Avalon 4.11 part 3 of 8, Life Signs

The grass in the area of the crash had all turned brown or burnt, but there did not appear to be any fires still raging.  It looked like the ship exploded when it hit the earth.  It also appeared like it broke up so a wing was over there and a bulkhead was close by.

“I’m not picking up any life signs,” Elder Stow reported.  No one felt surprised, until Mingus spoke.

“I am.”

“I am too,” Boston confirmed.

“Over there,” Alexis pointed, and Elder Stow shook his scanner like he wondered what was wrong with it.

They found a human looking person, about five feet tall, with an enlarged head and only three artie 1afingers with a thumb on each hand.  It was raising and lowering its arm, blinking, and sending sparks into the grass.

“A robot,” Decker said as he lowered his rifle.  Decker stayed ready, just in case.

“An android,” Elder Stow countered as he got down to examine the inner workings of the person.  No one else moved, not even Alexis, but she was busy healing herself and imagined there was not much she could do for a machine.

Boston finally got down when her curiosity got the better of her.  She went to see what Elder Stow was doing, and wondered if her doctorate in electrical engineering might help.  She discovered the inner workings of the android were beyond her ability to understand quickly, though she thought she might figure it out, at least in theory.

“Hold this.”  Elder Stow gave Boston his scanner while he pulled another piece of equipment from his belt.  Boston recognized it.  He used that disc with anti-gravity properties to pull arrowheads and other foreign objects from the traveler’s arms, legs, and sides more than once.  In this case, he laid it up against the temple of the android’s head where it stuck and he appeared to tune it, looking for the right frequency.

“We need to keep moving,” Decker suggested, even as Elder Stow touched something and his disc began to glow.  The android blinked and spoke in a metallic-like voice.

“Help me.  I can’t feel my legs.  My right side is dead.”

stow e1“Sleep for a while,” Elder Stow said, and he touched the disc again.  The glow around the disc became a flash of light and then a dull glow that looked barely discernable under the sun.  The android’s eyes closed, and the arm stopped moving.  Boston had a thought and looked up at Mingus and the others.

“I think she’s a girl.”

“Lincoln,” Elder Stow called as he got busy.  “We need a travois to carry the patient.”

“Is that wise?” Lincoln asked, as he got down and Lockhart got down to help.

“All life is precious,” Elder Stow answered, and paused to look up at Katie.  “Or is it just homo sapiens that you value?”  Katie did not have any problem with helping.  “Anyway,” the elder continued.  “We might take him to the Kairos to decide.”

“Her,” Boston insisted.

“How do you figure?” Katie asked Boston.

“Beardless and nothing between the legs,” Boston said, bluntly.

“Probably a-sexual,” Alexis suggested.

“There are markings on the shoulder,” Lincoln pointed out.  “Like a tatoo.”

“A-R-T 1978604” Lincoln read.  The gift of the Kairos at the beginning of history not only allowed the travelers to speak and understand whatever language was being spoken; it also allowed them to read whatever alphabet was being used.  It all sounded and looked to them like English.  They supposed Elder Stow heard and read everything in his own Gott-Druk tongue, and maybe Mingus heard Elvish.

“I’ll call her Artie,” Boston announced.boston a2

“Short for Arthur?” Alexis asked.

“Feminine Arthur, maybe,” Boston responded

“Anyway,” Elder Stow interrupted, and continued his thoughts from before.  “The android may be able to tell us about the Blobs and Anazi.  It isn’t safe with two warring groups about.  It—he—she might have vital information that may save us from being melted.”

“Good point,” Decker said, as he scanned the sky.  “One for the Neanderthal.”  Mingus nodded in agreement as he and Katie looked up.  They expected either the Anazi or Blobs would come back for a closer examination of the wreck soon enough.

Elder Stow and Boston both rode at the back of Lincoln’s horse where the travois between them was lifted up by Elder Stow’s actual anti-gravity device—the one that let him float along in the early days when he followed the travelers.  This kept the travois from dragging on the ground and hitting every rock and dip along the way.  When Elder Stow joined the travelers, the Kairos got him a horse, brought back from the 1880s like the others.  He was told to put the device away and ride like the others.

“We need to stop for a bit,” Elder Stow said, after a while.

Lockhart did not object.  “Give the horses a rest, but don’t light a fire,” he said.  “Find something to chew on in lieu of lunch.  I don’t want to actually stop until supper, when we are well out of the area.”

Elder Stow ignored the thought of food and went straight to work on the android.  Boston helped where she could, but she imagined she acted like a poorly trained nurse, holding the instruments in two hands while ‘Doctor’ Stow did all the actual work.

The Gott Druk opened the trunk of the android and dug around internally.  Boston bit her tongue to keep from asking “What’s that?  What’s that?”

grassland trees 5“That is the power core, young Boston,” Elder Stow pointed.  “I would guess it functions like the Reichgo batteries, having about a ten-thousand-year half-life.  Most of the parts will wear out sooner, but it appears very well made.”

Lockhart stuck his nose in.  “Not designed to explode when tampered with, I hope.”

“Thanks,” Lincoln raised his voice from where he was helping Alexis get around in search of something to chew.

“No,” Elder Stow grinned briefly at Lincoln.  “I checked that first.  Ah, here it is.”  Elder Stow took his sonic device and for all practical purposes, unscrewed something small from the inside.  “A homing device.  The Anazi could track her with this.  Otherwise I assume their scanner technology has limited range and could not necessary pick an android out from the ambient planetary noise.”

Lockhart nodded, not that he understood, but because he trusted that the Gott-Druk knew what he was talking about.  He watched as Elder Stow walked away, pulled out his weapon, set down the device and melted it.

On the far side of the plains, the travelers came to another forest, and everyone felt relieved to be out from under the open sky.  Elder Stow and Boston prevailed on the others to stop when there was still light.

“We have ridden all day,” Katie pointed out.  “The horses could use the rest, and Lincoln’s hungry.”

“Lincoln is occupied,” Lockhart said, as he watched Lincoln help Alexis down from her horse.  Lincoln checked all the bandages, and Mingus came and double-checked them.  The wound in Alexis’ shoulder had opened up, but she knew what plants would provide the most antiseptic against infection.

Decker managed to bag a strange looking goat which Lincoln finally identified as an Ibex.  Like most animals taken in the wild, it was gamey, but edible.  People were getting used to that gamey taste, so they did not mind that Alexis could not go out and find some herbs to help cut the flavor.

Mingus filled in as chief cook while his daughter was incapacitated.  Elder Stow and Boston stayed busy with the android repairs.  Decker meditated and let his eagle spirit rise up to see if the Blobs or Anazi were in the air, possibly searching for the missing android.  Lincoln shared what the database had on the Blobs and Anazi in that time period while Alexis, Lockhart and Katie relaxed.lincoln reading

“The Blobs came here when they ran into an overwhelming Anazi fleet in space.  They thought to hide on the sanctuary planet.”  Lincoln paused and added a comment.  “I guess that happened a bunch of time in history.  One more headache for the Kairos.”  He resumed his report.  “The Anazi followed, at least enough to presumably take care of the problem.  Apparently, these androids are a new weapon.  They are designed to follow orders, which is the Anazi way, I guess, but they have enough intelligence to be given general orders and carry them out.”

“Like the Anazi order them to wipe out the Blobs?” Alexis asked.

“Maybe in more detail than that, but yes, in essence.  I’m guessing they qualify as some form of A. I.; that’s artificial intelligence.  So, here is the thing.  The androids use weapons and whatever natural means available to them to fight the Blobs, but when all else fails, they are instructed to let the Blobs eat them.  The Blobs are not helped by eating metal, and the androids are toxic, as Mingus suggested, so in the end they kill the Blobs from the inside-out.”

“Not much sense of self-preservation,” Alexis suggested.

“No,” Lincoln countered.  “They have a strong sense of self-preservation, and use every means they can before they sacrifice themselves.”  He looked again at the database to check his source.  “But they have a crystal chip at the base of the brain which requires obedience and forces them to suicide when there is no other option to achieve their goal.”

“Not anymore,” Elder Stow said as he stepped over from where he was working on the android.  “The crystal at the base of her brain got completely burnt.  I removed it.  I suspected it was a failsafe of some kind to be sure the Androids would not turn on their Anazi builders, but what you say makes sense.  A compulsion to follow Anazi orders, even to the point of suicide would certainly solve the problem.”

“You couldn’t repair it?” Lincoln asked, and kept his sense of panic at bay.

stow e2Elder Stow shook his head.  “But we are not Anazi so it would not be obliged to obey us anyway.  Main systems are functioning.  She is talking to Miss Boston.  It will take a few days to get her more detailed parts functioning properly.  All in all, quite well made for, dare I say, a caveman construction.”  Elder Stow grinned a true Neanderthal grin.  Katie helped Alexis as they went to meet Artie.  Lincoln followed to watch Alexis and concerned that Artie might turn on them like the terminator.

“You know about androids?” Lockhart asked Elder Stow, as Decker rejoined them and Mingus cooked.

“My specialty.  This design is unfamiliar and quite primitive, as I say.  It isn’t capable of much, but the basics are the same for all such constructions.”

“Artificial intelligence doesn’t sound so primitive to me,” Lockhart said.

Elder Stow nodded.  “I guess it is all a matter of where you are coming from.”

“Avalon,” Mingus spoke up.  “The rest of us all came here from Avalon, through the Heart of Time, and if the Kairos in our day was not missing, we could all go home the same way, in an instant.  Alas.  I am left with the words of our good friend Pluckman the dwarf.”  Mingus grinned like the Neanderthal and raised his voice.  “Food.”

Avalon 4.11 part 2 of 8 Anazi versus Blobs

Decker and Lincoln followed the river for miles and found no way across, which is why they came back late to the camp; but Lockhart and Elder Stow found where the river widened, and logically, became shallower.  A couple of small islands in the middle said as much.

“We still have to swim in a couple of places,” Elder Stow admitted.  “But it should not be too hard for the horses.”

Alexis got her shoulder bandaged extra well, and waterproofed the fairy weave around it.  Lincoln watched her the whole way, and hardly watched where he was going.  Boston thought that was cute.  Mingus said nothing.

Decker crossed first, and climbed the small ridge on the other side to take a look around.  He gave the all clear when he got to the top and saw the land flattened out for miles and offered no better cover than scrub grass and thorn bushes.UFO battle 1

Decker took a moment to focus on his totem.  He let his spirit rise up with the eagle, and got a good look at the area from overhead.  He spied some animals, though none too dangerous.  He thought there might be a settlement in the far distance, though he had no idea how big that settlement might be.  If they were in Syria or Iraq 1800 years in the BC, which Lincoln suggested, it was probably a big enough settlement for a wall, like a small city.  Decker did not get the impression that this was a nomadic camp on the horizon.

“Damn.”  Decker’s spirit rushed back to his body, and his horse stomped the ground, nervously.  Something like an F-18 zoomed over his head, much too close to the ground.  It headed toward the rising sun, and three flying ball were chasing it.  “Damn,” he repeated as the balls came even closer to the ground.  He spun and went back down to the water where he saw Lockhart and Katie just coming ashore.

“Elder Stow,” Decker yelled, but Elder Stow was not going to unwrap his scanner until he was on dry ground.  Too bad, because the jet-like ship wheeled around and attacked when a half-dozen more came over the horizon to join it.  Several more flying balls zoomed overhead as the energy blasts began to play hit or miss.  Some blasts struck the ground and caused ferocious explosions.

Lockhart and Katie armed themselves and imagined the battle was a good half-mile away, but Decker knew location was flexible for an air battle.  A half-mile did not mean much.  They could shift to overhead in seconds.

Decker helped Elder Stow to shore and held the Gott-Druk’s horse while Elder Stow got out his scanner.  He punched up the screen as quickly as he could, and it was almost not quick enough.  A stray shot exploded in the riverbank less than half a football field away and sent rocks and small boulders flying in every direction.

ufo battle 5Boston noticed the river stopped running beneath her.  As she and Mingus came ashore, Elder Stow adjusted the screen to not disrupt the flow of the river, while an energy blast from a blob ball hit the screen.  The screen showed a yellow flare for a moment.

“Impressive for a primitive weapon,” Elder Stow said.

“We would all be dead right now if you weren’t here,” Boston told him, and Elder Stow grinned ever so slightly.

Boston, Mingus, Lincoln and Alexis did their best to keep the horses calm, while Katie, Decker and Lockhart studied the progress of the battle.  Katie and Decker got out their binoculars.  Decker gave his to Lockhart while he used the scope on his rifle.  Once Elder Stow had his particle and energy screens stable, he tuned his scanner to took a look at the ships themselves.  His scanner picked up the energy sources for both propulsion and weapons.  He told the others how they functioned, not that anyone understood, but then he paused when he saw something coming down both sides of the river.

“Too late.”  It was the first thing he said, which got everyone’s attention.  “Blobs,” he explained, and in less than a minute they saw Blobs floating down the river and rolling along on both banks.  Small arm fire came in their direction from the other side.  The screen showed no color at all, as it easily deflected the weapons fire, but no one expected the small arms would penetrate.

“Ah!”  Boston shouted when a Blob came right up to the edge of the screen.  It started to roll over their heads, but stopped when it realized something was standing between it and the delicious looking people and horses.  An Anazi jet broke free from the air battle and began to blast the Blobs on the ground, including the one above them.  They imagined the wail of pain as the Blob burned and rolled off the screen.

“No, I cannot make it single sided so you can shoot them,” Elder Stow said.  “I only know how to make a single sided wall which right now would do us no good.”anazi 2

“Are those Anazi.” Katie asked and pointed at the people coming up river.  The people had hand guns, and the Blobs showed that they had some kind of guns to return fire.  The Blobs moved beyond the travelers.  They did not appear interested or concerned about the horses for the moment.  And all the travelers could do was watch.

“They have to be the Anazi,” Lockhart said, though Decker, Katie and Elder Stow did not doubt that.

“They do look human,” Decker suggested.

Elder Stow nodded.  “The basic shape is fairly universal.  Two hands that can grasp, stereoscopic vision up high, two or four legs and so on.”

“Bones, muscles, ligaments, blood, protected brain, heart pump and digestive system…” Alexis, the registered nurse, started listing things.

“What are they doing?” Katie asked.

“Being brave?” Elder Stow answered.

As the line of Anazi and Blobs met, the Anazi did not run.  If anything, they appeared to be running into the Blobs to be eaten, or absorbed by the Blobs.  It looked like suicide.  No one wanted to watch, but just then, they got distracted.  An Anazi jet came overhead, trailing smoke.  Both Boston and Katie swore it was the one who cleared the Blobs from the riverbank around the travelers.  They saw the top of the explosion rise up above the ridge that hemmed in the river.  They did not hear the explosion because of Elder Stow’s screen, but they knew it was a big one.  The did not imagine anyone survived.

UFO battle 2Two Blob balls flew overhead, circled once, no doubt around the wreck, before they zoomed off to rejoin the battle.  The battle began to move downriver.  The Anazi appeared to be pulling back.  The Blobs on the ground were out of range, pushing forward, or eating their way forward.

“No more Blobs on the river, coming.” Elder Stow said.

“I recommend we get while we can,” Decker added.

“Mount up.”  Lockhart put his hand to Katie’s arm to get her attention, though his eyes were on the horses.  Katie paused to smile before she nodded.

The travelers reached the top of the riverbank where they saw a Blob that appeared to be dead.  Without a word, they all moved downriver to examine the alien.

“Don’t get too close,” Lockhart said, but they got close enough to make out the remains of an Anazi warrior in the midst of yellow-green sludge that made up the Blob remains.

“I would guess the Anazi did not agree with him,” Decker said.

“Major,” Katie agreed with a nod.blob dead 2

“The soldier appears to have been toxic,” Mingus said.

“We aren’t toxic,” Lincoln said.  “Maybe we should move on before the Blobs come back.”

No one disagreed, but as they turned toward the crash site, they did not expect to find any survivors.

Avalon 4.11: Being Human, part 1 of 8

After 1820 BC, Babylon of Hammurabi, Kairos 57: Ishtara, Reflection of Ishtar.

Recording …

Lockhart and Elder Stow went east along the river to try and find a place to cross the deep water.  Decker and Lincoln went west.  Mingus took Boston into the woods.  Mingus felt there was so much he had to teach the girl about being an elf, and the time was short.  He had a bad feeling about the days ahead.

Alexis stayed in the camp to tend the fire and watch the horses and the tents.  She was not sure Alexiswhy she ended up the chief cook for the group, but as she thought about it, she decided Lincoln and Lockhart were the next best options.  Katie was learning.  Boston was improving.  That was a kind thought.  Major Decker could cook over an open flame, but Alexis imagined he killed his taste buds at some point early in his military career.  He could make anything edible, and eat it, but god only knew what it would taste like.  They never asked Elder Stow to cook.  To be honest, Father Mingus was probably the next best cook, but he was stuck in the eighteenth century in some ways.  That was the century when Alexis was born, and as head of the Avalon history department, he seemed to have gotten stuck there.  He still thought of cooking as women’s work, and there was no reaching him.

Katie also stayed in the camp, to guard the camp.  Captain Katherine Harper worked a Pentagon desk through graduate school and the first couple of years after getting her doctorate in ancient and medieval history and technology.  That might sound like an odd job for a marine, to study ancient and medieval things, but people dug up things all the time, archeologists and amateurs, and the Pentagon needed an expert to know, bluntly, what was human and what was not.  Alexis supposed it was inevitable that Katie get tangled up with the so-called men in black; not that anyone imagined she would fall in love with Lockhart, the associate director of the men in black.

Alexis looked up to the top of the boulder where Katie sat looking out on the open fields, the woods at her back.  She looked mostly at the river where the water meandered along, like her thoughts.  Alexis knew what Katie was thinking about.  She still had thoughts like that about Lincoln from time to time, and she and Benjamin had been married for more than forty years.  They had children and grandchildren.  When they ended up back at the beginning of time, they needed to go home the slow way—through the time gates.  Fortunately, the Kairos gave each of them a slice of the apple of youth, and made them young again—them and Lockhart.  Three old people wandering through time would have never survived.  Now, being young again, Alexis was thinking about having another baby.  That would have to wait until they got home in a couple of years.  Alexis supposed she might be thirty by then, but that was not too old.

Katie a2Alexis looked up at Katie again.  Katie was twenty-eight, and now Lockhart was an early thirty-something.  They made a wonderful couple, but one that never would have happened if Lockhart stayed sixty-eight.  Alexis wondered if the Kairos knew in advance what would happen.  She shrugged.  She gave up being an elf and became human when she married Benjamin, but she still respected the Kairos more than most mortals.  As an elf, the Kairos had been her god—not a God like God in Heaven, but near enough for all practical purposes.  She still remembered those feelings, and all of the lifetimes of the Kairos she had met thus far gave her no reason to believe those feelings were wrong.  Even now, she felt the Kairos was watching over her, and all of the travelers, even if the Kairos from her day had fallen into the chaos of the Second Heavens, before history began, and was at least temporarily lost.

“So we get to go home the hard way,” Alexis said out loud.  “At least until the Kairos makes it back to Avalon proper.”

Alexis looked again at Katie.  Katie was an elect—a one in a million warrior woman, designed by the gods of old to protect and defend the home, family, and tribe when the men went off to hunt or to war.  She was stronger, faster, and a better fighter than most men.  She loved the adventure of it all, and wanted to be out there with the others, on the front line, as Decker would say, but after some deep soul searching, Katie concluded that her literal ‘god given’ job was to defend the camp.  So she sat on the rock, her marine rifle cradled in her lap, and she no doubt thought about Lockhart, and maybe children.UFO battle 6

Alexis paused as she looked up at the sound.  Katie stood and grabbed her binoculars.  Something shot across the sky.  There were several somethings.  Katie looked fascinated, but Alexis worked back home for the so-called Men in Black organization.  Alien intrusion was nothing new in her world.  Sad, though, to have lost the innocent wonder of it all.

Alexis questioned what was taking the men so long.  She shrugged.  She imagined they would come racing back as soon as they saw the activity in the sky.  She shrugged again.  Men take forever to do anything.  She picked up a piece of wood to put on the fire, and screamed.

Katie turned and saw two Alexises in the camp.  She raised her rifle.  She felt the ghoul’s presence in her mind, but could not tell which Alexis was the real Alexis.  She dared not pull the trigger.

Alexis screamed again, but the ghoul opened its mouth so the scream sounded like it came from the ghoul.  Alexis stepped back, wondering why the ghoul did not attack.  She tripped over a rock.  She fell hard on her side and cut her hands even as she saw the lion.  It had waited, uncertain whether to attack the ghoul or the human.  When Alexis fell, it made up its mind.

lion roaringKatie fired her rife.  She figured the lion might be some ghoul trick, like an illusion, but she could not take the chance.  The ghoul Alexis turned toward the woods even as Mingus and Boston came running.  Boston had her wand out and gave the escaping ghoul a hot butt.  Mingus fired something more like lightning at the lion, which prevented the beast from seriously raking its claw across Alexis’ shoulder.  She got a bad scratch, but then Katie fired a series of shots on automatic, and the lion collapsed for good.

Mingus went straight to Alexis.  He gently helped her to get free of the rocks.  She had one hand on her bleeding shoulder, and the other elbow against her ribs where she imagined at least one was cracked.  Mingus made her sit on a rock and he carefully tended her wounds while Katie and Boston joined them.

“I don’t have my Beretta,” Boston reminded them.  “I would have shot the ghoul, but I lost my belt with my big honking knife and my handgun.  Sorry.”

“I saw two Alesixes,” Katie confessed.  “I didn’t know which was the real one or I would have shot the ghoul.”

“No, ladies.  It was my fault,” Mingus interrupted.  “I never should have taken young Boston from the camp.  There is a reason why we have three on watch all through the night.  A ghoul can affect only one mind at a time.  We should have stayed in the camp; the four of us together.”

“Father?”  Alexis noticed some tears in his eyes.  Alexis knew she was a natural healer.  Whatever was wrong with her, she would heal fast, like an elect; like Katie.  In the meanwhile, it certainly hurt enough.

Mingus finished bandaging her shoulder and shook his head as he spoke.  “The reason I kidnapped you, twice, was to keep you safe.  A daughter should not die before her father.”

Alexis took her good hand and touched his to say she understood.  Boston and Katie said nothing. fire Cooking fire 2 Mingus turned away and kicked the dead lion before he got out his knife to skin the beast.

“Lion steaks tonight,” Alexis said, and winced because of the pain in her ribs.  Boston reached out to her, but there was not much anyone could do.  Katie stirred the fire and Alexis finished her thought.  “Katie.  You and Boston will have to cook tonight.”

“I’ll cook it,” Mingus said, sharply.  “Lion is tough and full of gristle.  You have to know how to fix it to make it edible.

Katie went back up on her lookout.  Boston stayed with Alexis.  Lockhart and Elder Stow rode in after a few minutes.

“I heard gunfire,” Lockhart raised his voice, and they told him what happened.

“I burned the ghoul’s butt, but that was it,” Boston said in a voice somewhere between pride and an apology.

“I did not dare shoot.  It looked like Alexis,” Katie did apologize.

Lockhart gave her a quick peck on the lips.  “You did the right thing.”

Decker and Lincoln came in an hour later.  “What happened?” Decker asked.

“Benjamin,” Alexis called him, and he leapt down from his horse and ran to her.

Avalon 4.1: part 6 of 6, Mikos and His Dad

Blueblood and sevarese fighters moved in a pattern impossible to follow. Obviously they were computer controlled for random, evasive maneuvers while gunners fired at every chance target, but to anticipate and guess a move in that dogfight appeared impossible.  Shots went everywhere, and the land below took a beating.  The travelers were protected behind elder Stow’s screen, but the seals suffered.  They appeared to be abandoning the beach where there were explosions here and there as random shots hit the dirt.

“But the sea there is presently full of sharks,” Cletus objected right along with Alexis and Boston.

“And they are with young,” Alexis pointed out.Seals on rocky shore

“Between the rock and the hard place,” Mikos mumbled.

“From the frying pan to the fire,” Lincoln added his own mumble.

Two sevarese fighters went down fairly quickly, but two blueblood fighters followed when they broke off to attack the transport ship and found the transport heavily armed.  The transport looked ready to enter the fray, but a blueblood transport came in from the north and landed just over a small rise in the ground where the two transports would be hidden from each others weapons.

The fighters hardly had time to worry about the ships beneath them.  At the same time, though, it was beginning to look like the various computers were adjusting for the work and speed of the gunners.  No one was making close to a good shot.  And all this while, Mikos stood with Elder Stow’s scanner in his hand, until at last he yelled now and threw a switch.

Everyone felt the wind, like the sudden inrush of air to fill a vacuum.  Two sevarese and one blueblood fighter crashed into a wall of force that sprang up suddenly between the combatants.  The fighters backed off, each on their own side.  Several shots were fired, but they reflected back and endangered the shooter, so that quickly stopped.

“What did you do?” Alexis asked.

“A wall to separate the combatants,” Lockhart responded as he waited on Eder Stow.

“Sevarese coming out of the transport,” Katie shouted from behind the rock where she had an eye on the combatants.

Stow 2Elder Stow shook his head.  “I don’t know how he did that.  The scanner is not built for that.”

“Bluebloods on the hill,” Decker added from his position.  Renglar tapped Decker’s shoulder and pointed.  One of the blueblood fighters landed.

“Here.”  Elder Stow handed his communicator to Lockhart and Lockhart spoke into it like he was speaking into a police megaphone.

“Bring all your ships to the ground.  The battle is over for now, and anyone who tries to continue the fight will be shot,” he spoke in sevarese.  “I want commanders from both sides to come here and we will discuss a mutual withdrawal from hostilities.”  Lockhart nudged Elder Stow and pointed up as he switched to the blueblood frequencies to repeat his message in the blueblood tongue.

One of the sevarese fighters began to gain altitude, like he wanted to try and go over the wall of force.  Elder Stow aimed carefully with his hand weapon and clipped the fighter wing.  It came down a bit hard, but at least it did not explode.

“Let us hope that is it,” Elder Stow said.  “I admit it was a lucky shot.”

“They are discussing it,” Boston reported.  “I can’t hear either side very well.”

“I can,” Mingus stood.  “They will come to hear what you have to say.”

Mikos readjusted the scanner so the protective screen once again covered the group.  He stepped to the edge of the screen between Decker and Katie, and called Cletus to join him.  Lockhart and Elder Stow came on their own.

“I love your red hair,” Cletus had to say it once more before he hurried.

Before the commanders arrived, Renglar interrupted everyone.  “Lord Akos, your dad is here.”  He pointed.  Everyone dutifully looked where he pointed.  A man had Katie bent back and his lips were locked to hers.  She looked to be struggling, but maybe not too hard.kiss of passion 1

“Dad!” Mikos shouted.

The man let go and stepped back with a smile on his face.  Katie named him.

“Ares.”

“Katherine,” Ares bowed slightly.  “You Amazons make my blood boil.”

“Dad, you were told to stay away from my Amazons.”

“I’m not technically an Amazon,” Katie said.

Mikos stepped over to grab Ares by the arm.  “You are by adoption,” he told Katie.  “Zoe says that is the way all of the first Amazons joined the Amazon nation.”

“What?” Ares asked, but he was not moving from his spot.

“I could use your help to get these morons to stop fighting on this planet, and to help me send their war back out into space where it belongs,” Mikos spoke frankly.

“What?” Ares repeated himself, but he allowed Mikos to drag him over to the meeting with the sevarese and blueblood commanders.  “I was just getting into the fight when you stopped it.  Good trick, putting up that wall of force, by the way.  I’m tempted to follow them into space so I can watch them blast each other.”  He looked up at Decker.  “Major, do you realize my son here invented naval warfare.  I’m so proud of him.  Okay, Nalishayas started the whole pirate thing, but my son made the first marine boarding party. He put rams on the front of his ships, and all sorts of things.  I used to think the sea was just a big waste of space, but now I see it has a warfare aresunique to itself.  It is fascinating.”  Ares eventually ran down.

“God of war?” Decker was just checking.

Yes, that’s right.” Ares said

“Dad.”  Mikos finally got his attention.  The sevarese and blueblood commanders were waiting as patiently as they could.  Ares turned to the aliens and spoke suddenly like his words were on fire.  The visage of the god alone was enough to make everyone cover their eyes and tremble.

“Much as I would enjoy it, there will be no more fighting on this planet.  Not now.  Not ever.  We will be sending you back into space, either on your ships or as space dust.  The choice is yours.”  Ares took a step back and grinned.

Three of the four sevarese fainted, and one looked like he might be dead.  One blueblood was screaming and running for his life. the other three buebloods appeared to have soiled themselves.  Lockhart, Decker, Katie and Elder Stow were no strangers to the anger of the gods, but they all felt glad that was not directed at them.  They trembled, and Elder Stow seemed to have a bit of trouble closing his mouth.

Mikos spoke quickly.  “Renglar, watch the ship.  Lockhart, stay here.  The time gate should come to Mikos 2you.  Goran and crew, you can return to your ship on the transport.  Cletus, you are with me and get your eyes off Boston.  She is married.  Dad, keep your hands off Captain Harper.”  Ares glanced at Katie and smiled.  “Sevarese first,” Mikos finished, and all the sevarese, their ships and equipment vanished along with Ares, Mikos and Cletus.  They would no doubt reappear far in the east beside the sevarese main ship.

“My.  People do come and go so quickly around here,” Alexis said, and she and Lincoln put their hands to their ears as if listening for something

“What?” Boston asked as she got the amulet out to see exactly where the gate was and how far away.

“We are waiting for the munchkins to giggle.”

“Wizard of Oz, right?” Katie guessed.

“Yes, of course,” Lockhart said.  He turned with a word for Alexis and Lincoln.  “We are still working on generational differences.”  He lifted his hand to wave to Goran, Clomb and Lulu who were returning to their ship on the transport parked over the rise.  He noticed a cut on the back of his hand, and felt the need to scratch it.  Katie saw, grabbed the hand and growled.

“What?” Lockhart said, sounding very much like Ares.

“As long as she is not near any human women to transfer the pregnancy, I figure nine months from now there will be a half-blueblood, half-Lockhart baby born somewhere in space.”

“What?  I think I banged it on Decker’s rock over there,” Lockhart said.

“That Lulu better not come back here.  I may have to kill her.”

“Oh, yeah.  I’m sure Ares would be glad to teach you any number of ways to do that.”

Lockhart and Katie turned away from each other, and Lockhart checked Boston’s amulet.  The time gate was just down the narrow rocky beach down from the seal beach. She imagined it the edge of the water, but it might have been out in the surf.

the-wizard-of-oz“We best go now,” Lincoln said. “It might not take Mikos long to settle with the sevarese and move to the blueblood ship, at which point the time gate might shift to almost anywhere.”

“Pack up,” Lockhart agreed.  He looked at Katie, but Katie ignored him.  Boston smiled for Alexis and wanted to say that Wizard of Oz comment was great, but Alexis ignored her.  Meanwhile, Elder Stow talked to Decker, but he did not appear to be talking to anyone else.

Father Mingus, an empathetic elf with mind magic no less, caught all of the confusion and upset.  He decided they might as well head into an ice time zone.  It would not be any colder that the feelings he was getting right there.

************************

There is no place like home, but without ruby slippers, getting there can take a while.

Next Monday, Avalon episode 4.2, The Storm Overhead begins.  Something comes with the rain.  See you then, and Happy Reading…

a a hr calvin 2

 

Avalon 4.1: part 2 of 6, Prisoners

The horses stayed in the cargo area while the people got carried into the inner halls, disappearing behind the doors.  Both Elder Stow and Mingus stopped Boston from following.

“We need to keep track of the horses so we can be ready to go when we help the others escape,”  Mingus said.

“I’m picking up strong sub-light capability and good gravometric balance, but I doubt this little Stow 1transport will be headed off world,” Eder Stow said.  When he saw that the elder elf was not interested in his techno-babble, he added, “I doubt the others will be harmed before we reach the main ship, wherever that may be.”

Boston shouted from the small window.  “I just like flying.  All those trees down below.  Look, a herd of animals.  They look like ants.”

Elder Stow looked at Mingus as he spoke.  “She keeps things in perspective.”

Mingus nodded.  “She focuses on the important things.”

###

Katie was the first to wake, but Lockhart and Decker were not far behind.  Lockhart at least had the good sense to groan as he sat up.  Alexis and Lincoln took a little longer, and Lincoln stayed dizzy for a bit.

“Just lie still and relax,” Alexis told him.  “It doesn’t look like we will be going anywhere soon.”

They were locked in an inner room with several small cots and a small table with two small chairs.  Their guns, knives, belts, and Alexis’ medical bag had all been taken from them.

“Not giants,” Decker nudged a little chair and spoke the obvious.

“The ones I saw in Etana’s day were four or five feet tall,” Lincoln said as he sat up and put one hand to his head.  “Flesh eaters, as I said.  They had developed a taste for human flesh.”

“We all saw them in Hadj’s day,” Alexis reminded everyone.

“With the Pendratti,” Katie remembered.  “That was two or three time zones ago, maybe a hundred and fifty years or so.  Do you think they are still fighting each other?”

lincoln 1Lockhart shrugged and everyone looked at Lincoln who patted his pockets.  Lincoln’s eyes got big and he sat up suddenly wide awake and said, “It’s gone.  The database.”  He stood to more thoroughly check his pockets.  “I was reading it when we were struck.  I must have dropped it.”  He hoped the sevarese did not take it.  The information in the database could change the whole course of history.

“Maybe Elder Stow picked it up,” Katie suggested, before she explained to everyone.  “I saw him go invisible right before I passed out.”  Katie pulled out the amulet they needed to point to the next time gate, and also the necklace she never took off.  That necklace was a camera, matched to the one on Decker’s ring.  They transmitted to a part alien digital device she carried in her pack.  She imagined the recorder would hold several years of recording, twenty-four hours a day, before it ran out of room.  Last she checked it was not a quarter full.  She quickly put her things away, but Alexis noticed.

“At least they did not strip us when they took us prisoner,” Alexis said.

Katie nodded.  “They probably thought the amulet was just a decorative piece.  That is how it is Katie 5disguised.”

“That Neanderthal is quick when his skin is on the line,” Decker interrupted.  He was checking the walls to see if there was a crack in the construction.

“I hope Boston, Mingus and Elder Stow are all right,” Katie said.

Alexis sighed some unexplained unhappiness.  “Me too.”  Then she added, “And Misty Gray, wherever the horses are.”

“I imagine the horses may be supper,” Decker said as he turned from the wall and took a seat on one of the small chairs.  “I instructed Weber to give indigestion to whoever eats him.”  Decker fidgeted a little, like he felt half naked not having a gun and knife at his side.

Lincoln sat back on the cot, leaned his head to the wall, and put a hand back to his forehead.  “What do you imagine they will do with us?” he asked.

Decker 7“The ones we saw in Hadj’s day seemed pretty military,” Lockhart said.  “I imagine they will go by the book and interview us first.”  He looked at the Major and the Captain.  Katie nodded as if to say that was right.  Decker quipped with a look at Lincoln.

“Maybe they like to play with their food first.”

###

The five travelers stood quietly and waited while the sevarese at the table looked at what might have doubled for a computer tablet.  Decker looked around the inside of the small cave and counted the sevarese that surrounded them with guns drawn.  Lincoln looked for cracks and openings in the back wall of the cave, a habit he had picked up on their journey since he did not like to be surprised by whatever goblins, trolls or dwarfs might be hiding back there.  Lockhart, Katie and Alexis examined their host, his small stature, beak-like nose, and feather-like hair. and they waited politely until he spoke.

“Oh, this is telling me nothing but mythology and the delusions of my ancients,” the sevarese at the table spoke with a clear sound of frustration in his voice.  He set the tablet on the table rather roughly and looked up at the humans.  “I am Glory Cata, and my claw trailed a Blueblood ship to this world, and you appeared.  We know the bluebloods have gotten into our historical records and corrupted many things.  Your appearance is too much for coincidence, but the bluebloods missed one key point.  Your species does not live that long.”UFO Birdman 1

“I don’t know what record you are looking at that mentions us, but if it does, it probably notes that we are time travelers,” Lockhart tried to be helpful, and friendly.

“Yes,” Glory Cata made a face that they all guessed was a smirky little smile.  He showed no teeth, but he had three tongues that looked like they could tear things up pretty well. “But we know that time travel is impossible, so the obvious conclusion is you are blueblood spies.”

“To what end?”  Lockhart asked.

“I don’t know,” Glory Cata went back to sounding frustrated.  “To draw us out.  To discover our base of operations.  To detonate yourselves.  Who knows?”

“Excuse me,” Lincoln interrupted.  “If you have any record at all of this world, then it should show that this word is off limits.  You should not even be here.”

“The bluebloods came here, so we came here.  Once we have wiped them out then we will leave and neither of us will be here.”

UFO Birdman 3“I don’t think the gods will accept that bit of ill-logic,” Alexis said.

“That’s another thing,” Glory Cata yelled as he picked up the tablet.  “This fantasy of my ancestors speaks of spirits in the earth and the sky and some with powers like gods.  Who can believe such tales?  Look here, what is a ghu-ail?”

“Ghoul,” Lockhart corrected, quietly.

“And who is this Kay-ro … ros?”

“Kairos,” Lockhart continued.  “He is one who will be seriously unhappy that you have prevented us from continuing our journey.”

“He makes the Kairos sound like syrup,” Katie whispered.

“And I suppose this imaginary Kay-ros and his imaginary gods will come and enforce the off limits for this planet.”

“I don’t know about that,” Lockhart said, “But I suggest you figure out why this planet is marked off limits before you do something drastic that you may regret.”

Glory Cata paused with his mouth open.  His tongues clicked against his nose-beak like he was fishing out some string of food that got caught up in there, like a person might pick their teeth.  Suddenly, the severese raised his feather-covered hands and returned to his bad attitude.  “It is a blueblood trick.  It must be.”  Glory Cata gave the travelers his best, mean stare.  “Where are the blueblood located?  Where is their battleship?”

Glory Cata picked up a stick and touched Alexis with the other end of it.  Alexis gasped and shook,  She squeezed her eyes tight while everyone jumped.  Lincoln pulled her away and felt the electrical charge, like a shot with a taser.  Gory Cata spoke again while Alexis caught her breath.

“Speak up.  I will not ask so nicely again.”  When the travelers said they had no idea where the bluebloods were located, Glory Cata added one more word.  “Lock them with the others until I decide what to do with them.”

“Our horses?” Katie asked while they were escorted out of the room.

“Locked away for now,” the sevarese answered.  “I heard they are poisonous.  Too bad.”Alexis 6

“Father Mingus,” Alexis smiled and whispered to the others while Lincoln helped her move.  “He must have convinced the sevarese the horses could not be eaten.  He is pretty good with mind magic.”

“Not as good as a ghu-ail,” Lincoln joked, and Decker and Lockhart both gave Lincoln a look that said how dare he steal their line.

Avalon 4.1: A Time for War, part 1 of 6

After 2395 BC around the Aegean.  Kairos 47: Mikos, Akos of Akoshia

Recording …

Katie checked the amulet that had been placed in her hands, and pointed a little to their left.  It was the prototype, not as sophisticated as the one Boston wore around her neck, but it pointed well enough to the next time gate, and that was all that mattered.  To be honest, she hardly gave it a thought as her mind was occupied with another matter.

“I’m worried about Elder Stow,” she said out loud.  “He is being so quiet.  I remember Lincoln read from the database that Neanderthals, I mean, the Gott-Druk are naturally gregarious and very family oriented people.  I thought he was finally starting to open up and accept us as family, but suddenly he has gone back to being all stiff and formal.”

“I don’t know,” Lockhart said.  “He isn’t human.  I don’t think we can judge him in human ways.”

Katie nodded.  “If he was human, I would say he is acting like a petulant teenager.”

Lockhart nodded.  “But he isn’t.”

“But Mingus and now Boston are not human, either.” Katie did not finish her thought.avaloncover1

“Yes, but Boston was human,” Lockhart responded.  “Besides, I have come to accept that elves, dwarfs, and even dark elves and the rest are still native to this planet.  The Gott-Druk are no longer welcome here, at least not since the flood.”

“Do you think there really was a flood?”

“We saw the boat on the mountain.  That is some pretty hard evidence.”

“And the tower of Shinar, we saw with our own eyes.” Katie nodded with glee, but one eye went to look at Eder Stow who was dutifully riding out on the flank.

“Speaking of Mingus and Boston,” Lockhart said to distract Katie’s attention.  “Are they keeping up?

Katie looked back.  Father Mingus was instructing his new daughter.

“Now Miss Riley, invisibility is hard, it takes some real concentration, but I am sure you can do it,” Mingus encouraged her.  “Let the end of your wand be the focal point for your magic.  That is what wands are good for.”

“It’s hard,” Boston complained, sounding like a young child.  “Besides, I’m afraid I’m going to set myself or Honey on fire.”

“Now, I know the Amazons called you Little Fire,” Mingus spoke kindly.  “But you should not fear the spark inside you.  I have looked with the mind magic, and you have a fine roaring flame, but invisibility comes from a different section of your brain, and I have seen that you can do it.  You must trust, and not me.  You must trust yourself.”

Boston nodded, but she did not look too sure.

Alexis, riding in front of Mingus and Boston, spurred her horse to catch up to where Katie and Lockhart were watching out ahead.  She left Lincoln to read whatever he was reading in the database, and made a face of disgust that Katie noticed.

“He is treating her like a porcelain doll,” Alexis groused.

Alexis t2“Not the way you remember your childhood?” Lockhart guessed.

Alexis shook her head.  “Okay, it was the eighteenth century, but I got whippings with a switch when I got something wrong or didn’t do what I was told.”

“Whippings?” Katie sounded shocked.  She could not imagine light elves doing anything of the kind.  She still thought they were all peaceful, loving vegetarians, despite her experience of watching them in battle.

“Maybe not whippings, but near enough.  People don’t realize that the little spirits of the earth parallel human behavior much more than any want to admit.  The magic and all seems like such a great divide, but we all think and feel the same.  We marry after a fashion, and have families.  We all raise our children to do what is right, more or less.  And we share emotions like love, hate and fear.”

“I suppose that is true,” Lockhart said.

“I really hadn’t thought of it that way,” Katie admitted, and one eye went again to Elder Stow.

“I am not downplaying the differences, which in some ways are profound and eternal, but we share more in common than most know or admit.”

“And right now you are jealous of Boston?” Lockhart was seeking clarification.

Alexis lowered her eyes to think, but everyone else lifted their eyes to look overhead.  Decker rode in from the flank and pointed up.  It was a good sized ship of uncertain markings, and unfortunately, there was no cover to which they could run and hide, only a few small trees over where Elder Stow stopped in the shadows to watch.

The ship flew in a big arc before it circled back toward the travelers, who dismounted but did not move from where they were.  What was the point?  They were obviously seen.

“I don’t recognize the markings,” Decker said.

“I don’t either,” Lockhart confessed

“Just coming to it.” Lincoln had the database out.

“What do you suppose they want with us?” Decker asked.

“Don’t know that they do,” Katie responded before Lockhart explained, drawing on knowledge gleaned from his years with the Men in Black..UFO battle 1

“We are an unusual sight in this day and environment.  They may have scanners that picked up the worked metal content of our weapons, for example.  I’m guessing they are just interested in a good look.”

“They might have as much interest in the horses as us,” Mingus suggested as he rode up and got down to join the group.  Boston stood in her stirrups and waved before she got down.

“Not Marzalotipan, I hope,” Katie frowned at the thought of another visit by those interstellar used car salesmen.

“No.  The marking match sevarese markings,” Lincoln said.  “They are bird men, too, but very different.  The last ones I met, in Etana’s day, were flesh eaters, human flesh.”  Before he could explain further, a green light came from the ship and bathed the travelers.  All of the people, fell unconscious.  The horses were stunned, but remained on their feet.

“Quick as you can,” Mingus said and grabbed a groggy Boston’s hand.  They ran at super speed to the trees and bushes where Eder Stow was just then turning himself invisible.  “Now, girl, get invisible,” he ordered, and Boston was motivated.  She succeeded as Elder Stow’s horse wandered over to join the others.

When the ship landed, the sevarese rounded up the horses and people to bring them aboard.  “Follow me,” Elder Stow said, and he snuck, invisible, into the ship.  Mingus and Boston, who could still see him and hear him, followed.  Elder Stow could not see the elves until Mingus made a window so just the Elder could see him.

“An advanced lesson,” he told Boston.  Boston nodded.  She had enough to do to keep herself from suddenly appearing and being seen by everyone.

Boston LF1

Avalon 3.6: part 5 of 5, Escape Before Supper

“For an operation like this, we go with our strengths. I’m a police man, not a thief. A bit of a klutz, and you are right, you are not trained. Besides, Roland, can you make yourself invisible?”

“What? Yes. Not for long. About a day. It is very draining.”

“Elder Stow?”

“Yes, but it is draining, in my case on the battery.”

“Okay Decker—“

“I don’t do invisible, but I try.”

“Just keep in mind. You are not Rambo. Your mission is to free the hostages, not blow up the enemy in ever more cinematic ways.”

Decker almost smiled as he went, seemingly by himself to the cave entrance.cave marine

Katie put her arms around Lockhart’s middle and hugged him, and he hugged her. “I don’t want to lose you,” she said.

“And I don’t want to lose you,” he responded. “But I can’t make decisions based on that. Sometimes you or I will be in danger and the other will just have to suck it up.”

“I would not expect it to be otherwise,” Katie said, and thought about how comfortable she felt. Lockhart thought about how hard that might be for him in the future.

###

Alexis and Boston came out first and took a good look around. There were no guards, and more than likely the snake people never considered a jail break. Boston stepped out front while Alexis directed the crowd to hug the wall and move slowly. They were in the shadows, and Alexis meant to keep them in the shadows.

“Why are we moving so slow?” a young woman asked in her normal voice. Alexis threw something at the girl and all they heard after was “Mmmph, mmph.”

About twenty yards from the door, and not yet near the entrance, Alexis got everyone to kneel down. She risked moving and threw her hands toward the other side of the cavern. Everyone heard the sound of clattering rocks. Three men rounded the corner from the entranceway, and they immediately went to investigate what might be making that noise.

BostonBoston kept up with the group and kept her wand at the ready, but she was still so new at this magic business, she did not think of any of the things Alexis did. When three more men came from the entrance way, carrying their spears, Alexis tired herself out trying to make their attention focus on where they were walking and on each other.

“Hey!” There were two more behind them. Alexis stood.

“Run,” she yelled, and the people ran toward the entrance as everything erupted into chaos.

Boston laid down a line of fire that was enough to make the men back up, but not enough to stop them.

The eyes of the statue fired lasers at her, but Boston felt herself grabbed from behind and hauled out of the way just in time.

The five men on the stairs shouted. Lincoln was there, followed by seven bird-men who also let out sounds of distress and anger.

There was the sound of gunfire from the entrance, and Alexis knew the cavalry had arrived.Alexis 1

Elder Stow had his sonic device out and the stairs began to tremble, but Alexis was still there, waving the others on, and she yelled. “No. Benjamin is on the stairs. Get Benjamin first.” Elder Stow was invisible, but it was not too hard to figure what was happening. The sonic vibrations stopped, and Lincoln shoved his way toward the entrance before the men could recover.

The bird-men came to the bottom of the stairs, and afterwards, the people could not say if they flew or just exited the stairs quickly. They certainly knew the bird-men were armed when streaks of power began to fire at the fleeing people.

At the same time, a great roar came up from the crack in the ground.

fire drakeThe bird-men looked stymied. Somehow, Elder Stow had the people, including Lincoln, covered with a screen against the energy weapons. Whatever power was being projected by the eyes of the idol could also not break through.

Roland and Boston came at the back of the line, and Elder Stow last of all. Decker was behind a rock. Four men by the entrance were dead, and the people all ran out into the fresh air. When Eder Stow became visible again, Decker exited, and Alexis yelled for the elder.

“Be prepared to raise your shield again. We don’t know if the Balok will follow us.”

“Or the Sevarese,” Lincoln added, before he paused to kiss his wife.

“Fire drake,” Roland explained to Boston, and whoever was listening, and then he thought to include Lockhart. “It came up from the crack in the earth. It is a creature of fire.”

“It chased the birds and the men back into the cell room where they were holding the people prisoners,” Boston added. “The bird men, whatever they are, and their energy weapons don’t have any effect on it.”UFO Birdman 2

“Sevarese,” Lincoln said.

“Bird men?” Katie asked.

“Later,” Lockhart insisted even as he decided there was no way they were going to fit everyone on the horses. They would have to go on foot, the hard way, and hope no one tried to stop them.

###

The people all gathered around a big bonfire in the night. They were not far from Kish, but it was too dark to continue, and they imagined they would make it by mid-afternoon on the following day.

“At least there are too many of us to be taken again by the men,” Lothar said while Alexis checked his wound once more and saw that it was healing properly this time.

“Men are not what we are worried about,” Lincoln said and Lothar nodded as more than three dozen men came out of the dark, armed with copper headed spears and copper knives.

bonfire“My apologies,” Elder Stow said. “I was only looking behind.”

“And I was only watching the skies,” Decker said.

“And Roland?” Lockhart asked, but Roland and Boston were busy kissing.

“Hey Lockhart!” Lockhart heard the voice before he saw the man.

“Etana?” Lincoln had to ask, and Etana nodded while he shouted something else.

“Boston!” She stopped and she and Roland both looked at him, but they looked like their minds were not able to focus on what they were seeing. “You two need to set a date,” Etana said. “Or we need to throw a bucket of water on them,” he said generally to everyone, and waved so his men relaxed.

“Speaking of buckets of water,” Alexis interrupted and patted the seat between herself and Lincoln. “Do you have any idea what we have been through?

“You are going to need a bucket of water to put out the fire drake,” Lincoln said.

“Yeah, all that and you weren’t even there yet,” Lockhart joked, but Katie touched his sleeve as the sound of a Sevarese fighter went overhead.

************

Next week, beginning on Monday:Nuwa 6

The travelers discover the sky has fallen and Nuwa, the Kairos, has to resurrect the pillars in the pledge of the gods to hold back the storm of war beginning to rage across the star systems.  Meanwhile, things heat up between Boston and Roland.  Something must be decided as they travel down “The Sulk Road.”

Avalon 3.6: part 4 of 5, The Sevarese

“Come.” The man in the doorway was insistent. The four men with spears handy pressed the issue.

“Why?” Lincoln asked. Boston had her wand out. Alexis was sitting down, checking Lothar’s wound. The man lifted his eyebrows. No one ever asked him that question before, and Lincoln took advantage of that. “Because if it is to talk to whoever is in charge, I will go willingly, without trouble.”

“To talk, maybe,” the man said. “Maybe the eagles eat you.”

“Stay here until I get back,” Lincoln said, and walked out without having to be dragged out, which made the man raise his eyebrows again.

As soon as the door was closed and latched, Alexis stood up. “I’m not staying here,” she said.

“Me neither,” Boston agreed.

“Can you walk?” Alexis asked Lothar.prisoners in cave

“Nothing wrong with my legs,” he nodded.

“Listen up,” Boston turned to the crowd. “We go slow and quiet. Do you know how to be sneaky?” she asked, and several heads nodded. “Good, because if one of you screams and panics and runs, you will get us all killed, and the gods will not smile kindly on you.”

“Ready?” Alexis said. Boston nodded, so Alexis raised her hand and they heard the latch on the other side of the door slide open. Boston stood with her wand ready. It was not her trusted Beretta, but then she had been practicing her flamethrower, so it might be better given the circumstances.

###

Lincoln got escorted beyond the serpent statue and altar to a stairway cut from the stone along the back wall. It was narrow, one person wide, and it had no railing. It also hovered over the crack in the ground where maybe a mile down, something appeared to be moving. Lincoln tried not to look down, but he thought he better watch his steps. The men that escorted him hardly seemed more comfortable as they climbed up and up.

At the top, Lincoln found a ledge with an archway that lead out onto a cave that appeared to be at the top of a cliff. This cave had a wide opening and a view for miles into the wilderness. Lincoln imagined he could see the river from there, but he honestly did not want to get too close to the edge. No matter. His eyes were drawn to the three small ships and one four to six man shuttle parked in the cave.

“Wait here,” the head man said, and Lincoln waited and groused at not having the database. “Come,” the man said, and lead him to a non-human bird-like person of some kind who was sitting at a table, looking over something like a tablet and scrolling through pages, reading.

“Interesting reading?” Lincoln spoke. The man looked like he was about to punch Lincoln and tell him to wait until spoken to, but the bird-man looked up.

UFO Birdman 7“Wait.”

The man waited.

“What do you know of reading?” The bird-man’s eyes got big. He stood, about four feet tall, and stepped free of the table. He appeared human enough, or a human shaped reptile but he had feathers instead of hair.

“You don’t look Marzalotipan to me,” Lincoln said, and saw recognition in the bird-man’s eyes. “Your species?”

“Sevarese. I am Glory Priuta, what you would call Commander Priuta. And you are human?” Lincoln nodded, and Commander Priuta understood the body language which said he had been there for some time. “And you are not from Kish, or from these primitive people that surround us. Your clothing and artifacts betray you. May I ask, where are you from?”

Lincoln paused, but decided it did not matter. “I did not get a good look at the database before your men kidnapped us, but at a guess I would say five thousand years in the future.”

The Bird-man’s eye got big and he made a sound for which there was no translation. He looked at the tablet which was still in his hand and announced. “You speak the truth.”

“I’ve been known to be honest now and then,” Lincoln said, and he considered the whole circumstances of his capture. The questions were building up inside him, but he was trying to be polite.

“But not always honest with your species, as we have observed.” Priuta said. He touched several places on the tablet and Lincoln could not hold back.

“You know you have Balok in the cavern,” Lincoln said. “I thought you people wiped out the Balok.”

“The Captain and others who heard of the Balok thought the same,” Commander Priuta said, with his eyes big again, which Lincoln decided was an expression of surprise and curiosity, or near enough. “We did not expect to find a ship still running through this system. We do not normally come here. Our navigation array marks this system as off limits.”

“And it is,” Lincoln said. “I am surprised the Kairos is not here.”

“I have heard of this Kairos,” The commander said. “The power that is the sun said he would be telling the Kairos, and he insisted in the meanwhile we share our food with the Balok. It irks, but as long as the Pendratti are denied this world, we will suffer to share. In truth, there are only a few old specimens of Balok alive, and they will die soon enough for us.”

“So why haven’t you left?” Lincoln asked the primary question.

Commander Priuta appeared to smile, and while he showed no teeth, he showed two or three tongues in his open mouth. “Our ship was heavily damaged in the battle. The Balok ship crashed here and sank into the earth in this spot. We managed a softer landing, but do not have the means to repair our craft. We are searching this world for artifacts we can adapt for our purposes.”eagle and serpent

Lincoln said something he had not originally intended. “Maybe Boston and Alexis can help you repair your ship. Katie Harper, too, if we can find her. Boston is the one with the red hair.”

Commander Priuta opened his mouth again and showed a couple of tongues. “Another reason you people were suspect,” he said.

Lincoln smiled until something else occurred to him. “What exactly is this food you are sharing with the Balok?”

“Just some of the primitive humans. I understand the Balok prefer to cook them, but personally I find the raw flesh very tasty. Some of my crew have been spoiled with our time here. They can hardly look at a human without feeling the hunger in their middle.”

###

“This is where the signal ended,” Elder Stow reported. “I am sorry this little portable unit has such limited range and battery strength is not the best.”

“Don’t apologize,” Lockhart said. “Obviously the Sevarese have set up a field around this cavern, and it might not be that good, but just enough to keep out your portable scan.” They all took a look at the opening to the cave. It faced the east and it looked dark and foreboding in the afternoon when the sun could not reach it.

“Typical rock formation,” Katie said. “Probably hollowed out by water at one point.” Lockhart nodded and lead them all back to where they hid the horses by some boulders. There was little room and little grass, but a few trees at least gave the illusion of being hidden.

“Roland—“ Lockhart started to speak, but Katie interrupted.

“I’m not staying back to watch the horses by myself. I could, but—“ Lockhart interrupted.

horses 2“What makes you think I want you to stay here and watch the horses?”

“Because you are the boss and self-designated responsible. Decker is a navy seal. For all my gifts, he is trained to sneak around an enemy base without being caught. I am not. I am surprised Roland has not already raced into the cavern, and with the non-human Sevarese around, you will probably need Elder Stow and his gadgets. I’m not staying alone here and missing out.”

Lockhart smiled as he dismounted. “I’m staying with you.”

“What?” everyone asked.

Avalon 3.6 part 3 of 5, Prisoners of the Balok

The three got tossed into a cell of some sort, where a strong wooden door was latched on the outside. There were already a dozen people in the cell, but they all kept to the back wall and kept quiet except one middle aged woman who came to help untie the strangers. She started with the man, and Lincoln was grateful. His wrists were chaffing.

“Help,” Boston shrieked. Fortunately, Alexis was already free and put the fire out. “I guess burning the rope off was not a good idea,” Boston admitted. Alexis just gave her a mother look that said Boston was not a child to make such a senseless mistake.

“Thank you,” Lincoln said to the woman when she got his hands loose. The woman thought to step back. Most of the others noticed Boston and Alexis did not need help, even in that dim light. Alexis assumed some would think magic, but some might have thought the men did not tie the women well enough.

“My name’s Lincoln,” he said and reached out for the woman.

“Mehabbi,” the woman responded. “And Lothar my husband is injured. Here.”

Alexis came right over on the word injured and found the man sitting, leaning against the back wall, a great cut in his shoulder that appeared scabbed over badly and looked like it was begging to become infected. She moved a young woman out of the way and removed the man’s makeshift bandage. She clicked her tongue and held out her hand. Lincoln put his little Swiss army knife in her palm and spoke to Mehabbi, and plenty loud for everyone..

“She is a healer. Let her work, and give her room.” People were willing as soon as they saw Alexis’ hands and the wound begin to glow with a soft golden light. They did not even object when she opened the knife, removed most of the scab and cut the wound open.

“Lincoln,” Boston took his attention. “Did you notice anything strange about that snake statue?”Etana serpent

Lincoln shook his head, but Alexis spoke up from the floor. “It had short stubby legs,”

“Yes,” Lincoln realized. “And at least one hand of many spindly fingers.”

“Balok,” Boston nodded.

“But that can’t be,” Lincoln said. “They’re extinct.”

“Not as extinct as we thought,” Boston said.

“And where do you think they got the model for the statue?” Alexis said as she stood and wiped the sweat from her brow. The man was sleeping and Mehabbi was crying grateful tears.

“I only hope the ship crashed,” Lincoln said. “Maybe they modeled the statue after a dead one.”

“Don’t count on it,” Boston and Alexis said together.

“I am fairly sure that was a ship overhead,” Boston added.

“But that doesn’t make sense,” Lincoln said. “The Balok are driven to kill every intelligent species other than themselves. It is like their religion. They are the only ones allowed to live. If there were Balok around, they would be killing everything.”

“Unless they are trapped here, underground,” Alexis suggested. “Like for some reason they can’t break out, and have to depend on the humans here for survival.”

“The serpent gods sleep,” Mehabbi spoke up as her husband Lothar relaxed. “I heard the men talking when we came in. Overhead is the nest of the eagles. They patrol the skies, but the great eagle has a broken wing and cannot fly. Down below, the serpents sleep but for the few who watch over their offspring. Those few must be fed.”

“Fed?” Lincoln had to ask.

“Us,” Mehabbi confirmed.

Boston looked around. The people in the cell had inched forward and were staring at the newcomers, many with unasked questions in their eyes. “Can I help you?” Boston asked nice and loud, and most turned back to face the wall in an effort to go unnoticed.

###

“I recognize the markings on the ship,” Lockhart tried to remember.

“Sevarese,” Decker said. “They were the first thing I remember clearly when I woke up, after the Pendratti and Gott-Druk shuttles in the Corn Woman world.”

“And Puff the dragon,” Lockhart said. “But how long ago was that?”

UFO Birdman 1“Twelve time zones ago,” Elder Stow suggested. “Averaging a week to ten days per zone, that would be about three months ago. I could check my instruments.”

Katie spoke up. “According to the database, roughly six hundred and fifty years ago.”

“And as I recall,” Lockhart continued. “They had just about finished killing off the Balok and were starting to fight the Pendratti.”

“Not yet,” Decker said. “But the Kairos said they would soon. I remember he was determined to make sure that nuclear war did not start in the Yucatan.”

“They have spotted us,” Elder Stow said. He was looking hard at his scanner. The Sevarese ship stopped and hovered over the scrub grass. The company stayed in the trees, but that did not seem to matter.

“I guess their scanner capabilities have improved over the last six hundred and fifty years,” Katie said.

“Not to mention their fighter ships. They used to be more like jets and could dive bomb but not hover like that.”

“I remember,” Decker said.

“Going,” Elder Stow said as the Sevarese ship lifted again and headed off in the same direction they were headed. “I suspect it won’t take them long to analyze their scans and conclude that we are not locals.”

“Let’s find the others first,” Lockhart said.

“Yes please,” Roland agreed, and he lead them out on to the grasslands, near the hills.

Avalon 3.4: Trader in Mischief, part 1 of 5

After 2972 BC, in southeast Brazil. Kairos lifetime 37: Wir’a

Recording …

“We have visitors,” Decker yelled as he rode up from the wing. He pointed to the sky where the travelers were able to make out a black dot against the clouds. The dot was moving and appeared to be getting bigger.

“Back up to the trees,” Lockhart commanded. The travelers had just come out from a thin forest and started across the grassland that stretched out across the land for as far as they could see. They turned and spurred the horses to hurry.

“The ship turned in our direction,” Elder Stow reported as he floated up from the other side, scanner in hand.

“Do you think we have been seen?” Boston asked.

“Not unless they were looking right at us,” Alexis responded. “The chances of that are pretty slim.”

The travelers got down and walked their horses back under the cover of the trees and behind the bushes,UFO in sky 1

“Another adjustment in its trajectory.” Elder Stow read from the scanner. He was tracking the UFO. “The descent pattern will bring it down not far from here.”

“Looks like it is headed toward us,” Katie said.

They watched the dot become a ball before it showed a shape more like a rectangle as it drew near and slowed. “Cigar shaped,” Lincoln called it. He pulled out the database to see what might be in the historical record.

When the ship came close to the ground, they began to hear the engine noise. At the same time, a spotlight came from the ship and bathed the trees where they were hiding in a pinkish light.

“So much for going unnoticed,” Lockhart said. He pushed his horse out from the bushes and the others followed. They could clearly hear some kind of retro rocket whine that slowed the craft by then, and they also heard when the engines began to power down.

“Marzalotipan,” Lincoln read from the database. “Flightless bird-like is how the database describes them, along with the word annoying.”

“It is a big ship,” Alexis said. As one of the Men in Black, she had seen any number of alien ships in the future. Her judgment was usually good about such things.

“My guess would be a cargo ship of some kind,” Elder Stow said. “Not much in the way of life signs on board.” He put his scanner away as they moved across the grass. There were several rises in the land between them and the ship. This was good grazing land, maybe for cattle, but it would be difficult to farm, being filed with regular rises, like waves in a storm at sea. On the third rise, they paused. It was a very big ship.

UFO Birdman 5Boston remembered what the Kairos once said, though she did not repeat it too loud. “Hey! This planet is off limits. You can’t park here.” She turned her head and saw both Katie and Alexis grin at the memory.

“Not parking,” Decker said. He had out his binoculars. “Looks more like he is setting up shop.” The big back end of the ship was open in a giant ramp and pieces of equipment were being floated out to the ground for display.

“Come, come.” The travelers heard the words. Clearly, the Marzalotipan had a loud speaker system. “Come, come,” they heard the words again when they got closer. “I was beginning to think this wretched planet had no goods worthy of trade.”

Lincoln said one more thing before he put the database away. “Interstellar used car salesmen.”

When they arrived, they agreed the creature was probably male, though it was hard to tell. The Marzalotipan had claw-like feet which laid fat to the ground and carried the creature well enough. It had pants of a sort, and a shirt, but mostly feathers. It was roughly human size and shape with two green eyes that showed a sharp intelligence and probably two ears beneath all the feathers. It had a beak for a nose, but its lower lip that hid the teeth looked puffy, but normal enough. And it had two hands at the end of two arms that were wing-like, but clearly not wing-like enough for flight.

Lockhart spoke first for the travelers. “Do you have a permit?”

The Mazalotipan ignored his comment as his eyes seemed glued to the horses. “I suppose the beasts of burden are not for sale,” he said. He looked up into their faces and appeared to smile. “Mind you, I have a Sevarese ground transport on board that could whisk you to your destination in no time and no trouble.”

“What do you take in trade?” Alexis asked.

“Precious metals, fuel stocks, uranium or plutonium if you have any, precious gems. Diamonds and rubies are especially valuable if cut in the right way. Any advanced equipment.” He looked at Elder Stow and cocked his head as if trying to figure out what the Elder had and how it might work. Elder Stow said nothing. He knew his equipment was thousands of years more advanced than anything the Marzalotipan had ever seen. “I take planetary artifacts if I feel there is a market.”

“We haven’t got –“ Katie started to speak, but the Marzalotipan interrupted.

UFO Blueblood cannon 2“Those projectile weapons look to be well made. Might I see a demonstration?” He whistled and a floating ball came to his side. He attached a foot-long square of something like wood or plastic to it and sent it out five hundred feet to hover over the grass.

Decker, as expected, had his rifle out and ready. He took a second to attach his scope and fired a short round at the target. He figured it would not hurt to give the bird-man a little demonstration.

“Very good,” the Marzalotipan said as the target whipped in close and he changed to a second target, sent it out again and picked up a weird looking rifle. He fired and obliterated the target. “Mind you, this Blueblood canon has a wide angle attachment guaranteed to ruin any oncoming horde. But I might let it go if you have a second projectile weapon.”

“Elder Stow?” Katie noticed the Elder moved close to some of the non-lethal equipment on display.

“Wondering if he has something to charge up my equipment. You know my weapon does not have a limitless charge.”

“Gott-Druk? Did I say that correctly?” People nodded. “We have a fine assortment of the latest Gott-Druk weapons and equipment.”

“And how did you come by it?” Lincoln asked while he watched Boston and Alexis dismount and move up to some of the cloth on display.

“All fair trade, or properly scavenged,” the Marzalotipan said. “There is a war on out there you know. Now that is the finest Dilodian silk. It was made out of, I would have to call it spider webs for you purposes. See how lovely, how it changes colors in the wind.”   The cloth rippled with dark red, green. blue and purple strands.

“I wonder if he has any copper pots,” Katie said.UFO alien tech

“People!” Lockhart raised his voice to get everyone’s attention. The travelers all stopped what they were doing and returned to their horses. “We are not here to buy.” Lockhart turned to the Marzalotipan. “This planet is off limits as far as I know.”

“To fair trade?” The Marzalotipan acted like that was unheard of.

“You need a written permit from the Kairos. Boston. Distance?”

Boston pulled out her amulet. She looked up in the correct direction and took a moment to calculate. “Roughly twenty five miles that way,” she pointed where she was looking before she got back up on her horse.

“You get authorization to trade on this planet, then maybe we will talk.”

“Is it a city? Did I miss it in my initial survey of the land?”

Lockhart shook his head. “I don’t know his disposition. But his name –,“ he looked at Lincoln.

“Wir’a,” Lincoln said.

“Go to where you find people and ask for Wir’a.” Lockhart turned his horse to the grasslands. The others followed, though Alexis looked back once at the Dilodian silk.