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, it started last week with Learning to See. Today we get the second Episode.
Maintaining Common Sense
Over the next few weeks, they continued this training. Jamison with a great deal of practice pushed his perception of Kilkians to a few hundred yards. Chambers could sense them at any location on the planet.
Next they had to learn to sense the presence of a Dibolocos. For this training Colofen changed his attitude in such a way that his impact on the emotions of the two humans was similar to that of what a Dibolocos would be. It was hard for Jamison to describe how it was different. In some manner it was just like when a Kilkian was nearby. But in another way it was totally different. He and Chambers would discuss this in the relaxed evenings at the lake house. During one of those evenings Colofer explained to them that their imitation of a Dibolocos was pretty good, but when they met the real thing again, it would hit them harder.
The next lesson was to be able to perceive danger. This time it was Chambers turn to be frustrated. Jamison had already begun to have a spine-tingling feeling when they approached an unseen egopod. With a small amount of practice he was able to spot their direction and distance. Within a couple of days he was giving the census of hundreds of egopods in a radius of several hundred miles. While Chambers was able to perceive them one at a time from a distance of up to about 300 yards.
While doing these exercises, Jamison found himself focusing on the valley below, but he wasn’t sure why. That evening Colofer asked him about it.
“Why do you keep staring towards the valley? Do you know what is drawing your attention?”
“I have no idea. It’s not quite the feeling of danger like the egopods, but something is definitely over there.”
Colofer stared back and forth between Colofen and Jamison for a minute before declaring. “Tomorrow we will go and see what it is.”
Chambers asked, “Do you want me to go along or should I stay here and train with Colofen?”
Again Colofer and Colofen exchanged numerous glances. Jamison and Chambers knew they were having a discussion. Jamison even wondered if they were having an argument. Colofen eventually answered, “We will all four go.”
Early the next morning Jamison felt a bit of excitement at a new adventure. Chambers also expressed she was glad for the change of pace. Colofen surprised them both by stating they should prepare to be away from the lake house for several days. This would include packing a tent, sleeping bags and rations. Since they had been living off the land, and Colofer’s excellent cooking, they were a little disappointed to return to rations. They were even more surprised to find Colofen and Colofer asked them to lead instead of following the Kilkians.
Jamison was glad though because it also allowed him to set the pace. They moved quickly and with their new perceptivity they had little reason to fear egopods along the way. After about an hour, both of them came to a sudden stop. They had both felt a sensation of great danger. But was totally confused as to what it was. They took cover behind a rock until it passed. Their ability to tell what direction it had come from allowed them to know which side of the rock was cover.
Once behind the barrier the feeling subsided. They didn’t figure out what happened, but both were sure there had been some danger. They continued hiking for most of the day, stopping only for a quick lunch from their rations. After lunch they continued, but later they again perceived a danger of some kind but this time it was different, smaller and spottier. A moment later they saw their first bitter bug. As they worked their way down to lower elevations they had entered the beetles habitat.
As they moved along they became accustomed to avoiding these smaller dangers as handily as they had the egopods. When evening came they found a nice place to set up camp. It was an open field giving them good visibility around them, but they already knew there were no bitter bugs or egopods because of their newfound sense of danger.
They set up camp. Choosing to use both tents and more of their rations. This allowed them to drift off to sleep early. Jamison slept soundly and with satisfaction. But before sunrise the next day he was awakened by a sense of danger so strong he woke up from a dead sleep. He hadn’t realized he had screamed until he was fully on his feet. In the dark he couldn’t see what was endangering them. But he could feel it. It flew by about ten feet over his head, and instinctively he shot at the spot where it should have been. Unfortunately the shot just went uselessly off into space. Another drifted by on his left and he fired another a blind shot into the dark.
Chambers also stumbled out of her tent with gun in hand. She didn’t fire it, but alternated pointing it a hundred different directions. They might have continued this pattern but Colofer spoke to them and told them to stop shooting or they might hit each other. Then he commanded them to get flashlights and respirators. Once they had the breathers on they used their flashlights to discover they had camped right in the middle of a field of complasencia. They quickly broke camp and moved before their respirators ran out of juice.
Once safely away they received a lecture and a painful lesson from Colofer. “Even though you can sense danger, you still have to stay in touch with your intellect. You must carefully maintain your traditional powers of observation and reason in order to protect yourself from danger as well as your new perceptivity. You should have seen the complasencia before setting up camp. I let you camp there hoping you would learn this lesson.”
“Why didn’t we feel the danger when we camped?” Chambers asked.
“Because the plants only pollinate in the early morning. There was no danger to sense when the plants were not pollinating, but your over dependence on perceiving danger caused you to overlook the plants you would have seen at the beginning of the summer.”
For a few minutes Jamison thought he might have found what it was that had seemed to call him to go on this trip. But pretty quickly he abandoned that idea. First because he remembered the feeling at times other than morning. But also because he could feel something ahead in the valley that was still calling him in that direction.