Supper put the six Bluebloods on one side of the long table with several of the king’s generals, the other side was taken up with the travelers beside Weret and Sakhmet who was masquerading as Sakhmetet, Weret’s good friend and something like a lady in waiting. There were other dignitaries, and guards stationed around the room, but to be sure, the king’s table could hardly accommodate thirty.
Narmer sat at the head of the table, Weret to one side and a chief among the priests to the other. Narmer was a middle aged man, but looked to be in excellent shape and health. He was content at first to eat his beef, grain and onion quietly and sip his beer while he watched his guests. The chief Blueblood showed right from the start that rude was to be expected.
“I see the Gott-Druk still has his equipment, and weapons I presume. Special privilege for the one not so bright?”
Weret put her hand on Narmer’s hand and repeated what the Blueblood said, then she turned to the Blueblood and answered, calmly, in the local tongue. “Elder Stow and his people are native to this planet. He is a trusted and welcomed guest at this table. You are not of this world and thus far have not proved yourself a friend. You are a guest here, and would do well to remember that.”
Narmer pulled his big hand from beneath Weret’s little one to capture her hand with his warmth. He smiled for the young beauty. Every man did, but clearly Narmer and Weret has shared on a most intimate basis. “She is my reason,” he called her. “She knows things no other person knows and she has resources no other person has. Isn’t that so, master elf?” He looked briefly at Roland who nodded graciously. “Every man in the army is in love with her and no doubt would die for her if she asked them to, but diplomacy is not her strong suit. These blue people are strangers to us, as may be their ways. What we consider proper, they might not understand. They might consider very different things proper.” He shrugged a very human shrug. “But I have said they are welcome at my table. Let it be so for now.”
“But tell me,” Katie spoke up casually. “Weret mentioned your ship is parked down by the Place of the Lion and in need of repair. What brought you all the way up here?”
The second male brought a small translator from his belt that would translate his words to the local words, then he spoke since the chief looked put-off by Weret’s comment. “We heard there was a king in these lands and we thought we might ask his help. There are certain things we need for our repairs, the chief thing being copper.” It was not the whole truth, and many of the people there, travelers and Egyptians alike were not fooled.
“Yes.” Lincoln took up the question as he imagined he was wondering the same thing as Katie. “But how did you know to come here, to Abydos? There are real cities you passed over on the way, and the big cities are all upstream from here. We passed through two, Hekhen, which is the capitol and where I would expect to find the king, and the big city, Thebes.”
A blueblood female leaned over to speak into the translation device. “There are a small number of men outside a town in the north. They told us of the king of the south.”
The travelers looked at Narmer and he took his smiling eyes from Weret to give an answer. “I have three thousand men holding a wall just outside Memphis. I came here a year ago and have raised and trained five thousand more. We hope to pick up another two thousand as we move on the Land of the Bee. That will be an army the Red King cannot counter. We already have Bubastis, Heliopolis and Merimde pledged to switch sides. If we can take Buto, the delta will fall and the two lands can finally be at peace.”
“But we were in Thebes until a week ago.” Weret interjected. “We only came here to see how five thousand men might be moved. We learned a few things, but I am sure word has not yet gotten to the three thousand so there is no way they could have told you we were in Abydos.”
“The impressive building here, the one any stranger would take for a palace is the Temple of Osiris, but you came straight here.”
The Blueblood nodded like he knew he was trapped in the lie. He appeared to think it was time for some honesty. “The king in the north has already promised us all the copper and other things we need. He has required only one price.” The Blueblood took something from his pocket. It looked like a spray bottle of some kind. “He said we must kill the White King.”
Even as the translation box was rendering those last words, the Blueblood raised the bottle and sprayed its contents at the king. He did not know that Sakhmet, the warrior goddess whose job it is to defend the upper lands, had already put up an invisible wall against treachery. The spray only went as far as the wall where it bounced back in the face of the one who sprayed it. They did not get a chance to see what affect that spray might have, though, because Sakhmet’s wall was not put up to stop Decker’s bullet.
Decker had pulled his pistol to his lap, and used it without hesitation. The Blueblood chief got a hole right through is head and he fell to the ground. Several spear toting guards rushed up and stabbed the body several times, but the Blueblood was already dead.
“Wait!” Weret yelled and stood, and Sakhmet stood with her, her hand of concern on Weret’s belly. The guards were ready to slaughter all of the Bluebloods present, but with a glance at their king, they were willing to wait for Weret.
“I want to send them home, get them off this planet, and I would rather not see them all killed if we can help it,” Weret said as she sat again, slowly, with Sakhmet’s help. “Let’s start again. What is wrong with your ship and how can we help you repair it?”
The five remaining Bluebloods watched as men came and took the body away. Then the man on the end grabbed the translation box and spoke rapidly. “The wires burned out in the navigation system. We brought extra, but lost it in battle. The hole in the hull is sealed off. It should not be a problem, but without navigation we won’t be going anywhere.”
The woman leaned over again. “Navigation is the system that shows us what path we need to take through the stars—“
“We know what navigation means,” Lincoln interrupted.
“Did you try replacing the wire?” Katie asked.
The man spoke again, more slowly this time. “We had enough to try and replace it once, but it just burned out again.”
Several people looked at Boston. She held the doctorate in electrical engineering, after all. She considered her words. “It sounds like the trouble is deeper in the system, like whatever you are using as capacitors are malfunctioning, maybe shorting out. It sounds like the electricity is being stalled at some point and then suddenly surging out like a mini-lightning strike, frying any little wires in the way. Something like that. But I can’t really know what the real trouble is until I get a look at it.”
“You would look at it?” The woman sounded surprised.
“I will if you want me to fix it, and maybe if Martok helps.”
Weret did her best to lean over to look at Boston. “He says he would be delighted.” She sat back down . “But now you five that used to be six. You have two strikes against you. One more incident and I won’t be able to save you from destruction. Remember the rules. You are not to kill the locals, king or commoner alike. There will be no Blueblood babies. This planet is off limits for breeding. And you will respect the rightful authority here. Again, is that clear?” Weret saw that at least a couple of the Bluebloods were willing. “Then for your own safety, I suggest you sleep tonight in your shuttle. We will see about going to your ship in the morning, after we have all had some rest.”
“No,” Weret countered. “It is back where you parked it. But your weapons and engines have been temporarily disabled so you won’t be able to hurt anyone or go anywhere tonight.”
Narmer waved for guards. “Escort these back to their ship for the night. It is in the courtyard?” He had to look at Weret who nodded.
As the Bluebloods marched out, Sakhmet helped Weret stand again. Narmer wanted to help, but Weret waved him off. “I am fine. You have to wait at least another thirty days before you can see your, um, grandson. Right now, I just want to show my friends to their rooms. Ugh. I sat too long.”
This ends the first half of Avalon, episode 3.2. Be sure to return next week (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) to see if Weret and Boston can repair the Blueblood ship and how far the Bluebloods may go to test the patience of these two trusting young women.