Times of Old
Copyright© 2013 by Ernest Bywater
Meeting the Locals
Breakfast was filling and nice, but now it’s time to get on with the work the team is there to do. While they head to the carpark with the gear and vehicles Ed wonders how the expedition leaders got permission to closely examine the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. They had to agree not to do any digging or remove anything from the site, but they will be conducting a lot of extensive tests with a wide range of equipment to check the ground of the site, and what’s under it for a depth of a few hundred metres. Doctor Josef expects to prove or disprove the many stories about tunnels and hidden rooms there, as well as some about hidden areas within the current structures on the Temple Mount.
Ed also thinks about his being on the team of twenty-one people. The five security staff make sense, so do the technicians for the ground probing radar and sensors, the two historians, the record keepers, and Dr Josef. Ed did ask why he was hired, and was only told they wanted a non-expert as a reviewer and problem solver. Initially he refused the job, but they kept raising the pay until it reached a point he accepted the job, and the risks of travelling to what he sees as a war zone.
Despite all his fears about the area everything went well, and looked good, yesterday when they arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport and went through customs. The drive to their accommodation in Jerusalem was also trouble free and interesting. No issues settling in last night. But he wonders how long that’ll last, considering the way their mission is seen and commented on by the extremists on both sides of the religious issue.
What a Greeting!
The walk from the dinning room to the door to the carpark at the rear of the building takes a few minutes, and it gives the team time to spread out a little bit while they walk down the hall. Two locals smile when they open the doors to the two and a half metre wide verandah that accesses the stairs to the carpark. When Dr Josef, two guards, and Ed walk out the door Ed wonders if this was the front entrance of the original building before the newer construction at the other end enlarged the building.
After two paces onto the verandah Ed stops to stare, due to a mix of stunned shock, and his reaction to the huge roar from the crowd in the carpark. There must be a couple of thousand people jammed into the space, and all are shouting while waving signs protesting the project. Both the security staff move to a group of men yelling and charging up the wide staircase to the team’s left while Dr Josef stands still, and the others press forward to see what all the noise is about.
Giving his head a shake Ed looks around, and sees the several local security guards provided by the West Bank government smiling while standing away from their posts, thus allowing the protesters access to the carpark and the stairs. The two guards at the bottom of the narrow stairs on the right just watch while four men race up the stairs, three are armed with automatic weapons of some sort. The fourth has a thin face with a fat chest and waist - it’s clear he has something large strapped to him.
Swearing, Ed takes three fast steps to reach the man without a gun when he reaches the top step. Grabbing his belt in one hand and his clothes near the sternum with the other Ed lifts, he use all his strength to toss the man over the stone wall and into the crowd. Spinning back toward the men with the guns he slams the lead gunner with a hard and fast sideways fist to the side of his head. The gunman’s head rotates over his left shoulder, and his body starts to turn as well. His hands open, and the gun starts to drop from them. Ed grabs the gun, and turns it toward the men still on the narrow stairs. When he does he notices a red light moving on the wall, and thinks this gun has a laser sight. Grinning, he moves the light onto the groin of the new lead gunman, and pulls the trigger. The gun jerks while it fires three rounds, and stops of it’s own accord, so Ed figure this is on a ‘three shot burst’ mode he’d read about.
That man screams while falling, and Ed gives his mate a similar burst. The two armed security guards at the bottom of the stairs are no longer smiling. Ed smiles, and he gives each of them a shot in the groin. The men around the bottom of the stairs are now charging forward, so he gives the nearest of them a similar dose of groin changers.
Ed hears shooting behind him, and rounds hitting the building beside him. So he crouches while shooting. He’s deliberately shooting them in the groin, because that has a significant religious impact on them as well as the usual pain. By the time he runs out of bullets the area at the bottom of the stairs on this side is clogged with men holding bloody groins, and those behind them can’t climb over the pile of wounded too well.
Hearing the close shooting at the other stairs stop Ed turns to see what’s happening. Dr Josef is wounded and being moved back inside by the other staff, four of the security staff are down while the fifth is covering the withdrawal of the technicians with Dr Josef. There are also several dead men on the stairs, and another thin faced man with a fat chest is working his way up the stairs by climbing over the dead.
Moving toward this man Ed swears when he feels a sharp pain in his right side. He realises he’s going to die, due to the incoming rounds or this bomber, so he figures to hurt the attackers as much as possible.
Leaning further forward he pushes off with his feet to charge at the bomber while bent over with his arms held out wide to the sides. While he charges he screams the only thing he can think of as a well known and uniquely Aussie battle cry, he shouts out, “Up there, Cazaly!”
In the five steps it takes to reach the man Ed picks up a lot of speed and momentum. When the man is stepping onto the top step Ed hits the man in the belly with his left shoulder while his arms go around the bomber to grab hold. Ed hits, and starts to move the man backwards as well as lifting him a little while putting all his strength into throwing the both of them out into the crowd at the bottom of the stairs. After a short fall Ed feels the man impact on those in the crowd. He also sees the man’s left hand clutch at something. Then it all goes black.
A Surprising Offer
On hearing noises Ed opens his eyes, and is shocked to see he’s in a medical centre of some sort with screens in the wall showing his heart rate and other readings making it clear. Although many of the screens don’t make any sense to him, nor does the writing. He knows it’s not the local script, because he knows that, nor is it English or Russian.
Seeing no one to talk to he see no reason to say anything, and no point in trying to break the straps holding him down. Ed figures they must be strong enough for the job, or they wouldn’t be using them.
After a few minutes a female voice comes through a sound system, “A very interesting specimen we have here, David.”
A male voice replies, “Yes, Wilma, I think he is. That’s why I took him when I could.” A small delay, and, “Ed, we know you’re awake. Please tell me why you’re quiet, and why you just lie there.”
For a brief moment Ed mentally debates about replying to them at all, and decides he may as well. “David, Wilma, I assume those are your names from what’s been said. I saw no point in talking when I couldn’t see anyone in the room with me. I also felt you wouldn’t have used straps to hold me down unless you thought they were strong enough to do the job. Thus I saw no point in testing them until after I knew a bit more about what’s going on and where I am. Now, it’s clear I’m alive and in some sort of medical facility, so please tell me what happened.”
David replies, “Well, you should be pleased to know the two bombs were radio linked, so they both went off when the second man hit his trigger by accident while trying to get off the people you threw him on top of. The other man was already standing and heading back for the stairs when the bombs went off. The results were quite spectacular in terms of destruction of that end of the building when they damaged the rooms beside the carpark, and caused the stairs and verandah to collapse. The expedition’s cars were so far back only the windows were damaged by people thrown against them. The bombers had anti-personnel devices on their bodies, too, so over six hundred very militant protesters were killed, and another two hundred were injured. Four of the team security staff were wounded, and also lightly hurt when the verandah collapsed, but nothing serious. The only team members hurt were Doctor Josef, with a light bullet wound, and you were ripped apart by the bomb. The government officials have started an investigation into how they found out where the team was located, and why they were allowed into the carpark. Many of the local militant religious leaders are very upset so many of their followers have been sent to their reward in such a violent way. They were especially upset with the ones you shot, because a few survived, and they spoke about how selective you were with your aim.”
Ed laughs long and hard before replying, “I knew that would be an issue for them if they lived! So it was deliberate, and I’m glad it is a big problem for the bastards. I love the idea of the militants getting hoisted on their own petard that way. Since you said I was killed and this isn’t heaven or hell, where the heck am I, and how did you manage it?”
“You’re in our spaceship. I manipulated your continuum to put a clone of you in your place in the time between the bomber starting to grip the detonator and when it blew. No one noticed. You now qualify as one of those who were abducted by aliens. Except they have proof you’re dead, complete with some parts of your body. Your family will get all the insurance bonuses. On a side issue, just what is it with you and Doctor Josef. He was very angry about the attack, but when he heard you were dead he was ... well, I think the expression ‘blew sky high’ best covers it.”
“I wish I knew. I’d never heard of him, nor met him, until this job was offered to me. They were very insistent on getting me on it. In the end they paid me so much they couldn’t hire two other techs.”
Wilma butts in with, “I think we should have some people find out why he was so insistent on getting you on the project. He even went so far as to say the project may end up as a failure without your input and insight into the initial findings.”
Ed responds, “Well, it’s got me beat, because I’d need someone to explain the printouts to me. However, I do have a reputation as a good troubleshooter, and being able to make links between things that aren’t obvious. However, I’m not all that famous for it.”
David comes back into the conversation, “It would be good to know, but we now need a decision from you, Ed. We’ve a little project we’d like you to undertake for us. The short description is we’ll place you on a primitive planet like Earth was about thirty-five to forty thousand years ago. We’ll provide some resources, and we want you to do all you can to live in that environment without any further help from us. There are other people and animals there, all of them consistent with those in the middle and southern parts of Europe at that time.”
Ed is surprised and stunned about this offer. He lies there thinking about it. Hmm. I’m officially dead, so they can just kill me if I refuse. But what’s in it for them, and why? are the main thoughts he has before he replies, “I see I have very few options in regards to my future. But I want to know some more details before I answer. An important one is I have to know what you get out of all this.”
There’s a few minutes silence before Wilma replies, “Ed, I may later get into trouble from higher up for this, but the best way I can relate this in terms you’ll understand is this: I’m a newly appointed top level executive producer for our version of television. I’m putting together a new show for our network. It’s a lot like your TV series ‘Survivor,’ but more so, since it’s a proper reality show. We’ll dump you there, and it’s up to you to fight to survive. The cameras are automatic, and we won’t have anyone on hand to pull you out if it things go wrong. You’ll have to live on your own abilities. You will have two and a half tonnes of gear to help you to get started. The initial run is for a year, if you survive, with options for some more gear if the network keeps the show on.”
Let’s Make a Deal
Ed is stunned by this, but takes some time to think through all of the repercussions he can imagine. Several minutes later he says, “OK, I’ve an idea of where you’re coming from. Also, I understand I’ll be tossed in the deep end and left to sink or swim. The terms of employment are clear: Go there and do what I have to do to stay alive while I enjoy my new life without a care for the fact I’m being watched. The pay is the load of gear to help me survive. What happens if I don’t survive long?”
David laughs, and says, “If you die too soon, Wilma will probably wish she died, instead. This show will either make or break her career.”
Ed laughs, too. A little later, after some thought, he says, “I think we can say we have an agreement on the concept. Now we have to reach terms on the pay. I want time and resources to study where I’m going to be dropped, plus information on what I can and can’t take with me.”
Wilma says, “Good. David is my senior technical supervisor, so I’ll let you talk to him about the gear. Then he can tell me, and I’ll see if it’s within the budget I’ve got before I get back to you. Is that OK?”
“Yes, it is. OK, David, what are the basic limitations, please.”
Ed can hear the grin in David’s voice when he replies, “In short, you are sort of restricted to the current level of technology on Earth today, but we can adjust that a little. What I mean is if you want something of a technical nature you need to be able to give a reasonable description of what it is you want and how it works, unless it’s something you can buy down the street where you used to live. We are allowed to substitute better materials and design features if we wish to, and you agree. One example I can think of is your clothes. We can supply clothes like you wear today or like what they wear on the planet, but made from our materials that have a lot better wear-ability and thermal control, so they’ll be warmer and last longer than what you would get here or there. If you ask for a fusion reactor as a power source you’ll need to layout the design features for us, or we won’t build it for you. Does that help you with your planning?”
“Yes, David, I think it does. So let me say, right up front: when I list an item I want and you have something that is a better design or better materials you should just go ahead and make the switch. The only time I’ll need to be asked about it is if it weighs more than what I asked for or works in a different way, so I’ll need to be given instructions on it. I can also see your point I need to prove I know what I’m talking about for the advanced stuff, just so I don’t get a jump off of your technology.”
“Exactly, Ed. But for many basic things like hammers etcetera we won’t need you to layout the design, unless it’s something unusual.”
“Right, let’s get down to cases. I’d like you to keep a running tally on the weight so I don’t have to worry about it. I also want to keep it all very simple, because I won’t have an opportunity to call a repairman. Thus I won’t be going for anything of an involved mechanical nature. I want it all to be capable of being maintained in the field by me. For example, if it needs bearings I want the highest quality, longest wearing, lubricated, and sealed bearings you can provide for the job. Some items will need to be capable of being either repaired or replaced in the field from the local resources, so keep all that in mind, please, David.”
“Oh, good! That should make for a much better show.”
“David, why do I feel this show is in competition with another one?”
“That might be because it is. Another major network has a similar show going. However, that fellow has a lot of technical support on hand and is sort of living a modern day life in the same era. He uses lanterns, rifles, refrigerators, and such. If you’ll stick to the older technology we will have a more interesting show for our clients, and we should steal some of their client base for some of the time, if not permanently.”
“Why am I not surprised about that! Oh well, back to basics. As much as possible I want everything I get to look like it could have been made then. Clothes have to look like animal skins, and tools to look like wood or bone or stone. Anything that needs an edge has to be permanently sharp or long lasting, and include a sharpening kit with instructions on how to sharpen it with safety. Also, it all has to be as light as possible.”
“OK, Ed, let’s get down to the gear you want.”
“Right, can I get up from this table first?”
“Sorry, Ed, I forgot about that.” The straps are released on one side, and are pulled back into the other. The table adjusts to be more like a lounger, and a desk with a chair comes out of one wall while the wall at that point becomes a large computer monitor. “The screen at the desk will show you the terrain and area around where we’d like you to set up housekeeping. You should study it while thinking about the gear.”
“Thanks, David. How will I communicate with the locals?”
“Good point, Ed. They do have their own language, so we’ll give it to you as sleep training, later. We’ll set it up so it will be as natural to you to use as English is now. At the same time we’ll enhance certain of your body functions to make it easier for you to operate there. We’ll improve your senses, muscles, immune system, and similar type stuff.”
“I get a feeling it’s going to be a lot more than that. But if it helps me to stay alive I’m all for it.” Ed moves over to sit at the desk, and starts to move the mouse to examine the area. He has troubles controlling the mouse on the desk, and very soon gets extremely frustrated with it.
It’s clear David is watching him when he’s quick to say, “Ed, lie on the lounge for a moment, please.” Ed does as asked, lies down, and shuts his eyes, since he figures something medical is about to happen. A moment later David says, “Right, I’ve added an organic control unit to your mind. From now on when you look at something while holding something that needs to be pointed or aimed a cross-hair will appear to show you where it’s currently aimed. It works like a mouse pointer, and will be one when using a computer, but it’ll also work as a target sight when using a weapon like a gun or bow and arrow. It will also work as such when you’re on planet, and it’ll adjust for gravity, too.”
“Thanks, David. That can be very useful. Why did you do it?”
“While you were lying down I did all those body enhancements I mentioned a moment ago. By adding them now they probably won’t notice the targeting control unit. Even if they do they’ll probably ignore it, since it’s the same unit we insert in all our people for mouse pointers. All our computers are intended to be used with this type of pointer, and the old software to use the mechanical mouse was not working well with the new systems. Kind of expected when the technology items are so many levels apart. Now, back to work.”
Ed sits back down at the desk, and smiles when the mouse pointer moves with his eyes. He soon finds he still has to click the button on the physical mouse, and wonders how David’s people do that with their computers. He soon gives up on that as being unproductive, and gets on with examining the screen while thinking. The area he’s allowed to view covers about twenty-five kilometres on a side, but only has four areas that fit what he’s looking for as a long term residence location.
Trying to make a choice between them Ed asks, “David, can you make changes to the terrain before you drop me off?”
“Depends, Ed. All the locals know what their area looks like, so we would cause major issues with large changes, but small ones are OK.”
“What about creating a cave that doesn’t exist now?”
“Technically, we can do that. But, again, the locals would know it!”
“Not if the cave entrance was concealed, and it was clearly hidden for a long time. They wouldn’t be upset about something new, then.” Ed moves the view to the site he sees as his best option. “See this section of the canyon’s wall! Look at the wild growth of thorn bushes! It’s clear they’ve been there for many decades. If someone was to find a cave behind that lot no one would be surprised they hadn’t seen it before.”
“I see what you mean, Ed. Yes, we can create a custom cave in the rock of the canyon wall there, for you. What would you like?”
“I can see a small stream coming out from amongst the bushes, can you show me where all the rivers and streams run underground in this area? And can you change their hidden paths without causing trouble?”
David says, “Yes,” at the same time as faint blue lines appear on the screen to show where the waters run. Ed smiles while he looks at them, since one running through the rock he’s interested in is a fair sized river.
“Thanks, David. Now, I’ll lay out what I want, and can one of your technical staff do a plan for me to look at, please?”
On getting an agreement Ed describes wanting the entrance to open into a large cave with a sort of wall in the middle, and a bit upstream of the entrance. The cave is to be his barn, and able to house sixty horses. The entrance to have the existing stream coming out of its down slope edge. A wall will run for the back two thirds of the cave, and have two levels, the lower one is to be like a watering trough, and have water come from the river along the trough to flow out the end into a gutter, and across the floor to the stream. The upper wall level is to be a hay rack area. Both to be at a height suitable for horses. Another stream of water is to come from the river to run along the downstream side of the cave. The floor is to be slightly sloped, with the angle to the front downstream corner, thus making cleaning easier. The area on the other side of the wall is to be a hay and equipment storage area with two caves off it at the front of the cave that go upstream. These are to have niches to store tools. Wagons and the like will store in the front of the hay loft. Downstream will be two entrances, one into a long cave near the front where they can store the manure, the other is a two metre wide passage to another cave, this is to go up a little, and then down.
The next cave is to be a large one with a number of caves off it, each with its own passageway. The one on the left nearest the entry passage goes back toward the barn, rising as it goes until it can curve up and over the walkway to a passage running along the front of the canyon wall. This is to have a lot of small holes at about 1.5 metres from the floor to look out into the canyon. Each hole to be about the size of a human head, to have a protruding rock above it so the hole looks like the shadow of the rock, and is protected from the rain and snow. This is an observation area so Ed can look out of, or shoot out of, as need be.
The next entrance goes up into a small cave with five rooms off that. A store room, three medium sized bedrooms, and the last is a large bedroom. Each with stone shelf storage. This is to be Ed’s quarters.
Across the left wall of the large cave are two caves and an open area. All are deeper into the cliff face than Ed’s quarters. The first one has a pool big enough for ten people, and is fed by a thermal spring with a nice warm temperature running along the back wall. The second is a pool triple the size of the first fed by the warm spring before it vanishes downwards. The third is an open area that leads to where the river passes through behind the caves with a 300 millimetre wide waist high wall between it and the cave. The thermal spring runs under the barn, Ed’s quarters, across the back of the two pool caves, under the next two cave areas, and under the main quarters cave further downstream.
Continuing around the wall of this second large cave is an entrance to a cave big enough to sleep about thirty people, and it has waist high rock storage shelves around it, as well. Once he has a tribe living in here with him this will be the single women’s quarters. After that is another slightly downward sloping passageway, followed by the entrance to another cave like the first one on this wall, for the single men to live in.
The down sloping passageway in the downstream wall of the big cave leads to the largest open area. This is to be big enough to house the tents of over a hundred families, and it’s to have the river run along the back of it, with a waist high wall between the two. The thermal spring is to run under the middle of this cave to help keep it warm, like it does for the caves above. The spring is to join in with the river downstream of this cave, and for the river is to continue to its existing exit onto the plains. This is to be the main tribal living area.
Just to the right of the entrance into this area is another passageway sloping down to a large cave under the single men’s quarters and the middle cavern. This is an ice cave well below the ground with lots of stone shelf storage, as it’s the tribe’s natural refrigerator / freezer.
All of the caves are to have indirect lighting via lots of small tunnels to protected holes in the rock face, and are to have protected air vents. The whole design is to run along inside the canyon wall with only the one entrance to find and protect. The stone will provide insulation all year round with the river for water, and the thermal stream for warmth.
With his long-term quarters sorted out Ed moves on to thinking about the equipment he wants to take along, and ordering it. He stays at the desk reviewing the area he’ll be operating in, because it’s always good to know your workplace. He also activates a tab to show the local animals as well as their migration paths. After a moment’s thought he says, “David, let me explain the clothes I want, and then have your people work out the best way they can do them. I’ll use the technology I’m familiar with, and I’ll let your people change them as they wish, as long as they meet or exceed what I explain.” He waits for an agreement before laying out his clothing needs. “First is a set of underclothes like I’m currently wearing as briefs and t-shirt, except the shirt has long sleeves. A set of lightweight chain-mail, I was thinking titanium, with sheepskin on the inside to provide some padding, and boiled leather on the outside. The coat should go from neck to my upper thigh, and have long sleeves. Pants from the ankle to my waist which ties up to secure above where the coat ends, thus giving full coverage, and double cover to the groin. Boots to look like the local fur shoes, but be like factory industrial safety boots with a protective toecap, protective sole plate, sure-grip soles, come to above the ankle with support and padding, and easy to do up. They should also have the pants tighten below the tops of the boots. Gloves similar to the main clothes that come over or under the arm sleeves, but also allow me to be able to feel what I’m doing with my hands while protecting them. I’ve seen chain gloves for handling dangerous animals where the finger pads are a thin film of woven Kevlar thread, and the inside of the fingers is a lighter mail to the rest. A balaclava type head unit that also comes down to cover the chest and upper back with only the face free. That should protect me from head to toe, but still leave my face free for talking, eating, and the like.”
“Ed, we can provide something as strong as the best chain-mail, but it’s like your Kevlar cloth, and is best as a two piece item that works a lot like your people’s two piece skin-diving suits of an upper body unit with gloves, and a lower body unit with feet. Plus boots as stated. OK?”
“Yes, David. Except I want the hands to be covered with removable gloves, in case I need to have my hands totally free. I also want a helmet unit that looks like an animal skull, and has a drop down faceplate.”
“That’s all doable, Ed.”
“Good. I also want a harness that carries six revolvers plus some Bowie style knives in a way they aren’t obvious, while it also has a knife for skinning that is obvious. I don’t care if it’s a separate harness to go over the clothes or integrated into them. The pistols I’ll let you design, but I want them to be lightweight while tough and durable. I want top-break revolvers, because they’ve less parts and are easier to fix. All to be double action so one trigger pull moves both the chamber and hammer. Also, I want them such only I can use them. You can use something like a Bluetooth signal with a ring on my hands or whatever. I prefer them to be case-less rounds, so I won’t be leaving shell casing lying around. I don’t care about what calibre, but no bigger than a ten millimetre magnum round, but capable of stopping a cave bear. Thus an expanding or frangible round may be best.”
“Just a moment, Ed, I want to check on something.” There’s a long pause before David comes back to say, “I take it you want something that will kill, but not pass through a person.”
“Yes. Oh, before I forget again. The harness is to have one gun on the outside of each hip, one on each side of my waist in a cross-draw, and under each arm for a fast draw by either hand. Plus six speed-loaders.”
“OK, Ed. I’m told we can do that in a high velocity six millimetre calibre frangible round that works like a hollow point after hitting. It is a case-less round and will not leave the target. How long a barrel?”
“These are for close range last ditch defence. So a short barrel of ten centimetres will do. I want two thousand rounds of ammunition, too.”
Wilma comes back into the conversation, “I thought you said these were for last stage self-defence! Why so many guns and rounds?”
“Six six-shot revolvers plus six speed-loaders gives me seventy-two rounds. If I’m in a situation that needs more than that, then I’m dead, no matter what. The big supply is because this may be the only ammo drop I get, so I also want them to be long lasting and still work.”
Wilma replies, “OK, that makes sense. But don’t be too prolific with shooting things, or I may have to take them back. OK?”
Ed responds, “OK with me. I hope I never to have to fire a round, but I want the capability, just in case of a major problem. How come you’re back now, Wilma?”
“I got alerted as you were talking about modern style weapons. I’ll go back to arguing budgets, now.” Both David and Ed laugh at that.
Ed goes back to listing gear, “David, I also want an ankle length cape that does up at the neck which I can pull around me if I want. That way anyone behind me can’t see where my hands are or take anything off me from behind. It needs to be made so they can’t strangle me with it.”
“We can supply all that for you, Ed,” David replies.
“OK. Twenty-five sets of the underwear, and five sets of the outer clothes. One in white for winter, and the rest in variable colours to fit in with the local environment so they look local, and will also blend into the shrubs and stuff while hunting. I’ll also want to have a number of varying sizes of this gear for my future mate and family members.”
“Ed, we’ll get right onto that stuff. But I’ll also talk to Wilma about us providing sets of clothes to your family members as needed. That will save you some allowance now, and also be a reward for you.”
“Right, I can live with that if you can swing it. Now let me have some peace to think about more gear.” He sits quietly for some time.
While Ed is looking at his monitor it brings up a diagram for the cave, plus dimensions for everything. It also includes some images of what the interior will look like at certain times of day, so he can decide if the light will be suitable. He checks it over, and enters a few changes before approving the final result while thinking, I wonder how quick they’ll make the changes for me. But he’s not too worried about it, since he knows they’ll take care of it, and it’ll work as advertised.
After working out a rough idea of equipment needs and priorities in his mind Ed starts to think about quantities. A few more minutes, and he’s saying, “David, let’s get onto the rest of the gear. The first is a wagon, something like a cross between a Conestoga wagon, and an old horse drawn caravan like a Vardo. The main body is to be six metres long, two point one metres wide with sides of one and a half metres, and a curved top that’s two metres clearance in the centre of the wagon. The strong spoked wheels are to be one point eight metres in diameter, and fifteen centimetres wide with a good metal rim. Place the axles a metre in from each end. They’ll connect to the wagon through a set of springs to take the shock of riding. A nice padded seat at the front, with side protection for those on it. The easiest would be to have the sides come up to the front edge of the seat, and to have some sort of drop-down stairs to give access to the area. The seat back is to be a metre and a quarter high. Metal mirrors mounted on the corners of the front of the top so the driver can see what’s beside the wagon or approaching from the back quarters. The bearings can be on the axles at the springs, or the wheels, I don’t care which. The wheels must be easy to remove, so I can replace them with half metre wide skis for use on snow. The space under the seat is to be for secure storage. Both the front and back must be capable of being fully closed, but still have some vent holes that don’t let in rain or snow. The bottom half is to be water tight. Two cable winches that are worked by hand from a lockable position at the back of the wagon. The cable is to run over pulleys at both the front and the back of the wagon, each about half a metre in from the side. This is so I can winch something up to hang at the back of the wagon to skin and dress it, or can slip the cable off the back pulleys to winch the carcass into the wagon by dragging it up the tailgate. The tongue is to be able to be pushed back under the wagon for storage when not in use.”
David is laughing when he says, “Ed, that is not like any wagon ever seen before, but one of my engineers just left here to race to his work station to design it for you. He’s the type who loves a challenge.”
“Let’s make him real happy. The wagon will be pulled by a team of horses, but I also want a one horse variant that can also be pulled by a person. It’s to be two metres long by one point two five metres wide with wheels only one metre in diameter, and have a removable top.”
“Already done. I recorded your words, and just sent it to him. A four horse team to pull this will take up most of your weight allowance!”
“I was thinking to have the main wagon placed in the cave with most of the gear, and the small wagon with just my immediate needs so I can tow it while I travel to the cave to establish myself there. Then I’d have time to catch and train some local horses before I need to move the main wagon for a major hunting trip.”
“Just a moment, Ed, I need to check something.” A moment later he continues, “Technically, we can do that, but it’s a major problem. So the bosses have allowed we can add four draught horses, and two weeks feed to your load without any weight penalty to you, because they hadn’t thought about how you were going to shift the gear we’re giving you.”
“Thank you, David,” is Ed’s simple reply to that.
“Ed, they want a bit of quid pro quo for the concession. We’ll have you wired for sight and sound, as you expect. What they’d like is for you to take the time to explain your plans and why you’re doing some things. Where possible they’ll want it at the time it occurs, but will accept a later report if it may cause trouble to tell us right away. OK?”
“I can live with that, Mate. Now, next is hunting weapons and trade items. A longbow able to kill a bison at three hundred and fifty metres, twenty of them, plus two thousand arrows with long triangular hunting heads. Also twenty spare strings for each of them. A thousand skinning knives, and that many Bowie knives, plus a sheath for each knife. Two hundred kilograms of salt. Ten two man cross-cut saws, twenty logging wedges, ten sledge hammers for logging, plus ten sets of suitable saws and chisels for working the wood. Mallets for the woodwork, too. Ten sets of hand drills of from five to fifty millimetres, and hole-saws to use in the drill to make dowel plugs. The drill bits of forty millimetres and over to be three hundred millimetres long. Ten sets of files for working the wood, too. I’ll need bearings to take the pivot logs for four standard doors, and one door big enough for the wagon. I’ll make the doors from two layers of logs pinned together, so the bearings need to take some weight. Plus some sort of lock device for each door. Oh, planes and all the other tools for woodworking you can think of, ten sets of each.”
David laughs, and says, “I’ll just have the experts come up with lists and pictures of all the hand tools for working with wood from cutting the trees, through carpentry, to carving. Once you review them we’ll make it ten sets of what they list for you. I’ll do the same for hand use farming tools, and what you need for care of the stables. OK?”
Ed grins, “Yes, please, David. Thanks for that, as I had trouble trying to remember what some of them are called. Oh, include twenty axes and wood splitters for making firewood. With the bulk of the farming tools, save weight and space by having the tool heads such they can just screw or clip onto the handles, and give three handles for each set of the tools. The same system can be used for brooms and shovels to clean up around the caves. I’ll want harnesses for fifty horses, plus bridles, and fifty McClellan saddles with full kit. Five kilometres of rope in ten and twenty millimetre diameter, I’ll cut to length as I need it. Let’s see, tools, ropes, clothes, weapons. Nearly forgot. Twenty metal spear throwers like an atlatl, but with a nice curved handle to hold it better, and five hundred one metre long spears for them. Plus four hundred two metre spears that fit the era. A hundred sets of basic cooking knives, plus pots and pans. One hundred sets of flint and pyrite stone for starting fires. A thousand skewers for cooking with that are long enough to go over a standard camp-fire. Twenty vacuum flasks of two litre capacity with good seals, a hundred good cups, two hundred plates, five hundred steak knives, forks, and spoons. Two comfortable king sized mattresses, and one king single, plus enough blankets to keep the occupants warm in the worst winter possible there. Ah, five hundred buckets with lids. A simplified medical text in case I need to help anyone. A set of books to help teach people to read and write, and a good set of encyclopedias of equipment and tools that doesn’t include the stuff I’m not likely to be able to use there. That should make it a small set. Two very good first aid kits like you’d have for an ambulance, plus twenty personal first aid kits - all well fitted out. A big box of small containers of long lasting antiseptic. The medical text to include herbal medicines, and the like. I want enough seed of suitable crops to seed two kilometres of the valley using a seven year rotation planting scheme, and mix up the vegetables a bit. Plus seed for some nice fruit trees. If there’s any allowance left after that, fill it up with extra salt and seed, please.”
“Ed, that sounds like you want to set up a long term agricultural civilization based in that cave, and that should be everything you need to do that. I’ll get it sorted, and get back to you. Assuming we can do it all, do you agree to this as your payment for the contract.”
Ed takes a deep breath, and replies, “On the basis we can get all that gear we spoke of as described, yes! I agree, and I’ll give this project my whole hearted best effort to make it work well in both the short-term and the long-term. I know much will be plain stuff like cooking and making doors, but there will also be a lot of excitement of interacting with others and with hunting, because I’m very sure there will be some dangerous animals and very troublesome people there. I will try to keep things interesting, but I won’t have anyone take any risks we don’t need to take. OK?”
David’s relief about the agreement is obvious when he says, “Wilma will be in later with the formal contract for you to sign. I’ll speak to you, later, on how the gear is going. I can say a lot of my experts are happy to be working on this project, now, because they like the challenges.”
“Catch you later, David.” Ed goes back to studying all the terrain around his caves for twenty-five kilometres. He smiles when he sees the map now includes his full cave system.
Several minutes later Wilma walks in with a written contract, which they both sign after Ed reads it. The one thing in it not previously stated, but was implied, is this is a one-way trip for Ed. There’s no later pick up or return capability. He’s committed to a new life on the planet.
Wilma does say, “Our engineers have decided it’s better we give you door kits you put together for the three small interior doors. But the ones for the outer doors will be frame kits you fill in with wood.” Ed agrees to the change, because it saves him some work.
The next few days are spent with Ed practising with all the weapons and tools he asked for, and now has available to him.