drink and said, “Evacuation!  When Hamilton built the Lancer, he also built two others like it but modified for interstellar travel.  With the extra fuel and supplies and cryo units, they only had space for 35 people apiece instead of the 60 plus of the Lancer but that was alright since as best we could tell, of the 200 people living and working in the Mars Colonies, there were only about 40 who were dedicated to the cause and willing to leave the comforts – such as they were – of the colony.  The two ships were equipped similarly to the Lancer, with both lasers and guns and increased shielding.  The ships are hidden in the asteroid belt and the ferries will take the Martians to them at the right time.”

“Which is?”

“You know who Al Steel is?” Travis asked.

“Of course, the leader of the ‘opposition’ in the Mars Colony.  The UNWG hated him.” Andrew replied.

“Right,” Travis said, “He’s an operative, so to speak, of Hamilton.  His instructions are to wait until the Goonies launch for us and then follow behind at a safe distance, maybe a couple weeks later, with the two Lancer style ships and whomever is ready to join us.  We’ll meet the Goonies with our own strategies but we’ll have two ace-in-the-holes coming up behind them.  It’s not perfect since the weapons on their ships are what they are but with them at the flanks…. Will it be enough?  I’m also preparing one of the lifeboats, guided by two specially programmed robots and maybe a prototype of whatever Hibbes comes up with by way of armaments.  It’ll sit dead in the water, so to speak, a smarter version of the sentinel we left when we exited the wormhole, to report in detail what they ‘see’ when the UNWG comes through.  Then, they’ll greet the Martians and be a third ace under our control.  And, I have other ideas but not fully formed as yet.  So, what do you think?”

Andy took along draw on his drink. “I think you are right.  As soon as we get some stuff cleared up down here, I’ll convince Ash to take a trip up to Mayflower to work with you!  He is the pilot we have with the most confirmed Space-to-Space kills.  Do not let him see anything you are worried about and do not let the mole see an absolute separation between the two communities.  If they go too deep, we will never catch them!  Glen, get the Space Force in shape and I will have the board and storm force ready!  Damn it, Clan Alchibah Shall Not Fall!”  I raised my glass in the classic Dining In Salute, “Are we agreed Sir?”

Travis raised his glass and said, “I trust that you know how important you and the ground forces are.  Not that you are limited to the planet.  I promise that within a few weeks you will have four kick-ass lifeboats-turned-fighters.  We are the outside shield but you and your –can I call them the ‘Marines’ – are the final zone of defense, certainly the most important and skilled.  My plans rely on nine nutty people (I include myself) and 25 plus robots.  You have only your brave compatriots.  You folks are the real fighters and the last resort.  God knows, Andy, I hope it all never comes to that but I will work with you, help you when I, we can.  But you are the last and most important defense against it all.”

Travis took another drink and then said, “Andy, I’ve told you some of my history now, and I suppose you know a great deal more.  Let me tell you one last thing.  I hate – and I don’t like to use the word ‘hate’ lightly – but my dad died in a mine explosion on Mars.  ‘Officially’, it was ruled an ‘accident’.  It wasn’t.  For as long as I live, the UNWG will be centered in my crosshairs.  I suspect you’re of like kind. I also think we will make a great team in fending off, defending, protecting our, well, us!  WE are the colonists and we will never surrender to the UNWG.”

“Glen,” Andy replied as he stood, “I intended to deliver 15 fully Badged, SOCOM Shooter/Spotter teams.  You find ‘em,  fix ‘em and we’ll take ‘em.  Damn do you smell something that isn’t chicken?”

After the Vote

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Les Reye

Day 7  Midnight 

     “Wasn’t that a fine meal to end a fine day?” I said to Judith after the celebration was over and we were back in our tent preparing for bed.

     “It certainly was dear.” Judith replied in a tone of voice indicating complete satisfaction. And then I saw a hint of concern, “You left for a little while just after dessert, were you talking to Buchanan?”

     “Yes I was, and a strange conversation indeed. Let me tell you how it went…”

     “Congratulations Mr. Moderator,” were the first words from Burt’s mouth as we met after the vote. “It seems you have a popular mandate.”

     “Well ah yes, it would seem so. And I owe you for it and I know that.. But what exactly are you expecting other than thanks from me? I know it can’t be altruism on your part but for the life of me I can’t seem to think of anything beyond my thanks you can get out of it. And another thing I’m wondering now is since Jack lost what happens with him?”

     “Lester, you now have a small measure of authority here, and we both how important that is to you. And all I expect from you is that you play your part to my script. As for Jack he is my problem so don’t even bother thinking about him. I have plans and he will come in handy. Oh and one more thing… You give me a job.”

     I was more than taken aback by that last statement and said, “I can’t do that… The Council has no authority right now to do something like that. I don’t know… maybe later..” my voice trailed off.

     “Lester, Lester, Lester,” Burt intoned, “You are missing the point once again. I am more aware than you are of the limits of the present governmental structure and what directions it is likely to go in. What I said was ‘You’ give me a job. There are only a few colonists with direct farming experience and you, fortunately, are one of them. Being a politician at the present time won’t earn a living; so it’s back to the land you go.”

     “After you’ve studied the maps and chosen a site it will be a trivial mater for your land grant to be processed. Once it does you will need help to clear it and make it work. I can take the easy route of directing the robots doing the actual work and you can pad my hours so I build up a bank account and become a model citizen. And you don’t need to worry I will actually give you some time, just not as much as you credit me for. And that Lester… is all I ask.”

     I couldn’t even read his expression when he was done but said. “Ok I think I can do that, but do you have any farming experience at all?”

     “Not a lick Lester, but then that’s no problem because you do.”

     “Well that was it my dear, and I can’t tell what his game is… but for that much… and I feared far worse, I think we can play along.”

     “If you say so.” and then Judith added. “Mike isn’t back yet should we message him? He‘s too young for hours like this.”

     “Let him stay out, an event like this is once in a lifetime thing. There are enough people watching so he should be fine. I’ll just tell R.Hadrian to wake us if he’s not back in another hour… Done. Night dear.”


After the Barbeque

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Hanna Parker

Day 7  Midnight

As night enveloped us under a starry sky, I said to Jules, “The barbeque was lots of fun.  Hard work, but many willing hands. And finally I got to see the colonists all at once. I don’t know everyone’s name yet, but recognize most of them. Some real characters in our midst!”

“Hanna, I’ve always admired your ability to take everything in stride, regardless of how unusual. Your basting sauce was perfect with the slizzard, as if you’d made it for years. And just like the loaves and fishes, the food seemed to multiply. But now that the day is almost over, I realize it was Sunday. And I miss not going to church.”

“Me too.” Back at our tent, we got out the Bible, and read for a bit together. Then I said, “How are you feeling, dear? It’s been a very hectic day, especially with all the politicking, etc.” 

“Not too bad. But before you or Linda have a chance to nag, I promise to go to the lab first thing tomorrow. I won’t like it, but I don’t stand a chance against the two of you.”

“Why Jules, what a good idea that is.  So glad you thought of it.”

What It’s Really About!

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Kurt Kellerman

I was sitting chewing slowly and glorying in something fresh that was not chicken when a voice came over my shoulder, “How’s it going Kurt?”

I turned to look at Ash, “Food wise not too bad but, I think the project is riding on the conversation going on between Walt and Travis. I need those verniers, Pots as Walt calls them. We need that technology on hand but I just do not understand your obsession with this deal.”

Ash sat and took a pull on his drink, “You have to be one of us to understand. You have heard Andy call me Cousin, Scots-Irish don’t play the Niece and Nephew game. Anything not Brother or Sister is a Cousin. You are all part of the Clan after all. Andy is my Mother’s older Brother!”

I stammered, “But, your Mom died of old age in UNWG health care. How can that big SOB be her older brother?”

“You have to go all the way back to the 1600’s. A Scottish mercenary wound up down in the Swiss Alps and got married. They had seven kids, feisty weren’t they? Anyway, duty eventually called and the Male had to go back to Scotland. The kids split between the parents because they all knew that would get back together. Well, shit happened, couple of war’s as I have been able to piece it together. The male line went with Daddy and the Female’s stayed with Mom, normal. The oldest Male became the ultimate Godfather of Clan Stuart . The Oldest Daughter became the Matriarch of Family Kearns. Kurt, the UNWG did not try to sterilize her to provide a cover story. I made that up! They did her to make sure those two lines could never meet. Care to guess on what their first born is gonna be. You think Andy scares your Ass?”

I sat stunned for a moment, “Do I want to help that happen?”

Ash looked me in the eyes, ”Do you want your Kids to live free?”

Get the Parts, Make a Commitment

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

Travis thought Andy was right.  Slizzard chewed like Pork and tasted closer to Beef.

“Uh, Capt. can I have a moment?”

Travis turned and said, “Of course but who are you?”

“My name’s Walt Davis Sir.  Used to go by Wirehead, till I got with a better crowd.”

Travis grinned, that little episode was one of the favorite items of gossip at the party.  “What can I do for you Mr. Davis?”

“Well Sir, we need a couple of parts for a project I am trying to do for Dr. Ash Andrews and Dr. Kurt Kellerman.   Col. Stuart said to make it a private transaction so Dr. Stuart didn’t see the request go though Council.  The Col. says he will hunt you down a whole damn slizzard for the meat and find someone to make you a new pair of boots outta the hide.”

“Must be something pretty important!” Travis said.

“Well Sir,” Walt stammered, “what I need is three high turn ratio potentiometers, variable resistors, with a max resistance of 100 Ohms and rated for 5 Watts.  The motor adjustment pots for those Bots hanging from the chains would be about perfect.  What we are trying to do is build Dr. Kellerman’s rig to kill one of those damn intelligent non-removable sterilization implants the UNWG used.  From what I know, this is what got Kellerman in hot water with the damn Goonies.  Ash got some RF stuff from Andy and I am doing the tech work.”

Travis said, “Well now, Mr. Davis, I know we have a large  supply of robot replacement parts on the ship, plus Dr. Gibbes physics lab has closets full of junk.  I’m returning to the ship in the morning and will scrounge those potts up for you.  I’ll be back down tomorrow afternoon with them.”  He paused, smiled, and added, “Oh, and tell Andy I wear a size 11 E…”


Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Captain Travis

Day 7, Evening, after Town Meeting.

You’d have thought we were at a county fair back in the states. Two big tents set up plus the smaller round one commandeered by Hanna for her Cafe. People milling around, chatting, drinking, eating too much, basically just partying! Lights strung up around the perimeter that cast bright glows over the scene and created strangely angled shadows about all in attendance.

I was sitting at a table outside Hanna’s tent and enjoying — perhaps that’s too optimistic a word — slizzard — which, while tougher than beef, tasted sort-of like it. I had just finished a talk with Walt Davis. Nice fellow and I consented to his cause. I would deal with it tomorrow when I returned to the Mayflower.

After Walt left, another young colonist I didn’t know much about came over and sat next to me. He said his name was Bradley Jones. He addressed me with respect — something I’ve only recently received in my life — and said, “Captain Travis, might I have a word?”

I said, “Of course.”

Jones said, “You probably don’t know me from Adam but I am a communications officer from a large hotel. Actually, the one that you and we escaped from; the Hilton. I’d like to be of service.”

“What can you do for us,” I said, still munching on slizzard and enjoying it very much.

Bradley said, “There is nothing I want more than that our voyage should result in success! I’m a nobody but I like to think that I can help our survival.”

“Really,” I said, “How?”

He became flustered and said, “Well, I have these dreams…”

I said, “Go on…” and he did…

Day 8: Early Morning.

It was the day after Town Meeting Celebration and Glenda and I lifted off in the Galileo and headed back to the Mayflower.

It was still early morning. As was the custom on the Mayflower, we all met for the “morning meeting” to discuss anything and everything we needed to attend to. It was 7:00 in the morning, Alchibah time, and we were sitting around the table in the Cafe eating scrambled eggs and home-fries.

“Glen,” Hibbes said, “We’re — Chandler and I — are onto something big.”

I muttered while swallowing a bunch of home-fries, “Tell us about it.”

Hibbes said, “Soon. When we’re ready.”

I shrugged and continued to eat my breakfast.

Later that Afternoon…

We had loaded four “H” Beams that had been floating uselessly within the cavity of the Mayflower, into the cargo hold of the Galileo. Steven had welded six-foot steel beams at right angles to the ends of them. Each “H” Beam was 70 feet long and we planned to use them to build two bridges across the river in Liberty.

I returned to Liberty along with Steven, Glenda, Natasi, and myself.

We collected Historian and Rocko along the way, planetside, and continued to the sites we had picked out for the bridges.

The talented Darren Calver was watching the helm of the Mayflower and Monroe had come down in The Surprise, recently fitted with a laser package removed from the Lancer. Under my instructions, he burned holes on both sides of the river where we would install the beams.

Also under my instructions, two colonists had gathered sand and lime from nearby and made concrete.

I hovered above the new land of ours, the beams, with their “pug stubs” attached at the ends pointing down, were attached by chains to the underneath of the Galileo. I piloted the Galileo to place them across in two spaces: m36 to n37. The “Lower Crossing”. We, those on land on foot, we in the Galileo, headed North and reached our next placing.

Monroe burned down four more footing holes and we placed the beams there, at g18 to g20, the “Upper Crossing”. I know that Historian would plead his case to Bart and and the Council, and company, to produce 4″ x 12″ by whatever length” boards to lay on top of the pairs of beams at each site to create bridges for the colony.

Our work was done, with Steven and Glenda and Natasi and the ever present Historian helping to twist and turn the chained beams into position at each site. Other colonists filled the holes that the beam “stubs” were sitting in, with a native made concrete to secure the footings. I thought: The rest is up to the colonists. I’m sure Historian would see to that.

The Town Council had met early in the day and assigned various folks to different tasks that needed doing. It was exciting in a way because all of us, town folk and spacers, were starting to build our “civilization” here on our new home world.

The Surprise headed back to the Mayflower while I headed to the Space Port and after landing, sought out Walt and when I found him, gave him his supplies.

My crew was already aboard the Galileo, waiting for me. I turned towards the ship but then I heard Ash calling my name…

Do You Have It?

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

Post by Jaisa

Andy speared the last hunk of slizzard meat with the tip of the Gerber. “Not bad Jai, this crew can make stuff happen on short notice. Notice the conversation going on between Walt and Travis?”

“Yes,” I replied (with what I assume must have been a rather bemused look), “does it mean anything?”

“Well, you and I are going upriver in the morning. If that conversation bombs, you and the group get a construction job at the Hydro site. If it goes well, then you and I are going hunting after the briefing at the site. Bring something that could drop a slizzard and Oh Yeah, bring your brains, Sgt. Benjamin. This could very well be your OCS exam! Oh, and have the troops ready to go 30 min before Mean Nautical Sunrise!”

With that Andy moved off towards Connor Benjamin’s tent.

I stood there starting at Andy’s back. Wow. Col. Andrew Stuart, The Reaper, likely the only man alive better at killing and teaching to kill than Gabe, just nominated me to be the leader of the young guns. Being accepted as a soldier (even a good one) in the rebellion was one thing, being handpicked as a possible leader by the former head of US SOCOM is something else entirely. That the last man to train Gabe before he left the service now wanted to train me is an honor. Tomorrow we’ll find out if I’m as good as he seems to think I am.

Get Me Up There

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

Joint Post by Ashcroft and Travis

I had spent the day working with Walt who swore Travis was going to come up with the parts we needed. Andy had gone upriver with what he was calling the Young Guns. He had mumbled something about owing somebody a pair of boots, and gave me a dumbass questions to ask!

I saw Travis moving towards the landing field, so I called out. “Capt. Travis, a moment of your time if you would?”

Travis turned, saw it was I, and with a wary look said, “Yes?”

“Sir, I know you are not particularly fond of me but, I need to come up to the Mayflower for a short time. So, I need to go up on a short turn around trip. I have some software that will help us find a mole to install on your side of the Colony communications and some data that needs to go to whoever is designing the ships you have to be building! Also, Andy wants to know, Round Toes or Cockroach Killers; whatever the hell that means.”

“Please elaborate on both the software and the data,” he said.

“OK, from your perspective I would not trust me either. The software is a screening firewall that will integrate with the screening firewall we have set up on Andy’s array. It will allow us to trace back to any mole who tries to get into the two major computing nodes Alchibah has. It represents our best chance to find either a mole or a just plain asshole.”

“The data, Captain, is a derivative of my thesis that I understand you have already read. If you have the energy budget on whatever it is, you have to be building. How would you like to have a shield that will stop a KE strike?”

“An interesting theory, Dr. Andrews.” Travis thought for a moment and then said, “Please excuse me for a moment.” And he walked a little ways away and activated his wristpad link to the Mayflower. After a few minutes he returned and said, “Go get your kit, we’re going up to the ship. Lift off is in 20 minutes. You’ll be stuck there a few days because until the NIFT returns with more He3 – that’s expected the day after tomorrow – we only have sufficient fuel for one more round-trip in the Galileo and we need to reserve that for an emergency. I’ve arranged for Steven to accompany you during your stay on board. I’d have asked Rocco to do the honors but you two don’t seem to hit it off…”

He turned to go and then said, almost over his shoulder, “Oh, and tell Colonel Stuart that I want something comfortable for my feet. I have enough cowboy boots to play soccer with a BB for the rest of my life!”

“Chukkas it is, Boss, and I will make the lift. Tell Rocco, no hard feelings. See you in five!”

Ash went into his version of speed for the run to the tent. Whipped off the leather jacket and banged on the chameleon Field Jacket. The one with US SOCOM placed over the left breast pocket and Andrews over the right. Oh Yeah, and the Ten Kill Stars under the Right Breast. The LTC. leafs on the Collars were just an extra. “Travis, I thought. I am gonna’ make your fighters invincible. Just build me one fast and dangerous!”

As Travis walked up the ramp to The Galileo he grinned and said to himself, “If Hibbes is right, you’ll have one fast fighter. If Chandler is, you’ll have one that is very dangerous. If you, Ashcroft, are on the level, we will be unstoppable.” As he reached the airlock he shook his head and thought, famous last words!

Land Rush

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by William Bartlett

     Shortly after the Historian had left us Fortson and Eugene came back to finish up the night shift. Janie and I went into camp and saw the barbeque and party had pretty much wound down. We managed just enough sleep so that we were reasonably ambulatory the next morning and it was back to the lumber mill again.

     We hadn’t been there long when Captain Travis messaged us and described the bridges he intended putting up later in the day and to ask about planking. I told him we would get right on it. Janie asked me if that wasn’t something that needed a priority assigned to it and I said it probably was but before the rules kick in let’s just get it done with.

     By the time Joe and Gene took over (they were an hour early) the job was about a quarter of the way done. Joe had checked in before leaving camp and I asked him to bring out a couple meals cause Janie & I were considering a picnic. Then I told him what we were really going to do was look at some land.

     We had been studying the grid map of what would be called Liberty Township that the Council had already produced by noon, and had talked as time permitted during the rest of the day about where to claim our Freeholds. I had been raised up on the shores of Lake Superior and knew I wanted something on water with access to the ocean. Janie, who had grown up in Kansas and then went to work for Mid States Power, said that sounded near perfect to her as well.

     There were almost three hours remaining till dark and we had been working south of the campsite, so if we walked fast we could get to the area we had chosen to look over and still have an hour or more to spend before we would need to head back in. We didn’t say much as we put all our effort into covering the near two miles of mostly open ground to a point [k41] on a bluff overlooking the river. After we got there we had no need to say anything at all.


Janie’s Point   Photos By L. Monroe

      To the north of us one side of the point faced a large sheltered bay which was tentatively slated to become the Township port area. It was below the last of the two bridges who’s spans were much too low to the water for anything but small boats or barges to pass under. And the river’s depth here was more than adequate for a deep water keel.

     On the south side of the point the river widened rapidly to the open sea with a small island showing vivid green a half mile to the southeast. The bluff continued along the shoreline to the west then south again for about 2500 feet forming another smaller bay and at it’s base was a narrow rocky beach some 20 to 40 feet wide interspersed with areas of sand and tall narrow bladed grasses. There were several places where the bluff gave way to a steep boulder infused slope leading right down to the waters edge some 60 feet below.

      We clambered down the nearest one of these natural ramps and there ate dinner. I made it a point to take a sip of water from the river and found it clean and sweet. We were only a bit less than a mile from open ocean but the current was swift enough that neither of us could detect the least hint of salt or any other mineral. We finished our meal then walked the beach westwards till we could climb back up to the top the bluff.

     For the next thirty minutes we walked the edge stopping here and there trying to figure out the best spot to start building a home. One of the things that made this spot so terrific was that with the community port area to the north we would be sure of someday getting power and a road.. Janie never once brought up her disappointment with the way the colony had progressed so far and all too soon it was time to return but I was sure she was pleased that we were far removed from the area reserved for Liberty City proper.

     Immediately upon reaching the camp site we registered our grids. I chose the point which was really only about half land, the rest being river, but my what a view, and the grid to the west of it [j41]. Janie registered [i41] and following the curve of the shoreline [h42]. Between the four sections with the way the shoreline swept around the point that was almost 2000 feet of frontage. I let Janie know that back on Earth any land like that would have started at over a thousand a foot and only gone up. We were instant millionaires.

Histy Makes the Day

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Kurt Kellerman

Day 8 Late Afternoon
We were just wrapping up a very busy day at the Lab when The Historian wandered in, “This could almost be a Council Meeting, and I believe 3 out of 5 is a quorum?”

Mariana and Kara laughed, “Yes, but, we don’t think that’s why you are here?” Mariana chimed in.

Histy chuckled, “No I have a sample that I would like checked in and Analyzed. I found it on a walk last evening. But, I do not wish to jump the queue.”

Mariana laughed, “If I can’t jump the order for a friend, what good is having the job. What do you have?”

“Well, I think it’s some kind of grain. You will find traces of earth leather from the gloves I used to pick it.”

Mariana took the plastic bagged sample, “At least you had the brains to use gloves. Kurt, wanna run this right fast?”

Histy stared, “You can do this that fast?”

I grinned at the older fellow, “Thank Andy and Ash. And of course, old R. J., this place is interconnected to the inch.” I placed his sampled in the flash tray and started the sequence. Diagnostic flashed SAFE in about 10 seconds, then primary started spitting results. “Mariana, you might want to call Andy. Histy just found his corn.”

Histy said, “It seems to grow wild in several large fields to the north of here. If you’re telling me it’s safe to eat, and Hanna then tells us it bakes up tasty, it will save us a lot of time that would have been spent starting with the grain seeds we brought with us.”

Mariana grinned, “Bakes up, this is booze on the hoof! Those Rednecks will have this in a still in a heartbeat!”

A Meeting of Friends

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Benjamin Family


The feast was wonderful. The chicken was delicious, the slizzard was, um, interesting, although very good in its own way, and the company was all one could ask for. Unfortunately, I had more on my mind than the food and friends. Throughout the night I had been letting the people I trusted know to meet in my tent after the festivities died down. There were things that needed to be dealt with.

“Alright,” I started, “I’m sure you’re all wondering why I asked you here. Or rather, you’ve probably already figured it out and want me to just get on with it so we can all go to bed after such a long day of political maneuvering. So I’ll cut to the chase. How did Reye win, despite being so unpopular, and what do we do about it?

“I think most of you have already figured the first part of that, but I’ll recap. Because of the vote weighting, and because there was no explicit prohibition against voting for a candidate more than once, one person could cast up to three full ‘votes,’ let’s call them, for a single candidate, meaning that people gaming the system in this way would have voting power equivalent to anywhere from three first place votes to fifteen fifth place votes.” I noticed Jaisa giving me the “get on with it” sign (and rolling her eyes, of course).

“So I feel like I need to apologize. I didn’t say anything before the votes were cast because frankly I didn’t think that Reye was quick enough to catch the loophole or organized enough to get his supporters to exploit it, and I didn’t want to hold up the meeting any more. I still think I was right on both counts. Buchanan, though, is apparently both smart enough and organized enough to pull it off. I noticed their section passing slips of paper around right after you announced the voting system, Histy. But that’s all water under the bridge now. We do know, though, that Buchanan and Reye are still working together, despite their rather public rift. Sinopa,” I gestured towards my friend, “followed Buchanan out to Windmill Hill during lunch and saw him pass Reye some papers. She was too far away to hear anything, but they’re definitely still on the same side.

“Alright, so I’ve done my little speech. Sorry about that. So, what do we do now? I’ve got some ideas, but I’ve no doubt everyone else here does too. So shoot.”

Andy spoke up, “I don’t trust Buchanan as far as I can throw him. Reye is a well-intentioned dupe who thinks he is doing good. Ash is working on a Traffic Analysis Intel sweep of Buchanan and Jack. I doubt we will catch them at anything really illegal but, if we can nail them with some serious ethics questions we can gut their support.”

“That brings up an interesting point – laws.” I replied, “Technically no one can do anything ‘illegal’ unless we make it illegal first. So if there’s something we think they might be doing that should be illegal anyway, we should make a point to make it illegal before we catch them.

Ash chimed in this time, “Yeah, but don’t do it in a way that they can figure we are already looking!”

“Agreed.” Sinopa started, “If we have a list of the things we need to make sure are illegal then we can insert them in a larger ‘voter protection’ package – it’ll be hard for them to argue against laws that do nothing but protect our fledgling democracy. I’m sure Connor won’t mind drawing something up,” she finished, grinning.

The discussion went on for a while, eventually winding down with plans in place for Ash to keep Kara and I informed of Buchanan’s extracurricular activities as well as his likely actions so we could keep the laws a step or two ahead of him. As the meeting dispersed I asked the Stuarts and Sin to stay behind. Like it or not, we had bigger things to deal with than a few of semi-competent bureaucrats, and the sooner the ball got rolling on this discussion the better.

Training Day 1

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

I was finishing my coffee when Mariana asked, “What are you going to do, those young people are at once one of the greatest assets we have and the biggest headache we have?”

“Well, I intend to slow that little Firebrand Angel created down with the most numbing thing I know of, Responsibility!  I am going to throw Command Burden right on her shoulders early and Hard.”

Mariana shrugged, “You know that she thinks the key to Military Operations is the killing.”

“I know, I know.  But I intend to teach her that amateurs talk Tactics, pros talk Logistics.”

She laughed, “Well it worked on two hotheads that I know of.  Giving Ash that Squadron was the best move you ever made.  And don’t I remember a hotshot Sergeant who got a battlefield promotion and handed a Platoon to slow his tail down?”

I sat down the cup and said, “My Lady I have no idea of whom you speak,”

I left the tent to her laughter.  Stepping outside I saw the Young guns them selves just gathering in the open space in front of our tent.  Glancing at my wrist comp, they were two minutes early!  I saw an immediate opening.  “Sgt, I did mention a construction project, where are your Bots?”

“On standby at the lumber pile Sir.  I didn’t want to waste the energy of having them come down here only to walk back over there.  It’s not much, but I figure every bit counts.  If we need them now I can call them, Sir.”

“Well, you are either good or lucky.  Time will tell.  Have your Bots bring all the slabs they can carry.  When we get to the site, we will hook them up to my Bots, who I have put some solar cells on.  R. Nug can pass the Manual of Arms for the M-117 shovel to them and top up their charge while we do the on the ground project brief.  I’ll get my Bots and we will move out single file.”  I stopped and caught her gaze, “I know Gabe taught you a limited skill set because of the situation you were in, and in His situation I would have done the same thing.  Time for you to learn the rest, you have to build the Garden, and the Wall before you can defend them.”

I turned and walked towards the Bots and heard a gasp behind me and a voice asking, “Jai, what’s that on his back?”

“.50 BMG sniper – a good custom job – Robar, by the looks of it.  Just this side of my uncle’s work for quality, and that’s saying something.  That baby will blow a hole clean through a half-inch of steel plate.  Don’t use one myself, but they’re the sniper rifle of choice for a lot of operators.”

“Operators?” another voice asked.  Liza, if I wasn’t mistaken.

“Special operations types – Andy, Mariana.  Maybe you someday.”

Hiding a laugh I brought the Bots’ awake and we moved out for the Hydro Site.  They didn’t hit good combat spacing but it was a good first single file.  “You got three years Andy, take your time.”

After the Meeting of Friends…

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Historian

Day 7, late evening

As Rocco and Historian left Connor’s tent after the brief discussion about the elections, Rocco turned to Historian and said, “Some of them seem rather upset that Reye won.”

Historian said, “And what exactly did he win?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well,” Historian said, lighting up a cigar as they strolled towards the river, “He had to be on the council or we’d have had an open revolt, with him and his cohorts leaving the settlement and leaving us short-handed. By throwing them a bone, they stay.  And, by creating a monetary system, they have to actually do some work.”

“But,” Rocco said, “He’s now the Council Leader!”

“No…,” Historian said, “He only thinks he is. All he is, as we made clear during the Town Meeting, is the Council Spokesman. He has no genuine additional powers. He can’t win a Council vote on something dangerous to Liberty’s health, not without the support of the rest of us on the council and how likely is that? He can’t pass laws or ordinances without a full vote of all colonists. He can’t even silently scheme behind our backs because he’s the spokesperson. He’s the one the spotlight illuminates and, as history has shown, that is the best disinfectant. This all just makes it a lot easier to keep track of his movements.”

“You’re devious!” Rocco said.

“Who?” Historian said with an innocent gesture, “Me?”

My Head Hurts

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Kara

Day 8, early morning

Where to begin? So much has happened in such a short time…Town Meeting, cook-out, back room plotting…it is hard to believe it has only been 1 day.

The Town Meeting went as expected. Well, except for Reye. I don’t think any of us are surprised he talked as much as he did, but I don’t think any of expected to hear halfway decent ideas come out of his mouth. I don’t know if I felt so strange as when I found myself agreeing with some of what he said…and to see others that I know dislike him think the same. It was eerie.

Reye’s other surprise was getting the most votes for the Council. It makes me sick to think of it. He was obviously a politician back on Earth (almost said home!), and it shows here too. Though there is more to that than we know.

And the rest of us on the Council will be watching very closely.

Though I am still a bit startled I am on the Council — ha! I’d love to see my folks’ faces if they knew that! OK, maybe I don’t really want to see their faces…they’d probably just spout some crazy b.s. anyway.

Did I mention my head hurts? Being in the hall all day (which turned out quite awesome), hearing people bitch about everything, then all that Reye crap…I just don’t have much patience for it all. It took all I had to keep my mouth shut. And then talking about it more in Connor’s tent…that was just too much. Esp. after the cook-out.

Which I must rave about! It was so great to cut loose after everything we’ve been through. It has been thrilling and exhausting this past week (I’m still on Earth time). Plus it did help cut the tension from the meeting a bit.

I don’t know exactly whose idea it was (I suspect Andy had something to do with it), but it was perfect. Eating something other than the usual stuff (decent as it is, we’re still rationing), and then for it to be a Slizard, what more can you ask for at a party? Well, booze, which some brought out. I usually stay away from the stuff, but after the meeting I needed something. But because I don’t usually touch it, needless to say I’m a “light weight.” Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t falling down or anything, but I’m certainly not used to it. Which brings me back to…

Have I mentioned my head hurts?

Your Not On Earth, Mr. Parker

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Kurt Kellerman

Day 8 Early Morning
I thought I would be the one to turn on the lights in the Lab this morning, I never expected Mariana to be there with the coffee going. “I thought I was going to be early bird today.”

Mariana gave me a look that would have curdled milk, “You didn’t have the big lummox going around at ‘Oh Dark Thirty’ getting in full kit.”

I was actually a little stunned, why would he go full rig today. I even made a mistake, “Lord having seen that rig I can imagine the racket he made!” I knew it was a mistake the instant that head whipped in my direction and those eyes went cold. I had seen the Walt Davis incident and knew what was coming. I was saved by Linda Parker walking in with Jules Sr. in tow.

“Kurt,” she said, “Sorry to hit you with this first thing in the morning but, Dad’s not been doing too well the last few days.”

If she missed the sigh of relief, she was not looking. “Well, let’s get him over to Diagnostic and take a look. You will be pleasantly surprised Mr. Parker how little blood we need to take. This rig is really something and Linda already has your info and history in the data bank. She really is good, Sir!”

It only took about 5 min. to get a full picture. “Mr. Parker, you system is having some problems adjusting to the shorter Alchibah day and the biggest one seems to be self-induced. Your medication schedule needs to be adjusted to match that shorter day. That and a few more days should see you through this quite well. Linda, the adjusted dosages and times should be printing in Primary. I think you can do a better job of explaining it that I can.”

She laughed, “Oh yes, I am well versed in dealing with Dad. I just sic Mom on him.” She took the printout and said she would be back as soon as she got him home safely.

I gestured at the screen and asked Mariana, “You see what he really needs don’t you?” Her reply floored me.

“Yeah, what he really needs is Andy to get me enough power to bring up Bay 4 so I can start making drugs!”

“What are you talking about Woman?”

“What got me Blackballed by the UNWG, Anti-Agathics!”

I was puzzled, “But all the best of those will do is retard aging, what goods that going for do him?”

Her face was as cold as the killer I knew she was, “Not the ones I got hounded out for!”

OH, my God was all I could think! “But, what of the components you need, that stuff has to be complicated?”

Her voice was as level as they came, “Between Connor Benjamin and Andy everything I need has processed through the Lab already. Believe it or not, Slizzard blood is going to have a lot of uses. You didn’t think Andy was going Slizzard hunting over a pair of boots did you?”

Hunting Miracles and Boots

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Benjamin Family

Day 8

Joint post between Andrew Stuart and Jaisa Benjamin


We assembled at the base of the rapids. “Get the ‘bots connected and meet me at the top of the ridge.” I wanted to see how they went up the ridge. Jai, Summer and Ryu quartered their way across the face of the rise, while the dummy’s fought straight up the slope.

“Now that we are all here, the project is this. First, put a slab Dam across the North Face of the rapids. Then dig a diversion Channel down to the big ass hole in the side of the slope you have to dig. Check your e-mails! The Specs are there! Then you have to dig in a covered exit channel away from the Plant site. Then we will build the Hydro Plant and run the Distribution Wiring. Anybody here think this was going to be easy?” The faces I saw were stunned. “There used to be an old Military Group called the Seabees. They were the Combat Engineers of the Navy and Marines. Their unofficial motto was ‘First we dig ‘em, then We Die in ‘em.”

“Dig it people! Sgt Benjamin, Front, and Center! Post!”

Jai’s eyes widened, but only a hair – her version of shocked. She knew how to keep her reactions to herself, that was for sure, which was good considering she’d already proved that she knew how to do the opposite. And she didn’t waste any time moving either – another good sign.

“Nice 7.62 you have, here are a couple of shells for you.” I pulled a bag of 20 HE rounds out and handed them to her. I could tell she recognized the red tips. As she was shuffling them into her ready mags I told her, “We are going hunting Slizzard! I want at least a 20 Footer. You game or what?”

As Jai looked up, she saw a face she had never seen before; the warm Brown Eyes were those of a Teacher. She had expected the cold Black Eyes of a killer. “Looks like it’s time to learn the rest of this game,” she thought.

The warm eyed stare caught her eyes and the low whisper caught her ears only, “Learn LT., First you Teach!”

I motioned for her to follow and moved till we were out of hearing range of the others. “OK, couple of levels here. First, I know you can organize. Question is can anyone else in that crowd; this construction is a great training exercise. Second, we really do need to find a big Slizzard and not for the boots I owe Travis. There was a Science Fiction series of books based on the old Starfire game series that had an off world creature called a Doomwhale. It was the source of endless medical miracles. According to Mariana the Slizzard could make it look like a second rate piker. If I let this one bleed out on the ground I am going be walking funny for weeks. If you get first shot at a big one put two of those HE’s right between its ugly eyes, don’t hesitate. If I get first shot, get a pressure tie around the neck as fast as possible. I have point, let’s go!”


We had not gone 100 yards when I realized that this man was almost as quiet as Chavez. I watched the way he moved; it was not Sin’s smooth flowing grace, it was hard taught care and control. Uncle Gabe had told me once that killing was not all there was to being a Warrior; I was watching a real Warrior in action. He would beat you with his mind, with his training or his beating bleeding heart if necessary. That mountain called Angel had told me, “I will never be more than the top NCO; I hope someday you can meet the real Officer!” As I concentrated to move as quietly and as fast as the Chameleon clad figure in front of me I thought, “Oh, I have Gabe; I damn sure have!” We moved for about a mile when he suddenly stopped and his left hand waved me forward. He gestured with his gloved hands at the claw marks on the tree in front of us. Indicating the vertical size he mouthed, “Bigger!”

As he motioned for me to un-sling the Tavor we moved forward with him on the right and me on the left. We had only gone about another 250 yards when the brush erupted with the biggest set of teeth I had ever seen. I was already fast slinging the 7.62 to my shoulder when I saw the thing, but had only just started to pull the trigger when the world exploded. I am here to tell you that being 20 feet away from a .50 going off was not my favorite experience.

The Slizzard’s head just disappeared in a cloud of vapor, and I was running forward. Grabbing a piece of strapping off of my pack, I tried to pull a tourniquet type constraint on the open neck. I was unable to get it tight enough till a big boot landed on the neck and grabbed the end of the strap.

Slamming his boot down and grabbing the strap Andy pulled for all he was worth. He grunted as he pulled, “Dammit Gabe, where are you when I need you?” With one last jerk the liquid flow stopped.


I looked at the figure grasping the improvised stop and said, “Not bad Candidate, you were about 2 milliseconds from getting off a shot. Best I’ve seen since your Uncle. Now I am going to get this sucker back to Mariana. Gonna have to steal R. Nug to help me get this sucker back, he’s 26 feet if he’s an inch. Get the troops home before dark. Be ready to work up here for several days. You will hit some rock in your digging; Joe or I will come up here and use the rock removal as an Explosives Training Class. I have to get the clinic extension started. You think you are up to it Candidate?”

She looked me right in the eyes and replied, “Yes, but why this push?”

I grinned and replied, “Right Question Young Candidate, I just expended something we can not yet replace. Tell me, what does a modern Ammunition Plant need to exist?”

Jai stared for a moment and said, “Power, right?”

“Logistics, Young Candidate are what makes the world go around. Remember, first, you have to build it. See you at Hanna’s tonight.” With that, I started giving orders to R. Nug over the wrist comp.

Who Cares, It’s A Stick

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

Day 8
Travis was checking the gauges for the Dee-Hee Engines on the Galileo and then said, “Dr. Andrews, I know you are quite proficient at a variety of craft but I’ll bet you’ve never flown something this large, a 240’ long, a 3,000 ton freighter capable of carrying 20,000 deadweight tonnage in cargo! Care to try your hand? I’d like as many as possible cross-trained in case anything happens to the rest of us.”

“Well Capt, I have flown ‘Trash Haulers’ but I have to admit this is quite a bit larger than the Milspec. L-30’s I qualified on. Still it never hurts you to have as many people current in type as possible. Let’s start with the -10 manual basics, what’s the power up sequence?”

Travis said, “On ships like this, the Lancer, and the Mayflower, the engines are normally never really ‘off’ of course, just in idle so to speak or else it takes a full day to warm them up enough for the plasma reactors to function. Currently, naturally, the Lancer is shut down and this was, during the long voyage here but now we leave it in neutral. Please, take the co-pilot seat – you have all the duplicate controls at your fingertips. Just remember that it’ll feel quite sluggish compared to the sleek fighters and cruisers you’re used to.”

“I have no doubt, bet she handles like a really good truck though, load her up and save for the mass she pretty well flies the same. Ok, two questions; do you guys have a standard acceleration warning and do you have a pre-plotted lowest fuel approach template?”

Travis just grinned and typed on his control console and my display’s popped up with a course and a schedule of pilot alerts.

I ran through the pre-lift sequence and looked for the 1MC switch. Ops Ash, civilian craft not mil. Scanned again looking for the GA, found it, and toggled, “Attention all hands, prepare for acceleration in 60 seconds repeat acceleration in 60 seconds. Yall got an outta practice Fighter Jock up here, might not be as smooth as normal!” I went into my version of the zone, what Andy called speed and rolled the power in. Travis was right, this baby was a little sluggish, but she was honest. I fought her up through atmosphere and into the close orbit phase, slapped her on Auto and relaxed out of the zone. “Twenty minuets to next maneuver, Yall can relax a bit,” I said over the GA.

I turned in the seat and said to Travis, “When we get up there I need to get that firewall installed, then brief whoever your physics Guru is and get some sleep. I would love to set in the lounge and swap war stories with the ‘Galloping Ghost of the Belt’, yeah Andy briefed us last night. I never did know your name; Andy is going to need help down there. He only has three Badged Operators on the planet and Mariana is going to be too busy to be a field trainer. I actually don’t want to be here now but this is too important. If your guy can put my math in hardware, that shield is gonna surprise somebody.”

Travis said, “Monroe is our communications maven so you’ll be meeting with him first, to install the firewall. Dr. Hibbes, ‘The Mad Scientist’ as we refer to him, is our physics guy and is also in charge of programming the CNC to produce parts and also the CAD circuit builders for the building of electronics for the shuttles we’re retrofitting. He’ll also incorporate your shielding plans into the new Ex-Fighters he’s designing. You’ll like those if they actually come to fruition.”

Ash looked a little worn, “I am not worried about the firewall tracer, Andy and myself are the best there are at that. We are putting everything critical on the ground behind the security wall we developed for the SOCOM OPLAN database. It’s never come close to being cracked. If Monroe is as good as you say, it will take me about an hour to show him the Op System for the tracer so he can monitor your end. I hope your Dr. Hibbes really is the ‘Mad Scientist’. I only ran this math up on hardware with a Lab test rig; couldn’t go any farther without my UNWG boss catching on. But, with a 220V 10 Amp power supply, I stopped an issue .30 Cal Penetration round cold!”

Travis looked impressed. Then, he flicked the radio switch and called on Mayflower Control to open the cargo bay doors. Turning to Ash, he said, “Docking maneuver coming up. You’re doing well so just continue and bring us in easy.”

Once on board, Steven joined them as they rode the railroad cart to the mining cavern where, four years before, a rather dramatic shootout had occurred. From there it was a short walk to ship’s Control Room.

Captain Monroe was there and his and Ash’s meeting was rather more cordial than previously – four years prior – in the Lounge, before the big sleep. Travis left the three of them.

Ash said, “I never did thank you, Captain Monroe, for saving my neck from the wrath of Rocco…”

Monroe smiled and said, “All part of the service here, Dr. Andrews. By the way, there’s fresh coffee in the pot over there. Now, shall we get to work?”

End of The Big Drag

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

Day 8, Early Afternoon

Pulling the Slizzard, even with the help of R. Nug had been no picnic. When we brought the carcass around the corner of the bluff, I saw Mariana sitting outside the front door obviously taking a break. I called out, “Get off yer duff Lady, work inbound!”

She jumped up and turned, “What are you dragging,” she asked with a hopeful tone?

“Just the biggest Slizzard we have seen yet. And we kept the blood in this time!”

She was running back in the door before we stopped, “Kurt, get the pump and the storage containers; we just hit the Mother Lode!”

I sat down on the ground, “R. Nug, orders. From this point forward R. Nug, when either Mariana or I are in military mode, you will additionally respond to Pvt. Nug. Allow yourself all of 30 seconds to feel good about it.”

For the first time I can remember, He actually asked a question. “Does that mean in a military situation that I now have a Rank?”

“Yes, Pvt. Nug it does.”

“Then I believe that the correct response is ‘Sir, Yes Sir’. The other Col. Stuart fed me a complete file on Military Courtesy.”

“She did, did she?” I asked, choking back a laugh.

He replied, “Yes Sir, she said something about being ready when the big lug started things rolling.”

I just had to turn away before I really did convulse into a laugh. Raising my wrist comp, “A. Stuart to Robert Davis, Private, Sir, could you possibly meet me at the Bio-Lab?” His reply quickly stated that he would be there in about 10 Min.

I moved over to where Mariana, Kurt, Sally and Linda were rapidly draining the Slizzard. “Anything you need from the hulk when I gut and dress it?”

Mariana looked over her shoulder, “Yeah, everything that’s not going to be cooked. As intact as possible and I would have loved to have the brain.”

“I could send somebody to see how much we could scrape off the countryside.” I offered.

“Bite me, Shooter,” was her fast reply. “By the way how did the firebrand do?”

“Surprisingly well, she has all of the skills. She’s a bit rusty like all of us but Lord is she fast. You need to get a DNA scan on her; she had the slack pulled on that trigger when I shot this big joker.”

Mariana looked stunned, “The only people I have ever heard of getting that close are Ash and Gabriel!”

My laconic answer was simple, “That’s why I have to get her Command Trained, we are going to need her.”

Just then, a voice behind me said, “Judging by the get-up I guess I should be talking to Col. Stuart.”

I turned to the slightly built man standing about four feet away, “Actually I just not have had the time to change. The names Andy, what do you go by?”

“Mostly Bob, what is it I can do for you Andy?”

I motioned him to follow me off a few paces, “Rumor mill at Hanna’s place has it that you are a Tanner and Cobbler?”

“Yes, there was a small steady market for custom stuff back on earth and I used most of my carry area to pack my essential tools.”

“Well Bob, look at that sucker, and estimate how many pairs of boots you could get outta that hide.

Bob stared for a long moment and gave a low whistle, “Depending on who does the skinning anywhere between 15 and 25.”

“OK Bob lets make a little commercial deal. You skin it out and assist Dr. Stuart in recovery of the internal organs. Then I need one pair of nice, comfortable square-toed Wellingtons in size 11E. The rest of the hide is yours.”

He looked stunned and thought for a minute and said, “You’ll never get those 14’s of yours in a size 11.”

“Not for me Bob, not for me!”

He just grinned, “I think your getting suckered but, I’m not going to argue. Done deal Andy.”

“Bob, we need a little commerce going around here. Just remember this down the road. You better get your tools and get started.”

Mariana walked up and elbowed me, “You never change do you? When was the last time you did anything for one reason?”

“The day I married you,” I tossed off as I walked away.

Walt is Ready!

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

Day 8 mid Afternoon

I had just left the Lab and was approaching our tent to change, when Walt Davis walked up.

“Lord almighty Boss who you trying to scare?” He looked over the rig really staring at the Robar sticking up over my back. “Do you really shoot that thing and if so at WHAT?”

“How about 26 feet of Slizzard too close to take a chance with?” I asked with a grin to soften it.

It was his turn to give a wry grimace. “Yeah, I think that would qualify as a serious firepower situation. Boss, I need to talk to you in private.”

“Well if you do not mind talking while I change outta ‘Scare the Sucker to Death mode’, our tent is private.” He just nodded while we went in the tent.

As I was changing into my social rig and putting a fast cleaning on the Robar he began to talk.

“Well Boss,” he started, “I am at the point Ash said to yell for help. Capt. Travis delivered in spades, I can get anything you want outta those pots; but I need you and Dr. Kellerman to do the final adjustments.”

I was a little startled, “So soon is a real plus. Ash is up on the Mayflower can you set the rig up in your tent tonight?”

He replied, “That’s where it’s at, it’s all I have been doing!”

“Good,” I said, “I have the perfect excuse to get Kurt off alone. I’ll pop it on Mariana tonight and we’ll use it as a cover. You Ok with that?’

“As long as I get 30 min. with the two of you I’m cool.”

“Oh you will get that at least and be patient that will be before I rock his world.”

I shrugged back into the Chameleon field jacket with only the AMT up my right sleeve and looked like a human again. “If tomorrow works, it will be up to Kurt when we want to spring this on Mariana.”

“How do you think she’s gonna take it?” he asked?

“If I live through the first ten minutes, I’ll let you know. Now I have to go observe some trainees. With any luck, they are going to be second assault squad.”

He looked confused, “Whose going to be first squad?

“Oh some people you know. Just a suggestion, you should get to know Joe Fortson socially. You guy’s just need to brush up to the standards we want. These kids, mostly I have to train from scratch. This stuff does not have to be done overnight. To start with, it’s mostly going to be logistics and predator defense. We have plenty of time to get into do or die combat training. Let’s keep it slow and low. Except of course, one case where I have to start now.”

He flat out laughed, “You have to mean that little firecracker Benjamin girl. If you are not going to make an Officer out of her, you are asleep at the switch.”

“Walt, she’s going to be a Company Commander before it’s over. We are going to have one SOCOM Battalion for the assault force. That’s all the manpower we have.”

Walt just stared, “Sixteen teams to your standards, what planet are you planning on taking over?”

My answer was as cold as ice. “None Walt, but as quick as Mariana can get Council approval for me to make this official, I damn well intend to defend one!”

A Council Proposal

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

DAY 8 Evening

Mariana Stuart

After requesting the council members meet to me at the picnic table in front of Hanna’s, I began my presentation.

“Lady and gentlemen of the Council. Because of the predators we’ve encountered on Alchibah and what all of us might be facing in the future. I highly recommend developing a militia designed only to protect the colony.

“It’s doubtful that the full-grown Slizzard we’ve encountered is the only very large predator we will meet on this planet. To that effort, Sinopa is spending the next two days attempting to locate and identify at least the three predatory species that we suspect to be out there. Perhaps she will find more besides.

“To fund this endeavor, may I suggest we use the mandatory 30 hour training every Alchiban week, each 10 day period, to count as Public Service Hours for those who wish to volunteer. For those individuals that would like to explore or be in the field and that are unfamiliar with weapons; protection will need to be provided. I would suggest that any individual involved with the militia training, should be allowed to have those hours count as their Public Service Hours.

“Not everyone is a warrior,” I continued, “We will need people that can handle making arrangements for supplies and logistics.

“Amateurs talk tactics. Pro’s talk logistics.

“On this planet, there is one of us that the old U. S. SOCOM spent many years training for what we will need to survive. Besides being known at the ‘Big Lug’, he also is known at COL Andrew Stuart.”

To Not be Strong

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by The Benjamin Family


Day 8, early evening

It was odd being picked by Andy to be the leader of the young guns, even if that was (at least for now) an informal title. Ryu certainly seemed more than capable of filling the role, and lord knows John could do it if he didn’t have his hands so full with designing and working on the emerging town center. I don’t know what exactly he has in mind for us, but I’d be willing to place money on Col. Stuart being able to form a fighting force more than capable of taking the goonies on, on our turf or theirs.

After getting back and talking with Andy at Hanna’s I joined the rest of the gang outside. So far the troop consisted of myself, Em, Liza, Summer, May, Ryu, Mike and Kaye. John was sort of borderline – if the pace of construction ever slackened I’d guess he’d join up too, so to speak. There were a couple other teens around as well, but so far they seemed to be keeping to themselves.

They were all backslapping and joking, even if most of them hadn’t ever had muscles this sore. Ryu and Summer seemed to be fine, and Kaye was all right, but the rest were definitely worse for the wear. No one seemed to mind though. This group seemed to be taking the move to Alchibah better that most of the colonists, but even so this was something else. They were doing better than just getting by out there, and actually having fun now that they were back. Yup, this crew was going to turn out just fine, and be friends besides.

“So he picked you to lead, Jai.” Emily said, joining me a bit apart from the group. “There’s more to you than meets the eye, and a lot more to your background than I’ve heard.” I started to reply but she motioned me quiet. “I don’t need to know now, or ever, but if you want someone to talk to I owe you a secret or two. I just wanted to let you know that.” She turned to move back to the group.

I touched her shoulder. “I’m ready. Or maybe not. It’s time, either way. Come on.” I started towards my tent.

Ten minutes later

I had taken off my gun and my boots, but I was if anything less comfortable. I think I was right about it being time for me to tell someone, but I certainly wasn’t sure if I was ready. But then, I might never be. So I started.

“Alright, so I’ve never told anyone all of this. No one. Not even Sin knows the whole story.”

I met her eyes. All she said was, “I know. I won’t,” and I knew she would never tell anyone. I started.

“My grandparents were killed in the ‘Boston Riots,’ along with both of my aunts. Dad and Gabe were there too, but they both made it. Gabe got hit full on by one of the new zap guns they were testing, but he’s just so goddamn big it just didn’t matter that much. Dad got half a blast on his side big enough to leave a basketball sized scar, but it wasn’t fatal.” I paused. “My mom wasn’t so lucky.” Emily gently put a hand on my arm. I almost flinched. I rushed on.

“They closed the border to Vermont after that, but Uncle Gabe managed to get Dad back to a hospital near home. He took care of us for the next couple weeks while Dad was recovering. Not that he wasn’t in bad shape too, but Gabe’s been shot more times than most target dummies, so he managed. Dad was…different, after that. He loved mom more than I can imagine. Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde – like that. He’s never stopped wearing the ring, and he’s never stopped carrying a picture of her.” She took my hand in both of hers. I closed my eyes. “He would have destroyed himself if it wasn’t for us. I-I don’t understand what they had, I just can’t wrap my head around it, but people who find that kind of love shouldn’t be forced to live without it.” A tear rolled down my cheek, and then another. Damnit, I wasn’t supposed to cry. Not now, not ever. Not even in front of Emily.

But maybe it was time. Maybe it was all right, after all this time.

“If you don’t want to go on you don’t have to,” Emily said quietly. “It’s alright. I…” I waved her quiet.

“No, I need to do this. I need to finish it.” I said, wiping my eyes. “So…A couple weeks after Dad was back on his feet Gabe disappeared. I mean literally vanished. Didn’t take so much as his truck, and all he left was a one sentence note – ‘I love you all. -Gabe’ Four months later the first of our extended family died – a ‘car accident.’ The next ‘committed suicide’ and the next got a bad case of ‘food poisoning.’ The last one, my cousin, who had already gone underground, was an out and out assassination.” My voice had taken a steely note to it. “We didn’t find out about that one until later.”

“Jesus,” she breathed.

“Yeah. And he was in Vermont – all the others had been in WG territory. That’s the reason we hadn’t left yet. We weren’t sure if there was something going on or if our family was just having a really bad run of luck, but either way we never thought they’d enter a sovereign nation. Missed that call. A day after (although we didn’t know it at the time) my cousin was killed we got a call from Gabe. I don’t know exactly what he said to my dad, but he was only on the phone for about ten seconds when there was a bang on the other end and the line went dead. We grabbed a few things and threw them into the car…but we weren’t fast enough,” I finished, quietly. She reached out and silently wiped away the one tear that had escaped.

“I- I don’t know what would have happened if we had made it out in time. I don’t think they would have…that they would have burned…Oh god,” I sobbed. I could still hear the horses’ frantic whinnies coming from the barn and the dogs last shrill yelps as they were gunned down trying to protect us. I buried myself in Emily’s shoulder, sobbing.

“It’s alright. It’s going to be alright.” She just held me. It felt so good to finally be able to let it out. I told her the rest of my story; how we went into hiding, how when Dad realized I wanted to fight the WG so badly I was going to kill or be killed no matter what he did he took me to join Gabe in order to save my life, all the rest.

When I was done I just stayed there, letting her comfort me. It was good not to have to be strong, even just for a few hours.

Dear Mr Reye

Posted in 6. Town Meeting by Andrew Stuart

Mr. Reye,

In response to your question, it is my intent that Militia training have as little impact as possible. For example, the Hydro-Plant construction is being run as a Militia training exercise.

The younger adult members of the Colony have volunteered to undertake the construction in return for the training they desire. A complex construction project of this type is a wonderful chance to build a cohesive team and identify natural leaders.

After the completion of the Plant and the Distribution Wiring system, this team will be available for other infrastructure projects.

It is the intent of Dr. Stuart and myself to integrate as much of the necessary team building and basic discipline training as possible into positive work projects.

I hope this addresses your concerns Sir.

Yours truly,

Andrew W. W. Stuart

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.