You know when you fall asleep in a chair and wake up an hour later, only you don’t realize it was more than a few seconds until you see a clock? That’s what coming out of cryo was like for me. Except the hour was damn near four years long and the clock was a new planet. Surreal doesn’t even come close.
So the first thing I saw was a hardened old woman who looked like she may just have eaten nails for breakfast that morning. Kinda reminded me of grandma.
I stepped out of the coffin that had been my home for far too long and extended my hand. “How do you do ma’am? Name’s Connor Benjamin.”
“Ma’am? Well now, that’s something you don’t hear much anymore. Hilde Garronde. Just for that you can call me De, all my friends do. Now out with you, I have others to attend to. Not everyone takes the cryo so well.” Clearly this woman knew her job and knew it well. And I had managed to get on her good side, which was a plus. I could do with some friends, given that I had kept to myself up ‘til now. Had a lot to think about. Still did, but I couldn’t be a shut in forever.
“Will do. One question though; when are they waking my girls up? I want to make sure I’m there when they do.”
“Jaisa, Aya and Arra. They didn’t wake them up before me did they?” She glanced down at her tablet.
“No need to worry about that dear, we were very careful to wake parents first. Ah, here they are. You’ve got two hours. Might I suggest you go shave in the meantime? I doubt your little ones are used to the mountain man look. Your belongings were put into…let me see,” she glanced at the computer pad again, “room 21. Just head out that door and tell the golf cart where to go.”
Giving her my thanks I hustled over to the door she had indicated. If I hurried I could get the rooms set up for the girls before they woke up. They hadn’t had a real home in six, no, in ten years now. If I could get them a head start on one I was going to.
The room was sparse, but what could really you expect from a mining base? Gray bunks, your basic footlockers, not a hell of a lot else. Obviously not meant to be family friendly. Oh well, do the best with what you’ve got, right? I’d been operating on that philosophy for so long now that it was second nature.
I put the twins’ stufties on their bed – they always slept together for the first while when we moved to a new hiding place, and I’m sure this would be no different. I’m sure they would grow out of that soon (and hopefully we could stop moving around now), but at 9 they were still small enough to fit on the same bunk and un-self-conscious enough to not think it weird. That being done I put Jaisa’s Colt Python under her pillow and secured her kerambit in it’s quickdraw sheath on the wall side of the bed out of view.
Oh how things had changed. It seemed like just yesterday that I would have been putting her favorite little bunny on her pillow. That was before the “Riots.” Now I put a revolver that had claimed lives under it and knew that she would thank me. That was no life for a beautiful young girl. She should be worrying about prom and boys, not goonies and handloading. If only we hadn’t been at that protest, if only one of a thousand things had gone differently. But nothing really would have changed. Given my family it was only a matter of time before we ended up on the UNWG’s dead or alive list. The massacre at the Riots had only accelerated the inevitable.
About 10,000 had gathered in the city to protest the UNWG’s actions in the 2nd Belt War. It was the biggest protest in years. After Chicago a lot of people in the movement had been too afraid to take to the streets anymore, and the sheeple all viewed us as violent crazies and anarchists (that’s totalitarian propaganda for you!). In reality it was a completely peaceful protest. They opened fire when my father, the late, great Governor Benjamin, was leading the group in prayer. He never asked to be the leader of these people; he just did what he felt he had to. He was governor of Vermont when the US announced its plans to join the UNWG and he knew a bad idea when he saw it. Vermont voted to secede two years later. There was hell to pay when they killed him, let me tell you.
The story later was that we were being subversive and he had been “inciting the protestors to riot.” In reality they just wanted a chance to capture my father. That they got to test out their newest “non-lethal” weapons was just a bonus. Only this time they missed the “non” part. A hundred and thirty seven people were killed that day, including my parents, my wife and both my sisters. My brother and I only survived by chance. Well, I survived by chance. He survived because he’s built like a friggin tank.
God I need to stop playing that scene in my head.
I got up off the bed where I had been sitting and walked over to the luggage. Checking on my little armory always helped get my mind off things. First came my Mk23 - the military version, of course, and all tricked out too. That (not so) little bugger was as rugged as they come. Next came my blades. The other kerambit got placed aside; that one was staying with me for sure. The only HI khukri I had in the luggage, the YCS, was holding up just fine, as was the HI-Koster Bowie. Man they were beauties. Had to leave some other stuff behind to bring them, but they were simply such deadly works of art that I couldn’t leave them behind.
Wish I had more with me, but on such short notice and with so little room I hadn’t been able to take much of the rather substantial arsenal I had amassed over the past few years. Oh well, I’m sure they were being put to good use back home by Gabe and his old SSEAL buddies. Thank the lord he had friends in low places or we never would have been able to take even this much. I hoped the rest of the firepower and steel I had shipped with my tools and the extra ammunition and clothing had gotten to the Mayflower before I did. I guess I could now say one good thing about living on the run; I did get lucky that I had to ship that stuff ahead.