Three in the morning, the lights came on. It looked like several spotlights and strong enough to cast light over the top of the hill and boulder. The light was white and bright and made their campfire look pale and yellow. Then they heard a repeated sound which Boston identified.
“Some kind of energy weapon.”
“But what are they shooting at?” Everyone wondered and went to the top of the hill where they could lie down and peek over.
“I don’t see anything,” Lincoln confessed.
“They are firing at something,” Captain Decker said.
“I can smell them,” Mingus turned to Alexis. “Eldrich fire.” He pointed at the dark night sky. Alexis nodded and got out her wand. Both she and her father let globes of light rise in the sky, out over that long open field. At once, under that magical light, eight figures appeared. One of them was almost in their faces, and Lockhart barely rolled and fired his shotgun in time.
The ghoul was knocked off his feet, and left only a puff of smoke and a green stain where it had once been.
“Looks like four, now three headed our way and the other four going after the Gott-Druk,” Roland said. The humans were all squinting in the light from the shuttle. It was like looking into high beam headlights..
“I can’t see a thing,” Boston admitted.
“Decker and Harper, go to the sides and down the edge of the field. You should get a shot when they pass your position.”
“Sir,” Katie said and scooted off. Decker was already gone.
“Like here, there is one out front and three following about a hundred yards behind. Wait. One stopped.”
A thin black line stretched up from the ground and put out the eldritch lights. Fortunately, that was all Lincoln needed to fire at the bottom of the line – at the origination point. Alexis and Mingus quickly put up two more lights. The ghouls who had blinked into invisibility came back into focus, at least for the elves.
“The Gott-Druk appear to be turning their weapons on each other.” Roland shouted and at the same time, the lights on the shuttle shot to the ground. Suddenly, they could see, and Lockhart pulled his pistol. It was a long way, but he fired, twice. The ghoul nearest the Gott-Druk collapsed, and the Gott-Druk turned again to fire on the three still coming on.
All that while, Lincoln, Boston, Roland, Mingus and Lockhart had the distant battle in sight. Alexis alone saw the ghouls drawing closer. They all jumped when they heard the crack of the rifles, and sighed. At least the threat against them was neutralized.
They looked again in the distance. For whatever reason, the energy weapons of the Gott-Druk did not appear to have any effect on the ghouls. Lockhart was inclined to help them, but there was a sudden flash of terrifically bright light and the ghouls vanished altogether. At least, so Mingus and Roland said. Again, the humans squinted, rubbed their eyes and saw spots. It felt like they just looked directly into a professional photographer’s heavy duty flash bulb.
When it was over and he could see again, Lockhart stood. Boston wanted to pull him back down for a second, but that would have been pointless. Certainly the Gott-Druk now knew where they were. Lockhart raised his hands like in surrender, but he held the pistol in his hand so it was more a position of truce. Boston jumped up to walk beside him.
“Boston!” Lockhart only got the word out before Roland joined them as well and he changed his words. “No one else! Harper and Decker, stay where you are and cover.” Somehow, those two had found some cover – bushes or boulder, so they were not easily seen. Then Lockhart walked, Boston and Roland beside him.
It was not many steps before three Gott-Druk came out from the other side to meet them in the middle. They all stopped ten feet apart. The first word from the Gott-Druk was telling.
“You belong to the rebel.” He pointed at Roland. Apparently, the Gott-Druk had been informed that certain Little Spirits were under the special charge of the Kairos.
“He is with us, not the rebel,” Boston said and quickly stepped in front of the elf. He gently moved her back to his side.
“The rebel sent these terrible demons to attack us. You sent them.”
“They attacked us as well. I am sure you saw,” Lockhart said.
“The ghouls do not belong to the rebel.”
“Huh!” One of the Gott-Druk huffed and turned to his companions. He spoke in the Gott-Druk tongue assuming he would not be understood. “These are not the one we are looking for. They are useless to us.”
“But maybe they are hiding the one.” The first said.
“I say we should kill them and move out.” The second said.
The speaker paused to consider before he turned to the travelers and spoke again in what he thought was their tongue. “Where is the rebel?”
Lockhart looked at Roland. He was considering a lie when Boston perked up. She checked the amulet and found the gate quite close, That meant Wlvn had to have been moving to the south west as they circled around the forest to the northeast.
“Northwest,” she said hastily. “He said something about Thor’s hammer.”
Lockhart changed tactics and thought hard about the Gott-Druk tongue. “As for killing us,” he said in their language. “You might not find that so easy.”
The Gott-Druk said nothing as a man appeared in their midst. He had a long, hook nose, a pointed chin and walked like one bent and broken, but with a subtle grace and fluid motions that belied his crooked looks. They all knew it was Loki without the need for introductions.
Loki shot to one side and stared at Lieutenant Harper. He shot to the other side and stared at Captain Decker, and snarled. He shot to the top of the hill and looked down on Lincoln, Alexis and Mingus who were holding the fort. Mingus and Alexis immediately got up and went down the hill to begin to strike the camp. Lincoln stayed where he was to watch, Then Loki shot back to the three in the field and examined each one of them in turn. He finally stopped moving in front of Lockhart.
“I see no one in the southwest,” he said with a glance at Boston. “But I see no one in the northwest either. You don’t belong here. Go away.” He was not making a request. He spun, then and stared at the three Gott-Druk. “Forget these ones. Find me the rebel.” His words were as sharp as his looks, and he vanished. The Gott-Druk were visibly shaken. Boston, Roland and Lockhart would shake later.
“As the Lord commanded, we are going away,” Lockhart said, and turned without a look back. Boston and Roland were a bit behind, but caught up. The Gott-Druk also turned and walked back to their vehicle.
When they reached the others on the hill, Lockhart sat down and appeared to let out his breath. “We need to go, now,” he said. Lincoln nodded and they went together toward the fire to down their tents and saddle up.
Katie and Captain Decker returned at about the same time as the others, and no one noticed until Lincoln called out into the dark, “Alexis.” There was no answer. “Alexis.” He tried a little more volume, but still did not see her.
Boston looked to the horses and spoke in a hurry, “Her horse is gone, and Mingus’ horse, too.”
“Their horses are already gone.”
“Not again!” Lincoln yelled at the sky.
“What do you mean?” Captain Decker did not get it right away.
Lockhart explained. “Mingus. He feels he has lost his daughter, and now he thinks he might lose his son in the same way.” He nodded at Roland and Boston.
“No, I would never…” Boston stammered and looked at Roland.
“I,” he did not know what to say. “We are not talking that way. We just get along that’s all.”
“Yeah, that’s all,” Boston agreed with Roland’s statement even if everyone knew that was not all.
“Shit!” Lincoln rarely swore, and after that word he said no more. They hurried to collect their things and get up on their horses.
“They can’t have that much head start,” Captain Decker said.
“This way,” Roland read the signs and lead the group. The trail lead straight to the gate. When they arrived, it was clear Mingus and Alexis had gone into the next time zone ahead of them. Lincoln did not repeat his word.
“I don’t like going into the next time zone in the dark,” Katie said, honestly enough.
“Only eighty left,” Boston was thinking of something else.
Captain Decker and Roland still thought they might catch them. It was hard to tell what Lockhart thought. No one was really paying attention as they nudged their horses through the gate and an orange-clad Gott-Druk stood from behind a boulder and followed them.
END OF SEASON 1