Barns and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/struggle-and-survival-a-boneyard-saga-short-story-anthology-berberich/1143041296
Imaginative Science Fiction by Author George B
The Future Visits the Boneyard
Captain Mona Ann Lisa, looks mystically over the thermals, a location that will be called the Yellowstone National Park thirty thousand years hence. Mona is not just the run of the mill ship’s pilot and her visit here has profound implications. This place is the epicenter of an ancestor’s life struggle. In fact, genetic studies indicate the person in question is the mother of all humans that now exist in the Captain’s universe. Her name was Eva and Eva called this unique geography the Boneyard.
This human being started Mona’s ancestral line (confirmed by maternal mitochondrial DNA mutation regression analysis) because (Eva’s) memories represent the first M-bundles (Memory Node Clusters confirmed by electron microscopic techniques) in Captain Lisa’s coded storage embedded in her DNA. Stored memories of Eva (within Mona’s genetic memory) were unlocked and found and were estimated to be seventy-five thousand years older than Mona’s. While Eva was obviously not the first sentient human, the lack of previous memory in Mona and other humans was theorized to indicate some type of traumatic event or technical disruption of the code passed down to Eva from her mother. This anomaly alone could take forever to research.
The Captain’s voluntary memory regression analysis revealed a fascinating story. Eva was a rare individual by anyone’s standard. Her story read like a novel and was exceptional entertainment. This woman was simply amazing. Even if one did not allow for the primitive conditions under which she struggled, Eva thrived in unimaginable conditions and was arguably one out of a billion or one out of a trillion beings. Captain Lisa was profoundly drawn to her and felt Eva’s story had to be fully researched and shared with creation. So, for her vacation Mona was going to deep dive into the origin of all of humanity’s ancestor’s.
Why is this important? It seems Captain Lisa is the single most powerful entity in several galaxies. She is human but more importantly is the uncontested science administrator and military commander of trillions upon trillions of sentient beings within the major and minor galaxies comprising the Milky Way and Andormeda. She like her ancestor Eva fell into her role. Mona did not seek her power and it seems neither did Eva. Mona as Eva thought was simply lucky to have reached adulthood. Both child prodigies were benefactors to their people. Their wisdom, courage and intuition saved the day many, many times. In both cases their parents were pivotal in their lives and created the foundation for their later successes. Both were tormented by dreams and visions that disturbed and just as likely enlightened them.
Mona came here to connect to Eva. You see Mona had the ability to travel in time or at least view history first-hand. It was feared disaster might result if the past was changed; however, science was not certain one could alter the past in any way that would create a new future. Yet, one could return to the past and observe what happened and ascertain how it most likely led to the present. One could study these things for ever and Mona did not have the luxury to do so. However, with the resources she had, she wanted to do as much investigation as her time allowed.
Mona came personally to the Boneyard in Mona’s present timeline (though 75,000 years after Eva lived there) to get a feel for what her ancestor might have felt. Based on the Captain’s geophysics experts very little had changed since her ancestor walked these same grounds. There were thermals that dotted the area belching steam and sulfuric odors continually. Herds of Bison, Elk and occasionally Mammoths visited the immediate area. The Thunder Birds that once lived here cooperatively with Eva had long since become extinct; however, they were still found in the southern continent in this hemisphere of Earth. The Global war that Mona survived destroyed most surface animals two thousand years ago and almost eliminated humans from existence, and was now a disturbing but distant memory. The surface population of earth was reaching a few million humans again. Mona left the Earth herself just weeks before 500 million people were vaporized, burned and starved. .
Eva and her people are remnants of the humans that survived the catastrophe that destroyed the high human civilization over seventy thousands of years before Captain Lisa was born. The irony is the same cycle of events that destroyed Eva’s world was repeated in Mona’s present time. Interestingly, in Mona’s present era a primitive human culture now exists on the Earth’s surface. The difference is Captain Lisa was fortunate enough to lead a remnant from the Earth with their advanced technical culture intact. While in contrast, Eva was unable to benefit from a surviving technology in her era. Mona returns occasionally to see a fledgling, primitive human culture slowly progressing from utter destruction two thousand years prior but still within Mona’s lifespan.
When Mona recounted the decoded memories of her beloved Eva, she felt a deep connection and could almost recite Eva’s thoughts without reading them. Thankful to be alive, Eva thought: I raged against the odds . . . but I prevailed for some purpose. Mona had felt exactly as her ancestor had thought and visualized. The Captain wanted to know more details than had been decoded from her DNA. The simple fact was, the only way to discover more details about Eva’s life was to observe her ancestor real time, and Mona resolved to do just that!
Captain Mona Ann Lisa returned to her ship the Dragonfly and reported to her Sisters’ laboratory quiet room to undergo a process referred to as the Shadowland journey. In this status one could dilate time and go anywhere one had the 4D coordinates for. She had three of the four coordinates by identifying the location. What she needed now was to pinpoint the exact time coordinate to begin her study. This was no easy task. Though certain clues were apparent based on geological and astronomical markers, the precise timing of events thousands of years in the past was most problematic.
In one of the M-bundle dumps was noted a visible comet seen while a total solar eclipse occurred. This was the key to a time anchor from which she could investigate days before and after. This had happened only three times in the last one hundred thousand years in and around the Boneyard.
As she laid down on the padded recliner and started the preliminary pre-launch procedure her heart began to race. Moonbeam her sister placed the headphones over her ears and smiled and gave her a thumbs up signal. Within seconds she lost consciousness and arrived at the predetermined coordinates at the Boneyard. Her body remained on board the enormous Dragonfly Mothership. This ship was the size of a small planet and sported a crew of millions of sentient beings, not all of which were humans. The adventures she had participated in over the past two thousand plus years since her birth were amazing but this journey to the ancient past was equal to anything she had done before. Mona had stared death in the face many times but for some reason this was just as frightening. What would she find? Were there to be discoveries made in her journey to the past that would have implications to her present life and future?
Suddenly sunlight burst upon the good Captain’s face and she could sense a breeze. Though her body was not on the Earth’s surface her shadowland avatar was. Additionally, her technology was able to simulate the physical senses she would have experienced if her physical body was there. Mona was hopeful her sisters Moonbeam and Levie had through a process of elimination chose the correct time target of the three options. She was impervious to any physical threat she encountered. She had the capability to remain cloaked (invisible) or uncloaked (visible) to anyone near her shadowland presence. Her duty was to remain undetected. The Federation Time Travel Management Council had several guidelines that Captain Lisa must adhere to in her investigation, this one was the most basic. No one time traveling could visibly or auditorily without pre- approval of the Council reveal their presence. Since Captain Lisa was the enforcement agency for such issues she was not going to defy the guidance.
In her present status Mona was not confined or limited to her human physical capabilities. Simply stated the Captain could instantly go where she imagined or wished to be as long as she kept track of the 4D coordinates of her resting physical body. This technology had long since been perfected and she hardly thought about it.
Not seeing anyone or any living creature at the edge of the Boneyard, Mona flew to three thousand feet above to get a better perspective of the area. Instantly she was there and discovered smoke from campfires in the direction of a large rock ridge. Mona sensed this was Eva’s Clan’s encampment. She was giddy with excitement as she slowly approached the site, taking in every detail she could observe on her approach. A cloaked physical recording device mounted on a drone appeared and allowed her sisters to observe what their sibling was now seeing. This physical drone was not an avatar. It was actually real and had been sent back in time as a physical object. This was costly technology and took significant energy and resources to deploy.
There were several clansmen leaving the camp obviously on a hunting excursion. Mona counted a total of six adults, one of the group was carrying a small young person on their back. This tiny package had to be Eva. This was amazing! Mona’s first shadowland mission hit paydirt. This normally did not happen. These types of investigations usually took teams of investigators weeks to get this type of result.
Mona continued to observe enthralled and obsessed with every detail. What an opportunity and responsibility. These were precious lives, the foundation of the future, the initial building blocks for thousands of generations to come.
From the manuscript of Eva’s memories Captain Lisa knew the Tribe took the young girl on hunting parties because she was the best tracker in the Clan. The child was capable of anticipating danger and steered the warriors into the best location to kill game. Eva bond with the Clan was exceptional and she was treated as an adult. Though cripple, having been born with a clubbed foot she became integrated into the survival of her people by the age of seven. Her parents were the healers and midwife of the Tribe. The three of them were highly respected and loved by everyone except for the Clan leader or Chief who saw them as a threat to his power and control.
Mona knew the Chief was to die from injuries sustained in a hunting accident within seven years from this point in time and in an unexpected turn of events Eva would be appointed Clan Leader. Within two years from today Eva’s father would find Credo. A Saber Cat juvenile that would become the growing child’s constant companion and protector.
Mona was ecstatic over her good fortune to establish the anchor point from which further research could be planned. She returned to the quiet lab on the Dragonfly and regained consciousness. Her sisters were already reviewing the sensory data from the surveillance drone. They were laughing and making noises like two teenagers talking about their first kiss. Levie and Moonbeam, were respected as being the best scientists in two galaxies. However, they were acting more like children than serious adults with an important mission to complete.
The three sisters spent hours reviewing the data and the two scientists interrogated Mona until she was so fatigued she had to leave to decompress. They were already planning a new mission when the Captain left to retreat to her wardroom.
Like Eva, Mona sometimes had disturbing dreams and visions about future events. However, she had not had such an experience for years and years. This was about to change. When Mona entered her suite she fell to her knees. The flash of light in her visual cortex was overwhelming. It was extremely painful and disorienting. She smelled a pungent odor that was very unpleasant. Mona witnessed a vision, a disturbing sight. Was it a metaphor or a reality? What this meant exactly, she did not know, but never-the-less knew it was about Eva. Situations like this had happened before. There was serendipity in the Captain’s life. Mona’s fate often intersected or collided with enormous events that changed history. Was this just one more such event. She went immediately back to the laboratory to talk to Moonbeam and Levie.
After she related her vision with her sisters the discussion went on for hours. Seems the Clan leader plotted with his son to rid himself of Eva. What could be done and should they interfere? They decided to take it to the Time Travel Management Council. From the vision the attempt to kill Eva was a few weeks from the anchor date presently established by their research. Interference by future timelines had been authorized before, however, it was rare and extremely limited. Not until all unintended outcomes were fully investigated and plotted was approval ever granted. Analysis of thousands of outcome decision branches indicated no harm would occur if Eva survived. However, her death prior to her birthing a child provided outcomes that were universally disastrous. The Council with minimal debate approved mitigation with strict oversight. The sisters were required to submit multiple proposals for review and approval. However, Mona was authorized to make necessary emergency modifications if circumstances required. The science of Time Travel had established some mandates of nature that seemed consistent. One such law was interference from a different timeline was a one time attempt. If it worked it worked, if it failed it failed. Only one chance was allowed. Any additional attempt was blocked by some natural force preventing anyone from returning to that point in time. Because of this restriction Mona was terrified. She had one chance to protect Eva, if Mona failed she and everything she knew and loved might disappear from existence.
Because of what was at stake Mona decided she would physically return to the timeline in question. This was an extreme measure and was reserved only for the most serious situations. She would be by herself and would have the assistance of minimal advanced technologies. Most hardware could not be sent because of its inability to withstand time dilation. However, observation drones were specifically designed and available. Via the drones Mona would have restricted communication with her sisters in real time. She could not travel in her clothing from her era and had to transfer naked. This was inconvenient to say the least. Her normal energy weapons were useless because they would be drained of all power via the transfer and were nonfunctional. This did not leave her defenseless, Mona was an expert with sword and bow and arrow. The problem was both these weapons were not yet available in Eva’s era. So, by the rules imposed she had to use those available to persons in the time targeted.
Mona immediately went to her weapons experts and started to practice with a sling and spear. The Captain was a natural athlete having won the equivalent of a Gold Medal in the Olympics as the youngest archer in competition history. Mona found the sling as Eva had, her natural weapon of choice. It was amazingly effective. She could see how lethal it was within a radius of 150 yards. The time traveler spent hours with the weapons and became as efficient as possible within the few weeks she had before the event was to happen.
Based on details in Mona’s vision the sisters had determined with 98 percent certainty the day of the event. (They pinpointed the time from the phase of the moon and location of Venus observed by the Captain in her visual experience) Extreme care needed to be taken as they were approaching the possible event. The Federation could visit only once in any time sequence. So, impatience and premature intervention could lead to disaster at worst and lost opportunities at the least. The Galactic Federation might be the most powerful entity in their era but was almost powerless in the historical crisis in Eva’s world. The plan was to send Captain Lisa back to a time three days before the suspected attempt on Eva’s life. She was to shadow the Clan and act decisively to prevent Eva’s death or injury. This would be very difficult because of the natural abilities and finely honed observation capabilities of the Tribe. The Captain had an enormous challenge. Their plan was to observe undetected until Mona would act. Sounded nice but its execution was a different story.
The day of Mona’s insertion began. She had a small pouch with flint to make a fire, a pre-fabricated sling, spear, stone hatchet and an obsidian blade mounted securely into a wooden handle. This was the extent of her companions. From these she would have to fashion her clothes, find food and survive until she could act to save Eva. The weather around the Boneyard was unpredictable. At night the temperatures could plunge into the high 30 degrees Fahrenheit and often rose into the low nineties during the day. Without proper protection, hypothermia was a real possibility during the night, especially when it would sleet, snow or rain as was common. A fire at night was required to survive and this would easily lead to detection.
Mona had a plan but it was definitely distasteful. She would raid the funeral platforms where the Clan left their dead. There would be clothes left on the skeletal remains of the deceased. Over the several centuries of her life Mona had experienced many things most people had never even thought of; however, this was the most disgusting thing she had ever voluntarily done. The graveyard would be the location of insertion, it was separated from the Tribe’s encampment far enough to allow the Captain to get established on her mission but not so far as to delay her initial snooping.
Once transmitted to the initial landing site any time traveler would be on their own for several days. To be retrieved too soon after placement could result in irreparable DNA damage and many times death. While the Federation had universal translators Mona would not be able to bring one with her. So, she dove into a crash course on Eva’s language. The Sisters had insisted on all communication between Mona and them to be in this dialect for weeks before the mission. This was difficult but the good Captain was a fast study. While not yet conversant she could along with sign language get her meaning across consistently.
It was now time for the transfer. Mona stripped and entered the round capsule with her meager belongings. The Captain nodded and the technicians started the countdown. There was a high-pitched whine and tunnel of sorts opened below her. Mona fell downward for what seemed to be five minutes. Suddenly, she was laying on the cold ground. The landing area was full of low bush cranberry shrubs and one was sticking her in the small of her back. Rather uncomfortable but no permanent damage. The air was chilled and she shivered. In the small trees around her were platforms where a few remains of Eva’s people were decomposed. All that was left were clothes and bones. Mona had her choice. She spotted one corpse looking to be around her size. The nude traveler either got most of her items from one body or selected from several like a buffet. Both strategies seemed disrespectful; however, Mona apologized profusely as if the dead individuals were aware as she took items to cover her freezing body. Surprisingly, the Captain was frustrated because she didn’t have a mirror to see how her selections were shaping up. The reluctant thief turned where she thought one of the drones might be and displayed her selections as if she was a runway model. The Sisters were watching everything and between themselves complemented Mona on her selections. While they could see and hear, their wayward sister could not receive sound communication from them. The gawking sisters did however decloak one drone for seconds and sent two tiny light flashes which meant agreement. Mona just used her hand (breaking her wrist) to give the “Oh you don’t say” sign.
The clothes selection process took about forty minutes. The thief even found a good pair of leather boot like foot ware. Moonbeam declared she loved the boots Mona selected and told Levie she wanted a pair just like Mona’s. Within an hour the good Captain looked like a native and could feel her body temperature returning to a comfortable range. Finding some leather pouches, she used them to carry the few items brought with her and as a bonus discovered a small cache of pre-selected sling stones. Mona also found two useable slings. She reverently thanked these ancestors and prayed the appropriation of their last worldly possessions would help secure the future for everyone.
Mona had a fantastic sense of direction and had a map emblazoned on her brain. She knew the Boneyard vicinity as well as she knew her own spaceship. The Captain decided to approach the camp to see if she could get close enough to hear or observe without detection. This turned out to be a poor decision. The intruder from the future was not a primitive hunter nor was she accustomed to tracking or sneaking up on game. Eva’s Tribe was not as clumsy or noisy as she and quickly became aware of her approach and surrounded the spy within three hundred yards of her objective. Standing with her spear Mona dropped it at the first challenge she received. The petty thief prayed the clansmen did not recognize the clothing she had stolen from their deceased loved ones.
Two warriors came up from behind her and pushed her toward the camp. Mona’s heart was racing and her brain was going a thousand miles a second. Panic was not usually in the highly trained Captain’s tool kit. But this time she was totally vulnerable and at the mercy of strangers. She was a fish out of water and this group of clansmen sensed it. Fear was painted all over her face. As they entered the camp the captive was directed at the tip of two spears to the common fire pit. There, what appeared to be the entire Clan formed a circle around her. The Clan Leader, the one who was plotting against Eva approached her directly. He stopped within six feet and stared directly into Mona’s eyes. He said in his language; “what is your purpose? Where is your people?” There were muted conversations going on all around them.
The felonious spy knew any lie she used would be quickly discovered. So, the captive used the best words she remembered of the Tribe’s language and said: “My name is Mona. I come alone from a Tribe far, far away. I came here to speak to Eva. I mean no harm.” The Chief looked stunned and the talking grew in volume. The Clan Leader motioned for the two warriors guarding her to take the intruder away to some unknown location.
She was not bound or harmed, this was a good sign. The guards looked more curious than angry and she just sat waiting for the next thing to happen. After what seemed to be an hour two persons appeared. Mona sensed the couple was Eva’s parents. The female of the pair came up to Mona and handed her some Elk or Bison jerky. She took the offer and proceeded to eat the gift. The taste was actually pleasant. Mona responded with the phrase “A-Key-yeh” hopefully meaning “Thank you.” The woman smiled and nodded her head in response. Then Eva’s mother pointed at herself and said in her language, “My name is Sunrise, I am the midwife of the Clan. My husband’s name is Rain Child and he is the healer of our people. Our daughter is Eva. How do you know of her?” Mona almost cried but steadied herself.
The reluctant guest continued with the truth that she had started earlier. “In my time and place your daughter is known as a great ancestor, her offspring will fill many lands and worlds to come. She is to be a respected leader, warrior and is wise beyond measure.” Looking around to see if anyone else could hear, Mona continues; “I came because she is in serious danger, your Chief and his son wish to kill her.” Rain Child, confronts the stranger and says: “How can this be, Eva is deformed and will not have children, it is our way?” Mona takes a deep breath and responds: “Eva will not marry someone within your Clan but a member of a rival people who are first your people’s enemy and she defeats them against impossible odds, his name is Toby.” Sunrise looks in amazement and says: “How do you know such things and what do you want?” Looking into the woman’s face Mona says: “I come from many cycles into the future . . . as many cycles as there are trees in this forest. I come from the stars far beyond the sun and moon. I come to keep Eva from death at the hands of your Clan Leader.” The parents look at the stranger in amazement, acknowledging the obvious hatred from the Chief and his son towards Eva.
Mona felt great relief that Eva’s parents were believing her story. She told them the attempt would be made during a hunting mission in the next three days. Rain Child and Sunrise took the captive to their shelter and told the guards they would be responsible for her. The guards did not hesitate the offer and left. Mona was about to see Eva and didn’t know how to react. The seven-year-old female was almost towheaded, fragile looking and shy. Her parents introduced her to the strange visitor. Mona did not want to stare at the child and frighten her but she was fascinated by the object of her obsession. She wished to give the child a gift and impulsively pulled out one of the extra slings she took from the graveyard. She asked Eva if she knew how to use it. Eva shook her head no. Mona asked if she would like for her to show her. Eva smiled in agreement. The Captain asked Eva’s parents if it was ok to instruct their child on the use of the weapon. They both thought it was fine. Neither of them used the sling and would not have instructed their daughter in its use. The married pair were healers and were training Eva in the healing arts. They had concluded despite Eva’s unique ability to track game, her future as a warrior or hunter was limited by her club foot
After Eva fell asleep, the three adults discussed the possible strategies they could employ in the next few days to protect the child. The strange visitor revealed despite her small size she was a deadly warrior. She feared no person and had neutralized many several times her size and strength. If necessary, Mona would take care of anyone that would attempt to assault Eva. However, she needed to be within weapons distance from the potential threat at all times. The question is how would this be accomplished.
The plan was hatched that night. The Captain would state she knew where game could be found based on her journey to the Tribe the last few days. She promised to lead a hunting party to it. That way Mona would be able to stay with the group that Eva was part of. To Mona’s surprise the Chief agreed. He had no reason to fear a tiny female from parts unknown and probably thought he could rid himself of Eva and the unwanted visitor simultaneously. However, if he were to succeed on the hunt his status within the Clan would rise even though Eva was a casualty. The party would be the Chief, his son, four other hunters, Eva and the strange female in the lead. Mona wondered if the other members of the hunting party were part of the conspiracy. Her intuition told her the Chief and his Son were the only plotters. In their arrogance, they felt they needed no one else involved, the fewer the better.
The hunting party gathered just before dawn. Mona’s spear, hatchet, knife and slings had been taken from her and were replaced with a couple of bone weapons that were all but useless. She was told to lead the way and the party formed behind her. Mona’s sense of danger was not yet activated. She was calm and behaved like everything was normal which was awkward to say the least.
Here she was with her back turned to a group of total strangers who were all lethal with their weapons except for a seven year old child. Could this get any crazier? The Captain did know where game was. Mona had studied their locations and behavior in the days just prior to her insertion. Leading them to the animals was the easy part. How she would react to the assassination attempt was a different thing. Her brain was churning all morning as she led them to a herd of bison near a slow-moving stream just before a waterfall. There was brush in a deep gully near this favorite resting area for the herd. The sound from the waterfall would cover any noise made by the hunters approaching. The small group could therefore get close enough to the bison with their spears and slings to do some considerable damage.
The stranger led them to the gully and motioned them to assume the stalking mode. They crept down the gully toward the river. While she knew the two plotters could act at any moment, Mona felt the triumph of a good hunt was too important to their political strategy and would therefore not sabotage its success. They positioned themselves as the Captain indicated. She was allowed to place Eva on her back as the rest prepared for a simultaneous and coordinated attack. The Chief gave the sign and they all launched themselves together. Within seconds the herd alerted and fled the area. However, before their rampage, three bison were mortally wounded. This was the most success any hunting party had ever had on one trip in anyone’s memory. There would be an immediate feast and bison jerky for months to come. One of the hunters left to bring as many people from the camp to process their kill in place. This left Mona, Eva, three hunters plus the Chief and his Son.
To help clean and butcher the bison the Chief gave Mona back her obsidian knife. This was a great relief to her. This knife contained the sharpest natural blade known to science. In the hands of an expert it was highly effective and lethal. Mona suspected the Clan Leader would have to act before the additional clansmen would return. This she calculated would be about three hours from now. Her senses went on super alert. Mona decided to create the opportunity when she decided not when they decided. She removed herself from the bison processing and picked up Eva and left to clean the excess blood from herself in the river just above the falls. This Mona suspected would be too tempting for the plotters not to respond to.
With Eva on her back the Captain proceeded to the river. She sensed someone was following them. She told Eva to trust her and when she stopped she was going to give her the obsidian knife. The small child was to take the knife and move away from Mona as fast as she was able. She was to go to the head of the falls where no one could get behind her and stay there until Mona came to get her. Eva was to hide the knife but use it if necessary to protect herself. Eva understood and was ready to act.
Mona heard a loud sound behind her. She squatted down and unloaded Eva. The warrior from the future turned to see The Clan Leader and Son standing above her with spears in hand in attack position. The Captain moved her bone weapons, one in each hand and stood in a defensive stance, crouching, awaiting the next move of her potential assailants. A smile came across the Chief’s lips and a smirk on his Son’s face. Eva was moving off as fast as she could. The Chief’s son acted as if he was going after Eva but the Clan Leader motioned for him to ignore her and concentrate on Mona. That was perfect as far as the Captain was concerned. Mona instinctively reacted to every move the two made. As they approached, her military conditioning prepared her to anticipate one or both of the attackers to throw or thrust their spears. They were seasoned hunters, she knew even a small error would lead to her painful death. The warrior Captain practiced this situation multiple times with her weapons experts. Well not exactly like this. In her practice sessions Mona had better weapons than she presently did. While her trainers had guessed correctly about the assault weapons held by her attackers, she was otherwise almost unarmed, not a comforting situation at this particular moment. The Son lunged first. Eva blocked the spear with her left hand and executed a round house kick that found its full force applied to his throat. He fell immediately unable to even scream with pain. The Chief was next. He attempted to lunge, but before he even moved Mona’s knee was crushing his nose. He fell with blood gushing from his face. With both men incapacitated, she completely disarmed them. Taking one of their knives she stood over both and talked calmly.
It was like an angry parent purposely instructing two petulant children. “Now that I have your undivided attention, I would like to have a meaningful discussion. Are you paying attention?” She stuck the knife in each man’s face cutting them enough to bring a flow of blood. Their eyes showed fear and anger. The Son having recovered from his inability to breathe tried to grab Mona. She put her knee in his groin, and said “one more move like that and you won’t be able to have children from this day forward.” Mona turned to the father and pointed the knife at his groin as well. “Again, I ask are you paying attention?” They both nodded yes. “Well, excellent. I know you wanted to kill Eva. I came here to prevent your plans from succeeding. You see I am her guardian spirit. You will not harm her. You will protect her from this day forward. If one hair is harmed on her head I will hold both of you responsible. That means you will die if you are lucky. There are things worse than death. I will be staying for a few more weeks to see things are properly done. However, I will know what you are doing continually.” Mona waved her hand and three drones appeared over their heads. The lights were blinking feverishly. The two men on the ground looked up in disbelief. “These are watchers, they never tire, and they never go away. They are invisible except when I command them to appear. If you wish to die now, I will accommodate your wishes, if not, both of you will live at least until Eva grows into a young warrior.” The Captain waves her hand and the drones recloak. “Now get up and return to butchering the bison. And I mean now!” They both scrambled to their feet, picked up their spears and ran back to the processing area. Mona just stood there and smiled for a few seconds before she turned to retrieve Eva.
Over the next few weeks Mona instructed Eva on the sling, teaching her how to swim, military tactics and the basics of martial arts. She told her parents that they would find a juvenile saber cat in the years to come. This animal was blind in one eye and needed to be rescued and protected. The animal would become Eva’s constant companion and protector. As Mona was a common sight within the camp, the Chief and his Son retreated into the shadows. The day before the Captain was to leave she told Eva and her parents that she had to return to her people and the next morning she was leaving. Eva was very sad but had strengthened remarkably in the few weeks spent with Mona. The Captain sent word that the Chief and his son should meet her outside the camp.
Mona was sad to leave but hugged Eva and her parents. She held back her tears and turned to leave. Eva stopped her and handed her mentor a small gemstone, it was turquoise. Mona accepted it and thanked Eva. She told her it would be one of her most prized possessions. The emotional visitor then left to meet the two reprobates outside the encampment. On seeing the two the Captain almost became nauseous. She told them she was leaving but would return if they ever attempted to harm Eva or her parents. They both acknowledged her threat before she left.
Captain Lisa with her weapons ran out of the camp and into the trees, she was returning the clothes and items to the Clan’s graveyard. Before the return she stripped and placed the items as best she could where she found them. She again apologized for her larceny and thanked the donors for their help. It would be from the cemetery she would return as she arrived . . . naked and cold. But this trip would be with a small turquoise stone.
One last thing. After Captain Lisa returned to her ship, she scheduled one more trip. This one was to a time after Eva was selected Clan Leader and would coincide with her heart wrenching decision to leave her parents behind to care for the sick and injured during the height of the drought. Mona knew Eva never saw her parents again. The Captain was going to intervene and assure they were taken care of. It was the least she could do for the parents for arguably the most important ancient human nexus in all of human existence.
To be Continued:
Eva with Toby and her child Mona.
All rights reserved George B; with exception allowed for unlimited reproduction for educational purposes to all School Districts within the Greater San Antonio, Texas Metropolitan Area. For requests beyond the above please contact George Berberich at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 210-381-7092.
EVA Conquers All but Love
The young woman looked down from her favorite place in her empire, to her credit she had no thought of ownership. The sunset was wonderful. She celebrated being alive. The supreme leader had met every challenge, every threat to her existence. Eva was the uncontested ruler of a territory the size of a country. From her position, no one challenged her. Even the Terror Birds succumbed to her leadership. While triumphant her heart ached at what she had lost in her journey to prominence. Though Eva had overcome every challenge, she, never-the-less, was empty and sad.
The peerless leader lost Limp last winter, her dog she appropriated from a band of Mammoth Herders. Credo her Companion Saber Cat from her youth visits only off and on. Raven and Jewel her loyal friends and leaders of the Terror Bird Clan had their own life and Eva was desperately lonely. As the healer and sometimes midwife she was part of most of the families within her world. This was wonderful but was not fulfilling her inner most needs.
She often dreamed of her parents and grieved over their loss. Eva felt her decision to move the Clan while her parents stayed as the healers to care for the sick an injured sealed their fate. She had no choice. To have hesitated in the face of the extended drought would have starved the entire Tribe.
Her Clan, the Rock-pile Clan, the Terror Bird Clan and the rescued members of the Fanatics now comprise the Boneyard Nation. All tolled they number 1,500 individuals. They control the area which now includes the Yellowstone National Park, Teton Mountain range and adjacent hunting grounds.
Because of her deformity, the Leader is forbidden by her Clan’s tradition to marry and have children. While this custom is not shared by all the people groups in the Boneyard; Eva has so far accepted its edict. However, It has become painfully apparent the burden imposed by this practice is harming Eva. She is now in her mid-twenties and in her time, she is the equivalent to a middle age spinster. Unless she acts soon the opportunity to have her own children will forever be lost.
There is a capable warrior she respects. He has been highly effective and trustworthy and is her highest ranking lieutenant. The bachelor’s name is Toby. He was one of the first Fanatics captured and bears the brand on his head from the blazing hot arrowhead she had placed there. He was at her side the night she thrust her knife into the Strongman’s body. The handsome warrior could have turned against her many times but has been loyal to a fault. Toby like three hundred of his Tribe stayed in the Boneyard over five cycles ago. The rest returned to their people in their forced exile from Eva’s empire.
Since the expulsion of the Fanatics, the Boneyard had not been invaded or even challenged by outsiders. The Clans had domesticated some bison and were even using them as beasts of burden. Their village in the old breeding basin is still their capital but other settlements were now springing up elsewhere.
Eva has had several recent vivid dreams like when she was younger. Occasionally she dreamed of a child named Mona. She wonders who’s child this is? Mona is a name not known to her tribe. However, she remembers a mystery woman warrior with that name who visited her when she was just a small child. This woman showed her how to use the sling, taught her to swim and many other things. Occasionally, Mona appeared in Eva’s dreams advising her how to build a bow and make arrows, manufacture a spear lever and use pitch in leather pouches to catapult burning missiles to frighten enemies.
It was time to ride the perimeter of the hunting grounds. Eva normally rode on Raven’s back. However, he was getting older and his son Sprinter accompanied her this time. Sprinter was an extremely handsome and large Terror Bird. He was a good foot taller than his father (some ten feet tall) and probably weighed nine hundred pounds. He was enormously strong, fast and had endurance unequaled in his Tribe. If it were not necessary to stay with the rest of her surveillance party Eva could have covered over eighty miles in one day. She had three other riding pairs in her group, Toby being her senior Lieutenant stayed to her left and slightly behind her at all times, he was riding Sprinter’s sister Topaz. One other mount pair stayed in front and one to her trailing rear. To the Boneyard Nation, Eva was precious cargo to be protected at all costs. The team was specifically interested on the health and numbers of elk and bison herds. They checked the fish spawning areas and the waterfowl breeding areas as well. All surveyed looked abundant and healthy.
They camped for the night at Eva’s favorite spot. The site had a fantastic scenic view of the wild river who’s head waters originated in the mountain glaciers in the center of their wilderness nation. She walked to the edge of a ledge which overlooked the river and stood there as the sun sank below the horizon. The rest of her party was preparing the fire and putting a stew together. They were able to find mushrooms, wild onions, with freshly killed elk. The Terror Birds were feasting on the majority of the carcass, while the humans selected the most tender portions of the elk for their meal. They used a terracotta pot manufactured for such a purpose. The smell of the cooking meal was mouthwatering. While Eva knew herbs and the healing application of natural plants and minerals, she was not a cook by any measure, this was one reason she loved these trips . . . she could eat other’s cooking.
The Clan leader carried with her a round bowl in her pouch along with her manufactured sling stones. This bowl was for a stew and any tea that was brewed. Eva carried another pouch which contained medical supplies including herbs that were antibiotics and painkillers. The healer kept strips of leather and select sticks to use as splints and tourniquets, she carried the thinnest gut she could find and a sharp needle for suturing wounds. At the Basin, Eva was training several boys and girls in the healing arts and was proud of their progress. This made her happy and sad at the same time. It reminded her of her parents and brought back the pain of their loss.
Eva had also learned how to heal and treat the injuries and common medical issues of the Terror Birds and bison that now populated her immediate world. It never failed to amaze her that her life was so busy, full and meaningful but was still so empty. She often cried herself to sleep when alone. This night the supreme leader would have to suppress her normal nighttime ritual and stiffen her spine and conceal her tender feelings. She was the leader, not the led.
In the morning as they broke camp Eva went for a walk to take care of personal business. As she returned there was a very large badger on the trail in front of her. For some reason she had not taken any of her weapons with her.
This animal was more than Eva’s match and she had nowhere to escape nor the speed and agility to avoid being mauled or killed. The animal was aggressively approaching and seemed intent on attacking her despite her desire to avoid a confrontation. Eva thought how utterly ironic. the legendary warrior that defeated the redhaired skunk giants and the Beast, leader of the Fanatics, is dispatched by an angry badger while returning from relieving herself. What an embarrassing story to tell over the campfire in years to come. About the time she was resigned to her fate an arrow hit the charging animal in its chest most likely piercing the heart. The angry animal moved no further. Eva, stunned and speechless, dropped to her knees. When the bewildered warrior recovered her senses she saw Toby standing over the dead badger.
Instantly, Eva fell in love. In probably the most vulnerable and embarrassing time of her life, the man who had stood by her all these years without her even saying thanks to, just saved her life. The supreme leader laughed hysterically. If she had not laughed she would have cried. Eva walked over to Toby and whispered very softly: “this is to be our little secret, O.K.? We wouldn’t want everyone to know their leader is an idiot, right?” He smiled real-big and with a big smirk on his face responded: “Of course I wouldn’t want to make a big deal out of the fact I just saved your life. It could have happened to anyone preoccupied with her leadership duties.” Eva slapped him on his chest and said: “if you tell anyone I will, I will, just cry!”
They returned to the team getting ready to continue their rounds. As Toby adjusted Topaz’s halter, he winked at Eva. She looked into his eyes and returned a playful grin. What previously was all business began to evolve into a much deeper friendship. When they stopped to allow the Terror Birds drink and rest, they really talked for the first time. She asked him why he stayed in the Boneyard and did not go with the other Fanatics. He breathed deeply and said: “I saw no future under the Strongman, he was cruel and a fool. The first time I met you, you showed compassion and reason, the decision was easy. You are a natural leader with incredible capabilities and love for your people. Who else could charm Terror Birds to work for her and love it?” Eva, blushed and lowered her eyes. She was obviously embarrassed, not knowing how to take his sincere complement.
The surveying group camped for the second evening. They had not killed any new game so they all pulled out jerky and some dried fruit and brewed some tea. The Birds only gorged every two to three days when on a mission so they were satisfied to rest without eating. Eva left the fire and walked off to collect her thoughts, taking her knife and hatchet this time. Toby followed at a distance making sure she was safe but not interfering with her privacy. Eva was very aware he was there and instead of aggravation she was comforted with his presence. She returned to the fire after sundown and settled in for the night. Feelings of warmth and companionship flooded Eva’s soul. Her loneliness diminished. The woman warrior slept deeply for the first time in weeks.
In the morning all were up early and on the way, their progress was excellent and they agreed at their present pace they would complete their rounds and three more days. By noon they rounded the north side of the enormous lake within their territory. Eva could see the ridge above the old Fanatics encampment. This was where she learned to trust and appreciate Toby. Without his assistance she might have died the night she took control of the Beast (Strongman of the Fanatics). Eva’s mind flashed example, after example of Toby’s value to her life. Why hadn’t she realized this before? She had no explanation.
That night. Toby instead of following Eva at a distance, walked up to her and asked permission to inquire about personal issues. Eva responded immediately, promising to answer any questions he asked. Toby first hesitated and then asked: “Why have you not married and have a family?” She stared at him and said incredulously; “are you not aware of my people’s custom? I am deformed and not allowed to marry.” Toby responded; “I know of no such limitation demanded from you because of your deformed foot. My people do not require such extreme measures. You are no longer just the leader of your first people but now lead all here in the Boneyard. All the Clansmen love and trust you with their lives. They would not prevent you from a full life. It would be a bad thing to deny the future the benefit of your children. If you don’t believe me . . . ask them.”
Eva was stunned. She had not even imagined having a husband or children. She had never allowed such thoughts, she was overwhelmed. She kneeled down and cried silently. Toby, stood at arms length quietly and did not move. He stood guard as she came to grips with her life. Never in her memory had she felt such deep grief and anger simultaneously. Eva’s inner child wanted to scream in rage and strike out but knew she had to get control of herself. They stayed there for what seemed to be hours. She finally stood up and dried her eyes. Not wanting the others to see her, the supreme leader realized she allowed Toby to witness something no one, not even her parents had witnessed. In stead of being embarrassed she looked at Toby and asked him for his silence. He immediately acknowledged her request, saying. “Your heart and person is forever safe in my hands, no one will know this moment from my lips.”
The scouting party was on their way back to the basin and everyone was anxious to get home. The rest of the journey was without incident and they arrived at the Basin just before nightfall. As they entered the village, the children rushed to welcome Eva home. She gave hugs all around and acknowledged each child individually. The older adolescents came to find out when she was going to start their instructions again on healing and other arts. Toby was always amazed at Eva’s unlimited energy and concentration. She was such a rare and endearing person. His respect and affection grew with every minute he was near her. Here and now Toby decided to gain Eva’s hand in marriage.
How was he going to accomplish his objective? What would win the Clan leader’s heart and convince her to marry him? He planned it like a military campaign. First, he went to her Elders to out flank any objections she might use to turn him down. Since she did not have parents, they were the next authority in line. As was the Clan’s custom, the oldest man and woman would officiate any wedding. The meeting was tense at least from his point of view, he had all his logical arguments to use in his defense. To Toby’s surprise they were delighted. They not only supported his campaign, they asked what took him so long? So, he took the opportunity and ask them how to win her heart. Their response was simply, continue what you are doing. The jubilant warrior left walking on air.
Flowers were nice, new buck skins were good, but food was the best persuader. Eva might have a sweet tooth. He decided he would hunt down some bee honey, and pinion nuts to make a confection to present to her. Since she was a self-admitted dunce when it came to cooking his interest in such things might prove to be beneficial to his plans. This was the ammunition he chose to use first.
The nervous warrior showed up at Eva’s compound with a basket with his honey creation. She met him outside and asked what was in the basket. He told her if she would take a walk with him he would show her. The delighted woman acted as if she had to decide and finally relented to his request. They walked down to the lake and sat on a few boulders at the edge. The moon was reflected off the water and the air was chilled. The frightened Toby stammered with tension, and finally says; “I made these for you.” She quickly put her hand in the basket and he snapped the lid shut. She screamed and quickly removed her hand. Toby, said: “Not so fast, you need to promise me something first.” She protested: “That wasn’t very nice, what do you want?” He responded: “You need to go with me to the Thermals to watch the Thunder Bird pairing ceremony, Sprinter and Topaz are both choosing their life mates.” “Oh, is that all. I was going to ask you to go with me!” Eva said in a coy way. “Then it is a date.” Responds Toby. “Sure, now let me see what is in the basket . . .” Eva, pleads.
Eva, Toby, Jewel and Raven are standing together on the edge of the steam clouds arising from the thermals. There are two groups of four Terror Birds. A total of eight in all looking at each other with a space of about twenty yards between them. The males are closest to Eva and Toby. The females farther away. Jewel and Raven, start to snap their enormous beaks and stomp their feet in an alternating cadence. It is both rhythmic and hypnotic. The females close the distance between the two groups and start to circle the males as they separate with about ten yards between each male. The Males stand as tall as they can and become motionless. Then one female comes up to Sprinter and pulls a feather out of her side and places it at his feet. Another female does likewise until there are three feathers at his feet. Only his sister Topaz plucks her feather and leaves it at the feet of another male. Two males receive no feathers. Toby thinks: Wow, what a disappointment for the two rejects.
The male with Topaz’s feather at his feet is named Runner. Sprinter and Runner pick up one feather each and rush off into the steam clouds. Topaz and a female named Garland immediately follow the males that took their feathers. The remaining two males and two females repeat the same ritual. The rhythmic beats performed by Raven and his mate continue until the choices have been exhausted. One male and one female remain unmatched and the ceremony stops. Three pairs were chosen and one will be left for the next cycle. The pairings are permanent, only death of one of the mates will result in a repairing ceremony. Toby is exhausted. He was crushed because not all the pairings were made. Eva was delighted that Topaz and Sprinter found their mates.
When they returned to the Basin, Toby was sullen and dejected. Eva had a big smile on her face and was animated. She was joyful and suggested they go for a walk. Though mildly depressed Toby agreed to do anything to spend more time with the object of his efforts. Eva spoke first: “If you were a Terror Bird and no female left a feather at your feet, how would you feel?” Toby responded: “are you kidding, I would feel like running into the fog and never returning.” Eva laughed and her eyes gleamed with mischief. She told Toby to close his eyes and stand very, very still. She then told him to hold out both hands in front of him. Eva took a feather from her hair and placed it in his hand. He felt its near weightless touch on his palm and fingers. He couldn’t believe what she did. He was speechless. She whispered: “You can open your eyes now.”
Toby, said the only thing in his head: “I may not be a Terror Bird, but I think I know what you just did, right?” Eva nodded and Toby continued: “I don’t see any fog bank to run into so, in stead, I will just stand here and say, I can think of nothing more I want to do than be your mate for the rest of our lives.” He laughed with joy and picked her up in his arms and swung her around until they both fell down from dizziness.
The village was buzzing with activity. The common area by the lake was congested with hundreds of people, including dozens of Terror Birds in the back so they didn’t block others line of sight. Nearest to the lake stood the two elders of Eva’s Clan, the oldest woman and oldest man. In front of them was a hide laying on the ground. From different directions Eva rode in on Raven and Toby rode in on Topaz. They dismounted and the women quickly surrounded Eva and tied her hands behind her back and put a fur hood over her head. The men did likewise to Toby. The two were led to the two Elders and placed just behind the hide. Both stood motionless. The woman asks first: “What woman asks to be married,” Eva yells, “it is I, Eva” The male Elder asks: “What man asks to be married,” Toby responds, “It is I, Toby.” The woman says; “Bring these two forward but first cut their hands loose and take their shoes. Let them feel the same ground and bind their hands one to the other. The attendants cut their bonds and loosely ties Toby’s left to Eva’s right hand.” The Elder male then asks: “Do you freely agree to this oath and do you acknowledge the Creator who protects your union.” They both answered: “I do!’
The Elder woman ordered the attendants to remove the hoods. Eva felt the hide under her feet and knows the texture was wrong, she looked down and smiled knowingly. They were standing not on a bison or elk hide but on the hide of the badger that almost took her life and brought Toby into her world. The woman told them to look upon their new mate. The badger hide was rolled up and handed to the couple. The old man loudly announced: “This hide is the foundation of your new life. Remember you stand on the same ground from this day forward hand and hand.”
The celebration went on for hours, that evening a strange circular light (never before seen) erupted over the lake for several minutes. This was taken as a good omen, the creator acknowledging the new union between Eva and Toby.
To be Continued;
Post Script: When Mona returned to her mothership the Dragonfly, she met with her sisters and they went over their findings and compiled a report for the Time Travel Management Council.
She was exhausted from her so called vacation and needed to rest. While in her favorite spot in one of their wilderness biospheres, Mona rolled Eva’s tiny turquoise stone repeatedly in her fingers. She decided to confront the Council with a request she felt was ethically proper. At the meeting she pleaded her case. Captain Lisa asked the council to allow one more mission to Ancient Earth admitting she had already taken the liberty to schedule. This mission was to target coordinates ten years forward in time from the mission to save Eva from assassination. After considerable debate and assurances that no disruption in the future would result her request was granted.
Mona immediately coordinated with her sisters to plan the excursion. This time most activities would be using primarily the Federation’s Shadowland capabilities and only one brief personnel insertion. Mona went to the quiet lab and prepared for the journey. Levie put the earphones on Mona and she lost consciousness. For weeks prior, the sisters had been interrogating the memory manuscripts to pinpoint the exact time and location Eva’s parents were left in place to take care of the sick and injured. It was assumed Sunrise and Rain Child, never left the locality but succumbed to starvation or injury. It was assumed they died within days or weeks after Eva evacuated the clansmen that could travel to the Boneyard. Mona’s first journey to the past would try to confirm the details.
The area observed by the 4D coordinates chosen by Moonbeam and Levie, was desolate. There were the remnants of an encampment near a failing water source. Mona saw only three tent like shelters that were still standing as if tended to. As she went forward she was getting very depressed sensing the awful things she would be seeing. In one of the tents were three older clansmen, all dead. In the other shelter there was no one to be found. That left the last tent and Mona became frightened of the possibilities. There she found two starving persons, alive but comatose. To her remembrance these were Eva’s parents, they were ten years older and mere shadows of themselves. Her assessment was they could not live but a few more hours.
The Captain returned to the laboratory and suddenly awoke. She told the technicians to prepare the time dilation capsule for use immediately. She stripped and jumped into the capsule. Within minutes she was laying on her back in the desolate compound. She rushed into the shelter and moved the couple to within inches of each other, Mona then laid over them and put her arms around both and continued counting down. When she reached one hundred, the trio disappeared from the miserable tent. Within a few minutes, they were on the Dragonfly. A medical team gave Mona a jumpsuit and took the couple to intensive care. The two were placed further into an induced coma and given liquid nutrients and I.V. therapy. It would probably be a few days before an attempt would be made to awake them.
In the meantime, the three sisters and a host of primitive culture experts tried to design a way to decompress and orient the couple to their new surroundings and life. The plan was to take them to a wilderness biosphere and slowly revive them over several days. Since these two were highly observant and intelligent people it was expected they would eventually adjust; however, great care would be taken to integrate them into the highly sophisticated, complex and technologically advanced future.
After several days Mona was briefed on their progress. As of today, they were to be free of all medication that would suppress their perceptions or curiosity. Mona, put on some fabricated hides and primitive gear they had thrown together. She put Eva’s gemstone in her pocket to help prove who she was just in case the couple might not recognize her. With great hopes she took a deep breath and went to meet them.
Rain Child and Sunrise were setting at a waterfall and Captain Lisa walked up on the other side of the pool between them. Mona waved and they waved back. Since in real time the Captain had only been away from Ancient Earth about three weeks, she still remembered their words, expressions and language. They had aged ten years since their last encounter with her but the advanced nutritional and medical technology of the Federation had taken twenty years off of them. They looked younger now than they were when Mona left them.
She walked around the pool and approached. When close enough she asked them in their language if they remembered her. They both answered yes. Mona asked if they had questions. Sunrise, asked: “Just where are we and have we died?” Mona smiled and answered. “You are both quite alive and you are no longer on the Earth. Do you remember I told you I came from beyond the sun and stars and from many, many cycles that had not happened yet.” They both nodded yes. Well, you both are now in that same place. You have nothing to fear here. You are our honored guests and I want to show you something.
Your daughter Eva, is OK. However, she has grieved over your loss for many cycles. I am not able to let you talk to her but I will let you see something wonderful. I am going to show you where she is eight to ten years since the time she left for the Boneyard. The celebration you see is in a basin near the thermals area of the hunting grounds. You will see some amazing things. We can fill you in on the history in the months to come; however, trust me what you see is real.
The hidden drones were showing the wedding ceremony from three different perspectives. Eva’s parents were enthralled by every detail. The technology allowed them to hear, see, smell, and even feel the breezes and temperature surrounding the event. Eva’s mother recoiled in shock when she saw what looked like her twenty-five-year old Eva ride in on an enormous Terror Bird with a Black Plume on his head. Rain Child reacted simultaneously as well. Mona forgot they had never seen such a sight. These birds had been their most feared competition and predators.
Mona stopped the transmission and explained. Your daughter was able to create an alliance with the Terror Birds. They are highly intelligent and capable animals, Eva communicates with them and they are close allies. Raven, the bird she rode in on is their Clan Leader. In fact, Raven and his Queen Jewel, live within Eva’s compound.
The two looked in amazement as Mona turns the transmission back on. They watched the rest of the ceremony and were stunned. Along with Captain Lisa they watched the aftermath of the wedding and the celebration going on into the night. Mona was just as mesmerized as Eva’s parents. She cried with the parents multiple times. Eva looked radiant and beautiful and Toby was no ugly duckling either. Before they turned off the drones. Mona said we are going to do one last thing. One of these observation drones is at the end of its capabilities. We are going to send it to thirty-seven thousand feet and detonate it in a series of visually brilliant demonstrations of light. Within moments one drone left the surface and within seconds it was looking down on the dark earth below it. As the other drones recorded, there appeared high overhead multiple circles of light, some of the best fireworks anyone could have designed. It took about three minutes for the light show to dissipate. Eva, Toby and the Boneyard would forever remember the light show and the wedding ceremony.
To be Continued:
Volume 1, Mona Lisa on the Moon, Thirty-Two Thousand Years in the Making Kindle Edition
Thirty-two thousand years ago, a gifted child is born into a world most would consider paradise. There has not been a war or hunger for some eight thousand years. The ozone layer is four times thicker than it will be later. Genetic abnormalities are nearly nonexistent and there are no diseases. As she matures, Mona Ann Lisa—just one of a highly advanced civilization on Earth—prepares to fulfill her destiny.
Check out George B’s book about Mona at amazon.com…
Check out George B’s book about Mona at amazon.com…
Short Story by George B
Eva and Credo were alone at the outskirts of the Boneyard to survey the Clan’s chances of locating food. Though it was early morning, she did not expect to encounter a Terror Bird. While an attack was possible, Eva’s intuition told her they were temporarily safe. Credo had alerted on a dragonfly and was preoccupied by its erratic flight pattern. She quickly gave Credo hand signals to ignore the large insect and to instead survey the surrounding perimeter.
Credo was always at Eva’s side unless she ordered otherwise. He bonded with her at his birth five cycles ago. Eva was a leader of her people and was worthy of his attention and loyalty. Others of his kind were not as lucky. Saber cats were intensely hunted by Eva’s tribe, the two species competed for the same food resources. One of Credo’s eyes was damaged at birth and he would not have survived without this symbiotic partnership with his human benefactor. Eva was flawed also. Her left leg was deformed and her ability to hunt was thus limited. However, her keen sight, hearing and intuition assisted by Credo’s legs and enormous strength made them the best providers of the entire Clan. The two were inseparable and were relied upon to find game when others failed.
Eva’s value was significant because of her second sense when it came to reading hunting signs. She could also anticipate changes in weather conditions. She felt impending danger before others and was the early warning system for all that fell under her care. The Clan had a territory that covered several hundred square miles. At the center of this area, was a group of thermals that belched heat, steam and sulfuric gases all year round. This area attracted animals of all types, especially during the bitterly cold winter months and many of the sojourners were killed or died there, leaving their bones as a temporary reminder of their fate. The area was thus known by the Clan as The Boneyard. This place was the hunting ground of last resort because it held a fearful, mystical, and magnetic quality that both attracted and repelled humans and most likely other animals as well. The dominant species, other than humans were the Apex Predators of the Mega Fauna of the late Pleistocene. However, the most feared and formidable was the Terror Bird, it was flightless, was over eight feet tall and weighed approximately 330 pounds. Their heads were large, with huge, axe-like beaks. Being enormously quick and vicious, they ran at speeds exceeding forty miles an hour in short spurts. These birds could track, attack and kill prey much larger than themselves. They worked in groups of two or more and were intelligent, and fearless. This species always came to the Boneyard during specific seasons and Eva was very aware of their customary behavior.
By Dmitry Bogdanov – email@example.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2991184
However, this year was particularly bad for hunting and the Clan was pushed to take more chances than they have normally. Eva and Credo were critical to the tribe’s survival. She knew she could not make a mistake. An error on her part could result in her death and the possible demise of the entire Clan. In desperation Eva headed for the Boneyard. Though the risks were great the Boneyard represented the only true guarantee for food. Eva knew the Terror Birds would most likely
be there as well. The Clan’s weapons were spears and slings along with their coordination, unity of purpose and their capacity to adapt to changing and dangerous events. While alert and in a hunting party, her people could adequately defend themselves. However, as individuals or in small groups, humans were too slow and vulnerable, unable to defend against two or more Terror Birds if the attack was in unison. During resting periods and at night the danger was at its peak. These birds loved to hunt in the early evening and early morning hours. Eva maintained watchmen all day long and deep into the night to alert for any danger. Other than these terrible flightless birds, the Dire Wolves who weighed an average of 150 pounds were a concern because they were also pack hunters. Fortunately, since the Clan was in bird territory the wolves were not going to be present. The wolves feared the birds more than the humans.
Eva was concerned and more frustrated than normal because her people had been decimated through disease and starvation. The older members and the very young could travel no more and without enough food the entire Clan’s endurance was at its end. Being now half their normal numbers, the Clan could not both man multiple hunting parties and adequately protect the elderly and children. Eva had to find a solution and was desperate to do so. At this point the Boneyard would be the best answer to the Clan’s need for a food source. Eva decided to put every able body out to gather food and hunt, praying the worst would not happen. While pondering the serious issues in front of her, Eva remembered a dream she had not long ago. The stones from a mountain fell on her and Credo. She expected to die, instead they survived without a scratch. Could this dream have been pointing her to the survival or inevitable destruction of her clan? This was a puzzle and she had to solve it and solve it soon.
Eva was thinking, The Boneyard might just be their last stand, but was jolted back to the reality, when she saw Credo returning from his survey of the thermals. He was acting differently shown by his speed and directness of approach. Eva sensed his excitement. This meant food or danger and maybe both. In anticipation, she took out her sling and place a large stone in it. As he approached, he made a set of quick clicking sounds “kee, kik, kee, kik” She knew to follow him immediately.
As they rounded a small thermal pool of green and orange algae, the billowing steam was blown away by a stiff breeze to reveal a set of five crude nests on the ground. The nests were full of several very large eggs. Eva knew immediately these were Terror Bird eggs. Because of her desperation she didn’t hesitate, she grabbed her carrying pouch and put as many eggs in it she could. She then fashioned a drag from some branches and placed several more eggs on it to take them back to the camp. She knew the Birds would follow her trail as soon as they discovered the missing treasure, but this was survival. She was ready to accept the consequences of her actions. At this very moment, Eva knew the Terror Birds could be attacking her vulnerable and unprotected Clansmen. This may well be a war of mutually assured destruction.
With her deformed leg her return with the added weight of the eggs was excruciating. She was weak for lack of food and knew she had little time to escape. Credo kept a constant watch for the birds. He moved around her, first in a wide circle and then kept getting closer and closer to her as they got further from the Boneyard.
As she returned to the camp, the old and young greeted her with warm hugs and talk. They wanted to hear the whole story, but she was too busy trying to share the eggs with the Clan. She soon collapsed from fatigue and they placed furs over her. Credo lay beside her. She slept for several hours and had the nightmare again about the landslide. When she awoke, she and Credo were given all the Terror Bird egg stew they could eat. The others who were out hunting returned without anything but shared in the eggs to their fill. Eva knew this was the calm before the storm. She ordered fires be started and maintained around the perimeter and she and Credo left the encampment.
Eva didn’t know just what she was looking for, but she knew she would recognize it when she saw it. The place the Clan was now living was too vulnerable to stay much longer. After a half-hour journey, she began to wonder if she was going crazy. What was she looking for? She spotted a pile of large rocks and boulders.
The pile looked like the results of a recent landslide. A large cave would have been better but there were none in this area and even if there were, her people would have to fight a family of cave bears for it. Never a good idea.
As she and Credo were climbing around the base of the pile, she heard the most frightening shrieks and screams she had ever heard. It was undeniable, the sounds were coming from the direction of the encampment. She immediately signaled Credo to run ahead. She followed as fast as she could. Upon arrival, one Terror Bird lay dead near the main fire pit and two clansmen were badly injured. It looked like one of the injured would soon die. Eva knew the war was now engaged.
Eva was told up to five Terror Birds had attacked the camp. They circled it and then rushed the adult defenders from two separate sides. While the two flanks were being attacked, a single bird came from a third direction toward the children who were surrounding the central fire pit. One of the elder men got off a perfect sling rock that hit the bird in one of its eyes. Two adults left the perimeter defense and attacked the injured bird with spears. The attacker was mortally wounded but had badly mauled the two adult defenders. After the bird was killed the rest retreated.
Eva was proud of her people but knew there would be future attacks. Unless her Clan left, the birds would continue the assault. The price was high but, in the end, they got some food and defended themselves. They would live to fight another day.
Eva slept that night but wrestled with her thoughts. The injured and the dying concerned her, but she would have sacrificed herself as they did for the same reasons. She was without mate or child because she was deformed. The ways of her people demanded that from her. She knew no other life. Her parents had long since succumbed to starvation. Credo was now her family. He was her child and companion. Her duty was to lead her people and help them survive and eventually thrive again. The weather had been harsh, and the rain had vanished for months now. There was hope the snows would come and next spring would return to normal, but she was afraid only the bitter cold would come instead. If they survived this winter, they might have to leave their hunting grounds to find other territory. This too might be a death sentence. They would most likely have to fight other Clans and other species to venture into their hunting grounds.
The hope was that with deep snow, hunting and tracking the scarce game would be made easier. The surviving bison would be encumbered by the snow and come into the range of the Clan’s spears and slings. She knew she could not leave, she had to fight the Terror Birds for what little game existed until the snows came. Her people were as desperate as she knew the birds were, possibly only one species would triumph, and Eva intended it to be her Clan. At least the killed Terror Bird would feed the group for several days and might give them the strength to accomplish much more than just surviving a few more days.
When Eva woke in the early morning Credo was already sniffing around the main fire pit for breakfast. Some cooked bird sounded like a good start to his day. Eva went over to the fire and cut off some large chunks off the carcass and gave it to Credo who devoured it quickly ending the repast without anything but a loud burp and the licking of his lips and paws. He purred and rubbed his long powerful body against Eva to thank her for his meal.
Eva felt it was time to call a meeting to discuss what was next. All were present, young, old, and injured, a total of maybe fifty people. The badly wounded male was still alive and was showing signs of improvement. The herbal based antibiotic bandages, laced with sulfur had prevented infection from taking the warrior’s life. The injuries were severe; however, the clansman presently was without infection and food was available, and if this continued survival was possible.
Eva could count on possibly fifteen strong adults that could do some heavy lifting. Her plan was simple but strenuous. She was going to move the clan to the landslide and dig down and remove smaller rocks, silt, and dirt from between the larger boulders; making spaces where her people could fit within the rocks. The Clan had never tried anything like this. Their winter home had been moss, leaves, pelts and furs lining snow caves built into drifts of snow. In her mind, this excavation was not a permanent home but a safe room for the people left behind when the warriors went out to hunt and gather. This way the predators could not get to the young, wounded and elders. The openings for the Clansmen would be sized to allow their entrance but not their predators. Theoretically, a few spears wielded by the elderly would protect the narrow entrances from even the strongest, largest and most enthusiastic attacker. Thus, Eva’s landslide would now become the fortress for her people. Now the dream made sense!
She was in a race to move the Clan and start excavation before the Birds attacked again. Eva sent Credo to circle the formation as they moved, he would alarm them if the Birds were gathering for a new attack. She chided and pushed her fellow Clansmen to move quickly. They built drags for the two injured warriors and kept the young and old in the center of their formation. No one went out to hunt or gather, they stayed within sight and touch of each other. Though Eva got to the rock pile in thirty minutes before, this group would take two hours to make the same journey.
Initially, things went smoothly but within an hour Credo gave a warning growl. The others did not understand but Eva knew immediately. She had one of the men climb a tree and act as look out. She sent out an advanced guard of two warriors to do the same thing. She then sent five ahead to secure the rock pile. While on the move the group was most vulnerable. Within a few minutes of Credo’s warning. two Terror Birds appeared in front of the group. Two then appeared to their rear.
Suspecting the same tactics from the previous attack. Eva ordered the remaining warriors to align themselves on the two flanks of their formation. Within seconds, two birds surged from the underbrush towards the middle of the right flank of the group. One bird got to their center and killed two children instantly. The other bird never made it to the defenders. He was hit with several sling rocks and run through by at least three spears. The bird that reached the core of the Clan sliced straight through and had disappeared into the underbrush. Eva ordered everyone to get down. And to start torches. Hoping the fire would discourage a new assault.
After an hour there were no new attacks. Credo gave Eva an all clear growl and she ordered the clan to pick up the dead children and butcher the lifeless bird. Within a few minutes the group was on its way to the rock pile. She grieved for the two lost children but understood the way of life. They had survived by eating the bird’s eggs and these vicious birds had returned the favor. When and how this would end was now beyond her comprehension. They soon arrived at the landslide.
Eva gave the order to make camp. She placed lookouts on the top of the rocks and had the pile become the rear flank of the encampment. She sent several of the children with torches to look for gaps, cracks and clefts in the pile. Within a couple of hours, the group had settled down for the night. The pile was so irregular, she felt the birds could not easily negotiate it with any speed or ability to launch an attack.
She ordered all the brush and small trees removed in a wide arc around the camp and the rocks. The group worked continually for hours before they sat down to eat and mourn the death of the two children. Their custom was to leave the bodies of the dead in trees on small platforms. Because of their situation, they didn’t want to leave the children’s bodies for the Terror Birds, so Eva ordered them cremated. The Clan built a large fire pit on the outside of the encampment and burned their remains. The drought had made the availability of materials to build large funeral piers very easy.
Eva did not sleep. She wondered all night if their enemies would return. She had lost two children and had two badly injured warriors. She had killed two of the enemy and destroyed most of their next generation of chicks. The eggs she took to feed her clan were probably the last or only clutch before winter. To her knowledge, their small population, indicated they didn’t reproduce frequently, and then few hatchlings even survive into adulthood. So, their actions might have already struck deeply at their survival numbers for future generations. So be it. It was now a war of extinction as far as she was concerned.
Eva decided the Clan would not move again before thaw. This was now their winter home and maybe to become their four seasons home. Until now she had never considered such a thing. However, the food was available here all year long. The only reason they didn’t stay before was the Terror Birds. Necessity caused by drought had brought them here and the defeat/elimination of the Terror Birds might change their entire fortunes for generations to come.
Several days after the Clan settled into the new camp, Credo lays with his body next to his guardian and purrs delightfully, she is deep in thought. Eva is planning an offensive. She muses: now that the pile is properly prepared and fortified, it is a haven for the clansmen and the hunted become the hunters. I know where their nests are. She wonders: are they intelligent enough to move to a new location? It was obvious to Eva the Birds had never feared discovery. The Thermals had been their safe place for eons. It provided warmth, camouflage, and even obliterated their scent because of the sulfur laced gasses. Eva thinks; Credo discovered it and we will exploit it again, If they are not able to adapt and nest elsewhere, next year will be their fall. Next year will be their end! .
To be continues . . .
To Mona, there was a piece that continued to gnaw at her regarding the asteroid belt that the dwarf planet Ceres was a part of; she felt that it may be somehow connected to the impact event on Mars. She was in the perfect spot to investigate such speculation because she was orbiting Ceres. Mona asked, “Levie?”
Levie, always in touch, responded, “Yes, M.”
Mona asked, “The theories regarding the asteroid belt … please review and evaluate.”
Mona went on. “Could Ceres have been a moon to a planet that was destroyed in the vicinity of the asteroid belt?”
“Not according to prevailing accepted cosmological theory. It was formed early in the solar system’s formation, 4.5 billion years ago, and the remaining asteroids in the belt were remnants of a never-formed larger planet body.”
“Could the larger planet body have been in existence within the last five hundred thousand years—let’s say four hundred thousand years, give or take a small percentage?”
“Not according to prevailing theory, but not impossible,” Levie exclaimed.
Mona needed all the known details. “Levie, is there any way to test my theory regarding the age of an asteroid’s formation?”
“Yes, by measuring their isotopic composition to find their age and other characteristics. The problem, assuming the asteroids in the belt are fragments of a larger body, is how to find the newest byproducts of an impact or explosion on an asteroid.”
“Levie, let’s transfer all remaining personnel from your holds to other mother ships or to Ceres immediately. We be asteroid hunting!”
Mona engaged the thrusters to slide Leviathan out of Ceres’s orbit. Leviathan had transferred all noncrew personnel to other ships or to Ceres’s interior. Mona had requested forensic geologists and a team of scientists equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to date selected asteroid samples in the belt. All Mona really needed was to find examples of explosive deformation where heat and recrystallization had reset the ionized materials’ isotope clocks back to zero; the concentration ratios of such isotopes would indicate a young sample instead of an ancient one.
Of specific interest was zirconium silicate, which could be dated in rocks that formed from about 1 million years ago to over 4.5 billion years ago with routine precisions in the 0.1–1 percent range. If zirconium is found that dates younger than billions of years, that would be evidence that may indicate the asteroids were from a destructive process not long ago at all.
Within the first few hours, Mona found an asteroid that showed promise. Her experience in prospecting for rare Earth elements had honed Mona’s techniques to maneuver Leviathan close enough to use grappling hooks and stabilized hydraulic spacers. These spacers prevented damage to Leviathan’s hull. A team of geologists were sent in near weightless conditions to take samples that showed any areas of heat metamorphosis or igneous intrusions on the surface.
Once the materials were inside, the dating trials began. It was immediately apparent that some of the samples were showing ages under the lowest limits of accuracy, because they were much too young to be dated. In geologic terms, they were brand new. Further testing for thorium isotopes, including thorium 229, showed ratios consistent with rock formation approximately four hundred thousand years ago. Bingo! A planet larger than Ceres may have existed in the asteroid belt and been destroyed some four hundred thousand years ago.
The final report to the Prometheus Council was as follows:
The Prometheus Investigation Team’s recommendations included the following:
Devise a plan to destroy or deflect one or more incoming killer-size comets or other threat.