Avalon 7.0 Brigands, part 1 of 6

If you are new to the Avalon series, you can click on the tab above marked About Avalon.  You will find a page that will give you the table of contents for Season Seven as well as a one paragraph introduction to the season.  You can read character intros and a short introduction to the series itself.  Or, you can skip all that and just enjoy the story.  Happy Reading

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After 228 B.C. Athol Valley

Kairos lifetime 85: The Princess & Friends

Recording …

The travelers from Avalon came through the time gate among the rocks at the foot of Mount Olympus, even as the sun rose to light their way.  Lockhart and Katie, the leaders of this expedition through time, got down from Lockhart’s horse.  Lockhart led the horse.  Katie turned to help Evan guide the cowboy horse through the boulder-strewn side of the mountain to what looked like a road, and hopefully, without catching or wrecking the wagon that horse pulled.  The wagon held their equipment, including the unused cowboy saddles.  Overall, Katie imagined this journey had been easier when they all had horses of their own, but in this case, it seemed just as well that they had to walk.

The two Gott-Druk, which is to say, the Neanderthals on the expedition, Elder Stow and his adopted daughter Sukki, had to dismount right away for fear that their horses might slip on the uneven, rocky surface and break a leg.  “Careful,” Elder Stow said even as Sukki started to slip.  She caught herself before she banged her knee.

Major Decker, the Navy Seal trained Marine, took a good look at the surrounding countryside before he got down.  Lincoln and Alexis also got off the cowboy horse they shared even as Millie got down carefully from hers.  Millie shrieked a little as her horse stepped on a loose stone and wobbled.  Alexis caught the horse, but Millie looked like she feared she might be the one to fall.

Boston the elf, the former Massachusetts redneck who rode Rodeo in her youth, was the only one able to guide her horse to the road without mishap.

Evan, a doctoral student in antiquities, and his wife, Millie fell into the past from 1905.  Best estimates, given their years in the past, suggested their world had moved on to somewhere around 1912, if they ever got back to their own time.  Evan led the way, and held Millie’s hand through the rocks, offering his help where he could, a help she graciously accepted.

Lincoln, a former spook for the CIA, and Alexis, a former elf who became human to marry Lincoln, were the older couple in the group, having been married for over thirty-five years; an odd confession considering they looked to be in their mid-to-late twenties in age.  In truth, they got regenerated at the beginning of the journey.  Now, Alexis wanted another baby.  She said it would not do, to be younger than their children.  Lincoln rolled his eyes and said he would think about it.

Lincoln and Alexis came from the twenty-first century where men and women were not supposed to be treated differently.  As they brought the horses, Alexis had to find her own way through the rocks.  To be fair, Lincoln kept one eye on her, just in case.

Once on the road, an older man rushed up to meet them.  He seemed to want to bow between sentences while the half-dozen young, teenage-looking girls that followed him kept their eyes lowered, like they were fascinated with their own sandals.

“Praise the gods,” the man said.  “Thanks be.  How great a good fortune to see you step from a hole in the mountain where all the great gods reside.  How blessed to glimpse the land of plenty and glory from which you came.”  The man tried not to cry for joy.  A couple of the girls did cry.  “I must know.  Are you of the gods, or sent as messengers?”

Lockhart explained that they were simple travelers, and not gods or messengers sent by the gods. Even so, it took some time to convince the priest that he could stop bowing, and the young girls, who were acolytes, that they could look up without fearing a lightning bolt.

Meanwhile, Katie pulled out the prototype amulet she carried to check their direction. Boston came over, got down from her horse, and pulled out her more advanced amulet to compare.  Katie’s prototype projected a map, hard to see without excellent eyes, but one that clearly showed both time gates and suggested some of the objects, like mountains and rivers, that stood between.  Boston’s amulet map projected more details, showing cities and towns, sometimes farms, villages, and roads, and it also suggested where the Kairos might be, half-way between the two time gates.

“South,” Boston said, and looked up.

“Uh-huh,” Katie agreed.  “Welcome to Mount Olympus.”

Lincoln stepped up from one direction with the database in his hands.  Elder Stow came from the other direction with his scanner, but Lincoln spoke first.

“Of course, it is just a guess, but assuming we are in Greece, and judging where the little Athol Valley is located, this might even be Mount Olympus.”

“I wonder if Artemis is around,” Katie said, ignoring Lincoln and looking up at the mountain.

Decker came up to ask what was taking so long getting started.

“I wonder if Aphrodite is around,” Boston said, plenty loud.  Decker was presumably on Aphrodite’s list, whatever that meant.

Decker pointed at Boston.  “That was mean.  You are getting more elf-like by the day.”

“Thanks.”  Boston took that as a compliment and gave it her best ear-to-ear elf grin.

“My mother,” Elder Stow tried to get Katie’s attention.  He counted Katie and Lockhart as the mother and father of the group.  The Gott-Druk lived in a very family-oriented society.  Even military groups had a mother and father, elders (officers), youngers (non-coms), and children, who were the privates.  “My mother,” Elder Stow tried again, but Lockhart interrupted when he turned his head toward the group.

“Which way are we headed?”

“South,” Katie said.  She, Boston, and Lincoln all pointed in the same direction.

“Okay,” Lockhart told the priest.  “We will visit the temple, but only to see.  Then we have to go.”

“What?”  Katie kindly turned to Elder Stow

“I was just going to say, there is a settlement, a big town, or I suppose what these people might call a city.  It is just down the hill and around the corner, but apparently, we are going there.”

Katie nodded, but thought to shout to everyone.  “Wagon up front.  Horses to the rear.  We have guides out front.”  She looked at Lockhart, and he briefly nodded.

Pythion proved to be a nice little city, dedicated to Apollo Pithius, the name of a temple up on one of the summits of the mountain.  They also had a big temple to Apollo in the city, and held games dedicated to Apollo; but being at the foot of Mount Olympus, they naturally had a big, eclectic temple to all the Olympian gods.

When they arrived at the temple gate, they saw a couple of dozen horses tied up outside.  Boston commented that it looked like a regular parking lot.

“Tourist season,” Decker joked as they went in.

The half-dozen young women went straight to a back room, while the priest showed off the beauty of the temple.  The travelers thanked him but studied the fourteen statues.  Hades and Poseidon had their own alcoves, which left twelve Olympians in the main room: Zeus, Hera, Demeter, Hestia, and Zeus’ eight offspring.  The travelers could not help themselves and their comments.

“That does not look like Artemis,” Boston said.

“I can see Athena a little bit around the eyes,” Katie said.

“I don’t suppose you can really capture Aphrodite in stone,” Decker decided.

“No,” Millie said.  “That does not look like Vulcan.”  She used the Roman name that felt more familiar to her rather than the Greek Hephaestus.

“I see,” Evan agreed.  “They made him much too handsome.”

“He might appreciate that,” Lockhart suggested.

Only Lincoln, and mostly Alexis recognized the dropped jaw of the priest.  He looked undecided between scared and offended.  About the time he appeared to decide that these people were from the gods, despite what they said, Alexis caught his attention with a handful of gold and silver coins.  Alexis carried an emergency stash in her medical bag, which rarely left her side.  She thought she might need the coins at some point, though she honestly had not planned to give them away.

“Here,” she said, and handed them to the priest, whose eyes got big when he considered the value of the coins.  They were mostly Greek and Roman coins, though she might have had a couple of Chinese ones in there that she picked up from the last time zone.  “Consider this a contribution to the temple on our behalf.”

What could the man say except thank you.  He looked up at Alexis, and at the door, and ducked, but not fast enough.

“Incoming,” Lincoln yelled, just before a woman in the back yelled, “Fire.”  The travelers quickly pushed up among the statues, even as a dozen arrows sped toward the door.  There were men coming in the entrance, but no one imagined they came to worship.

Alexis pulled the priest to the ground behind the altar.  The coins scattered across the floor.  The arrow shot from the front door went through the man’s upper arm and poked into his chest near the heart.  She yelled, “Elder Stow, I need you.”

The men in the entrance ducked, though a couple got struck by arrows.  Then guns started going off, and men began to fall.  Decker had his rifle.  He rarely put it down.  But the others began to regularly wear their gun belts, so all except Millie and Evan came armed after a fashion.  Boston gave her Beretta to Sukki, since Boston had her wand, and a bow of her own from which she could fire magically explosive arrows.  Elder Stow, of course, had his heat-ray handgun, as Lockhart called it, and an assortment of other technologies on his person.

As the guns blasted, another volley of arrows came from the back.  Even so, two of the men grabbed Millie and Evan, who were closest to the front.  Millie screamed, briefly, but quieted as the gunfire stopped and she found a knife at her throat.  The man who grabbed Evan hollered.

“Everybody out.  We ride.”

The men, most of whom barely got inside, rushed back outside to their horses.  They dragged Millie and Evan with them.  Three women ran up from the back, though one, a priestess, stopped to help Alexis.  Katie, Decker, and Lockhart ran, and Boston ran elf fast, and they all got to the doorway in time to see the men ride off.  Decker raised his rifle, but Lockhart made him lower it.

“We want Evan and Mille in one piece, not to give them an excuse to hurt them.”

The taller woman in the door turned to the travelers and commented.  “Nice Pea-shooter.”  She said that in English, and the travelers had to pause to recognize their native tongue.  “Arias, the Amazon,” the woman said, and held out her hand to shake—a normal twenty-first century handshake.  Something happened, and at least Boston recognized right away that this woman changed to a different woman, even if she looked similar.  The others picked up that understanding when the woman spoke in a terrific English accent.  “In 1976, my name is Susan.”

Katie and Decker both shook the woman’s hand.  Decker paused, but Boston shouted out her revelation.  “Like the Kairos.  You have another life in the future.”

Susan nodded and changed back to Arias while she introduced her companion.  “Althea.”

Althea also changed, but obviously so.  She went from dark hair to blonde.  “Erica,” she said, and shook hands.  She added something that caused the travelers to seriously pause.  “2160.  Mars Station security coordinator.”

“Lockhart,” he said, as he shook Erica’s hand.  “Good to have another policeman around.”

“Police officer,” Erica said, as she changed back to Althea.

“Police person,” Katie agreed, and Arias grinned.  “Captain Katherine Lockhart, United States Marines.  2013 by our best estimate.  We left the future in 2010.”

“You left the future?” Arias asked.  Clearly, both sides had some explaining to do.

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