Nerves of Steel
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, Nerves of Steel tries out a new toy.

Episode 14 - Buck Benson
Security Leader Buck Benson is using a drone to look for escapees from The City. On the far side of the mountain range, he comes upon citizens of the town of Nedlaw fleeing him. He picks out a man, his son, his baby and their dog and prepares to blast them to kingdom come.

And now for the conclusion:

Episode 15 Nerves of Steel

Jen checked her monitor. The energy level was still good. She turned to Karen and asked, "Are you ready?"

"I'm more than ready," she said. "We can't let the City get in here to our peaceful valley and ruin our way of life. We've come too far to give it up."

Jen smiled, "That's the spirit. I told Aaron we could depend on you."

Aaron turned from his binoculars and said to Karen, "You're right about the City. I can tell by the drone's markings that's where it's from. Looks like the Regional Food Storage Facility."

Jen asked, "What do you suppose it's doing?"

"Probably on a fact-finding mission." Aaron put his binoculars up and was quiet for a moment. "You know, this can't be good. It looks like the drone has locked onto a target."

He turned to Karen. "You ready to take it out?"

"More than ready." Karen nodded with a determination in her eyes that was coursing through her entire body. She was coiled like a snake.

In the next moment Karen turned to her monitor and checked her calculations and the coordinates one more time. Everything looked perfect. She glanced to friend, "You ready Jen?"

"Yep. The laser is powered up."

"Aaron?"

"All set."

"Okay," Karen said. "Me, too." She raised her hand above the keyboard, hesitated but a micro-second and then pushed a button. "Say good-bye to Mr. Drone."

***

Just as Buck was about to fire the laser, something unexpected happened. The screen went blank. He quickly checked his readings. There was nothing. The drone was gone, like it had vanished into thin air. Buck's only thought was, Oh, oh. This can't be good.

He glanced at Rawlings who stared back at him eyes wide, waiting, Benson just knew, for Langer to explode. It didn't take long, and when he exploded, he erupted like a volcano spewing hot, molten lava a mile into the air, which some might have found pretty, but in the case of Langer, and especially for Rawlings and Benson, it wasn't pretty at all.

***

When the drone disintegrated, the cheers from the little building could probably have been heard all the way back in the village, if anyone was still around. But the village was empty with most everybody safely hidden away in their homes. In the end, that was good, because at least Karen and Jen and Aaron saw what had happened, and they had the story to tell when they gathered everyone together later that afternoon.

"Karen blasted that drone right out of the sky," Aaron said to the villagers as they all congregated in the village green under a warm, sunny sky. His smile seemed to be a mile wide, "It was beautiful."

Jen chimed in, "It was so exciting. First you saw it, then you didn't. Boom!" she pantomimed an explosion, much to the delight of the crowd.

"It was right above us when it exploded," Quinn told everyone who would listen, and everyone did. "They saved our lives."

For the next hour or so, Karen smiled and nodded and accepted the villager's heartfelt congratulations until she finally pulled Quinn aside and said, "I'm exhausted. Can we go home?"

He hugged her. "Good idea." They said their good-byes and the little family slowly made their way through the village, across a field and down a meandering path to a clearing in an aspen forest where their snug cabin was located. It had been a long day and it felt good to be home.

Later that night, they were outside siting around a crackling campfire. Matt was holding Joey and dozing, and Jen and Aaron had joined them and were sitting together sipping some dandelion wine Aaron had made.

Across from them, Quinn was sitting next to Karen who was cradling Enya. Quinn put his arm around his wife and nuzzled Enya before saying to Karen, "I'm so happy things turned out the way they did, but I can't believe you didn't tell me that Aaron had recruited you." He gave her a playful jab. "For nearly two years! You keep secrets well."'

Karen gave him a quick kiss and said, "I just didn't want you to worry." She shifted Enya and nodded toward Matt, who was asleep with Joey's head in his lap, oblivious to the conversation going on around him. "I know how much you tend to do that."

Quinn laughed, "Yeah, you're probably right."

Jen said, "You know what a good scientist Karen was back in the City? Working for Millennium Microbial?"

Quinn nodded and winked at Karen as he leaned over and tossed another log on the fire. Sparks rose briefly before burning out. "Working on that project to help extend the world's food supplies? You were the best. Even if that jerk you worked for didn't get it."

"Finkelstein?" Karen said. "Yeah, good riddance to him."

"Anyway," Jen continued, "when we first arrived here, Aaron told me about the laser machine he'd been working on. I told him about Karen being a scientist and one thing led to another and she was recruited."

"To a good result," I might add, Aaron said. "Karen's got just what it takes to fire a laser."

"What's that?" Quinn asked.

"Nerves of steel."

Quinn grinned, "You've got that right."

He thought back to all they'd gone through to get to this spot at this moment in time. He'd started the journey by kidnapping Matt, but truth be told, he'd acted spontaneously with no real plan. It had been Karen who'd come up with the idea of getting them out of the City. Then Jen had joined them and together the four of them had made it across No Man's Land and into the mountains where Aaron had found them and brought them to Nedlaw where they were finally able to settle in their new home.

Then he had a thought. "Aaron, do you suppose we have to worry about repercussions because we shot down their drone?"

Aaron, who had been starring into the fire absent mindedly rubbing Jen's shoulder turned serious and said, "Yeah probably."

Quinn frowned. "Should we be worried?"

Aaron grinned, "Yeah, but not tonight. Tonight, we celebrate."

Matt woke up suddenly and said, "Celebrate? Celebrate what?" He hugged Joey. "I'm going to celebrate having Joey as my best friend."

The adults all laughed and nodded to each other. Quinn tossed another log on the fire and settled back with his family and two friends. He'd never been happier. He could stay here all night long as far as he was concerned. They had each other, and they had a new life, something better than they'd ever had before and for right now, that's all they needed. That's all that really mattered.

Epilogue

Later that night, under cover of darkness, a lone figure squeezed through a hole in the fence surrounding the Food Storage Facility and adjusted his backpack. He turned toward the buildings and gave a silent salute. So long suckers. I'm outta here.

Buck Benson smiled. It felt good to be going. Really good. Rawlings was okay, but, standing by and doing nothing while Langer made him shoot that poor defenseless wild dog and then almost shoot that guy and those kids and the dog…it wasn't right. Even if he didn't kill those people, it was the principle of the thing that mattered. Buck grinned to himself. Principles. No one had ever accused him of having them before, but maybe he did.

Speaking of principles, or lack of them, rather, what about Langer? Man, the guy was a piece of work, a certified nutcase with no regard for human life at all. "Shoot to kill" was his motto, with no questions asked. The more Buck thought about it, the more it made him sick that innocent people could lose their lives for no other reason than they wanted to escape the tyranny of the World Order for a better life somewhere else.

Well count me in with them, Buck thought to himself as he turned away from the fence and started out across No Man's Land. Earlier that day, before the drone had blown up, he'd liked what he'd been seeing, especially the mountains. He like the snow-covered peaks and the trees and the crystal-clear running water. He had a feeling he'd like the people in that little village, too. Thank goodness he hadn't had to kill any of them. He shivered a little at the thought. No, Buck was done with that kind of thing for good. For now, he was leaving the City behind and along with it his past and going forward to a new beginning.

He adjusted his pack and continued walking at a brisk pace. He was heading for the mountains. He didn't know what he'd find when he got there but he knew one thing, it had to be better than was he was leaving behind. Of that, there was no doubt in his mind. None at all.

The End

Author's note:
Thank you so much for reading my series. If you liked it, I have good news for you. All of the episodes are scheduled to be published as a novella entitled "Something Better" in April or May of 2021. The publisher is Umair Mirxa who runs Paper Djinn Press. The cover is awesome. Check it out if you get a chance.

Special thanks to Stephanie and David for featuring this series on The World of Myth. Your support has been invaluable, and it means the world to me. Thank you, thank you. Thank you!

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