Chapter 1

The money had started rolling in, already, and John Belinty was a happy man. He had discovered an appliqué that made items that were not armored, into armored items; and very tough armor, indeed!

It had taken some time to get someone's attention. Once he did, though, things rolled along quickly. It really speeded up when he was able to show beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it worked on anything. It even worked better if you manufactured the stuff into the product you wanted to protect.

Tires were a problem. They could be sprayed with the substance and they still worked, but the tires seemed to loose their cushioning effect. There had to be a way to build protection in, while maintaining the tire's flexibility.

In just the two years since the US government and he had negotiated the agreement between them, millions had rolled into John's bank account. He was now set for life. The government had subleased the process for this new armoring process, to a major US tire manufacturer. They had quickly discovered a way to resolve the flexibility issue.

The only problem was, neither the government nor the tire companies were allowing this process out into the public domain... for 'security reasons'. Of course, the real reason was that in normal use, the tires would far outlast the vehicle on which they were installed. John was a bit disappointed in that, but he knew how everything worked. They made tires for his vehicles, anyhow, so he was happy.

It was in the second year with the government contract, that John decided to purchase an RV, and take a long road trip. It was not like he was needed do anything, at this point. The government was paying him monthly royalties, and he was making more money than he had ever thought possible.

One of the first things he did was whip up a solution to spray onto his new RV, as soon he got it home. This effectively turned his RV into a huge armored vehicle. He was careful to do the undercarriage, the sides, and even the windows. He asked the tire company make tires in the correct size for his vehicle. They did so, willingly.

Hydrogen fuel cells had come a long way in the past decade, and the RV had a huge one. It provided the RV with a thousand mile range, before it needing refueling. It powered everything within the RV easily, and John was happy with his new toy.

For months John traveled the US. He had replaced the fuel cell several times already, and was doing it yet again. A thousand miles seemed to melt away under John's wheels as he traveled.

He was at a dealership in West Virginia getting yet another replacement fuel cell and looked curiously at his bill.

"I don't understand. It cost three hundred dollars per fuel cell. I went eight hundred ninety two miles on this one. I have a rebate coming to me; yet I am paying almost three hundred dollars, still, for this new fuel cell!" John asked with concern.

"With rebate, replacement service labor charges, and taxes, your bill comes to two hundred ninety eight dollars and sixty two cents," the technician stated

"Please," John responded, "feel free to soak me for as much as possible." John responded sourly.

Shortly, John found himself on the road again and was happy about it. It seemed to him that since he had bought this RV, dealers tended to screw him at the drop of a hat for all the money they could get.

Two hours on the road brought him into a storm front that started out gentle, but soon climbed in intensity. He started looking for a place to park and ride it out. Rain hit his windshield heavily. The wind blew hard enough to make driving an adventure of on staying on the road.

He finally found a place to pull off the road and parked. He used his automatic jacks to stabilize the vehicle, and level it out. Not even the storm, which was raging fiercely, could affect the RV now that they were down and set.

John looked out the front windshield an hour later, and decided he was there for the remainder of the storm. He tried to get his satellite TV working, but reception was sporadic due to the storm. Radio came in the best; but it, too, was intermittent.

John put on a CD and listened to music, while he cooked a meal for himself. He decided on spaghetti. Soon the RV was filled with the smell of spices and onions, which were used to season the meal.

When his meal was ready, he placed a DVD in the player, and watched an adventure movie. Steven Segal was in Alaska, trying to stop 'Big Oil' from polluting the land. While not a very old movie, it was still a favorite of his.

Steven Segal was not the best actor in the world, but he was great with martial arts. He had studied for years, and John wished he had taken the time to learn more about the martial arts than he knew.

Thunder and lightning were going off frequently. Despite the sound proofing in his RV, the lightening lit up the darkness outside, and the thunder was a background rumble that he was very aware of.

After the movie, he closed the curtains of his front windshield, and went to bed. Sometime during the night, John awoke with an unsettled feeling. He felt as if he had just fallen a great distance, yet the RV was quiet and stable.

That was it! The storm was not going on, outside, anymore! It was quiet, and the small rocking motion that had been caused by the wind, was missing. He made his way to the front of the RV, and opened the windshield curtains. It was pitch black outside, so he went back to bed.

The first thing that he noticed when he woke was the interior thermostat had kicked on the heater. It was almost too warm, inside the RV. He wondered about that, until he looked out and saw snow outside!

Huh? Snow?

He tried the usual radio stations, but only received static. Nothing was coming through. He frowned. He tried his satellite TV. It, too, was dead. He ran a diagnostic, and also discovered his GPS was not functioning. According to the diagnostic, no signal was being received.

This was preposterous! He'd paid a small fortune for satellite TV, the GPS system, and the other perks. Yet nothing was being received. The diagnostic said everything was working properly.

He cooked eggs, bacon, and made toast while he considered what to do. First of all, while he ate, he considered the snow. It was late spring. While not unheard of, a late snow was something that he was not used to, particularly this far to the south. Also, the last weather report said that the temperature was going to be in the fifties and sixties for the next few days in the area where he was!

According to the external temperature reading, it was thirty-one degrees outside. He checked his internal temperature, and noted it was seventy-two degrees in his RV. He notched it down to seventy, as even two degrees would save hydrogen fuel cell energy.

After taking care of the dishes, he retracted his stabilizing jacks and turned on his engine. He pulled onto the road, which seemed to have turned into a dirt road. He frowned. When did he leave the blacktop for a dirt road? He didn't remember this as being a dirt road, last night.

For two hours he fought to stay on the dirt road, which was in deplorable repair. He got stuck several times, but managed to power through anyway. One thing about having a vehicle of this weight, you didn't stay stuck long.

He finally had enough of it and pulled off the 'road'. He would wait and see if the snow melted. He had enough food in the RV to last him a couple weeks if necessary. Now he parked and got out of the RV and went to the outside storage area. All his winter clothing had been stowed away a couple weeks ago, and he had to break out his coat, jacket and gloves.

He hung the coat and jacket and placed the gloves in the little closet directly behind the driver's compartment. He kept trying the radio and TV, but still got absolutely nothing.

He pulled out a book and started reading it. It was a Heinlein book called "J.O.B.".

He read for a couple hours, and then decided to make a light lunch. He settled on tuna fish and soon he was eating a sandwich and drinking a cup of coffee to wash it down. He had considered a soda, but with the snow outside, he felt chilly just looking out the window.

He was stopped for the next several days. While the snow did melt, the roads turned to mud. He was not yet worried, as he had plenty of food and water, but he was annoyed and worried about not being able to receive any GPS fixes, radio stations, or TV stations. Not even his cell phone worked.

On the morning of the fourth day, he took his binoculars up to the top of the hill that the road was skirting. He looked over the valley into which the road he was on proceeded. He was startled to see riders on horses. They were wearing some very strange clothing.

The horses were armored, and four of the twenty riders were also in full armor. The rest seemed to be dressed in leather chest protectors, tunic pants and an over tunic.

There were twenty-five riders altogether, and one man seemed central to the whole group. He rode in the middle of the group with a flag flying next to him

They were making slow time through the valley, but would be up to his position sometime in the early afternoon if he estimated correctly. The group seemed to be armed with swords and lances of some sort. John had a .32 automatic, but was hesitant about using it. He had it for protection in case he was attacked in cities. This had not even been a scenario in his mind.

He looked closer and saw that two more men in full armor were riding forward some distance from the group. Most likely, they were scouts. Hmm, were these people re-enacting some sort of period?

He noticed two huge black dogs, which he was unable to identify. This was strange, as he was a dog lover. He had thought he knew all breeds there were. Both these dogs were well over one hundred pounds if they were an ounce, and they were muscled.

He lowered the binoculars and thought furiously. This was out of the ordinary, to say the least. He made his way back to the RV, making sure to stay out of sight. They would come across him soon enough if they continued on the road they were traveling.

As he entered the RV, he considered what to do next. He was unsure if he wanted those people to find him, but unfortunately, he was well and truly stuck at the moment. His rear wheels were now sunk several inches in mud, and he had been unable to move the RV since the snow started melting.

He went to the refrigerator and poured some milk into a pan, and decided on hot chocolate. Hot chocolate went well on chilly days. Shortly he was sitting and sipping his first cup and thinking of how to greet these people. He was still leery of confronting them, but in reality had no choice.

For all he knew they were a re-enactment group, but they were armed and that made him nervous at the very least. Plus they had two huge dogs he was unable to identify. These two dogs were enough to make him hesitant, although it would be interesting to know their breed.

He was sitting behind the wheel of his RV when the dogs rounded the corner of the hill, and caught sight of his vehicle. They immediately set up a baying. They were quickly joined by the two advance riders from the large group.

The look of amazement on the faces of the two riders was enough to convince John that something was very odd, here. One man turned around, and kicked his horse to a gallop. The other dismounted and drew his sword. The dogs stationed themselves to either side of the man on foot.

John was now very grateful that his vehicle was armored, and that he had invested the time energy and money in accomplishing that. Well, he was comfortable inside his RV and the man outside was still a short distance away. He was obviously uncomfortable in the chilly weather and his metal armor.

Shortly the rest of the group pulled up some distance down the road, just past the curve. A discussion seemed to be going on. Finally one person rode forward slowly and yelled something towards John. He was unable to hear so throwing caution to the wind, he opened the door and went outside after donning a jacket, gloves and knit ski cap.

He placed his .32 automatic in his jacket pocket and started walking forward. The dogs showed their teeth and he stopped. The lone rider on the horse advanced and asked him something in a language he was not familiar with.

"Are you guys for real?" John asked.

The rider cocked his head, and shouted something back to the people behind him. Another rider broke from the gathering, and came forward. He was much better dressed than the guards, and even better than the man who now sat upon his horse a short distance from John.

The newcomer asked several questions in that unfamiliar language, and John responded.

"I wish you guys would speak English, and stop this nonsense. Look, could you help me a little? I seem to be stuck, and would appreciate it if your horses would pull me free," John stated and questioned simultaneously.

The newcomer dismounted and walked straight towards John. He held out his right hand, and John grinned and held his own hand out. When they grasped, it was forearms, and not hands. Then the newcomer said something, and placed his left hand on John's brow.

Pain immediately shot through John's head, and he gasped. It was like all the headaches he had ever had, only all at once. The other man still had his hand firmly clasping John's head, and nothing John could do would dislodge it!

A moment later the headache vanished, and the hand dropped.

"Can you understand me now?" the man asked.

"Of course I can understand you. I speak English very well," John responded scornfully.

"Ah, but we are not speaking this... English," the stranger said with a grin.

That was when John first noticed that he had in fact spoken in a language he had not known before this day.

This was impossible!

Edited by TeNderLoin

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Story tagged with:
Fiction / Science Fiction /