Everyone slept outdoors and eyed each other through most of the night. Lockhart set the standard two person, three hour watch, It was around four in the morning, when Lockhart and Roland were on duty, when Mingus chose to get up to spend a little time with his son, there came a disturbance in the Elamite camp. Men began to scream and run wild, tripping over one another in the dark, and possibly hurting each other. Some came toward Lockhart, but Lockhart raised his shotgun
Lockhart saw ghouls coming toward him. He looked quickly to his left and saw ghouls where the Sevarese were sleeping. He had been fooled before, so he closed his eyes. He pulled the trigger on his shotgun so the shot went over people’s heads, a loud roar to wake people up. Then he shouted at the top of his lungs. “Ghouls!”
“Shut your eyes,” Hadj came running out of his tent and Alexis and Mingus shouted the same thing. “Shut your eyes. They can fool the eyes. Shut your eyes.”
“They are still some distance away,” Elder Stow shouted. “As long as I focus on the scanner,” Elder Stow said, before he felt it prudent to shut his eyes.
“They are at the edge of the trees,” Mingus said.
“Keep your eyes shut,” Lockhart yelled. He was having a hard time fighting the temptation to take a peek.
Suddenly, the Sevarese fighter lifted off from where it had landed, and it shot its main gun at the people sheltered up against the Marzalotipan ship. Elder Stow still had his portable screen active, and though it was only a small portable, it was advanced enough and strong enough to fend off blow after blow.
Decker dared to look. His vision was taken once and he was almost fooled a second time, but he understood the illusions cast by ghouls could be resisted with experience. He saw several outlines by the distant trees and opened fire. He struck two, but was not sure about the third when the pressure became too difficult and he closed his eyes.
Cody, the young Pendratti lost the battle to do his duty. He had his weapon out and thought only about protecting his commander. He fired even as the ghouls began to come out from the trees. Three more ghouls quickly turned to mush as Hadj and Mingus shouted together.
“Close your eyes. Get your eyes closed. Don’t look. Close your ears.”
“My eyes are closed,” Boston shouted. Cody closed his eyes as well, but let out a wail that made the humans shiver.
“The arrows are primed,” Mingus said. “There are three left. Do you see them?” Mingus touched Roland in the arm and then held his hand over Roland’s eyes. Roland and Mingus both closed their eyes, and Mingus thought to his son. “Use your mind, not your vision.”
“Ready,” Roland said, and he saw the three ghouls pass by the Elamite camp, what was left of it. Roland fired the first arrow, and it struck home. The second arrow hit perfectly as well, but as happened to Decker, the pressure began to build up in Roland’s mind. He had to close his eyes to fight it off, but a gun was fired from an unknown source, and the pressure left all at once.
Lincoln stood and looked around. “A ghoul can confuse many, but only control one person at a time.” He said what was true, but Mingus countered.
“We struck nine who may not all be dead until we have a chance to check. There is an hour yet before sunrise and there is still one out there.”
While Lockhart made sure the travelers were still in one piece, Hadj sent Ishitak, Anashk and Leahn around to check on the women and children in his own family group. Ibin el-Wadi came out of hiding and suggested they were at the back, against the ship, and there were others first between them and the ghouls.
“Sokar!” Hadj called out to the Elamites. “Sokar, are you still alive?” El-Wadi repeated Hadj’s words in the Elamite tongue, Hadj was reluctant to go see, but an answer came after a short while. Twelve Elamites staggered toward Hadj’s camp, carrying three more who would not live long. The rest of the thirty had all killed each other.
“What sort of nightmare did you bring upon us?” Sokar shouted like a man about to fall apart and desperate to hold back the tears. “The queen was right to proclaim you a danger and call for your head.”
“I told your queen I was married three times and not looking for another wife,” Hadj responded sharply. Sokar made no response as Lockhart, Lincoln and Decker stepped up beside Hadj, guns in hand and ready. Ishitak came and reported to her husband.
The tribe is safe and well,” she said. “But Jaral hit his sister once and she is crying. Anashk is comforting her.”
“That boy,” Hadj responded without explanation.
“Incoming,” Decker shouted and pointed. The Sevarese fighter, having failed to shoot through Elder Stow’s screen, was moving to crash into the group in a suicide run. Elder Stow’s portable screen, no matter how advanced in deign would not stop that, especially with the power source all but drained.
“Beklissnashurishakash …” They heard the Sevarese commander mumbling into his communicator and a moment later, a streak of power shot out from the transport’s main gun. It clipped the fighter’s wing and the fighter began to spin out of control, pulling sharply to the left. People ducked as the fighter crashed into the trees and exploded, and it was a big explosion that sent a cloud and debris hundreds of feet into the air, lit up the whole area, and set all the trees on fire
“Sokar, close your mouth,” Lockhart said.
“I don’t understand,” Sokar shouted. “What is happening. What has happened to my men. My eyes and my mind do not make sense.” He fell silent again, and stared. at the fire.
“Hadj, Lockhart,” Alexis called from the place where Commander Slurpee was lying against the Marzalotipan ship.
“Lockhart, Hadj,” Roland called from the place where the Sevarese had been sleeping.
“Hadj,” Ishitak called from the tent. Hadj turned first to his wife.
Not fun, knowing the ghouls are out there, watching, waiting for an opportunity to attack, and somewhere in the future there are a hundred, well, now more like sixty. The tension in the camp remains alien to alien and human to human, and how will it play out? Be sure to return for the final post tomorrow, same ghoul time, same ghoul blog … he, he, hee …