The wind howled through the trees, high above the cabins, and the temperature had the residents of the Bass Lake compound shivering and rushing to unearth jackets, gloves, and hats. It was a tangible reminder their adventure which began in the mild days of late spring had now consumed the entire summer. Crews insulated and heated all the cabins when it became clear the temporary relocation would extend indefinitely.
More land had been cleared and additional cabins built to house the rest of the Star Guides and their families. Some provided communal living for families with younger children and were equipped with kitchens. Even so, two more mess halls had been erected at the Bass Lake compound since all adult residents and most of the teenagers were actively involved in research, training or security.
Classrooms and nurseries were erected and staffed to accommodate children not yet old enough to exhibit any Gifts. Shared meals served as an informal arena to exchange information. They also kept time lost to unproductive activities like meal preparation to a minimum by rotating the chore. Classrooms would soon do double duty to ensure the teens who were currently honing their Gifts didn’t fall behind in State mandated studies. High school and college classes were set to begin in a few weeks. Many would take advantage of the state-of-the-art computer system Kyra and her team had designed and implemented.
Heaters had recently been installed in all the cabins, but each mess hall housed a fireplace large enough to roast an entire boar. The fires burning in their fireplaces kept the football field sized buildings comfortable without the need for artificial heating. The rooms were occupied almost 24/7 as meetings were held at all hours. White boards covered the walls and were constantly updated as new discoveries were made. A timeline was slowly taking shape which demonstrated the length and depth of Hightower and his partners’ influence over the Star Guides’ Council. Yet large gaps remained. Who was Hightower working with? Why were they working together? What were they trying to accomplish, and most important, where was their base of operations?
Every answer produced dozens more questions, and each question was no less critical than the ones which came before. Each day brought them closer to figuring out the answers to the original questions and a few of the newer ones. Navigating the convoluted history Hightower and his friends had created was proving to be a painfully slow process despite the shortcuts Kyra and her computer gurus had developed. The amount of time which passed without definite answers could have made the tension in the camps unbearable but for the efforts of those whose Talents included maintaining a sense of calm in the face of adversity.
Fortunately, the Guardian trainees had all moved to another compound, or maintaining the sense of calm might have proven impossible. Since they had yet to determine what kind of action would be needed, those inclined to act rather than analyze data were frustrated by the enforced idleness. Those involved in researching and analyzing knew they would have a part to play when the endless discussions finally led to the inevitable actions. At times, the lack of knowing sent imaginations into overdrive, compounding the tension and shortening tempers.
Training had intensified as the instructors tried to prepare the students for anything they might encounter. By now, everyone was proficient in teleportation and telepathy and had moved on to perfecting their individual skills and Talents, often without the help of instructors who were baffled by abilities they’d never seen.
The energy sample Sasha had obtained on her last visit to Adamsville proved extremely useful. Tess was able to identify Hightower’s energy signature in the polluted ley lines. Efforts to isolate it further to determine whether he was solely responsible for that pollution or had help were progressing, but too slowly. Sasha and Mariel completed another search for his energy signature in ley lines extending outward from Adamsville with limited success. Hightower was a master at masking his activities, so his energy signature often dissolved, as if they’d only imagined it was there in the first place.
They sat cross-legged, facing each other on Mariel’s bed, faces tight with frustration. That they were able to contain it and continue working was a testament to how much they’d matured in the last few months. They’d taken on adult responsibilities and adult worries, and now knew almost as much as their parents about the clues they needed to solve the growing list of puzzles. Although they were still learning the whys, they had accepted the importance of finding what they were looking for soon; instinctively understanding time was running out.
Bundling themselves into parkas and fur-lined boots, they set off to find Kyra to see if she had any more information about the person or people they were looking for. They needed to narrow down their search for the ley lines they knew either began or ended in Adamsville but lacked a critical piece of information. The trouble was, they had no idea what that piece might be. Because they knew little about who they were dealing with or what they were capable of, they had been forced to search for the energy signature from what their parents deemed a safe distance. It was a lot like trying to find a station with a weak signal on an old tube type radio. Every time they had a whisper of the signature they were seeking, it would fade out again— if it was ever really there. Despite their frustration and discouragement, they knew their work would pay off eventually. If only eventually would show up b...