OUTLAW CHILDREN SACRIFICE AND REDEMPTION
After the raid, we realized we had greatly underestimated our enemies, so we immediately began making plans to fortify the valley.
Mike said the main thing we had to do was halt their ability to create the Hounds. We had removed about forty-five of the Hounds during the raid, but they still had over two hundred in service, and we had to find a way to stop them before they could make more. The Hounds who had escaped during the raid would tell Anderson where we were now, and where we were was in deep trouble.
Mom continued the testing of the DNA she had extracted from the Hounds that we had captured before the raid, hoping to find some sort of weakness that we could use against them in battle.
Mike assigned leaders to the various Teams. Bill was the leader or the Searcher Team, Zachary was the leader of The Ghost Team, and Pete was responsible, for the ground troops and building five more of those small canons. Mike had also assigned Pete a team of twenty men to help with the work of building the canons. The leaders were responsible for overseeing the training of their team, and each leader reported to Mike every day on their team's status. Within six weeks of the raid, we had several hundred ground troops, fifteen trained Searchers, and forty members of the Ghost Team.
The farming and the rest of the normal daily living had to continue, so not everyone in the valley was a part of the battles, but everyone above the age of sixteen underwent battle training so that we always had as many soldiers as we needed.
Every piece of iron that we could spare we gave to Pete who melted it down to use in the making of the canons. Pete had also melted down most of the small arms for this purpose, and within three months of the raid, Pete and his team had all five canons ready, giving us a total of six. Pete also removed the gunpowder from the ammunition and used some of it to make bombs, the rest he kept in supply to set off the canons.
Pete set up the canons just outside the pass three on each side facing the desert. Then he trained twelve men in their use, these twelve men manned the canons around the clock, six during the day and six at night. Our supply of ammunition for the canons was very limited, so we would only use the canons if it were absolutely necessary.
Mom had found the weakness in the Hounds she had been searching for, although they were very strong and very fast these qualities were also very short lived. They could only maintain them for about forty-five minutes and then had to have a recovery period of about two hours. During which time they were as weak as lambs. Knowing the Hounds' weakness helped Mike a great deal in planning his strategy. He said that if we could keep them actively engaged in battle for forty-five minutes we would be able to finish them off during their recovery period.
Six months passed and there hadn't been any sightings of Hounds, and in a way not having had any more Hounds show up was worse than if they had. The entire valley was on edge wondering when they would come again, because we were all just as certain that they would.
One night Mike gathered all of the team leaders together and told them to prepare their teams to march to New Eden, we were not going to wait for them to come to us, it was time we went to them.
There was a great deal of talk in the valley over the next two months regarding the plan to attack New Eden. Prior to this, except for the trip to sabotage than facilities that Zachary and I had made ours had been a defensive plan. Now we would be going on the offensive and this made a great many people nervous. Because of the talk around the valley, Mike announced he would be speaking to everyone regarding his leadership.
Mike stood before the people in the open valley. The Hall was too small to hold everyone, so several carpenters erected a small platform so that everyone could see him, and the valley made a natural amplifier. Mike began to speak and realized it wasn't quite loud enough so he started again this time shouting at the top of his lungs. In a voice that was strong and confident, Mike said, "Although we have always used a defensive method now that the Hounds know our position and have taken it to Anderson we will have to go on the offensive. If we don't go into New Eden and destroy their ability to create these Hounds, they will eventually overrun and then erase us all." Then Mike paused and when he resumed his voice was full of conviction. "You elected me as leader and unless you ask me to step down, I will lead you in the direction I believe will best serve you and keep you safe. This is really the only option we have, and unless you ask me to step down in three days, I will continue preparing for the attack on New Eden."
When he finished his speech, Mike walked through the valley and returned to his office in the Hall. After speaking at such an elevated level for so long during the speech, Mike was unable to speak above a whisper for a week. Three days after the speech no one had asked Mike to step down, the talk around the valley had died, and Mike continued preparing for the attack on the city.
Mike said he wanted us to be able engage in intense fighting for at least an hour, so he ordered the ground troops to train fiercely for the battle.
The Ghost Team practiced ghosting in, setting dummy bombs, and then ghosting back out to safety. The timing for their missions was critical and had to be precise or a bomb could go off before a team member had ghosted from the area. Zachary was the only member of the Ghost Team who had ever been in the city so Mom had extracted some of his DNA and injected the rest of the Team so that they could move from one place to the next. They would be vulnerable at times because their origination and destination points had to be in the open.
Using DNA extracted from the captured Hounds Mom created several DNA strips for the Searchers to use in the focus generators.
After nearly two months of training, Mike said we were ready and gave us all two days off to spend with our families. Everyone spent those two days as if it were the last two we would ever have on this earth and for many that was the case.
Two days later in the early morning light, one hundred and fifty men marched out of the valley, men joined together in a common cause with a common heart. Most of these men were only skilled in hand-to-hand combat, and their only weapons were their hunting knives. We would take our time getting to the city and be fresh for the fight, and if we came across any Hounds during our march, we knew we could handle them.
Mike gave The Ghost Team special assignments to carry out in New Eden, and the rest of us were to keep the Hounds engaged in battle while the Ghost Team did their work.
We marched until we reached Pete's farm and stopped there for two nights to rest for the coming battle. The mood of the group was subdued and quiet and we all knew that some of us could, no probably would die, but then again, every one of us preferred death to erasure. After two days rest at Pete's we prepared for the final march on the city.
All of the men gathered around Mike, as he went over the plan a final time. Everyone understood that for this to work, we all had to follow our instructions to the letter. Everyone knew that this would be the first of many battles to come, that attacking the Perfects in their own city would make them want to destroy us more than ever, but the purpose of this mission was to make that harder for them to do. Mike said he would go into the city first, as Armando Este, and find Morgan Anderson. Twenty minutes after Mike entered the city the rest of us would enter and wait until time to begin our attack. When Mike had finished going over the plan he looked out at the faces of his friends and family, and told us how honored he was to be fighting next to us. He said that each of us would always be remembered throughout history as great warriors, people who stood up for the things that were good and decent, people who knew how to live and how to die.
Mike walked through the group, shook the hand of every man, and told each of one of them that he would always remember him. When he had done this, he hugged Jake, Jack, Zachary, and me and said that he couldn't have asked for better sons and grandsons. Then Mike turned to the group and in a voice that expressed the pride he had in each one of them said, "For God, for our families, for the imperfect world, we readily lay down our lives. Now boys let's go show them what true humanity is."
At eleven o'clock that morning, we all marched closer to our fate, fates that were uncertain, but were accepted whatever they might be. Some would live, while others would die, but each of us knew that when we died we would leave a memory, and that was why we were dying.
At six o'clock that evening, we reached the hills outside the city, and set up our camp. We held a position with the hills between the city and us, and from this position, we would enter the city the next morning.
Armando Este, the soldier from the east, walked into the city around four o'clock in the morning. He walked slowly and purposefully. The entire city was sleeping as he walked past the park where several Hounds were training. He watched them from the corner of his eye as he passed, but they gave him a cursory glance, and then continued with what they had been doing. Armando walked onward through the city until he reached Morgan Anderson's house, and once there he silently let himself in. He then walked into the large living room, sat down on a large chair, and waited.
When Morgan Anderson walked in and found Armando Este in his living room, Mike's men had been in place for about two hours. They would wait another thirty minutes before beginning their attack.
Morgan walked in to the living room and though surprised, he shook Armando's hand and offered him some coffee. When Morgan attempted to withdraw from the handshake Mike held firm, then reached over, and gripped Morgan's wrist with his left hand. Mike pulled Morgan in close, close enough for Morgan to feel the beating of Mike's heart and whispered, "What's the matter Morgan old buddy don't you recognize me?" Morgan tried to pull free of Mike's grasp but Mike held more firmly than ever. It was at that moment that Morgan Anderson looked into Armando Estes' eyes and saw Mike Bishop staring back at him.
Morgan let out a nervous little chuckle that had a silly feminine sound and finally managed to free his hand from Mike's grasp. "Mike," he said, "Mike Bishop we've been looking everywhere for you, why the masquerade?" As he spoke, Anderson moved slowly across the room in an attempt to put some distance between him and Mike.
"Mike," he continued, "I don't know if you've heard, but we have had some real trouble with these outlaws, and we really could use your help."
As Morgan went on about how they could really use him to help stamp out this little rebellion, Mike listened and nodded indicating that he was aware of the problem. Mike then walked to the door of the living room and closed it. At this, Morgan began to stumble over his words. Regaining his composure Morgan told Mike that Don Jones was chief in charge of training the Hounds. Mike smiled and nodded all the while maintaining his position between Morgan Anderson and the door. Seeing that there was no hope of escape Anderson sat down in one of the chairs and said, "So how about it Mike, you want to come back and help us rid the world of these animals forever."
Anderson smiled and relaxed a little.
Mike said, "You know Morgan I would come back and help. I really would, there is just one problem."
Anderson said, "What, whatever it is I will fix it, if it's Jones that's not a problem I will get rid of him."
Mike smiled again, not a smile of humor, or a smile that indicated friendliness, this smile contained venom, this smile contained death.
Then Mike said, "No Morgan, I'm afraid you can't fix this problem. You see that pack of animals is my family, that pack of animals are my friends. You see Morgan, I am a member of that pack animals, as you like to call us. I Morgan am the leader of the pack!"
Mike then rushed across the room with the speed of a man thirty years younger, and grasped Morgan Anderson by the collar pulling him from the chair. Mike spun Anderson around and pushed him hard against the far wall. He could feel Anderson trembling and knew that the begging would soon follow, and Anderson did not disappoint him, as he began to whimper and beg Mike not to hurt him.
Mike held Anderson against the wall with his left hand, pulled out the focus generator with his right, and held it in front of Andersons face. "You know what this is, don't you Morgan? I mean you haven't forgotten what it's for right?" Mike's voice was taunting, and filled with a deadly promise.
Mike then said, "Well it just so happens that someone stole some of your DNA a while back didn't they?"
Morgan's eyes widened and he nodded again.
Mike chuckled and then said, "Morgan, I'll give you three guesses as to where that DNA is now."
Mike waited as Morgan's eyes shifted from Mike's face to the focus generator in Mike's hand and back to Mike's face again.
Mike said, "Good I'm glad you understand me. I knew you were more than just a pretty face."
Then Mike continued, "Now Morgan you have something that I really want, and I can promise you two things. The first thing is whether you agree to give it to me or not, I won't hurt you."
Morgan looked at Mike in confusion and Mike continued. "The second thing is that if you don't give me what I want I will use this, and move just a little, and when that movement is over with you will be a transparency."
Morgan Anderson began to cry and shake uncontrollably. Mike's patience snapped and he shook Morgan savagely and yelled, "shut up."
Then Mike said, "That's the problem with you Perfects you've eliminated the gene for backbones."
While Mike was giving Morgan Anderson the bad news, the rest of us were beginning our assault on the city.
The members of the Ghost Team had transferred to their destination points, and were carrying out their assignments. Each of them carried three of the bombs Pete had made. They were to use these bombs to destroy the Cloning Facility, The Erasure Facility, and The MTT Facility. Each building required fifteen bombs placed at key points within the buildings. Each team member would enter their assigned building, set the bombs, then exit the building and transfer back to their point of origination. The bombs would be set to go off within minutes of each other.
The rest of us kept the Hounds distracted by battling them in the streets of the city. The Perfects had finished training another group of Hounds just weeks prior to our attack, and there were about three hundred Hounds and just about a hundred of us. The Searchers began erasing the hounds but the number of movements Mike had authorized for each one was limited to two.
Many of the Perfects watched the battle with amused interest from doors and windows along with their domestic clones. These perfect people acted as though they were watching a child play in the park, cheering loudly whenever one of our men was injured.
The Hounds were strong and fierce, and any man within their reach they would grab, lift him high above their head, and fling him through the air.
Twenty of the ground troops, which I was part of carried one bomb each, and when we began using the bombs the Hounds scattered and many of them ran into the clone facility. One of these retreating Hounds spied my son Jake getting ready to set the last of his bombs. The Hound grabbed Jakes wrist, and when he did, it set off the Ghost Band Jake was wearing, and when they finished transferring, Jake, the Hound, and the bomb became encased in the nearby wall.
It was Bill who had found Jake, and although Bill tried to figure out a way to free him, there wasn't enough time, because the bombs would be blowing in two minutes. Jake asked Bill to set the last bomb, which was at a point where the left side of Jake's face should have been, and then Jake said, "Tell them not to… ", and as the stone hardened around him making it impossible for him to breath Jake moved no more.
I didn't know about Jake until we were counting the casualties after the battle.
The bombs started going off, and one by one, the buildings fell. Most of the Hounds had been in the cloning facility when it collapsed, and the ones who continued to fight were beginning to slow down and weaken.
A man who I recognized as Don Jones ran from one of the buildings just before the bombs brought it to the ground in a pile of rubble. I grabbed Bill by the arm, and yelled, "Come with me." a
We followed Jones through the streets of the city to Morgan Anderson's house.
When Don Jones entered Morgan Anderson's living room he was shouting about all the activity going on outside, then the words fell away from his lips as he tried to understand what was going on in the room before him.
Mike was loading a small thin strip into what Jones instantly recognized as a focus generator. Morgan sat in the chair with his shoulders hunched forward, with a wet face, and a wide dark wet spot on the crotch of his pants.
Jones looked at the man he thought was Armando Este, and then at Anderson and said, "What is this all about?"
Mike looked up from the focus generator he had just finished loading, and said, "Don I will tell you what this is all about."
"this is about a young Eraser who watched while his wife and two-year-old twins were removed from existence by a low life named Don Jones."
"This is about a former Eraser, now an aging man, getting to make the mistakes he made in his youth right."
"THAT and the rest of the injustice you, and me and everyone who ever helped these bastards pour upon the world is what THIS is all about."
Jones looked at Mike and the recognition dawned in his eyes, then for a brief moment Mike saw a flicker of fear.
When Bill and I entered Anderson's living room Mike had a Focus generator with Anderson's DNA loaded inside, and a second loaded with DNA as well. Mike looked at us and said, "Glad you could make it, this is going to be good."
Mike handed Bill the Focus Generator that contained Anderson's DNA, and asked for Bill's generator in return. Bill gave it to him, and Mike nodded his head in Anderson's direction and said, "If that little bald headed weasel over there moves, make sure he never moves again." Then Mike said, "Honestly Morgan, why didn't you eliminate the gene that causes baldness."
Then Mike loaded Bill's focus generator with another thin strip of DNA.
Mike said, "Choose one as he offered both focus generators to Jones."
Jones reached out and took the one that Mike held in his right hand, and Mike continued.
"Here are the rules. One of these contains my DNA, and the other one has yours. I really don't remember which is which, and to be honest it really doesn't matter to me. What we are going to do is like a duel. You know what a duel is right?"
Jones nodded indicating he knew.
Mike smiled almost cheerfully and said, "That's good because I really didn't want to have to take the time to explain it to you. Well this duel has a twist to it, instead of pistols at twenty paces, or swords, you and I are going to Move together and when we stop moving one or both of us will be gone. Now the focus generator you are holding could contain my DNA or yours as I said I don't know and don't care. There is only one thing that I am certain of, we will either both erase ourselves, or one of us will erase the other. Now you have an advantage over me, in that you have moved more recently than I have, but you know what Jones, I am willing to take that chance."
Bill and I gasped unable to believe that Mike would take such a reckless chance. We attempted to talk Mike out of this crazy idea, but he brushed our protests aside saying it was something he had to do.
Jones said, "Mike I have no interest in a duel with you."
"well Jones you know what that’s fine with me because I could kill you just as easily, maybe a little easier, and killing you would certainly eliminate a great deal of the risk I would be putting on myself."
Jones finally agreed to the duel and Mike nodded. Then Mike glanced in my direction and said, "My son Jacob over there will count to five and we will activate the focus generators. Are you ready?"
My heart moved from my chest and into my throat as I began the count that could mean Mike's erasure. When I reached five, both men pushed the buttons on the focus generators and the lights on both turned green indicating a positive identification of the target. There was the sudden sensation of the air stirring around us, and Bill and I watched as both Mike and Jones, became colorless negatives that were almost transparent. A few seconds later, there was a flash of bright white light, and Morgan Anderson screamed, and when the light was gone, Jones was too.
Seconds later, Mike's color returned, he stood there and swayed a little before collapsing to the floor. Bill and I rushed to his side. While Bill and I knelt beside Mike trying to access how badly he was injured, Morgan Anderson flew past us and rushed out of the room.
After several minutes, Mike opened his eyes and said that he was okay, and then asked us if we could help him get to his feet. We helped him stand up, but as soon as we let go of him, he let out a loud groan and almost fell to the floor again. We braced Mike between us and helped him walk. Mike was definitely injured but to what extent we weren't sure. The only thing we knew was he couldn't walk without our help and even with our help the pain he was in brought beads of sweat to his face.
The three of us walked out of Morgan Anderson's house, through the city, and into the aftermath of the battle.
When we reached the area where the three facility buildings had once stood, the battle in the streets had finally ended. Several of our men were wounded and about twenty of them were dead. We walked through the street and looked at the human wreckage. Mike told Bill and me to put him down and go help with the wounded, and the recovery of the dead.
We sat Mike down on a wall that surrounded one of the fallen buildings and I turned to go and help where I could, and it was then that I saw her, Laura Anderson. She was walking toward the building that I recognized as the Distance Transfer Port. I watched stunned and shocked, and felt a wave of dizziness sweep over me. The last thing I saw before the world went black was Laura Anderson walking into the entrance of the DistanceTransferPort holding the hand of what I knew without any doubt was my son.
I regained consciousness several minutes later and found Bill standing over me calling my name with a look of concern on his face. Bill asked me if I was ok, and I told him I was, that I probably just needed some water. I then began to help with the recovery.
As I walked through the carnage, I saw that the Ghost Team was putting the Ghost Bands on the wrists of the wounded and sending them back to the valley. In the valley, they removed the bands, placed them on the wrists of healthy men, and sent them back to us to reuse. When we had finished sending all of the wounded back to the valley, we began sending back the dead. The last person we sent back was Mike, he had insisted on staying until everyone else had gone, though he grew weaker and showed signs of more pain with each passing hour. While we were gathering our dead and wounded, not one Perfect or domestic clone ever left their homes.
Bill and his Searchers combed the city for Morgan Anderson. Bill said Anderson must have escaped to another country because they never did find him. I told Bill that I knew that Anderson had left because I had seen his daughter enter the DTP, but I did not mention her child, who was my son.
I suddenly realized that I had not seen my sons, Jack and Jake or my brother, Zachary, since the battle began. I asked Bill if he had seen them and he said he had and then led me to where Jack and Zachary were sitting together on the ground. They were both obviously exhausted but stood at my approach. I hugged them both and was grateful that they were safe and uninjured. I asked about Jake and they said they hadn't seen him yet. Then Bill stepped forward, and with tears in his eyes and his face filled with pain he told Zachary, Jack, and me what had happened to Jake. Jack who had shared every moment of his existence with Jake (from the moment my sperm had fertilized Anna's egg) walked away when Bill had finished and fell into a mournful silence that would last for the next five months. It had been hard for Bill too, after all, Jake had been his nephew, and it had been Bill who had to set that last bomb the one that had become a part of Jake's face.
We would tell my mother and our wives about Jake when we reached the valley, and have a memorial service.
Of the original one hundred and fifty men who had walked into New Eden, ninety-three began the long walk home.
During the journey back to the valley, my mind remained filled with thoughts of Anna, and how I would ever be able to tell her what had happened to Jake. I tried not to think about the boy that I saw entering the Port with Anderson's daughter, but he returned to my thoughts often. It had only been a glimpse, but a single glimpse was all it took to imprint him on my mind and in my heart.
The boy was small for his age and very thin. He had my chin and dark brown hair. He had glanced at me as his mother led him into the Port, and I could see that his eyes held a hurt haunted look in which there wasn't even a hint of happiness. I continuously saw his face before me, and I wasn't sure what it meant or what I should do about it. I knew I could never tell Anna about this child, especially since I was going to have to tell her one of our sons was now dead so I decided to talk to Mike about it when I got back to the valley.
Those of us who had not suffered wounds during the battle marched back to the valley in silence. My own thoughts were constantly on my two sons, one I had just lost, and the other I had just found.