After 4400 BC between the Red Lands and the Dead Sea. Kairos: Saphira the Huntress
The travelers walked in silence in the early hours. This was rugged but tree filled country of the sort Mingus said was bokarus friendly. Alexis could not worry about that. She tried to draw close to Lincoln several times while they walked, but he turned away from her. He was pleasant, but not the husband she knew and needed.
It was ten when Lieutenant Harper pointed to the sky. Something was spewing smoke and moving rapidly overhead. They all saw it, and after a breath they all heard it as well. It was not too low in the sky to vanish quickly, but it was low enough to see it was a ship of some kind and not a natural phenomenon.
“Man made?” Captain Decker asked.
“No. No way.” Lincoln, Boston and Alexis all responded together. They had some experience with such things.
“Not in this day and age,” Lieutenant Harper added. She looked at the Captain and wondered if the man would ever admit the truth. He still occasionally tinkered with the transmitter as if the area 51 receivers were just around the corner.
Lockhart looked torn for a minute. This was the province of his Men in Black, only not this time, he decided. “Not our concern,” he said. “Keep walking.”
An hour later, they heard the distant howl of the bokarus behind them. They knew they were not forgotten. And scant minutes after that, Boston pulled up short and let out a little shriek.
Their way was blocked by a person in leather armor That person had the expected stone-tipped spear, but along with the armor the person also had the first bow and arrows they had seen. Most surprising, the knife on the hip was copper, not simply stone.
“You’re going the wrong way.” The warrior spoke, and at once they knew this was a woman. She took off her leather helmet and shook out her long dark brown hair that carried hints of gray and she stared at them through dark brown eyes. “The action is all that way.” She pointed behind them and off to their right. Most looked, of course, but there was nothing to see among the trees.
“Lower you guns,” Lockhart decided, though even Captain Decker’s gun was already lowered. “We don’t appear to be on the hit list.”
“You are a warrior?” Alexis asked.
“A huntress,” the woman answered and motioned them to follow.
Doctor Procter pointed in the direction from which the huntress came. The travelers were inclined to continue their journey before Boston had a thought.
“Saphira?” She asked.
“Yes, Boston,” Saphira answered, and the travelers turned to follow in her wake.
They moved silently while Boston moved up front for a change. She had another question. “What are we hunting?”
“What kind of animals are they? Are they in the database? I never heard of them.”
“Shh!” Saphira responded with a grin and pointed at Captain Decker. It took a minute for Boston to figure out Saphira meant men.
When the group stopped, Saphira signaled for everyone to get down as she stuffed her hair back into her helmet. “Listen close,” she said. “The men across the clearing are no longer human. They are mindless robots designed for one purpose: to kill. The last bit of humanity was taken from them a long time ago, so don’t worry, whatever you do.”
“Some disease?” Alexis asked
“Like mad cow? No. Worse.” By then Saphira was ready. Without further explanation she stepped to the edge of the clearing in the woods.
Captain Decker got out his binoculars and pointed across the clearing. “Baldies straight ahead.” He caught the reference.
“Spread out,” Lockhart responded. “Prepare for a firefight.”
Lincoln and Boston got out their pistols. Captain Decker and Lieutenant Harper took the flanks with their superior firepower. Lockhart pulled his pistol and imagined the shotgun would be back-up in case they got close. He stayed in the center of the group where Alexis pulled her wood and bone wands and considered them. The bone was dry and workable, but still crude. The wood was aging fast. She was a bit surprised when her father reached over and took the wooden one. Her father rarely used a wand and never carried one. Mingus then nudged Doctor Procter and he got out his wand as well, but he looked like he was not going to use it. Roland, of course, had his bow.
Saphira spoke loud so her words would carry to the other end of the field. “Here I am. Your three friends are dead. You could be next.” It did not take much coaxing. Apparently they were waiting for her and thought they had her in a trap. Twenty bald headed, wild eyed men, naked and sweating broke from the trees. If they had any self-will at all, the baldies might have wondered why their prey did not run away. Instead, Saphira fell to the ground and laid out as flat as she could to get out of the way.
No one needed to say fire. The guns blared from cover until the people came out from behind their trees and bushes. Roland got an arrow in one of the last and Lockhart swung around his shotgun for the very last. That one fell ten feet from Saphira who spun around, propped herself up on her elbows.
“Thank you,” she said.
No one else felt like speaking. Twenty men lay dead on the field. Alexis put her wand away. She had not used it. She felt like crying, but instead she gave Lockhart a long, hard, accusing look for cursing them with this eventuality.
Even as Saphira stood and brushed herself off, a very tall and lean woman appeared on the field in the midst of the dead. She appeared out of thin air so the travelers knew she was a goddess. And she did not look happy.
“Tiamut.” Saphira named the goddess who looked briefly at Saphira before she finished her examination of the bodies. Some of the men were only wounded, but they were made useless for the goddess’ purposes.
“I see you found some friends.” Tiamut finally spoke. It was a chilling voice. “Friends from the future. A future that feels wrong to me.” She stretched out her hand and Lockhart’s shotgun appeared in the goddess’ hands. “Some interesting accessories, though.” The goddess lifted the gun to her shoulder and pointed it at Saphira. Saphira flinched before the goddess pointed down and shot the head off one of the wounded men.
“I had in mind to send these men back to your settlement,” Tiamut said. “Now that will not be.” She shrugged and tossed away the shotgun like it hardly mattered. The gun thumped against the earth. “I must think on this future and these guns and such things. There may be something workable there after all.” She smiled and added a last thought before she vanished. “You have a traitor among you.” Everyone breathed when the goddess was gone, but they looked carefully at each other while Lockhart retrieved the shotgun and checked it to be sure it was not damaged.
“Tiamut.” Boston spoke before she reached for her database. Saphira nodded so Boston finished her question. “Goddess of what?”
“Chaos,” Saphira answered. “Not a good enemy. These men were hers. And for the record, she might claim there is a traitor even if there isn’t, just to get you suspecting and not trusting each other.”
“But I thought Marduk or Assur or someone like that killed Tiamut.” Lieutenant Harper spoke up.
“Shh!” Saphira turned on the Lieutenant and her words were sharp. “They haven’t been born yet. You need to watch what you say as much as what you do.” Lieutenant Harper looked appropriately humbled and was grateful when Lockhart stepped up and changed the subject.
“So we saw a ship of some kind fly overhead a few hours ago. It looked to be in distress.”
Saphira nodded to indicate she saw it too and she turned to lead the way.