The free trader of warren deep (free trader series book 1)

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The Free Trader of Warren Deep

 

Free Trader SeriesBook 1

 

By Craig Martelle

 

Copyright © 2016 Craig Martelle

All rights reserved.

 

ISBN-13: 978-1530179299

ISBN-10: 1530179297

 

ASIN: B01CDFYFE6

 

For my friend Bill Rough 

 

 

 

Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

1 - Ass

2 –Binghamton

3 - Detour

4 – A New Goal

5 – A New Plan

6 – Cameron

7 – Upset the Trade

8 - Jail

9 – Run!

10 – Not Going

11 – Good Hunt, Bad Hunt

12 – Smoked Venison

13 – A Cold-water Surprise

14 –Like an Eagle

15 – The Hawkoid

16 – Grasslands

17 –‘They come’

18 – Now They’re Three

19 – Lift the Dark Cloud

20 - Saffrimander

21 – Running from the Fight

22 – The Caravan Rests

23 – Heading South

24 – Other Hawkoids

25 – Hawkoid Disdain

26 – The Camp before the Storm

27 – Bonding

28 – The Pain of the Great Desert

29 – Healing Time

30 – The Plunge

31 – Into the Great Desert

32 – Moment of Truth

33 – Half Way

34 – The Tortoid

35 – A Rough Night

36 - No More Water For You

37 – Tonight’s the Night

38 – Preparing for the Oasis

39 – Just a Scratch

40 – The Oasis Pacified

41 – It Sucks

42 – The Lake

43 – Development Unit

44 – Distance Check

45 – Moving On

46 – Oasis Zero Two

47 - Restored

48 - Hope

49 – Oasis Zero One

50 – Dinner Awaits

51 – Repair Shed

52 – A Venison Meat Pie, Please

53 – Masters of Water

54 - Feeding

55 – Get Up

56 – Puke

57 - Endless Questions

58 - Maps

59 – Feeling Bad

60 – Leaving the Great Desert Behind

61 – She’s Hungry

62 - Micah

63 – Dinner Tales

64 – The New Caravan

65 – Everyone Adds Strength

66 – You Really Should Have Talked

67 – He’s a Pig

68 – Freedom’s Taste

69 – Helping the Village

70 – Introducing a Friend

71 – Villagers Prepare

72 – The Road

73 – The Lizard Men

74 – A Celebration Like No Other

75 – Safe Now, Safe Forever

76 – Too Much Power

77 – A New Oasis

78 – What To Do

79 – All Of Us

80 – Where You Go, We Follow

81 – Nothing to Fear, Everything to Fear

82 – Everything to Fear, Nothing to Fear

83 – Leave or Stay?

The Wrap

The Free Trader of Planet Vii

1 – The Companions

2 – The Power of Old Tech

3 – Back to the Oasis

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

 

This journey started a long time ago when my brother Guy bought me the original Dungeons and Dragons®boxed set.  This was early in TSR®’s existence, so we had to build our own dungeons, run our own campaigns. Then I attended GenCon in 1979 where I met James M. Ward. I bought Metamorphosis Alpha™ and Gamma World™.

I could never get my head wrapped around The Force from the Star Wars ‘verse or other fantasy magic systems. I never played a wizard in D&D®. I just can’t do the magic stuff.

I like the bio-engineered approach, the lost high-tech of modern worlds. Is there an Atlantis? Once I saw MA and GW, I was hooked. I read Aldiss & Heinlein. Post-Apocalyptic became my favorite genre.

Thank you James for inspiring this world and Guy for introducing me.

I also want to thank my good friend Bill Rough who is always there whenever I need a sanity check. This was the first sci-fi novel he’s ever read and he did it to help me out. He is the wisest man I know.

My better half Wendy had a great deal of input on the characters of this story. She was quick with ideas for what kind of animals she’d like to see and how she felt they could contribute. She wanted a companion snake, but I couldn’t do it. Snakes creep me out. We live in Fairbanks, Alaska, where there are no snakes.

 

 

 

 

1 - Ass

 

‘Ass!’

“You are such an ass!” Braden lay by the fire in the blanket he’d been using since he was a child. The young man’s long braid wrapped around his neck like a scarf. He looked at the Hillcat, a scowl darkening his face.

‘It makes noises but no sense,’the ‘cat responded over their mindlink.

When he was a child, Braden saved a Hillcat kitten from drowning. At that moment they bonded. Instantly, Braden knew he had a lifelong partner. Many called the joining the ultimate pairing of friendship and joy.

It hadn’t taken long before Braden’s bond with the ‘cat felt like the relationship his parents had. Together their entire adult lives - annoyance, bickering, surrender, friendship, then more bickering, intertwined throughout was a fierce loyalty. The old man would say anything about his partner, but if anyone else said something, the fight was on. Braden called the ‘cat an ass ten times a turn of the sun, but they fought their enemies together. They were there for each other.

And so it was, the relationship between a Hillcat called Golden Warrior of the Stone Cliffs, or simply G-War as Braden called him. The Hillcat had his own name, but even after ten cycles of the seasons, he hadn’t told Braden what it was. He insisted that Braden wasn’t mature enough to know his true ‘cat name.

As Braden glared at the ‘cat, G-War raised one paw in his mocking way of giving Braden the finger. The ‘cat turned around a couple times, sniffing the air, then faced away from the young man and dropped to the ground. G-War’s head was up, sphinxlike, his eyes closed. The ‘cat cut their link.

The ‘cat always listened in on Braden’s thoughts, but Braden only ‘heard’ what the ‘cat wanted him to hear.

“I hate it when you do that,” Braden retorted, but knew that he could sleep now, without fear of surprise, as he did every night when the 'cat watched over him. Without G-War, Braden would have never survived his life as a Free Trader in Warren Deep.

 

 

2 –Binghamton

 

Braden always stopped where he could take a look, see how things were before he entered a community. Binghamton was hit or miss. Sometimes it was the best place to trade, other times, it was a great place to avoid.

Braden nudged his team of two water buffalo to a halt. He climbed down from the buckboard and walked to a small rise on the side of the road. He crawled the final few feet, not wanting to highlight himself. He took out his telescope, a gift from his father, nothing more than rough hide rolled with polished glass set at both ends, and scanned the road in front of him. He stopped at the collection of buildings that made up Binghamton. He looked from one to the other, not seeing any activity aside from the market square.

In the central square where the traders conducted their business, people gathered. Braden didn’t see any traders or their stalls. Everyone watched what looked to be a lynching. One person, probably a man, stood on a block of wood under a makeshift tripod, his hands behind him. Braden thought he could make out a rope tied to the man’s neck.

“Hey! Come over here,” Braden said to G-War.

‘So my name is Hey? Is it giving me a new name?’ Braden was never surprised how the ‘cat fixated on the trivial, when Braden was serious. He set himself up for it every time.

“Could you please come over here and take a look at this? I would like to know what you think.” Braden’s voice was laced with sarcasm. He even bowed slightly, as much as he could from his position on the ground.

The ‘cat padded lightly from under the wagon. He had been enjoying the shade. He stopped half way there and squatted. Braden wrinkled his nose. He would never get used to the smell of ‘cat pee.

‘If that’s what it wanted, why didn’t it just say so in the first place? It knows how I love to say yes to its distractions.’

“Ass,” Braden said under his breath. He knew the ‘cat heard him. It heard everything. It saw everything.

G-War pinned his ears against his head as he crouched and looked over the rise.

He soon changed his position to sitting, with his ears up. He was longer than a man’s arm, not counting his tail, and had a slightly oversized head, necessary to hold a large mouth of spiked teeth and two sharp fangs. People not paired had an innate fear of Hillcats. Braden always warned potential customers to keep their dogs inside. G-War had a tendency to go after them if they barked at him. For anyone who saw a Hillcat make a kill, they would never forget the ferocity of it.

‘So the humans are killing another human. What of it?’

“But why?” Braden asked, expecting the ‘cat to have an opinion.

‘He cheated them, or so they think.’

“Did he?” Braden knew that the ‘cat could touch other minds on occasion, especially when a person was distraught. It made sense that the man’s thoughts were coming through loud and clear.

‘No.’With that, G-War took a particular interest in licking his paw, then using it to groom the fur around one ear.

“That’s it? No?” He asked, hoping for more. No answer. “Do you think we should go down there?”

G-War stopped his grooming, looked back at the town briefly, and then turned to pad back to the wagon.‘No.’

He didn’t think so, either. If Binghamton took to killing traders for a simple case of mistaken cheating, then he wanted no part of it. Braden would miss trading with them though. Binghamton made for a nice way point. There was always something they needed and something they had that could be traded elsewhere at a nice profit.

“Oh, well.” Braden took one last look through his telescope. “Let’s get outta here.” Braden turned his team around, facing them away from Binghamton before he climbed aboard. What he saw bothered him. Not death. He’d seen plenty of that, probably too much in his twenty cycles on the planet. What bothered him was how a town could unite against a trader. When he passed that word, no other traders would go there.

Traders were the life-link between the communities of Warren Deep. Binghamton just cut itself off from the rest of humanity.

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