The Lake House

The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue,  Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice and Crash Down. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in order.

When craft such as the pod anchor in, they turn themselves into a permanent camp. Since this one anchored in right at the edge of a lake it used stilts which held it up about a foot above the water.

The pod had a main entrance which if you went out there and kept walking you would fall into the water and be swimming toward the middle of the lake. If you looked at the walkway as a deck, it made a perfect fishing location.

There were two other exits, which extended back the other direction and both were close enough to shore to allow for one to step straight onto dry land. Over head of the camp they deployed solar collectors which would keep them powered as long as there was sunlight. The tall trees limited the hours of sunlight though so the batteries were charged for use when the collectors were not lit. But the batteries would wear out in another 12 months or so.

On the first venture out they explored around the lake. Life scanners showed a few small animals, some birds, and a few insects.  They found no egopods nor the grazers they could use for food. There were edible berries, but no sign of the dangerous complasencia. There was an abundance of insects but none that seemed interested in biting them, nor did they see the bitter bugs.

Jamison noted this was not the life zone they had expected to land in, and therefore they would need to study the new location and make a decision whether to stay here or relocate to the other location.  But moving the camp was impossible, it was permanently anchored in.

For the first night they ate fish caught fresh in the lake and cooked outdoorsman style over an open fire. That night they researched the life zone they had landed in. The egopods were in every part of the planet, but the complasencia and the bitter bugs were only in the lower life zones. This made where they were very attractive to them, and they considered it a wonderful place to stay. They spent a few days acting as if they were on vacation. Fishing off the dock during the daytime, playing in the woods, even building campfires at night.

But this relaxed lifestyle had to give way to pragmatic reality. Soon, they realized they could not stay in that location permanently. The lake would get fished out, and there were no other protein rich food sources within a day’s walk which could sustain them long term. But worst of all, they would experience a severe winter at this location. The lake would ice over, snow would accumulate, and they would go long periods of time socked in by clouds and storms.

This last detail was especially problematic. The batteries of the camp would wear out in a year or so. After that they would be totally dependent on the solar collectors. Going without power for days at a time would almost certainly mean freezing to death.

So they made the decision to hike overland the rest of the way into the settlement. They hoped it would still have habitable dwellings and the facility would almost certainly have other power sources. If worse came to worse they could always just hike back up here, or maybe haul the solar collectors down on a future trip. The distance was expected to be 8 miles. Depending on the terrain they should expect to make the hike in one day easily.

The next day they began packing for the hike down to the settlement. The pod, now their lake house, had backpacks for them and they packed a suitable amount of food and tools. After about a hundred yards Jamison noticed Chambers did not have her life scanner attached to her wrist. She had set it down while packing, because it kept getting in her way.

She ran back to the lake house to pick it up. Jamison, leaned back against a tree and waited. After a minute he closed his eyes and just enjoyed the sunlight. He thought to himself about the strange and sometimes fast paced changes he had endured since the Kilkian discovery.

He got deep into in his thoughts and allowed more time to pass than he should have. There was a deep grunting noise calling him out of his day dreams though and it got more urgent as it got closer. When he finally did start paying attention he found himself being charged by an egopod.

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