The three got tossed into a cell of some sort, where a strong wooden door was latched on the outside. There were already a dozen people in the cell, but they all kept to the back wall and kept quiet except one middle aged woman who came to help untie the strangers. She started with the man, and Lincoln was grateful. His wrists were chaffing.
“Help,” Boston shrieked. Fortunately, Alexis was already free and put the fire out. “I guess burning the rope off was not a good idea,” Boston admitted. Alexis just gave her a mother look that said Boston was not a child to make such a senseless mistake.
“Thank you,” Lincoln said to the woman when she got his hands loose. The woman thought to step back. Most of the others noticed Boston and Alexis did not need help, even in that dim light. Alexis assumed some would think magic, but some might have thought the men did not tie the women well enough.
“My name’s Lincoln,” he said and reached out for the woman.
“Mehabbi,” the woman responded. “And Lothar my husband is injured. Here.”
Alexis came right over on the word injured and found the man sitting, leaning against the back wall, a great cut in his shoulder that appeared scabbed over badly and looked like it was begging to become infected. She moved a young woman out of the way and removed the man’s makeshift bandage. She clicked her tongue and held out her hand. Lincoln put his little Swiss army knife in her palm and spoke to Mehabbi, and plenty loud for everyone..
“She is a healer. Let her work, and give her room.” People were willing as soon as they saw Alexis’ hands and the wound begin to glow with a soft golden light. They did not even object when she opened the knife, removed most of the scab and cut the wound open.
Lincoln shook his head, but Alexis spoke up from the floor. “It had short stubby legs,”
“Yes,” Lincoln realized. “And at least one hand of many spindly fingers.”
“Balok,” Boston nodded.
“But that can’t be,” Lincoln said. “They’re extinct.”
“Not as extinct as we thought,” Boston said.
“And where do you think they got the model for the statue?” Alexis said as she stood and wiped the sweat from her brow. The man was sleeping and Mehabbi was crying grateful tears.
“I only hope the ship crashed,” Lincoln said. “Maybe they modeled the statue after a dead one.”
“Don’t count on it,” Boston and Alexis said together.
“I am fairly sure that was a ship overhead,” Boston added.
“But that doesn’t make sense,” Lincoln said. “The Balok are driven to kill every intelligent species other than themselves. It is like their religion. They are the only ones allowed to live. If there were Balok around, they would be killing everything.”
“Unless they are trapped here, underground,” Alexis suggested. “Like for some reason they can’t break out, and have to depend on the humans here for survival.”
“The serpent gods sleep,” Mehabbi spoke up as her husband Lothar relaxed. “I heard the men talking when we came in. Overhead is the nest of the eagles. They patrol the skies, but the great eagle has a broken wing and cannot fly. Down below, the serpents sleep but for the few who watch over their offspring. Those few must be fed.”
“Fed?” Lincoln had to ask.
“Us,” Mehabbi confirmed.
Boston looked around. The people in the cell had inched forward and were staring at the newcomers, many with unasked questions in their eyes. “Can I help you?” Boston asked nice and loud, and most turned back to face the wall in an effort to go unnoticed.
“I recognize the markings on the ship,” Lockhart tried to remember.
“Sevarese,” Decker said. “They were the first thing I remember clearly when I woke up, after the Pendratti and Gott-Druk shuttles in the Corn Woman world.”
“And Puff the dragon,” Lockhart said. “But how long ago was that?”
Katie spoke up. “According to the database, roughly six hundred and fifty years ago.”
“And as I recall,” Lockhart continued. “They had just about finished killing off the Balok and were starting to fight the Pendratti.”
“Not yet,” Decker said. “But the Kairos said they would soon. I remember he was determined to make sure that nuclear war did not start in the Yucatan.”
“They have spotted us,” Elder Stow said. He was looking hard at his scanner. The Sevarese ship stopped and hovered over the scrub grass. The company stayed in the trees, but that did not seem to matter.
“I guess their scanner capabilities have improved over the last six hundred and fifty years,” Katie said.
“Not to mention their fighter ships. They used to be more like jets and could dive bomb but not hover like that.”
“I remember,” Decker said.
“Going,” Elder Stow said as the Sevarese ship lifted again and headed off in the same direction they were headed. “I suspect it won’t take them long to analyze their scans and conclude that we are not locals.”
“Let’s find the others first,” Lockhart said.
“Yes please,” Roland agreed, and he lead them out on to the grasslands, near the hills.