Saturday morning, the young women met in the gym for their training and workout with Professor Schultz. They were all very quiet, Jessica’s ROTC troop especially so. Sara called them somber. Maria had broached the subject of a possible rogue member of the council with Heinrich two days earlier and as a result, he was not his usual affable self. In fact, he yelled now and then when one of them got it “All wrong.”
Diane and Natasha stood on the workout mats, dressed to wrestle, but did little wrestling. They mostly whispered. Hilde and Greta had the staffs, but it was half-hearted. Mindy and Melissa had spears and took turns charging the practice dummy which Amina moved and jerked around with ropes tied from behind. The dummy moved like a puppet and rolled on wheels, so it was not as easy to hit as one might suppose. Maria kept trying to get one of them to wrestle, but they were not interested. Jessica, the most somber of the lot, stood ten feet further away than normal from the target and kept trying to hit a perfect bulls-eye with her arrows. After a time, she went over to the dart board and started up the same routine.
“What?” She tried to be cheerful, but it was hard given the vibe in that room.
“She may be right, you know.” Heinrich spoke without explanation and lowered his voice. Sara guided him to sit away from the others. “Men are very single minded when it comes to doing one’s duty. I believe the gods may have chosen such men to fill the council. But I recall Father Martin saying that good is only one thing and found in only one person whereas temptation is everything else. There has never been a traitor in almost five thousand years, but I have to admit, there may be a traitor among the council members.”
“The Linear A?”
“The Linear A. There is no language like it in modern times. You cannot get there by deriving it from another tongue, and it is very different from Greek, even the most ancient Greek.”
“Still,” Sara got thoughtful. “It might also be the one who is blocking Amina, and maybe Zoe.”
“That is how the girls put it. They believe it may be one of the ancient gods.”
Heinrich frowned. “They are all gone,” he said.
“Special case,” Heinrich responded. “But some of the Spirits are very long lived, if not immortal. I suppose it might possibly be one of them. We do seem overrun with spiritual creatures of one sort or another.”
“Yes,” Sara said, thoughtful again. “And I am beginning to wonder if all of that may be a distraction to keep us from getting at the real problem.”
“Yes, I have begun to wonder the same. We need to find apples and a recipe, and keep whomever from making ambrosia. I have known thousands in all of my years and I would not trust one of them to become a god, not even Father Martin.” He stood and picked up his staff.
Emily came in a short while later. Everyone felt glad to see her, but she seemed more somber than the lot of them. She said nothing, went straight to the weapons cabinet, and took out her sword. She strapped it on her belt, and made sure her knife was well tied to her calf. Then she stepped over to Heinrich and whispered.
“Ashish just called. Lisa is going to act as bait tonight.”
“What?” Sara got a bit loud. Heinrich said nothing. He simply went to put on a bamboo chest protector. He added a helmet and fingered a sword made of Damascus steel. It had an edge that could cut through a tissue in mid-air. He chose a short broadsword. It was far more solid and less likely to snap in battle.
Emily hushed Sara and whispered again. “I need you to keep the troops busy. I have no intention of letting any of the others near a night creature. They would get themselves killed and distract me for worry which might get me killed. Besides, Bernie just informed me that Sergeant Valenko appears to have vanished. We need to find that door and close it, and Jessica and Mindy’s work last night is our best bet.” She looked at the priestess with big eyes. “Please.”
Sara nodded. “I will.”
Heinrich returned to the private conference. “Does Latasha know?”
“No. And I asked Ashish not to tell her.”
“Good. She is too young and not strong enough nor skilled enough for this.”
“I worry about her too,” Sara said as she turned to the others who were all stopped and staring. Emily walked out, Heinrich beside her, and without a word while Sara clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention, which she already had.