The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.
The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind. Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue, Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family Business, Jewel’s Place, Shanghaied, First Mark, The Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash Down, The Lake House, Dancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment.
The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands, Here are the previous episodes in this battlefield Learning to See, Maintaining Common Sense, Meeting Compagno, Unseating Dibolocos and The Journey Homeward. Today we get Episode 26
From there they made a direct path back to the colonies. As the normal operations of the ship resumed, Chambers now had the opportunity to drop in and chat with Jamison fairly often, captains can do whatever they want. This was how he learned of everything that had happened on the journey thus far. For both of them it was refreshing to see each other, but visiting the enlisted area allowed Chamber’s to see that some members of the crew were not loyal to her leadership. She made plans to review the entire contingent aboard the ship so that when she went back out she would be able to completely trust everyone on board.
These plans had to be put on hold when they received a distress signal about two days away from port. It was from Platinum 9, a mining colony on a massive moon. The civilization on the colony had broken down to the point where the workers were rioting in the streets and the surviving members of the administration were holed up in their headquarters asking for immediate evacuation. Chambers diverted to the site and dispersed enough personnel to pacify the situation.
Below deck, Jamison had been studying the conditions among the colonies. While focused on this and strategizing with Colofer in unspoken conversations, he learned his circumstances were about to take a drastic change.
“A group of men are about to come and get you. Do not fight them.” Colofer spoke the warning only seconds before Jamison became aware of their approach. They quickly surrounded Jamison with drawn weapons and insisted he come with them. They gathered with the remainder of the landing party. If any of the other men had questions, they did not ask. Keeping with the instructions of Colofer, Jamison did not resist in any way either.
When they hit the ground the majority of the soldiers were sent to recover the colony administrators. The group holding Jamison was left behind to guard the shuttle. As soon as they were alone, his captors dragged him out of the ship and instructed him to run for his life. He only delayed a second, as his new insights and the cold look in their eyes indicated they were planning to open fire. He ran towards the settlement, knowing he would never cover the ground before they started shooting.
About 25 meters later Colofer instructed him to dodge left. As he did so a shot ripped through the air he had previously occupied. A few paces later he was told to dodge left again, with a similar outcome. Following these instructions he survived the dash into the cover of the buildings on the edge of the settlement. At first he thought this meant he was safe, but he felt compelled to keep running until he was past several more buildings. Behind him the soldiers fired a larger weapon and completely destroyed the building he had first hidden behind. If he had stayed in the original hiding place he would have been killed.
They were sending a group out to make sure he was dead, but that group encountered resistance from a group of disgruntled miners. A firefight ensued, until the main group returned with the evacuees. They were returning with all haste and also taking fire from the disgruntled workmen so dealing with the situation on the ground prevented them from discovering Jamison was still alive. A few minutes later the shuttle pulled away leaving Jamison hiding in the colony without a weapon and surrounded by thousands of angry people.
He hunkered down half expecting Chambers to realize what had happened and send a landing party down for him. But instead a couple of hours passed and he felt the departure of the ship in his emotions. Colofer assured him it would be alright. And on the ship Colofen had similar instructions for Chambers. As she pulled away, knowing full well she was leaving her friend in a very hostile situation, she silently asked the king to watch over him.
Back on the moon, Jamison was hunkered down in the rubble of the destroyed building. It appeared to have been an empty warehouse. The shelving made for lots of mangled metal, but there didn’t seem to be any goods among the destruction. This was probably the cause of the rioting. Pirates made shipping difficult, or sometimes impossible. So colonies began to starve, and starving people could do desperate things. Jamison well remembered his short return to the capital city after being rescued from the Zilkas Asteroid Belt. If the capital was in that much distress it only made sense outlying areas were worse.
He spent the rest of the night searching for anything useful, and evading detection from the large mobs roaming the streets. Unfortunately he found nothing he needed. There was no food, no water, no weapons—and daylight was approaching.
He decided his best bet was to be out of town when the sun came up. So he worked back to toward the landing area where he had been shot at. As he approached the destroyed warehouse he realized a lot of people were gathered there. This time it wasn’t workers. It was their families. They heard the facility holding their supplies had been destroyed and came to scavenge what they could. The discovery that it was empty had hit them hard. Many groups were weeping openly. Others were wandering with that particular blindness brought on by hopelessness.
Jamison considered whether or not he could blend in with these groups and perhaps be undetected as a stranger. He doubted this plan would work, and decided to circle around them and head out of town. Across the landing zone was a mountain range where he hoped to hide. But upon arriving he realized that those mountains were the center of the mining operations. The workings held lots of hiding places as long as the workmen didn’t come back to the mines.
By this time the growing twilight allowed him to see farther than he had before. In front of him was a series of cliffs he would not be able to climb. Behind him was the landing pad, with thousands of miners crossing toward him to reach the mining works. They were probably looking to scavenge anything useful. Jamison’s mind searched for a plan, he needed a hiding place. Every place he looked was unlikely to work.
Too quickly for comfort he was against the rock wall, and scouted toward the right hoping for cover. What he found was a massive water tank. He climbed the ladder to the top and found a control room. Apparently they had used water pressure to perform some of the drilling and digging. The water was then collected and reused. According to records the water would eventually be too heavy with sediment and have to be replaced.
In the control room was a few instruments including sensors to analyze material. Since he was thirsty he tested the water to see if it was safe to drink. It was not. It had absorbed massive amounts of heavy metals and contaminates from the mining operation.
He kept one of the sensors. It was the only useful thing he had found after searching all night. Every water cooler was empty, every weapons locker emptied. He climbed down and continued his search for a hiding place. The workers were already moving into the camp. He assumed they would search every room, he needed a someplace that was less obvious.
As he heard angry footsteps approaching he noticed a small tunnel going under the edge of the water tank. With no other options he crawled into the opening and disappeared into the darkness. In the dark he could feel his hands and knees come into contact with something slimy. Then he felt his head contact the back of the burrow. He rolled over on his back and waited for his eyes to adjust to the dark. While he waited he listed to the rustling of something else that was in the den with him. Probably, whatever animal had dug the hole in the first place, he just hoped it was not dangerous.