The sequel to Mountain Hold is almost here! For those of you folks who missed book 1 you can find it on this thread: Original Work - Mountain Hold - Tyler Danann | Survival Monkey Forums Book 2 will continue the adventure into the New Era as the diverse and brave new factions slowly start to emerge. The dark powers are rising too though... I am at over 80,000 words so far, just working on the final bits. Thanks for all those who have supported and encouraged, it's been a long journey from the dark days of 2012 but here I am, ready to lead you on another tale... “Do not give yourself into slavery, as long as it still remains open to you to die freely.” -Euripides. 480BC to 406 BC Prologue It was a cold, windy day in Utah, but inside the family workshop it was warm from the log-burner. The vast workshop table was lit up brightly with electric lighting, creating a contrast of old and new. Strange equipment was sprawled out and in the middle area was where Gregory Wynter patriarch of the Wynter dynasty worked. His only son, Nikolai Romanov Wynter sat at the first area. Some strange green overalls were hung up on a frame and had cables going from them to where his father worked. He touched them gently, noticing that they felt like coarse silk but had a colder feeling. On the overalls various bulges seemed to project out slightly. These bulges had a strange warmth that was seemingly self-perpetuating all by themselves. On the other side of his father was the final section of kit. A helmet and pistol with a similar cable disappeared into both items. He wanted to take another closer look but already he’d been scolded at for getting too close. The overalls station he now was in was tolerable to this father though. Gregory worked on a large case and harness frame and had just managed to pinch off a fat cable with a shrouded clamp. “Can we build something like this?” “I don’t think it’s possible even now, the liquid power-source, the special materials and crystals, it’s all beyond what we have here little man,” the old man smiled for a moment. “Remember son,” Gregory Wynter said sternly. “There are some things about these Artifacts that I dare not tamper with and neither should you, not even when you come of age.” “Why can’t I play with the helmet? I can see in the dark with it,” the boy sulked. “Because you’ll play with the gun again and even though it’s unloaded you might activate its other function. I didn’t handle a pistol until I was twenty-five and that was this one, and shortly afterwards the Pacific War had me use a 1911. You’re only half the age I was so have a while longer to go little man.” “That .22 rabbit rifle is ok, but Jerry get’s to shoot his dads revolver!” he complained. Being forteen sucked sometimes for Nikolai. It was like being old enough to start to know a lot but not old enough to do anything. “I bet Jerry’s dad would be right over with his cheque book if he knew we had all this. But tampering about all the time and toying with it isn’t going to happen, not on my watch anyway.” “Why can’t we tamper a bit father? Isn’t that how we get better at things?” The curious young boy had asked. “Yes we should, but sometimes a person needs to make a big innovation or step over and beyond something. That’s what I think the Soliters managed to do.” For Nikolai talk of the Soliters was another family tale he’d heard many times. Yet it never really lost its appeal. “Take your toys for example,” The septegenarian said sagely. “They are mostly made overseas in great factories and made without any real care or craft.” “I like my toys though dad,” he replied. “I know you do son, but most of them will last ten years if you are lucky, five or less is common. Often they break even sooner. Then all the kids need new toys they cannot cherish, keep and pass on the old toys very easily. This is something very common to big business nowadays. They exist solely to make money for themselves and not craft anything to last.” He gestured to the overalls, case, helmet and pistol. “These are all crafted artifacts. All of this is nearly a hundred years old and hasn’t even aged in comparison. They’ve been crafted to such a high-standard I can’t even inspect the most powerful elements properly. If I did it could result in breakage. Take the liquid that I clamped off just now. If I let that drain out there’d be no way to get it back inside the internal power-source. I could try removing the internal tubing but that risks breaking the delicate nano-turbines inside. If that happens I don’t know how in the world it can ever be mended.” “Why not?” The curious young Wynter had asked. “I think the makers of this can craft items beyond our very dreams. Yet they despise manufacture and planned obselesience common to big business nowadays. To try and examine parts too closely could result in breakage. If that happens I don’t know how in the world it can be mended.” Nikolai stayed quiet and watched his father work on. His grandfather received the Artifacts originally after the sinking of the Titanic. During his families flight from Crimea the man had paid with his life struggling to safeguard them. By the standards of the elusive Soliters it was entry-level equipment he had been told. In addition it had been heavily retrofitted with surface-world technology. Even this was done by a Navigator, according to his father. As a result it was technically Old Era standard, but with high-technology as a basic foundation. No name or make decorated the Artifacts but according to his grandfather the Soliters called it a Ryder Unit. His father though had practised with the device a lot in his younger years out in the desert. He’d made detailed instructions about the idiosyncracies and niggles common to the devices. He’d remember seeing him making notes, careful adjustments and customizations for hours in the family workshop. For a seventy-year old his father had been never a dull-blade and his zeal and tinkering skills were undiminished. “Remember son, these are a trove of secrets. They are Artifacts entrusted by a special people to us. They aren’t toys or for leisure. That gun for example may look like an over-and-under shot-pistol but if I ever registered it with the ATF, as I’m probably supposed to, we’d probably never see it again. They’d probably just say ‘national security’ is the reason and want to know what else we have.” He chuckled and adjusted the device further. “I hear those idiots on tv talking about Area 51 and flying saucers. If only they knew the real truth.” “What’s the truth about that dad?” “Let’s just say that all of this in the wrong hands would enslave us. It could also set us free if the time was right or we could get it into the right hands one day.” His father resumed screwing in the last LCD display. The analogue to digital interface for the small portion of the tube was next. “What should we use them for then?” the younger Wynter asked curiously. “Nothing, nothing at all until the time is right. Things are in limbo right now in the world, people are crazy in the head with nonsense. You need to find yourself a good woman, raise a family and in time pass this on to the most deserving of your children. Treat all this as a family treasure from our Soliter brothers and sisters. They are the ones who gave this to your grandfather.” “Did Grandpa die on arriving here?” “That’s right. He’d been mortally wounded in a shootout against a trio of Bolshevik agents over in Crimea.” “What happened? How did he die?” “He played along with them at first, then tried to get the drop on ‘em. Your granny didn’t remember much after the first few shots. I think she said he fired both his Mauser and this handcannon at once. She was pregnant with me at the time and hide from the shooting. When the smoke cleared one Bolshevick was on the floor bleeding out, my father was badly wounded. He finished the dying one off and the other two Bolshies were already out the door. Another was wounded though then killed by the returning bodyguard. He was an idiot for leaving to check on the boat but at least got that right.” “Wow!” said the boy in awe of the violent memory. “The last one got away with a head wound I think, the bodyguard took a chunk of his skull or face, so no-one really won anything that day. Mom said that one was a Saken agent, or at least he claimed he was one of them.” “How did she know that? I thought they hid themselves?” “Not back then so much. ‘Hand over the Soliter items’ she heard him say. ‘Give it up and House Saken will take you in’, she remembered the conversation like it was yesterday.” “So we fled Russia, the civil war broke out just as we arrived in this fine country.” “The next war was even worse. Your mother still thinks I should have told Tesla or the G-Men. I was more partial for telling Ford or Hindenburg about it to get them commies running scared but looking back it’s just as well nobody got the Artifacts. It’s a case of waiting and watching for what the Soliters told us would happen. The old man took a deep breath. “Do you remember what that is son?” “The light from the earth?” Nikolai said carefully. His father nodded. “At that sign is when we’ll know. Only then can we fight with these Artifacts. Until then, they are passed on in trust.” “I need to finish up here, you run along and play with your plastic toys from China! I’ll tinker with the real ones,” old Wynter boomed with laughter and the young child ran laughing from the workshop. Years past and the son buried his father when it was time. Nikolai married a fine young woman he knew from childhood fell in love. They were married and had two children. Each year on the anniversary of his father’s passing he would check the Artifacts for function of use. He never forgot and it was always at the back of his mind. First came School, College, then University. Military service, his beloved wife and children soon followed. On the fateful day of the Blue Sun he was ready and knew what to do.