Elder Stow waited while the Flesh Eater tank blasted through the last few trees that stood between them and the camp of the travelers. Lincoln and Boston had Elder Stow’s screens on full power, though Elder Stow said half power might be enough. Boston was not taking any chances.
The military meeting took place outside the camp, so the ape men, Vikings, Decker, Katie, and Lockhart were not protected by the screens, but as the travelers figured out, the Flesh Eater tank came first for the travelers. They knew the ape warship was there but figured the ape main weapon on full power would take a long time to break through their screens. They had to deal with the unknown element of the travelers first, then they guessed they would have time to take care of the warship.
Boston shouted when she saw the tank. “It looks like the Kargill weapon we decompressed back at the Men in Black headquarters when the Vordan attacked us.” The others looked at Boston with curious faces. “Lockhart would know.”
The screens skipped through red and orange and settled on a light yellowish tint that hardly showed any green, much less blue or purple. At the same time, the screens around the tank showed two places where they went immediately to a sharp, deep purple glow and appeared to strain against burning out altogether. It did not take long for two holes to appear in the Flesh Eater screens. The screens around the tank fizzed, popped, and went out altogether.
The tank exploded in several small explosions. Sukki backed up temporarily, but the explosions were not big enough to put her in danger. Elder Stow, protect by his personal screens, used his handheld weapon to fry the engine and power source. Sukki returned quick enough to melt the canon in the front of the now dead tank.
Sukki also fried a couple of Flesh Eaters she found out in the open and did not feel nearly the gilt or sorrow she felt when she fried the Vikings in the last time zone. She knew that was not right. As horrifying as the Flesh Eaters might be, they were still people, and should be treated as such. She understood what the others and the Kairos taught her, that people came in all kinds of shapes and sizes, the good and the bad living side by side. There might be millions of species in the universe. She did not know how many. But they were still people and should be respected as such, or as Boston told her, people were people no matter how small.
Sukki backed off as she lectured herself. She still did not feel bad about frying a couple of Flesh Eaters, but maybe she hoped the rest would stay hidden in the trees where she could not get at them easily. Besides, she was tired. That took a lot out of her. She flew back to the military meeting.
When Elder Stow joined her, the two became visible again. Elder Stow reached for his scanner and took a moment to study and report the results. “There are a half-dozen in the woods, still alive. They have three humans that appear to be prisoners. Wait a moment.” Elder Stow touched a spot on his scanner. People waited, though nothing appeared to happen until all heads turned toward the popping sound in the forest. It sounded a bit like firecrackers. “I have remotely burned out the Flesh Eater personal screens, which were not very good in any case.” To the Ape men he said, “Now, when you find them, your weapons will be affective on their unprotected flesh.”
“You flew…” the Ape commander said. “Invisible… and now burned-out Eater personal screens, remotely, using something only the size of your hand…” The awe in the Ape commander’s voice could easily be heard, even by the humans, a different species.
Elder Stow turned to explain to Lockhart and Katie. “I analyzed the Flesh Eater screens in the last time zone and allowed for fifty years of improvements. My scanner has been working on the necessary alignment frequencies to burn them out. The scanner does not have much range, you know. If there are some still in the hills, or maybe in a lead or iron lined cave, they will likely still have functioning screens.”
“Wolv all over again,” Lockhart said.
“Not far from true,” Elder Stow said. “The Humanoids had very primitive personal screens which the Wolv spread all over this edge of the galaxy. These Flesh Eater screens appear to be built using the same technology and principles, so they must have come across the Wolv at some point.”
“And we missed it?” Decker said with a straight face. “It must have been a battle, seeing Wolv and Flesh Eaters go toe to toe.”
“Colonel,” Katie spoke up. “The Humanoids ate flesh raw as well.”
“Yes,” Lockhart said. “I had forgotten.”
“Can we go help those people?” Sukki interrupted. “They have prisoners.”
The others nodded and Elder Stow asked. “You still have your discs to protect you from ambient Vr energy?” People nodded again as they headed toward the woods. The Apes had big helmets that did the same thing. The Vikings had no such protection, but at least Lockhart imagined any attack on the Viking minds would simply enrage them and send them, at least temporarily, into berserker mode.
They found Boston, Nanette, and Tony on the edge of the woods awaiting their arrival. Boston turned off Elder Stow’s screens, left the device with Lincoln, and left Lincoln and Alexis with Astrid and Eric to defend the camp.
“You don’t have to do this,” Decker told Nanette.
“Neither do you,” she responded, a bit snippy, and pulled her wand.
“You are going to make my job a lot harder,” he said.
“Good.” She would not let him go off and get killed on his own. He stared at her. She reddened a bit but did not care about that.
“Come on,” Boston urged. “I can smell them.”
Lockhart looked at Tony who had his M1911 handgun in his hand. Tony answered the look. “I was not going to let the women go alone.”
“Fair enough,” Decker said as he pulled his eyes from Nanette.
“They are about thirty yards straight in,” Elder said and pointed.
Kerga pointed left and right. Jarl and Harrold took men left and right to circle around. The Ape commander sent one Ape with each group of Vikings. They waited a minute while Boston bit her tongue before she spouted again.
“Keep your eyes and ears open,” Lockhart said as he stepped forward.
Three Flesh eaters opened fire as soon as the group got close enough to show clear targets. One Viking got a hole in his chest. One Ape soldier got hit in the arm. Decker anticipated the ambush and went to the ground. The shot went over his head while he and Katie both returned fire and put that Flesh Eater down. At the same time, Nanette raised her wand and the Flesh Eater weapons got yanked from their hands and floated ten feet up in the air. Jarl, Harrold, and their men charged from the sides and the other two Flesh Eaters got run through by multiple spears and swords.
Boston raced passed the flesh eaters at elf speed. Sukki followed, almost as fast. They found the three humans tied beside a big tree. One screamed. One would not look at them. The third looked barely alive. He had a piece of shrapnel in his chest, probably from when the tank exploded.
They found five Flesh Eaters on the ground in various degrees of life. If not caught in the tank explosion, they probably got wounded when their personal screens blew. One held a Vr projector, and he grinned as his tongue shot out and in, like he was tasting the smell of their blood. He turned on the projector, and the Vikings shouted and put their hands to their heads, but Elder Stow ended that problem. With his hand weapon, he fried the projector. Then he fried the head of the Flesh Eater.
The Vikings, enraged, as Lockhart imagined they would be, did not let the remaining Flesh Eaters live, though most of them would have died soon in any case. No Ape needed to draw his weapon.