When the Sky Caught Fire

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Chapter 1

When in the middle of a battle one tends to start to think about things, especially when you are in a rebellion that you never even knew existed. That is what Ross was going through at the moment, in the heat of battle he started to think about how he got there. Reflection probably wasn’t the best thing at that time, but the brain does some pretty weird things under stress.

How did Ross get there? Well, it is safe to blame most of this on the government. Then he could safely blame his parents since they were apart of the rebellion. Then he could blame the rebellion itself. The Anomalies were a pain in his behind. The last person he could blame was himself. He could have easily walked away from any rebellion, but did he? Of course not, Ross felt like he needed to help. After all, everyone has to believe that the world can be changed.

How is it the government’s fault? They got the country into the mess and started a civil war. That would be classified under “Their Fault”. It could also be classified under, “Executive Orders”, depends on what library you’re in.

Higher taxes, military government, a royal family, mafia run country...It seemed to keep going downhill. Although they looked as if they had settled on a royal family, and we all know how much Americans love to be run by a royal family.

Books were banned when people started to reference them in protests, swaying the opinions of the general public. Many of the books were not new and were being quoted from over one hundred years before. The government started doing book burnings then decided to change history while they were at it, and that always turns out beautifully. Humans have the tendency to migrate towards things that are forbidden.

At one time this country was called America, lately, they have changed the name. Currently, it is called the Sisterland, a tacky name that is obviously stolen from two well-known countries. One called the Motherland, one called the Fatherland, and now the Sisterland. Why not the Auntland or Uncleland, since we are naming things after family roles? Oh, wait...they already did that. Scotland wasn't pleased with being renamed and neither was China.

A bullet flew past his head, interrupting his sarcastic thoughts. Ross ducked then looked over at Ramona, “So, do you think we got their attention?” he held back a laugh when the girl gave him a look.

What about Ross’s parents? How was it their fault? Well, working for the government and a rebellion probably wasn’t the brightest idea. It was only a matter of time before they were caught, living in the country didn’t help, there was no one there to question why they were being executed. Ross was lucky to have gotten out of that alive.

The Anomalies? It was only their fault for getting him into a firefight. They were also a new group and didn’t have anything to do with starting this mess. Unless you count the firefight, that was their fault, they probably also had a few deaths on their hands.

Ross felt an intense pain in his shoulder as a bullet ripped through it. He swore under his breath and ducked back behind a car, “Ramona, if we live, I will bury you alive.”

“Do it, suck hole,” Ramona shot back at him. The words sounded hostile, but her voice was friendly.

Abraham ran into Ross on accident, causing him to stumble, “Sorry...” He ducked when he heard glass breaking, “Have you seen Moisés?”

“No...I haven’t, Ramona, have you?” Ross said with a worried tone of voice. He shot a worried glance at Ramona, hoping she had seen him.

“No, I thought he was with Storm,” Ramona looked as if she were about to have a full blown panic attack.


A few months earlier...

It was on a bright and sunny day when they came for Ross's parents. They, of course, being the government. The birds were singing, the dog was barking, and the grass was green. It could only go downhill from there.

At eighteen years old, Ross was considered a full partner with his father. They had been making changes to history for the past few months, just like the government asked, but after they finished they didn’t destroy the original documents like they had been ordered. What business was this; you ask? They printed changed documents for the government on printing presses. The private ownership of computers, presses, and type writers had been banned by the government.

After all, if history is changed and there isn’t evidence of what it was before, what can stop the government from making crap up? That was their reasoning for preserving the evidence of their treason.

Ross never quite saw the sanity of this decision, but he went with it anyway. The decision being to keep the illegal documents. It was far easier to obey his father then try and weasel information out of him. Which was a darn near impossible task since his father was very good at keeping secrets. It wasn’t like he was blind. Ross saw the people that came during the night and retrieved the documents from his father.

Ross’s mother was sitting upstairs sewing some new potholders, pillow cases, and curtains for the house. She was also sewing some clothing for the rebels, anything helps, right?

Aiding rebels is dangerous in and of itself. It doesn’t always result in execution, but you could be tortured for information. Most people who helped the rebels also knew where they were located or at least knew names.

A delicious smell came downstairs to Ross and his father; his mother was making dinner. They were going to have some friends over that night but for some reason they canceled, which was unusual. But they didn’t dwell on it too much, in retrospect, they probably should have. They probably could have avoided a lot of pain. Well, Ross’s parent's pain was brief but his would go on for a while.

None of them stopped to consider that the friends they were having over were government sympathizers. Anything that was against the law, to them, seemed like a direct attack on the government that they love so much. Rebels liked to call people like that statist; their love for the state was above anything else. At one point Ross had been in a relationship with their daughter; she was a sweet girl. One day she had disappeared and her parents were sad for a long time. He never found out what happened to her but he never stopped suspecting them of something sinister.

A bunch of trucks came to a stop in front of their house. Ross didn’t see them, of course, he was in the basement. But his mother did, she had been running to the basement when some of the military stormed the basement and grabbed his father. He watched in shock as they dragged his father up the stairs before some came down for Ross. He heard a scream than a couple of gunshots so he knew that he wasn’t going to escape execution.

Ross ducked behind the printing press as shots were fired at him. Living in the country was a very bad idea, no one was around to hear him scream. Ross glanced at a secret door, which was hidden in the wall, his father had made a technology that would mimick. His father had only told him about this a couple week before. Ross dove ‘through’ the wall and crawled in the tunnel. He held still for a moment, hoping that the guards wouldn’t see him.

As Ross crawled through the tunnel he heard a couple of the royal guards swear as they tried to guess where he went. To them it just looked like he had disappeared. Ross jumped out the other end of the tunnel and made a mad dash for the woods.

As he ran through the woods he had the feeling someone was following him. Naturally, Ross thought he was simply losing his mind and ignored the mental warning. Which turned out to be a mistake as he slowed down.

A dart was suddenly sticking out of his leg, and now, instead of being a bumbling bear trampling through the woods, he was now a dying moose. Ross wasn’t graceful to begin with, but this made it much worse. He was making all sorts of noise as he ran through the woods and alerted every bird within miles of his presence. Ross’s vision started to cloud and he fell to his knees, crawling away now. He shook his head as he tried to clear his vision, knowing it was imperative to keep moving.

“Pathetic,” said voice number one in a disgusted and nasally voice. “Are you sure he can do this?” asked voice number two. This one sounded disturbed, probably by his lack of grace. “That was the house number,” replied voice number three who sounded skeptical, “Besides we just need him to run the printing press. Being strong isn’t a requirement.” Then Ross passed out, remembering no more of what happened.

The group was unaware that they were being watched by another rebellion entirely. The rebellion watching was called the Anomalies and they were trying to create a new type of rebellion that wasn’t set on a one world government.

“So, tell me why we need the redhead again?” Storm asked. She put her gun back and tapped her foot nervously. Running towards danger wasn’t her favorite, if she had her way she would be living in the mountains like a hermit.

“To run a printing press,” the younger women, Ramona, replied patiently, “Do you know how to use it, Storm? I don’t.” She tactfully ignored the fact that they already had two printing press users, “Besides, Walter doesn’t need anyone else. He just kills them anyways.”

“There are ten other people who know how to use it,” Storm replied in a patronizing tone, she looked around nervously, “And how do you expect us to get him?” She didn’t like this at all. She found herself subconsciously rubbing her hand through her hair.

“Just walk in and we’ll talk to Walter. He won’t refuse to see me,” Ramona looked at one of the guys, “Abraham, I want you and Moisés to come with me.”

The young man nodded and then tapped his brother on the head. Moisés looked up at his brother and then followed him when Abraham walked away.

“Storm, I would also like you and Katelynn to come. Everyone else, watch the camp. If you see anything suspicious, I would greatly appreciate it if you rescued us,” The girl led the way towards the camp. They could only hope that they would be able to pull the Printer out.


Ross woke up in the tent of perpetual groaning, otherwise known as a medical tent. He sneezed then looked around at the other people occupying the area. They all had wounds that ranged from deathbed to mild pain. Ross heard a man ranting and yelling outside of the place, he caught some things about “Nearly killing the Printer” and “Too valuable to lose.” Well, now he felt important. In a scary and twisted sort of way. Essential for survival, was probably a better word.

He watched as a man walked in, the guy was between twenty and twenty-five years old. Around five foot seven in height, black hair, and yellowish irises. His demeanor was very cold, almost bringing a chill in the tent. Ross wasn’t impressed and came up with a nickname for him in his head, Satan was the first word that came to mind, but he banished that for something a little more merciful. Satan’s angel became the new nickname for him, the more he talked the more Ross didn’t like him. He also briefly considered Stalin or Hitler as nicknames but dismissed them, they were a little too cruel.

“We expect you to start printing our material within the next few days. You will have one full day to recover before we have to move again. If you refuse, you will be executed,” Satan’s angel demanded as he paced in front of Ross. He looked like a caged lion which both amused and disturbed Ross. Caged lions were the most dangerous. One day to recover wasn’t actually that unreasonable. He was acting as if the recovery time was his idea. That mean that it was probably a henchmen’s idea.

“I expect to dislike you intensely. I also suspect I will throw a party if you are suddenly pushing up daisies. After the daisies have popped up, I’ll make a beautiful centerpiece with them.” Ross stated bluntly, his filter didn’t seem to be working very well. In fact, it didn’t hardly seem to be working at all.

“And what, exactly, makes you think you can speak to me that way? What have I done to make you think I’m approachable? You listen and obey,” The crazy man said adamantly. Now he was pacing at an even greater speed. Ross wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be impressed by the man’s aggression.

Ross replied dryly, “What makes you think that I care? Look at the ceiling, how many spiders do you see?” He raised his eyebrows in question, waiting for him to set himself up. Undoubtedly, he would; he didn’t seem like the brightest bulb in the box. “I don’t see any spiders...” Ah, sweet revenge. He walked right into it, now Ross could further the insult. “And that is exactly how many craps I give,” Ross finished while waving his hand in flourish. He wasn’t exactly surprised when the guy made faces at him then started clenching and unclenching his hands near his throat.

“I am fully prepared to execute you,” The guy said while gritting his teeth, “In fact, I want to execute you. I want to have you destroyed like an animal.” “I am tied down like an animal, so I don’t see the difference. If you were to untie me though...maybe we could make a deal,” Ross replied calmly; what he was really planning to do was jump out of the bed and kill the guy with his bare hands. At this point, Ross had no idea who this guy was. Just that he knocked him out, was the leader of a rebellion, and seemed to be keeping him hostage.

“No. Why would I make a deal with someone who will probably try and murder me?” The crazy man said as he walked back towards the entrance of the tent. The man wasn’t as much of an imbecile as he originally thought. Ross watched as the guards walked in and the crazy guy tense.

“Sir, the Anomalies are here. They are wondering about the Printer,” The guy appeared nervous about the idea that this particular group was after Ross. Satan’s cousin walked out of the tent, not saying a word. He didn’t seem to want Ross to know what was going on.

Ramona watched as Walter came out of the tent. His entire face was red and he looked like he wanted to kill someone. Abraham leaned over and whispered to her, “A week of laundry says that the Printer made him that angry.”

“I don’t make bets,” Ramona replied with a smile, “But I believe you are correct.” She beamed at Walter as he approached and commented, “I have a couple questions about the new Printer you just brought in.”

“I’m not inclined to answer any questions you have,” Walter replied coldly. He didn’t want to share his printer, they needed to replace the old one. Who had died...under mysterious circumstances. They also had some bullet wounds in their chests that appeared magically, out of nowhere, it was amazing.

“My group is outside of your camp surrounding it,” Ramona went immediately from nice to threatening, “You can either hand the printer over or your camp will be without any tents or food.” The reaction came from a person who was well acquainted with Walter. She saw Storm tense out of the corner of her eye after Walter flicked his fingers. Storm’s glare made the guard step back instead of obeying his leader.

“You want the printer?” Walter looked at the tent then nodded to his guard, “Get the jerk up.” He glanced at his gun which caused my group to tense. He didn’t dare touch it in fear of repercussions. He and Ramona both knew that Storm would probably rip his head off and crap down his throat.

Ross was brought stumbling out of the tent and placed in front of them, “Oh, goodie, who else do I get to meet? Let me guess, since you are Satan’s angel, the grumpy girl must be your sidekick, the redhead must be your partner, and the two guys are...I don’t know, for the sake of argument let’s say they are evil cherubs.” One of the evil Cherubs had no idea what was going on as none of it was being spoken in his language. He was observing his surroundings; unaware he had been mentioned.

Ramona choked on a laugh, looking at her old friend, “I am surprised you haven’t killed him yet.” She looked at the redhead and then back at Walter.

“The day is still young,” Walter sighed, long suffering, as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. The evil eye he was giving Ross didn’t leave any doubt in Ramona’s mind that Walter would, indeed, try and dispatch Ross.

Ramona shook her head then gestured towards the forest, “Alright, come on. We’re going to rescue you from Satan’s angel.” Ramona glanced at Storm and she understood taking up the rear of the group, occasionally sending a hostile look at a member. Probably not necessary, but if it made Storm feel better then so be it.

Just as they were reaching the edge of the camp someone fired a gun at them. This was obviously against what Walter wanted because he started yelling at people. They were all forced to run for their lives.

Ross was making enough noise to raise the dead, birds were flying away as we were all running. Ramona had to resist the desire to berate him. Who taught him how to run anyways?

Their run through the woods had caused the forest animals to split, so by the time they reached the base camp the forest was silent. Ramona hated it when the forest would get this quiet, it was eerie.

They walked into the camp where a bunch of people were walking around. A bunch meaning between fifty and seventy people. They were Ramona’s group, the “official” name was the Anomalies but the government had other names for them. Some of them colorful and some of them childish.

Ramona turned to Ross and said, “We meet here when we have to make an important decision. I think I just made an executive one, however.” She felt amused, knowing Ross would realize what she meant. They were supposed to decide who to find for their Printer. Ramona had found him and had taken him from another rebellion, it was merely an opportunity grab.

Ross looked back at the camp and he tensed as if he would make a run for it. But when he turned around Storm was right there, giving him the hairy eyeball. He turned back around and smiled brightly, “Well, looks like I have a new home.”

“We won’t force you to stay here if you have other family who would be willing to hide you,” Abraham informed Ross as he started towards the camp, “But I highly doubt anyone would risk their hide.” He hated being cynical but that was the truth. When he and his brother went to their family’s house they were turned away.

Ross huffed once before really thinking about that, “No, I have nowhere to go. This place is as good as any.” He hung his head a little and Ramona’s heart went out to him. She knew how it felt to be without her family but she was not very good at expressing her emotions, so she left it alone.

“Good. I have another question, you wouldn’t happen to know how to print Brail books?” Ramona asked, her voice lifting at the end in question while raising her eyebrows.

“No, but I know a twelve-year-old who can,” Ross replied while he looked around in fascination at the camp. The areas were laid out like this: There were lines of tents for people to sleep in on the right and across from them was the printing press tent and the dining tent. The meeting tent was at the end of the rows and was larger than the others.

They needed to have a meeting on what to do about the printers. They had been receiving information from a reliable source that Printers were being rounded up and shot. The government had no more need of them and were bringing in a younger generation that would do as they were told. Ramona decided to have Ross speak about the printers, but she didn’t anticipate that he might not be a great public speaker.

“If the government is really rounding up Printers and Brail Printers, we should try and get as many as possible. I know of at least three printers who are under sixteen and two Brail Printers who are under fourteen,” Ross kept looking at Ramona with this expression of disbelief. He obviously hated being up there. That and he wasn’t sure why the younger ones were in danger, except for the fact they were not government trained. They would remain a threat under their parents’ care.

No one said anything and made Ross shift awkwardly, he looked back at Ramona with curiosity. She didn’t even know what to say, so she remained quiet. Ramona hoped that someone would speak up. Someone in the crowd coughed and that spurred Abraham to speak, much to her relief, “We could distribute them among the Anomaly groups. Then we could do what Ross wants and keep the government from telling more lies.”

“We need to send out two groups to find these children. Any volunteers?” Ramona waited for an answer and was starting to become severely disappointed with her group. Then a couple hands shot up, “Joseph and Dolly. Anyone else?” The two people who raised their hands looked only around fifteen or sixteen years old themselves.

Only three more hands went up and Ramona called them by name, “Alright, so group one is Joseph, Dolly, Jasmine, Justin, and Nana.” She looked back over the huge group of people, “I expect more people for group two please.”

Six people raised their hands at once and a seventh tentatively raised their hand, “Hunter, Max, Ryan, Golda, Yolanda, Briar, and Winston. You are group two. Group one I expect you to get the Printers. Group two, I expect you to get the BP’s.” As they left the meeting Ramona addressed the rest of the group, “Is there anything else we need to vote on while we’re here?”

Nobody spoke so she said, “Well, then we’re done for today.” Ramona sat down on the makeshift stage and dropped to the floor, walking out. Nobody left the tent except Moisés, he followed Ramona because he wanted to talk about what the plan for the week was. Ramona stayed by the tent door for a moment, listening to Ross talking.

“What am I supposed to do?” He sounded very lost, “I feel like a tornado picked me up in Kansas and dropped me off in Russia.”

Abraham replied with a smile in his voice, “Yeah, we all tend to feel that way when we first join. Go ask Ramona, she’ll be able to tell you. I’m just the muscle.”

“What muscle?” Ross asked with amusement. Abe was far from muscular, he was thin. He was built like a runner and when compared to his younger brother he was very slight. Abe didn’t say anything but Ramona heard him laugh. Ross fell off the stage and she could hear him coming. Ramona turned to Moisés and signed, So, what was it you wanted to know?

When Ross walked up and started to talk to me Ramona held up her hand, asking him to wait. He stood there patiently until she was finished then she turned to him, “Yes?”

“Abraham said I should come ask you what to do,” Ross looked surprised when Ramona translated for Moisés. She wasn’t sure why he looked surprised, but she also answered his question, “You can go to the printing tent right away.”

“What are you doing with your hands?” Ross blurted out. His eyes widened at his own blunt questioning, but he didn’t take back the question. Which was good, if Ross wanted to know Ramona would be more than happy to tell him.

“Sign language. Moisés is Deaf and mute. My signing is still a little awkward,” Ramona replied quietly, “But right now we can’t find an interpreter for him. And I know a little more than anyone else, next to his brother of course.” Now Ramona was writing all the things she said in the dirt and Moisés provided a sign for them.

“Okay. Where is the printing tent again?” Ross was starting to look excited about being able to touch a printing press. Ramona was a little disturbed, he didn’t seem to even realize his parents were gone. A lot of people have that problem at first; hopefully he wouldn’t live in denial forever. Ross was trying to distract himself from the reality of his parents’ deaths. He knew he couldn’t perform if he allowed himself to succumb to grief.

Ramona signed the directions first then spoke them, “Three tents down, you’ll know it when you see it. Samson should be working the machines and he tends to have conversations with them. Oh, it will also be in another language. Probably Russian but sometimes he likes to yell Latin phrases at them. It depends on his mood.

Ross bolted towards the tent, forgetting to thank Ramona for the directions. People ignored him because people running around was a normal sight in this place. Some of them gave him strange looks, but those people were all new.

Before he got to the tent Ross heard crashing in the tent he was supposed to be going to. Then he heard Samson swearing in Russian while a group of animals charged out of the tent. Ramona looked at Moisés, signing, Ross should have a fun time. She smiled when Moisés laughed, nodding enthusiastically.

Moisés was completely non-verbal; he could not speak or read lips. He could write and use ASL but that was the extent. That was the main reason why Ramona learned SSL (Sisterland Sign Language) in the first place, she wanted to communicate with him.

Moisés snapped his fingers at her, his hand dangling at his knee. Ramona had been lost in thought and wasn’t paying attention. Once he had her attention again he signed, He’s clumsy, isn’t he? Moisés would use the snapping noise to get her attention because he discovered that while he couldn’t hear it others could.

Ross? Ramona replied, raising her eyebrows in question, Yes, he is clumsy. She smiled at her friend then signed, but at least he isn’t running for his life anymore.

Moisés laughed, nodding again. He hadn’t been able to hear Ross but he could see the long limb guy running over everything.

Ramona smiled again then decided to resort to studying her friend. The Mexican-American boy looked more Mexican than American. His mother was Mexican and his father was American, his mother moved to the Sisterland to avoid the continuing drug wars. That was all she knew about his mom and dad, that and they were very loving towards Moisés and his brother. Moisés always had laughing eyes even though she knew that he had weeping hands.

Ramona smiled at her friend when he waved his hand to get her attention again. He loved signing with her, he once told her it was boring having only Abe to talk to. She knew that he would prefer to have a Deaf companion. How do you think Ross is doing? Moisés raised his eyebrows in question.

Ramona answered carefully and choppily, I’m sure he’s making friends and influencing people. Both of them laughed gleefully. Neither were being malicious they just found the way Ross behaved very entertaining.

Meanwhile, Ross walked into the tent to be greeted by the sound of swearing in Russian and a bunch of chickens running past him. Ross poked my head in, “Hello?”

A tall Asian man walked out of the back part of the tent, a huge smile splitting his face, “Hello! My name is Samson, I heard we had a new printer but had not yet had the pleasure of meeting him!”

Ross tilted his head slightly as he asked, “How did you know I was the new printer?” Ross shifted on his feet nervously, unsure about this man. He looked to be about twenty-five years old and he was very, very, tall. About 6ft 5 to be exact.

“I could tell, when I came out you didn’t run. The last time a new person came to see me they ran as if their pants were on fire. Also, you were looking at the presses with admiration. Oh, here comes my sister. Ruth, say hello,” Samson smiled again and Ross decided that he would like him. He seemed like a nice enough person.

Ruth gave her older brother a look before turning to Ross, “Hello. My name is Ruth, you may have heard my brother’s impressive grasp of language a moment ago, Sometimes the way he swears in other languages impresses even me.”

“It was quite impressive,” Ross replied before asking, “Are all people in the rebellions young?” He was genuinely curious about this. It seemed like he had been seeing a lot of young people and not a lot of old people.

“No. Did you meet Nana yet? She just went out in a group, but she is sixty years old. Then there is Opa who is sixty-eight and Golda who is fifty-two,” Samson answered with a smile. The smile slowly faded as he said, “We don’t often get older people here. Or if we do they don’t survive long. Nana, Opa, and Golda are the longest survivors.”

“Enough with the depressing conversation. Let’s get started with printing, I’m excited to see what the new guy can do,” Ruth said cheerfully as she went to make sure the printing presses were all in working order.

The machines were magnificent; Ross couldn’t wait to get started on them. Some of them looked even prettier than the machine they had at his house. These machines looked almost like new, they were very well taken care of. He did wonder how they managed to move the heavy machines.

“Well, you heard the boss, let’s get to work,” Samson commented, amused. He made sure that Ross was all set up before walking back to his own machine. Samson was working on a beautiful copy of the Bible. That was a very banned and very illegal book. It held ideas that were dangerous, especially a certain chapter and verse in Romans.

Ross started setting type from an old first edition of Black Beauty. He remembered liking that book as a kid, his mother always used to read it to him. Ross shook his head at the thought of his mother, He couldn’t think about her right now. It would be too painful. Despite his best ability of trying his brain brought up a recent memory of his mother. His father had picked her up and they were both laugh uproariously as they fooled around. Ross smiled briefly at the memory then was overcome with sadness. He threw himself into the work of printing in a way that appeared to Samson as a man chased by ghosts.

It seemed like no time had passed when dinner was ready. Dinner went by fast, Ross never even left the tent. Ruth had left when she couldn’t get Samson’s attention and had brought them back food.

The food, in question, was delicious. They had a simple meal that night of soup. The soup was mostly veggies but did have venison in it. The taste surprised Ross, he didn’t expect them to get anything like it out in the woods. Ross expressed his surprise to Samson, “I didn’t expect anything like this.”

Samson laughed heartily, “Of course we have food like this! The assistant to the royal chef is here. He sympathized with the rebels openly to the queen and she banished him. To be perfectly honest, he hates the limited supplies we have. He is a bit of a…I don’t know. Snob? When it comes to food anyways. But he still manages to find things in the woods that will work. For example,” Samson looked deep into his stew as if contemplating the meaning of life, “Seems like he found wild turnips, mushrooms, Mystery Veg, and the farmers gave us potatoes. Some of this stuff is very mysterious after it’s been cooked.”

Ross attempted to keep himself from laughing. The struggle was very hard and his laughs came out sounding like snorts, “He does know what plants are poisonous right?” Ross wasn’t actually concerned, if the man was a royal chef he was probably trained to see that stuff. Or smell it. Or whatever it is that they do.

Samson nodded and mumbled between bites, “Yes. He had to go through training to identify the plants themselves. The Queen is very paranoid.”

Both guys were so busy getting acquainted that they didn’t notice the time. The sun was starting to set causing the sky to light up as if it were on fire. Brilliant reds, oranges, and blues were causing the sky to look as if someone had painted the sky.

Abraham came to the printing tent to fetch Ross, “Hey, Ramona said I need to show you where you are staying.” He helped Ross find his sleeping spot and then he laid down, Ross yawned quietly and started dozing. He was only half asleep when he saw Moisés come in. The young man signed to his brother and Abraham signed back. Moisés went to his sleeping spot, laying down and curling up like a cat. Ross slowly fell asleep and slept soundly the entire night.

By the time morning came around Ross had a terrible ache in his back. He wasn’t used to sleeping on the floor. Ross sat up and let out a hissing noise from the pain. Moisés was sitting up on his bed and signing to Abe. He stopped for a moment and did something weird with his fingers at Ross.

Ross could only assume the guy was asking him if he was okay. So, Ross winced a little, pointed at his back, and acted as if he needed a cane. Apparently, he translated the finger movements correctly because Moisés laughed.

Abe signed to his brother, maybe you can become friends with Ross. Try and teach him some sign. Abe understood his brother’s need for companionship.

Moisés nodded once and then looked at Ross. He patted him on the top of his head and gestured for Ross to follow him. Ross obeyed and Moisés squatted outside in the dirt. He wrote: I can teach you sign language if you’ll teach me how to use the printing press.

That sounded like a good trade to Ross. He nodded, smiled, and gave Moisés thumbs up. The boy held out his hand and they shook on it. Moisés pointed towards the breakfast tent and then did the sign for Breakfast, which Ross mimicked.

Moisés pointed at a potato and then showed Ross the sign for it as they walked down the breakfast line. A scouting group had found a farmer who was friendly towards the rebellion. The man gave them enough potatoes for fried ones. Which was two thirds of the field.

Ross mimicked the sign and the person put more potatoes on his plate. Ross looked down at his plate then back at the person, “Oh, I wasn’t asking for more potatoes. Moisés is teaching me sign language.”

Lillian, the girl behind the line, apologized, “I’m sorry. Hey, all that means is that you get a little more,” She smiled and her eyes crinkled at the corners with her giant smile, “Which sign language is he teaching you? Sisterland Sign or Irish? Moisés knows both.”

Ross blinked owlishly and smiled tentatively, “Sisterland? I think, I wouldn’t really know.” He looked over at Moisés tentatively and smiled.

Lillian took over and asked Moisés, Which sign language are you teaching Ross? Irish or Sisterland? Lillian raised her eyebrows in question and leaned forward slightly.

Moisés handed his plate to Ross and swiftly signed back, Sisterland. More people here use that one. I’ll teach him Irish another time. Moisés beckoned to Ross as he started walking towards his seat. Ross followed him to a table that was easily collapsible. Ross noticed that everyone seemed ready to run at a moment’s notice. Ross had a lot of potatoes and he noticed that the new Brail printer didn’t have as much. Ross pushed the potatoes unto her plate and ignored the curious look she gave him. Ross glanced at Moisés when he saw him waving his hand in Ross’s peripheral vision. The boy pointed at Susan and signed girl. It took Ross a few minutes to figure that sign out.

The moment Ross was finished eating he went to the printing tent. Today he was printing something of substance. It was the Declaration of Independence. Ross showed Moisés how the type had to be placed backwards for the letters to turn out right. Moisés watched with fascination as Ross worked. Moisés started chattering excitedly with his hands, forgetting that Ross couldn’t understand. Which was fine, Ross didn’t mind it.

Samson looked amused as he watched for a few minutes. He didn’t get to watch long before his small sister came up and bonked him on the head with a newspaper, “Hey, you’re supposed to be working!” He rolled his eyes at his sister before starting on his own project. After all, the Constitution of the United States is a very important document.

Meanwhile Abraham was sorting through books and documents that were brought to him by the third group. The last group was sent out to find anything of historical importance. Abe looked up when Ramona came in, “Hey.”

“Hi, where is Moisés?” Ramona asked with curiosity. Usually his brother would help him, which was probably why she was asking, “The last time I saw him was at breakfast.” Ramona started shelving books for Abe so he would have more room to work.

“I think he’s been with Ross all day. Ross has been teaching him how to use the press. Moisés is getting the hang of it, from what Samson tells me,” Abe replied as he squinted at very tiny print, “What is this? A book for gnomes?” Ramona grinned and took the book from him, looking at it herself, “No idea, it’s written in German. You might want to take it to Samson, he will be able to tell you what it is.”

Abraham nodded once before setting it aside, “If I find any more books like that I’ll just take him a stack.” He resumed his work, looking through documents, “Would a book written by Harriet Tubman hold any importance?”

Ramona’s eyes widened and she nodded enthusiastically, “Absolutely. Let me take this to Ruth and she can start printing this one.” Abe handed it to Ramona and she bolted away with it.

Abraham had just started going back to reading when a scout ran through the camp, looking for Ramona. The scout reported to him instead, “The royal soldiers have been spotted. They will be here in twenty minutes.”

Abraham froze for a second with the book in his hand before jumping up, “Quick, alert everyone! We need to tear down this camp and move. Scatter everyone. Make sure Ross and Moisés stay with my group.” Abe sent the scout out and packed all the books neatly in boxes. He did this with the help of little Susan and Zane. They quickly put the boxes in the twelve-passenger van that had been driven up. Tents were put in there and it was sent away with a group to a new safe place.

In ten minutes, they were still not done, Ramona grabbed Ross’s arm and pulled him over, “Would you know where to find a working printing press if we left these?” She was desperate to get going because of how close the soldiers had to be.

“If you keep one I can probably make a smaller one that will work in the same way. Same with the brail machine,” Ross replied calmly. The calm seemed false as every other mannerism showed panic.

Ramona nodded and let go of Ross, turning to Abe, “Everyone, only take one machine per a group. More than that will slow us down.” Then she spun towards Ross, “Do you know how to use a gun?”

“Yes, why?” Ross asked with concern, “What are you planning on doing?” He glanced at Moisés who looked confused. Ramona wasn’t signing and Moisés wasn’t oral. Abe tried to help Moisés by catching him up in the conversation.

“We need to buy them some time,” Ramona said then translated to Moisés. Abraham’s brother nodded once and then went to fetch some guns, “Follow Moisés, please.” Abe was happy for the relief of his duty, but he knew he would have to sign more before the day was out. Moisés needs access to communication. Part of that was signing everything that they could.

Ross nodded once and obeyed. He took a couple guns that were handed to him then blinked in surprise when he was handed a sword. Moisés then placed two packs of bullets in his hands. Ross held up the sword and raised his eyebrows in question. Moisés gave a pained smile and made a swinging motion. He wasn’t sure how to explain it that swords and knives were last ditch attempts at survival.

The two came out of the tent and Storm went in. Storm came back out with two guns, knives, and a sword. When Storm came out Ross asked his question about the sword, “In what situation would I need to use this?”

Storm fastened the sheath on her back and place her sword in it then placed the knives in her boots while she answered him, “The swords and knives are a last-ditch attempt at survival. When we run out of bullets we use them.” Storm straightened up and looked him in the eye, “If we are caught we cannot allow ourselves to survive. So, your sarcastic mouth might help you commit suicide if you need to.”

When they found Ramona, Ross asked, “How big will our group be?” Abe followed close behind with his weapons. Abe picked up a crossbow, a gun, knives, and a sword that was fastened on his back. Abe put the knives in his boots, his gun was fastened to his chest and he was carrying his crossbow. He was very heavily armed.

“Eight of us. Susan, you, Moisés, myself, Storm, Abraham, Samson, and Ruth. You stick near Moisés, we’ll all have to split up. If we make it seem like there are more of us then there actually is, we’ll buy everyone else a lot more time,” After informing Ross of the group size she looked towards the rest of us, “Are you ready? If not, you can go with the other group, no one will judge you for it.”

None of them commented or signed so she said, “Alright, let’s go. Oh, and Ross...” When the boy looked at her she joked, “Try not to be a moose.” Ramona found it entertaining that Ross couldn’t seem to runto save his life.

Ross rolled his eyes at her then went back to walking. Moisés looked amused and Ramona signed what happened the boy laughed. He caught up with Ross and they found their positions.

The woods fell silent as they waited for the royal soldiers. Ross caught one in his sights and aimed his gun while Moisés found another one. This wasn’t going to be pretty. Of course, war is never pretty.

Ramona fired first which set everyone else to pulling their triggers. Moisés only knew what was going on when the guards started to die. The Royal guards took cover behind trees, unknowing that their attackers were constantly moving, giving the impression that they were surrounded. Whenever Ross moved, it only amplified that opinion. The sound of a moose running through the woods isn’t exactly encouraging. Not only are you surrounded by people who want to kill you, you could soon have a large animal trampling you to death.

Ross fired rapidly at the enemy, trying not to think too hard that he was taking lives. Abe watched from the tree as Moisés tackled Ross, signing at him. A bullet had nearly hit the young man and Moisés was telling him to pay attention. Ross, of course, had no idea what Moisés was saying. But he understood the general idea.

The men had figured out that there were not that many of them. The Royal soldiers started fanning out to cover more ground. Abe looked at a guard in time to see Storm hack off his head. It was a gruesome site and caused his stomach to heave. That stopped the fighting for a moment then Storm dove behind a tree as the bullets came towards her. None of them had expected to see a crazy woman with a giant sword.

Storm had run out of bullets, that was the only explanation because she ran out into the fray again. Only this time when she tried to chop off the man’s head, it didn’t quite work. Which, of course, will be left up to the imagination. A couple of knives flew out of the woods and embedded in people’s necks. Ruth came running across the area with her sword and killed someone before diving behind a tree near Storm, who took her place. It seemed to the soldiers that the two women were tag teaming.

Moisés held up two fingers, he had two bullets left. Ross pointed at the general and Moisés nodded. He took aim and fired both bullets. One embedded in the general’s arm and the other in his stomach. The man gasped and fell unto his knees before swinging his gun into a firing position, looking for an unseen enemy.

Ross aimed his gun and went for the head. It was a direct hit and the enemy no longer had a leader. Which, of course, sent them into a panic. Moisés nodded once in approval then pulled out his own sword. Ross decided to do what Ruth did and got his daggers out. Moisés ran out into the fray swinging his sword wide which disemboweled the first soldier he came to. Ross threw one dagger, embedding it into one man’s neck while he used the other dagger to guard Moisés’s back. Ross picked up a dagger that Ruth threw and tossed it to her as she ran out, “Catch!”

Ruth caught the handle but only to swing it and send it flying towards her next target as she darted back behind a tree. Moisés and Ross were soon behind trees near her. They knew that they couldn’t stay out in the open like that for long.

Abe was perched in the tree above their heads and had his crossbow. He aimed and started picking people off while Storm had her revenge. When the Royal soldiers started retreating is when Ramona came around to them all, “It’s time to leave now. Take their guns and one box of ammunition.” Abe jumped out of the tree and followed them as they did what they were told. He didn’t like searching dead bodies. But now that the small army was destroyed they knew that they couldn’t stay there.

They regrouped and fled into the woods. Storm, Ruth, and Moisés were all wounded. Storm was limping a lot but her genetically modified body was pushing the bullet out. It looked terrible, but at least hers could do that. Moisés had a bullet wound in his shoulder so while they were walking Storm was wrapping his wound. She signed to him, when we find a good place to stay for the night I will try and fix your arm. Moisés nodded once in reply then winced a bit when Storm tugged on the wrap to make sure that it stayed on.

While they walked, Abe took this time to study our new companion. He had talked to him, seen him, but hadn’t really paid attention to his appearance. He was a few inches taller than Abe’s five foot six, had red hair, and hazel eyes. He had a wiry build but he wasn’t used to the woods, which was obvious in the way he walked. Any workouts he did was probably in a government sanctioned gym.

Abe heard a scary ‘click’ and he knew someone was in trouble. Samson said in a steady voice, “They planted a bomb.” At the last part, his voice trembled, “I stepped on a pressure land mine. If I step off...” The big Asian guy glanced back at everyone else, fear evident on his face.

Ross walked over carefully and looked at the landmine, “Are you sure it’s active?” He was handling this with a cold calculating manner. Why? He probably wanted to detach himself from the situation.

“Of course, I’m not sure,” Samson said peevishly, “How would I know? I’m not the one that planted it.” He trembled as he glanced back at Ross. The redhead was now crawling around on the ground around Samson’s feet. There was no way of knowing if it was a live landmine or not, but Ross seemed to be trying to make him feel better.

“What do we do?” Susan asked in a small timid voice. Her emerald eyes grew to the size of saucers when she realized they might have to leave Samson behind. Samson couldn’t come with them if they thought the landmine was still active. It would rip him and anyone near him to pieces.

Ramona looked at Samson, “Are you okay with us leaving you behind? Once we are far enough away you can step off of the landmine.” She pulled her red hair back out of her face. To Ross it looked like she just wanted her hair out of her face. To Abe and Moses; they knew it meant she was nervous or unsure of making that decision. She didn’t like making hard decisions.

Samson nodded, “Yes. Make sure you are all safe.” He glanced at his sister and added, “And keep her stable.” Ruth got as close to Samson as she dared and laid her arm on his shoulder in a hug. Samson’s throat moved as he swallowed, trying to contain his emotions. He knew he was going to die but he also knew he had to pretend like everything was okay.

Abe walked up and patted Samson on the shoulder, “I’ll try and keep her from doing anything crazy. We love you.” He had no issues with saying he loved people as a friend. Other guys get very uneasy when another guy says they love them. Samson knew Abe for a while though so he just nodded. He understood that it wasn’t meant to be weird.


When they had walked far enough away Samson started to panic. He looked down at where his foot was on the landmine. Maybe it wouldn’t explode, maybe he would be okay. Samson could still walk away from this. He could see his sister and the sweet little Brail Printer again. He started to sweat as he considered the implications of the explosion. He would probably be ripped apart. If he didn’t die immediately it would be slow and painful.

“I don’t want to die.” And with that he stepped off the landmine, causing an explosion that reverberated throughout the woods and tore some trees apart. Samson felt a moment of pain then the world faded away into light.


They were pretty far away when the explosion went off. Abe held still and closed his eyes, trying not to think about it before walking again. Moisés had felt the ground tremble and he glanced at Abe, concern all over his face.

When Ruth heard the explosion, she stiffened. The girl decided that she didn’t hear an explosion that killed her brother. It was simply a bomb that had dropped in the forest. She lied to herself in this way until they set up camp.

Ruth looked up from her job of finding wood with Ross and asked, “When do you think Samson is coming back?”

Ross froze like a deer in headlights, “Ruth, I don’t think Samson is coming back.” His hazel eyes darted away from Ruth as he picked up more wood. He had taken a few more steps before he realized Ruth wasn’t following. Ross looked back over his shoulder at Ruth and saw she was holding very still, “Ruth?”

“My brother is too strong to die,” Ruth insisted in a trembling voice, “He didn’t die. He got away before it exploded.” Tears were starting to come up in her eyes. She knew what Ross said was the truth, but she would rather act like it wasn’t.

“Ruth, go back and rest. Send Moisés to help me. It isn’t a good idea for you to be helping me right now,” Ross said gently. Ruth nodded and wandered away. A few minutes later Moisés came and started picking up wood. The Deaf boy looked very sad but he did his work. He had liked Samson a lot, out of everyone in the camp Samson pursued sign language more persistently than any of them. Sometimes Moisés would be woken up with Samson firing away questions in sign language about the language. His exuberance had always been encouraging.

Ross tapped Moses on the shoulder and signed, I’m sorry for your lost women. Moisés burst into laughter as he picked up wood. Ross had no idea what he just said, but he guessed that it was wrong. The insane laughter was a pretty big indication that he had said something wrong.

Ramona looked up when she heard hysterical laughter. She watched as Moisés stumbled back into camp, laughing so hard he was crying. She signed, Do I need to call an ambulance? Moisés only laughed harder and didn’t sign anything.

Ross came out next looking very confused, “I don’t know what I signed, but he hasn’t stopped laughing for ten minutes.” He saw Moisés repeat what Ross signed to Ramona. Ross put the wood down by the place where they would start the fire

The girl looked at Ross then burst into laughter. And no one would explain to him what he said wrong. Susan, who was setting up a sleeping spot, looked at Ross, “Why are they laughing?”

“I wish I knew,” Ross replied with a smile. He looked at Abe with desperation so he came over to explain.

“You said I’m sorry for your lost women. Did you mean to add the last part?” Abe felt amused as he asked the question. Despite the sorrow, Ross’s bumbling caused some mirth.

“No...I hadn’t realized I signed the last part,” He felt a little amused by his own mistake, “At least I know why he started laughing like that.” Ross looked around the camp and realized he hadn’t seen Ruth, “Where is Ruth?”

“She came and told Moisés to help you then she walked off in the woods. Why?” Abraham asked curiously. Ruth had seemed fine when she walked away, he couldn’t imagine why Ross was acting worried.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe just that she is in denial, is depressed, and didn’t seem okay when she left,” Sarcasm was evident in his voice. Ross crossed his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow at Abraham.

“Really? She seemed fine when she came through the camp,” Abe’s forehead wrinkled in confusion. He looked at Moisés and signed about Ruth. Moisés shrugged and also started to look worried.

Susan said quietly, “She took a gun with her. I thought she was going hunting.” The young girl now looked terrified, “I don’t think she is going hunting.” Susan’s mind went to the worst possible conclusion which was, unfortunately, the most likely conclusion.

“Yeah she is. I’m sure she is going hunting for royal guards,” Storm jumped in the conversation, “Did you really think Ruth would be okay with her brother’s death?” The women snorted, “You are fooling yourselves.”

“Not everyone is you, Storm,” Ramona interrupted, “It is possible that she is going hunting. But right now we really need to be worried about her committing suicide. Samson kept her stable.” She rubbed her hands over her face tiredly, “Abe and Storm, could you please go find Ruth? If she is going to do what I think she is going to do...” Ramona sighed heavily, “Do what you need to in order to stop her. Storm, that does not mean shoot her. Tackle her if you are forced to.”

Abe nodded then picked up one pistol and brass knuckles. Ruth wasn’t weak and if she wanted to commit suicide he needed to be prepared to brake a bone or two to keep that from happening. Storm looked disturbed by the fact Abe was arming himself. Storm didn’t bring any weapons, saying, “I don’t need a weapon for a suicidal person. Besides, Ruth could use you for the suicide object.”

Abe sincerely hoped that wasn’t her intention. If they were going to end up being used to help her commit suicide he wouldn’t keep the weapons, he would try and subdue her without them. That would probably be best anyways.

Ruth stopped near the tree, looking down at her gun and started talking to herself, “What am I going to do without Samson? He was my rock. He kept me from retreating into my mind. What am I supposed to do now?” Ruth closed her eyes tightly, “I don’t want to be alive if Samson can’t be here.”

That is how Storm found Ruth, standing there and looking at the gun. Storm walked up slowly, “Ruth, give me the gun.” She could see exactly what Ruth was thinking, “Samson wouldn’t want this. He would want you to live.”

“I can’t do it anymore,” Ruth’s voice cracked as her grip tightened on the gun, “I can’t keep pretending I am okay. I saw the Guard kill my family, they left me and Samson alive, and now I’m the only one left. I can’t keep running.”

“And something’s got to give, right? Don’t kill yourself, it only proves that they can win,” Storm inched closer and eyed Ruth’s gun hand, “We can’t let them win.” When Storm was in front of her, she reached out and slowly edged the gun away from Ruth, “That’s right. It’s okay.” Storm gently encircled her in a hug, “You can cry.”

Ruth felt something give and she cried gently at first then it turned into ugly tears. She clung to Storm as if she were in a raging ocean and was the only thing keeping her from drowning. The motherly, yet aggressive, women changed to being gentle for Ruth. When Abraham found them, she pointed at him, “If you tell anyone about this, I’ll tear out your insides.”

Abe held up his hands in surrender, “I wouldn’t dream of it.” He walked away from them. Storm could be nice if she wanted to. Ruth knew they were wondering when she would crack. She wondered when she would finally lose her mind. Ruth’s dreams tormented her and when she woke up it felt as if she had woken up to a nightmare. She had no relief from sleep and no relief from being awake. People can only take so much before they go insane.

Storm suddenly froze and covered Ruth’s mouth, “Shhh…” She looked around the area, her eyes scanning the forest, “I thought I heard Walter.” A few minutes later they heard a shout, laughter, and finally Walter’s voice, “They were here, I saw them!”

Ruth’s eyes grew huge and she pulled away from Storm, “We need to tell the others!” She bolted away and Storm was close behind her. They both went as silently as they could in the forest hoping to not attract too much attention from Walter and the crew. When they got back Ruth blurted out, “Walter is here! He must’ve seen the carnage we left behind and followed us!”

Ramona groaned and then stood up from where she was sitting, “He is a psychopath.” She picked up her gun and other weapons then they all fled. Moisés looked exhausted so Ross stayed near him. Just in case the guy fell over, which looked entirely possible.

A bullet slammed into a tree next to Moisés, causing the bark to fly off of it and hit him. Moisés yelped, veering away from it. He signed rapidly at Ramona and the two split away from each other. Storm ran off while Ruth went with Ramona. Abraham steered Ross and Susan towards Moisés. Ross asked Abraham, “Why are we splitting up?” Splitting up seemed like the queen mother of all bad ideas.

“Storm is good at picking people off, if we can separate their own group, we have a better chance at getting away,” Abe answered, his voice surprisingly steady despite the distance they were running. As they were running Ruth heard a shot and Susan made a yelping noise. Ruth heard some underbrush crashing and then Storm jumped on the back of one of Walter’s men that was about to cut them off. Storm stabbed the man she was on in the back of the neck then took two shots at the man who was after them, jumped in front of Moisés and pointed in a different direction, the boy immediately obeyed and everyone else followed.

Storm ran back into the woods, stalking around the area. She ducked behind a tree as she waited for the man to come in line with the tree. She gripped the dagger loosely and as soon as the man came in sight she drove the dagger into his knee and sliced across his throat. Then she pulled the dagger out of his knee and sprinted across the area. Storm felt like she was being watched and dove behind a tree moments before the gun fired. She pulled out her own pistol and creeped around the tree, fired a couple shots and the person went down. Storm walked over to the guy and rolled him over. He looked vaguely familiar but Storm didn’t question it. Ramona and Ruth started looking for a place to stay for the night. They needed to find a place before sundown and find one that was far enough away from where Storm was slaughtering people.

Storm finally found her way back to the group. They would probably be whining, “Oh, Storm left me.” and “Why does Storm do this to us?” Whiner babies. Storm trudged her way through the woods, following the carnage Ross left behind. He really, really, needed to learn how to run. A person with armature tracking skills could have found them. When Storm found them, Ross was leaning over with his hands on his knees and panting. Moisés was mocking him routinely, adding a bit of comedy to the situation. Laughter was coming out of Susan as Abraham translated, “What a weak man you are. Do I need to get you a cane, old man?” Abe was trying not to laugh and failing, “How old are you? Eighty?” Ross gave Moisés a look and decided to be immature. He stuck his tongue out and crossed his eyes at Moisés.

Storm stopped near them and tilted her head, “So, I’ve decided that when we get a break we’re doing a boot camp with Ross. He really needs to learn how to run,” Storm rubbed her blood-stained hands on her pants, “Anywho, we need to start walking. We’ve probably kept Walter from getting any closer. But we’ve got to catch up to Ramona and Ruth. They’re probably already in Toledo by now.”

Now Storm had to find the girls, they were much harder to track. She huffed as she walked around in circles, her face turned towards the ground, “Ross was far easier to track.” Ross wasn’t sure if he should be offended by that or not. He decided he shouldn’t be offended, just mildly confused. Moisés pointed at Ross and signed that he was crazy. Ross understood that and playfully pushed Moisés. Moisés chortled and hopped away from Ross.

Storm muttered to herself, “Armatures.” She noticed that the tracks were all over the place, the evidence of where they had been being confused. They were hiding their tracks, she had to tap into her genetically modified part. Her pupils dilated as it sorted through real and fake.

Moisés hopped around in place, showing an impressive amount of energy. He stopped next to Susan and poked her playfully, Susan looked up at the seventeen-year-old with a smile, she thought he had needed something. Moisés crossed his eyes at her and caused Susan to giggle.

Storm perked up; the real trail was glowing red, “Ah ha!” She trotted off towards the west like a hound dog and the others bolted after her. Storm walked right up to a cave and peered in, “Hello?” She was pretty sure it was Ramona and Ruth but she didn’t want to be wrong about that.

Ramona came out slowly then brightened up at the sight of them, “Hey! We found a place to stay the night.” She yawned and rubbed her hands over her eyes, “Do you think we are far enough away, Storm?” Ramona dropped her hands back to her sides while waiting for Storm’s answer. She knew if she rubbed her eyes too much they would start to hurt, which would lead to the lack of sight, which would lead to watering eyes.

“I think Walter is nursing his wounds, so I believe we are safe for the time being,” Storm answered, also in a tired voice. She was done for today, she had to sleep this off. Plus, the tapping into her ability was tiring, it drained a lot of energy. It was one of the main reasons for her not using it.

“Before you even think about going to bed, go to the river and wash your hands,” Ramona ordered unconvincingly. She looked too tired to be bossing people around. Ramona yawned again, making herself even more unconvincing.

Storm shrugged, “Whatever.” She walked towards the river quietly and Susan followed her. Susan had taken to following Storm around like a lost puppy. She looked back at the kid with a smile, “You coming?”

Susan smiled brightly as she replied, “Right behind you,” then she walked faster so she could catch up to Storm, she didn’t want to be left behind on accident.

Moisés picked up Ramona and made the girl screech, he knew she screeched because he felt her lungs take in a deep breath then let out fast. He laughed, putting her down, then ran away.

“What is his deal? He isn’t usually that hyper,” Ramona said exasperatedly. She dodged away from Moisés when he started poking her in the ribs. He had seen her mouth moving and assumed she was talking about him. She looked at Moisés and signed aggressively, Go torment Storm. Push her in the water.

But I want to live, Moisés replied with a teasing grin. Moisés stood by Ross then scooted sideways towards him. Ross eyed him suspiciously and braced to run, Moisés held back laughter as he attempted a look of innocents.

Abraham looked amused then walked into the cave, “Ross, you and Moisés can go fetch Storm and Susan. I’ll start re-hydrating food.”

Moisés looked at his brother, eyebrows wrinkling, Abe hadn’t translated for him. He allowed myself to make a frustrated noise and Abe quickly translated, then Moisés grinned and looked at Ross with mischief.

Ross took that as an excuse and bolted away from Moisés and towards the river, Moisés followed calmly then watched as Ross tripped and fell into the river. He laughed and then walked to the edge to pull his friend out. Ross sputtered as he allowed himself to be dragged into a standing position, giving Moisés the hairy eyeball. Storm signed with a dry expression, He is beauty, he is grace, he will fall in the lake.

Moisés laughed as he patted the coughing Ross on the back. Ross huffed and said, “I am clumsy! Why?” Storm interpreted it for Moisés, causing him to laugh again. Moisés signed, Because your body and limbs like to rebel.

Susan giggled as she watched them, her little body was shaking indicating laughter. They seemed to be very entertaining to her, Susan ran back to the cave, probably because she was hungry. Ross brought Moisés and Storm back to the cave. Ross attempted to avoid Moisés because he knew that he would probably be tormented.

Storm eventually picked Moisés up, threw him over her shoulder, and spun around like a top. Moisés made a funny noise and squirmed then Storm set him down and watched as he stumbled around. Moisés chortled as he grabbed Ross’s shoulder for stability. He had a thought, in war you can have moments of joy, sorrow, conflict, stress, tension, then joy again. Even though you are being put through the wringer, you find out what people are made of. From what Moisés could tell, the people he was with were made of stronger stuff. Moisés stumbled into the cave causing Ramona to raise an eyebrow. Ramona asked Storm, “What happened? Did you find fermented berries or something?”

Storm shrugged and deadpanned, “Wouldn’t you like to know?” She was laughing inside as she walked to get some food. Ramona had a very suspicious expression, not quite sure if the girl was making a joke or if they actually did find fermented berries.

Moisés glanced from Storm to Ramona, feeling left out of the conversation. Sometimes he wished he could have learned to lip read. Then he could at least have an idea of what they were talking about. But he had tried to learn for years and could never pick it up.

Soon they were all eating the food they had brought with them, which wasn’t very tasty. Despite being so far ‘ahead’ in the future, they still couldn’t find a way to make dehydrated food taste good. Storm made a comment about this, “We are supposed to be such an advanced culture,” sarcasm dripped off of every word, “Yet we still can’t come up with a fascinating scientific discovery that could make this crap taste good.”

“In my experience, crap never tastes good,” Abe said with an innocent expression. Susan choked on her food as she giggled and Ross thumped her back, trying to help. Which wasn’t very helpful but the girl managed to swallow without needing the Heimlich maneuver.

Moisés glanced at them again, setting his chin on his fist. He was too tired to insist on being let in on the conversation so he slowly allowed himself to become a wallflower, again. He didn’t like being left out but asking people to repeat things over and over grew exhausting. He also didn’t like to feel like a burden even though none of them thought of him that way. “Thank you for that image, Abraham,” Ramona commented tiredly. She finished her food, yawned, and flopped over on her side. Which turned out to be a bad choice, she made a pain noise, “Why?”

“Because you made a bad decision. The floor isn’t a feather bed, as a rule,” Ross said with amusement then ducked when Ramona threw a pebble at him. In a couple hours everything was cleaned up and the residents of the cave were getting tired. Ramona was snoring like a saw while the others were getting ready to sleep, the guys pretty much slept in a pile on the ground, Moisés had his head on Abraham’s stomach and Ross had his head on Moisés stomach. That is, until Abraham farted, then Ross and Moisés flopped away from him while Ross made dramatic gagging noises. Moisés signed just as dramatically, do you want to kill us?! I knew that it would come to this.

Storm growled from her side of the cave, “You are all freaks.” She opened one eye as she grumbled about her lot in life, “Every last one of you, I swear it.” Moisés grinned when Storm glared at them, He didn’t need to hear her to be aware of her displeasure, it was clearly written on her face.

Storm was having a beautiful sleep and she was dreaming about being in a safe place. She thought it was her mother’s womb but she couldn’t be certain. She knew it was dark, warm, and safe. Then she was woken up by Ruth and was returned to reality. Much like how a baby is born actually. Storm did not wake up easily; she growled and rolled over when Ruth nudged Storm with her foot. Susan backed up and took a running leap, tackling her, rolling over her, and kept moving. Storm jumped up and went into a combat position, when she realized she was in no danger she felt a little irritated, “Why was I woken up?”

“It’s your turn for watch. I need to go to sleep,” Ruth said with a yawn. She walked away with Susan close behind and they got Ramona up. They walked away and found a spot in the cave to sleep in that was far enough away from the boys to not be bothered by them.

Storm said in a high pitch voice mock, “Because we are princesses we need our beauty sleep. Storm is too deformed for beauty sleep to help her.” She ignored the pebble that smacked her in the back of the head, she’d let them live.

Ramona giggled as she followed Storm, she sat down across the cave entrance from Storm and stared out into the night, the moon was full and gave her enough light to see across the forest, the night was beautiful and the stars were twinkling brightly. Unfortunately that also made the night cold, so by morning the entire group was sleeping in a tight group. All the girls in one group and all the guys in the other group. That is, until Abraham made a stinky and rude noise, then Moisés and Ross would end up far away from him.

Storm found them all adorable when they were sleeping, they weren’t bothering her so they were adorable. Ross was adorable when he was asleep, the reason being because his mouth is shut. If he isn’t talking, he is adorable. Storm loved all these idiots even if they were weirdos, she huffed to herself as she allowed her eyes to adjust to the dark, Ross’s watch was next and then she could sleep again.

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