Chapter 1: Preperations

I was 40 when they discovered Columbus and released the news. There was quite a bit of arguing by the polies when they opened up the planet for colonization. It was a regular circus. Being uninterested in such things, I ignored the whole thing. I didn't care one way or another. Retired for medical from the military at 35, I figured that I had done my share already.

Then, on December 7th, 2041, they passed the Colonization act. The people would be selected by lottery. If your name was pulled, you went. No choice in the matter, you were gone. Those who refused would face unmentioned punishment.

Needless to say, I got a notice. Since I only check my mail once a month they sent out the suits to tell me. That was a laugh. I live in a retired missile base. The suits had to find the entrance first and then they had to find a way to knock on a blast door that you can drive a semi through.

When they finally found the phone box to call inside, I decided to give them a hard time. I answered and told them that they were on private property and would have to leave. The one doing the talking responded by saying that they were representatives of the government. I told them that I didn't care as I was retired. They would still have to leave.

The fun really started when the guy pulled out a badge and told me that if I didn't open the door and speak to them they would have to force their way in. That was really a hoot. The blast door was layered armor plating like the Navy used to use on them old battleships. It was two feet thick and it required a special hydraulic jack to open and close. This was powered by my wind generator on top of the hill that the base was buried under. It took a couple of minutes to open all the way. I used a different door to go out when I was walking, but that one was really well hidden.

Since they weren't interested in leaving and since it would probably get noisy when they tried to use explosives to blow the garage door, I decided to go out the hidden front door. Needless to say, I had my rifle and was wearing my dragon skin vest. I also had my Kevlar duster on. That thing actually cost me more than my vest. The vest was old surplus military. The duster was custom. I also had my revolvers on and my 9mm behind my back where the duster did a good job of hiding it.

I went out the door and sneaked up on them from the side and asked them what they wanted.

They both jumped at the sound of my voice and spun around with the talker going for his gun. By the time he had it out, I had my rifle aimed at his belly button. I figured that if the idiot was stupid enough to shoot, he deserved what he got for dinner.

He looked at my rifle and stated that it was a felony to threaten federal officers with a weapon. I stated that they were trespassing and that since they hadn't identified themselves properly, and were armed that I'd be within my rights to start shooting right now. I also pointed out one of the video camera's that were aimed at them and said that they were on film.

The quiet one started whispering to the talker. They went back and forth like that for a couple of minutes before the talker put up his gun and stated that they were there to inform me that I had been selected as a colonist for the planet Columbus.

I said, "I'm not interested in being a colonist. Go check your records on me. I retired five years ago with a medical from the Army. I sure as hell ain't going to a new planet just to get myself killed because some yahoo decided that I was a colonist."

The talker responded by saying, "You don't have a choice. By act of the Government of the United States, the colonization bill was passed. All selectees were by lottery. The fortunate ones who were chosen will either go or be charged with a felony. This would also mean that you would end up in prison for twenty years and would forfeit your pension and loose your property. You either go to Columbus or to jail."

With that, the quiet one handed me a large manila envelope and said, "Sir, you've been served your notice. You have thirty days to respond."

They left after that, and I went back inside. I took the envelope to my office and grabbed a cup of coffee. After sitting down at my desk, I checked the documents inside. There wasn't much, just an explanation of the Colonization act and what was required. It also contained a government credit card. The explanation for that was that I could purchase supplies and such for myself and any dependents that I might have.

I didn't have a wife or kids, and both my brothers had died during the war in 2010. The kids were grown now. I hadn't seen the kids for years and didn't even know if all of them were alive or not. That was something I would have to check on. I wasn't going to let the suits take the base back from me. It wasn't much, just a command and control center for several remote silos. But it was home. I bought the place at an estate sale when I got discharged. I had gotten a nice parting package when I was retired so I purchased the place. It was actually rather cheap since the property was in a remote location with no description of the base. All that was told was the size of the land parcel and that it had been a former military outpost of some type.

The land was only a couple of acres in size and didn't have any timber or valuable minerals. Even the water was by pump from a deep well.

I got on my computer and tracked down the oldest boy. It took a couple of hours, but I finally got in touch with him on my sat phone. The funny thing about him was that he was only a year or two younger than me. I'd been that surprise package when my mother found out she was pregnant. I was 20 years younger that the next brother and 25 years younger than the oldest. I barely remembered either of them and my nephew didn't at all.

Well, I made arrangements to meet with him and an attorney to transfer what I wasn't taking. I decided that I would try to keep the old five ton wrecker if I could find a way to take it with me, but most of the rest would end up being his. I was taking my survival gear and my guns and that would be about it.

A few days later, I met with Chris and the shyster in town. Chris had flown in the day before and stayed at a motel on me. I had plenty of cash, but it looked like it wouldn't do me much good so I splurged a bit and got him a room in the best place in town. It was a resort with full spa and such.

We got the transfers taken care of and went out to dinner. Chris told me that he was going to arrange to get his family moved out here the next day, but it would take a few weeks. I told him to have at it since the place was his. I'd get the stuff I was keeping out of there and show him how to get in.

After dinner, I dropped him at the resort and headed home. After my shower, I got on the net and did quite a bit of spending. I had the govinment card so I decided to see what I could get. Turns out that I could get quite a bit, so I splurged on stuff that I'd always wanted but couldn't afford.

A few thousand in purchases later, I hit the rack. I got a decent nights sleep that night. No nightmares from when I'd been in South America for a change. That was a messy war down there. We'd finished the Drug Cartels and several of the governments that either supported them or were outright owned by them. I was in Special Ops which ought to explain the nightmares.

Over the next few days, I got my travel trailer packed with what I was keeping and picking up the stuff that I'd bough off the net. That set of titanium cook wear was nice.

When everything was set up and ready, I got in touch with Chris and showed him around. After that, I gave him the keys and the access codes and headed to camp.

That's right, I was off to training camp again. This time was going to be fun since I doubted that they'd be able to teach me much.

I got there early in the morning and had to sit and wait for the office to open. Nobody showed up until after 9 A.M. What a way to run a training camp. If I'd been in charge, they'd have been there at 7:30 and opened by 8 am. Some jobs are just so much garbage.

I'd been there a week getting my stuff into the pod they assigned to me when an old friend contacted me. It seemed that his daughter was 'Selected to Colonize' just as I had been. He actually wanted me to marry her so that she'd be left alone on the ship and on the planet when we got there.

Since he was an old friend, I met with him and he explained the deal. Carmen had been a mechanic in the Marines and the appointed government had decided to offer her a job with the Colony operating her own shop. They were going to give her a special pod set up as a maintenance shop and let her run it. If I married her, my friend would arrange to get me hired by the camp as a survival instructor and by the colony as a scout/explorer. If I took the deal, we'd get the shop pod and a family pod.

Then he hit me with the biggie. The family pod would be a pre production experimental pod with deployable wheels that I could use while exploring. It would be large enough to sleep 4 and have plenty of room. A lot more room than the single that I'd been assigned. Carmen added that I'd be able to store extra gear in the shop pod and there would be enough room for my wrecker. The colony admin types would love that part as they would have access to a big wrecker along with someone who could drive it.

I accepted the deal, and the next day I was a newly wed with a wife almost young enough to be my daughter.

The next few months were interesting. I got my new pod and the equipment I wanted for it, including an upgraded solar set up and a wind turbine that I could mount on top of it. I even got a hold of an experimental helicopter that we loaded into the shop.

I had a reload room set up in a small closet in my pod, and plenty of ammo for my guns. I had two .357 magnum revolvers and the 9mm for belt guns and two .44 magnums in twin shoulder holsters. All of the revolvers were special orders and made of much better materials than normal production. They were a lot more accurate and had longer range also. They were break open double action, too. I loved all four those things.

I also kept all of my own guns. I even had a replica of the Ferguson Rifle. This was a breach loading flint lock that fired a .65 caliber ball. It was a nice piece. There was also the Barrett .50 caliber snipers rifle with a day/night scope. I also had a pair of sporterized M1 Garand 30.06's. These things were even rarer than the original M1. They were set up with a synthetic stock and had an external magazine that held twenty rounds. With the rebuilt action, it was no longer a thumb buster.

To add to all of that, I had a .44 magnum lever action Marlin that my father had left to me with a .50 caliber Desert Eagle automatic that I had never fired. I'd seen dad shoot it a few times, but he was a much bigger man than me and had the hands for it. I figured that it might be nice in an emergency, but I wasn't going to shoot that cannon unless it was at a target that was going to eat me and it looked too big for the other pistols to handle. I've seen the bear that dad killed with that thing, so I know that it can drop a big critter. I just didn't want to be the one that had to shoot it.

I made sure that Carmen had matching weapons in her shop pod plus what she wanted. Then we both got two compound bows each. I'm not much with a bow, but I figured that they would be nice if we ran low on ammo. It's a lot easier to make an arrow than it is to make modern gun powder, although I had 1000 rounds for each caliber in both of the pods, and plenty of powder, cartridges, percussion caps and lead for reloading. We even had the equipment to make new cartridges for each caliber and plenty of bullet molds. I know that an automatic won't work well with black powder, but I knew how to make it if I could find a source of sulfur. The nitrates could be extracted from animal droppings and urine if you must know.

We also had enough food in each pod to last up to six months. On top of that, we had a lot of freeze dried camping style meals. We had enough of that stuff to last both of us a year in each pod. Those pods ended up loaded.

The governor even had an old BDRM Soviet armored scout car in Carmen's shop pod. I don't know where he found that old thing. It must have been seventy years old or more. He'd even gotten it converted to run on diesel. It was loaded full of a bunch of stuff for the colony, as he put it. I wondered what he had stashed in it.

Aside from all the supplies and equipment that Carmen and I had managed to acquire, I taught class three days a week. The basic survival course I was teaching was mostly voluntary. I had about fifty students. Most just showed up and went through the motions. A few would actually listen and those were the ones I focused on. I taught them more than the required skills. They learned how to start a fire without matches for one. Not an easy skill to gain but it can save your life in an emergency. A lot of people have died because they didn't know that a shoe lace and a stick can make a bow for a bow and spindle fire starting kit.

I also taught them how to build an emergency shelter with their parachutes from the pods landing gear. It isn't hard to make a tent out of a large parachute. It comes with all you need except for the framework. Along with that, I taught them how to make snares out of wire and how to braid a rope out of vines and other such skills. If you want to take the time, it isn't hard to make a small net out of vines for fishing. It won't last very long but it might keep you alive.

The kids in this group weren't very knowledgeable about wilderness survival but were very focused. Especially one named Mylee or Myleigh ... I don't recall for sure but she was very focused. After watching what she was packing on her pod, I decided that if I had a choice for a neighbor, she'd be the first on the list. She and her friends would be welcomed at my home any time they wanted to stop by.

Also in the group were a couple of older men and one woman. They knew a lot already but were willing to learn new skills. They also taught a few things that I hadn't known. It worked well for the small group,. We taught each other quite a few things. One of the boys taught me some tricks with computers that I hadn't known and one of the girls gives a great therapeutic massage. That one made it to the second space of my preferred neighbors list. Two of the men were my age, and also vets. The woman was a rancher. That got a high rating for neighbors too.

On the days I wasn't teaching, I worked on getting my pod set up. I had a lot more room than most since I had a family pod that would normally be issued to a group of four but I needed the bigger pod since my job for the colony would be as a scout and explorer. I used all of that extra room for supplies and equipment. I had figured that the more I had, the less I'd want so I got as much as I could into it that the weight allowance for it would allow. By the time we were to launch, I had only about ten pounds left of my max weight. I don't know how they established that allowance, but I knew that a pod could launch or land with a lot more than they would let you have.

During the time that we were at the training camp, Carmen taught basic maintenance on vehicles. She also taught a few other things as time allowed. We were both busy during that time and hardly saw each other. We'd either be teaching or looking for that one little thing that could mean the difference between living or dying.

That summer, the classes were increased since the school aged kids were on break. That meant less time for other things but gave me a chance to work more with my students. I pushed hard on the basics since nothing is more basic than waking up in the morning still able to breath. I even had a few camp outs where the only things allowed were what you had in your pockets. If you didn't have a candy bar, you did without. After the first one, it was interesting to see what some of the students would show up with. One even had a backpack with all the camping gear he could carry. That didn't last long because on the second impromptu camp out, the only things they were allowed to bring were what they could put in their pockets. It isn't survival if you look like you're going on vacation.

After summer was over and the kids went back to school, we were back on the 3 days a week classes. It was during this time that my step mother came to see me. I hadn't seen her in years. We had just kind of lost contact after I went into the Army.

Anyways, the day she visited she brought some of dads old stuff. She told me that with my brothers gone there was no one left to give it to. She had his old footlocker and some large boxes for me. She also told me that both of her girls had been killed in a car accident a few years ago. I hadn't heard and was saddened to be told. When Mom died, dad had spent a few years just existing. Then he left me with Jerry, my oldest brother. He was gone for 2 weeks and showed up suddenly with Marsha and her two girls. All he said was, "Meet your new mother and sisters.

Marsha had lost her husband about the same time as Mom died. Dad had met her on one of his business trips. They stayed in touch for several months, and then decided to get married. It wasn't love, at least not at first. Dad needed someone to help raise a young boy and Marsha needed help with her two girls. They worked out an agreement and got married.

At first, I was resentful because I didn't want a new mom. I wanted my Mom back. Marsha finally sat with me one day and told me that she wasn't there to take over for Mom. She was there to be a mother but not the mother. She told me that Dad just couldn't keep up with a son my age and two more grown up. She needed help because it was hard to work and raise children that were between five and seven. She just didn't have enough time for them and work.

After that, we became friends. I never called her Mom but I learned to love her like I did my own. I also learned to love her girls like sisters. It hurt to learn that the girls who used to follow me around all the time were gone.

That's when Marsha dropped the big one. She had a brain tumor that was untreatable and two grandchildren that she couldn't take care of any more. She wanted me to take them in and raise them. The only thing I could think of to do was to lean forward and hug her and say, "I guess this is payback for when I was a kid. I'll do my best Mom."

Marsha hugged me back and said, "I know you never called me that before, but I always thought of you as my son. I know how hard it was for you at first to have to deal with two girls younger than you and I know how much they loved you. They used to ask me about you after you disappeared but I couldn't tell them anything. The only reason I found you is because of the Government releasing the list of those chosen as colonists. You are the last living member of my family except for my granddaughter and grandson. They won't have anybody else after I'm gone."

"I'll do the same as you did, Mom", I said. "The best that I can. I'll have to contact my wife and let her know but I expect that there won't be much of a problem."

Marsha sat there for a second looking at me and said, "I didn't know you were married. When did that happen?"

"I married the daughter of an old Army friend to help her a bit," I said. "She got selected as a colonist too, so we got married. It gives us some extra's that a single person wouldn't get. She will be running one of the mechanics shops for the colony, and I'll be doing a lot of the scouting and such. With us married and my job, I've got a four person pod. She lives mostly in the apartment of her shop and I'm in my pod. It'll be tight at first, but we have enough room for the kids."

Marsha stood up and said, "Then I guess it's a good time for you to meet them."

She went outside to the RV she'd driven up in and brought out a boy and a girl who were both about seven or so. They looked a lot like the girls had at that age. I almost started crying while I was looking at them and remembering the two little girls that I would now never see again. The worst of it was that it was my fault for not keeping in touch after Dad died.

Marsha led the kids up to me and told them, "This is your uncle James. He'll be taking care of you now since I'm not able to any more."

The kids looked up at her and started crying. The girl said, "But Gram, we can't take care of you if you leave us. Now that our Mommies are gone, we have to stay with you!"

Marsha bent over and hugged her and said, "You can't take care of me any more. I have to go to a special hospital soon and you won't be able to stay there. I want you to take care of James for me. I raised him with your mothers and he's like a son to me. You two are all I have left except for him and I want you to be together. Please?"

Both children nodded and Marsha hugged them. Then she went back to the RV and got out two small cases to go with the boxes of Dad's stuff that she'd brought. She came back and hugged me and then the kids and said, "I won't see you again, but I want all three of you to know that I love you dearly and always will. Take care of each other and remember that you're a family."

She went back to the RV after that, got in and drove away. Since my pod was almost full, I put the boxes of Dad's stuff away and took the kids over to the shop pod and introduced them to Carmen. While she was getting them something to eat, I called the people I was currently working for and told them about the two new colonists. That started a bit of an argument.

I was told that I would have to turn the children over to CPS because it was too late to add to my family. I told them that was fine and that I would be leaving in the morning. I wished them luck finding a new teacher for my class and explained that they would also need a new scout for the colony since I wouldn't be available to do the job any more. They asked what I meant. I said that I needed to be on the planet to explore it and since I wouldn't be going, I wouldn't be exploring.

That got their attention! I was told about all the penalties and such that would happen if I tried to leave the camp. I just laughed and said, "Those penalties only mean something to someone who has something to loose. My stepmother is dying and my stepsisters are gone. I don't have much left to loose since I already gave away most of my property. All I have left is a big truck and a trailer. If you want to take that away too, then have at it. When you come to get that stuff, though, I'll be driving the truck and pulling the trailer. It shouldn't be hard. All you have to do is stop me."

I hung up on them after that. I told Carmen about the conversation and she just shook her head and used her phone to call home. She talked to her father for about five minutes and then handed me the phone.

Charlie didn't even bother with saying hello. The first thing he said was, "Well you sure know how to stir up the hornets nest, James. Just so you know, the only thing that is firm at this point is the pod issue. You already have a four person, though, so that isn't a problem anyway. The regulations for family are simple. If a colonist either has or receives custody of dependents up to one month before launch, then they can go. The only exceptions are new births. If there are kids children over 16, they can get emancipated but other than that, there is a limit to changes in families. Parents can take their kids. Adoption is allowed but it has to be finalized before the 1 month deadline.

You shouldn't have any problems with your case so don't sweat it. Pods can't be upgraded but if you have room then you can take them. I'll get in contact with the administration at the camp and set them straight on that. It might be fun, though, if you hooked up your truck and trailer just to see what happens but I wouldn't suggest it."

I laughed and said, "I'm really tempted to do just that and start driving around for some fun. It would be interesting to see what happened."

Charlie laughed too and said, "Yes it would but it would also cause more trouble than it's worth. As a thought, though, you could always take the truck to a few used car lots and start pricing around like you're going to sell it. The colony doesn't own it. You just offered to let them use it if they took it along. They have no hold over whether or not you do that. If you sell it on the condition that the buyer has to hold it until one week after the Outlook leaves, then they have to go find another. That might get them to re-read the regulations involving dependents."

"That's a thought," I said. "I'll take the truck into town tomorrow but leave the kids with Carmen so they won't think I'm trying to run. It out to be interesting to see what they do about a five ton wrecker leaving camp with an armed driver that doesn't want to stop."

Charlie chuckled and said, "Don't be belligerent. Just go into town and start making noises like you want to sell the truck. It ought to get back to the Governor real quick and he should be hearing about the situation with you and those kids about the same time. I don't like or trust the man, but if it's something that affects him directly, he'll fix the problem fast. That truck isn't the easiest thing in the world to replace and it would be expensive too. If he finds out that you are going to sell it because someone else that doesn't know the regulations decided not to let you take in two orphaned children who are the grandchildren of your stepmother, then I think you will get an apology real fast. They might even give you something as a bonus to forget this little argument. I'll suggest it, anyways."

I thanked Charlie and handed the phone back to Carmen. While she was talking to him, I went into the small kitchen to check on the kids. They were picking at the food that Carmen had fixed them and both had tear tracks on their faces.

Sitting down at the table, I looked at them and said, "You both really need to eat. I know that you're sad but you do need to eat. Your Gram said that we need to take care of each other and you can't do your part if you don't take care of yourselves first."

The little girl looked at me and said, "I know. I'm just not hungry. I miss Gram and I miss Mommy. I'm sorry."

"I guess I'll just have to do what I used to do when your mom was your age, then," I said.

The boy spoke for the first time and asked, "What was that?"

I got up from the table and moved around behind them and said, "This!"

With that, I started tickling both of them. The girl tried to push my hand away and started laughing. The boy also started laughing. With them laughing, I pulled them both into a hug and said, "I miss your mothers too. I was about your age when I lost mine. A few years later, my Dad married your Gram. I didn't want to like her at first, and I didn't want to like your mothers but I learned to love them. They were my family. I'll miss them all. I know exactly how you feel right now. I know it hurts and I can't make the hurt go away. What I can do is promise you that I'll be your family now. I won't be your dad and Carmen won't be your mom. I'll be your uncle Jimmy and Carmen will be your aunt. We are anyways, and now we get to do it as well as be it. I promise one thing. I'll try my best for you just like your Gram did for me when I needed a mother. She did the job and she ended up being my mother. Now it's my turn to do the same for you. I'll be your uncle and I'll try to be there when you need me."

I let them go after that and went over to the stove to see what there was to eat. There wasn't much of anything fixed, so I guessed that Carmen had fed them what she'd planned on for her dinner. That being the case, I fixed us up some stew that she'd made a few days ago. It had been for one of the few meals that we'd had time to eat together.

After the stew was warmed up, I had the girl go tell Carmen that her food was ready. She came in, grabbed her plate and started back to the office. I said, "Can we eat as a family tonight?"

She looked at me and I nodded at the kids. She nodded back and sat down at the table.

Fixing up my plate only took a moment. After putting it on the table, I got the rolls out of the small pastry oven where I'd put them to warm up and grabbed a tub of butter out of the fridge. With that in hand, I went to my place at the table and sat down. Carmen glared at me and asked, "When do you intend to pass the rolls around?"

I smiled and said, "I didn't. These are mine and if you want some you have to get your own."

By this time, we had to sets of eyes going back and forth between us.

Carmen glared at me even harder and said, "I made them, so they're mine. Get your own."

"First come first served," I said.

Carmen started laughing and I tossed a roll at her. She caught it and put it on her plate. I then handed the kids each a roll.

After buttering mine, I handed the butter dish to the girl. She did her roll and passed the dish to the boy who then did his. When he was finished, he handed the dish to Carmen who did hers.

I told the kids, "These rolls are special. Carmen actually found time to make them and was planning on eating them all herself. You better be quick or she might take them back."

Carmen shook her head at me and started eating her stew. The boy started eating his food and the girl did too. "Good", I thought to myself. "Now they're eating." Carmen glanced up at me and smiled. She'd figured out what I was trying to do. Our arguing about the rolls had gotten the children to focus on us instead of what had happened to them. It was a start, anyway.

After we'd finished eating, I told Carmen that I had to run to the Electronics store in town. I would take my bike since it would be faster to ride than to try to drive that truck through the camp, especially after the fuss I'd started on the phone a bit ago.

I rode the bike to the store and got two satellite phones for the kids and set them up with both Carmen's and my numbers on them. I also got them some very good lap tops. The ones in stock were so nice that I picked up eight of them. They had built in satellite communications capabilities and a few other goodies that I liked. Since the colony was supposed to have satellites put in place by the transport after they dumped us, I figured that having them would be very useful. The phones would also act as short range radios so we'd be able to communicate even if the sats failed. I had longer ranged gear already, but these were small enough for the kids to handle.

After that stop, I went to the local gun store. He was about sold out in most of the larger weapons but he had plenty of .22 caliber guns and a lot of ammunition for them. Most of the colonists seemed to think that the only gun they needed would drop an elephant or something. Very few had thought of smaller game like rabbit sized critters. I bought two hand guns and two rifles of a size for kids and then got a pair of rifles for my pod and a pair for Carmen's shop. I hadn't thought much about small game either. I also bought plenty of ammunition for them and set it up for the stuff to be delivered since it's kind of hard to ride an electric dirt bike while carrying six rifles.

The next stop was at a clothing shop that did custom work. They did very good work and had gotten a lot of business from me as a result. I set up an appointment for the kids to come in the next day to be measured for clothing. I also ordered them to fix up plenty of stuff in larger sizes for the kids to grow in to. That done, I rode back to the shop pod.

The kids were asleep when I got back, so I gave the phones to Carmen to give to the kids in the morning. She also put away the new rifles, which had just been delivered. While she was doing this, I told her about the appointment for the kids for clothes the next day. She said that she was free so she could take them if I wanted. I agreed since I thought I'd be rather busy dealing with the conversation I'd had with that admin weenie earlier.

This done, it was time for me to get some sleep too, so I told Carmen that I'd hopefully see her before the fireworks started in the morning and headed off to my pod.

I found out when I got there that the fireworks wouldn't wait until morning. There were several people there already.

As I walked up to the pod, two of the MP's that were camp security stepped up to me and started to grab my arms. That was a mistake since I don't like being grabbed. Another mistake was them not having looked at either my camp or military files. They probably wouldn't have been that stupid if they had. Anyway, they'd think about it when they woke up in a day or two.

At that point, the camp administrator said, "Now you are in serious trouble. First threatening to leave camp illegally and stealing colony equipment, and now assaulting two of the camp guards. I guess you will be staying on Earth since you'll be in prison for a long time."

The only thing I could do was laugh. This guy didn't even realize that the entire incident was recorded. Since I'm an instructor here, my pod has camera coverage. I also had my own recording equipment. I was spliced in to their camera's and had a few of my own. I also had sound coverage for up to fifty feet from my pod and since we were only about twenty five from the pod, I had plenty of evidence. The two guards had made no effort to identify themselves or to inform me that I was being arrested. That makes their actions assault and mine self defense. The admin weenie had also committed a criminal act as an accessory. I was going to have fun with this over the next few months.

"What are you laughing at?" the weenie asked.

"I'm just amused at how stupid some people can be," I said. "This entire incident is on vid and will be evidence at your trial."

The weenie really proved how dumb some people can be when he said, "There won't be any video. I control the systems here at the camp, so it will be the witnesses who make the case."

"I bet you don't know that you just admitted to committing a criminal act by either disabling Federal security equipment or threatening to erase evidence to a felony, did you?" I asked him.

"There's no way for someone to know what I said," he stated. "We don't have any sound recording devices as it's an invasion of privacy."

"Maybe, just maybe you don't, but what makes you so sure that there isn't some here anyways?" I asked him.

"Illegally obtained evidence can't be used in court," he said. "Since this is a federal installation, it's a criminal act for any unauthorized personnel to install or operate any recording devices."

"The one mistake about that is authorized," I said. "I'm an instructor here and therefore my living quarters are monitored for my safety. I'm also a military veteran who worked in a highly classified field. I'm required to secure my residence as well as possible. That includes video and sound recording equipment. That means that I am authorized to install and operate such equipment at and around my residence. It also means that there is a complete recording of what happened here and what you might have done here before I arrived. It is also stored in a location that you have no access to since it isn't on base. If you look at my pod closely, you should see a satellite dish on top."

"All the pods have them," he said. "I've seen several today alone with them mounted."

I just shook my head again. I couldn't believe that this guy couldn't tell the difference between what I had mounted and what the other pods did. Mine was a two way system which was larger and configured differently than the normal receivers that the other pods had.

Anyway, this conversation should be ending fairly soon now since I expected the people who were monitoring the signal would be sending their friends soon. I wasn't kidding about the security requirements for my home. The two or three hundred surviving vets from the Special Operations teams from the war in South America were not only required to have such security, but it was monitored constantly. If it went off line or any trouble was spotted, a goon squad was dispatched immediately.

The timing was right on the money too. First was a pair of large SUV type vehicles. Then two cars pulled up. The SUV's had four large men get out of each of them and the cars each had two more.

They came up and started cuffing my four conscious visitors while the apparent leader asked me if they needed to worry about the ones on the ground. I said, "They'll probably live. I just put them to sleep. They might have concussions but should be all right otherwise."

He nodded and cuffed the pair on the ground also. While all this was going on, the weenie was screaming about this being his base and that they were illegally detaining him. He kept it up all the way to the car they stuck him in. The others were split between the two SUV's while the sleepers were loaded into an ambulance that had come in behind the cars.

After loading up, the team leader came back to me and said, "We have enough on this incident to put that guy away for a long time. He disabled the regular camera system here and was trying to open your pod when you walked up. We have it all including what he said to you. We've also been informed of the problem with your niece and nephew. If you want them to go with you, there won't be any further problems."

I thanked the man and told him to make sure that the word was passed on. Those kids were mine now and they would be staying with Carmen until we launched. After that, I'd have time to set up space for them on the pod if needed. Right now, though, there was just too much gear on the pod to do it easily. There was also some equipment that couldn't be moved until after we'd landed and set up the storage building we would need. We had the parts for a large Quonset style building that we could put up in a couple of days, but with that in the shop, there wasn't enough room for much extra. That armored car took up too much room by itself, and we needed to keep the main floor clear enough to put the wrecker in for launch. That thing was even bigger than that old BRDM.

After chatting a bit more, I shook hands with the man and he got into the last car and left. I went into my pod and locked up for the night then took my shower. That done, I went to bed.

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