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jeremy mcilroy

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Finding Sanctuary Final Chapter
« on: January 25, 2010, 03:42:32 am »

CHAPTER 12
SANCTUARY II


WINTER CAME EARLY to Three Forks, Montana. October brought with it the season’s first snow. The air had a crisp, Christmasy feel to it, and the trees were all dressed in fluffy white. It didn’t take long for the herds of grazers to be pushed down from the upper elevations to where there was still food to be found below the snow, to where the hunters waited for them.

Over a month had passed since Rory had returned with his wife and son. Now it wasn’t nightmares of his wife being swallowed by lava that kept him awake at night; it was baby Clive crying. When the baby cried, he took him out of the room, so Kate could still sleep.

Kate still wouldn’t talk about much of her imprisonment. Rory didn’t push the issue. He knew she would open up about it when she was ready to. And if she didn’t—well, he would be there for her anyway.

According to Doc Fagan, all of his patients were doing well and mending splendidly. He hadn’t had this many patients to look after since he had lived in Marconi City before moving to the Moon Base, and that had been years ago. While he wasn’t glad they had been hurt, he was happy to be doing what he was best at.

Using more materials recycled from the Moon Base, as well as some things he had had to have Dan buy for him, Grandfather Mark Roberts was working on building another, larger Displacement Enabling Wormhole Generator to take across to Sanctuary where they had all decided to pitch in and build another laboratory. This DEW GEN, once taken over and reassembled, would forestall the possibility of them being trapped on a world without modern systems of manufacture should his original DEW GEN fail or, worst case scenario, be captured by the still hostile U.S. government, while some or all of them were on the other side.

They could survive and possibly even thrive on Sanctuary without access to Earth’s modern tools and conveniences (Though not for long, given the limited variety of genes in the group and the lack of an outside local source to supplement their supply), but none of them saw that as an attractive prospect.

With a redundant, secondary system, the lot of them felt much better about spending long periods on Sanctuary.

Mary and Skyler had already planned out another exploratory scientific expedition. John was insisting on going with them this time around, since he had given up his spot to Dan the first time. All he ever talked about any more was how much he wanted to go across for a safari.

After a while they began wishing he would just go already, so he would shut up about it. Mike and Ryan, once they were up and about again, wanted in on the action too. Reassuring her husband that she would be fine at home without him (now that she had a baby to help look after), Stephany convinced Dan to join the hunt as well.
Chuck and Chad jumped on the bandwagon too when they heard that the four marines were going to go off with a bunch of guns and a taste for blood. They tried to convince Lou to go with them, but the doctor turned them down flat. He didn’t want to go running around the frozen countryside shooting at poor, innocent (though tasty, he did admit) bambi, when there was a baby at home that might need his unique skills. Rory wanted to stay home with his family, of course, and also turned down their offer.

With constant attention from mommy and daddy and Aunties Leslie, Barbara, and Stephany, Clive Edward Carter had to be the happiest baby on Earth. The extra helping hands made it nice for Rory and Kate because it enabled them both to get the occasional good night’s sleep as well as some private time together, which they hadn’t had in a very long time.

After a few weeks with the baby around, Leslie and Barbara started asking Dan and Stephany when they were planning on having a little one of their own. They wanted grandbabies. Dan put his fingers in his ears and started humming and shaking his head to dodge the question. Stephany acted more mature and told them they planned on waiting for a little while, so they could spend more alone time together before taking that next big step. With everyone agreeing that they should make a permanent presence on Sanctuary, they knew things were going to pick up and become more hectic. For their future baby’s sake and their own, they would wait until things were less formative and more stable before becoming parents.


Halfway into the month, Mary and Skyler announced that they were ready to set off on their next expedition. They had it all planned out, and their equipment was all sorted. Now they just needed to load up the Little Bird.

Eager to be off, the men loaded and stored everything on the TMC for them. Then they brought out and loaded their own things. They had already sighted in their hunting rifles on Dan’s shooting range.

Other than Chad, each brought a large-bore rifle with plenty of ammunition and a spare rifle and ammo in case their primary tool became damaged. Chad was armed with a camera and a .357 revolver. The revolver would be used as a last ditch weapon in case of bears and other predators; the camera was for everything else.

John said he was loaded for bear, but having seen some of the animals on this strange new world they would be visiting, Dan wondered if being “loaded for bear” would be enough. He brought his Holland and Holland .475 Nitro just in case.

Since the women were going to be dropping them off about thirty miles away in an area (on Sanctuary) that Chuck and Dan were intimately familiar with (on Earth) from previous hunts, they would need to provide their own shelter from the winter weather. They wouldn’t have the luxury of staying inside the warm, comfortable, and safe confines of the Little Bird. They brought a large tent with heaters and other accessories as well as some tools for cutting and splitting wood and for other manual chores that were sure to crop up.

After double and triple checking that they had loaded everything they planned to take with them and making sure it all worked as it was supposed to, the group said their goodbyes to friends and family and boarded the Little Bird.

Grandfather opened the wormhole to Sanctuary, and they flew across to the other side. This time Skyler was piloting; she directed the craft to the area of foothills that Chuck and Dan had specified. The men chose an area close by to set up camp, and Skyler landed near that spot, so they could offload their gear.

After a final series of comm. checks between the Little Bird, the hunters, and the comm. drone near the wormhole, the ladies set off in the craft to pursue their own kind of hunt. They wouldn’t be back for two weeks.

“Well, here we are,” Dan said once they were all down and the ladies had taken off.

“Yep, and here you are,” his dad replied, handing him a snow shovel.

Father and son cleared a swath of ground of the snow that blanketed it, while Chad, John, and the twins unrolled and staged the heavy canvas tent that would be their home for the duration of the hunt. Dan had picked it up from a military surplus store along with a few other things he thought they might need. It was in good shape and had all of its pieces, but it smelled musty, like it had been stored with wet carpet.

Once the tent was erected and staked in place, they set up their cots and situated the heaters. The heavier of the two was a small wood-fired heater that could be used to cook on. The other was there compliments of Chad. He had taken an electrical heater and modified it to run from a miniature power box similar to what powered the TMC’s and Grandfather’s DEW GEN. It was very effective; the tent was comfortably warm within half an hour of the heater being turned on.

Near the back of the tent, they hung a divider for privacy and set up a small composting toilet. The marines said they would be fine doing their business in a bag-lined bucket, but Chad insisted on bringing this one creature comfort. The twins gave him some friendly ribbing for it, but that didn’t last long when Dan informed them that they were teasing the first man to have walked on the Moon. After they heard that, they wanted to know all about his experiences in Space. They’d been hunting plenty of times, but they still hadn’t been up to the Moon Base or into orbit.

They had arrived in the morning and were finished setting up camp by mid-afternoon, so they ate a warm meal and then walked around outside to become better acquainted with the surrounding area. Dan and Chuck found it uncanny how identical it was here to back home. It felt like they were home except that there were no roads or stores or people. It was creepy in a way, but it was also beautiful.

That night they made a fire a small distance from the tent and talked about past experiences while drinking hot broth and tea. The twins were fascinated by Chad’s accounts of life in Marconi City and then more recently in Space at the Moon Base. They were thrilled when the young looking old man offered to give them a tour some time after they all returned home from the hunt.

Chad had lots of little stories to tell about Tesla and Marconi, Fulcanelli and Mark and Lou, some humorous, some serious. Chuck had to remind everyone that it was getting late if they still planned on waking up early the next morning. Reluctantly the others agreed and headed for sleep after dowsing the fire with a shovelful of snow.

The next morning they did wake early. It was cold enough outside to make them want to stay in the tent with the heater, but they overcame that urge and picked up their rifles from the covered rack set up just outside the tent’s main flap.

After a morning dose of hot tea, they decided they would set off together and follow the nearby river upstream to the point where two rivers converged into the one. Then they would split into two groups with Chuck and Dan each guiding a group. Dan would lead John and Chad up the fork of the river closest to camp while Chuck and the twins would cross the river and hunt up the far fork. Both sides were known to be good areas for hunting—at least they were back on Earth.

Following the river as it wound it way through the valley in the foothills from up in the mountains, they took in the austere alpine beauty around them. The mountain peaks were tall and sharp in the distance.

The river took them through a dark, cathedral-like forest of aromatic red cedars, hemlock, and aspen towards the base of a mountain where the trees turned to pine, spruce, and juniper. Chad was snapping pictures of everything. The countryside was pristine and serene.

A little further up, the river split and so did the men. The twins began looking for a spot suitable for them and Chuck to cross.

The river was wide enough that jumping across was impossible and deep enough that wading across was not practical. The water temperature was just above freezing, too cold to be swimming in.

Ryan carried a bundle of rope, so they could build a rope bridge, like they had learned to do months before in the mountains of Bridgeport. They would paddle across the river in an inflatable raft, build their rope bridge, and use the bridge on the way back to move across the river the carcasses of whatever game they managed to kill on the hunt.

Meanwhile, Dan’s group continued upriver. Several times inside the forest they came across tracks left by grizzly bears, cougars, wolverines. They kept themselves pretty alert after that, with their rifles, or revolver in Chad’s case, ready to go at a moment’s notice. At one point they stopped to watch a trio of beavers leave the opposite river bank to swim into their lodge in the center of the river.

Continuing up the river, they came to a place where the river bank was covered with small hoof tracks. The tracks led into the forest. Following the narrow deer path through the trees and undergrowth, they came to an open clearing. Out in the snow covered clearing they saw steam rising from a small hot spring. There was green grass still growing near the vent where the ground hadn’t frozen, and there was a small herd of caribou eating the grass.

Chad snapped a few pictures of the herd and began sending them over his personal comm. device to Mary and Skyler for identification, while John picked a buck he wanted to take down. Dan decided to wait for another opportunity. Carrying one large animal between the three of them back to camp was going to be work enough without adding another to the mix. John pointed out the buck he wanted, and Dan prepared to fire a finishing shot should it be needed.

Aiming in, John centered his scope’s crosshairs right behind the animal’s shoulder blade, where its heart was located. He had an excellent angle on it and was less than two hundred yards away. Exhaling, he pressed the trigger.

The sound of the gun going off surprised the caribou herd into flight. They ran into the forest for concealment. The buck John had shot started running too, but it staggered and fell before it reached the treeline. A finishing shot was unnecessary.

“Nice shot!” Dan yelled.

The two friends ran out into the clearing. Chad came behind them at a casual walk. Slinging his rifle, John took out a knife and began field dressing his kill. Dan watched and helped where needed but remained aware of their surroundings in case a large predator decided it wanted a share too. He hadn’t forgotten how te bear had chased away the lion the first day they had found this planet. They dragged the buck towards a tree where they could hang it for skinning. When that chore was finished, John borrowed Dan’s folding saw and set to work dividing it into portions that would be split between the three of them.

With the caribou portioned up and doled out between them, they began hiking back to the camp site. They followed the river again and saw more beavers. They also found the other group’s rope bridge. At the camp they started treating the meat with preservatives for storage. There would be plenty of steak for everyone that evening.

Having extra time on their hands, they began building a cache out of long wooden poles where they could store the meat out of reach of predators and rodents.
Chuck’s group returned before the cache was completed. They had part of a bull elk with them. They carried what they could between them, but the rest they were forced to leave behind for scavengers. Dan was surprised at how much the twins were each carrying and mentioned it. They told him it was only a little more than they were used to carrying on missions they had deployed on in the Marine Corps. Still, he was impressed.

The meat Chuck’s group brought back needed preserving, and the cache needed finishing, so the men got back to work.
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Jeremy McIlroy, author of Finding Sanctuary, a libertarian science fiction novel.

jeremy mcilroy

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Re: Finding Sanctuary Final Chapter
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2010, 03:47:19 am »

“This place is a hunter’s paradise,” Ryan said that night as they sat around the crackling campfire eating portions of elk and caribou with boiled potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, and spices.

The other men agreed. Here it was, their second night, and already they were close to their limit of how much meat they could physically carry.

“A person could live here and never go hungry,” John said.

“What I like most about this place is the freedom,” Chad said. “I’ve lived most of my life as a free man, not subject to any country’s government, but there was always that slim chance that some country would come after us and try to steal what we’ve accomplished. Well, it’s old news that the slim chance became a reality, but here—here we don’t even have to worry bout that any more.”

They watched the flames flashing over the logs, steadily turning them to ash.

“You know, before our mom died,” Mike said. “She told us that freedom was the most valuable possession a person could own. She said that freedom was what made us alive.”

“Your mom sounds like she was a pretty smart woman,” Chuck said.

“She was,” Ryan agreed.

“Our father never did understand her or her beliefs,” Mike continued. “They used to argue over it all the time. He used to say that patriotism was more important than individual liberty. He believes service to the many is nobler than the ‘selfish’ struggling of the individual to improve one’s own living conditions.”

“Maybe that’s why it wasn’t such a far step for him to have Kate and the baby tortured in order to get what he wanted. To him, they were disposable in the service of what he considered to be his country’s need,” Chuck said. “From the looks of you guys when you arrived, I’d say he even considered his own sons to be disposable to those ends.”

Mike and Ryan nodded.

“Kate and Rory never did tell us what happened there,” Dan said.

“And you would like us to fill you in, right?” Ryan asked.

“If you don’t mind.”

“I’m a little curious to know the rest of the story too,” John added. “I can tell you some of what happened on our end, but I’m still in the dark on some things.”

“Ok,” Mike said. “Why don’t you tell your side of the story and we’ll fill in your gaps with our side. Maybe together we can make some sense of it all.”

“All right, suits me fine,” John replied. He began by telling the twins about the initial discovery of animals on Sanctuary that were long extinct on Earth and the expedition that was planned shortly afterwards to begin cataloging and studying them. “We drew straws to see who else would go over,” he continued. “I won one of the seats, so did Stephany and Chad, but Rory came to me and asked me to do him a favor. Rory’s come to be a pretty good friend of mine, so I told him I’d help him as much as I could.

“He asked me to give up my seat on the expedition. I really didn’t want to because I was very excited about being on the first manned mission from Earth to a new world with all of the prehistoric animals. But Rory said he really needed my help. He said he had a ‘vitally important mission to accomplish’ which was why he opted out of going on the expedition himself.”

“I thought that was pretty strange,” Dan said. “He always insisted on going on the other trips we went on to provide security for us.”

“Uh-huh. I really didn’t want to give up my spot, but he seemed genuinely worried about something, almost desperate. So I said ok. There was a whole world to be explored, so I figured I’d get another chance to come over here sooner or later. That night I convinced Dan to take my place.”

Dan nodded, remembering.

“Rory wouldn’t tell me what the mission was until after you guys left. I guess he didn’t want you to cancel your trip on his account. Anyway, I’m glad now that I stayed behind. He said his alert network had intercepted a distress call, one that used a recognition code that only his wife knew.”

“That’s where we come in,” Mike said.

He and Ryan went on to tell them how they had been sent to the atoll and ordered to help the major but had helped Kate instead by bringing her the components she needed to build the transmitter.

“None of us thought his wife was still alive,” John said. “We thought she had died at Marconi City like everyone else.”

The others nodded their agreement.

The logs in the fire shifted, and ash floated up into the night sky with the smoke.

“It took a lot of moral courage for you to help Kate instead of just following orders like most people would have,” Chad said.

“Not really,” Ryan said. “As a test of our loyalty…”

“Which, thank God, we eventually failed,” Mike interjected.

“The major told us part of what he had planned for Kate and baby Clive. He was advised by the CIA interrogators…”

“Real nasty guys,” Mike added again.

“That he should let her keep the baby unmolested for a few months, so that she and the baby would develop a bond between them before they used the baby as leverage for her secrets. They were afraid that if they just took the baby right away, she might just mentally abandon him, like she might if he were stillborn, in which case he would be useless as leverage.”

“That’s pretty messed up,” John said with a scowl.

Chuck and Chad were silent with looks of disgust on their faces as they shook their heads.

“Cruel,” Dan said.

“We thought so too,” Mike said. “And you two are Marines,” he said to Dan and John. “You know what the Laws of War say about noncombatants. They’re untouchable. We didn’t like how he just threw the rules out. We were protecting ourselves by protecting her—or trying to anyway.”

“And we knew the major was more than willing to have an infant tortured if it got him what he wanted,” Ryan said. “We knew he wasn’t bluffing.”

“He caught us in the act of helping her,” Mike said. “He promised to give Kate and Clive one more week before he started the interrogations again if Ryan and I submitted without a fight.”

“We didn’t have much of a choice,” his brother said. “Six of them, two of us. They had guns, we didn’t. It bought Kate an extra week.” He shrugged.

“And that’s when they beat the crap out of you?” Dan asked.

“Yeah, after they locked us up, they tortured us.”

“We’ve both been through SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape),” Mike said, “So we’ve been trained how to resist interrogation at enemy hands.”

“But they didn’t interrogate us,” Ryan said. “They just beat us, starved us, and tortured us, bragging the whole time about what they were going to do to Kate.”

“That and telling us how weak and soft we were, and the head interrogator bragged about how they couldn’t be prosecuted if anyone ever found out because they were following the orders of the President himself,” Mike said.

“And then the last thing I remember seeing before I woke up in Doc Fagan’s place was the guards outside the interrogation room falling down. That’s when Lorentz quit hitting me; he wanted to see what was going on. My vision was kind of hazy and blurry by then, but I could have sworn I saw a blue butterfly land on his neck, and then he fell down too.”

“I thought it was poison gas that killed the guards because there was no one else there, no sounds, no struggle; they just keeled over and died,” Mike added. “I was happy because I thought I was going to die too, and then the pain would end.”

“It was poison all right, but it wasn’t gas,” Chad said.

“Huh?” Ryan asked.

“The butterfly,” John said. “Before we left the others in Montana, Rory locked himself in his room for days with butterflies from Skyler’s lab.”

“So that’s where they went,” Dan said. “She went nuts when she found out they were gone.”

“Rory connected some kind of micro-circuitry to the butterflies that allowed him to control them,” John continued.

“Remote controlled biologicals,” Chad said. “That was my idea. I’m sure the poison was his though. All things considered, I’m glad he was able to get it to work.”

John nodded.

“He connected tiny poison applicators to them, and had them land on everyone he found on the island and inject them with a lethal dose. He didn’t find everyone, but he got most of them. We hadn’t even set foot on the island yet, and most of the opposition was done for.”

“Why didn’t he kill us too?” Mike asked.

“Well, I couldn’t tell you that for sure since I’m not Rory, but I do know that when I saw you on the monitors, you looked like you were already dead. If he knew you were still alive, maybe he didn’t finish you off because if the bad guys had worked you over the way they had, then maybe you weren’t the kind of guys he’d be intent on killing,” John explained.

There was a loud pop in the fire which sent sparks flying upward and caused Dan to flinch in surprise. Chad chuckled, the warm breath coming out of his nose turning to vapor in the cold air.

John shivered. He noticed the fire wasn’t as strong as it had been when they started, so he reached behind him for some wood. He added two wedges to the fire.

“While Lorentz was doing a number on me, he bragged that the major had predicted all along that we would be more loyal to our ideology than we would be to him, so he figured we would help Kate and planned a trap for whoever came to rescue her, just in case.” Ryan said, “So how did you guys get out of that? He said there were SAM sites set up all over the island.”

John smiled.

“Rory is smarter and craftier than the major. He didn’t fly us in; we came underwater.”

“Underwater?”

“Yeah, he took us underwater in the TMC. It can work like a submarine.” He turned to Dan. “You’ve gotta have someone take you  under some time. It was so awesome! It was like being in a glass submarine. We could see everything down there.”

“I’ll have to try it sometime,” Dan said. “So how did you get the butterflies onto the island without being seen if you went in underwater?”

John rubbed his hands together and held them towards the fire.

“Rory put them in an airtight plastic container and had me swim it to the surface. Then I unscrewed the lid, so they could fly out, and I swam back down to the craft and climbed back in.”

“Hmpf…”

“When he didn’t find anyone else by using the butterflies, he brought us to the surface and put us down above the beach. We got out and went to the Quonset hut where Kate was locked up. The guards inside were already dead. They had left the front windows open while they were playing cards, and the butterflies got ’em. He brought Kate out, and that’s when she told him about their son. He hadn’t even known she had been pregnant, so suffice it to say, he was pretty shocked when he found out.

“She told him how they were using the baby against her and showed him to the nursery where they were keeping their son. It was a small building with air conditioning and not many people coming and going there, so it was sealed up well enough that he hadn’t gotten any butterflies inside to look around beforehand.

“We didn’t know how many people were inside, or where they would be, or if they’d be armed. We’d pretty much be going in blind, but Rory walked right in like he was invincible, without a care in the world about any of that. Totally fearless. He walked in just as someone was coming out of a room on the right. Didn’t slow down or anything, just jabbed his fist into the guy’s throat and dropped him. Bam! Lights out!”

John stopped to fill his mug with some more hot tea before continuing.

“Then he walked down the hall to the actual nursery and killed the doctor, sucker punched him in the gut and then spun him around and snapped his neck. Kate walked past him and grabbed the baby. I felt kind of stupid just standing there watching. I hadn’t even done anything to help him yet, unless you count swimming the butterflies up, but what is that compared to what he did?

“We started to leave, but Kate made him look for you two,” he said to the twins. “She said you were worth saving, so when we went next door and found you, we carried you out of there, put you on the craft, and went back to Dan’s place.”

For half a minute or so they were silent as they each pondered their own thoughts and watched the flickering light cast off from the flames of the campfire.

“It’s too bad you didn’t come a day sooner,” Ryan said quietly. “You could have taken out the major too.”

“He wasn’t there?” Dan asked.

Ryan shook his head.

“I heard him telling Lorentz that he was taking Townsend to Washington because of some helmet design Kate—”

Chad started coughing on his tea.

“—Gave them under torture. I heard the plane leave that night. After that, the beatings were more intense.”

Chuck smacked Chad on the back.

“You ok?” he asked.

Everyone looked at Chad. He finished his coughing fit and asked hoarsely, “What did you hear him say about HELMET? What were his exact words?” he asked firmly. He definitely looked upset.

“I don’t remember his exact words, just what I already said. He and Townsend were going to Washington DC because of a helmet design they pried out of Kate. Why? What’s the big deal?”

Standing, Chad already had his personal communicator out and was calling somebody.

“The big deal,” said Dan, “Is that HELMET is a serious weapon, not a pot you put on your head to protect your brain. My grandfather told me about it a while ago. It’s on a higher order of seriousness than nukes. It’s basically the perfect first strike weapon.”


Rory confirmed what Ryan had said. Kate was in tears as she admitted that she had given them part of the HELMET design. It had made them stop breaking baby Clive’s fingers one by one in front of her. She had endured her own physical pain without breaking, but she just couldn’t stand seeing her only child suffer any longer.
One small piece of good news that she could tell the others was that she hadn’t given them the full design. She had given them a piece at a time and just enough to make it look complete. Townsend had been there listening to her description and looking at her drawings, so she couldn’t just hoodwink them with BS. He would have known. Eventually, if they kept pursuing it, they would be able to figure out the rest and to fix the few small design flaws she had been able to secretly introduce into the design, but it would take time.


The rest of the two week hunt went by fairly quickly. Their excitement was somewhat dimmed after finding out about the HELMET design being in the wrong hands, especially after Chad explained all of the different bad things that could be done with it, but they couldn’t do anything about it right then.

John really did bag a bear like he had hoped to. Dan took down one of the Ancient Bison with his Holland and Holland cannon. The twins topped him one for size, though, when they took down a wooly mammoth. They were surprised to have found one so far east, since Mary and Skyler had told them that they were most common on the west coast and in the far north, but they didn’t miss the opportunity to take one while it was there in their sights.

They took quite a catch of fish from the river too. The rest of the time there, Mike and Ryan started teaching the others more field skills. As former snipers, they were far more experienced in such things than common hunters.

Chad was continually snapping away with his camera.

The Little Bird returned right on schedule to pick them up. The biologists weren’t happy to see a dead mammoth in camp, but since they weren’t extinct or even in danger of becoming extinct on this planet, they didn’t complain as much as they could have. Besides, it would give them a chance to see the internal organs of the beast and would expand their scientific knowledge that much more.

They couldn’t fit everything into the craft, so the twins volunteered to stay behind with the leftovers, while the others dropped off what could be carried. Dan popped a joke about maybe forgetting to come back for them, but they didn’t complain. Somehow he wasn’t surprised. This was heaven to them.
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Jeremy McIlroy, author of Finding Sanctuary, a libertarian science fiction novel.

jeremy mcilroy

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Re: Finding Sanctuary Final Chapter
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2010, 03:52:46 am »

PENTAGON, MID-OCTOBER 1979

The Colonel’s secretary sent the major and Mike Townsend in to see her boss. His office overlooked the courtyard in the center of the behemoth five-sided building.

“Sit,” the Colonel ordered, ignoring Major Hawthorne’s salute.

Both men sat in the chairs in front of his desk.

“Are you finished briefing Mr. Lewis on this HELMET contraption?” the Colonel asked.

“Yes, Sir,” the major replied.

“And what makes you so sure she didn’t give you bogus information like the first one did with their Moon Base?”

“She was desperate. We were hurting her baby. She wanted it to stop. I’m sure she made up some of the numbers and threw some of the specs off, so she could feel better with herself after telling us, but I’m telling you—the idea itself is sound. Townsend reviewed the design himself; he’ll tell you.”

“Good,” the senior officer said. “Now then, would you like some coffee?”

The major nodded.

“No, thank you,” Townsend answered, speaking for the first time that morning.

“Two coffees, Marge,” the Colonel said into the intercom on his desk. “One for me and one for the major.”

“Right away, Sir,” the machine crackled.

Minutes passed in silence as they waited for the coffee. The Colonel glanced over a few sheets of paper. Townsend sat with his hands clasped in his lap.

The major knew he was going to be in trouble after what had happened on the atoll in his absence, and he tried to think of how he could smooth things over with his superior. HELMET was the key; he knew that much already. After so many failures on this project, finally he had a success to prop himself up on. Of course, it had to be built still, but in the mean time it was something he could use as a bargaining chip because it had happened under his command.

Margaret the secretary came in with a tray. She set a white mug in front of the Colonel and added one cube of sugar.

“Would you care for some cream or sugar, Major?” she asked.

“No, thank you,” he replied.

“Very well,” she said and set a black mug on a coaster on the desk in front of him.

“Thank you, Marge,” the Colonel said, dismissing her.

She left, taking the tray with her.

The Colonel stirred the sugar cube into his drink with a spoon and watched the major sip from his own, testing the temperature.

“Colonel, I can explain what happened on Palmyra,” the major said, letting his anticipation get the better of him.

“Finish your coffee first, Major. I want to enjoy mine before I have to listen to any more of your excuses.”

Blinking at the insult, the major finished his coffee quickly and waited, suddenly a lot more apprehensive about this meeting than he had been.

The Colonel stretched the silence as he finished and set his own mug down. Looking up, he saw that the major was sweating and subtly shaking his head, almost as if he had a twitch.

“On second thought, it looks like I won’t be listening to your excuses after all, Major. It seems to be working faster than I had anticipated.”

The Major looked at the Colonel with panic in his eyes and then suddenly began convulsing. He tried standing but fell to the floor.

Coming around from behind his desk, the Colonel crouched down in front of Hawthorne’s face.

“You failed me one time too many, Luke. I am tired of covering up your expensive mistakes. Now I’ll have Scott Lewis in charge of the project. He doesn’t fail.”

The major made one final gasp and then went still.

“It’s finished, Marge,” he said into the intercom. “Send in Mr. Lewis and the cleaners.”

“You poisoned his coffee?” Townsend asked. He had expected the major to have his ear chewed off, sure, but certainly not for him to be killed.

“Yes, I did,” the Colonel confirmed, as the major’s replacement entered with three other men behind him. “Scott, you already know Mr. Townsend, and he already knows you, so I’ll cut to the chase—as soon as these gents are done taking this trash out of my office.”

With gloved hands, the men rolled the major’s lifeless body onto a length of thick plastic. Then they rolled him and the plastic into a tidy little bundle. One of them left and returned a few seconds later with a dolly and a large cardboard box. Bending the body at the waist, they stuffed it into the box, replaced the lid, and wheeled it out of the office.

“Now,” the Colonel continued, “Because of the major’s complete stupidity we have only one person left that knows anything about the technology and data retrieved from Marconi City. That’s you, Mr. Townsend, so Mr. Lewis here is going to be keeping you company. I expect you to cooperate with him fully.”

Townsend nodded his head and replied, “I will.”

Turning to Scott Lewis, the Colonel continued, “And since the only thing even remotely useful the major and his goons were able to get out of the woman or her friend before he was killed and she escaped was this supposed super-weapon HELMET, you’re going to build it for me, and you’re going to make it work. The brightest minds in the country will be available to you. I just hope this isn’t more smoke blowing in the wind. If it doesn’t work, we have nothing to show for a very large expenditure of human and material resources.”

“We’ll make it work, Colonel,” Lewis said.

The Colonel nodded.

“Keep me informed of your progress—dismissed.”



THREE FORKS, MONTANA APRIL 1980

The scientists and their families, along with the more recent additions to the group, crowded around the base of the DEW GEN platform for a private opening ceremony, hand tools and construction equipment close to hand. The coming spring meant that they could begin building the new laboratory on Sanctuary’s Montana without the hardships of winter to deal with. Everyone was there to lend a hand, just like an old fashioned Amish barn raising.

The honor of cutting the red ribbon draped across the wormhole entrance to Sanctuary was given to Grandfather since it was by his invention of the Displacement Enabling Wormhole Generator that they had discovered the planet that was to be their new home.

“I’ve never been very good at giving speeches,” he said from the platform, “So I’ll keep this short and sweet. When Christopher Columbus set sail for the West Indies in search of a better trade route, he ended up instead finding the Americas, and his discovery was called the ‘New World.’ His discovery paved the way for centuries of exploration and the settlement of new societies. Like Columbus, I did not find what I was looking for with the DEWGEN, but instead I—we—found something better. He found his New World. Today we begin building ours. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you—Sanctuary!”

With that, he cut the ribbon and stepped through the wormhole to another new world, and a new day of human exploration began.

TO BE CONTINUED IN
FREEDOM’S SANCTUARY

Acknowledgements


First I want to thank you, Reader, for taking the time to purchase and read my book. I hope you enjoyed it. I know I had fun writing it. 

Thank you very much to the following people (in no particular order) for guiding my steps into the freedom movement through your writing and activism: John Ross, Claire Wolfe, Aaron Zelman, Boston T. Party, Vin Suprynowicz, L. Neal Smith, Congressman/Doctor Ron Paul (Texas), Dr. Edwin Vieira Jr., Walter Williams, and Jim Bovard. 

“Special thanks to Brian, the best damned sniper ever to get run over by a charging deer.” You are the best friend I could ever ask for. I appreciate all of the help and constructive criticism you have given me throughout this book, even when I didn’t always take your advice, and yes, I know the US didn’t have small enough night vision devices (ANPVS 7B’s) for individual troops back in the 1970’s or the organized command and control for the teams like they do today (as seen in chapter 10). I hope you and the rest of the veterans and military history buffs out there won’t hold that against me.

The story isn’t over yet. I’m working on the sequel now. This book is the groundwork for the main story to come in the sequel. I hope you will all continue this journey we have started.
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Jeremy McIlroy, author of Finding Sanctuary, a libertarian science fiction novel.
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