We were making our plans on what to take along on our jump to Bennett Springs. Ben and Lars both agreed it would be good for Bobby to venture out with me and, when I said I would feel better if Cole went with us for protection, they saw the merit in that. Suddenly a cry for help was projected into our heads from Sarah along with a location to jump to. Cole grabbed the compound bow sitting on the supplies and jumped with Jesse and Ben. I ran to grab two more bows and the quivers of arrows and jumped with Lars.
Sarah was standing alone in the meadow she projected to us. She was white as a sheet. She thought “They’re gone. They’re all gone. Like they were never there. I was supposed to meet Tom at their home today and when I got there it was cleaned out. Come, I’ll show you.” I handed the bows I brought to Ben and Jesse and we followed Sarah. Cole and Ben both froze and dropped their veils after the first few steps. The rest of us followed suit. There was a presence just barely discernable nearby. We waited until Jonathan stepped forward and approached us open handed. Ben and I uncloaked and stepped forward to meet him while the rest stayed hidden.
He was dressed as I had seen him last week when he was watching our meeting. He thought “Best to stay away from their home just now. I didn’t see who took them, but it wasn’t the first time this has happened to them. I hope you folks weren’t planning on joining with them, because I believe they are allowed to live here as bait for a government trap. Oh, I’ve known all along that they were bait and I never allowed them to see where I live. They were waiting for a larger catch to come along before springing the trap. I figured to warn you all before you met with them this weekend.”
Then he looked straight at me. “I watched you watching the goin’s on last Saturday before I let you see me. Then I changed positions and watched the rest of the show. I’m real sorry the young lady is caught in the middle of this. I’m not sure why they were all taken away, but young Tom had been arguing with Jacob and the others and I fear he may be in trouble with the authorities for it.” This last he directed at the rest of us as Cole, Jesse, Sarah and Lars uncloaked and stepped forward.
Ben reached out to shake his hand and they both spent a long moment staring into each other’s eyes. When they released their grip, they both sat down on a nearby log and Ben lit up his “thinking pipe” as we all thought of it. As the smoke circled his head he thought “Is there a chance that Tom might be culled from this group? That is if we can find them.”
Jonathan thought back “I’ve watched the entire group for a long time and I have always thought that Tom was cut from a different cloth. They always called him their nephew, but they treated him like a servant. I think they took him in as a young boy and raised him to do their chores. They didn’t even let him in on where their supplies were coming from. That’s one of the reasons I believe he deserves rescuing.”
“That’s something that we have all been wondering about” I thought. “Just how are they surviving when none of them hunts or fishes or farms?”
“They get their supplies jumped in to them weekly. Unknown to him, I followed Jacob there one time and saw the large pallet of food and dry goods. There are two men who jump it in to the same spot every week. Sometimes they wait for Jacob to show up, but mostly they leave after they drop the crates. If you want, we could set up an ambush there and find out where they have taken Tom. That is if the rest of the group comes back without him.” And with that he got quiet and motioned us to be still. “Feel that? They’re coming home.”
We dropped our veils and followed Jonathan’s lead. He led us around and down a dry wash to the edge of a clearing. We dropped down on our bellies and watched as one by one they appeared in the meadow. All accounted for, with the exception of Tom. I could feel Sarah trembling beside me and took her hand in mine. I felt her start as the last two men arrived. They obviously were not part of the original “family”. Soldiers have a certain look about them even when they are in civilian clothes. They “escorted” the group across the meadow and down a trail on the other side.
We stayed put for a few minutes before Jonathan showed a location in his thoughts with a “Follow me”. We all jumped with him to a hillside about a mile away. We followed as he disappeared into the face of a cliff. There was a small opening behind some boulders that looked like they had fallen from above naturally. As we walked down the path in the cave we saw light coming from somewhere around the next bend. We turned the corner into the most beautiful cavern cut into the face of the cliff with a waterfall covering the entire face of it. The daylight filtered through the water and made wonderful changing patterns of lights on the walls, floor and ceiling of the cave.
“Welcome to my home” said Jonathan as he watched us appreciating the light show. “It gets a little loud, but I have gotten used to it.” He gave us the grand tour of his hideaway and it was obvious that no one else had ever been here. He had even rigged up a refrigerator that consisted of an old metal cooler floating on the edge of the spring water. The far end of the cavern had a hollowed out chamber that held his bed. A petrified piece of drift wood for a table and a single stump for a chair, he was as much at home here as we were in our home.
Our home. Ben looked at each of us and we all nodded in agreement. “Jonathan we would like you to jump with us to our home. There are more of us involved and we would need to have everyone’s input before we take on any rescue attempt.”
He nodded and thought “I figured as much. Let’s go”
And we jumped home to have a council of war.