Fantasy Science Fiction posted June 25, 2017 Chapters:  ...23 24 -25- 26... 

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Archie and Sani discuss the future of their rescue.

A chapter in the book Humanity Project

Leading Beneath the Mines

by davisr (Rhonda)

Deep in the bowels of the San Juan Mountains, Archie, Sani and the girls face the next stage of their journey.
End of last chapter:

Sani closed his own eyes for a few moments, then opened them. His mind was resolute. He motioned for Archie to step away from the women and follow him.

"What is it, Old One?" Archie whispered. He didn't want to wake the women.

"We need to talk."

"About what?"

"Oh, a little about Mine City, and a whole lot about leadership."

"Couldn't this wait until the ladies wake up?"

"No, Son, this is between the two of us."

Chapter 25:

"What do you have to say that we must discuss alone?" Archie asked.

"We'll get to that, Son," Sani replied. "First, I want you to listen to the walls. Tell me what they say to you."

"The walls? I thought we were past all the magic stuff."

"I'm not talking about magic, I'm talking about listening to the stone and see what it can tell you."

"And this will do what?"

Sani shrugged shoulders that seemed as old as the mines themselves. A grizzled white head tilted in mute invitation, and sparkling blue eyes engaged Archie's golden ones in challenge.

Archie hesitated a moment, then leaned his head against the stone wall. How could he resist the old man? He was strange, sometimes, but always in command of his purpose.

At first Archie was nervous and jittery, listening to internal debates about the journey through the tunnels, Ayala's fears, and Sani's recent call for Archie to talk about leadership. All the thoughts and debates spun about his head, but they did not help him hear what the stone might tell.

"Relax, Son. Let all your thoughts drain into the rock."

Archie took a deep breath and released it into the tepid air of the mines. He leaned his tawny head, again, against the wall. At first he felt an unusual vibration, one that caught the attention of the young Senator.

"What?" he uttered, and then leaned in closer. "I hear a lot of motion. What's going on? This sound doesn't sound random."

"It's not," Sani said. "We stand on the threshold of Mine City."

"How big is it?"

"Larger than Hokee. It was built in an area that the old miners had hollowed out to keep their supplies and donkeys penned in. They, of course, widened it as needed. It's a pretty massive structure by now; quite an impressive feat of engineering if you just sit back and look at it."

"A gilded cage?" Archie asked. He continued to lean his head against the rock to listen. The more he heard, the more an image of an underground city came to form in his mind.

"What's it look like?" Archie asked. "I feel it's enormous."

"It is, and someday people will come down here just to study the architecture, but not yet. For now it's a fortress that we've got to break into and then back out of."

"Wow, and no one in the government knows about it," Archie said. He shook his head sadly. "It's like a world within a world."

"There are many of those, young man," Sani alleged. His voice sounded even wiser below ground than it had above. "Most of which you know nothing about, or would scarce believe exists at all."

"Are they all bad like Hokee and Mine City?" Ayala asked.

"No. Some are quite good, and, Young Archie, there are those in your government who do know of the existence of Mine City and Hokee."

"Really?" Archie raised a doubting eyebrow. "Then why do they keep the information to themselves?"

"For reasons of their own," Sani replied, "and you might also expect them to give you a bit of a problem later when you try to go public with what you know."

"Well, my father won't," Archie insisted, "and I can promise you he doesn't know about this place."

"Don't be sure of anything, but prepared for anything. There are many secrets a President knows that he can't share, even with those he is closest to."

"I understand that," Archie said, "but I do know that he wouldn't put up with people being held imprisoned like this. He's a real patriot and believes in all people being free. He will help us, even if he has to take on the entire country to do so."

"I hope you're right, because he might just have to do that very thing. All our hopes rest on his coming through for us."

"He will," Archie said. Only the slightest hint of uncertainty entered his voice.

"Don't worry. I've said from the beginning that you didn't happen upon Hokee by mistake. I'm sure that whatever power led you there, knew your father to be as much a man of character as his son."

"Is this what you wanted to discuss with me about leadership?"

Sani cocked a silver eyebrow Archie's way, but didn't answer.

"I mean, what do we do now?" Archie asked. "We can't just walk in there and announce we've arrived to set everyone free. I mean, we could probably sneak in and rescue Todd for Koko, but I have a feeling that isn't what you have in mind."

"No, not at all, and neither do you, Archimedes. Everyone must be saved or our whole mission is for nothing."

"I get that, and I'm willing to do what I need."

"There will be people here who will challenge what you believe about humanity," Sani said. "Are you ready to embrace them as well?"

"Of course. I've had plenty of time to think about that issue. I know it will be a bit of a shock first, but we'll all adjust. What do we do first?"

"Tighten up the nucleus. Make sure the girls learn they need to be wild animals, not caged ones. They have to learn to think outside the cage they were raised in. If they don't get it, they won't be able to instill in the people of Mine City the same sense of freedom. It will be one of your biggest challenges."

"Uh, don't you mean we?"

Sani looked directly at Archie, his deep eyes no longer dancing in fun or challenge. They were sending a message even Archie couldn't miss.

"I am a very old man, and have lived through many crises. It's made me strong and wise, but this war is not mine. It is a job for younger people. I got you here because it was the right thing to do. Now it's time for you to take over."

"Oh," Archie wasn't sure how to respond.

"Speak, boy. You'll pass out if you just keep standing there holding your breath." Sani laughed out loud, but the tension remained electric.

"I'm sorry," Archie finally sputtered. "You've caught me off-guard. Are you trying to say you're going to leave us at some point?"

Sani continued to look at Archie as though his piercing eyes would tell a story his words need not do so.

"You're leaving now, aren't you?"

Sani's wizened head nodded slightly, but his eyes continued to tell a tale as old as time.

"I don't know what to do. I've never been to Mine City, and no nothing of its structure," Archie protested.

"It has an opening to the outside on the East side. Only trustees are allowed to go out it, and they are the most human-like in appearance."

"What keeps the others in? Are there a lot of armed guards?"

"No more than at Hokee. I think you know the answer to what keeps them in cages."

"Their appearance?"

"That and proproganda to make them believe they would be hunted and killed by the Cougar leader of the city. However, they are more afraid of the people on the outside. The people of Mine City are captives of the mind."

"And how do I reach them? How do I get these people out the door to freedom?"

"Create a situation they have no choice but to respond to."

"Will you leave me explosives?"

"No, you have no idea how to handle them, but there are those in these mines who do. Reach them to help you."

"Are these the Tommyknockers you spoke of before - the outliers?"

"Yes, the secret group who live in the shadows.They call themselves the Resistance."

"How do I find them?"

"They'll find you. They've been waiting for you to get here."

"What do I do when they approach me?"

"Do what we discussed and be prepared to accept the unusual."

"Do these people have a leader?"

"Yes, you."

"Me?" Archie coughed. "I don't know these people."

"Do you know all your constituents in Texas? Does your father, the President of the United States, know all the people he represents?"

"Of course not."

"Same with these people."

"But how will they know I'm their leader?"

"If you have to ask that question, you're not really a leader."

"I'll have to think on that one, Old Man."

"Better think quickly."

Archie pulled away from the wall of the mine as he watched Sani draw into the shadows of a fork in the mine. At first, he saw the old man's face glow in the light of his torch, and then disappear as the torch was put out.

"Sani?" Archie called out softly. "Sani, come back. I'm not ready."

Archie listened for a response. He heard nothing but the retreating steps of a very old man.


A special thanks for the artwork, "The glowing cave" by El-mundo.A note on the purpose of the animal DNA discovery. This book is intended to be Science Fiction and Fantasy, but it has an underlying theme. There have been groups of people throughout time that have been treated as less than human, even experimented on in some cases.

It's also to bring up any discrimination against other groups of people. It happened in the past, and is still happening today. The poor, ethnic groups, sexual orientation, mental illness, people from other countries, etc. There are a lot of different types of experimentation where we try to "cure" what we don't understand. It is my intention to use a science fictional environment to teach cultural tolerance, while telling a yarn. Thank you to those of you who look beyond the story.

Summary of the book so far:

Archie Franklin is a United States Senator from the State of Texas. He's also the President's son.
He was traveling the west, scoping out New Mexico for a committee he was on, when a deer ran in front of his Ferrari and caused him to crash.

He was rescued from the desert by a group from a cult-like village called Hokee. In this town, the people are part of an experiment to improve the human condition by taking orphans and raising them isolated from many of the modern conveniences that make mankind weak.

The children, as young as 5, are placed in houses named after animals, but otherwise taught animals are dangerous and unclean. Each "house" has a particular job in the community based on the attributes of the representative animal.

The leader, Leander, chooses what children are brought to the village. He doesn't want anyone to know about the compound so they can maintain isolation. Archie is now a prisoner, but has befriended a young lady, Koko, whose husband has come up missing, and is assumed imprisoned in a penal mining colony.

Working against odds, the two hope to escape and protect Koko's unborn child. Having babies at stage one of the experiment is forbidden by the scientists in charge. Teens are sterilized at puberty to avoid pregnancies, but occasionally one will be conceived. Standard operating procedure is to perform an abortion, but Koko is willing to fight against all she's grown up to believe to give her child a chance at life.

Now, Archie, Koko and Sani have escaped the complex after the old miner, Sani, set off an explosive distraction. On the way through a fence, they ran into Ayala, Koko's "sister" who tried to stop them. In order to ensure her silence, they tied her up and took her with them.

After traveling all night, they stopped at dawn to dig a shelter under the sand. Covering themselves with a blanket they wove from plants, they are resting from enemies and the heat of the day.

Archie and Koko begin to read a book Archie rescued from Hokee before they left. It is the story of the experiment called The Humanity Project.

In the book, they find Ayala and the others in Hokee, are a part of a project where animal and human DNA were mixed together to produce a new, stronger, species.

In order to keep the people of Hokee secluded, they have made them feel they were unwanted orphans, and to fear animals and the desert. They were kept in check by the ruling Hawk clad, and the fierce Cougar clan.

They continue to journey to Mine City in the San Juan mountains. They overcome many challenges along the way.

These are the 12 houses of Hokee:

Hawk: Where Leander Jr. lives. They are the strict rulers of the compound, answerable only to Leander Sr..

Cougar: The strong arms of the Hawks. They dish out whatever punishment is required, even to sending miscreants to another settlement they have up North in the mines.

Coyote: The one Archie and Ayala are in: Job: Teachers and professors. Allowed more knowledge of the "outside world".

Ant: Considered unclean, these people tend meat and fur animals outside the village

Tarantula: Architects, and menders

Donkey: Transportation and communication

Wasp: Prepare and serve food

Deer: Sports and entertainment

Hare: Make and distribute clothing

Rat: Childcare

Snake: healthcare

Buzzards: Clean up crew, maintain sewer and custodial chores

General Summary of the Book:

Young Texas Senator, Archie Franklin, finds himself marooned in the desert with a group of people who are more than they appear to be on the surface.

Hokee: Name of the village Archie is held in. It means, "The abandoned."


Archimedes (Archie) Franklin: High energy, main protagonist, who is, also, a Senator from Texas, and son of the President of the United States, Andrew Franklin.

Ayala: Female head of household in the house Archie finds himself imprisoned.

Andrew (Andy) Franklin: President of the United States, and father of Archie.

Koko: Ayala's best friend in Coyote House, close as sisters, born on the same day.

Todd: Koko's husband

Sani: Old man. Used to be a miner up north. Another trapped refugee from the desert. An ally in the quest to escape.

Leander: Head scientist in charge of the structure of Hokee. His son, Leander, is in charge of daily operations.

Junior: Leander's son, who lives in the Hawk house. He's personally a coward, but rules Hokee with an iron fist.

Others to be listed as they appear in the book.
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Artwork by El-mundo at

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