Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Artifact

The three gallants concealed themselves among the black boulders beneath a basaltic bluff.  Across the dried lake bed just coming out of the trees was the SSA.  Heavily armed and heavily supported by Tech. Their blue uniforms stark within the winter brown cottonwoods.  No fear of being seen, their machines and armor gave them perfect protection.

“How far are they mile, mile and a half?” said Chief to his rifleman.
“About that,” Sam answered and then, “they have three drones up.”
“Take them out.”
“They will know we are here.”
“They know we are here already or at least they know the Artifact is here abouts.  Whichever it is they are coming on. If we take out the drones…  I hear those Seekers get kind of attached to their machines, they give them names, say they have personalities.”
“They way we are with cats and dogs?”
“Yes, just like that. They will not be so ready to put up more of their pets.”
“But they will put out the ground drones when they get a little closer,” said the Conservationist.
“That will be Sam's next target." replied the Chief.

“Go ahead; shoot those things out of the sky.”
The Rifleman considered windage and elevation and took aim. Three precise shots, each preceded by a small pop of air and a sizzling sound of the rocket projectile, was followed by three equally silent flashes above the advancing force.
“What do we do now Chief?” asked the Conservationist.
“We have to ride, Dolley. I wish we would have gotten here sooner with more of us, we could relocate the Artifact,” he said looking at a bus sized camouflaged container.  A mechanical hum might give away its location if you were close enough to hear it. “We just do not have the time.”
“We have to do something!” she implored. “There is hardly any of our stuff left. They are destroying it all. This could be the last there is of us. We can get in there and take some of it, maybe save a few at least”
The Chief looked out east as the ground drones rolled closer, kicking up swirling dust devils as they crossed the dry lake bed.
“Okay, Sam. Get the horses and Dolley get the Artifact open. We will each take three of them. Then close it back up and leave the preservation off.  If the drones cannot hear it maybe they will not find it and hopefully we will get back this way before it is all lost.”
Sam showed up with the mounts just as Molley opened the Artifact with the swooshing of released pressure and the smell of refrigerated air.
“OK, each of you--quick pick some out-- just three.”
“But which ones? There are 250 of them.”
“Pick out your favorites.”  The Chief was immediately sorry for this.
The two young people began to argue, “That is my favorite, and I want it.”
“No! It is my favorite, I got it first.”
“Oh Holy Hell, you two get on with it-- this is not your grandparents’ day when your family fought over pizza toppings on movie night. The SSA is coming and we must ride.”
“Okay Chief!” They soon popped out with their treasures.
“What did you get? “asked the Chief.
“The Angel and the Badman, The Quiet Man and North to Alaska,” said Dolley.
“Ever the romantic,” said the Chief.
“Rio Grande, Rio Bravo and Rio Lobo,” said Sam.
“I would have put money on you picking those. Good choices. Now, Sam take out a couple of the ground drones while I get my films.” To the sound of a closing rifle bolt the Chief dove into the Artifact and quickly came out with his, just as the second shot was fired.
“What did you get Chief?”  He fanned out the three gray metal film canisters so they could read the labels. The two youths both nodded in agreement of the Chief’s choices.
"Now! Saddle Up! Children."
The Three Gallants mounted their horses. The Chief pulled back on the reins and his horse stood on its hindquarters, its hooves striking out against the oncoming force, “Now ride!” called the Chief. “Ride west.  Ride west--fast and far--because they are coming on.”
Chapter Two…. Rendezvous at Blind Canyon


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