Sukki used her goddess-given powers and Nanette used her magic to float up to the roof where they found Decker. He lay at the edge of the crumbling roof where the wall would help to hold him up. He had his rifle tucked into his shoulder and his eye in the scope.
“How many,” Nanette asked, without spelling it out.
Decker knew what she was asking. “Four riflemen and one regular soldier after the riflemen disappeared from the wall.”
Nanette curled her lip at all that killing, but she sat beside Decker and even laid a hand gently on his back. It was something she would just have to get used to. He was a soldier after all.
Sukki watched the archers climb up on to the roof next door, just outside Elder Stow’s screens. “Arman’s men,” she called them for Decker. “Katie said if we draw men to the street, they can get the enemy in a crossfire, whatever that is.”
Decker paused to look across the street where he saw other men crawling up on top of the ruins. “Good plan,” he said, flatly, and returned his eye to the scope.
Down below, Elder Stow said Boston was ready. Boston complained, but Elder Stow would not trust his screen device with anyone other than her, or Sukki, but Sukki was needed to go up and inform Decker what was being planned.
Katie, Lockhart, Arman, Prenner, and the boys moved the rubble around to make the front end of the collapsed building into more of a fort. Alexis, wand in hand, kept back with Aleah and the young ones. Aleah did not know what to expect, but she knew it would be dangerous.
When everyone got as ready as they could be, Lockhart spoke into his wristwatch communicator. “Okay, Boston.” Everyone heard, and Boston responded.
“Turning off the screens, now.”
One of the three Sassanid soldiers sent to examine the invisible wall, suddenly put his hand through that space. He stepped through and one of the three immediately ran back to the Battalion commander to report. A company of Sassanids started up the street to take out the enemies in their rear. They moved cover to cover, wary of the rifle fire from this unknown enemy. Clearly, they knew about rifle fire.
“Wait,” Decker said through his communicator. “Hold your fire. Wait until they get into position.” People waited for what felt like a long time, and the enemy got close, some felt too close, before Decker said, “Fire.”
Guns blasted. Arrows came from the roofs beside Decker, and then the roofs and buildings from the other side. Sukki and Nanette were reluctant to kill anyone, but Sukki, with her heat-ray hands, and Nanette, with her telekinetic magic, were able to take away the enemy’s cover and drive them into the street where they could be targets for others.
The company did not last long. The few survivors raced back down the street, and Decker got ready to tell Boston to turn the screens back on, but Katie made him pause.
“Wait until they bring up the cavalry.”
“The screen device is well anchored,” Elder Stow said. “Even a dozen horses crashing into the screens should not move them.”
Lockhart nodded. They saw the horses moving up. They saw something happening across the street among the archers hidden in and on the buildings, but they could not focus on it as they heard Boston’s panic.
“The wraith. She broke the screen device before I could stop her. Help.”
Elder Stow, in a moment of quick thinking, handed Lincoln his sonic device and ran with Lockhart just ahead of him. Alexis kept Aleah and the children in their place and made them put their heads down. Katie, Lincoln, and Tony had to hold the front. Sukki took the time to float down to join them while Decker and Nanette stayed over their heads. Sukki handed Decker’s handgun to Prenner. She briefly instructed him to point and pull the trigger, but she could not tell him exactly how it worked. Arman helped. He had Katie’s handgun, and had also learned how to use it.
Lockhart arrived in time to see the wraith up by the roof. Boston had her wand in her left hand and her Beretta in her right. Boston fired her handgun once and burned a couple of spots on the ceiling.
“You must all die,” the wraith said in her chilling voice.
“Why? What did we do to you?” Boston asked, and the wraith paused to consider her answer, even as Lockhart pulled the trigger on his shotgun. The wraith screamed and got slammed back into the ceiling. She appeared to start bleeding. Elder Stow pointed his weapon at her, and she screamed again and flew out a hole in the roof. Elder Stow put his weapon away.
“Let me see,” he said, and Boston backed up, but kept her eyes on the roof, just in case. “I think I can fix it,” Elder Stow said. “But it will take time.”
“I thought you had the scanner tuned to give warning if the wraith showed up,” Boston protested.
“Only in physical form,” Elder Stow responded. “Apparently, she can still elude us if she is invisible and insubstantial.”
“Boston. I hear gunfire up front.” Lockhart waved her to follow, and they ran to the front, leaving Elder Stow to work.
While the cavalry got ready to charge, Decker picked two more off the city wall in the distance. He paused to wipe the sweat from his eyes.
“I think I hate the killing,” Nanette said, as she rubbed Decker’s soaking wet back.
“It is not my favorite thing in the world,” Decker said, and Nanette nodded, like she could accept that.
“The archers across the way have abandoned their post,” Katie said over the communicators. “Cavalry ready to charge.” Three hundred horses and men with spears, like Samartian lances, made neat lines in the street, about six across in the front. The rest of the battalion of foot soldiers looked ready to follow the horsemen. “Get ready.”
Katie stood, her rifle and scope ready. She fired two quick bursts of five bullets on automatic fire. Three of the horses in the front of the line went down, and a fourth lost its rider. All the same, some Sassanid gave the order. and though the horses had to start by going around or over the fallen horses, they quickly charged.
Overhead, Nanette stood and pointed her wand at the street. Decker hardly had time to tell her to get down, before a bullet came from a building across the street. Nanette concentrated. She made an invisible screen of her own in the street, and the front horses slammed into the screen, got tangled up, and broke legs and backs as they fell to the ground. Decker had to grab Nanette as the sudden push of the horses against her invisible wall almost sent her flying.
“Equal and opposite reaction,” Decker said.
Nanette held tight to her wand, seemed to have no idea what Decker might be referring to, and collapsed in his arms, a mini ball in her hip.
“Alexis,” Decker yelled, as he carried a fainting Nanette behind a chimney. He remembered and spoke into his wristwatch. “Alexis. Nanette’s been shot.”
Down below, the horses began again once Nanette’s invisible wall vanished. A few pushed around the pile-up and the rest followed.
“Determined,” Tony said, but by then, he, Lincoln, Prenner, and Katie were returning fire to the building across the way. Arman kept an eye on the horsemen. Apparently, the riflemen abandoned the wall to take on the unknown guns that were devastating them from behind. They managed to overwhelm the archers across the way, and now used their cover to fire on the travelers across the street.
Alexis stepped up to raise a great wind in the street. All the dust, dirt, small pebbles, and less pleasant things got swept up into the face of the oncoming horsemen. That stalled them again, but after only a moment, Sukki grabbed Alexis around the middle and lifted her with herself, up to the roof where Decker held Nanette.
Alexis did not argue. Sukki was worried about her sister. But Alexis shooed Sukki and Decker away with a word that Sukki should not go far. Alexis feared someone down below might end up also needing her healing skills.
Decker grabbed his rifle and sprayed the oncoming horses with several bursts of automatic fire. Men shouted and fell out of the saddles. Horses stumbled, making yet another block against a charge. Some of the horsemen at the back began to peel away, but most of them continued to come on, despite all the obstacles. The battalion of infantry stalled every time the cavalry faced a new obstacle, but most of them kept coming. Only a few began to back away as they saw what they were facing. Both the cavalry and infantry commanders of the Sassanids counted on their own riflemen to rout out the travelers. But the travelers had built a good fort, and those single shot matchlocks were not very accurate at a distance, even if the barrels were rifled, which Katie imagined they were not.
“They are massing for a final push,” Arman shouted, even as Boston came.
“Prenner,” Boston shouted. “Watch Aleah and the children and keep their heads down.”
Prenner groused. “Yes Princess,” he said, and turned invisible to walk back to the family. Boston had not thought of that, so she turned herself invisible before she stepped up and pulled out her now invisible bow and arrows. She did not have much time to treat the arrows, the way Roland and Father Mingus taught her, but they would do. She also had not practiced much with her bow, but the horsemen were less than a hundred yards off, not too far, and she only had to get close to them.
The arrow became visible the minute it left her bow, and she moved. She figured some smart enemy rifleman might figure out where she was shooting them. The arrow landed a little short of the front horses, right before they got ready for their last effort to charge. It exploded, like a rocket propelled grenade. This will work, Boston said. She fired one more, moved, and fired the third at the buildings across the street. She moved again and pulled out three more arrows to treat.
“Nice RPGs,” Katie said. “But it doesn’t appear to have stopped them. It looks like you just made them mad.”
“Like a hornet’s nest,” Lincoln said, as he ducked, and a mini ball careened off the stonework he hid behind.
Boston got mad and grabbed her wand. She sent a fireball toward horses. She did not move, and sure enough a stray bullet scraped her hip. Boston screamed and shot a second fireball at the ruins across the street. It appeared her biggest and strongest response. A couple of explosions suggested she caught some of the enemy gunpowder, but then Boston’s leg collapsed and took her to the ground. She shouted into her wristwatch, “Alexis,” even as the cavalry began to charge.
Remember,Avalon 7.8 is a four-part episode. Part 4 will post tomorrow, on Thursday. See how it turns out…