I’m done. Tomorrow I drop it in here, proof it. them, BOOM, Burtville happens.
See you tomorrow, bright and early…ish.
Soon I will fix my blog site. My super smart daughter-in-law is going to attack this mess.
I’m taking a break
from making my fake
character come alive.
Burtt is his name
blades are his game
his exploits I do contrive.
So I’m here now to say
that soon comes the day
Burtt’s story will once again jive
with your spare reading time
you’ll see there’s still rhyme
and that Burtt continues to thrive.
Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh! My inner poet needed OUT!
back to Burtt….this is going to be a great one. I can’t wait to read it! ;~)
Fourth day, first five-day, Month 2, year 319af
After the initial feeding frenzy on fruit and cookies, the leaders of both groups met for hours while the rest played footie until lasteat. Jonn had also brought something he called caff. It was brewed in a special pot and they all enjoyed a hot drink that surprised Burtt with its tangy bitter aftertaste. He liked it. Later he would decide he’d had too much of it as he wouldn’t be able to sit still for hours, let alone sleep. The festivities lasted long into the night.
The Taj challenged the newcomers to a game of football. The visitors accepted but with their leader in conference and guards posted they didn’t have a full 11 to fill out a team so two Taj-mates volunteered to side with the opposition. The ribbing was friendly but constant. After two games with that alignment and the visitors winning both games easily, the teams were fully mixed and the results were evener. It was a fun time for all. Burtt hadn’t seen or heard the Taj so excited in the year he’d been a leader here. He found it very difficult to pay attention at the meeting. Hearing the kids having so much fun, he wanted to be where the fun was. He was also worried that all the noise would attract the wrong bots and then the wrong people. There was no way he would be able to quiet things down. Not yet. He set a couple of kids near the tube ot keep those tier one bots occupied and hoped that would be enough.
Jizmo, don be watchin ya bastas. He thought a silent prayer.
Jonn it seemed was just as serious about security as Burtt was and had his top three soldiers on constant patrol around the perimeter of sector-22. It would soon be time for lasteat so the meeting broke up. The scents emanating from the cook fires had everyone anticipating a scrumptious culinary delight. As the council and Jonn left the meeting room and headed out into the quad, two of the guards Jonn had posted came running back to join him. They were obviously agitated and turned very unfriendly looks at Burtt and Harkk as they reported to Jonn in a whisper.
Jonn’s expression changed subtly from one of concern to one of promised threat. The tension between them was so palpable that Burtt unconsciously reached for his blades. He stopped himself. He didn’t want to make enemies of these people. He wanted desperately to believe they might offer a real alternative to the subjective life of a prole.
“What’s the problem, Jonn?” Harkk beat Burtt to the question.
The third Guard Jonn had posted came into the quad then carrying the two pair of footwear the Taj had taken off the dead toughs from Zobbi’s crèche. Burtt and Harkk both realized, at the same time, that the gear the visitors wore as outer gear looked familiar to them because it was familiar. It was the same material as the footwear they’d taken from Zobbi’s toughs.
The sight of the footwear seemed to cement Jonn’s anger. He rose turning to Burtt and Harkk with the threat of physical harm in his eyes and venom in his voice he demanded, “Is this how you planned to greet us too? What Happened? Were there too many of us to attack this time?”
When neither answered he prodded again, “Well? Explain yourselves before I order my men to atone for the deaths of our brothers.”
With tensions rising on either side of the equation Harkk jumped into the fray.
“Easy friend. Whatever you’re thinking right now, back off for a moment and let’s discuss this, okay. You’re very wrong about us. We were attacked by the toughs wearing those. They tried to take some of our kids. We had to kill them to prevent that. We had no idea they worked for you. We were under the impression they worked for another red zone boss. A bad hombre named Zobbi. He’s over in Sector-27. Are you sure these belong to your people? They didn’t act like you guys at all. Like I said, they were trying to take some of our kids. There’s a big market here for sex slaves. Especially kids, clean ones. I wouldn’t have taken you folks for slavers.” Harkk finished with a mild challenge.
“I apologize for not mentioning the footwear sooner, we should have made the connection right away. Please, can’t you write it off to our excitement at your arrival? You didn’t find any more of the suits than just the boots, right?” Kkat offered contritely trying to lead Jonn to the conclusion that they’d have the whole suit, not just the boots if the Taj took his mates out.
“Slavers, you say? Of course, we aren’t slavers. Some of us used to be slaves. Now I need to ask what you’re talking about? My men do not take slaves. They definitely do not attack children. This is ridiculous. I want answers.” He seemed to think for a moment then continued, “Sector-27 you say? Hmmm. Jorukk, where did we send the team who disappeared two weeks ago? What other sectors did we see activity in back then? Do you remember?”
“’Twas from 31 to 25 ye sent them Jonn. We’d seen scavengers in the frontier areas. Our scouts dinna cum back.” Jorukk responded.
“Zobbi, you say? Is this fella a tall one with blond hair and wears an orange scarf? An older fella?” Jonn asked. He had to mime tying a scarf around his neck for Burtt and Bann to understand. He’d seen a man he thought must be the boss. He was older, taller, carried himself with authority and most around him were obviously cowering from him. Zobbi, it turns out, wore the scarf to hide a scar. Some say it was from when the army tried to hang him but he wouldn’t die. Burtt knew it was from when Thomass nearly decapitated Zobbi in a turf war.
When the Taj-mates agreed with his description of Zobbi, Jonn visibly relaxed, though it was more like a sigh of resignation, as if accepting a loss. It occurred to Harkk first then to Burtt, that they were looking at a man who just realized he’d lost more of his men. Burtt was the first to offer his condolences and swore to help bring Zobbi to justice. After his toughs attacked the Taj, Burtt and Harkk had already decided they were going after Zobbi one way or another. This might just be the motivation they need to get the job rolling, and now with the gear the visitors brought, it looked like they could actually make the trip safely. Burtt offered the boots back to Jonn.
This acknowledgment from peers seemed to hearten the visitor. His troops were not quite as convinced of the Taj’s innocence though and had yet to stand down. The tension was building around them. Several of the Taj’s older soldiers were edging closer to Burtt and Harkk to add their weight to the equation.
“Easy now, boys. Let’s talk this through, okay. I don’t think these people had anything to do with Jakk or Robb going missing. We didn’t send them this way and both of them were accomplished trackers. They wouldn’t have gotten this far off track. No way! Nope! I think this Zobbi character is the one we want. We’ll head for home tonight and discuss this with the group. Tomorrow or next day we’ll deal with this Mr. Zobbi. Yes, sir, we will. This is my fault in the end. I shouldn’t have sent just the two. I’ll nay do that again, I tell you.”
“We have a gripe wi’ that man too. Ah wants t’ come help. Okay?” Put in Burtt. As a sop he added. “Them scouts might not be dead. Zobbi don’t waste no slaves. They most like be workin hard, but not dead.”
“You’d come help us get our crew back, Burtt?” Asked Jorukk.
“Su-ah.” Was Burtt’s simple response.
“You don’t for a minute think you’re going out there alone do you?” added an extremely perturbed Kkat interjecting herself between Burtt and the visitors.
Why do you have to be the one? Always? Let someone else take a chance on dying damn it! She thought, then she felt immediate guilt for wishing such a thing on anyone.
“I bring some soldiers, su-ah, Kkat.” Burtt offered by way of a peace offering. She wasn’t buying.
“Why not send a crew instead of you. We still need you here to finish fleshing out the Taj’s defenses. You trained them to do this work. Let them do it, while you do yours…HERE.”
“Kkat, if this works out, we don’t gonna need the Taj.” He argued.
“I can go”, Bann offered
Burtt’s foot was down the minute Kkat suggested someone else take a life or death chance, so it was a moot point. Burtt was going. It was a matter simply of how many and who went with him. She accepted that, satisfied that she at least got him to agree to bring backup.
“I take a hand with”, meaning five soldiers or a handful. “That be all. Jonn sending soldiers too. Right, Jonn?” they headed into the great hall for lasteat.
“Yes. We should discuss this further after our meal. We can decide where and when to meet so we can coordinate our efforts against this Zobbi fellow. In the meantime, some of my boys will be heading out to recon sector-27 more fully. No surprises this time and we’ll go in force as you say, Burtt, but I think you should consider a full twelve of your best to accompany you. We are going to a fight probably and I find that though a hand is a good mobile force to scout with, twelve is a better number to fight with. One thing is sure though, this Zobbi won’t be killing or slaving after then, I’ll say.”
“Das a’r…! Ahem! That’ll be good, Jonn. Very good.” Burtt corrected himself with a blush. “If Taj council agrees, I bring twelve soldiers. If not, I come alone. We see in the morning.”
Quickly changing the subject before the fireworks started; Kkat had that look in her eyes, Harkk interjected, “You brought us a supply of this material you wear for outerwear. I assume this protects you from the harsh climate out there? Can you show us how to use it?”
“Of course. It is a simple matter of science.” Jonn began, “The entire rig is called an iso-suit. The outer material is one-way impervious and is the most vital layer. The CorpSci group developed it for the military. They are having to venture out into the beyond with us to counter the wildlings and are now more exposed to the poisons. You should know that not all of the frontier or the beyond looks like our pristine little area. In fact very few areas do, but we’re finding that where fresh water flows, everything downstream of it is cleansed eventually. In the bad areas, the suits protect us from the environment among other functions. We manage to trade for a few skeins every time a milpatrol passes our compound. One skein will make four adult wraps.
“Nothing passes through the material from the outside in to you while excess heat and any toxins your body excrete are passed outwards.
“The next layer is the distilling wrap which is also one way material; it inflates as it fills. You step into this suit like a wetsuit. You know wetsuit? Yah? Well, I’ll show you when I suit up. This layer collects your sweat and, erm, any other liquids your body emits when properly connected. It filters all that, gets rid of the bad and stores the good. We’ll show you how to hook that up too. This wrap is usually fairly loose fitting. It will get plastered against your skin once the outer wrap covers it and bladders will fill or empty as needed.
“We’ve given you enough of these distiller kits for 15 men and outer skin material for ten to a dozen of you to traverse the frontier at a time. We’ll get you more as time goes on. Some distiller kits we’ve found might leak. You’ll know this as you’ll overheat rather quickly. You’ll need to test each one. If you stay cool after 10 minutes, it is working. Just discard the bad suits, there’s no fixing them easily.
“Hair is a no-no, shave it off. We have tools for this if you need them but you must be 100% bald…everywhere, you see?.”
Jonn’s crew were sneering at all there near pubescent males in Burtt’s crew. There was barely enough body hair among them all to foul a filter. The only hair they all had was on their heads and that would soon be gone too. As for Burtt and his crew, the mystery of the all-bald Flags was solved.
“You wear only the very briefest of undergarments underneath, as you’ve seen when we unwrapped. We find we do better with the G-strings you saw us wearing and women wear the very of slightest strapless garments on top. Too much energy is lost with so much skin covered and the garments tend to bunch up and can interfere with a good fit. If you don’t have these, do the best you can with what you do have. The real limiting factor is the plumbing…erm, well, you’ll see later. With more than a G-string the plumbing gets real complex some times.” Jonn was turning beet red. Everyone looked at him as if he had two heads. Except for Kkat, Bbessie, a few other perserv women and Harkk, The Taj didn’t use undergarments.
“Never mind that Jonn. We’ll figure out that part, okay? Unless the undergarment is imperative?” Put in Kkat.
“No, it’s not imperative at all.” He seemed puzzled for a moment but then continued with the slightest of smiles nipping a the corners of his mouth, when he understood. “Some find it easier to, erm, hold things together with an undergarment you see? Fact is though, the less underneath the better. We can show you other ways to wrap too.” Jonn blushed again, smiling at the thought of teaching kids to wrap naked bodies in a iso-suit so that various parts didn’t go flopping about or poke through the wrap’s layers, but quickly continued.
“The Corp provides these iso-suits to anyone working out of the domes along with uni-suits. We carry the uni-suits in our hip pouch to change into when we strip out of the iso-suits, and vice-versa. Next visit I’ll bring some of our women and female kits to show your women how to suit up. The first time, though, should be all men. Yah?”
It was clear the girls present weren’t happy, especially Jjenna Bok.
“Gimme one dem suits n’ Ah figger ‘t out.” The murmur of agreement heard throughout the hall caught Burtt’s attention.
“Hahahaha. We didn’t bring the right gear for women, girl. You wait. Your turn will come, Yah?”
She wasn’t happy but when Burtt Looked her way sternly, she quieted with a worried look sent Kkat’s way. Kkat was only looking, not sneering, so Jjenna pushed her luck.
“Don nees no girl gear. Ah good as any boy.”
“That’s not at question young lady. The issue is that we don’t have the gear with us to hook you up down there. We don’t have the right plumbing for a girl.” he said pointing at her midsection.
“The distiller wraps I’ve brought with me are strictly for male equipment if you catch my meaning.”
“The trip takes well over 8 hours with needed hydration breaks and spoofing the wall bots. By the time we get across the expanse you’ll have pissed yourself three or four times and that, my dear girl, will ruin the suit if not collected and processed properly. Urine breaks down the material. With the proper iso-suit fit, all that is processed through the built-in filters. Without the right plumbing, you see, we can’t connect you up.
“After all that, you’re left with a near self-sustaining water supply, supplemented with water skins fitted into the upper wrap and filled before we head out. There’s a tube comes out of one of the top wraps on your face, if you wrapped it right, that you can sip from as you go. The toxins are passed out of the filters through separate tubing that runs down to your foot and out the bottom of the boot wraps. Why not just drink from a skin You ask? Once you’re in the iso-suit, you don’t expose any skin to the outside. Not until we are in the clear again. Even the little bit of exposure I got when we first arrived here, to show you I wasn’t a threat, is more than we recommend.
“We all fast before a trip and don’t even suit up until we’ve done our solids business. There’s no way to process poop inside the suit.”
Jjenna’s jaw was stuck open as if she had just then considered what he was talking about. It left her speechless. A lot of Taj mates snickered.
“The material is too hard to come by and we won’t be getting more for another month at least. You’ll just have to be patient, miss and wait until next trip. I admire your spunk, though. Are all your people this inspired, Burtt?
“No matter. Now! Before we leave we’ll also show you how to fashion the footwear and the upper body wrap. This is the hardest part to do correctly. If you don’t get it right, it’ll unravel as you walk and that’ll be game over for you. You’ll probably lose that bit of material too. If that sounds a bit callous, well, that material is life out there. So, in a lot of ways, it’s almost as valuable as life itself. Keep that in mind before you spend it. Once the inside of the wrap is exposed to the poisons in the soil and air, we’ve never been able to get them clean enough to wear again.
“You can keep the two pair of boots you have here but have the care to find the right feet for them. The fit is critical. Too loose and you’ll have blisters like you never had before. Too tight, you’ll bust right through. If you can’t find a good fit, you’re better off unraveling the material and starting over with it. The stuff is tougher than plascreet too so don’t worry too much about wear and tear. It will wear out eventually but you’ll get a good few years out of a well fitted suit.
“We’ll teach you how to weave the boots properly and then how to wrap your upper body. The material is stretchy/clingy. It will fit you like a skin. That’s why we weave the footwear. You can loosen the boots enough to slide your feet and legs in and out of them without completely unwrapping like you must do with the cloak, or upper wrap. The boots should come to your groin. The Cloak to your mid thighs or lower if you can carry the weight. It is weighty, so make no mistake. That’s why you have to hydrate. You will sweat carrying this weight and it doesn’t breath, remember, it collects and processes, which takes time; you wont soon cool off if you do overheat.
He couldn’t help but mime the act of wrapping while taking, “If you start at the top, get that first wrap around the top of your head and as the wrap comes back around front of your face, bite the sip-tube. Make one more wrap then let go of the tube. if it stays where you can bite it again easily, your good. If not; start over. We’ll show you before we leave.
“Now I’ve saved the best news about the iso-suit for last.” He paused for effect, waiting until everyone there looked about to burst with anticipation before he finally told them, “Once you reach our compound, well, to be true, once you reach that green area you say you can see from atop your mound, you can de-suit and carry it the rest of the way. The land is clean beyond there for as far as we’ve scouted. If you more or less remain in sector 22’s extended cone, that is.”
He spent a few moments drawing a crude map in the dirt with sector-22’s dividing pie shape lines extended way out beyond the wall.
“By some quirk of nature, you have this lovely flow of clean water you call the Green River flowing past your front door, so to speak, and ours, yes? We have another flow that bubbles up out of the ground a half klik west of our compound and it has formed it’s own path which has converged with your Green River. We call it the Blessed River. We called yours the Sacred River until now. We’ll call it the Green from now though.
“When we first scouted in this sector, oh, four maybe four and a half years ago, the entire plain from the wall to the Rockies was flooded. The Rockies are those mountains you can see to the west on really clear days, yah?” Harkk nodded so Jonn continued but none of us had seen anything higher than the mounds surrounding the Taj. Harkk had seen the mountains from the Wall.
“Well, when the waters finished digging out their current paths and the flooding receded to river flows only, what was left was so green it hurt the eyes to look on it. We started building right away. In fact there were the beginnings of a compound already in place. There must have been a ranch on the land prior to the fall, but a lot of the compounds layout was already done, the foundations for several buildings, that is. We just built on what was there. There was even a lot of raw material to work with as if they had planned to build something huge just before it all went to hell. We figure this land was flood plain even before the fall. The materials were stored in the one structure that was complete. The structure was built on stilts and contained only building materials. The foundations were all five meters tall and constructed of carved granite.
“Whatever brought about this happy circumstance, their demise benefitted us, so we are grateful to them, who ever they were. We mention them in our solemns and devotions before lasteat, as we do all our ancestors.
“The flooding apparently cleansed the land. We’ve been testing it and the water since the day we settled there and not once have the tests shown even slight traces of the poisons that near killed us all. The land is clean from the confluence of the two rivers south and west, all the way to Cheyenne Mountain , in an ever widening cone reaching out from your sector. If you remember to look while we’re out there tomorrow, you’ll see the remains of the roadway the Meinklops used to migrate from the mountain to the Colorado Springs debris field that is now CommCorp. It ran right through the center of that flood plain.”
The discussion went on for a lot longer than anyone had planned. The visitors, who called themselves the Flags after the founder, Antonn Flag, stayed to help properly outfit twelve Taj-mates, plus Burtt. Harkk decided he wasn’t going, so with the savings that provided plus the two extra sets of boots, two littler boys could be fully outfitted. In general, Taj-mates were smaller than Flags, so the material they brought with them went further than it would with the outsiders. They still had to shuffle among eighteen of the best trained soldiers to find twelve they could outfit after Burtt’s suit was done.
Jonn had to ask Burtt’s hospitality for the night. Not even he and his twelve strong band of men would chance a night crossing if they didn’t have to. They would do that if on the attack, so they could get the drop on a sleepy enemy, but that was a rare exception.
The Flags laughed at the children’s tales of demons but even they knew there were things somewhat less than human out there and these denizens roamed the frontier and the beyond at night. The Army was reporting some recent advancements and innovation on the part of the wildlings. Their war-fighting capacity was becoming fearsome indeed. Jonn and the Flag’s own efforts towards security had trebled over the last 6 months. Security lay in numbers which was another reason Jonn was pushing the Taj to join ranks with the Flags. Having listened to his crew tell of Burtt’s exploits, Jonn also plagued himself with horrifying thoughts of someone as advanced a leader and warrior as Burtt taking up residence in the beyond.
By evening’s end, the Taj and the Flags agreed to leave in the morning with Burtt and perhaps the twelve soldiers the council might agree to send with him. They would head for the Flag’s compound first, spend the rest of Fifth-day there eating, hydrating, resting and gearing up. Then move on Zobbi’s crèche to be there shortly after the dawn of the off-cycle, on lo-day.
Jonn promised to introduce them to Mil-grade projectile weapons, though he didn’t have enough to share with the Taj. He still wanted the added firepower present when they confronted Zobbi and his crew, so he would be happy with whatever weaponry Burtt and his crew could bring to bear. He would work out a plan with Burtt that would keep his Taj-mates relatives safe.
When space was allocated for the Flags to bed down, Burtt, Kkat, and Harkk finally headed for their own spaces.
Outside the meeting hall:
“Why you don wanna come wif, Harkk?” asked Burtt with a nod to Kkat acknowledging his dialect slip.
“Hmm. Well, I guess we’re going to have this conversation sooner or later, so we might at well have it now. Let’s go to my hut, okay?” Without waiting for a reply, Harkk turned and walked off. Kkat and Burtt soon followed when Harkk didn’t stop and was soon out of sight.
“What the heck?” Asked Kkat wondering what had gotten into Harkk.
“Him pist fer su-ah” Kett offered from his perpetual station somewhere at Kkat’s heels. He startled her and Burtt both. Finally, Kkat had to turn Kett away, twice.
“Go to bed, Kett”.
“Caint sleep now. I feel like my legs is movin themsefs.”
“Kett! GO TO BED! NOW!”
The boy sulked off muttering.
Katt turned back and bumped into Burtt. He was such a wall. She bounced off him and would have sprawled had he not caught her.
“Boyfriend problems, Kkat?” Burtt snickered, once he was sure Kett was out of earshot. “I bet that boy had his fill o that caff. That stuff got me all fizzy feeling.”
Kkat smiled after her little hero, “I’m going to hate breaking his heart Burtt, but my heart is set on another.”
The look in Kkat’s eyes melted his heart.
“Kkat, Ah don…”
“Shhhhhh”. She kissed him. He kissed her back. It seemed like for the first time and it seemed to last forever.
“Hey, are you two lovebirds coming or would you rather talk some other time?”
They would have expected Harkk’s comment to be a snarky one meant to humor them. The look on his face told them otherwise. Harkk looked either angry or was that the look one had when they were afraid? They hurried up to his hut.
Before Burtt had a chance to get comfortable, Harkk was on him. “I hope you know what you’re about, boyo. Those frontier folks might not be all we hope they are and they are a lot more suited to that environment than any of us are. What if they are just slavers too? Have you thought of that? As for me, I’ve had my day on the frontier. I don’t care to return. I’ll be staying right here.” He ended by staring at Kkat as if expecting her to take up the cause.
“Burtt, please listen to Harkk. Please.” Katt implored.
Burtt was conflicted.
“Alright. In the morning we’ll call a council meeting. I caint just pass on this. If we decide that it ain’t a great idea to have a whole crew go, then I’ll go alone. We need to see if we can do this farming thing. WE NEED TO! If we can get these kids out of here, we ain’t got no choice. Das a’righ!”
Kkat and Harkk both knew they would get no further concessions from Burtt.
Kkat was quiet on their walk back to the Taj.
As they passed Kkat’s sleeping space, Burtt took her in his arms and kissed her hard again.
“I got to go Kkat. We need this. You know it too.” He looked deep into her eyes until she nodded her consent.
He kissed her again lightly and turned to leave.
She reached for him and pulled him back to her. “Not tonight, Burtt. Don’t leave me tonight. Please?”
Katt gently urged him into her space and below the covers of her sleep space.
In the hall broom storage space near where all the sleep spaces were:
Jjenna Bok watched them go from the dark. Saddened that she would never have that man to lie with unless she killed Kkat. She didn’t really want that. Kkat was trying to help her now. Spending extra time tutoring her. Volunteering to pair up with her on team events and sports. She liked Kkat. She was head over heels in love with Burtt though and the emptiness she felt in his presence hurt her to the core. She couldn’t do this. She had to get out. If she had to follow them tomorrow, she would. Maybe they needed women at the Flag compound. She could come back later for Tukk, her son. The tears in her eyes stung. She slung them from her face. She NEVER cried!
Kett watched too, from behind Jjenna. She had taken his favorite hide, so he moved to his alternate, farther back in the same space. The rage he was feeling made him grit his teeth, groan and grimace, like a growl with teeth showing, he thought. He fought to keep it in check so Jjenna wouldn’t hear. It hurt so hard he had to bite it back.
Jonn and his crew were ready to go at sun up. That was the agreed upon time to depart so they’d have enough time to eat and rest on the back end of the trek before they headed back out to sector-27 early next lo-day. The Taj, however, were not ready. They were still in council.
“Democracy, eh Jonn?” Jorukk joked.
“Hmm. They must have had second thoughts after we parted last night. I wonder what the problem is?”
“Ha! Have you ever trusted folks you met for the first time with your life? Or the lives of your people? I think they ran into some wiser heads is what.” Romann offered.
“Ah! Now that I hadn’t thought of. Good point Romie boy, good point. We’ll give them time to chew on it then, eh?”
They settled in for the short haul, removing their outer cloaks to conserve energy and fluids.
Council meeting hall:
He’d practiced most of all night for this moment with Kkat’s coaching. He had to get this right. He had invited the eleven potential other travelers to the council meet since this involved them. Bann, who sat on the council, had also been fitted with an iso-suit and made up the last of Burtt’s twelve potential co-travelers.
“This is the chance to save the kids I’ve dreamed about. I admit, I always thought we’d be headed into the dome to do that, but now that we’ve had some of us in there already, well, it’s clear we don’t fit in and maybe we never will. Even the people who took us in to help us heal couldn’t wait to be rid of us.
“Yes, we’ve gone to great ends to defend the Taj and it would seem a great waste to turn away from it now. But, my new biggest fear has been that we get greenies to bring the kids in and then they all turn on them while they’re defenseless. I sure couldn’t live with that.
“Now, while I think you folks and those kids out there are the best folks ever, and you train harder than anyone, I don’t really think we could withstand an all out attack from the dome, not if the army is called in. We’d hurt ‘em su-ah, but we’d die in the end.
“I think we need this escape, but all I’m asking for now is to scout the place out. See if Jonn and the Flags are for real. If there really is room for us to farm and ranch as they say and that’s it’s truly safe too.
“Now, I wanna bring a dozen Taj-mates since we’ll be marching on Zobbi too, but if the council says no; I go alone. We just wait til I return and then we’ll see if the council says we’re good with this exodus plan. Das a’ri…um, That’s good!
“But, just so we all clear, now, I’m goin with Jonn and the Flags, no mattah!”
The silence across the table had Burtt worried at first. Then Bbessie cleared her throat and said,
“Well. Burtt! I must say, that’s the absolute most I’ve ever heard you say in one sitting. That’s quite astounding really, and eloquent! I guess that tells us how sure you are about this endeavor and how certain it is that you will be leaving this morning with the Flags.
“I won’t pretend to speak for us all, but I will say that I think it would be a grave mistake for us to allow you to go alone. In fact, I think our soldiers ought to accompany you. On that note, and in acknowledgment that you are going and you won’t have it any other way, I second your proposal to join the Flags on this quest and I further propose you be accompanied by the twelve fully trained Taj soldiers whom you’ve already seen fit to gear up for the trip…anyway!” Bbessie finished with a flourish of her hand, sweeping the motion onto the table for a vote.
“Is there a second?” barked Harkk, clearly still upset by Burtt’s choice.
“I second the motion,” Offered Bann. “and I volunteer to be among those to accompany Burtt.”
The vote ensued and was passed with just one dissenting vote.
“Okay. Let’s have a quick meet with everyone while the Taj is still at firsteat to let them know the plan, then we get ready. Remember, no-one whose traveling can eat. Hydrate as much as you can. Ssarah, go tell Jonn and his crew we gon gear up, then we be ready to go. Bann, you and the other eleven get weapons for all of us. No crossbows, okay? Blades and long bows, arrers and stunners. Katt and Bbessie, can ya make sure we got what we need to take, food and dry goods, first aid and the like? Hmmm? Pack the food deep. We won’t need it until we get to the Flag compound.”
“Okay, Burtt,” Bbessie answered when Katt didn’t.
The two women moved off to get started. Katt seemed to be in la-la-land.
“What’s wrong with you girl? You knew this was coming. Don’t you go clamming up on him now. You talk to him before he goes now, you hear me?” After a moment Katt lifted her head and Bbessie recognized the starry look in Kkat’s eye, Bbessie, sighed. “Oh, dear” was her short report.
They moved off to gather supplies for thirteen headed into an environment none of them knew what to expect from.
“Now, I know we don’t have everything here I would prefer them to take along so I’ll need you to run off to the Loks if you will. Kkat? Kkat? Oh, come on girl! Fine! If you don’t think you can, I’ll send Qquitia to the Haps instead.”
“What? Oh dear. Bbessie, I’m sorry. I haven’t heard a thing you’ve said. What was that?”
“Never mind. Come along. We’ll discuss it as we go.” Bbessie smiled at the memory of a long ago love…
Just outside the Council’s Door as the meeting breaks up:
“Kett, I caint take ya. I’m only taking soldiers. That’s all the council approved, buddy. You’ll be scout soon enough, Kett. Don’t be pushin it. Live some first, Okay? Sides, I need you to watch out for Kkat while I’m gone.” Burtt tried hard to soothe the youngster’s fire without dousing it completely. That didn’t seem to settle the boy’s ardor at all, though. Maybe he shouldn’t have brought Kkat into the conversation.
“I seed you kissin her last night. I seed it!” He said accusingly. Burtt angered but tempered his response. Kett was a boy still.
“Kett, you caint do that. You caint spy on a girl in her space. You know that. What were you thinkin?”
“You was in her space.” He added on to the charges.
“I was invited, Kett. You know that Kkat and I love each other, right? She’s too old for you anyway Kett.”
“You says so!” Kett turned and stomped off in angry defiance
Well, what do you make of that? Damn, Kkat. You got trouble girl.
Burtt made a note to mention this to Katt before he left, but he forgot. It would turn out to be a serious lapse of memory.
He made his announcement at firsteat. After that, he impatiently paced until they were ready to go.
“Steff, make sure you string those arrows tight. We caint be losin none in the frontier. Okay?” He yelled over to one of the soldiers prepping the weapons loads. He was just being overly cautious now. His soldiers knew what they were about.
“I figured I’d find you here. You can’t go Jjenna. That’s all there is to it. You’ll die out there.”
Jjenna jumped at the intrusion on her hide at the top of the rubble pile under a huge protrusion of metal. She was waiting for the men to pass on their way to the Flags compound. She would follow at a distance. She had he feet wrapped in extras from Harkk’s plassheet supplies, some goggles and some paper masks to wear during her crossing along with a skin of water.
“Don stop me Kkat. Ah ain’t gots no plac he-ah. Ah ain’t nuffin he-ah. Ah gots to get out. Ah be back for ma boy soons I can. I jes nees to fin a man. Den we comes back for Tukk. You gots to lemme go Kkat.”
“Jjenna, please listen. You wont make it. You’ll die out there. What you have on isn’t enough to save you. Those paper masks barely do anything to help us here in the near zone. Out there, they wont do a thing to protect you. Plassheet melts in the creeks, Jjenna. How can you expect it to protect your feet out there?”
Jjenna was crying by then.
“I caint stay Kkat, I caint. I love him too.” She feel to her knees her sobs violently shaking her.
“You can, and you will Jjenna. We’ll help. I’ll tell Burtt to send women back just as soon as it can be arranged. You can wait a few more days surely? Just until next 5-day. I promise, okay?” Kkat made the promise hoping that neither Jonn nor Burtt wouldn’t deny them. She knelt besides the girl and hugged her until the sobbing subsided. Jjenna agreed to wait but sulked off to her spaces alone.
Kkat headed off to see her man one last time before he ventured off into the unknown. She’d hoped for a few moments of privacy with him but when she arrived at the quad she found the entire Taj was out to bid the travelers farewell. Everyone but Jjenna Bok, Harkk and Burtt. While Jjenna was out of sight completely, Kkat could see Harkk standing in the doorway to his servhut talking to someone but she couldn’t see who it was though she was certain it would be Burtt.
“Sneaking off to the wild beyond without saying goodbye big brother?” The mask came off just before she startled him.
“JIZMO! Ssyn? What the hell?” Burtt was stunned at her sudden appearance in front of him and then at her appearance in general. “Hoo boy! Looka you girl. Damn! What a look! Wait! Whachoo doin he-ah?” Burtt stumbled through a full circle checking for unwanted eyes but found none. Then he rushed and picked her up in a bear hug, squeezing until Ssyndi squealed with delight and a little bit of hurt too.
“Burtt? Ouch! Put me down. Norton! You are a brute. Kkat is right.” She smiled and Burtt couldn’t help but return it.
The two looked at each other for a few moments taking each other in, measuring the changes.
“You look great…” they both said simultaneously and then laughed together.
“Tell me about this Flag fellow and what the plan is. I want to know it all and I’m telling you right now, Burtt, don’t even begin to think you’re leaving the Taj without me.”
Already imagining a long drawn out confrontation, if what Kkat told him about is sister was any indication, Burtt began to beat back the flames of adventure his sister was obviously fanning within herself. Her determination was cascading over him and he had to keep his own enthusiasm in check in order to check hers. She still had to wear that contraption Harkk built her so she could breath outside the dome. This was not going to go well, he thought.
“First off, Flag is just the name of the compound. It’s named after the founder. Their leader now is called Jonn. If he has a second name I don’t know it. Now, this first trip is really just a recon I think ya call it. We’re going to check it out. See if we are a fit. Yah? Once we get back, we’ll talk about all the options. This time, just men are going. It’s all we have gear for, see?” He hoped he wouldn’t have to get into the “whys” involving male verses female suits.
“So. You’re coming back, then? Okay. When?” Ssyndi seemed a bit relaxed now.
“Maybe by last eat of lo-day. No later than mideat on hi-day. We can have a council meet on first-day of next five-day. If Jaredd is up to it, you come with.” Burtt hoped this would be enough to placate her until his return. The meet would be inside the Taj proper so she would be somewhat protected from the harsh environment.
“Okay. But I WILL be included, Burtt. I will! Agreed?” She replied to a relieved brother. But he knew that this fight would be rekindled one day down the road. How would he handle that? He’d have to recruit Kkat, Jaredd, Mmarta, if she was still with them, Bbessie and whomever else they could to convince Ssyndi that she simply couldn’t live outside the dome. Not for long.
Ah hell, maybe they will get the breather right…
“Agreed sis. I couldn’t just leave you behind anyway.” He hoped the lie wasn’t too transparent. He couldn’t look her in the eye saying it. Ssyn didn’t seem to notice.
From a hide across the quad:
“Kissin two, huh Burtt? Not f’long o fe-ahless one. Not f’long, nossuh”, Kett mumbled to himself . He watched Ssyndi leave Burtt from his hide across the quad. He kept low to avoid being seen until he was around the other side of the servhuts, then with an evil grin, set off to find his woman and get ready stake his claim once and for all. He’d missed Katt by a few ticks as she ran around the front of the same huts where she ran into Ssyndi.
I set her straight ‘bout ole Burtt. She come runnin t’me now, su-ah. I make her crawl some mayb’.
He found a place where he could watch for the perfect chance.
Just After firsteat at the Lok stead:
“Now? Now doctor? How can I…? What…? Oh Norton help me, I can’t do this. Why now mom, please…” Jaredd was so distraught, the doctor thought he might need to sedate him too. Mmarta herself was so devastated, he’d had to put her under for the night already. When Mmarta took this latest bad turn, Jaredd seemed to lose faith and was showing signs of relapse himself. He seemed to be losing all desire to live and was as much a basket case as Mmarta was. Marta angst was due to the fact she couldn’t be wither beloved proles. Jaredd’s was simply self-pity.
“Jaredd, we talked about this. It’s her time. We need to let her rest and pass on as comfortably as we can make it for her. I need your help to do that. I can’t say for certain, but she can’t have more than a month left Jaredd and I can’t be here all day. We must prepare and we must tell those children.”
When Jaredd still didn’t move, or respond to this prompt, Doctor Georgge Greg made up his mind.
“Very well, Jaredd. I’ll deal with this. You rest for now. If you decide you would like to participate in the rest of your mother’s life, or your own for that matter, please do let me know.” The acid in his voice would spur some reaction he hoped. Anything would be better than this malaise. Jaredd merely groaned and turned his back, rolling over on his bed.
Georgge shook his head in resignation and left the room, closing the door behind him.
That damn lout. Norton! I’ll have to tell the girls I suppose. This can only lead to more concern for poor Ssyndi regarding her own condition. Oh dear!
Inside the dome at the tube exit five spans later:
“…I’m afraid I can’t make it sound any better than it is, girls. It’s just time. I am hoping you will help me to prepare the Taj for the sad news. She is resting quietly and comfortably and I intend to keep it that way, but since Jaredd isn’t responding well to treatment at the moment, I don’t feel we can depend on him to see this through. We need help. Adult, and please don’t take offense, but absolutely legal help. So, I’ve decided to ask Dougg to come back until Mmarta passes at least. He will be under contract, so he’ll have no claim after she passes but he will collect a stipend and be granted living privileges on the stead. Mmarta led me to understand the issues you girls have with him so, the randy basta certainly needn’t be in the stead proper. There are quarters near enough to her spaces for him to reside which are outside the main stead itself. He’ll have access to Mmarta’s private spaces and his quarters, but no access to any other area. Perservs can bring his meals to him. When the contract is over, he will move on unless Jaredd decides to retain his services for himself.
“Now, if you’re concerned that Dougg might not take proper care of Mmarta, consider that he is at present living in very sub-standard shared spaces without the Lok influence. I dare say he won’t even consider disrupting the circumstances that bring him back to the cushy life, however briefly, eh?
“One final thing I must mention. Once Mmarta leaves us, I would prefer to never come back here. I know that you will still need care though, Ssyndi, and the two of you will want to continue your studies certainly, so I am going to refer you to one of my best apprentices. She is a whiz kid, if you will, a savant and she has an ed-cert. I’ve not met a more insightful student. I think you’ll grow to love her as did Mmarta. Her name is Fflorence, Fflorence Gale. I’ve saved the best about her for last. Like Mmarta, she is determined to find a way to help the proles and specializes in breathing ailments/treatments/cures with a minor in toxicology.
“Mmarta and I have said nothing to her about our connection to you children, but we will today. I’m bringing Fflo in to meet with Jaredd. She will be taking over his care. May I bring her to meet you two? Please? I would be so relieved, and so would Mmarta. She knows how I feel about staying on after wards, though not why. At least I don’t think she does.” The doctor finished with a sad bob of his head, as if accepting his loss once and for all.
“She loves you too, Georgge. If she wont tell you, I will. You deserve that much at least. She talks of you like no other man.” Said a mournful Ssyndi. Doctor Greg smiled as a tear stole free from his eye.
“I have never…” He couldn’t finish.
“She knows, doc. Surely she does.” Kkat added.
The three sat and reminisced about the few fun times they’d spent with Mmarta over the last few months of her demise. Mmarta was ever the trooper, never down and always smiling, making light of their everyday follies. The only down side to all this for Mmarta was that she couldn’t be in the outer zone with the people she loved most on earth.
They made plans to break the news to the Taj. It would be a terrible day. Neither girl cherished the chore so they determined to do it together. They decided to do it the next lo-day, in a week. That day would also be Ssyndi’s official introduction to the Taj. Ssyndi realized then that she’d never be able to live even a little while with Dougg around. If Jaredd decided to keep him on, well, that would not be optimal.
I have to get out of here, so this might just as well be the catalyst, but what a terrible way to finally come to my people, she thought.
“There’s one thing and one thing only I want for me from you and your apprentice, Doc. I want out. I want to live with my brother and our people. Out there.” She pointed towards the Taj. “So, you get that tech I asked for. You get it right for me, Doc, cuz this ain’t my life in here. My life is out there with my brother, my people. I don’t care if I have to wear the ugliest mechanical contraption ever made. I don’t care if it weighs me down so much I stoop from it. I want out Doc and I’m going whether or not you find a safe way for me to do so.”
Kkat and Georgge were locked in disbelief. Neither expected Ssyn to take the news about Mmarta lightly but they also didn’t think she’d be hell bent on leaving the safety of the dome as soon as Mmarta was gone.
“Ssyn, really, we need to talk…”
“No, Kkat, we don’t. I’m done here as soon as that tech arrives and I know you’re close because I watched you testing it last week Doc. Was that Fflorence?”
“Yes, that was Fflo. Ssyndi, please lets discuss this. That rig you saw us testing is not quite a finished product. We are still checking how well it holds up to normal use. We haven’t had it outside the dome yet. Please. Give it a little more time, okay? Please?” Georgge was frantic. That at this late date he might fail his love in the one task she set for him, was beyond his capacity. It showed. The material they were using for seals around the edges of the mask and the filter holes were breaking down faster than they could come up with replacements.
“Easy, Doc. I’m not going anywhere while Mmarta lives. But know this. I am going. It’s up to you to find a way for me to be able to do that for more than a few days, if you can. But, even if you can’t and the breather project is a total failure, I’m going anyway.
“There are eight more prole kids here in the dome. None of them are wanted. None of them will survive out there without the breather. So, let’s get a move on, eh? I am your Guinea pig. Please, double your efforts. We need this. And we need it yesterday.”
“She’s right Doc, Kkat. We do need it. Even I need it. I think we ought to pull out all the stops now. Sure, bring Dougg in. He’ll do the things I dread to do and be happy for the opportunity. But we absolutely need to kick this breather project in the ass and get it rolling. So, as the de-facto ruling adult of the Lok stead, I declare that from this day forward we will dedicate 40% of the Loks holdings towards the research and development of the Ssyndi-breather. Further, we’re putting a development drop-dead date on the project or heads will roll…thirty days. We don’t actually have to do any of that, but saying so will drive people to great ends I think. At least that’s how dear Granddaddy Natt does things.”
The interruption from the doorway to the study caught all three off guard.
“Jaredd, I thought you were…sleeping?” Georgge tentatively prodded.
“One can only sulk for so long. Especially when younger females are showing signs of having more balls that I do.” He replied. The despair was still evident in the lines on his face but there was something else there now too. Determination.
“I knew you’d come around, Jar.” Ssyndi added with an encouraging smile.
Planning began anew and with fresh enthusiasm.
Outside the exit from the tube in the Taj, ten spans later:
“He ain’t no gut f’ya miss Kkat. Him a cheatah. Him gots girs all ovah. I seed him kissin on a blont one jes now, I dit.” The look of satisfaction on Kett’s face was more worrying than the fact he was tattling on a crèche leader. The little man confronted her when she returned to the Taj after leaving the Loks.
“Kett, what’s this really about? Burtt is not that kind of boy. He barely knows…”
HIMS A CHEAT. YOU NEES TO F’GIT HIM. AHM YOUR MAN. NOT HIM!” the raw hatred etched in his outburst terrified Kkat. She hurriedly backed away from the fired up Taj-mate. This seemed to enrage him further and he lurched for her. This was too much for Dogg who’d been watching from his ken. He leapt the fence in one bound as if it didn’t exist and came in a blur to Kkat’s rescue.
“HIM AIN’T NO GUT! YOU HE-AH! HIM AIN’T” Kett was till screaming and crowding Kkat when Dogg hit him full on the side and bowled him over like a broken twig. Dogg straddled Kett with a roaring growl, teeth bared and hackles risen.
“OUT! OUT! OUT, DOGG! OUT!” Kkat screamed once she caught her breath again. “Heel!”
Dogg came to her side and sat, still growling at the boy who was now whimpering and writhing in the dirt, as if Dogg were mauling him.
“Wha th’ hell?” was Burtt’s excited exclamation as he rounded the corner of Harkk’s hut to find the trio unraveling. Harkk was short on his heels. “What’s goin’ on he-ah? Kkat? Kett? Well? Someone say something!” Burtt was losing his temper. Kett saw this and after his near life-ending confrontation with Dogg, the boy had no courage left. He rose and raced off without a word or a look back.
“Well, I be damned! Kkat, what the hell?”
“Burtt, let it be. Please, um, Kett…Kett made a mistake is all. Oh God, Burtt, he…he was crazy. He went absolutely bonkers on me…about you. I was so afraid and then Dogg was there so fast, I thought he was going to…to…Oh, Burtt” Kkat broke down into his arms. The heavy sobs wracking her body.
“S’okay, Kkat. S’ovah now. S’all gut agin. You’ll see. Burtt fix it.” Burtt was fuming inside, though. Harkk recognized the look in his friends eye and caught his attention. With a nod in the direction Kett ran and pointing to his own chest, he signaled Burtt that he would address the issue with the errant boy. That would have to do. Burtt knew he wouldn’t deal judiciously with the boy right now. He nodded his thanks to his friend.
Harkk didn’t find Kett and the boy didn’t show again until after Burtt and the crew were long gone with the Flags.
In the quad, before the explorers left for the Flag compound one cycle after firsteat:
Under the watchful eyes of the Flags, the Taj’s travelers were ceremoniously shaved bald. When Jonn told Burtt, Bann and those other few boys who might have pubic hair that they had to shave down there too, there was a mass exodus to the treens to accomplish this delicate task out of the eyesight of the rest of the Taj. More than one adolescent let out a yelp after a nick here and there and then a secondary even more excruciating sounding yelp when they applied the astringent to stop the bleeding. The job was finally done to the satisfaction of the visitors and they all moved back out to the quad to finish preparations.
When she caught up to him finally she tried not to show the amusement she felt at his fidgeting after shaving. She was well aware of that sensation.
“So, that’s about all the news Burtt. I’m sorry it isn’t all good, but we knew this day would come.” Kkat finished updating Burtt on the changes happening at the Loks and with Ssyndi and her care. “The one thing I’m truly concerned about is that cretin Dougg being anywhere near Ssyndi again.”
“Hmm! Das wha…, Oh damn! That’s what I’ve been thinking too. I have just the cure for that problem in mind. Ole Dougg, he doesn’t much like ole Bann now that Mmarta told Bann to ignore anything Dougg ordered. I think we’ll station Bann at the Lok stead until Dougg is gone again. Tell doc to keep Dougg away until we get back. Okay? How’s that sound?”
“Perfect, Burtt. Just perfect. He is TERRIFIED of Bann. He’s more terrified of you, so knowing Bann and you are partners will have Dougg on his best behavior I expect. Excellent!”
“Okay, I’ll brief Bann this off-cycle while we are with the Flags. He’ll be ready to assume his new duties when we return. In the meantime, why don’t you stay with Ssyndi for a few days. Might be best for all concerned, eh?” He didn’t say his name but Kkat knew Burtt was referring to Kett, not just Dougg. She decided to not say anything just yet about Jjenna Bok. Burtt had enough on his mind and he was headed into the unknown. He didn’t need any more to think about just then. It would keep, she thought.
“Sure. That’s a great idea.’ Kkat continued, “Besides, I can keep a better eye on that girl. She took her mask off when she was here earlier? Really? What is wrong with that girl? I’ll be having a few words with her about that, I will. Damn!”
Burtt just smiled. He knew the effort it took to control that headstrong girl.
“We figure it all out, Kkat. Yes, we will. Good things are happening here. I just know it. I do!”
The brightness of his enthusiasm lent a spark to her own. She allowed hope to burst through her shield for the first time since her parents passed. She hoped it wasn’t a mistake. She didn’t think she could take another letdown.
She thought she was free and clear but Burtt wasn’t letting go just yet.
“What about Jjenna? That girl be scaring me still, the way she sneaks and spies. Something wrong there still.”
“Oh. You’ve noticed that, huh? She thinks you don’t see her. She’s mad in love too, Burtt. With you, and I can understand that. We had a talk a little while ago. She was going to sneak after you and try to make it to the Flags where she hopes she can find a man. I had to promise you’d bring girls next time. Well, I actually said next five-day. I know I should have asked, Burtt. I’m sorry but I didn’t see any other way to keep her here.”
“S’okay. I figure it out with Jonn. You done good. She worries me but I don’t want to see her hurt, or her little boy. Tukk?”
“Yes, the boy’s name is Tukk. You’re a good man to remember, Burtt. I think Jjenna’s a good girl, Burtt. She’s just young and restless and feeling quite a bit of desperation, I would expect, right now. It’s a girl thing, Burtt. Trust me.”
“Oh hell yeah! I ain’t even close to figuring you girls out, so yeah. You deal with it. I’m good with that.”
“Well now, are you folks about ready to get a move on? We’re losing daylight my friend.” Jonn’s interruption was only partly forgiven. The two star-crossed lovers stared a last needy look at each other then broke apart to prepare for the Taj’s first expedition’s start.
“We coming now, Jonn. You ready? We been waitin all mornin for ya?” Burtt smirked to his new travelling companion.
“OHO! Tis a joker you are, Burtt. Well, that’s a fine one…waitin on us all mornin…HAH! Come on let me check your rig Burtt. That girl of yours is right handy, but these suits are tricky to get right. Let’s see. Hmm, erm, well, looka that. Everything done nice and neat like, and correctly too. Tis a smart one that girl, Burtt. Don’t be losing her, now. First time too? Are ya sure you weren’t practicing all night?”
Truth told, when they weren’t canoodling that’s exactly what they were doing most of the night. While practicing Burtt’s speech to the council, they wrapped and re-wrapped his suit to be sure he could do it correctly even in the dark. They also tested each of the distilling suits for proper function. All but one tested good.
This morning Kkat helped him wrap up and the other travelers found Taj-mates to help them do the same. Jonn and the Flags watched this with admiration and an even greater respect for these children than they would ever have granted them prior to coming to the Taj. Upon inspection, they found very few mistakes and those were so minor as to have been negligible. They only pointed them out to be thorough. These children just weren’t children, not by any standard the Flags knew. Children this age back in their compound were pampered much like domed citizens would be still in ed and play-time.
Jonn and his crew wondered at the transformation that would take place in these proles and their lives if they did venture out into the frontier. They all anticipated the kid’s emancipation with great wonder. Jonn was old enough to have seen it in some of their own, but this would be a whole community of self-sufficient children finding true freedom. What greatness would evolve from that? How far could this champion of theirs’, this Burtt, take them?
The future suddenly looked enticing again and Jonn was oh so grateful. The Flag was beginning to fold in on itself. To become too isolated. To be honest, there weren’t enough unrelated males and females to go around just now. This unhappy circumstance was the cause of more than one fall for a gypsy family of rovers like the Flags. Now that they had settled somewhere, Jonn hated the very thought of their creation falling apart due to a lack of interest in each other. Diversity was needed badly, and soon. The Taj could be just the ticket. The Flag adults were all settled and paired off, it was their children who needed to branch out and a lot of the Taj were just the right age to fill that need.
With all preparations made, daylight wasting and twenty-six iso-suited travelers sweating in place, the moment had come.
Tears and cheers assaulted the ears of the heroes. Burtt sought out and held the eyes of Kkat while he proudly led his troop of soldiers into the frontier for the first time. He caught sight of movement to his right and up. He couldn’t find the source at first but eventually he saw Jjenna Bok’s flaming red trusses poking out from behind her I-beam hide. He looked back to Kkat who had watched him track Jjenna’s spot and shook her head at him, letting him know it was okay.
Burtt saw Harkk last. He and Kett were atop the rubble mound at Green River and the site of the new greenhouse. Harkk had his hand on Kett’s shoulder. Kett just stared directly at Burtt then he flung Harkk’s hand off, ran down the backside of the mound and out of sight.
There was no time for that. They were out of the Taj and on their way to adventure.
So ends book one of part eight in the adventures of Burtt Klop and his crèche. Be sure to read part two for the exciting conclusion to their first adventure outside the Taj. Will Jonn and the Flags be everything Burtt hopes they are? Will Zobbi meet justice, finally? Will Jjenna and Kett find peace? How long will Mmarta last and will Jaredd rebound? Are the girls safe from Dougg? Really? Is CommCorp not aware of what’s going on in secotr-22? What of the Haps?
Ah, how the thick plottens, eh?
I wrote for two whole hours yesterday. Mostly editing, but I wrote. Yippee!
Burtt fair missed you all. I could tell because he jumped out of the keyboard, did a flip while whirling his blades to either side of his head like batons; then exploded into the frontier, headed for the beyond and who knows what.
The Taj beckons…and I respond. Sigh!
What would you do if you didn’t want to?
Would you turn your back and pout?
How in the world would you make do?
Wouldn’t you just as soon shout?
Given my choices this day are poor
I have little to choose from that’s fun
Sitting around isn’t hard to endure
But it’s never been my number one.
I picked up my pen, my keyboard for true
I started to peck out these words
When all of a sudden, out of the blue
I happened upon these chords…
I tried to publish a post with a tune attached and it didn’t work. Still trying to figure out why. Sigh! This laptop…grrrrrrr.
I deleted it until I figure out what went wrong.