Los Alamos, New Mexico – April 11, 2008 – The sophisticated equipment in the lab was quite capable of monitoring any frequency known to man and then some. For years now Dr. Stephen Grable had managed to keep a secret to himself, despite the continuous background checks regarding his past and the annual polygraph tests administered by his employer. Working for the United States government researching and testing advanced communication techniques shrouded under a veil of secrecy meant giving up your entire life for the benefit of others. Dr. Grable gulped down the dregs of his morning coffee and reflected over the past several decades.

The signals had been weak at first, but had become increasingly stronger over the years. A spike in the Summer of 2007 followed by a now steady pulse every 120 seconds beckoned him to investigate further. The original frequencies were encrypted and to this day he had yet to unravel the mystery of their origin. He admired the advanced code being transmitted as any scientist would, and at first he had suspected they were extraterrestrial in origin but his sensitive monitoring equipment pointed exactly 145 miles to the East Northeast and underground near Capulin volcano.

Two days prior the signals had suddenly weakened but the two minute pulse continued its buzzing harmony through his headphones. He’d run advanced deciphering algorithms in an effort to determine why the original signals had all but vanished, but his efforts were futile. From seven hundred feet underground Grable calmly fired off the required email requesting a few weeks vacation and began to formulate a plan in his mind.

There would be questions and there would be answers. There would be followers and there would be unwanted company as well. An employee with his knowledge would be monitored closely during his travels and interrogated upon his return. Grable would take along his teenage son and his daughter of 26 years in an effort to appear as innocent as possible. He’d answered the usual barrage of questions about his vacation and his response of planning to visit several of the National Parks in this part of the state came off well. His vacation request was granted and he checked his badges with security and headed home.

Grable packed his SUV full of camping and hiking gear and set off with Kelly and Kyle in tow. His converted cellular phone chirped quietly from his shirt pocket exactly every 120 seconds. Kelly and Kyle discussed trance music and global warming while Grable smiled to himself. If only his deceased wife could be along for this trip it would mean the world to him. The miles disappeared into nothingness as they do when one is lost in their thoughts. The brief Saturday journey ended in the late afternoon with a quick visit to the volcano area and on to Folsom for a nights rest before heading back out to the volcano on Sunday morning.

They were able to acquire adjoining rooms at the small motel in Folsom, and the volcano loomed in the distance just a few miles away. Grable stared at it from his room window as thousands of stars filled the sky and rained a magical light across the entire countryside. His cell phone chirped happily away and Grable felt a sense of contentment that he could not explain. In fact it startled him. He felt the hair stand up on the back of his neck and chills ran down his spine. He laughed out loud to himself and as he realized how odd he appeared standing in the window an unmarked car eased slowly through the parking lot of the motel. He stared at it intently and picked up a vibe that only someone who is being followed can detect.

Grable nonchalantly eased way from the window and sat in the cheap motel chair. He opened the lid of a small notebook computer and plugged his cell phone into it. He started the diagnostics program for the signals being picked up by the phone and a 3D animation formed before his eyes as the complex software created a map grid of the entire area and its subsurface. The signal was not pulsing at all, but instead it was rotating from a precise point deep within a maze of underground tunnels and caverns! Grable stared at the newly created map in absolute disbelief. His grid clearly showed a complex series of what appeared to be man-made pathways. Clearly these had been bored through the strata with machinery, but he couldn’t say for certain if these were known excavations.

Grable rotated and studied the complex 3D graphics before him. It was quite obvious that an entrance was near the surface, although it appeared to be partially blocked and hidden from view. And why this signal rotating from a point far underground? Was this his own government at work? Was this some super-secret underground base? His head spun with wild ideas about the possibilities.

He connected a small printer to the notebook computer and printed out a series of grid elevations and maps for his own use. He removed the drive from the computer and stood and looked out the window. The unmarked car was nowhere in site but he still felt ill at ease with the situation. He dropped the hard drive in his pants pocket and tucked the notebook under one arm and the printer under the other and walked outside. He casually tossed both of them in a large trash bin and walked behind the motel and destroyed the drive with the heel of his boot. He picked it up and tossed it over a fence and into a fast moving stream that he could see beyond.

Grable lay in his motel bed many hours later as the stars found their way down the sky. The room was filled with an eerie light and his heart began to pound as he looked at the bedside clock. It was 4:10 AM. He sat up on the side of the bed and began to sob uncontrollably. What was this all about? Why does he feel like part of him is being pulled out from the inside? He pulled on his boots and walked back to the window. He grabbed his jacket and cell phone. He knew what he was about to do but he didn’t know why..

Grable sat out on his own with his two dear children asleep in their room. Visions of his dead wife clouded his thought processes. The volcano was only about 3 miles away and he could easily make it before sunrise. Armed only with a small powerful flashlight, Dr. Stephen Grable unknowingly finished one life and began the journey of another..

Published in: on April 27, 2008 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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AwakeningJanuary 25, 2008 – The human spirit is one of the greatest wonders of the universe. Our lives are filled with endless crossroads and choices to be made that reach far into the future. Somewhere out there in the infinity of space and time in this 16 billion year old bubble exists unimaginable possibilities. The great distances that span the galaxies cannot be traveled by humans, but our Creator has an infinite number of ongoing projects besides planet Earth. In this way new worlds and new civilizations are born. As we gaze at the night sky our hearts and souls can feel the outpouring of cosmic emotion as we wish secretly to ourselves to be able to explore these unknown places. Sometimes our Creator gives us opportunities without us realizing it. For one explorer in the giant cavern under the desert of New Mexico these secret wishes take on a whole new meaning..

The small animal shimmered in and out of sight and softly bayed to himself as if to call out for others. But there would be no return calls of acknowledgment. The brief skirmish had left the older males brutally murdered and the young pup in a state of shock. The imprint of the horrific events just minutes earlier had left him unable to use any of his innate abilities. He instinctively hid among the rocks and cowered. Death would come quick to a young bahro pup in this condition and in these surroundings. He began to tremble from the shock and the cold of the rock outcropping wrapped its fingers around what life was left in his compact frame. He slid downward between two rocks and clawed at the ancient gravel. Nearby he sensed life-giving warmth and was drawn to it. A pair of worn boots protruded from a hollowed out niche in the rocks and he curled his small body around them in an effort to warm himself.

The sleeping man inside the niche breathed heavily through his nostrils and the heavy air stirred his subconscious. Dreams of giant birds and hot deserts with shifting sands propelled his dormant brain into overdrive and he began to sweat profusely under his heavy sweater. The giant birds above him circled with patience and the reality of his predicament overwhelmed him. He reached again for his Relto book as if it would appear by magic. The dinosaur-like birds chattered loudly and he squinted hard to see them swoop in as a group. The rust-colored alpha male belched open his sleek throat and a linking book dropped to the sand in a gooey mess. He reached for it and opened the cover only to see a reflection of himself where the linking panel should be.

Luther Slade convulsed violently as he left one dream world and entered another. As he emerged from his deep sleep he was unable to move. Unfamiliar smells filled the air and he knew at once he was not alone. His mind reeling from an alcohol induced nightmare, he lay motionless and raked his dry tongue over his front teeth as he regained his senses. Slade sniffed the air deeply and listened intently as the quiet of the cavern around him was pierced with the soft fluttering hums of the small animal at his feet. Fully awake now, he quickly realized his feet were covered. He jerked his legs back into the niche and pushed his back against the wall of the small compartment that he had carefully carved out a few years earlier. In the light ahead of him the small bahro could only roll to his side. At that instant Slade let out a yell that echoed throughout the canyon nearby and the pup scraped and clawed the gravel in surprise. Slade bolted past him in the semi-darkness and ran across the rocks toward one of the natural springs. He looked back in disgust and muttered to himself as he drank the cold refreshing liquid.

The bahro pup staggered awkwardly toward him and Slade picked up a small rock and wrapped his fingers firmly around it. As the pup approached he fell and tumbled forward into the water beneath the spring and Slade stared at him in disbelief. He had seen these great animals from a distance but never trusted his own senses. Slade thought back over the years and remembered the hundreds of spine-tingling screams he had heard throughout the ages. Vivid memories remained in his subconscious of the bahro disappearing into nothingness.

The little pup let out a desperate sounding plea and tried desperately to hold his small head above the water. Slade sat on a flat boulder and visions of his newborn children suddenly filled his heart. Here he was, a lost and confused old man who had been on his own here for years, and now he was faced with a dilemma. As the pup continued to scratch and claw his way to safety, Slade was overwhelmed with conflicting emotions. His better judgment told him just to walk away and let nature take its course, but there were serious consequences to be considered for whatever action he took. He could put the small animal out of its misery, but he could not take a chance on exposing himself to the possibility of retaliation. He could also save the life of the pup but he was just not sure exactly what to do.

Slade turned and walked away and began to think of his next source of vegetation to brew the bitter wine that he had become hopelessly addicted to. The young bahro gave out a few final desperate cries and Slade continued to walk further away. As he stepped around one of the larger rocks he was stunned to find the carnage of several dead adult male bahro. The site of the ripped carcasses made him heave forward with sickness. The acrid taste of the previous nights wine made it even worse. He fell forward into the gravel and ducked behind a large rock as the bahro pup called out even louder. He lay still sweating and prayed silently to himself. Slade asked his Creator to take him away from this hellish nightmare several miles underground.

As Slade lay in the dim orange light of the cavern the air around him began to stir. Static electricity snapped in tiny thin mazes and the air began to rush violently around him. Slade wondered about his just completed prayer and stood to his feet as the sound of the pup was drowned out by the spinning vortex of fine sand and debris. He pulled his sweater up over his face and peered through the woven mesh at the scene about him. There, several yards in front of him, the young woman appeared to him again just as she had many times over the years. An agonizing sense of dread overcame him. Slade knew what to expect.

Yeesha spoke in riddles of allegory and metaphor. She seemed to sense Slade’s defiance of the unwritten D’ni code of conduct and he prepared himself for another boring lecture, but this time the circumstances and surroundings were quite different, and Slade listened intently as she began to speak.

“Shorah, we meet again.. Do you not see that the beginning and the end are as one? You have been given a gift, but yet you have not accepted. These gifts are as precious as your dreams, and all things are possible with faith in The Maker. You must accept the role as a caretaker of burdens. Your journey was begun long ago, and at the end of this great path you will be rewarded. Light is powerful in the darkness, and you should seek the light. Go. Accept in good faith what has been offered, for you have been taking and the time has come for giving. You have been rewarded with the presence of The Least, and this presence will relieve you of the burden of your Pride.”

As quickly as she appeared she was gone. A dreadful silence filled the air around him as the young bahro pup stumbled to Slade’s feet. He reached out and stroked its small head. The young bahro looked at him longingly and muffled noises fluttered from his throat. Luther Slade gazed around the cavern and tears welled up in his eyes. He again thought of the moments years ago when his children were small. Slade knelt down as he whispered a heartfelt prayer to his Creator.

He knew what he must do..

Published in: on March 2, 2008 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Danger in Kadish

Danger in KadishDecember 30, 2007 – My years as a hunting guide on the surface taught me a lot of valuable lessons about human and animal behavior. I developed a natural ability to track game and assist hunters in accessing areas off the beaten path. I spent a lot of time in the wilderness scouting areas few humans ever set foot. Many of these sites were extremely difficult to navigate. I charged a lot of money to my clients for this privilege and my concern for their safety was priority one. These skills would follow me into The Cavern and The Ages.

After an extensive inspection of the pillar room lever and counterbalance system in Kadish Tolesa I discovered a malfunction while observing the stone rings being lowered. If I used any of the levers except lever two as my last of the sequence then everything would function normally and the rings would drop nicely into place. However, if I pulled lever two as the last of the group the rings didn’t seem to seat properly as I viewed them from below. I climbed up to have a look. I wasn’t exactly sure what was happening with the cabling and weights, but a few inches remained under the bottom three rings. I couldn’t tell from the position of the weights if the problem was somewhere in the cabling or if other factors were involved, but this would be a dangerous situation if explorers were inside the ladder shaft and the rings gave way those last few inches. I would need to inspect the ring system up close. I also would need help.

I used my KI to signal Ay’elen and Ke’ata. They arrived a few minutes later from the link in point and we came up with a plan. I would climb the high ladder and jump down to the second ring. From there I would inspect the weights and cables going through the third ring and then climb up to the fifth ring and have Ke’ata press the blue reset button while Ay’elen observed. If I judged it correctly, I could quickly inspect the other cabling, weights, and rings for possible malfunction and then make my escape through the ladder door and into the vault corridor as the rings retracted into place.

I climbed the ladder and positioned myself to the left side of it for the jump. I landed with a solid thud and checked the cables going through the third ring. The climb to the fifth ring was more difficult than I had planned. I barely made it to firm footing. I paused to rest for a moment and inspect the cabling and weights and plan my escape route. I needed to inspect the mechanical action of the reset sequence to get an idea what was happening. The sooner this problem was identified and repaired the better off we would all be.

I gave the signal to Ke’ata and she pressed the reset button. I had not anticipated the intense vibration as the lower ring slammed upward. I was knocked from my feet and just as I rose the next ring slammed into place, again knocking me down. I began to panic. Ay’elen screamed from below. I turned to see the ladder sliding upward to cover the entrance to the corridor. If I could make it there was just enough room to slide by, but it was too late. I quickly got up again and turned to face the tall arch over the entrance to the corridor leading to the elevator shaft. I saw a landing area on top of it. Just before the fourth ring slammed inside the fifth I jumped for it. I landed and rolled safely to a stop.

In the dim light above the arch I noticed a small hole in the stonework. Ke’ata and Ay’elen called out to me. I responded that I was OK. My attention was now focused on what I had just discovered. This hole was not there by accident. The stonework surrounding it was sturdy and well-built. I told the ladies I was going inside.

I had to sit to ease myself through. Once inside there was room enough to stand in a narrow corridor. Huge tree roots were growing in from every direction. There were steps leading up to a larger chamber ahead. I climbed the few steps and pulled a fire marble from my pack. I was shocked at what lay inside.

The floor, walls, and ceiling were covered with a thick layer of moss. I peeled the growth away to reveal a highly polished gleaming stone floor. I turned and walked to the opposite end of the chamber. There on the floor next to a large opening in the wall lay two skeletons. The skulls and bones were broken into bits and what was once clothing now had become part of the thick moss. I looked into the wall opening and immediately recognized what lay before me. I picked up a large thick book and dusted off it’s cover. Although worn around the edges it was in remarkable condition. I opened the cover and a linking panel glowed in the darkness with my yellow fire marble. My heart raced with the excitement of my discovery. I placed the book back in it’s opening and sat there for a few moments.

I made my way back to the top of the arch above the elevator corridor and lowered myself using the lever cables against the wall. We could also use the cables to return to the chamber simply by grabbing on and having someone pull the levers. As my feet hit the ground I turned to the ladies and they saw the expression on my face.

“Roo what is it?” Ay’elen asked.

I only grinned and said “You’re not going to believe what I just found..”

Published in: on January 1, 2008 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friends and Foes

Friends and FoesNovember, 2007 – I completed my Journey in March of this year with Ke’ata’s assistance. The missing pages from Johan’s journal contained important information about returning what I’d taken. At the time I didn’t know why the pages had been ripped out, but I could tell they were freshly torn from their roots in the binder. Slade warned me to expect the unexpected, and I later discovered important information in The Cavern that allowed me to formulate a working theory about why the pages had been removed. I discussed this with Ke’ata and she agreed the Bahro war must have had something to do with it. The claw marks and scratches in the soil around my Relto further confirmed our suspicions. I would finally see these great animals myself at The Arch, along with hundreds of other explorers.

Ke’ata and I explored The City and Ages together, but I spent a great deal of time on my own. Although I fully recovered my health after years alone with no human contact, the psychological scars ran deep. I would return to places Slade and I explored together for days at a time. Ke’ata was not keen on this idea and I explained my need for solitude as a way to center my thoughts and clear my mind. I spent a lot of time in The City secretly watching the base jumpers and new arrivals, as well as exploring hard to reach places in The Ages. My years as a hunting guide honed my skills and I put them to good use.

Ke’ata made a trip back to Kansas and upon her return met a quiet young college student named Flynn. She invited him to our Bevin for a look around and we were introduced. Flynn was a man of few words. He would sit quietly to himself while Ke’ata babbled away with her usual limitless supply of verbal energy. Flynn was a computer science major at a university in Oklahoma, and after getting him to open up a bit, I learned his Journey was complete as well. Once Flynn began to speak, I found him to be as knowledgeable about D’ni history as Ke’ata. I liked his quiet manner and problem solving abilities. Ke’ata invited him to join our Bevin and that was the only time I saw him smile.

I had a lot of time to myself during the months Ke’ata was away. I grew more comfortable with being in The City and I slowly allowed myself to have contact with other explorers. I knew in the back of my mind Johan was still around. I picked up on bits and pieces of chit-chat as I walked cautiously around The City. Johan has developed quite a reputation for wild Bevin parties complete with loud music and pack-loads of booze. I took his journal in a desperate attempt to help save myself and in the process created an ongoing problem. There was a lot of talk around The Cavern about Johan and he was popular among the young explorers. I’m sure he discussed the theft of his journal more than once. I best not get careless and risk being taken by surprise.

I linked into a packed City one evening and bolted toward the rocks in my usual manner to avoid the crowds. As I ran past the stairs a young woman called out to me in a Spanish accent. I smiled and quickly waved but she followed me to the rocks. She was beaming with excitement as she asked endless questions. I could not get a word in edgewise. I smiled and listened as she told me all about herself. Ay’elen was here from South America where she taught school, but she wanted to live in the United States and decided to make a summer trip here to the desert Southwest. She’d heard stories in her native country about The Caverns and The Cleft. Her natural good-natured inquisitiveness were put to good use. She became one of The Called and had just arrived here in The City. We discussed The Journey and her dark eyes lit with excitement. Ay’elen would not be returning to South America.

I introduced Ay’elen to Ke’ata and Flynn. Ay’elen trembled with excitement as Ke’ata invited her to join our Bevin. I could tell from the tears welling up in her eyes that she’d found a true home and a new family. The site of it all made me feel like a child inside. We now had a small group of trusted friends. We quickly made plans to help Ay’elen complete her journey and did so within a few weeks. I never had children of my own on the surface, but I felt like a proud father as we all explored the ages together.

Flynn returned to our Bevin one evening acting strangely. Ke’ata looked at me and rolled her eyes but I knew in my gut something was wrong. It takes a while to get Flynn to open up, but when he did I was overcome with the urge to return to the surface and never come back. There had been a commotion in The City. A drunk and tattered old man was wandering about screaming at everyone to get out before “it’s too late”. Attempts to quieten him were met with physical threats. One of those in the group of onlookers was Johan himself. A sick feeling ran through my gut. My mind raced with scenarios of certain trouble and my heart pounded with anxiety. The old man fought off attempts to subdue him and ran off to the base of the cliff below the library and disappeared into the shadows. Flynn said everyone got a big laugh out of it and rejoined Johan’s entourage. Ke’ata’s face went white with shock and Ay’elen just stood there perplexed by this sudden turn of events.

I quickly linked to my Relto and sat there unnerved. I had put Slade to rest in my mind. There was no way he could have survived that fall. But what of his body? And what else did the old man scream aloud? Maybe I was getting myself worked up over nothing, but my instincts were always spot-on. Where had Slade been all this time? And why did he wait until now to show himself? As I sat there those old feelings from years past crept back into my mind. I tried to think logically and sort everything out. There was no use in trying.

I gazed out across the open sky and thought of the flying Bahro at Kerath’s Arch..

Published in: on December 23, 2007 at 9:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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EnlightenmentFebruary 2007  –  I arrived two months earlier to Ke’ata’s Relto a confused and exhausted man.  Slade led me to believe the caverns were an evil place, but our fantastic discoveries told me otherwise.  I felt somewhere under that gruff personality and heavy drinking existed a man with a once clear conscience and good life, but in 1989 that all changed.  Somewhere under the desert of New Mexico Slade became misguided in his intentions and ran afoul of the organized exploration efforts and sat out on his own.  Accusations of theft and vandalism put him on the defense.  He was hunted down and taken back to the surface.  He would never be the same.

I noticed from the start Slade would avoid contact with others at all costs.  I was going through a rough period in my life and found a father figure in him.  I didn’t realize until after we arrived in D’ni that Slade was far from stable.  He instilled in me a sense of paranoia and suspicion that still exists three years later.  That would all change with the intervention of a kind young woman with a thirst for knowledge and a gift for helping others.

I sat for days in her Relto as Ke’ata spelled it all out in great detail.  How could I have become so misguided?  How could I have become so confused?  As she recited D’ni history and described The Ages in great detail, I listened spellbound as it all came together in my mind.  I struggled with the conflict of Slade’s twisted views and thought of his tormented soul as she described the true virtues of The Caverns and The Journey.  I told her of Johan’s journal and we reviewed every page and every note and every detail.  She calmly walked to the edge of the cliff and tossed it into the abyss.  I would soon complete my Journey with a companion.

Ke’ata arrived from Kansas in late 2005 after attending a lecture on the grounds of her university in Wichita.  The archaeologist spoke theoretically of The Caverns but Ke’ata sensed something in his delivery that drew her in.  She contacted him for more information.  Months later an envelope arrived to her address.  The letter inside contained details about The Cleft and she made the trip to New Mexico.  In the cover of darkness she entered The Cleft and lay still at the bottom for most of the night.  In the early hours near dawn a violent wind spun through and she stood and raised her arms as the small crevice was filled with charged energy.  She too had done as I had done.  Ke’ata became one of The Called and she never looked back.

Now here we were, two people from very different backgrounds, but with a common interest in a great unseen power that is ours to behold.  Ke’ata would help nurse me back to my old self, and I would become her student.  She had used her time wisely in D’ni and The Ages, and her natural curiosity and intuition were drawing her even deeper into this new life that she’d made for herself.  I would soon have new life and a purpose for being, and Ke’ata and I would become explorers of the most dedicated kind.

Ke’ata spoke of her private gathering place in D’ni, and she invited me to become a permanent resident of what she referred to as her “Bevin”.  I proudly accepted her invitation and we linked to my own Relto and removed the linking book to Johan’s camp.  We quickly linked back to her more attractive island in the sky and I used her book to complete the ritual of joining her home in The City.  When I arrived in Ke’ata’s Bevin my KI emitted the most amazing tone.  She linked in behind me and we studied the device together until I was comfortable with its various functions.  Ke’ata explained how my using her Bevin book had now added a new book to my Relto.  All this D’ni magic seemed to have no end and I was eager to find out what would happen next.  My new found home was a well kept area off the beaten path.  The fountain bubbled fresh water, and we spent a few days getting acquainted with all the interesting features of her underground dwelling.  My years of hiding out in the shadows were coming to an end. 

My obvious concern was that of still being followed.  She knew of Johan and described him as a man with too much money and too much time.  His father was one of many explorers worldwide who looked upon the discovery of the caverns with much envy.  Corruption and bribery were commonplace among many of the visitors over the years, and I learned Johan was slowly beginning to see the real ways of the underground.  Ke’ata learned that Johan arrived here from Europe with evil intent, but became one of The Called.  Many of the new explorers were drawn to his magnetic personality and followed him about like groupies.  Johan’s ego battled with his better judgement, and now he was more of an amusement than a threat.  The restoration would forge ahead without him while he languished in his own well-spun sideshow.

As I sat on the steps of Ke’ata’s Bevin one evening discussing our future plans, I heard one of those loud blood curdling screams that would send Slade and I running for the shadows.  Ke’ata laughed amusingly as I ducked for cover.  I turned to look at her and heard the scream again.  She looked at me coyly and asked, “You’ve never seen the Bahro?”

Slade and I had heard the rumors and stories, but he was always tight-lipped whenever I asked him to speculate.  I felt in my gut Slade had a lot to hide, and his heavy drinking after these encounters confirmed my suspicions.  I only stared at Ke’ata and grimaced.  She kidded me playfully and only offered a few tantalizing words.

“Did you see the hidden caves and the cages?  It is where the Proud keep the Least.  The Least were only animals after all, animals that could link.  They could be put to work or play.  They could ease the burden of the Proud and fill their free time with entertainment.  Quietly, as D’ni slept, their lives were taken, because the Proud make the rules..”

With the last word she looked deeply into my eyes with a smiling trance-like look.  I felt as if someone were looking into my soul and discovering my deepest darkest fears about The Caverns and The Ages.  I knew at this moment Ke’ata was a special person with gifts in complete contrast to what I’d seen in my trying times here underground.  I saw that look of trust that was so evident during our first meeting at The Ferry.  I did not have to respond.

She already knew what I was about to say..

Published in: on December 16, 2007 at 2:21 pm  Comments (1)  
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DesperationDecember 2006  –  After the KI device activated I referred to Johan’s detailed notes regarding its operation.  I decided not to wear it on my wrist and hand right away.  I familiarized myself with the various functions and soon realized it was a very efficient tracking, communication, and messaging tool.  I had mixed feelings about keeping the KI in my possession, but I read in the journal it could be easily recalibrated, and I could possibly use it to my advantage at a later time.  Close inspection of the material and its working parts led me to believe nothing like it could be created easily.  Its futuristic design and extremely light weight allowed the user easy access to the various controls and it went unnoticed when worn properly on the wrist and hand.

Occasionally the KI would emit various tones.  Following Johan’s journal instructions, I was able to access the messaging display.  Each KI was assigned an individual registration code as it was dispensed from the machine in Gahreesen.  The user could add other codes into the KI, allowing communication with other explorers.  Important location coordinates and other tracking information were also displayed.  I entered Johan’s KI number from his journal into the KI and it displayed his current location in values that I didn’t quite understand.  I would need to study the journal more in-depth at a later time to make sense of it all.

For several weeks I considered planning another return trip back to the surface, but the mystery of my travels in the ages had drawn me in, and I knew Johan would make every effort to track me down.  The explorer in me wanted to stay here and finish my journey, but I would need help.  I decided to make the trip back to Gahreesen.  My travels through the age included my interest in the linking book on a pedestal near the KI machine, but I could never get it to function properly.  I had seen these books in D’ni before but Slade remained silent when I asked about them.  I knew from Johan’s notes the book was called Nexus, but it was unclear to me exactly where I would arrive if I used it.  I hesitated for a moment and then strapped on my KI.  I placed my hand on the linking panel and grinned momentarily before being pulled out of Gahreesen and into the book.

I arrived at my destination with a bit of the usual nausea and stumbled forward to face the Nexus machine.  I placed my hand in the slot at the end of the arm and it swung left.  The display on the right came to life and I chuckled silently to myself.  The main part of the machine contained a rotating magazine of dozens of linking books.  I stood for a moment as I pondered the words “Ferry Terminal” on the display.  Slade and I knew this area intimately and I would have an advantage over anyone who dared follow.  My mind raced as I considered my options.  I needed help and this would be the only place where I might find it.  I also knew that I might be recognized.

I knew the Ferry Terminal was an open area and I didn’t know what to expect upon arrival but I had to risk it.  I tested the Nexus machine interface and quickly learned to manipulate its various controls.  The Ferry Terminal book fell neatly out of the magazine and I linked away into the unknown.  What I found in D’ni was a surprise to say the least.

There were people everywhere.  Not just explorer types and weathered men in their gear, but women and children and people of all ages.  A few rushed up to me with greetings and words of welcome.  Something had changed.  I ran for the rocks under the canopy.  In my desperation to hide quickly among the rocks the young woman approaching me went unnoticed.  She touched my shoulder and I spun around to see her face.

“Sir, are you OK?” she asked.  I paused for a moment and looked deep into her eyes.  My old hunting guide instincts saw trust and genuine concern in her face.  I responded out of desperation and knowing that time was not on my side.  I scanned the surroundings and took a deep breath.

“I think I’m being followed” I said.  She laughed and gave me an odd look.
“Sir, I’ve been here for over a year and I promise you’re not being followed, these are all good people” she replied.
“You don’t understand, I am in danger, if he finds me here there could be trouble” I told her.
“He? Who is He? she asked.
“I have to get out of here now! Is there someplace we can go? I asked desperately.

She stared intently into my eyes and I saw that my trust was reflected in the expression on her face.  She reached in her vest and pulled out a small linking book.  I recognized it immediately, as well as the KI device on her hand and wrist.  I glanced quickly around the area and noticed everyone in sight also had a KI.  What was going on here?  Confusion and uncertainty clouded my mind.  She opened her book and held it to face me.  She nodded as I was overcome with emotion.  Many months of isolation had broken down my resolve.  I surrendered myself once again to the unknown.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I placed my hand on the linking panel.

I was swept away to Ke’ata’s Relto..

Published in: on December 9, 2007 at 11:28 am  Comments (1)  
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DiscoverySeptember 2006  –  Nine months earlier I cleverly used Johan’s small linking book as a diversion to bait him away from his camp in the city.  As soon as I arrived on the small mountaintop in the clouds I took a few seconds to glance around and see it was nearly identical to mine in every way.  I wasted no time.  I opened my own linking book and placed my hand on the panel.  The now familiar rush of the link pulled me forward as I quickly noticed a number of differences in the surroundings.  I could only save a mental snapshot of what I had seen.  A more important matter lay ahead in the city camp.  I ran to the D’ni book as I arrived in the small hut of my own mountaintop.  I quickly linked back into the city.

When I arrived back in camp I quickly glanced down at the water and he was gone.  My trick had worked.  I turned and bolted toward his quarters as a few surprised onlookers stared in disbelief.  I had to work quickly if my plan were to be successful.  I ran up a small flight of stairs and found my way to the small area Johan had covered with a tent.  I entered his bunk area and immediately began to pilfer through his belongings.  There inside the large flap of his backpack I saw it.  It was his thick leather journal.  I quickly opened it and scanned the pages.  Hundreds of pages of detailed notes and drawings met my eyes.  I snapped the cover shut and quickly linked out.

As I arrived back on the mountaintop a deafening silence replaced the sound of my heavy breathing.  I sat motionless on the steps of the hut and stared at the detailed journal in my trembling hands.  I opened the cover and began to read.  The first page of the journal was dated December 1994, seven years after Slade first entered the underground.  I slowly turned each page and studied the notes and drawings.  I could not believe what I was reading.  Johan had carefully documented all of his experiences, starting with a sinister plot to subvert the restoration effort, but as he readied himself in the small hole near the volcano, he too saw the vision of this young woman, Yeesha.

As I read Johan’s careful documentation, it all started to come together in my mind.  The journey that Yeesha had so eloquently spoken of became an obsession for him.  He wrote in great detail of his travels around the ages collecting his rewards.  I sat fascinated as I read about his further contact with Yeesha.  His description of humanoid like animals and their loud calls made my spine shiver.  Slade and I would hear these same sounds in the city as we fought to survive.

I spent several weeks memorizing the entries in his journal and prepared myself to cast off in search of Yeesha’s rewards.  I studied Johan’s drawings and notes about the “Key” device on his hand and wrist.  He referred to it as a “KI” in his notes, so called for the D’ni numeral three on its reverse side.  He kept a well detailed list in his journal of explorers who were in possession of the device.  Many of the names were familiar, and I read that some of the devices did not function correctly.  Apparently they had to be properly calibrated using a network of beacons which were monitored and loosely maintained by the restoration team.  Johan called this group the D’ni Restoration Council, or DRC.

In February of this year, I ventured out on my own following the precise steps described in Johan’s journal.  I was not prepared for the trip.  For months I ran into one frustrating roadblock after another.  The KI device I obtained in the Gahreesen age was useless.  Even with the journal in my possession, I could not get the device to do anything more than make a few random noises.  I decided to stow it away in my pack for future use.  Month after month passed as I slowly collected my rewards in each age.

In the early part of September as I was nearing the completion of my journey I returned to my “Relto”, as Johan called my high mountaintop home.  To my shock and dismay several pages had been torn from Johan’s journal out of the exact spot that I needed them most.  I felt as though I had just played a masterful game of chess, only to stumble at the end and salvage a stalemate.  I sat in my Relto home and broke down from months of agonizing travel and exploring.  I had come up empty handed and I had no clue what to do next.  I curled up on the floor of my hut to recover from my exhaustion.  As I drifted off to sleep a peculiar sound startled me.

The KI device in my pack had come to life..

Published in: on December 6, 2007 at 9:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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ContactDecember 2005  –  My link into D’ni a few months earlier was well timed.  I ducked behind a dry fountain and lay quietly at its base.  A trickle of water echoed off the surrounding walls.  I resisted the temptation to wet my parched throat and eyed stack after stack of fresh supply containers.  This camp had made plans to stay.  There was no activity to be heard or seen.  I knew from experience which containers would store food.  A few had been opened and I crawled to those first.  I sat warily in the semi-darkness and gorged myself before removing my pack and sweater and stuffing them full of whatever I could take.

As the weeks and months passed, I lived in the shadows just as Slade and I had once done.  I used my small linking book to escape detection, and spent many long hours sitting quietly in the darkness outside this busy camp, watching and listening.  I learned of the organization responsible for the initial restoration effort, and the explorers gossiped openly about new rumors from the surface of the officials attempting to reorganize.  I sensed their excitement, and I waited patiently for an opportunity to make my presence known.

A few new faces appeared as activity in the camp intensified.  One of the new explorers seemed highly educated and possessed extraordinary knowledge of the city and the known ages.  I was stunned to hear him openly discuss the same vision of the young woman I had seen months earlier.  The other explorers called him Johan.  He spoke in a heavy European accent, possibly Scandinavian, and his eyes were a piercing blue that would get your attention when he spoke.  He wore a small device on his wrist and hand that buzzed and blinked whenever he would press its large round face.  He referred to it as a “Key”.  The most shocking thing about Johan was the small book that he would occasionally reveal, identical to mine.  I decided Johan and I needed to chat. 

I closely monitored activity in the camp waiting for an opportunity to approach Johan.  It was just too risky.  If I were going to reveal myself to him, I would have to use the element of surprise.  I needed to talk to Johan alone and I feared being discovered by the rest of the camp.

Johan held nightly meetings in what appeared to be a small theatre, but I could never get close enough to hear exactly what he was discussing.  As the attendees exited the small doors each evening, I detected a buzz among the crowd and a new motivation in their efforts in the days following.  In my opinion Johan was arrogant.  He strutted about with a cockiness that made me uneasy, but the other explorers acted as if he were ruler of the city.  I was not impressed. 

Johan was fond of his tobacco pipe.  He had a nightly habit of smoking it just outside the camp near the edge of the water.  Several nights I witnessed him using his small linking book.  He would disappear for a few minutes and then immediately return.  I had no clue what he was up to.  I decided this would be my opportunity.

A few nights later I lay stealthily under the edge of a rock near his favorite spot.  As I saw him approach the water my heart raced with fear and excitement.  He performed his nightly ritual of pipe smoking and I overheard him muttering about something.  He pulled the linking book from his vest and I bolted toward him.  He heard my footsteps and faced me with blue eyes wide open.  I knocked the linking book from his hands and we both scrambled for it.  My surprise attack had given me the upper hand and I beat him to the spot where the book lay.  I flailed at its cover and placed my hand squarely on the linking panel.  I am sure the sight of my image shimmering out of sight enraged him.

I knew he would soon follow..

Published in: on December 4, 2007 at 9:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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ArrivalJuly 2005  –  I was overcome by nausea as I arrived and within seconds the tension in my tired body disappeared.  The first few times Slade and I linked while underground was not a pleasant experience.  I often became ill for a few minutes after arriving at our destination.  Slade on the other hand handled the transitions with ease.  He laughed at me constantly while I recovered.  The after effects soon disappeared and I promised Slade I would get even, but now that would never happen.  I quickly discovered the unpleasant side effects were reduced as I became more experienced at linking.

My link now complete, I tried to focus my eyes on the surroundings but unfamiliar light clouded my vision.  I opened the small book in my hands but was unable to see the linking panel clearly.  I swallowed hard.  Lack of food and water did not help my weakened state and I fell forward face first.  I lay still for a few minutes until I had the energy to stand.  I wiped blood from my nose and gathered my senses.  I felt the sickness rise in my throat as I struggled to my feet.  My eyes gradually adjusted to the new light as I gazed around.  I appeared to be standing on a high mountain.  Clouds reached out to the horizon as far as I could see.  A small structure ahead sat prominently on the upper side.  A few small healthy trees were scattered about.  I walked forward and fought off the urge to be sick.  To my left were four delicately carved pieces of heavy round wood, each emblazoned with the same symbol and embedded into the shallow hillside.  Off in the distance a smaller peak nosed through the clouds.  For the moment my mind turned to thoughts of food and I wandered to the door of the small hut and opened it.  Inside were two small bookshelves and a large wardrobe type closet.  I opened the doors of the closet in search of something to eat and only found a few simple clothing items.

I pulled the book from the left case and opened it.  Inside was a linking panel.  I was surprised to see a familiar site on the page.  The image was clearly an area of D’ni that I had visited a few months back.  For an instant my mind and my stomach reminded me of the supplies that I had taken from unsuspecting explorers.  I closed the book and placed it back in its slot.  The other case contained a variety of books with inscriptions that I recognized.  I opened the books and found the writing to be a crude but elegant form of English.  I recognized a few of the passages as those that Slade would recite while drinking heavily.  I tried to make everything make sense in my mind but I had to find something to eat.

I stepped back outside and approached the four round logs.  I stood for a moment and reflected on what had just happened in the hole near the volcano.  My head was spinning with confusing thoughts about where I had arrived and what I should do next.  I replayed the vision of the young woman over and over in my mind.  I was physically and mentally exhausted and I questioned my ability to think rationally.  For a moment I stared at one of the symbols on the logs.  I reached out and touched it.  I instinctively knew what would happen.

I watched as the top face of the log opened to reveal another linking book.  I touched the remaining three symbols on the other logs and linking books were resting inside each of them.  I knelt and examined each linking panel.  I did not recognize any of the images.  Would there be food and water in these places or should I risk linking directly into the heart of the city?  Either option would be risky at best.

I sat down and thought about Slade.  I repeated the words of the young woman over and over in my mind..  “Some will seek that destination, but you must continue your journey”.  In that instant in the hole I had a choice.  Did Slade also have a choice?  Had Slade also seen the young woman and chose only the destination?  Perhaps.  The more I thought about it the more it made sense.  This might explain why Slade was bordering on insanity and drinking so heavily.  My gut feeling told me I might be right.  And what happened to his body?  What other powers did the young woman possess besides being able to materialize out of nothing and vanish into thin air?

I could stand the hunger no longer.  I had five choices.  I could spend weeks or months wandering around desolate ages starving to death or I could link directly into the city and get food.  I decided to risk it.  I walked into the small hut and reached for the single book in the left case.  I opened it and touched the linking panel.  I knew I would be weakened upon my arrival but I had no choice.

My will to survive would be rewarded..

Published in: on December 3, 2007 at 8:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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VisionsJuly 2005  –  My dreams were filled with vivid images of Slade.  Mental and physical exhaustion from the trip back had taken it’s toll.  My subconscious was alive with all that I had experienced in these last 18 months.  My mind was spinning out of control as I lay here at the base of a great old tree in the bottom of this hole.  I dreamed of the fantastic places that Slade and I had visited, and I relived the horror of his disappearance.  My eyes opened in the early dawn light.  Cold sweat ran down my forehead as I tried to remember the events of the previous night.  I looked around and studied my surroundings. 

This place had been inhabited at one time.  There were well preserved wooden bridges crisscrossing above me from ledge to ledge.  Some of them had fallen recently and I could see evidence of the work going on here to preserve the tiny rooms off to each side.  The base of the large tree at my side appeared to have some type of heavy door embedded in its hollowed out base.  The symbol on it was familiar to me, but in my current state of mind I could not recall where I had seen it.  I rose quietly and listened for any sounds above me, but it was eerily quiet.  I eased along one of the ledges and examined one of the small hollowed out rooms.  It was filled with artifacts very similar to what I had seen in D’ni.  Was there a connection?

I climbed the fallen ladders and inspected the rest of the rooms.  Each was filled with more artifacts than I had time to study, and I began to make connections in my mind as I remembered the many tales that Slade would ramble on about as he drank his wine.  I made my way back down to the water at the base of the hole and eagerly drank from it.  I sat and tried to make sense of it all.  Why was Slade so possessive and obsessed about all of this?  Several of the stories he would often repeat were wild tales about seemingly mythological figures and animals, and I had seen evidence of those things myself.

As I sat by the water the air in the hole began to stir.  I looked around and the movement became stronger and stronger.  Dust and bits of leaves and debris began to spin about violently.  I looked at the sky above me and could see starlight.  Sounds of static electricity popped in the air and I covered my face.  The hole became a violent torrent of spiraling wind and charged electrons.  I took a deep breath and smiled secretly to myself.  I crawled on my belly toward the base of the giant tree to take cover and the wind subsided somewhat.  As I lay there in my state of confusion a warm subdued light filled the air ahead of me.

There at the base of the tree, the vision of a young woman appeared before me.  She flitted and danced about for a few seconds then clasped her hands together to face me.  I was never a believer in supernatural events, but a sense of calm and peacefulness overcame me.  The whirling violence in the hole stopped and only her shimmering image remained.  I stood and faced her as she smiled.  In a heavily accented voice, she began to speak..

“Shorah!, Once again the stream in The Cleft has begun to flow.  It was dry for so long.  The water is flowing in from the desert.  The storm is coming.  You have been to the city, the deep city, the ancient Uru.  Where there is power to write worlds.  For thousands of years the city lived, lived beneath the surface.  Keeper of the secret, keeper of the power, keeper of the Ages, always keeping.  The city grew proud and then it died.  The water flows where it wills.  It seeks its own path uncontrolled except that it flows downward, always downward.  D’ni, the city of Ages, of other worlds died.  But now it breathes again, it awaits.  Some will seek that destination.  But you must continue your Journey.  It’s as a fine tapestry, complex beyond comprehension, but now torn.  We will show you rewards, pieces of the Journey.  Find these rewards, these Journeys in each Age.  Consider it a quest, no, a request.  Worship.  The water flows downward and there it pools and collects and finally once again it reaches the roots and the tree begins to grow again.  I am Yeesha.  My parents brought me to this place.  We will bring you..”

She turned and faced the tree.  She touched the symbol on the door and it glowed like the embers of a hot fire.  The door lowered and she gestured toward it.  At that precise moment she vanished into thin air.  I know now what I must do..

I climbed down into the tree and heard familiar sounds.  Symbols on the walls which I recognized flashed before me.  I felt a sense of joy overcome me to the point of tears.  I walked the length of the small cave and there before me on a small pedestal was what appeared to be a page from a book.  The inscriptions on the page were not familiar.  It was unlike anything I had seen in my explorations with Slade.  I reached for it.  As my hand neared the page I momentarily blacked out.  I recovered to find myself holding the most amazingly crafted small book I had ever seen.  I opened the cover and immediately recognized the linking panel.  I looked carefully at the image and never had a second thought about what to do.  I placed my hand on the linking panel and a sickening feeling swept over me as I was taken away to another world.

The true journey had begun..

Published in: on December 2, 2007 at 12:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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