Avalon 8.10 Refugees, part 3 of 4

Aiko sat on the log Decker pulled up to sit by the fire, though the fire had been put out.  He stared at the ring of stones that surrounded where the fire had been and imagined other stone circles he had seen, some with big stones that no man could lift.   He also stared at Elder Stow, the Neanderthal, and wondered if the man lived in Hokkaido among the primitive people there.  But he shook his head.  The flying woman of power had the same look, and they had no such people living on Hokkaido, unless the scholars were all mistaken.

“Ready,” Elder Stow said, and Boston turned to the man.

“Why have you and your men come to the mountain?” she asked plainly.

Elder Stow touched his device, one he had not shown before.  Aiko jumped from the slight electrical shock that struck him.

“Let’s try this again.  Why are you here?” Boston asked.

Aiko shook his head more vigorously, and the electrical shock was a tad stronger.  He jumped again and opened his mouth.  “The lady does not know about her father being sick and dying.  I told you the truth.  Her brother sent us to inform her and bring her to see him, if she is willing.”

“That is not entirely true,” Boston said, her truth detector being on high alert.

“Mostly true, but some part is a lie,” Elder Stow agreed, and Aiko got a larger electrical shock.  He shrieked, and Alexis came over from helping Lincoln hitch-up Ghost to the wagon.

“What are you doing?” she asked, demanding an answer

“Trying to get the truth,” Boston said, never taking her eyes off Aiko.

Alexis raised her voice.  “We do not torture people.  I can’t believe you.  What are you doing?  Leave the man alone.”

Decker and Tony arrived, and Decker immediately spoke up.  “Do you want me to kill him?  That would solve the problem.”

“Decker!”  Nanette followed Alexis to the group, and she did not hesitate to yell, but Decker just grinned, albeit, looking a bit like a shark.  Aiko withdrew from the grin and the fact that Decker was black.  He never saw a black man before, and it made him think frightening thoughts.

Boston came out with it.  “You and your men were sent to kill Hideko.  Why?”

Aiko broke down and covered his eyes.  He felt frightened and ashamed and would not look at anyone.  “My lord, Kiyomori is afraid of her.  She is the eldest and he fears she may claim this whole province as an inheritance.  She has proved herself a worthy and formidable leader of warriors, and this place is separated from the other provinces he controls.  He fears she may succeed in taking the land and men, and he wishes to keep all of the land and the warriors under his control.  He has plans.  But please.  I am only a soldier.  I do not know what his plans are.”  He appeared to weep a little.

Lockhart interrupted the scene.  “I need three of those discs.  We have three visitors.”

Boston took the disc she got back from Aiko.  She stuck her hand out and Tony and Decker gave her theirs.  She handed all three to Lockhart who turned around, having decided he did not want to know what was going on.  He would hear all about it in a moment.

“We don’t torture people,” Nanette yelled again to get back on topic.

“We would not have hurt him,” Elder Stow said, quietly.  He got interrupted by Lincoln who came over with Sukki.  “Everything packed and saddled.  We are ready to go.”

“I’m ashamed of you people,” Alexis concluded.

“Go ahead,” Boston said to Elder Stow.  He had his weapon out and seriously worked on the controls while he watched his lie detector.  He turned the power of the weapon down to almost nothing.  He hesitated, but only for a second before he shot Aiko.  The man collapsed.

“Elder Stow!  Boston!”  Alexis scolded them again and checked the warrior.  “He will live, but I imagine he won’t be moving for quite a while.”  She gave the two a hard look but could not imagine what else she might say.  Nanette appeared to be silenced as well.  Fortunately, Katie and Lockhart soon showed up with their three guests, and Lincoln broke the tense silence.

“All packed up and ready to go,” he reported.  He even tried to smile.

“Good,” Lockhart began to respond, but Hideko interrupted him.

“Boston.” she opened her arms, and Boston ran for her hug, but it felt half-hearted.

“I may have gone too far again,” she said softly and backed up.  “But not,” she insisted.  “He has a hundred warriors down the hill, and they were sent by Kiyomori to kill you.”

Hideko merely nodded and introduced her companions, Tomoe the elder Gozen and Hangaku the younger.  Then she looked at Aiko and spoke to everyone.  “You may have just delayed things.  If killing me is what he has been commanded to do, he is honor bound to succeed or die trying.  If he fails and survives, Kiyomori will kill him.  There are times in the history of this nation when suicide seems the only honorable way out after such a failure.  Stupid.  I much prefer your American solution to failure.”

“What is that?” Tony asked.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

People did not know what to say, so Lockhart changed the subject.  “What else did you find out?”

Elder Stow spoke up.  He appreciated the change in subject.  “I have been watching my screens.  We have seven Ouran who I believe are the genetically modified super soldiers we were warned about.  They are blocked by the screens, but I imagine they know what screens are.  It appears they may bring their shuttle craft close to try and blast through.  Meanwhile, we have a hundred warriors, as Boston reported.  They have come up to the side of the screens and I imagine they have no idea what it is, but they are trying to see if there is a way around.  I suspect they will run into the super soldiers any minute now.”

“Recommendation?” Decker asked, though it was not really his place to ask.

Elder Stow nodded.  “I was thinking, you can take the discs, probably in two shifts.  There is a road that direction,” he pointed.

“Where we are going,” Hideko said quietly to Katie.

Elder Stow continued.  “I can stay here and keep the screens up.  When you send the word that you are away, or if these Ouran try to follow you, I can turn off the screens, go invisible and fly to catch you up.”

“I can stay with him,” Sukki said, but Elder Stow shook his head.

“Not this time, daughter.  You are the only one with the power to take down the shuttle if it should suddenly fly off to pursue the group.  You remember how to take out the engines and can cause them to crash, whatever else you might do.  I will stay until I hear from you.  I will be all right, and I have my personal shield if something should go wrong.”

“Be careful,” Tony said.  “These super soldiers appear to be telepathic.  They tried to get into our minds but were kept out by the hedge of the gods.  I assume you are equally protected, but I do have a bit of a headache.”

“I was just going to say that,” Decker said.

“Yes sir, Colonel,” Tony responded.  “But I pay attention to magic and all that stuff.  Elder Stow thinks more like you, in terms of logical, scientific explanations, but the universe can’t always be explained in that way. Sorry.”

“Fair enough,” Lockhart said.  “Let’s get going.”

“I will ride with Katie,” Hideko said.  “Tomoe, you ride with Alexis.  I want you to hear good things about making peace.  Hangaku, you can ride with Nanette and hear all about her wedding plans.”  Hideko smiled for the couple who quickly looked at each other.

“I didn’t say anything,” Decker said, and held his hands up.

Nanette looked down, like she did not want to look at anyone.  “He asked me to marry him, and I said yes.”

The women cheered and took turns hugging Nanette.  Elder Stow and Tony said congratulations and shook Decker’s hand.  Lockhart, Lincoln, and Decker passed glances.  Lockhart backed away and Lincoln looked like he wanted to say something, but kept his mouth closed for once.


Don’t forget Thursday’s post to finish the episode…


Avalon 8.10 Refugees, part 2 of 4

Decker turned off his wristwatch.  Tony turned the volume on his watch to minimum and followed.  The colonel was teaching him combat skills which he feared he would need once he got back to his own time.  He tried not to think about World War One, but from what little he gathered, it would be a bloody and ultimately indecisive war.  World War Two would follow.  Well. he thought.  The Italians would switch from the winning side to the losing side.  That did not surprise him.

“Hush,” Decker said and squatted down behind a bush.  Tony inched up to where he could see.  Several men—they looked mostly like men—stood in a nearby clearing, conferring.  They had two arms with what looked like five fingered hands, a torso and two legs, and one head, a bit large, but with relatively human-like facial features.  Their noses pushed up, the ears were extra small, the lips extra thick, and they were completely bald, but they might have passed in human company if it was not for the blue tint in their skin.

One alien appeared to be talking through a communicator with the shuttle, or maybe a more distant main ship.  The other two talked quietly with each other until the one on the communicator suddenly stopped talking and turned his head to look right at the bush where Decker and Tony were hiding.  Tony saw the yellow eyes, what he considered the final proof of their alien nature.  The two who were talking quietly also stopped talking and turned to stare at the bush.

Tony felt some pressure on his mind.  It made him squint, and he thought it might give him a headache.  Decker stood up.  He started getting used to things trying to get into his head, like ghouls and Vr projectors.  He spoke to the aliens.  “This planet is off limits to alien species.  You do not belong here.”

The pressure on his brain receded and the one that talked on the communicator, the evident leader of the group, spoke.

“We are greater Ouran.  Some lesser Ouran came to this world not far from here.  We must find them and remove them.”

Tony stood.  He holstered his handgun but left the strap unsnapped.  “What do you mean, remove them?” he asked.

The Ouran commander did not pause.  “They are escaped slaves.  Their removal will depend on their degree of cooperation.”  He did not say it in so many words, but both Tony and Decker understood if the escaped slaves did not cooperate, they would be killed.  That especially rankled Decker.

“Maybe we will make this a sanctuary planet,” he said.

“You have no authority nor the ability to stop us” the commander said.  “And you would not like it if we have to force you to cooperate.”

Decker turned on his wristwatch and spoke.  “These people are called Ouran.  Our group is soldiers hunting escaped slaves.  We will be returning to base for orders.  Keep an eye on our progress.  Out.”

“Roger,” Elder Stow responded, and then there was silence.  Decker and Tony slowly turned around and walked back toward the camp.  They both knew that one of the Ouran soldiers followed them, but they came to the screens and passed through with the discs Elder Stow gave them.  The soldier banged his foot and could not get beyond the screens.  He no doubt reported his finding.


Boston had to do some convincing, but she got Sukki to agree to her plan.

The human samurai-like soldiers were bunched up at the bottom of the hill.  Boston ran to them, and showing some remarkable elf speed, she ran circles around them, slapped a number of them on the chest, and ran back up the hill to stop and stare at them.  She had to stare before she could talk.  She winded herself and had to catch her breath.

The samurai did not know what to do other than shout.  Boston had removed her glamour of humanity, so she stood there in her red-headed, skinny elf glory.  Her eyes shifted from face to face, and then she spoke.  “What are you doing on my mountain?”  No man said a word.  “Speak, or I will taunt you again.”  She tried not to giggle at her memory of Monty Python.

One man stepped forward.  He bowed, not knowing what else to do.  “I am Aiko of the Taira, and our master owns all this land, and the mountain, though I suppose he may not argue about the mountain if you ask him.”  He bowed again.

“But what are you doing here?” she asked and thought of what Lockhart said.  “Who are you looking for?”

The men shuffled their feet.  Aiko looked around before he shook his head.  They would not say.

“Sukki,” Boston called.  She figured if their purpose was not nice, they would probably refuse to tell her.  Sukki flew in, but overhead she saw one of the samurai in the back of the group had an arrow on his bow and pointed it straight at Boston.  Suki threw one hand out.  She tried to cause the man to go unconscious, but she fried him and felt terrible about it when the man screamed and collapsed.

“Boston?” Sukki asked.  Boston gave Sukki a hug, which she needed.

“These men won’t tell me why they are here,” Boston moped.  Sukki simply had to look at the men and Aiko spouted.

“Taira no Tadamori is deathly ill, and Taira no Hideko needs to be told.  Her brother Kiyomori sent us to fetch her, if she will come,” the man lied, and Boston knew it was a lie.  She had to think of what to do, but only took a second.

“Aiko.  You must come with us.  The rest of you need to wait here no matter how long it takes.  Come.  Don’t make me tell you again.”

Aiko reluctantly followed as they quickly moved out of sight from the men, among the trees.  When they got to where the screens projected, Boston kept back and let Aiko walk into the screens.  Sukki walked right in, having a disc, but Aiko could not proceed.  Boston smiled and handed the man the disc she had been given to come and go through the projection.

“This is a magic token that will let you enter the place of mystery.  Guard it with your life.”  She gave him the disc and he walked right through the place where he had previously been stopped.  Wonder filled the man’s eyes, as Boston phased through the screens and Sukki ran ahead to tell everyone to remove their glamours.  Sukki had put hers on, so she looked like a Neanderthal.

“Ameratsu protect me,” the man whispered as he came face to face with Alexis.

“Ameratsu was a very nice girl,” Alexis said, and smiled for the man.

“I remember Ameratsu,” Boston piped up.  “That was ages ago.”

The man trembled.


Lockhart and Katie came into a meadow where they found some blue tinted people.  The people looked scared and stopped to face these new people.  Lockhart and Katie hardly knew what to think before a woman in her mid-to-late forties stood up from the grass where she had been completely hidden.  She held something like a pole with a curved sword attached to one end.  She spun the pole and stepped up to hug Lockhart and Katie and she shouted.

“It’s all right.  You can all get up.  These are friends.”  She turned to the blue skinned people.  “You need to keep walking.  We need to get to the school by sundown.”

“Hideko?”  Lockhart asked, Lincoln not being there.

Hideko nodded and yelled.  “Gozen.”  Two young girls answered.  The older one said, “What?” rather sharply.  “The young one said, “Here I am,” sweetly.  They attended Hideko, and Kate widened her eyes.

“Two elect.  You have two elect in your school?”  Katie was surprised.

“And you are one of us,” the elder Gozen said.  The younger one just stared.

Katie pointed to the younger one.  “I could still see you when you were hiding.”

“She is young.  Just learning,” Hideko said and reached out to hug the girl.  “This is Hangaku.  The grumpy older one is Tomoe.  Where is Boston?”

“Back in the camp,” Lockhart said.  “You have warriors sneaking around.  Boston and Sukki went to check on the humans.  Decker and Tony checked on the aliens.”

“Ouran soldiers hunting down escaped slaves,” Katie remembered.

Hideko understood.  She turned to the girls waiting in the field, and the bluish people that had paused in the field.  “Ladies.  Take these refugees to the school and let them rest in the open room until I get there.”  She said more quietly.  “Gozens, stay with me.” and to Lockhart, “Lead the way.”

Avalon 8.7 Escaping, part 6 of 6

Elder Stow stood outside the door to the Ape ship when Lincoln, Alexis, Nanette, and Tony arrived.  Tony went to the wagon where Ghost dutifully stood in the shadow of the ship munching on a small pile of oats Tony left at the back of the wagon.  He watered the mule while Lincoln and Nanette dug out four of the solar powered lanterns the travelers sometimes used in the night.  They would need them to light the halls and rooms in the ship if they did not want to go with the emergency lighting alone.

Alexis stepped up to the door but stopped when she saw Elder Stow alternately staring into the distance and staring at his scanner.  “What?” she asked as she turned her own eyes to the edge of the rise where all the Berbers and their horses got killed.  It was far enough away so she thankfully she did not have to see all the details.

“Six people.  Maybe seven,” Elder stow said.  “Seven horses.  They are coming this way.  And I am picking up thirty or more—what should I call them—disturbances that appear to be checking the Berbers like an opposing army might check the dead on a battlefield, to be sure the dead are actually dead.”

“Disturbances?”  Alexis thought for a second.  “Like little ones?”  Elder Stow nodded.  “Maybe it is Yasmina.”

Elder Stow appeared to relax. “That would explain it.”

“Alexis,” the cry came through the wristwatches.  Boston sounded anxious.

“Coming,” Alexis responded.  “The Kairos appears to be on the horizon and headed in our direction,” she added and stepped into the ship.  Nanette followed and made a path of three lanterns between the door and the central chamber where Sukki and Boston had Captain Argh down, lying flat on the floor.  Lincoln came with his gun drawn just in case there were more Apes around, or maybe a Flesh Eater that snuck in the open door.

When they arrived, Alexis took a deep breath and went to work on the Ape’s leg.  She put her hands near the wound and her hands began to glow.  Soon, the wounded area glowed as well, and the unconscious Ape appeared to sigh.

“I’m going to see Yasmina,” Boston announced and headed toward the door.  Sukki added a word for Lincoln before she followed.

“Boston and Elder Stow examined the main lines and concluded they are damaged beyond repair.  Even if Elder Stow could power up the ship, it would not be able to fly.  They might be able to send a distress call, but that is about it.”  She jogged to catch up to Boston.

“And you are?” Captain Argh opened his eyes and started to come around.

“Your doctor.  Hush,” Alexis said.  “Nanette is my apprentice, and Lincoln is my husband, now keep still.”

The captain seemed to nod and closed his eyes again.

Boston arrived outside in time to see a young woman introduce her companions to the travelers, who had arrived with their seven prisoners and seven extra horses.  “Muhammad al Rahim is my faithful friend,” she pointed to the old man who looked armored and carried plenty of weapons in the heat. “Aisha is my elf maid, or near as one gets to one in these parts.”  The maid appeared to genuflect to the travelers.  It looked like something between a bow and a curtsey.  “And this…” She pulled a young man forward.

“Hello,” the man said in a very unpretentious voice.  “These are my men.”  He pointed to the three men with him.

Yasmina continued with a big grin.  “This is Ala al Din.”  She waited.

It took a few seconds before Katie blurted out, “Aladdin?”  Yasmina nodded.

“We already did the genie bit.  At least, the first half of it.  Aladdin lost the lamp.”

“What is it with you” Lockhart said.  “Every time it gets stranger and harder to believe.”

“We met Ali Baba and the three sons of Sassan and their magical artifacts, including the magic carpet,” Katie said.

“And Sinbad,” Lockhart remembered.  “We fought skeleton-zombies.”

“And now Aladdin?  Hard to believe,” Katie finished.

“Stranger and stranger.” Lockhart shook his head again.

“Can’t argue with that,” Decker added under his breath.

“I’ve done all I can,” Alexis’ voice came from the wristwatches present.  “Captain Argh needs to stay off his leg as much as possible for the next week or so, but I believe it will heal from here without infection.  He might be able to travel if he had a place to go.”

Yasmina reached out and grabbed Katie’s wrist to answer.  “Tell the captain to be patient.  Elder Stow and I will be there shortly to see what we can work out.  I have just a couple of things to do first.”

“Roger,” Lincoln answered as Yasmina backed up and opened her arms.

“Boston.”  Boston ran into the hug, and it was hard to tell which young woman grinned the hardest.  Yasmina whispered. “Do I sound confident, like I know what I am doing?”

“You are doing a great job,” Boston whispered back.

“Thanks,” Yasmina squeezed the elf. “You know I am just making it up as I go along.”

“That works,” Boston said and took a step back.  “It is all we ever do.”  Yasmina looked down, humbly, but nodded.

One of the seven Berber prisoners took that moment to make a run for it. Al Rahim pulled his sword. Aladdin’s three men pulled their swords, like men who had learned to follow the lead of the old man.  Decker raised his rifle, but they all stopped when they saw two ogre-like monsters rise right up out of the sand.  While the man screamed, the monsters grabbed the man from each side and ripped him in half.  They sank back into the earth and took their prizes with them.

Al Rahim yelled at the remaining six Berbers.  “That was foolish.  Any of the rest of you want to try that?”

“No.  No, please.  Please, no.”  The Berbers looked frightened to the point of tears.

“You need to stay here, touch nothing, and keep quiet until the princess gives you permission to leave.  Is that understood?”

“Yes.  Yes, Lord.  Understood.  Yes.  Thank you.”

Al Rahim turned from the Berbers to see Yasmina had already gone inside the ship with Elder Stow, Boston, Sukki, and Aladdin in her trail.  Tony stepped up to the crew with a pointed question.

“Should I start to set up the camp for the night?”

Lockhart shrugged, but Katie and Al Rahim spoke at the same time.  “Might as well.”


Yasmina let the six Berbers go that evening.  Aladdin picked the best of the seven horses for his stables, he said.  The six men rode off on the six other horses.  Lockhart was surprised she just let them ride off.

“I thought that was better than killing them,” she explained.  “They won’t remember the guns, the aliens, or you, or anything.  They will head back to the capitol and by the time they get there, they will remember searching for me, but think they had to battle troops loyal to the Emir of Egypt and they won, but they alone survived the encounter.”

“Nice tall tale” Katie said.

Yasmina smiled and nodded.  “I am sure Creeper the imp will spice up the tale by the time they arrive.”

“This isn’t Fatimid territory?” Katie asked, and Tony said he was just wondering the same thing.

“Sallum is as far as certain Fatimid territory goes,” al Rahim answered for the princess who seemed more comfortable talking quietly with Aisha, Boston, Nanette, and Sukki.  “Between Sallum and El Alamein is territory no one fully owns.  After El Alamein, the land remains in Abbasid hands through the Emir of Egypt, but I will not count the Princess safe until we reach Alexandria.”

Yasmina interrupted.  “Except now I will spend the next ten days or more here cleaning up this mess.”  Clearly, while she spoke with the girls, she kept one ear open for the other conversation.  “Lockhart.  You will have ten days to get to the time gate.  Then we head for El Alamein, and that may help move the gate toward you, but be careful it doesn’t pass you by.”

Lockhart said he understood, but Decker changed the subject as he turned to Aladdin.  “So, what is your story?”

“Me?” Aladdin looked surprised that anyone would be interested in him.  “I lost the lamp and the Sharif sent me on a diplomatic mission to the Fatimids, maybe hoping I would get killed.  The Djin did not have to work hard for that. The Sharif’’s daughter and I were close.  The Imam who stole the lamp wanted her and wanted me out of the way.  You see, the Caliph told the Emir of Egypt to make peace. The Emir told the Sharif and the Sharif told me.  That was that.  Anyway, I had a minor post in the diplomatic mission, but the Isma’ili fanatics were not interested in peace.  Most of the mission got killed for heresy, but Princess Yasmina saved me and my men.  We owe her our lives.”

“And now you are going home?” Alexis asked.

Aladdin nodded.  “And I will marry the girl, if she will have me, even if her father is the Sharif.”

“Good luck,” Decker said, and glanced at Nanette.

In the morning, Yasmina said there was another one to send home. They got the Ape shuttle out of the main ship. Captain Argh complained that it was not capable of interstellar travel, and he certainly expected his few ships to be long gone, but Yasmina assured him it would do.  Elder Stow charged the ship, fully.  All Captain Argh had to do was pilot it toward deep space and he would be found.

“Sometimes you must trust others,” Eder Stow said.  “Even if they are not your species.”

“A good lesson,” Yasmina said.  They all said good-bye to Captain Argh and wished him well.  Yasmina also said good-bye to the travelers.  Then she complained. “Al Rahim!  It is going to take forever to clean up this mess.  Aladdin.  Don’t touch anything.”



Don Giovanni runs the Greatest Show on Earth (a bit of temporal tampering), but mostly they run through the Black Forest because the Big Bad Wolv have landed.  Until Monday, Happy Reading.







Avalon 8.7 Escaping, part 5 of 6

The travelers with the Berbers rode to the Flesh Eater ship and shook their heads, thinking there was no way any Flesh Eaters survived the crash when Elder Stow’s message came through their wristwatch communicators.  There were Flesh Eaters around, or at least one.

Lincoln, Alexis, and Decker all turned the sound down on their watches.  Nanette and Tony heard but did not know what to do about the message.  Katie and Lockhart both got ready to respond, and Lockhart spoke.

“Roger that.”

They got down along with about half of the Berbers.  The head man stayed a bit in the saddle to use the height to look around.  “I see it would be pointless to try and separate some of you when you can send messages to each other over a distance,” the head man said.

“We have several surprises,” Lockhart responded, not spelling things out.  The travelers got their various weapons, handguns, and wands while the Berbers uncovered and pulled some primitive rifles from their own saddles.

“I guessed,” Decker said.

“I didn’t,” Lincoln said, and everyone stopped when they heard Boston’s voice over their watches.

“Alexis.  We need you.  Captain Argh, the Ape pirate captain has a hole in his leg that needs to be healed.”

“Emergency?” Alexis asked.

“No.  He says it happened yesterday.”

“A bit busy right now,” Alexis responded.  “Be there when I can.”

“Stay off the com,” Decker said.  “We are going in.”

They wanted quiet, now knowing at least one Flesh Eater awaited, maybe inside.  The Flesh Eater surprised them.  A weapon fired, a sickly green light, and one of the Berber riders and his horse collapsed.  Decker returned fire. even as the Berbers shouted, screamed, and threw their hands to their ears or collapsed to the ground in agony.  The travelers still carried the discs which protected them from the Vr energy.  Elder Stow insisted they keep them until the days of the Flesh Eaters passed.  Clearly, the Berbers had no such protection.

The head Berber, still on his horse with three of his men, turned and rode off at all speed.  Lockhart added a shotgun blast to the one Decker shot at, but Katie hesitated until she saw a different Flesh Eater carrying the Vr projector.  She remembered that they had personal screens of some sort that protected them from swords, knives, spears, arrows, and even bullets up to a point.  It might take a dozen bullets from her high-powered advanced military rifle to penetrate.  But the projector had no such protection as far as she was aware.  She pulled the trigger and on the third shot, the projector exploded, knocking the Flesh Eater to the ground, and cutting off the projection of Vr energy.

The Flesh Eater with the hand weapon that tried to keep its head down after shooting one of the Berbers eventually succumbed to rifle fire.  Fortunately, around the wreckage of the ship, there were plenty of places for the travelers to hide behind.  Decker and Lockhart rushed forward when the Vr projector exploded.  Decker finished the one with the handgun.  Lockhart pumped three shotgun slugs into the one stunned by the explosion of the projector.  He saw when the second slug burned out the personal screen and penetrated.  The third slug finished the Flesh Eater.

Lincoln, Tony, Alexis, and Nanette pushed carefully around the outside of the action.  They found three more Flesh Eaters in various stages of dead and dying.  They lay propped up against pieces of the hull that blew off the Flesh Eater ship and got partially buried in the sand.  One Flesh Eater already looked dead.  One appeared to be unconscious.  The third was missing an arm, but he otherwise stared at the travelers through malevolent eyes, his tongue darting out now and then to taste the blood in the air.  He spoke.  The only time the travelers heard a Flesh Eater speak.

“My world is destroyed.  The enemy world is destroyed.  My ship may have been the last.  The enemy ship may have been the last.  Your world is off limits to outsiders?”  It paused and coughed, or maybe laughed.  “No world is off limits to the people.  Your world should be eaten.”  It coughed or laughed again as Tony fired six bullets into the alien.  Alexis and Nanette both made a sound of protest, but neither outright objected nor said anything.  Lincoln shot the other two, the one that appeared unconscious and the one that seemed to be already dead, just to be safe.

Katie came out from inside that section of the ship that remained intact.  She commented to Lockhart and Decker who disarmed the recovering Berbers and got them to sit on the sand while they waited for another Flesh Eater to show up, if there were any more.  “It doesn’t smell as bad as the old Balok ships.”  Katie pulled up her hand and spoke into her wristwatch.  “Elder Stow.  We could use your scanner to see if there are any more Flesh Eaters around that we have not accounted for.”

“I apologize, my mother.  I was just thinking it is too bad I could not be in two places at once.”

“Boss,” Boston interrupted to report to Lockhart.  “Captain Argh can see the Berbers on his scanner monitor.  They appear to be preparing to charge the ships, and they got guns.  Captain Argh did not know better, but I can analyze the material and did the math.  Sukki confirmed.”

Katie turned to the men beside her.  “My feeling is they don’t want to lose us as prisoners.  They want to capture us again now that we have eliminated the Flesh Eaters.

“Or kill us if capture is not possible,” Decker suggested.

“I agree,” Lockhart said.

“I agree,” Lincoln echoed as he stepped up with the others from the back.

Decker spoke into his watch and got straight to the point.  “Any people in this age with guns are to be considered enemy combatants.  They need to be eliminated.”  He looked at Katie and she nodded.

“We are still a few hundred years before black powder shows up in Europe.” she said.  “And cannon before handguns.”

In the Ape ship, Sukki began to panic.  “What can we do about the Berbers?  There are so many of them.”

“We can intercept them before they reach the other ship,” Elder Stow said, and he pulled his weapon and his scanner.  He got on the com.  “My Father.  I can see from here.  The scan shows five Flesh Eaters, but none appear to be moving.  I believe you got them all.  We will attempt to cut off the Berbers as they pass us by.  Hopefully, you will be presented with a manageable number.”

“Don’t risk yourself or the girls,” Katie responded.

Boston got out her wand before she went invisible.  Captain Argh swiveled his chair to face a different monitor that came up from the floor.  He ran a finger along a bar on the console, adjusted one knob, and pressed a button.  He held his finger on the button while the lights in the command center flickered and went out.

Sukki, Elder Stow, and Boston, who became visible again, all watched on the monitor.  A wide blue light came from the Ape ship.  The Berbers and horses fell to the ground just before they began their charge.  A few at the back of the pack survived but turned to run off.  The monitor shut down and some kind of yellow emergency lighting became the only light in the room.

“You ended the Eaters.  My mission is complete, so I ended the threat to you.  It was the last bit of power from my fuel cells.”  He sighed, put one hand to his wounded leg, and appeared to pass out.

Boston got on her watch right away.  “Alexis.  Captain Argh needs help.  Please hurry.”

“As quick as I can,” Alexis said, and turned off her wristwatch communicator.  “I don’t know what she expects.  I have no idea what Ape anatomy might be like.”

“Do what you tell me,” Nanette said.  “Just do your best.”

Alexis nodded and mounted, and Lincoln, Tony, and Nanette rode with her to the Ape ship.  Lockhart, Katie, and Decker had seven Berber prisoners and seven Berber horses to deal with.

Avalon 8.6 Standing Still, part 6 of 6

They untied the three men and Lockhart was the one who named the wounded one.  “Engelbroad,” he called the man.

The man coughed and spit.  He would not live long.  “Engel,” he said.  “Engel Bronson, king’s man.  I fixed their tank after they crashed. Ungrateful…”  He began to cough up some blood.  “I strengthened their screens and enhanced their photon canon.  I warned them about you, but I see I did not enhance their weapon nearly enough.”  He had to stop talking.  He moaned and seemed unable to stop the bleeding.  “A mistake I will not make again,” he said, and it was the last thing he said.

Meanwhile, the Ape commander asked Kerga what he would do with the Eater bodies.  “Bury them, like the Christians,” Kerga said.  “They do not deserve the flames.  We will give them a good Christian burial, and as they say, may God have mercy on their souls.”

“Hey!” Decker shouted.  One of the freed men started to scream and ran off.  Nanette pulled her wand to stop the man, but Decker lowered Nanette’s hand.  “Let him go.  I don’t know if we can help him.”

Harrold came to look.  “He is Vanlil,” Harrold said.  “A man of the mountains.  We fought them when I was young.  He has no welcome here.”

“Come,” Kerga shouted generally to everyone.  “We must celebrate.”

The Ape commander shook his head.  “We are under strict instructions not to mingle.  Though I do not understand why the Gott-Druk is here.”  He stared at Elder Stow.

Lockhart answered.  “The Gott-Druk and the Elenar are native to this planet tens of thousands of years ago.  They are allowed to visit if they do not draw attention to themselves.  I don’t know if that explains it.  Lincoln has the database.  He could explain it better.”

“This is the world where my people began,” Elder Stow said.

“And another reason why this world is supposed to be off limits to outsiders.  The Gott-Druk, The Elenar, the Imuit all began here and keep an eye on this world.”

The Ape commander understood something, anyway.  He took his crew back to his ship.  They would probably be a while before they lifted off.

The travelers went through their camp and picked up Lincoln, Alexis, Eric and Astrid, and from there they went to the big house to celebrate.  That consisted mostly of the men drinking, bragging, and showing how strong, or as Alexis called it, how stupid they could be.  The travelers did not stay long.  Katie only asked one question to Captain Jarl.

“Where did that third man go?”

“He said nothing the whole time,” Nanette agreed.

“He said he had to take the king’s ship out that evening,” Jarl said.  “You might still catch a glimpse of the sail, but he said he had to get back and report to the king.  Now that Engel died, it fell on him to bring the bad news.”

“Come on,” A man interrupted.  “They are sending Engel off in old man Knute’s ship.  The old man will have to make another ship for when he dies, if he ever dies.”

Katie insisted on witnessing a real Viking funeral.  Tony and Nanette went with her, but Lockhart took the others back to the camp.


Kirstie arrived the very next morning.  She started out happy to see her friends.  She hugged her son, Soren, and added a hug for his friend Hodur.  She hugged Inga and introduced her husband Wilam to the group.  “Wilam is from Danelaw.”  Boston stood the whole time turning her toe in the dirt and trying to be patient.  But at last, Kirstie opened her arms wide and yelled, “Boston,” though Boston was only a few feet away.

Boston grinned a true elf grin, and Wilam came close to matching it on his human face.  “I started to think you forgot me,” Boston said.

“Never,” Kirstie responded and gave an extra squeeze before she let go.  “So, what have you all been doing while waiting for me?” she asked.  “Inga’s note talked about, murders?  It was rather vague.”

“Flesh Eaters,” Lockhart got her complete attention and he told her the story, beginning with their arrival, and ending with Engel’s funeral.  Kirstie’s face turned more and more sour as he talked.   “The Ape warship moved out a few hours ago,” he said.  Then he told her in the end that Engel, the king’s man was Engelbroad, physicist and servant of the Masters in Genevieve’s Day, and Kirstie let out a war cry.

“That is it.  My life is over.  Bieger?” she asked Inga who nodded.  “He will report to the king quick enough. They have been looking for me, for the Kairos since I was a teenager.  Now they will know who I am and where I am and have proof.”

“We can move to Northumbria,” Wilam suggested.  “They will never find you.”

Kirstie shook her head.  “Can’t.  Not yet.  I have to get all the pieces of a crashed ship, and a tank, and all the bodies and weapons to the Avalon isles and off this earth.  I have to help these people move on in their journey.  It is a good thing you stayed here.  Much of the inland road you would have to follow is hardly suitable for horses, much less a wagon.  I have to think about that.  Then I have to scour the mountainsides for Flesh Eater survivors and get rid of them.  They can be worse than Bluebloods, and they breed like rabbits.  God, I sound like Genevieve.”

“How can we help?” Inga and Katie asked more or less at the same time.

Kirstie put a hand to her head.  “Alexis, got any aspirin?”


The following morning, first thing in the morning, Kirstie made the travelers get up and saddle up, prepared to move.  The sky turned overcast, but the rain had the kindness to stay away.  Besides Wilam, Inga, Eric, and Astrid, Kirstie’s son Soren, his friend Hodur, and Hilde, who was both Hodur’s and Eric’s mother was there.  She was always kind enough to be like a mother to Soren when Kirstie was away.  Kirstie instructed them all, sternly.

“The gate will stay active for a bit after the travelers go through. Do not follow them under any circumstances, and do not let anyone else follow them.  The travelers belong in the future, and they are trying to get home, but anyone else who goes through the time gate will age as many years as they advance through time.  That could be fifty or more years all at once.  Soren, you would become a wrinkled old man of sixty without having lived any of the years in-between.  All of your friends would be lost to you, and who know where you might end up.  Probably in the desert where it never rains.

Kirstie looked up.  The sky began to produce a wet mist. It would surely begin to rain shortly.

“But how are you going to move the time gate to us?” Sukki asked.

“Amphitrite has agreed to help this one time,” Kirstie said.  “Pardon me Wilam.”

“All right,” Wilam smiled, and he smiled for Boston who he knew to be an elf.  Boston returned the smile.

“Amphitrite?” Astrid asked.  She did not understand what Kirstie was talking about.

“The goddess,” Eric told her and lowered his eyes out of respect.

“But… where is she?” Astrid asked, even as Kirstie went away so Amphitrite could take her place.  Kirstie wore her armor—the armor of the Kairos which automatically adjusted to Amphitrite’s size and shape.  Astrid’s eyes got big, and she quickly dropped her face as she shut her eyes, tight.  Hilde gave a knowing look to Hodur and Soren.  She glanced at Eric and Inga, who apparently knew all about it, and lowered her eyes as well.

“Lockhart,” Amphitrite spoke.  “I will go out to sea to the point where the time gate should appear in this place.  It is early morning if not first thing.  Please go through quickly.  Kirstie has a lot to do before she and Wilam can go anywhere.  I cannot say she will get it all done before she is found.  You know, I cannot say… Lincoln, don’t you dare look it up.  Wilam, please make sure no one follows the travelers.”  With that, Amphitrite vanished, leaving a small misty spray in her place, but one that smelled of salt water and the sea.

“Boston and Sukki,” Lockhart said.  The time gate appeared literally in front of their faces.  Boston and Sukki had taken to going through first.  When they did, Soren and Hodur jumped up and shouted.

“Good-bye.  Bye.”  Inga grabbed Soren and Hilde grabbed Hodur, just to be sure.

As Lockhart and Katie went through, Katie remarked.  “Funny to mention the Elenar.  We haven’t seen them in a long time.”

Elder Stow, who came behind them said, “Please no,” nice and loud.  Then he appeared to think about it and said, “Sorry.  What you call a knee-jerk reaction.”  Decker laughed.

Tony drove the wagon and Nanette sat beside him on the buckboard.  Nanette waved and spoke.  “Lovely to meet you all.”

Lincoln and Alexis came last.  Lincoln had out the database but waited to say anything.  What he actually said when he went through was, “It is hot.”  Then he talked to Alexis, Nanette, and Tony while Boston and Katie compared directions on their amulets. Elder Stow, Decker, and Sukki fanned out to get the lay of the land, and Lockhart wondered where they ended up.

“Kirstie does not make it,” Lincoln said.  “She dies that year, near as I can tell.”

“She is still quite young,” Nanette objected.

“Thirty-one,” Lincoln agreed.  “Don’t tell Boston.  She will want to go back and warn her.”  He stopped thinking about it when he heard Lockhart shout.

“Lincoln.  Where are we?”



The travelers find themselves in North Africa where Yasmina, the Arabian princess is trying to get away from the soldiers who have accused her of murder.  Monday, 8.7 Escaping  Don’t miss it.  Happy Reading



Avalon 8.6 Standing Still, part 5 of 6

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.

“Come on.”

“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.

Avalon 8.6 Standing Still, part 4 of 6

The apes lost two drones that day but gathered the information they needed.  They counted ten Flesh Eaters in the woods, and they appeared to be burning a path ahead of them to bring in something like a tank.  They did not bring the main gun from their crashed ship, which would have been useless without the energy source of the ship’s engines, but this portable weapon was not far down the power scale from the ship.  The ape warship was screened, of course, a necessity for space travel, but they feared their screens might not stand up to the power of the tank.

“We may have to abandon you, temporarily, to bring in our main battleship.  The Eaters surprised us with such weapons on another world.  We lost the battle for that world.”

“Your missiles were ineffective?” Decker asked. He came to this meeting on the sixth day as they met over primarily military matters.  Captain Jarl Hagenson came to represent the village, and Inga came with him to explain if she could.  Jarl was younger than Kerga and the others on the council.  It was hoped he might better understand these strangers.

The ape commander shook his head.  “Whatever their power source, the tanks, as you call them, are shielded against our normal weapons.  This is why we may need to bring in the battleship, and even it alone might not be enough.”

“These Flesh Eaters appear to be very good at discerning energy sources and converting them to use,” Elder Stow said.

“They had handheld Vr projectors some fifty years ago.  What you call Vorcan energy,” Lockhart said.

“What is Vorcan energy?” Jarl asked.

“It is a by-product of faster than light travel,” the ape commander began, but paused when Elder Stow held up his hand.  Elder Stow tried to simplify the explanation.

“When a ship—a people learn to travel at the speed of light, which is very, very fast, they discover several side things that come with breaking the light speed.  One is Vr or Vorcan energy.  It can kill people.  Eventually, the people learn to screen out or block that energy so they can fly very fast, safely.  These Eaters have figured out how to recreate that energy in a box they can carry.  It is no good against people who are normally screened, like the big invisible screen we have around our camp at night, you know?”

“Yes,” Jarl said.

“But these Eaters see no reason why they should not use it on people who have not learned the secret to protect themselves.  In that case, it is a powerful weapon that can cause madness, seeing and hearing things that are not there, and eventually making people unable to move before the heart stops and they die.  Do you understand?”

Jarl nodded but did not look too certain.  Inga spoke for him.  “It is like a spear that can be thrust into a woman who has no armor and no shield to fend off the blow.”

“Something like that,” Katie said, and Jarl appeared to understand better.

“But what is the energy source for this tank, and can we disrupt it?” Decker asked.

The ape commander looked like the question did not occur to him, but Elder Stow spoke again.

“My analysis suggests photon energy, though it may be some early form of anti-matter.”

“Photon?” Katie spoke up.  “But even we have lasers.”

“That is the beginning of the circle,” Elder Stow responded, and looked once at Jarl and Inga.  “People begin with natural sources such as wind, water, and animal power.  Fire is a great step.  Then steam and fossil fuels are exploited—still natural fuels.  Eventually atomic energy is discovered, fission, plasma drive, and fusion power.  Following that come experiments on gravity and magnetism—gravometrics, graviton bombs a hundred times more powerful than an atomic explosion, but without the ambient radiation.  If the people survive those days, they eventually find anti-gravity.  This leads directly to faster than light travel, but there are other obstacles to overcome.  One brings people back to the wave-particle nature of light itself.  Here, the circle is completed, and photon energy is a powerful source of energy for a long time before anti-matter, and eventually, anti-photon or dark energy.”  Elder Stow looked at the crew from the ape ship and shook his head.  “But that is as far as I need to go.  Maybe too far.  Let me just say, it appears to be photon energy driving the tank.”

“I understood the basic thrust of that,” Inga said, even as Jarl went back to head shaking.

“I got most of that,” Katie said.  “I’m sure Boston and Sukki would have understood better.”

“I understood well enough,” the ape commander admitted.  “But I have no idea what photon energy is or how to counteract it.  We were using plasma drive and learning about fusion energy when the Eaters first came to our planet.  We thought to learn from them and advance ourselves.  We nearly lost the planet as they ate through the population.  We gained knowledge from them and now fight them wherever we find them.  We help protect primitives where we can, but the Eaters remain about two steps ahead of us.”

“Can we pull down the shade, somehow, and cut off their energy source?” Decker asked, but Elder Stow shook his head.

‘I read about your Superman, being powered by your yellow sun.  But Superman does not become incapacitated every time he steps into the shade.  Photon energy is not exactly light energy—not exactly.  I’ll say no more.”

“So, what can we do?” Katie asked.

Elder Stow thought a long time, and everyone waited as patiently as they could.  He spoke at last.  “Every space civilization has benefited more or less from those that came before them.  The Anazi gained faster than light travel from the Sevarese and Bluebloods.  The Humanoids learned advanced robotics and artificial intelligence from the Anazi.  The Wolv stole the improved screen technology from the Humanoids, so they rampaged through the galaxy with primitive, but personal screens for protection.”

“We have a legend about Wolvs,” the ape commander said.  “That was a thousand years ago.  Most call it a myth. The stories from that time inspired us to fight the Eaters…”  He paused before he added, “They are not a myth, are they?”

Heads shook as Elder Stow spoke.  “They were real.  They ruined most civilizations in this part of the galaxy.  Fortunately, those elder races, such as we who had no interest in conquering anyone, survived and increased in knowledge, if not understanding.  Now, I see that these people and the Flesh Eaters have gained from the Pendratti, Anazi, Humanoids, and such before them.  They have faster than light travel, highly advanced computer driven equipment, and personal screens of a sort.  The Flesh Eaters may be a step or two ahead, but I cannot help you catch up.  One thing all elder races agree on is people have to learn things for themselves.  There have been several incidents where people have been artificially advanced, but the consequences, as far as I know, have always been disastrous.”

“So, you can’t help us,” the ape commander concluded.

“I did not say that.”  Elder Stow put up one hand.  “I have already told you and your young friend there much more than I should.  I will not go further by introducing you to photon technology.  But I will remove the tank for you.  After that, you will have to fight your own battles, as I heard Gerraint, and King Arthur once say.”

Elder Stow turned to Sukki and Sukki stood right up.  “Ready, father.”

“You don’t have to do this,” Elder Stow told her.

“We already covered this, many times,” Sukki responded generally to everyone before she focused on Elder Stow.  “I am not going to let you go off and do something stupid without me.”

Elder Stow merely nodded as the two of them lifted from the ground.  The ape men shouted their surprise.  When the two became invisible, the shouting increased in volume, and Jarl joined them, before people got quiet.

“You did not seem surprised,” Katie turned to Inga.

“I think I have used up my quota of surprise for this life,” she responded.

Avalon 8.6 Standing Still, part 3 of 6

“A medium sized warship,” Elder Stow reported what his scanner and his private database told him.  When the ship fully landed and pointed its weapons at the woods, Elder Stow lowered the screens and walked out with Katie and Lockhart to contact the ship.  Boston and Sukki insisted on tagging along, and Eric ran up to walk with them.  Elder Stow had to show Lincoln how to turn on the screens, if necessary.

Three ape-like people exited the craft to meet with the humans.  They wore pants, but no shirts.  They had straps from shoulder to hip and devices of some sort attached to the straps.  The travelers did not doubt that some of those devices were weapons. The apes also wore helmets which looked odd around those ape faces—looking almost like American football helmets.

“How can we help you,” Lockhart asked in the local tongue they had been speaking over the last several days.

One ape man stepped forward, no doubt the one in charge.  “We mean you no harm,” he said, before he looked down and patted one of the devices on his chest strap.  It took a couple of seconds before the device spoke in the tongue of the locals.  “We mean you no harm.”

Lockhart thought he might try the ape language.  The gift of the Kairos had been to understand and be understood whatever language got spoken.  The travelers heard everything in English and spoke English as far as they were consciously aware.  They normally did not think about what language they were speaking, but they sometimes noticed when presented with more than one option.  Besides, alien languages often had odd noises and very odd pronunciations that were hard for the human tongue to get around.  Fortunately, this ape language sounded fairly normal.  Lockhart later said it sounded Greek.  Katie countered that it sounded more Aramaic, and Lockhart could not stop himself.  “It is all Greek to me.”

Lockhart turned to the ape man.  “We also mean you no harm, so that is good.  But I must ask, what are you doing here?  You must know that this world is off limits to space travelers.”

The ape man looked at his companions.  Katie judged it a look of surprise before the ape man spoke again in his own tongue.  “We are hunting Eaters and tracked one of their ships to this world.  The Eaters care nothing for the rules.  We found the ship crashed and ruined some distance from here, but my mate says there may have been survivors.”

Katie spoke for the first time.  “This village has had three casualties of the Flesh Eaters in the last thirty days.  Two were eaten to the bones.  The third victim had the blood drained, but the Flesh Eater got scared off before it could feast.  I would guess one survived, though it may be weak.  There may be more.”

The ape looked unmistakably like he had to think about that, when one of the others nudged him and said, “scan right.”  Whatever that meant.

The ape man took another device from his strap and turned it on Katie.  It only took a second, before he said, “You are female?”  Katie heard something unkind in the way he said that, though with aliens it was hard to tell.

“Last I checked,” Katie responded, but the ape man had already moved on to scan Elder Stow.  The scanner flashed red, and the ape’s eyes got big.  Elder Stow thought it only fair to remove his glamour and stand there in his full Neanderthal glory.

“Gott-Druk,” the ape said with some trepidation in the edges of his voice.  “Now it makes sense.”

“What?” Lockhart asked.

“We scanned and scoured this whole planet, and it led us to the one sign of technology beyond the rest of this world.  We found the crashed Eater ship.  But then we picked up a new signal, five of your days ago.  It was like… energy sources… so much we did not understand.  But the refined metal we understood.  My commander sent me and my ship to see what we might be dealing with.”

“We are travelers,” Lockhart said, taking back the conversation.  “The Gott-Druk are originally native to this world and have permission to visit here.  You should not be here.”

The ape man nodded, though the others did not know what that meant.  He spoke to the question.  “The one called Kairos said we could watch for Eaters and come if we remove the Eaters from this world and do not interact with the native peoples of this world.”

“The Kairos will be here in a few days,” Katie said.  “She is also a female.”

“So it has been recorded that the Kairos sometimes takes the female form.”

Boston interrupted from behind.  “There is so much wrong with that sentence, I don’t know what to correct first.”

“What?” Katie turned her head.

“Boss, we got company,” Boston added.  They all looked.  Inga and Kerga were leading about two-dozen warriors from the village.  Tony and Astrid came out from the traveler’s camp, and Boston and Eric also went to try and stop the crowd, or at least keep them from getting too close.  Kerga appeared to agree with whatever they said.  The warriors stopped, but then he and Inga followed Boston and Eric to the meeting.

“Welcome to our village,” Inga said quickly before the village chief said something stupid, and Katie tried to explain to Kerga.

“These good people are also looking for the ones who murdered and ate your people.  When they find them, they will stop them and punish them, and take them away.”

“We may kill them if we find them first,” Kerga said.  It came out like a statement, but was a question, not asking for permission, but stated to see if there were any objections.

It took a second for the translated words to reach the ape man’s ear and he responded.  The translation device working quicker this time, now having heard and pieced together some of the local tongue.  “Be careful.  The Eaters still have Vorcan energy to cause the madness and paralyze those who are not protected.”  He tapped his helmet, and the travelers nodded, now understanding the reason for them.  Elder Stow spoke.

“My people are protected.  The locals are not.  We have warned them, but they are angry.”

The ape looked sad. “I have seen such anger in others.  I have not seen good come from it.  Only weeping and gnashing of the teeth.”

“Yes,” Katie agreed, and Lockhart looked at her, Inga, and Kerga before he spoke again, this time in the local tongue.

“This land belongs to the village, but with their permission, you might park your ship here while you hunt for the Flesh Eaters.”  He looked at Kerga.

“It is not exactly a trading ship in the dock, but we are not against travelers and strangers, strange as they may be,” Kerga said.  “You may come to the meeting hall when you are ready.”

Katie smiled for Kerga since he had such a hard time smiling.  “I was just going to ask if they wanted to join us around our fire.”

“No, please,” the ape man said.  He may have meant to say no thank you, but then he explained.  “You are omnivorous.  You are selective in what you eat and do not normally eat people, but you do eat meat.  We find that offensive and disturbing.  We are well supplied on our ship and may rest comfortably there.”

“Understood,” Lockhart said.

“One more warning,” the ape man added.  “You must not let the Eaters gain a foothold on your world.  Even a few is all they need.  They came to our world in the old days, and it took all of our effort to drive them out.  We are still fighting them after these hundred and fifty of your years, as you count time.  We can help you find them and end them, but we must keep apart.  We have agreed to keep apart.”

“Also understood,” Lockhart said, as Katie turned to explain to Kerga.

“The agreement with the Kairos is they may come and remove the flesh Eaters from this world, but they are not to interact with the people of this world.”

“Wise,” Inga said, and after a moment, Kerga agreed.

“But I am curious,” Katie continued and returned to face the ape man as she spoke.  “How much of your aversion to meat eaters is because of your struggle against the Flesh Eaters who seem to prefer people meat?”

“Some,” one of the ape men with the commander spoke for the first time.  “We have discussed this.  Probably some.  Most species eat of the animal bounty of their worlds.  We do not.”

“Fruits and vegetables,” they heard Inga explaining to Kerga.

Something on Elder Stow’s belt let out a brief beeping sound.  He picked up the device, his scanner, and glanced at the trees which were not too far away.  “Movement in the woods, about five miles off.  I’m picking up refined metals.  They appear to have come from behind an iron ladened ridge, or there may be a cave there that blocked my scanner.”

The ape man, a young one who had not yet spoken, looked very interested.  “You can see such details at a distance with a mere box you hold in your hand.  May I see that?”

“Certainly not,” Elder Stow said, gruffly.  “My equipment, though they may be like toys, they are off limits to primitives.”

The head ape appeared to bow his head while the other pulled back his hand, like one scolded.  Then the apes got busy hearing something through their helmets.  “Confirmed,” the ape commander said.  “Our ship has detected the same metal traces.  We will send an unoccupied flyer to look.”

“A drone,” Katie translated for Lockhart.

“Still,” the young ape expressed some awe.  “It takes our whole ship and all our energy to do what you can do with a simple box in your hand.”

Everyone could see that Elder Stow really wanted to show off, but he did not dare.  He said, “I have learned on this journey that even a small thing can throw all of history off track.  You best leave my equipment alone.”

“Wise,” Inga repeated herself, and they all paused to watch as an airplane-like drone exited the warship and headed out over the treetops.



The flesh eaters are on their way, and the apes, travelers, and vikings combined have to stop them, if they can.  Until then, Happy Reading


Avalon 8.6 Standing Still, part 2 of 6

Lockhart and Katie faced the elder council together while the rest of the travelers, with the help of many locals, rubbed down Ghost and the horses from their ice water bath.  Kerga, the village chief, stood flanked by two ship captains, Jarl and Harrold.  They appeared to be the ones who would make any decisions that had to be made.  Old man Kerga did not seem to have a problem talking to the big blonde woman as an equal, unlike so many elders in so many other cultures, but it made more sense when Boston came up with Inga and spoke.

“This is Kirstie’s home village.  She was born here and sailed from here several times on raids,” Boston said.

Inga interjected.  “She went from here with the king’s men to a place she calls Oslo to join the Swedes in their fight against the Geats.”

“But she is on her way home,” Boston said.  “She should be here in about a week.  I vote we stay here and wait for her.”

“That should not be a problem,” Inga said with a look at Kerga.  Kerga made no objection.  “Only one thing,” Inga began, and Boston interrupted.

“They got Flesh Eaters in the woods.  Two eaten down to the bones, and the third drained of all her blood.”

“Damn.”  They heard Lincoln.  He kept rubbing his horse but listened in.

“You know what plagues us?” Captain Jarl asked.

“You can do something about it?” Captain Harrold asked at about the same time.

“We will do what we can, but I am not sure what we can do,” Lockhart said.

“Kirstie may have an idea when she arrives,” Katie said, and saw some heads nod.

“That is why we sent for her,” Inga said.

“Yes,” Kerga spoke and looked around.  “The king sent a man, Engel Bronson, to see what the king might do about our problem.  I sent for him.  Where is he?”

No one had an answer, until Jarl had a suggestion.  “He may be exploring the woods again.”

Kerga nodded.  “Come,” he started to say and changed the word to “Eric.”  A young man arrived, anxious to help.  “When they are warmed and ready, bring these people to the big house.  They can make temporary shelters in the long meadow.”  He walked off with a final word.  “Inga.”  She followed him.

Eric grinned and looked overwhelmed with questions while a young woman skipped up and took his hand.  She grinned the same kind of grin Eric had, and she spoke up right away.

“I am Astrid.  I am Eric’s wife of three whole months.  I am going to have a baby.”

“Good for you,” Katie barely got the words out as she and Lockhart went to see to their horses.

“You have hair the color of Kirstie,” Eric said, though plenty of people in the village appeared to be blond.  “Are you a shield maiden like her?”

“Yes,” Lockhart spoke right up, and explained to Katie.  “I figure that is the Viking equivalent of a Rhine maiden.”  Katie did not argue.

“So, where is this long meadow?” she asked.

“Ah,” Eric said.  “I will show you.  It runs right along the edge of the forest, so be careful if there are enemies in the woods.”

Lockhart understood.  Kerga was positioning them to act as a wall between the Flesh Eaters and the village.  Later, when they arrived at the long meadow, Elder Stow stepped up with a word.

“My father.  I can set the screen around the meadow and our camp, but it will not stretch far enough to cover the whole village.  I can also retune the discs for the family to carry.  They will relay the fourth screen and filter out any Vr energy the Flesh Eaters may have.”

“Can you scan the forest?” Lockhart asked.  “To see if there is a Flesh Eater ship parked somewhere in the woods.”

“I can,” Elder Stow said.  “But the range is not what it was.  I had increased the range and details before the Kairos broke it.  Now, it is at factory specs, like the screens, which I am still working on.”

“So, if you don’t pick up anything in the immediate area, that would suggest they are not within range.”

“Yes, it would,” Elder Stow said, and stepped off to see what he could do.


On the morning of the fifth day, Sukki and Boston sat out to watch the sunrise.  The others were up, mostly puttering around the fire or seeing to the horses.  Lockhart sat and stared at the fire, sipping on this time zone’s version of morning tea, and thinking about coffee.  Alexis stretched whatever food they had left to come up with some kind of breakfast.

The travelers ate in the big house, the village meeting hall on the first day, but said they did not mean to put a strain on the village resources and should take care of their own meals.  The village elders were more relieved and grateful than offended, which was good.

On the second day, Decker, Katie, and Tony explored down the road that headed south, and took Eric to guide them.  They found it wholly unacceptable for the wagon, which meant they were stuck waiting for Kirstie.  Decker and Katie found a herd of deer, wary of the humans, but not out of rifle range.  Eric shouted at the sound of the rifles, and that may have helped scare the deer, so they scooted back into the woods.  Still, they bagged three in the end and contributed two to the village larder.  Old man Kerga almost smiled.  Inga thought to say thank you.

Inga introduced the travelers to Soren, who was Kirstie’s thirteen-year-old son, and his friend in trouble, Hodur, who was Eric’s baby brother.  She also introduced them to Eric’s and Hodur’s mother, Hilde, who was a widow often left with the troublemakers, Hodur and Soren to watch.

“I honestly don’t mind,” Hilde said.  “It is better than letting them run wild through the village, though they eat more than anyone I have ever seen.”  She smiled, but Eric had a different take on the subject.

“I’ve been escaping being stuck with those two brats for as long as I can remember.”

 Back on the third day, Lincoln asked about contracting the king’s ship that sat at the dock.  Captain Harrold said that would not be possible.  Some of the king’s men stayed on the ship.  Some went with the king’s representative, Engel Bronson, into the woods.  Curiously, the man had been back to the village twice, but he never asked about the strangers, so the travelers never met him.  Meanwhile, Lincoln started getting antsy, and maybe thought too much about possible Flesh Eaters in the woods.  Lockhart teased him.

“Whatever happened to my desk jockey who would rather sleep at his desk than be a field agent?”

“It’s this trip,” he admitted.  “I can’t seem to sit still anymore.”  He thought about it and amended his statement.  “I just want to get home so I can get back to my quiet, peaceful desk.”

Lockhart understood and Alexis smiled.

On the fourth day, Tony, Nanette, and Sukki found a farmer willing to sell a cow.  It had not calved in three years and so it had no milk.  The man thought with the right price, he might get a younger cow to replace it.  Tony and Nanette were not about to pay him enough for an old cow so he could buy a new, young one, but they gave more than the cow was worth, so he got a good start on raising the funds for a new one.  He threw in two big baskets of fruits and garden vegetables, so it felt worth the price.

Then, on that fifth morning, as the sun rose, Boston jumped up and looked away from the sun.  “Visitors?” Sukki asked.  Elder Stow had his screens set around the camp all night, and the villagers had learned the hard way, through stubbed toes and noses, that the screens needed to be lowered to let people in and out.

“No,” Boston responded.  “In the sky.  There.”  she pointed.

Sukki stood and saw what Boston pointed at.  Lockhart stood.  Decker grabbed his rifle.  Elder Stow touched his screen device and the screens appeared tinted slightly yellow but still completely see through.  The alien ship pulled up from its intended landing site and landed on the long meadow a hundred yards beyond the screens.

“Flesh Eaters?” Lincoln asked.

“Apes, I think,” Katie said.  She recognized the markings on the outside of the ship.

Avalon 8.5 Hiding from Them, part 6 of 6

Tony reacted first, though Nanette followed immediately with a scream.  The travelers who once struggled against ghouls projecting frightening images into their minds resisted longer.  Decker and Katie were able to grab their rifles.  Alexis got her wand.  Lincoln and Lockhart pulled their handguns, but they were unable to use the weapons as the Vr energy invaded their minds.  The Flesh Eaters carried a handheld Vr projector that bathed the travelers in hypnotic hallucinations.

Boston, who did not appear to be affected by the energy, whipped out her wand and laid down a line of fire in front of the aliens.  The Flesh Eaters paused.  The Vikings with them kept back.  But Boston feared for her friends.  Then, Elder Stow managed to touch the spot on his scanner that activated the discs they all still carried.  Suddenly, The Vr energy got blocked and people came quickly back to their senses.

The Flesh Eaters were honestly frightening enough to look at.  They did not need the hallucinations to be scarry.  They stood tall, maybe six or seven feet, but skinny as an elf.  They had extra-long legs and arms, and heads too big for their necks.  The eyes, ears, and nose looked normal enough, though the nose pointed up a bit, but the mouth looked too big for the head.  They had rows of teeth, all sharp for tearing meat off a carcass, like the mouth of a shark or maybe an ogre.  And the tongue darted in and out of the mouth like a snake’s tongue, like they could smell the blood ahead of them and were becoming excited to drink it all.

Decker shot the one out front.  It had a personal screen of some sort, but not a very strong one.  Decker’s fifth bullet penetrated, and the Flesh Eater collapsed.

The Vikings charged.  Alexis called up a hurricane force wind that slowed them but did not stop them.  Nanette threw out a telekinetic wall that they had to force their way through.  Boston laid down another line of fire, but they were not hampered by that.  They simply ran through the fire.  Sukki stepped up and stared at her hands, not sure what she could do.

Lockhart, Tony, and Lincoln used their handguns and blasted away with Decker, but there seemed no way they would avoid hand to hand fighting.  Tony feared that some of the travelers might get killed, but a troop of fairies arrived and got big.  At once, there were arrows flying into the midst of the Vikings with deadly accuracy.

Katie concentrated on the Flesh Eaters.  She put one down but imagined the other might reach them.  Elder Stow solved that problem with one shot of his weapon, and when the Flesh Eater fell, the few surviving Vikings all collapsed, unconscious.

“Sukki?” Boston wondered if Sukki did that.

“Not me,” Sukki admitted.  She thought about turning her power on the Vikings to knock them out but decided she did not have enough control.  She did not want to burn them all.

Elder Stow made sure all three Flesh Eaters were dead before he pulled out a device to examine one of the Vikings.  “A mind control implant,” he reported.  “Like the Blueblood implants we once ran into around the Caspian Sea.  Improved.  Smaller.  But affective.”

Alexis and Nanette made sure the Farm family and William were in one piece.  William pointed at them and grinned.  “You are witches,” he said, but for the most part he stared at the fairies, most of whom had reverted to their small size.

Alexis shook her head for William.  “I used to be an elf.  Boston is an elf.”

“I can be a witch,” Nanette said, and Alexis agreed before she warned her.

“Yes, but not something to brag about.  The church goes through periods of no tolerance.  They say all witchcraft is evil and don’t distinguish between a good witch and a bad witch.”

“They burned Glinda the good witch of the north at the stake,” Boston said and tried to keep a serious face.

“I read that book,” Nanette said.

“You should see the movie,” Lincoln said as the fairies zeroed in on Lockhart and Katie.

“I am May, you met my husband Pinewood about three hundred years ago, in the days of Gerraint?” She was not sure but both Katie and Lockhart nodded.  “We were sent to find you and bring you to the battlefield.”

“Battlefield?” Lincoln interrupted.  Boston, Decker, and Tony all heard.

May said, “It is not far from Kingston.  We should move from here.  We will have to stop for the night before we arrive, but we should be there early in the morning.  And, your grace,” she turned to William who walked up.  “The king will be there as well.”

William closed his mouth and nodded.  “That is who I need to see.”


On the morning of the battle, about ten that morning, the Saxon line struck the Vikings in the corner, as planned, and they stopped.  After a few awkward seconds, the Viking line began to move forward to engage the Saxons head-to-head.  It was intended to disrupt the Viking line they so perfectly formed.  A jagged line is not nearly as effective.  Unfortunately, when the Vikings moved, the Saxon line also moved, equally disrupting their own line.  They met about halfway, and as a result, the Vikings only half turned their backs to the forest.

The Viking commander saw an opportunity right away.  He had about sixty horsemen that he held back with his reserves.  As the Viking line turned and the Saxons came up, there was a gap made between the men and the bend in the river.  He hurried his horsemen to hit the Saxons in the flank, and maybe get around them to strike them in the rear if possible.

“Damn,” Elgar said, and hurried his forty horsemen to counterstrike.  The horsemen squeezed through the gap and met one another.  The Saxons took the worst of it, but they did enough damage to the Viking horsemen to drive them back and keep them from hitting the line of men on foot.

“Deerrunner.  Pinewood.” Elgar shouted.  No human would have ever heard the call over the roar of fighting men, but the elf and fairy heard clearly.  They had to come out from the forest and thus exposed themselves, but they were arrow ready, and very quickly Vikings began to fall at the back of the Viking line.

At the same time, Elgar moved his reserved men to reinforce the end of the line by the riverbend where the fighting started.  They began to push the Vikings back on that end.

The poor Viking commander couldn’t decide what to do.  He finally saw the archers from the woods were taking the worst toll on his men and ordered his reserves to attack the woods.  The elves and fairies raced back into the woods.  Elgar knew Between Bogus, Piebald and their dwarfs, with some very brave goblins who risked the light as long as they stayed in the shadow of the trees, very few in the Viking reserve would come back out alive.

The Viking commander gathered his horsemen.  They no doubt planned to follow through on the plan to strike the Saxon flank, or they at least hoped to press forward and keep the Viking line from crumbling.  Even as they got ready to move, Elgar heard the sound of rifle fire.  The Viking horses went down, and sometimes the men got knocked out of their saddles.  Elder Stow, Sukki and May’s small fairy troop landed behind the Viking line, even as a giant wave came down the river and swept the Viking escape boats into the deep or shot them downriver where they would be no use to any escaping Vikings. By the time the half-dozen pyromaniac dwarfs arrived in a boat of their own, there were very few Viking boats for them to burn.  They complained, of course.

When Boston shot her explosive arrows into the last of the horsemen, Nanette having stepped up to make sure they reached that far, Katie and Decker just about stopped firing.  Lockhart let loose scattershot from his shotgun at the Vikings who began to escape the line and headed toward the bend in the river.

Then Elder Stow said to Sukki, “It will save lives in the long run,” and Sukki reluctantly agreed.  With Elder Stow starting on one end and Sukki on the other they fried the back of the line of remaining Vikings with all the power available to them.  Then Sukki cried.

The surviving Vikings surrendered immediately.  They recognized there was no escape.  Many good Saxons, Celts, and mixed bloods died that day, but the king could not help himself.

“That was almost too easy.”

“Let’s hope the Vikings think that and stay out of Wessex,” Elgar said.

“I said you got the better of the deal,” Osric pointed out to the king as Ethelbald rode up shouting.

“That was the greatest slaughter of a heathen-raiding army there has ever been.”

“Can I quote you?” Elgar said, and shouted, “Boston.”  A red-headed streak ran faster than a human could run and jumped right up into Elgar’s saddle, facing him and hugging him.  “Yes, I love you, too,” Elgar said.  “But be a good girl and get down.”

Boston looked at him and the king beside him.  She stood up on the saddle horn and spoke.  “Well, I will get down.”  She flipped to the ground.

“Elgar,” Lincoln waved.

“Lincoln.  Get Alexis and Nanette.  They are not allowed to help.  Lockhart.  Katie.”  He waved so they came over, escorting a monk.

“We will be taking our prisoners to Kingston where we will stay for at least a week, maybe two, while we arrange to return the prisoners with pledges from the Vikings to leave Wessex alone.  You will have about ten days to get to the next time gate, so don’t dawdle.  And who is your friend?”

“Nice to know what I am doing,” King Ethelwulf quipped.

“Cheeky, but worth it,” Osric tossed in.

“This is Wilimbro the monk, alias William the Lesser, alias Ceolnoth, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  We escorted him here.  He needs to see the king.”

“Here I am,” Ethelwulf dismounted for the archbishop.  “Your grace.”

“Your majesty.”

Elgar motioned to Lockhart and Katie.  “You need to go and not stick around.  Take Pinewood and Deerrunner and their people.  You remember Deerrunner?” Elgar asked.  Katie nodded, but Boston interrupted before Katie could speak.

“Piebald around?”

Elgar assured her.  “With Bogus, off chasing the remnant of the Viking reserve company.”

Everyone shivered at the thought of what some wild dwarfs might do to those poor men, but then they paused.  An alien ship lifted off the ground across the river.  It looked big, like the ship the shuttle came from, and Elgar commented.

“Flesh Eaters.  They battle the Apes on and off for about two hundred and fifty years or so.  Remember the Ape ship in the Alps?  These are the ones they were hiding from.”



The travelers need to stand still and let the Kairos come to them.  Meanwhile, there have been murders in the village, and for once the travelers are not being blamed, though they will be used.  Happy Reading.