Avalon 7.8 Ambush, part 1 of 4

After 236 A.D. Syria

Kairos 93: Zenobia, the Queen

Recording …

The travelers arrived at the time gate in the late afternoon.  They found it in the town of Dura-Europa, on the Euphrates River.  Fortunately, the time gate rested down an alleyway and not inside a building.

“Should we find rooms for caravans and travelers, or go through the gate now while we can?” Katie asked from where she rode in the wagon.  Lockhart drove the wagon and thought about it.  Though not their first thing in the morning routine, the time gate temporarily vanishing had them all spooked.

“Go now,” Boston said, as she came back from the front and steadied her horse.

“Go now,” Decker echoed, as he pushed up from the rear, followed by Nanette, who pulled Sukki’s horse with her.  “The guards in the gate had a seriously suspicious look about them.”

“This is a military town.  The Romans here hold it almost like a fort, to protect the trade routes,” Lincoln spoke up from behind the wagon where he read from the database while Alexis temporarily held the reigns of both Katie’s and Lockhart’s horses.  “But mostly to protect against Sassanid armies.”

“We came from Sassanid territory,” Alexis said.  “We might look like spies for some reason.”

“Soldiers coming,” Tony shouted from the rear.

“Father?” Sukki wondered what Elder Stow was doing with his screen device in his hands.

“Just working on it,” Elder Stow said, and glanced up at the others.  They all looked at him.  “I need to set a screen wall in the time gate behind us, so some innocent person does not stumble through before the time gate deactivates.”

“Of course,” Alexis agreed.

“Soldiers definitely coming here,” Tony shouted.

“Can you set the wall at the end of the alley first?” Katie asked.  “Maybe pull it into the alleyway behind us.”

“Everyone; move into the alleyway,” Lockhart said, not waiting for an answer from Elder Stow.  “Decker and Boston.  Scout out the other side of the time gate.”

“One minute,” Elder Stow said.

“Come on, Sukki.  Let’s get our horses,” Katie leapt from the wagon and mounted.  Sukki followed and thanked Nanette for bringing her horse to that point.

“They’re here,” Tony yelled as he pulled his horse’s tail into the alley alongside Lockhart’s horse which was tied to the back of the wagon.  Lincoln and Alexis scooted over to make room.

“Friends,” a young man shouted for the traveler’s attention.  He appeared in a great flash of light that made the soldiers in the street cover their eyes and take several steps back.  He called to them.  “Friends.”  A great clap of thunder followed the light.  The horses hardly flinched, but several soldiers fell to their knees, two ran and at least one wailed.

Nanette recognized the man who appeared right away.  “Arman.”  He was the young Magi that followed Xalazar to Hatra.

“Arman.”  Several others named the young man.

“Quick.  Into the alley” Katie yelled back, and Arman came up alongside Tony and Elder Stow.

“There,” Elder Stow said, as he turned on his screen device that set a virtual wall at the end of the alleyway.  The soldiers would be blocked out for the moment.

“Lockhart, Xalazar got stabbed” Arman said, as he walked up past Katie, and Alexis to reach the wagon.  He repeated himself, nice and loud.  “Xalazar got stabbed.”  He looked at the concerned faces of the travelers and reported the story as quick as he could.  “Sarkis, the Armenian betrayed us.  He led us into a trap, and Ramin Lajani, the gun merchant, stabbed Xalazar.  Marona, the Assyrian, is dead.  Junior Amun, the god, says Xalazar should be dead, but he traded places with Xalazar at the last minute.  Do you know what I mean, traded places?”

Lockhart nodded.  “The Kairos tends to borrow a lifetime from the past or future as needed, yes, we know.  He actually, temporarily becomes another person as near as anyone can tell, though inside, he is the same person, still the Kairos.”

“Junior.  Amun Junior,” Lincoln said.  “Son of the god Amun and the goddess Ishtar.”

“It must be important,” Alexis added.  “The gods don’t normally interfere in life and death circumstances unless there is some cosmic significance.”

Arman also nodded and picked up the story.  “Junior Amun saved my life, and he sent me with an urgent message.  He said he cannot come and tell you himself because the time gate will move as he moves.  He said he can hold the gate stable for now, but he cannot hold it for long.  Xalazar must die so his spirit can move on to his next life.  He said you must move on now and not wait until morning…”

Three things happened at once.

“You need a place to hide,” Alexis said.  “You can’t go through the time gate with us because you will age as many years as the time difference, maybe fifty or more years.”

Her words got overshadowed by yelling from the soldiers who came up to Elder Stow’s screen and could go no further.  “You people come out of there!  The governor would like a word with you.”

For the third thing, Boston came back through the time gate to report.  “It’s full of soldiers, like an ambush.  The city is destroyed, whatever city it is, and there are soldiers camped all around the place, and Decker says some of them got guns.”

“Is there room for the wagon?” Lockhart asked.  “Can we go without drawing attention to ourselves?”  Lockhart had to wave at Boston to get her attention.  She was staring around the alley, like she saw it for the first time.

“Huh?  Yeah.  It looks mostly—exactly like this alleyway, except that wall is missing.  You can pull the wagon right in there.  I think it is a stable of some kind.”  Boston’s engineering brain kicked in.  “I didn’t give the structure a stress test.  The load bearing logs look sturdy, but they might not hold the roof up if they get disturbed.  I’ll check it out.”

“Wait,” Lockhart interrupted.  “Katie.  Tony, go with her.  Katie, check the perimeter and see if it is safe to come through.  Send Tony back when the wagon can come, but don’t take too long.”  He waved them off and turned his attention to Arman.  “Lincoln and Alexis, find a safe place for Arman to go.  Elder Stow get ready.  Nanette and Sukki, watch out for Elder Stow.”  That seemed to cover everyone.

Lincoln turned to the door in the wall that would still be there in the future, if he heard correctly.  He could not imagine an exit time gate and an entrance time gate being in the same place, but it had happened once before.  He jiggled the door, but it was locked.

“Alexis, see if you can blow the door down.”

“Wait.”  Arman butted up front.  He closed his eyes and placed both hands on the door.  They heard a scraping sound of wood on wood, like a bar being lifted from its place.  They heard a clunk as the bar fell to the floor.  Arman pushed the door slowly.  They saw an older couple and a young woman, obviously their daughter, standing back, staring at them.  This had to be their home.  The young woman, about sixteen or seventeen, had the Roman Empire equivalent of a rolling pin in her hand, and looked prepared to defend her home, whatever the cost.

“May we come in?” Arman asked, politely, before Alexis and Lincoln butted in front of him.  Alexis raised her hands like a true witch, and the wind rose up inside the shelter of the house.  It shoved the young woman and the elderly couple back a couple of steps and blew everything off the table.  Lincoln spoke up.

“This man needs food and a place to rest.  He is a good man.  You need to protect him and do not let the soldiers get him.”

“Don’t make me come back here,” Alexis said.  “He is a good man,” she underlined that point.  “He deserves your help, and I will be very cross if I have to come back here.”

“The wagon is moving,” Lincoln interrupted.  “We need to go.”

Alexis hugged Arman before she and Lincoln went back out to get up on their horses.  Arman turned in the door to watch.  He said, “You might want to see this.”  The young woman stepped right up to look around his shoulder.  Eventually, the mother and father also came to see, and the old man mumbled.

“Horses of the gods.”  They were not surprised to see Alexis and Lincoln slowly vanish as they stepped through the shimmering hole in the air.  The last thing they saw was a swipe of the horse’s tail before Nanette, Sukki, and Elder Stow came last in line.

Someone banged on the front door.  The family quickly closed the side door to the alleyway as three soldiers forced their way inside the front.  The young woman still held the rolling pin, and Arman pulled a small knife he had hidden in his cloak.  They stood side by side to protect the house, but the old man pushed to the front and spoke right up.

“Sergeant Vespavian.  What is happening in the street?”

The sergeant stopped, so the soldiers with him stopped.  “Who is this?”

“My son in law,” the old man said without blinking.  “Come all the way from Palmyra.  He could not wait until we came to fetch him in the fall.”

“Aleah?” the sergeant looked at the young woman, like he had an interest in the girl.  Aleah looked at the ugly soldier, glanced at Arman, smiled, and took Arman’s arm while Arman put away his little knife.  The sergeant growled, and with his soldiers, he threw open the side door.  The rest of his soldiers were already in the alley, with his centurion unable to push his hand through the shimmering hole in the air.  That shimmering hole in the air quickly disappeared, leaving only alleyway and soldiers milling about.

The sergeant growled again, and he and his two men left the door open.  The old woman closed it carefully as the old man turned to the couple where his daughter still held on to Arman.  The old man smiled as he spoke.  “Well, priest,” he said, having recognized Arman as a Magi.  “I guess you will just have to marry my daughter and make it legal.”

Aleah glanced again at Arman before she looked away and turned slightly red.  She did not let go of him, so it seemed as if she would not mind.

Arman did not know what to say.

Avalon 3.10: part 5 of 5, Dispersal

Hadj’s first wife, Ishitak stood beside a woman, a stranger, and the only suggestion as to who it might be was Ishitak’s downturned eyes. She suggested a pose of reverence. The woman spoke first.

“You must be Hadj. Hadj of the three wives. Traveler in Time. Watcher over history. Kairos of the earth, and I see you have your hands full.”

Hadj paused and rubbed his chin before he felt a sudden urge, stepped up and kissed the goddess on the cheek. The goddess’ eyes got big. It may have been the first time she was surprised in her whole life. She lost a touch of control for a moment and let out a smidgen of her awesome nature. Sokar gasped, fell to his knees, and covered his eyes with his hands. Ibin el-Wadi joined him and then thought it better to go to his face. Lockhart bowed as well as a twenty-first century American can bow, and Hadj stepped back to rub his chin again.hadj 2

“Don’t tell me,” Hadj said. “Your face is familiar, like family, but I can’t place the name.”

“Kirisha, your sister,” Kirisha stomped her foot in a playful manner, but she put her hand to her cheek where he kissed her and smiled.

“But I thought you were twins,” Hadj said. “I heard you had a sister.”

“Pinikir has the north here, and Susiana, but she says she doesn’t want it. She says it is too much responsibility, but then she has really played with the queen of Susiana. Poor Sokar is so in love with the queen, sometimes I’m afraid he is going to blow up like that flying air thing.”

“She is very beautiful,” Hadj admitted.

“Pinikir stepped inside the woman and shaped the queen’s body and features to match her own,” Kirisha tattled.

“I see,” Hadj said, while Alexis, Lincoln, Roland, Boston and Mingus all came close to see what was delaying Hadj. Lincoln stood beside Lockhart. Roland and Mingus bowed to the goddess. Alexis and Boston curtsied as well as they could, neither as gracefully as a true elf since Alexis was now human, and Boston had just become an elf and was still learning.Barak Hebat 1

“And may I ask who your mother might be?” Alexis asked with her eyes downcast. She felt the goddesses mother would be the telling connection.

“Mother Ishtar,” Kirisha said with a broad smile, “And yes, Lincoln, my grandmother was Innan,” Kirisha lost some of her smile and everyone felt the heartbreak.

“But I should consider my manners,” Hadj said, with a glance at Ishitak who nodded without ever looking up. Hadj went away and Junior came to stand in his place. “You might give your actual brother a hug,” he said, and held out his arms.

“Amun,” the goddess shrieked her joy and raced into his arms for a real hug. “Pinikir is going to be so jealous,” Kirisha said as she returned the kiss to Junior’s cheek. Kirisha stepped back and said something the others hardly expected. “Oh, I almost forgot. You missed one.” She raised her hand and a ghoul appeared beside her. “Do you want this one?”

hadj ghouls 4“No. No. No way,” the people there all shouted.

“I didn’t think so.” Kirisha snapped her fingers and the ghoul collapsed and melted until he was no more than a green and purple smudge on the grass.

Amun nodded and spoke to the goddess as he took her hand. “Don’t go away. I want to hear all about this place you have, and your husband and the others, but first I have to attend to business. Alexis,” he said, and commanded her attention. Even so, it took a moment to remember what she had to say.

“Commander Slurpee died in the night. I’m sorry. I did everything I could.”

“Cody, are you satisfied?”

“I do not understand why these humans should help the Pendratti, but I begin to understand why this planet is off limits.”

“Good. Roland.”

Roland spoke right up. “The Sevarese commander killed his companion during the ghoul attack.” The Sevarese commander was weeping. “There is one left in the transport, but the transport engines are ruined, and the communicator as well, so they cannot contact their ship.”

“That should be along walk,” Mingus guessed.

“Boston?” Junior smiled for her.

Botson, who was on her knees, shuffled forward to hug Junior’s knees. “Oh, Great Lord, I love you so much, and I am willing to do whatever you ask of me even if I may not do it, but please, can I marry Roland now?” She looked up at him with eyes full of pleading and hope.

“She is a cute one,” Kirisha said. “And she is very much in love. And I should know. My mother is the love goddess.”Boston thanks

“Not just yet,” Junior said. “You need Mingus’ permission first,” He tried to look stern, but found it impossible.

“Yes, Lord. Thank you Lord,” Boston said, and she shuffled over to Mingus, gave his knees one good hug, and then sat back on her heels without ever lifting her eyes.

“One more thing,” Amun said, and he called, “Reglala and Ouklee.” the Marzaotipan couple vanished from where they were hiding inside their ship and appeared in front of Junior. “Do you understand that this planet is off limits?”

“Oh yes, very much. Indeed. We do. Oh yes.”

Junior quieted them. “You got a little closer to the fighting than is normal for your kind,” Junior pointed out. “Now you have several destroyed Sevarese fighters and Pendratti fighters from yesterday. You also have a Pendratti and Sevarese transport to salvage, if you dare. But then I expect you to leave this UFO Birdman 6system and not come back. It is for your own safety.”

“Oh yes, indeed. We will. Yes, we will.”

“So everyone listen,” Junior commanded everyone’s attention, and Kirisha squeezed his hand, attracted to the exercise of power. “Hadj will be taking a detour, to take the Pendratti back to his ship. He will send the Pendratti back into space, immediately. You surviving Sevarese will have to walk back to your ship, and that is a long way, so you will have to hurry. The Pendratti will have a reasonable head start.”

Junior looked at Sokar who refused to lift his head. “Sokar,” he said, and made sure the man’s ears were open. “You will take your men back to Susa where you will no doubt continue to worship your queen. But if you are good, and stop doing the queen’s evil, maybe, and I am saying only maybe, mind you, you will find something in your stocking at Christmas … “ Junior shook his hea. “Frosty the Snowman,” he said. “I mean, maybe Kirisha will find you a woman that you can truly love and who will also love you.”

“I am not my sister. I make no promises,” Kirisha caught the reference to Frosty the Snowman and laughed, and everyone smiled at the sound of pure joy. Junior coughed like he was clearing his throat.

“Reglala and Ouklee will take two goats for whatever Elder Stow needs to charge up his equipment, and then they will take their leave and you can leave this world. And Lockhart, by the way, you might stay here for a day or so. I think the time gate will get closer to you as we go toward the Pendratti ship.”

“We will keep an eye on it,” Lockhart said.UFO alien tech

“Good. Ibin el-Wadi. Everyone needs breakfast, and then we need to be packed to leave at dawn.” Ibin el-Wadi dared not speak as Junior and Kirisha vanished.

An hour later, Hadj walked across the field where it looked like some kind of battle took place, even if the ghouls were no more than purple and green smudge spots on the ground, and the trees set on fire by the fighter crash had burned down to hot, red ash. The sun was coming up, and the bodies of the Elamites and the Sevarese made a spectacle.

Anashk and Leahn, Hadj’s second and third wives came running to hug him and grab his arms to carry him back to the camp. They were grinning, and having been so close to a love goddess, and then seeing Hadj become a god who reflected the same love, Hadj had no doubt they had something specific in mind. Ishitak, his first wife, merely stood and was quiet, wiling to wait, but Hadj could see the calculating in her face. Hadj thought he had enough children, but then again, he was only human.

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Starting Monday, as we approach the end of season three, be sure to catch Avalon, episode 3.11 Festival of Marriage.  It is about time Boston and Roland settle things …

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Avalon 3.2: part 2 of 6, Bluebloods

Weret nudged Elder Stow before the shuttle came to the ground. The sound of the landing was terribly loud, but Weret shouted into the Elder’s ear. “Can you put up a screen wall between us and the ship, just in case?” Elder Stow nodded and pulled out his little box while Weret turned to the Egyptian. “Captain. Captain!” she had to say it twice to get the man to close his astonished mouth and get his attention. “Keep your soldiers on the steps until we see what these visitors do.” The man nodded and ran to get his troop back up on the steps.

The shuttle set down in the courtyard. There was a minute while the engines shut down before a door opened up on the side of the ship. Three men stepped out, and despite the fancy blue and gold striped space suits with the high collars, and certainly in their faces and hands, they appeared human, if one discounted the slightly blue tint to the skin.

“Disappointing,” Lincoln whispered. “I expected jello-blobs.”Blueblood landing

Lockhart whispered back. “You always think they should be jello-blobs.”

“He does,” Alexis confirmed and took Lincoln’s arm.

The three Bluebloods spread out. They had their weapons drawn and the way they moved caused Decker to go on high alert. He pulled his rifle up to the ready, and that caused Katie to do the same.

Weret moved two steps down, opened her arms and said her speech. “Welcome. The King is pleased to greet you and requests your presence in the hall of the gods.” She smiled. The Bluebloods answered with a full blast of their shuttle’s main gun. It stopped short of the steps while Elder Stow monitored his box.

“Impressive,” he said. “A real antique bit of fireworks, but impressive strength. That is about as far as they can go down that energy line before they hit a dead end and have to find a new energy source.”

“That was rude!” Weret looked angry, She stomped her foot on the steps, but the travelers smiled as did the Egyptians. Weret’s angry face was extremely cute, and her pregnancy just enhanced the cuteness. “Elder Stow,” she called, and he stepped down to join her.

“Gott-Druk.” One of the Bluebloods shouted when he saw him.

“I don’t know what you are thinking,” Weret groused. “There are no Pendratti or Sevarese here or whomever it is you are fighting right now.” She raised her hands to be sure she had their attention. “I gave you my King’s greeting,” she said and vanished from that place to be replaced by Junior in the full armor of the Kairos. The Bluebloods took a step back at that transformation. The Egyptian soldiers fell to their knees and dared not look up at the god.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Now you need to hear the rules. You are not to kill the locals. You can visit, but only if you leave your weapons behind.” He snapped his finger and the three weapons in the hands of the three Bluebloods in the courtyard vanished. “Second, you are not permitted to breed on this planet. If you do, the baby will be aborted and so will the offending party. This planet is off limits for breeding. Third, you will show due respect for all who have authority on this planet. If you are here to repair your ship, as I see you are, do so, but break the rules and you will have a long walk home.” Junior snapped his fingers and the shuttle vanished. The man and two women still inside the shuttle were deposited on their rumps on the ground. Do I make myself clear?” he shouted the last.

The Blueblloods bunched up and showed very human expressions of surprise and wonder. They nodded as Junior went away and Weret came back bearing her meanest expression. It might have been more effective if Weret’s mean face was not even cuter than her angry face. Besides, she could not hold it. Her face blossomed into her beautiful smile as she invited the visitors to come meet her King,

“I’ll say that was clear,” another young woman appeared beside Weret and gave her a sisterly hug and kiss on the cheek. “I heard my younger-older brother all the way down in Bubastis. So what did I miss.”

Weret’s smile got bigger than ever. She was not just happy, she was excited, and she pointed to the travelers.   “Friends of yours.”

The young woman’s eyes got big and she shrieked and literally flew up the steps to wrap her arms first around Katie and then around Lockhart. Katie was the one who guessed.

“Sakhmet.”

“My little lion girl?” Lockhart said, and Sakhmet was so thrilled to be remembered, she gave him a kiss. Then she kissed Katie and took their hands.

“I always dreamed if I was born a mortal human, you would be my parents.”

Katie looked up at Lockhart and he stammered, “And I am sure, if we married and had a little girl, we would want her to be just like you.” Katie smiled.

“We are going inside,” Weret said as she walked by. She stuck her tongue out at Sakhmet and Sakhmet returned a pucker-face before she laughed..sakhmet 1

“My younger-older brother makes a great sister. I never had a real sister before.” She looked at Katie and batted her sad little eyes.

“We’ll see,” Katie said, and patted Sakhmet’s hand as she squeezed between the couple and took Katie’s arm and Lockhart’s arm.

Lockhart looked at the woman. “I think our scared little girl desperately trying to reach her father’s house has grown up,” he said. He patted Sakhmet’s other hand.

“You would make a wonderful daughter,” Katie said with an undisguised look at Lockhart.

“I accept.” Sakhmet smiled the smile of a true goddess and guided the couple into the King’s house, where they heard a stick rap three times sharply against a hollow log. A man’s voice followed.

“Narmer, the Aha Hor of the Great God Horus, Master of Aswan, King of Hekhen, Lord of Thebes, Protector of Abydos, the resting place of the Kings, Lord of all the Sedge, Wearer of the White crown and Ruler over all of Upper Egypt, give glory.”

“Holy—“ Katie found her mouth covered by Roland’s hand.

“We are entering days where it will be dangerous to tell what you know or what you think you know,” Roland said. “From now on we need to be careful not to disturb history.”

Katie nodded, and he let her go. She walked past Lincoln who had Alexis’ hand over his mouth in just the same way.

“Better to be like me,” Lockhart confided to Sakhmet. “If you don’t know anything there is no danger of speaking out of turn.”

“Oh, Dad!” Sakhmet scolded, but grinned.