Buck Benson
By: Jim Bates

This Sci-Fi series has to do with the impact of global warming on one family in the year 2220.
The story so far:

Episode 1 - At the Biodome
We meet Quinn an engineer at a wind farm and his son Matt on a field trip and learn about life in the year 2220.

Episode 2 - The Test
We meet Karen and learn about Quinn and Karen's life together.

Episode 3 -Millennium Microbial
We learn about Karen's job as a biochemist working on improving the world's food supply and meet Jen.

Episode 4 - The History Center
Quinn kidnaps Matt on a field trip and goes on the run.

Episode 5 - The Hideout
Karen visits Quinn and Matt at their hideout and makes a big decision.

Episode 6 - Preparations Are Made
Jen joins Quinn and Karen and Matt and they get ready to escape from the city.

Episode 7 - Fugitives
Quinn and Karen and Matt and Jen leave their hideout and make their way to edge of the city near the Food Storage Facility, one step closer to escaping the World Order Security Police who are looking for them.

Episode 8 - Escape
Quinn and Karen and Matt and Jen make it past the security forces safely only to be confronted with the wasteland known as No Man's Land.

Episode 9 - No Man's Land
Quinn, Karen, Matt and Jen are forced to cross a forbidding wasteland before they run out of supplies.

Episode 10 - The Mountains
Quinn, Karen, Matt and Jen must find their way through the mountains on their way to what they hope is a better life. But they have run out of supplies. The group is saved when they met Aaron who befriends them and shows them the way.

Episode 11 - Lost
Quinn and Karen and Matt along with Jen are making a life for themselves in the small village of Nedlaw. However, when Matt befriends a dog and follows it, he almost loses his life when he falls into the rain swollen rapids of the Willow River.

Episode 12 - Joey
While Jen and Karen plan Jen's commitment ceremony, Quinn and Matt and Joey go on a nature hike. Joey returns home alone and gets Karen and Jen to follow him back into the foothills. A terrible rain storm complicates the search efforts.

Episode 13 - The Drone
While Jen and Karen get ready for Jen's commitment ceremony with Aaron, Buck Benson tries out a new toy.

Episode 14 Buck Benson

Buck Benson had never had so much fun at his job. Being Security Squad Leader was one thing, but, frankly, keeping watch over the perimeter of the Regional Food Storage Facility and looking out for escapees was kind of boring. But this, he shifted in his chair as well as making a shift in the position of the drone he was flying, this was fun.

The next moment, however, that good time exploded like a fragmentation bomb when his boss general Rawlings hurried into the surveillance room with Commander Langer following in lock-step right behind.

Immediately, Buck put the drone on autopilot, stood up, snapped to attention and saluted both men, something he wouldn't have had to do if it were just Rawlings. After all, they were almost friends. But Langer was a force to be reckoned with, a larger than life man who delighted in making everyone around him uncomfortable, especially Benson and Rawlings, so it was best to play along and try not to antagonize him.

In Buck's opinion the guy was a raving lunatic. But he was also the high-ranking Head of Security for the World Order Security Police for the City which included the Region Food Storage Facility. He had it in for the two of them because occasionally people escaped through the fence surrounding the facility, something that drove Langer absolutely insane. Which, truth be told, was something Buck and Rawlings didn't mind seeing.

Still, the commander was the ultimate person overseeing what Rawlings, and, by association Benson, did on the job, and he wasn't happy with either of them, a dislike going all the back to two years earlier when three young scientists and a small boy had made it through the fence and into No Man's Land. Since then Langer had vowed revenge, both on anyone escaping, as well as on Rawlings and Benson. That being the case, it wasn't at all surprising to Buck that Langer had made this unannounced appearance for an inspection to check up on them.

"How's surveillance with the drone going, Benson?" Rawlings asked, trying to sound official.

Buck tried his best to make Rawlings look good to Langer.

"Great, sir." He sat down and took the drone off autopilot. "Take a look at this."

Motioning for Rawlings and Langer to stand behind him, he pointed at the large monitor. "See that?" The drone's camera was showing real-time video that was crystal-clear.

"My god," Rawlings exclaimed. "What is that?"

The video was showing a bleak landscape and a more foreboding country could not be imagined. It was a rocky, hilly wasteland devoid of vegetation. The only moving things were dust devils swirling across the desert floor. "It's No Man's Land," Benson said. "Pretty bad, isn't it?"

"I've heard rumors," Rawlings, answered with a touch awe in his voice. "I've never seen anything more desolate in my life."

"No kidding. The drone's been out for over a week and sending back images the entire time. It's nothing, but nothing out there," Buck said, smiling at his joke. He glanced at Rawlings who made a quick 'cut it' slashing motion across his throat. With Langer in the room, it was not a time to be anything other than strictly professional. Buck got the message and turned back to the monitor.

After the three of them silently watched the video feed for a minute (which was a minute of watching basically nothing), Buck could sense Langer was getting restless, so he decided to show off a little. He brought the drone down close to the ground. "See that?" He glanced at Rawlings who along with Langer was now looking at the big monitor more closely. Rawlings nodded imperceptibly, approving of Buck's decision to show Langer what he could do. "I just found them today. Those are wild dogs."

"Interesting," Rawlings stated his approval. "I've heard they were out there."

"There are. This is the first pack I've gotten a close look at."

Langer, who had been silent up until then and getting increasingly bored was suddenly intrigued. "Show me how the laser works."

"Sir?"

"The laser, Benson, you idiot. Show me how it works."

"I don't understand, sir. It works fine. Look." He pushed a button and instantly a rock exploded and turned to dust. "See."

Langer wasn't impressed. "Take out something living, you moron." He pointed, "Like one of those dogs."

"What?" Buck exclaimed. "No, sir. Not one of the dogs. Wasn't the rock good enough?" He glanced at Rawlings who shrugged his shoulders as if to say 'What can you do?' and kept his mouth shut. It wouldn't do to contradict Langer. The guy was a powerful man who could easily snap his fingers and have one or both of them killed at a moment's notice. Or do it himself, which was an equally disturbing thought.

Langer gave Buck a steely look. "What's wrong, Benson, not man enough?" He raised his voice into a falsetto range, "You a little girly girl?" He sang in a sing-song voice and stared haughtily at his subordinate, challenging him to perform on command.

Buck felt the blood rush to his face. He didn't want to kill anything but neither did he want to look like a coward in front of the head of the World Order Security Police.

"Okay, sir," he said, trying, but failing miserably, he knew, to sound enthusiastic. "Whatever you say, sir."

He aimed the drone's laser in the vicinity of the sleeping pack. The coordinates for them were immediately calculated.

"I'm waiting," Langer said rubbing his hands together in a perverted show of anticipation. Buck glanced at Rawlings who again looked away, having as tough time as he was stomaching the demented and unnecessary order. Next to them Langer grinned and chuckled like a deranged clown. He was conscious of the two men's feelings of revulsion and was enjoying every moment of making them feel ill at ease.

Buck sighed and wiped his perspiring brow. "Okay. Here goes." He pushed a button and one of the dogs exploded in a mass of blood and guts. The others ran off, much to Buck's relief.

"Yea!" Langer punched a triumphant arm into the air. "Excellent!" He jabbed a finger in Buck's face. "You find anybody out there, Benson, make sure to do that to them." Langer smiled a rare smile which revealed tiny yellow teeth. "On second thought, let me know if you find any humans and I'll be right over. I want to be here when you blast them to kingdom come."

With Langer's sobering comment hanging in the air, Buck and Rawlings looked at each other and rolled their eyes, a risky move, but they couldn't help it. In their opinion, to say Langer was unhinged was putting it mildly. More to the point he was a raving psychopath who only cared about himself and his career. Any shred of human feelings and emotions were long gone. Having him as their boss was bad enough, having to be in the same room with him was unbearable.

Glumly, Buck replied, "Yes, sir." He turned to Rawlings and said, "That's it, sir. That's all I've got to show you."

Very good, Benson," Rawlings said. Then, realizing Buck felt bad about the dog he quickly ushered Langer to the door. "Let's go down the hall, Commander, I want to show you our new video system for monitoring the perimeter of the facility."

"Lead on," Langer said, but before they took a step, he grabbed Rawlings by the shoulder and spun him around so they were eye to eye. "And, Rawlings," he said, sneering at him, "this better be good."

"Yes…Yes, sir," Rawlings stammered.

Buck saw sweat bead up on his bosses' forehead and then watched as the two men turned and walked away. He sighed. He didn't envy Rawlings one bit for having to show Langer around the facility. A thankless job, in his opinion, one you couldn't pay him enough to do.

With their footsteps echoing down the hall, Buck turned to his monitoring station and starred at the screen, not really paying much attention to the drone as it made its way into the mountains. He was trying his hardest not to think about killing innocent human beings. So far, he'd been lucky because he hadn't found any escapees and he was glad. Thinking about doing to real live people what Langer had made him do to the wild dog made him just about want to puke. He didn't have to think twice, with Langer now on his case to do the same thing to people as he'd done to the dog, all the fun had gone out of his new job.

Turning his attention to the monitor, Buck made himself focus on the task at hand. He flew the drone over the mountains and took a moment to marvel at the breath-taking scenery: the pine forests, clear rushing streams and snow-covered peaks. He'd never seen anything like it before in his life. He could almost smell the fresh air, imagining it to be much different from the stale polluted stuff people were forced to breathe in the city unless they used their oxygen masks. He was almost envious of the escapees.

But he had a job to do, so when he flew the drone into a valley with a river in it and then came upon an unexpected village, he was surprised as well as anxious. He could see people skirring, trying to escape and hide. He almost felt sorry for them. "Hmm," he said out loud to no one but himself, remembering his orders and especially Langer's words about blasting people to kingdom come. He zeroed in on a man carrying a small child holding the hand of a young boy with a dog running alongside. "He looks good. I'll take him out. Maybe get those two kids and the dog, too. Yeah, that's an idea. Four for the price of one."

Suddenly, he paused and berated himself, thinking, Wait a minute! What's happening to me? What am I doing? These are innocent people!" And he almost convinced himself right then and there how wrong it was to do what he was about to do. Almost, but he couldn't. No, he had Rawlings and Langer to contend with. Plus, he had his orders, and there was nothing he could do about that. He got ready to follow through on them.

***

Earlier, when Matt spied the drone and pointed it out to his dad, Quinn had run to Aaron and the alarm had been raised. In an instant, the villagers responded by hurrying to their homes and doing their best to get out of sight. Quinn did the same and began running with Matt and Enya and Joey back to their cabin. Karen and Jen, on the other hand, were an exception. They had gone with Aaron to a small building on the outskirts of the village on the other side of the Willow River.

When they stepped inside, Aaron picked up an old pair of binoculars and said to the two women, "Okay, like we've practiced, you two take over. I'll watch for more drones."

"I'll monitor the energy level," said Jen, sitting at a computer counsel.

Karen sat down next to Jen at her own counsel. She took a moment to center herself by controlling her breathing. When felt herself get into what she called 'The Zone' she deftly touched a few keys. In a moment a view of the valley appeared on her screen. A few more adjustments and she said, "Okay, I'm all set. The coordinates have been calculated."

***

Buck lined up the laser sight that appeared on his screen. The drone's computer had automatically calculated everything that was necessary to score a direct hit on the man. Just like a video game, he thought and made a quick call to Rawlings. "Hello, sir. Is Commander Langer still with you? I think I've something here he'll enjoy."

"What is it, Benson?" Rawlings barked. "I'm pretty busy here."

Langer must be still with him, Buck thought. "Sorry to bother you, sir, but I've got some people in my sights. I thought Langer would like to come and watch me blast them."

The response was quick and decisive, "We're just down the hall. I'll…We'll be right there."

Less than a minute later the two men hurried into the control room. "What's going on?" Rawlings asked.

"Just this, sir." Buck pointed at the monitor. The drone was still hovering over the fleeing man and his kids and dog.

Rawlings leaned in and took a good look before tuning to Langer, "Commander, check this out. It's guy and a baby and a kid and a dog."

Langer pushed Rawlings aside in his excitement. He was so close that Buck could sniff his body odor, a smell reminiscent of rotting garbage. He fought back a gag reflex and shifted in his chair ever so slightly away from the putrid smelling man.

Langer grinned, "What are you waiting for, Benson, you idiot. Blast 'em! Blast 'em to kingdom come!"

"Aye, aye, sir," Buck said, not knowing why he spoke those exact words, words he'd never spoken before in his life. Maybe nerves. He really didn't want to kill anyone. He looked once more. These were just innocent people. However, with his two bosses standing right behind him, Buck didn't have a choice. He took a deep breath, exhaled and said, "Okay, here we go."

Next episode is the series conclusion, "Nerves of Steel

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