First, my apologies to all. My wife often tells me to never say "sorry" as that just doesn't cut it ... doesn't excuse the problem. So I'll not say it. But it's been a long, dry spell between chapters. Also, thanks for all the kind notes. Problems with the wife's elder siblings have eased a bit. Both are settled into their respective care facilities in north Idaho. The huge hoard they left behind at the old farmstead is locked away, sitting untouched. Neither will give permission to touch anything, so the property cannot be sold. The old house is actually unsafe to enter, due to filth and disease. Someday a controlled volunteer fire department burn may be needed to solve the problem.
The story adventure continues. Michael, Steve and Marie are now racing cross country with their precious crate of thorianite crystals to rendezvous with their sea link to Siple Island. Dee'rah and her people are working rapidly to prepare their damaged ship for reactivation.
Two men are determined to seize control of the secret for their own purposes, and may become engaged in a deadly clash of wills, pitted one against the other as enemies.
Mike and Steve face the huge challenge of eschewing deadly force, a decision completely foreign to their training and culture. Mike realizes he was forced to accept Dee'rah's warning or lose his soul; he faced his inner demon and vanquished it. Steve has yet to fully face the challenge, but his moment of trial will surely come.
This is a long story. We will see it through to the end. Stories, once begun, have a way of finding their own path. I'm never quite sure which fork of the path this one will take each time I sit down to the keyboard. So in a way, I'm just as much a traveller in this tale as the rest of you.
With appreciation to all,