Avalon 7.5 Ali Baba and the 40 Guns, part 2 of 6

Lincoln walked up from the wagon.  He had the database out and spoke as people got down from their horses.  “Apparently, the Wolv did to the Humanoids what the Androids once did to the Anazi.  They learned to be organized, developed a command structure, and learned enough to run the technology before they rebelled against their Humanoid masters.  Most… eventually all of the Humanoid houses will be torn down, and the Wolv will rampage, eating planet after planet for a thousand years before the equipment breaks beyond their ability to repair it.  They are not dumb beasts.  They are clever and capable soldiers.  But the physics of space flight, weapons and the rest, not to mention higher mathematics, is beyond them.”

“An F-15 might develop a fault and land in the desert,” Decker said.  “But it is not likely the pilot has the expertise to repair the plane and take off again.  Much less create a spare part for whatever broke.”

“A bit more complicated than that, I imagine,” Katie said.  “But probably the right idea.”

People looked at Lincoln.  He read a second longer before he answered.  “It is more like me and the microwave oven.  I use it, but if it broke, my only option is to throw it out and get a new one.  I have no idea what microwaves even are.”

“That’s easy,” Sukki said.  “They are on the short end of the radio spectrum.  These wrist communicators are microwave transmitters.”  She smiled at the one she got when Candace gave out presents.  It made her feel included, and that made her happy.  When she looked up, she saw the others staring at her.

“Way to go Sukki,” Boston praised her.

“Must come from you,” Sukki said, shyly.  “Doctor in electrical engineering and all.”  She looked away.

“There,” Elder Stow interrupted.  “The screens are up while we discuss what to do.” He got down from his horse.

“Decker screens?” Decker asked.

“Yes,” Elder stow answered with a sigh.  “Now that I have stretched this little screen device beyond all capacity, it is a small thing to make their activation one-sided, so to speak; though that is ship to ship technology on much better equipment than this toy.  Be that is it may, they should deploy that way automatically from now on.  Sadly, I have admitted that we often need to be protected when we end a threat to ourselves and to the innocent.”

“It is a sad world we live in,” Alexis said, as she and Nanette walked to the group.  “Tony has Ghost and the wagon,” she added for Lincoln.

“My dad is the best,” Sukki said, to encourage Elder Stow.  He smiled for his adopted daughter, as a stream of white light came from the edge of the woods and reflected off the screens.

People reacted by hurrying their horses to the wagon, which they used as a hitching post.  Sukki brought Elder Stow’s horse, while he stayed up front and analyzed the readouts on his scanner.  Decker went to one side, and Katie went to the other, right up to where they could feel the screens.  That tingling feeling prevented them from walking through the screens and then not being able to get back inside the protected area.

“They are in the grasses, left and right.  One is staying behind the trees up ahead.”

“I see mine,” Decker said.  He fired.  He did not miss, but the Wolv did not appear to be hit.  It stood and returned fire, though its handheld weapon had no chance of penetrating Elder Stow’s screens.  Decker fired again and nothing happened.  The Wolv got ready to charge.  Decker flipped to automatic and fired a three-round burst.  The Wolv stalled before the charge and staggered, but the bullets did not appear to penetrate.

“Try concentrated fire on the same spot,” Katie suggested.

“Just coming to that, Major,” Decker said, shortly.

“Sir,” Katie acknowledged him and turned to her own Wolv that had gotten up to charge the group.  Decker let his rifle rip, and roughly nine bullets in, something shorted out on the Wolv.  The Wolv seemed stung by the electrical discharge, but not for long as three more bullets put it down.

At the same time, the Wolv from the trees charged the group.  Elder Stow continued to fiddle with something on his scanner.  “They seem to have developed some personal screen technology,” Elder Stow said.  He pulled his weapon which Lockhart was glad to see.  Lockhart had his shotgun but figured the Wolv would have to be right up to the screen for it to be effective.  Boston also had her wand, but she could not shoot her flamethrower very far, either.

Elder Stow let the beast-person come really close before he pointed his weapon and nothing happened.  He said something like “Oops,” and fiddled with the weapon while Lockhart let off a shotgun blast and Boston sprayed it with fire.  Katie and Decker turned and added some automatic rifle fire.  Sukki put her hand up as if to ward off the claws and teeth of the beast, even if her head told her the beast could not get inside the screens.  Something came from Sukki’s hand.  A bright-white light, much stronger than the Wolv weapon.  It looked more like Elder Stow’s weapon.  The Wolv head turned instantly to dust and ash.

“What was that?” Sukki said, staring at her own hand.

“Wow,” Boston said, and added, “Let me see.”

Sukki held both hands out, a combination of curiosity and horror across her face.  People looked, not knowing what to say.  Fortunately, they got interrupted by a voice from overhead.

“Lockhart.  Not a good time to visit, as usual.  Elder Stow, please turn off your screens so we can land.”

The words sounded muffled, coming through the screens.  “Apologies,” Elder Stow said.  “I let the air circulate through the screen, the simple gaseous elements, but I minimized the circulation to muffle the growls and roars in our face.”  He worked a second longer before he added, “There.  Screen is down.”

“Ali Baba?” Lincoln called up, as the magic carpet came down to the ground.  No one answered right away as the three people who rode on the rug had to hang on until touchdown.  The driver looked like a sage, but one just thirty.  He would have to double that age before he had the expected long gray beard.  The dwarf looked like the smallest dwarf they had ever seen, but he appeared to make up for it by growing the long beard that he had to wrap around his shoulders.  He also looked like so many short people, that he did not take guff from anyone.

“Yes, Lincoln,” Ali Baba confirmed, as he stepped from the carpet, holding a primitive looking rifle.  He handed it to Decker to examine, who quickly passed it on to Katie.  “I have forty of these rifles for twenty Romans, ten Parthians and ten Arabs, some of whom are from Persia.

“Schaibo.  please make sure the Wolv are dead.  Thanks.”  He opened his arms.  “Boston.” And she rushed into the hug.  He kissed Boston’s head, like a father might hug a daughter, and turned to Sukki, but she backed away.

“No,” she said.  “It isn’t safe.”  She held up her hands covered in fairy weave gloves, to hold him off.

“Lord Baba,” Schaibo called.  “This one is missing his head.”  The dwarf held an iron club much too big for him, but he held it like one who knew how to use it.  The travelers watched the dwarf shrug and move on to the other Wolv in the grass.

“Lord,” Boston got his attention.  “Sukki has something in her hand, like a Lockhart heat-ray.  She disintegrated the Wolv head.  You have to help her.  She scared herself.”

“It is nothing to be afraid of.  You can learn to control it,” Baba said.  “But first thing’s first.  Elder Stow, would you help me gather the Humanoid personal screens from the Wolv?”

“Yes, of course,” Elder Stow said.  “I am curious about them, myself.”

“Then we need to move on to where the scout craft came down in the woods.  I need to strip some of the equipment out of it, and we need to move on again before the Wolv send a recovery crew.  Hussain, you can pack your carpet in the wagon for the time being.” He turned on the first Wolv in the grass and briefly gagged.  Apparently, Schaibo’s version of making sure they were dead was to smash the head to a pulp.

“A real magic carpet?” Nanette asked, some awe in her voice, and Hussain nodded.

“Hussain?” Alexis asked.  Lincoln and Nanette looked at her as they walked to the wagon, so she explained, sort of.  “I read a thousand and one nights as a child.”

It did not take long to reach the scout ship.  Ali Baba went away so Martok the Bospori could come and take his place.  Being a life from the far future, Martok knew and understood the equipment even better than Elder Stow.  Between the two of them, they stripped certain systems from the inside of the ship.  They loaded up the wagon that poor Ghost would have to haul.  When Ali Baba returned to his own time and place, he got Elder Stow to turn his weapon on the ship, inside and out.

“Hopefully, the Wolv won’t realize anything was taken, or what was taken, or what might be done with what was taken.”  Lord Baba shrugged.

Avalon 7.5 Ali Baba and the 40 Guns, part 1 of 6

After 72 A.D. Syria

Kairos 90: Ali of Arabia

Recording …

“Baba,” Ahmed called and came running.  “Lord Baba.  Prince Ali has his tube working again.”  He stopped outside the tent.  “Ali Baba, are you there?”

Three women poked their heads through the tent flap.  Almeria, Ali Baba’s young wife smiled for Ahmed.  Princess Nuronnihar, Prince Ali’s wife, wondered what was happening.  Peribono, Ahmed’s own wife spoke.

“Husband.  The Lord is meditating in the woods.”  Peri stepped out to give her husband a kiss.  “He will be back shortly.”  Peribono used to be a fairy princess but became human to marry Ahmed.  She still referred to Ali Baba as her lord, though he claimed he no longer had that responsibility.  Ahmed did not mind, though.  He often called the rich, older man Lord Baba.  They all did.

Almeria spoke, a sharp tone in her words.  “He is praying that his first wife, Shayrin, not learn terrible ways from the cobbler’s wife while he is away.”

“Speaking of the cobbler…” Peri said, looking over Ahmed’s shoulder.

“Prince Ahmed,” Maruf the cobbler called.  “Your brother wants to know what is taking so long.”  He also ran to the tent.  “Antares, the Parthian and Scipio the Roman are looking at all the area around.  They have seen a strange group of people headed our way.”

Ahmed reluctantly let go of his wife to concentrate.  “Have they located the Wolv?”

“They are afraid to look in that direction,” Maruf admitted.  “Scipio says the strangers on their big horses are enough to worry about.”

“Strangers on big horses?”  A gray-bearded man of some forty-six years stepped from the nearby trees, followed by two dwarfs that had a Mutt and Jeff look about them.  The one with the extra-long beard, Schaibo, stood less than two feet tall.  The other, Boffo, looked more ogre sized, but bearded, and with a bulbous dwarf nose.  He walked hunched over, not because he had to, but because he felt embarrassed by the way he towered over his fellow dwarfs.

“Yes, Lord Baba,” Maruf said.  “Antares the Parthian says if they stop for the night, they will be only half a day away, and they are headed right toward us.”

Ali Baba sighed and walked to the meadow where the tube had been set up.  They all followed.  Prince Ali stared through the eyepiece.  Aemir the elf chief, Antares the Parthian, and Scipio the Roman all stepped back when Baba tapped Ali on the shoulder.  Ali looked, and stepped back while Baba raised the stand that held the tube to accommodate his five-foot, ten-inch height.  He turned the tube the opposite direction before he looked.

“The main Wolv fleet is parked for the moment on the Oescus river.  I think that is what it is called.  They are on the triple corner of Thrace, Moesia inferior and Moesia superior.  They are no doubt waiting to see what their scouts report.”  Baba stood and looked around.  “Your lucky day, Antares.  The Romans, not Parthians will be bloodied.”  He paused and added, “Probably to the point of being a bloody mess.”  He sighed briefly imagining all that blood but spoke differently to the group.  “No telling how many scout ships or scout-transports they sent out.”  He looked again through the tube.  “The local transport has about fifty Wolv, and unlike in the past, these appear to have some weak sort of personal shields.  The shields are certainly strong enough to deflect arrows and swords.  How they will fare against the guns will be seen.”

“I saw the shredded Parthian soldiers, and the few remains of that village,” Antares said, and shivered at the memory.

“We are only forty,” Scipio said.  “Twenty Romans, ten Parthians and ten of you Arabs.  Even with forty guns.  You say they are fifty?”

“Estimate.  Based on typical transport ship size,” Baba said.

“You got us to help,” Schaibo the dwarf said, gruffly.

“How can we hope to defeat fifty of these Wolv creatures?” Antares asked.  “We should call out the army… armies.”

Scipio agreed.  “This is one where Romans and Parthians might work together.” 

“Not going to happen,” Baba said, and swung the tube the other way.  “But my friends may help.  Let’s see.  Look.  Boston and Sukki are riding back, yelling something.  Oh, shit.  A three Wolv fighter-craft just landed in their path.”  He stood and yelled.  “Hussain.”  He turned to Ali and Ahmed.  “Where’s your brother.  Hussain.”  He spoke to the rest.  “Schaibo, stick with me.  We need to get Hussain to drive his carpet.  It is an emergency.  Hussain!”

###

“Alexis did the math,” Katie said, as she and Lockhart rode in front of the line.  Alexis and Lincoln were presently driving the wagon.  Nanette and Tony stayed with them, talking about magical things.  Since entering the time zone, Nanette learned she could levitate some small things.  She got excited and scared at the same time.

Lockhart had his eyes on the flank where Colonel Decker rode.  He could not see Decker, but he thought he saw something in the sky.  He scanned the line of trees they headed toward and briefly glanced at the other flank where Elder Stow watched, before he turned to his wife.  “Sorry,” he said.  “I got distracted by… I don’t know what.  A flock of vultures, maybe.”

Katie repeated herself.  “Alexis did the math.  Christ ministered for three years before he was crucified, and we missed the whole thing.  That was eleven years before we came into the last time zone.”  Katie stopped her horse, so Lockhart stopped, and the others halted, but Lockhart did not stop the conversation.

“Probably on purpose,” Lockhart said.  “I know there are things the Kairos has kept hidden even from us, and no doubt for good reasons.  But this is one of those things where I imagine a higher power got involved.  One of my mother’s favorite expressions was we live by faith, not by sight… what?”  He finally noticed and asked.

“I’m not sure,” Katie responded. “I sense danger ahead.”

Boston and Sukki raced back from the point.  Elder Stow came riding in from the flank at the same time.  Lockhart looked, but saw no sign of Decker.  “Decker?” Lockhart spoke into his wristwatch communicator.  He got no answer before Boston arrived.

“A ship,” Boston reported.  “It landed right in our path.”

Sukki rode up.  “We did not stick around to see what kind,” Sukki confessed.

Elder Stow came from the side, his scanner barely clipped to his belt to keep it from bouncing while he rode.  “A ship,” he shouted, and when he arrived, he unclipped the scanner and turned his eyes to the screen.  “I would guess a three-man scout ship with fighter capabilities.”

Eyes turned as Decker appeared on the other flank, riding hard, though he did appear to slow a bit when he saw the group had stopped.  People waited to hear his report.

“Humanoid ship,” Decker said.  “I caught sight of two Wolv.  I didn’t see any Humanoids, but I didn’t stick around.”

Lockhart had to think.  “One thing about roads,” he said.  “While they don’t run in a straight line, they do make it possible to have a wagon, and are easier on the horses, in general.”

Katie nodded.  “But they also make it hard to detour without risking damage going across country.”

“Sukki and I could find a way through the woods,” Boston offered.

“What is the point?” Lockhart countered.  “I imagine they landed in front of us because they found us on their long-range scanner.”

“Well said,” Elder Stow offered the compliment before he confirmed the thought.  “I am sure they are studying us at a closer range.  Probably a scout ship.”

“Maybe we could talk to them, and see what they want,” Katie suggested.

“Lunch,” Decker responded.

“They want to eat us,” Sukki agreed.  “They are just being careful first.”