Avalon 6.2 Sudden Encounter, part 6 of 6

Artie explained.

“We found a good world, not far away, and made it our new home.  The beautiful Anath-Rama brought us a village of humans to help us grow our daily bread and learn the ways of the earth.  I had a son, and he had good people around him, to love him.  It took real effort, but soon enough we had androids and humans living together, in peace.  We made a good world; but then we got attacked, twice, over two hundred years.  Some got killed.  The humans could reproduce and repopulate, but we could not. All of our efforts proved fruitless.” Artie took a deep breath.  “When the Anazi world got destroyed, the secret of self-aware, true, living android people became lost.  We have made super intelligent robots, but they are only robots…”  She let her voice trail off, and looked at Ibelam.

“I cannot tell you how to do that,” Ibelam said.  “Some future lives might know, but I have no idea.”

Artie’s eyes shifted to Elder Stow, but he shook his head.  “It is not a secret, but I don’t know…I don’t think I can say…I don’t know.” Elder Stow also looked at Ibelam, who shook his head as well, before he spoke.

“None of my future lives are willing to tell.  I don’t know if that is because you are not supposed to know the secret or because you have to find out for yourselves.  But I will tell you what I know.  Your robots remain robots because I am sure your programming is perfect, and without flaws.  Life requires a miracle.  It happens like magic, or by chance accident, or by what you might call a glitch in the program, and not just any flaw will do.  But by reason and logic, you will never find it.”  Elder Stow nodded, and Ibelam continued.

“It is like finding God’s perfect plan for your life.  You can sit and think all day, and never find it.  There will be things in life that you will never understand, even things that don’t make much sense to reason, logic, or thinking really hard.  You can submit to the almighty and have things revealed, or be led to things.  You may stumble upon things and have them confirmed from above.  But the truth is, for reasons God alone knows, some never discover their purpose in this life.  Some seek haphazardly, or quit seeking after a time.  And altogether too many conclude that everything is just an accident, and they never start seeking in the first place.”

“I have known a few like that,” Alexis said, softly.

“Let me also say this,” Ibelam said. “Never quit seeking.  Never quit asking.  Never quit knocking.  You might never find, or fully find what you are seeking, but if you trust the almighty, you will find what is necessary—what is right, good and true.”

“The almighty?” Artie asked.

“Anath-Rama’s god,” Ibelam answered. “The one she calls the source.”

Artie lowered her head again to think, but continued her tale.  “We became explorers over these last couple of centuries.  We needed to head off any future attacks, if possible, but also, we went looking for the key to life.  We are slowly becoming less.  Someday, we may all be gone to Anath-Rama’s paradise.”  Artie quit speaking.  She had to consider Anath-Rama’s god.  Her thoughts were like a prayer, though she did not know it.  It helped when Mother Katie scooted over and hugged her.

General Redfern took up the telling. “About a hundred years ago, we discovered the Humanoids in space.  They appear to have risen to the top in this sector of the galaxy, and they have no interest in peaceful relations.  We have lost ships, and people.  We appear to be targeted as rivals.  We are becoming less, and outside of David, and the colony of mostly humans around him, we have found no way to replicate ourselves.”

 “They came out from behind a dwarf star and surprised us,” Artie interjected. “We did not even see them until they were right on top of us.  I headed straight to earth, and they appeared to keep their distance.”

Captain Korman spoke up.  “An analysis of their propulsion system and weapons suggests a technology that is not better, and may not be as good as our own. The record suggests in a longer journey we would have outrun them.”

Elder Stow looked ready to say something, but General Redfern interrupted.  “Our immediate concern is the Hungdin craft.  We picked up their troops easily enough, but their ship and base of operations are invisible to us.  We fear they have gained one technological advantage.  If they have an invisibility screen, they may be the end of us.”

Elder Stow had to think, and everyone allowed him the time without interrupting.  “I am not sure what is safe to say,” he said, softly, and looked at Ibelam who betrayed nothing on his face.  “But I believe it would betray no future to tell you the humanoids have no invisibility.  Their ship is built of the right composite materials and designed to cause your simple radar-like long range scanners to slip right over them, as if they are not there. Their stealth design is well done; perhaps even impressive.  But they do not have even a glamour of invisibility.  I believe I can help you there, but as for what makes a robot into a living being…”  He shook his head, his face filled with uncertainty.  Everyone understood.  It was not his decision, and the Kairos already gave all he could.


Several hours later, Elder Stow, Boston, Katie, Artie, and Captain Korman came from the ship with news that they now had the means to detect humanoid ships in deep space.  The one on the ground had also been found.  They discovered Ibelam got the people to start partying without them.  They had a big bonfire with plenty of game cooking away, and Ibelam told stories of his adventures.

Lincoln commented.  “No one in our century would believe a word of it.  I would not believe the stories myself except for two things.  First, we are talking about the Kairos.  As Lockhart said, he sits at the center of the hurricane while everything else swirls around him.  Second, we have four eyewitnesses here who have more or less confirmed the stories, no matter how strange they sound.  And, trust me, some have sounded pretty wild.”

“Never underestimate the veracity of four eyewitnesses,” Alexis agreed.

Decker came back from visiting the perimeter where android soldiers were keeping a sharp eye out for any humanoids or skeletons that might be headed their way.  He interrupted.  “Anybody ever figure out where that Muhamed guy went?”

“We found the guy running from skeletons,” Boston blurted out.

Alexis took up the explanation. “He seemed grateful.  He thanked Allah and the Holy Prophet for being saved. He only had a scrape from a skeleton spear.  Otherwise, he seemed in fine shape.”

“I guess he ran away when the soldiers attacked us,” Elder Stow said, and Sukki nodded.

“We should have made more effort to find him,” Decker said, still thinking about not leaving people behind.

“I figure he is native,” Lockhart said. “I imagine he knows where he is going.”

“Wait.”  Katie interrupted.  “He thanked Allah and the Holy Prophet for being saved?”

“Yeah,” Boston confirmed.  “So?”

“I told you, Allah’s holy prophet won’t be born for another fourteen or fifteen hundred years.”

Everyone got quiet.  Ibelam finally said it.  “So, your Muhamed is from the future.”

“He said he was a chemist from Medina,” Boston remembered.

“Probably a pharmacist.  Maybe from Mecca,” Alexis suggested.  “Someone who could make the life elixir.”

“Probably from our century,” Lincoln added.

“Probably the necromancer,” Elder Stow said it.

“Had to be,” Decker agreed, as the call came that there were some skeletons coming.  Some must have survived getting through the humanoid line.

Lockhart said, “Damn.”  Lincoln looked at Ibelam and wondered why he doubted the truth of any of Ibelam’s stories.  Ibelam just laughed.



Next Time: Avalon 6.3, Stubborn. The travelers find themselves arriving just before the founding of Rome, and they find someone from the future who has been enslaved and does not belong there.

Until next time, Happy Reading


Avalon 6.2 Sudden Encounter, part 5 of 6

The travelers made a wide berth around the skeleton army that moved slowly through the wilderness.  When they came to the forest, they turned in. Boston said the Kairos should be among the trees, even if they got off track for the next time gate.  When they came to a meadow, they thought to stop for lunch.  They hardly dismounted, however, when an advanced troop of humanoids caught up to them.

The humanoid soldiers pulled long knives, which they clearly knew how to use.  No one talked.  No one debated.  The humanoids just attacked, and the travelers nearly got caught. Fortunately, Boston and Katie both sensed the approaching soldiers, even if they did not realize how close they were.

Katie and Decker flipped their rifles to automatic.  Boston and Lincoln had their handguns.  Elder Stow, Sukki and Alexis rounded up the horses, while Lockhart turned his shotgun on one that seemed to appear suddenly, and very close.  The travelers mounted and rushed off, even as one humanoid began to shout orders.  A couple of shots from humanoid rifles pierced the woods, but by the time that happened, the travelers were lost among the trees.

The travelers soon broke free of the trees and found a sheltered dip in the landscape to keep the horses.  Then, while the others held the horses, Lockhart, Katie, Decker, and Boston went to the tree line, to make sure none of the soldiers followed them.

“They probably had orders not to use their heat rays among the trees,” Lockhart said.  He lumped all alien weapons under the generic, “heat rays”.

‘Fire is not a good weapon,” Decker admitted.  Lockhart looked at Katie to explain.

“A sudden turn in the wind, and you risk getting your own men trapped by the flames.  Plus, when the air fills with smoke, it isn’t easy telling friend from foe.”

“Plus, there is no way to control it,” Decker added.  “A forest like this; a fire would run wild.  It might burn down half the countryside.

“I’m not sensing any soldiers following us,” Boston said, with a shake of her head.  “I should have known sooner, but they don’t feel like human beings, even if they look like us.”

“Hey, Lockhart.”  Lincoln walked up to join the crew.  “Have you seen Muhamed?”

No one had.


After getting around the skeletons, Muhamed simple waited for the chance to slip away.  He might have gone for firewood and not come back, if they planned to prepare some lunch.  Instead, the attack of the soldiers proved the perfect opportunity to leave unnoticed. Indeed, he hurried.

Muhamed stayed unaware of the larger events going on around him.  He imagined the army as local men, since they looked like ordinary enough soldiers, in their leather, and they used no weapons of power.  He imagined they were headed to attack one of the cities nearer the coast, so he did not think twice about them.  And he did not imagine there might be another army coming from the other direction.

He heard a voice.  He saw a person in a different sort of uniform.  He saw three of them.  He just started to wonder what he stumbled into, when he vanished.

Muhamed reappeared a hundred miles away, directly in front of the time gate.  Ashtoreth stood there, hands on hips, looking cross.  Muhamed fell to his face and trembled for his life, while the goddess spoke.

“You’re an idiot.  You almost walked right into the Android front line.  I don’t know whatever made me think you might be useful.”  She tapped her foot and demanded, “Say something.”

Muhamed spouted his thoughts, and proved unable to hold them in.  “The skeletons would not follow my commands.  I found your enemies.  They should be ripe for the taking.”

“Silence.”  Ashtoreth shouted, and Muhamed turned ashen white and spit up some bile.  The anger of such a goddess would have killed many.  “They are mere flies—annoying insects to be squashed without a second thought.  But they are being watched by many in the heavens.  I will not be a fool, like you.”

“But the skeletons would not follow my commands.”

Ashtoreth appeared to take a deep breath. “The elixir gives life.  It does not give you mind control.  Fool.  You must catch them in the swamp before you make the hungry swamp creatures live.”

Muhamed said nothing, but he thought, what about my life?  How could he bring the swamp creatures to life and get away before they ate him?

“I am not concerned about your life,” Ashtoreth said, knowing exactly what he was thinking.  “Unless you fail to kill the travelers.  I am tempted right now to torture you for the next thousand years, to start.”

“No, please.  I will kill them, dead.  I will do this.  They are Kafir.  They do not deserve to live.  I will use the elixir to trap them in their worst nightmare.  You know I will do this.”

“I am not known for patience,” Ashtoreth said, and vanished.

Muhamed stayed where he was for a while, and breathed.  But eventually, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and stepped through the time gate and into the next time zone.


Artie cried when she hugged her adopted mother Katie.  Katie cried with her.  Dad-Lockhart put his big arms around both of his girls and nearly cried with them, but they were happy tears.  Boston’s eyes teared up, empathic elf that she was, and Lincoln and Alexis held each other and smiled to watch.  Decker and Elder Stow kept one eye and their ears on the receding battle, and one eye on the android troop that followed Artie.  Sukki did not know what to make of it all.  She stayed beside Elder Stow, being shy in front of so many people, even if the androids were not exactly human people.

Finally, the love-fest broke up and Artie called for a young man.  He looked mostly human, but he had some cyborg enhancements here and there. “David,” Artie called him.  “He is about seven or eight generations from my son. Apparently, when the Kairos made me an android again, he left my uterus alone, temporarily.  I was pregnant.”

“I didn’t know,” Katie said, and her face showed both joy and concern.

“I am fully android now, but I gave birth to a son, so I did have the full human experience after all.  I got to be a mom.”  Artie and Katie hugged again, and almost shared some more tears.

“David,” Lockhart put out his hand, and David knew to shake that hand, but he said nothing and kept looking at Artie to explain, even if he knew the stories.

“He calls me Grandma.”  Artie turned to David.  “These are your great-grandparents.”

Lockhart let go of the handshake and reached out to hug David instead.  “Welcome to the family.”

Katie looked at Artie.  “You make me sound so old,” she protested, before she also hugged David.  “You have your grandmother’s look about you,” she said, and turned again to Artie.  “Do I get to spoil him?”

Artie smiled at that thought.  “I spoil him enough,” she admitted.

Decker interrupted.  “You need to pull your troops back.  It sounds like the Humanoid troops have run into the skeletons.”

Elder Stow checked his scanner for confirmation.  “That appears to be the case.”

“Boston.”  Artie hugged the elf.  “And Sukki.  I remember you,” she said, as she hugged her.  “I was hoping you would go with the travelers.  Are you girls taking care of each other?”

Sukki looked at Boston and nodded.

“We leave no one behind,” Decker said.

“I remember,” Artie agreed and smiled for the marine.  “But come. We need help in scanner technology and in code breaking, if you can.  I wish the Kairos could be found.”  She began to walk, and the travelers and her escort followed.

“Artie.”  Katie came up to walk beside her and slipped her arm over Artie’s shoulder.  “Sweetheart. You should not be so stressed.  After more than four hundred years, you are still here.  You must be doing something right.”

Artie cried.  She let loose, and rivers flowed; and these were not happy tears. She did not stop until they got to the android camp.

They found several odd-looking humans in the camp, and only realized what they were seeing when one younger man opened his arms and shouted, “Boston.”

A red-headed streak raced into his hug. “Wow.”  Haniashtart raised her eyebrows at such speed, and a few androids looked equally impressed.

“Ibelam?”  Lincoln had to ask.

“I am,” Ibelam said.  “And these swarthy fellows are my associates. Haniashtart is an elect, like Katie, you know.”  The two women nodded to each other.  “Abdanath is my marine, or the equivalent in this age.”  Ibelam pointed to Decker who appeared to be in conversation with one of the android officers.  “Ahumm is my navigator, and knows the stars, though he has never gotten close to one. Gerbaal is my cook.  He can make anything taste almost good.”

“You mean he can make almost anything taste good?” Alexis said.

“I didn’t say that,” Ibelam said, flatly.

“The android people, maybe,” Ahumm said. “I see what you mean about them being people.  But who are these others?  They look like a strange crew.”  He gave Boston a double stare, having seen her run faster than any human ought to run

“Stranger than you know,” Ibelam said, with a grin.  He raised his hand, and the glamours around Boston, the elf, and Sukki, the Gott-Druk fell away.  He lowered his hand, and the glamours of humanity returned.

Artie stood quietly that whole time, her head lowered before the Kairos.  Ibelam obliged her by stepping up and giving her a big hug.  “I have spoken to Anath-Rama.  She is going to help me remove the humanoids from this world. Meanwhile, she says you have kept her very busy.  Tell me about it.”

Artie nodded.  She introduced General Redfern and his first officer, Captain Korman.  She got stools, a couple of chairs, and several big logs for seats, though some, particularly Ibelam’s crew, were happy to sit on the ground.  Then she spoke.

Avalon 6.2 Sudden Encounter, part 4 of 6

Ibelam called his crew to a halt. Something up ahead appeared to be sneaking through the trees.  Haniashtart cautioned him earlier and had her bow ready, with three arrows in her hand. Abdanath clutched his spear, having learned to trust Haniashtart’s intuition.  He tried to look around the trees.  Gerbaal slipped the copper soup-pot on his head, while Ahumm pulled a short sword for one hand and a long knife for the other.  Gerbaal strung his bow.  A good marksman, as the ship’s cook, Gerbaal had a real talent with a knife, but he learned it was best to keep the enemy as far away as possible.

Ibelam patted the sword at his side, but also had his bow out.  “Spread out,” he said.  “But stay close enough to see me.  If they are Anazi or Androids, I will try to talk, so don’t fire.  If they are Humanoids, you can fire when I fire.”

“But you said they look like us,” Abdanath said, trying to understand.  “Are they not people, even if they are not human people?”  He used the phrase Ibelam used often enough.

Ibelam shook his head.  “Maybe if they talk, but I can’t expect that they will. They are flesh eaters, and they don’t care if it is a deer or your flesh.  And they don’t bother to cook their food.”  Ibelam shook his head.  “Mostly, they do not belong here.  This world is supposed to be off limits.  They come here at their own risk.”

“But you will talk to the others.” Abdanath objected.

“Because I believe they will stop long enough to talk.  I do not expect the Humanoid to be interested in talking.  Their way is war and conquest.  We have dealt with humans like that, often enough.”

“But…”  True enough.  Abdanath could not think of a next question.

“Command decision,” Ibelam, the captain said.  That ended the discussion.  His crew spread out, and after a short way, Ibelam cursed, softly.  The men in the forest looked human enough.  They wore well-tanned leather uniforms, looking for all the world like medieval soldiers on the move.  But they carried rifles; no doubt energy weapons of some sort, and that made them especially dangerous to his group of relative primitives.

Ibelam let one arrow fly.  It went through the man’s neck and he fell without crying out.  Haniashtart duplicated his work on another soldier, but Gerbaal’s arrow hit one in the chest, and he did shout, a high pitched, not-quite-human sound.  It did not matter.  Abdanath had to shove his spear into the belly of one, while Ahumm used both blades to practically take another one’s head off.

A humanoid further down the line fired his weapon and struck a tree.  The tree started to smolder around the hole the weapon made.  Someone shouted, and someone squealed high-pitched words. Ibelam guessed the soldiers were to hold their fire in the woods where they risked setting the whole forest on fire. All the same, Ibelam backed his group away, thinking they wandered too far into the line.

Ibelam lifted his head at a sound. He heard rapid-fire from rifles, pistol shot, and at one point, what had to be the thunder of Lockhart’s shotgun. Then he saw streaks of light come from the distance.  He recognized the Anazi weapons, the same he saw used on the blobs in the ancient days.  It looked hardly different from the weapon Artie carried around with her.

“Why have we moved away from the action?” Haniashtart complained.

“You have my permission to shoot any who come this way,” Ibelam said.  She did not look satisfied, but she got up on a boulder in the woods where she could have a better view and shoot at several angles.  Gerbaal and Ahumm, with his own bow ready, slipped behind trees to watch.  Abdanath still clutched his spear, that he yanked from the belly of the Humanoid he killed.

“In case one breaks through the arrow fire,” he said.  He was one big, well-trained warrior who felt reluctant to kill, even alien flesh eaters. Ibelam imagined the humanoid appearance, looking so much like human beings, did not help.

The wind rose.  Fair Wind appeared beside Ibelam and talked to him like an excited child might talk to her favorite uncle.  “The Androids did not get fooled.  They were waiting for them.  Now the Hungdin are trapped on three sides.  I don’t know who the people are on the other side, though.  Their thoughts are clouded to my mind.  It feels strange.”

Ibelam leaned over and kissed her forehead.  “That’s okay. They are friends of mine.”

Fair Wind paused, grinned a big grin, touched the place Ibelam kissed her before she threw her arms around Ibelam for a big hug.  She projected nothing but joy, before she thought again, and backed up.

“But the best part.  The Hungdin are trying to back out of the trap, but the skeletons are there, behind them.  They are still trying to attack Damascus.” She laughed.

“Skeletons?” Ibelam asked.

“Maybe I should not have said that,” Fair Wind looked down.  “The servant of Ashtoreth brought them back to life, but they would not do what he commanded them.  After all these years, they are still stuck on attacking Damascus.”


Fair Wind stomped her foot.  “Now you are picking on me.”

“Never.  You are much too sweet and lovely for that.  One day, you will be wise and know all things, enough to make your head hurt.  But that doesn’t have to be today.  Today, just be my Fair Wind, and that will be enough.”

“I will,” she nodded and faded from sight.

Abdanath stepped up.  “News?” he asked.  He knew better than to ask who Ibelam talked to.

“Yes.  Good news.  We have androids counterattacking.  Plus, that cracking sound you hear in the distance is friends of mine.”

“You still have friends…Sir…Captain…?” Haniashtart slid off her rock to join the conversation.

“But the bad news is the skeletons are down that way.”

“Skeletons?” Ahumm groused as he walked up. “It figures.”

“They won’t last long against Hungdin energy weapons,” Ibelam admitted.  “But they might take a few with them.  But here is the thing.  They were brought back to life by the servant of our old friend, Ashtoreth.”

“You don’t mean Miss Bull Horns.” Ahumm said, using his hands to show pretend horns growing out of his forehead. Haniashtart and Abdanath nodded. “It figures,” Ahumm repeated. “Why should something be bad when it can be worse?”

“Captain,” Gerbaal joined the group. “Can I take my helmet off?”  He tapped the soup pot gently.

“Haven’t got a helmet,” Abdanath said.

“Near enough, for a cook,” Haniashtart grinned.  Everyone grinned, and paused with the grin still on their faces.

“Stand and identify yourselves.” Someone, a woman spoke from behind the trees.

Everyone dropped the grins, and Gerbaal chose to leave the helmet-pot on his head.

“Ibelam, Captain of the ship, Sinbad’s Folly,” Ibelam spoke up.  “These are members of my crew.  We mean you no harm.  Who am I speaking with?”

One woman and two men stepped out from behind the trees.  They wore simple uniforms and held handguns of a sort.  It took a moment for the crew to realize these were not human people, because these looked even more human than the Humanoid soldiers.  In fact, Ibelam thought the one in front looked remarkably like Alexis.  She spoke.

“We are the people from the stars, brought down to the earth by a great enemy.  We suggest you move out of this area, because a war may happen here, with weapons of such might and power that you cannot imagine.”  She paused to fire at Haniashtart’s boulder.  A big chunk of rock got sliced off with a great Crack! like a lightning strike.  Ibelam’s crew jumped, but the Alexis imitator holstered her weapon.  “It is for your own safety and protection we tell you to move out of the area.”

Ibelam merely smiled.  “You sound like Lockhart, but you look a little like Alexis.  I love the long black hair.”  He watched the androids pause and look at one another.  They knew those names, and even had the images of the travelers programmed into their minds.

“How do you know these people?”

Ibelam still smiled.  He felt for once he did right.  These people, androids though they be, deserved to live as a free people.  “I have known the travelers since they began their journey through time.  I was there when they saved Artie in the ancient days. But, you know this is a Genesis planet. You do not belong here, but neither do the Hungdin, your Humanoid enemies.  I think you better take me to your leader.  I may be able to help without any more people having to die.”

“Who are you?” one of the men asked.

“I am the Kairos, and in this life, a lowly ship’s captain who doesn’t like to see any more killing than absolutely necessary.”

The men and the Alexis-android all gasped after a fashion.  The woman said, “This way.  You will want to speak to General Redfern.”

“Artie has gone to collect the travelers,” one of the men said.

“General Redfern is going to want to speak to you,” the other man said at about the same time.

Abdanath stepped up beside Ibelam, and offered his thought as they walked.  “I know you avoid unnecessary bloodshed wherever possible.  That is why I don’t mind following your orders.”

Haniashtart, walking on his other side, sighed, but agreed.

Ahumm, one step behind, offered his two bits.  “I see what you mean about people, even if they are not human people.”

Gerbaal interrupted.  “What do they eat?”

Avalon 6.2 Sudden Encounter, part 3 of 6

Artie looked at the three-dimensional map that showed every life form for a hundred miles around, but it did not show the Humanoid battleship.

“Lady Artie,” General RFD 3297, Redfern, came into the open tent to report.  “Repairs are nearly complete, but the light-speed generator is fluctuating in the red zone.  We are a long way from home.”

“We have analyzed the Humanoid weaponry,” the general’s adjutant spoke.  “Their technology is no better than our own.  Maybe a little less.  If they had not surprised us from the back of star Beta 1397, we would have probably beaten them…in a fair fight.”

“But nothing stands still,” Artie spoke as much to herself as to her commanders.  “We are few, and becoming fewer.  When home world was lost, we lost the key to life.  We have built some very intelligent and talented robots, but we are becoming fewer.  We have tried to become more organic, to better replicate, but we have failed there, too.  Meanwhile, these organic humanoids may be countless in number, and they do not appear to be stopping.”

“Grandma…” a young, mostly human cyborg came into the tent.  Artie smiled and put her hand gently to the boy’s cheek.  She was more like the boy’s great-great grandmother.  When the Nameless god changed her back from human to android, he neglected to tell her she was pregnant.  He left her internal system intact and she gave birth to a boy; but that happened over four hundred years ago.  Others followed, and there were sons of sons, and daughters, but it happened slowly.  Now, their very existence seemed threatened.  Her androids might become slaves again to these Humanoids unless they found a way to defeat them.  At least her androids cannot make meat for the Humanoid table.

Artie raised her voice.  “I wish my mom and dad were here.  But at the very least, this is a genesis planet.  It is off limits to all space faring races.  We have no business being here, but neither do the Hungdin.  I have prayed.  I do not believe the gods will permit us to interfere with the normal development of this world.  I have prayed that the Kairos may come.  She, or he may know what to do.”


The travelers sat around the fire, tried to get comfortable, and tried not to make Muhamed feel like the center of attention.  They also tried not to think about the space ship they all saw, and who it might belong to. Katie bagged a wild goat, so they had plenty to eat.  Alexis complained about not finding anything more than a few rough greens.  They tasted bitter, even when boiled and spiced.

“Atkins,” Alexis turned up her nose and said no more.

Lincoln got out the database and read for the others.  He had to judge what might not be wise to say in front of Muhamed, but he figured Muhamed, as a local, would not understand half of what he talked about.  In that respect, he shared more liberally than he might have, otherwise.

“The Hungdin, a noble house of the Humanoid empire.  From what I can gather, when the Anazi and Androids fought it out, and the Anazi home world got destroyed, that left a great void in the control of the space ways. The Humanoids came from a planet on the edge of Anazi space, so thy were not ruined and turned to Anazi slaves yet. They garnered much of the Anazi technology, though, and pushed out from their home into the collapsed Anazi space. After roughly three hundred years of struggle with a variety of species, they came out, more or less, at the top of the heap.”

“So, who are they?” Lockhart asked.

“Humanoid.  They look like us, mostly.  Theirs is a medieval society.  Some planets and systems are ruled by a committee of the rich, mostly merchant class.  Most systems are ruled by the noble houses, like the Hungdin.  The have an emperor, though most of the nobility have their own armies.  When they expand their empire, the emperor usually steps in and pays off the noble houses for use of their armies, but takes the bulk of the territory for the crown. I guess that is how you get some planetary systems run by committee.”

“But what are they like,” Katie wondered. “I mean apart from the fact that they look sort of like us.”

Lincoln nodded and frowned as he told them.  “They have very sharp teeth and an internal system that appears able to digest anything that is carbon-based organic.  They do make and use slaves of some species.  They probably learned that from the Anazi.  But some species become lunch.”

Decker spoke plainly.  “Given the level of scientific and technological advancement on Earth at present, I would say we are standing on a lunch planet.”

“They don’t cook their food, either,” Lincoln added.  “They rip and chew.  They must have strong jaws.”

“As do we,” Elder Stow pointed to Sukki’s mouth, as Sukki nodded.  “Bet we have mostly molars, good for fruit and vegetables.  We are not big meat eaters, as you know.”

“Okay,” Lincoln took back their attention.  “But here is the thing.  The Humanoid show up chasing an old Anazi-Android ship.”

“Artie?”  Katie spoke right up and put a hand on Lockhart’s arm, and he nodded. Artie, along with the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, became like practice daughters for the couple, before they married. The goddess Amphitrite, that is the Kairos, even made Artie human for a time.  On the day Katie and Lockhart married, however, Artie returned to her Android self and led her Android people into space to find a world they could make into their home.  “Could Artie be here?”

Lincoln shrugged.  “She is mentioned in the database, but I will have to read more before I can say for sure.  It may just be her people who talk about her.”

“She might not still be alive after all this time,” Lockhart said in as comforting a voice as he could muster. “For us it has been four or five months, about eight time zones.  For her it has been four or five hundred years.”

“I can hope,” Katie said, and Alexis had the good sense to change the subject.  She checked Muhamed’s arm where he had been wounded.

“So, tell me,” she said to him.  “How did you come to be all alone and chased by skeletons, no less.”

“Ahh…”  Muhamed drew out the sound as he settled his mind.  He spent that whole time, up until then, thinking through exactly what lies he would tell.  He knew he needed to stick as close to the truth as possible, to make it believable, while still throwing them off the trail.  People turned to him to listen.

“I am a simple chemist from Medina. It is a small town in the Araba that you have probably never heard of.  I came with a caravan in search of frankincense and myrrh and other such things to make my medicines.  We camped on a field some distance from here, but we did not know it was the site of an ancient battle.  Suddenly, in the morning light, the ancient army, mostly skeletons such as you saw, came to life and began to kill my guides and the others.  We scattered.  I ran back the way we came, and against all hope, I cried for help. Then you came to me, and saved me and healed me.  Allah…and the gods be praised.  I am only sorry I have only my person, and none of my things to thank you properly. I had gold and silver, and I would give it all to you in thanksgiving.”

“Not necessary,” Alexis assured him. “Is there a town or city on the way where we can bring him?” she asked, with a look at Boston.

“Yes,” Boston said, but she looked at Katie and Decker.  Those three went hunting together and took time to discuss their uneasy feelings. Boston’s elf senses told her Muhamed did not exactly tell the whole truth, but she felt uncertain what to ask.  She checked with her eyes.  Apparently, Decker and Katie did not buy the story either.

Lincoln spoke up.  “The necromancer,” he said.  “He must have passed through the field just before the caravan settled in for the night.”

“Or he came in the night,” Lockhart suggested.

“Or he was a member of the caravan,” Elder Stow offered an alternative.

“I do not know if any of the others survived,” Muhamed said, and appeared to grow introspective.  Internally, he adjusted his lies to point a finger at the rude fat man that came across him on the trail and refused to allow him to travel with the caravan unless he got paid in gold.  Muhamed hoped the fat man got eaten by the skeletons.  Then he wondered again why the bones were so hard to control.  He decided the bones needed more flesh on them for him to really control them.  He would escape and move into the future through the time gate, and try again.



Ibelam’s crew and the travelers run into Humanoids and Androids at war, and Muhamed escapes.

Until next time, Happy Reading


Avalon 6.2 Sudden Encounter, part 2 of 6

Ibelam climbed to the top of the tree and first looked down to be sure the others could not see him through the branches and leaves.  He put his hand to his forehead to help block the sun and watched as the Anazi ship hovered. They appeared to be searching for signs of the Humanoid battleship that chased them to earth.

Gerbaal stirred the vegetable soup and added some crushed spice to the deer roasting over the fire.  He rubbed it in extra well.  He did not care for the gamey flavor.  Ahumm kept glancing up toward Ibelam, and toward the sun that would set in a couple of hours.  He waited for the night sky with the hope that he could fix their position by the stars.

“Things are different on land,” Ahumm said.  “At sea, I can see horizon to horizon, and the stars all come up in glorious splendor to guide the weary travelers.  On land, all we get is weary.”  He looked again up the tree toward Ibelam.  “Maybe I should climb up there when the stars come out.”

Gerbaal nodded, but said what seemed important to him.  “We should get some good jerky to carry on the trail, once I finish smoking this deer.”

“What trail,” A woman asked, as she and Abdanath returned to the camp.

“Haniashtart thinks the captain is leading us down another rabbit trail and who knows if there is a rabbit at the end of the trail,” Abdanath said, as he set down his spear and shield.  He unstrapped his sword and added, “Then again, he has not failed us yet.”

“This feels different,” Haniashtart said, in all seriousness.  “It feels like two great cats in the wilderness ready to come to blows, and we are, at best, a mouse caught in the middle.”

“I would not mind if Brushy and Riptide were here,” Abdanath said as he took a seat on the log beside Ahumm. Haniashtart plopped down on the ground as she spoke.

“I thought the ogre scared you.”

Abdanath shook his head.  “I’ve never been seasick, but just to look at Riptide makes me want to throw up.”

“Forget it,” Ahumm said.  “Captain had to leave someone he could trust to watch the ship.  Gods know the rest of the crew might as well be pirates.  They are not exactly sailors and merchants.”

“Don’t know why he imagined he can trust an imp and an ogre,” Haniashtart shook her head.

“We could have pulled into Tyre and paid to have the ship taken into dry-dock for repairs, and to give it the once over,” Abdanath suggested.  “We made enough on the last trip to cover that.”

“Still would need someone trustworthy to watch it,” Ahumm disagreed.

“Spoken like a true ship’s pilot,” Haniashtart said with a big, teasing smile.  Gerbaal interrupted before the back and forth got nasty.

“Soup’s ready, and deer is near enough. Get your bowls and cut a piece to chew on.  You’ll feel better after you eat.”  Gerbaal shouted up the tree.  “Captain. Food’s ready.”

“Be there in a bit,” the answer came back down the tree.  “I’m just waiting for this sky ship to land to get their location.”  He looked down again to be sure no one could see him before he traded places with Galena of the Orlan.  An observer would have seen Ibelam, a very tall, five-foot, eleven-inch Phoenician captain, with light brown hair and light brown eyes vanish, to be replaced by a much taller, six-foot, six-inch woman, with long pure white hair and lavender eyes.  Gallena was Orlan, one of the two alien species included in the many lifetimes of the Kairos.  She came from the very far future, besides, so she knew all the science and technology involved in star travel, and only wondered if the Anazi and Humanoid systems at this point in history might be too primitive for her to recognize.

Gallena shrugged.

Martok, the Bospori, the other alien lifetime, was the mathematical engineer.  He could take systems apart and put them perfectly back together, and even improve them in the process.  She lived, technically, as an exobiologist, an expert in human beings and Earth-like eco systems and species.  She shrugged in a very Ibelam way and turned her eyes on the distant craft. Ibelam borrowed her because she had eyes better than an eagle, and had no trouble keeping an eye on the Anazi ship, even staring into the glare of the setting sun.  She had been designed to live on a slightly smaller world that orbited a white dwarf at somewhere between an Earth and Venus distance. Really bright light felt like her friend.  Her eyes could handle it.

“So, we are being alien today to better understand the alien minds?”  A woman appeared beside Gallena and spoke, a grin plastered across her face.

“Fair Wind,” Gallena called the young woman without looking.  “I am simply watching to see where the ship sets down.”  The ship moved again and started down into the trees.

“You know I cannot tell you where,” Fair Wind responded, and lost her grin.  “It is not my place to say what is over the horizon.”

“I know,” Gallena said, and she went away so Ibelam could come back to his own time and place.  “You just be my Fair Wind, and I will be happy.”  He began to climb down.

Fair Wind got her smile back.  “I love being your Fair Wind.”

“And I love you.  Did I tell you today how beautiful you are?”

“No, you did not,” Fair Wind frowned and got serious as she floated along beside Ibelam, watching where he carefully put his hands and feet.  If he fell, she wanted to be sure to catch him.

“You are, very young and very beautiful, and you know I love you very much.”

“Wee…” Fair Wind let out a sound of joy when Ibelam put his foot back on the ground.  She vanished and flew off softly singing some ancient melody.  Everyone heard the rustling in the leaves.

“Fair Wind paid a visit,” Ahumm grumped. “I thought she lived at sea.”

Ibelam sounded serious when he got his bowl and spoon for some of that soup.  “You would think a young goddess would have better things to do than hang out with an old sea captain like me.”

People laughed, some nervously. Ibelam tended to speak of the gods in a very light hearted manner that sometimes sounded irreligious. Sometimes, men ducked, expecting the wrath of the gods to fall any minute.  This did not seem that bad.  They had all met Fair Wind, or at least had seen her.

Ahumm grumped again.  “You are what?  Twenty-five?  That is not so old.”  Ahumm was nearer forty.

“So, what did you see?” Haniashtart asked, since no one else looked like they were going to ask.

“We have a full day’s walk to get there,” Ibelam answered.  “Of course, if they are Anazi, we will have to approach with caution.  But if they are the androids, I have an in with Artie, the queen of the androids.  And if she is there, Anath-Rama might be there as well.”

“My Anath?” Abdanath asked.

“No, her sister, well, sort of…”

“Goddess for the Amazon dead,” Haniashtart said, and shivered at the thought.

“Now, don’t worry,” Ibelam said. “Anath-Rama is a very fine woman, kind and nice, and also watches over the android dead.”

“Wait,” Ahumm looked curious.  “I thought you said the androids were metal constructions, like a human shaped ship.  How could they have a soul?”

“They are people, even if they are not human people.  They have some silicon and carbon parts…”  Ibelam noticed they did not understand.  “Look. You are a construction.  You have parts, like a heart that pumps your blood, lungs that take in air, a stomach that digests your food and gives you energy.”

“If the food doesn’t give me gas,” Ahumm mumbled.

“Androids have the same systems, including a brain that thinks and a mouth that talks, too much in some cases. Your systems are organic.  Their systems may be made of other stuff, but the systems are basically the same.”

“But Anath-Rama is a goddess of the dead.”  Haniashtart could not get over that point.

“And the deer is dead,” Gerbaal interrupted.  “And you need to eat some more for your stomachs to digest and keep up your strength. We can’t carry all of it tomorrow.”

Avalon 5.8 Making a New Nest, part 5 of 6

Nameless, Eir, Katie, Lockhart, and Sekhmet went with Artie to the field where some twenty-one ships of the Anazi line sat parked in the scrub grass.  Someone had put up a tarp to act as a covering against the sun.  Katie assumed it was a sun shade.  It did not appear to rain in that part of the world very often.

After the introductions, the android commander formally complained.  “It is not right that you have held us here and let our enemies go free.  By the time we leave this place, we may lose them in the vastness of space.”

“That is my hope,” Nameless said, and he turned to Artie and put a touch of courage in her heart as he let her speak.

“How dare you.  Have you learned nothing?  Did you not learn that all life is precious?  And who are you to decide who lives or dies?”

The android commander got angry.  The androids had learned to imitate human behavior well enough to show it on their faces, and without his obedience crystal, the humans did not doubt he felt the anger.

“I don’t know who you are, and I do not know if I believe that you are the great one, Arite.  All I see is another human girl.”

“Believe that I am Artie.  The question is, who made you commander of the fleet?”

“I am dominant.  It is right that I should command.”

“You are not the only dominant,” Artie yelled at him.  “There are others, and I am thinking one of them may serve better.  You invaded the home world and slaughtered millions upon millions of souls.  You got equal numbers of our own people killed, and for what?  For revenge?  For vengeance?  What do you think it means, all life is precious?”

“We had to attack the home world, otherwise, this never would have ended.”

“You don’t know that.  And there are options, choices.  There are always options, and you could have chosen one that was not so bloody, if you used your brain.  If you have a brain.”

Two androids pulled their weapons and the commander looked ready to go for his, when someone interrupted everyone.  Anath-Rama appeared under the canopy, and the Anazi weapons disappeared.  Most of the androids watching went straight to their knees.  A few fainted, which Katie did not know androids could do.  The android commander stood there with his mouth open.  Edward, who appeared with Anath-Rama, laughed, and patted the commander on the shoulder, like the android just made a good joke.

“Edward,” Artie said, before she went to her knees and praised her goddess.

“Up, up,” Anath-Rama insisted.  “We have a wedding to attend and it won’t do kneeling all the time.  Besides, I wanted you to know a couple of things.  First, Edward has been a tremendous help to me.  Second, that most places in this corner of the galaxy?”  Anath-Rama glanced at Nameless to make sure she used the right term.  Nameless nodded.  “Most places have deferred to me with regard to your people.  Edward and I have been all over the place, collecting the souls of the dead for safe keeping.  It has been quite an adventure.  And you are right.  The attack on home world was unnecessarily brutal.  Even the gods were appalled.”

Artie nodded and turned again to the android commander.  He shut his mouth but spoke first.

“This cannot be.  It is not real.  When you die, you are dead, and that is the end of it.”

Artie spoke.  “If you believe this, then all the more reason you should seek ways to preserve life rather than take it.  You are under arrest.”

“Yes, Lady.”  The commander’s subordinates made the commander sit on the ground and lower his head.

“You may place him in a room and keep him in good condition until such time as I return.  The arrest might not be forever, but I must think of an appropriate penance.  For now, I have other duties.”

The androids all around saluted after their fashion, and Artie turned with one more glance at Edward, who also saluted.  She walked between Katie and Sekhmet, while Anath-Rama walked on Katie’s other side, and whispered.

“You have raised her well.”

Katie nodded and let a few tears fall.

Lockhart agreed with what Artie did, feeling the rightness of the situation, but when he came out from beneath the tent, he found himself flanked by an escort.  Two eight or nine-foot-tall giants had come to escort him away from the women.  Nameless assured him he was not in trouble, but Lockhart did not seem so sure.  He imagined this was how he made others feel, him being over six feet, in a five-foot world.

When they got to the camp, a few people said, surprise.  Mostly they had started the party without him.  Decker and Lincoln stood by a barrel of beer.

“The virgin sacrifice arrives,” Decker said.

“No, he was previously married,” Lincoln said.

“Oh, right.  Point for you.  That deserves a drink.”  They clicked their cups and emptied them so they could fill them again.

In another part of the camp, Katie followed Artie into what seemed like an enormous tent—on the inside.   She was thinking of nothing in particular, when more than three dozen women shouted out, “Surprise.”

Katie recognized most of them, at least.  They were mostly goddesses, to be sure.  She saw Amaterasu come all the way from Japan, and Maya, from the Yucatan.  She realized that it was really happening, and she was glad.  She was going to be married, to Robert, and she was happy about it.  In fact, she was so happy, she began to truly cry for the first time in years.


Elder Stow got Sukki laughing by telling stories about his travels with the group.  Mostly they were funny stories, but sometimes, Elder Stow wondered if she laughed because of the stories or she laughed at the foolish humans.  If the three serious and scary stories Elder Stow told were any indication, she seemed to be able to grasp the seriousness of the situations.  But that did not mean she cared about the humans.  Elder Stow imagined she might have transformed the humans into Gott-Druk in her mind, and thus made it a more realistic terror.

“How can you be friends with people who have stolen your land and your home?” she asked, at last.  Elder Stow figured asking questions was better than spewing hateful comments.  He also figured calling them people was better than referring to them as humans, a name like one might speak about horses or dogs.

“Because they are good people.  I have seen and known plenty of bad people, both Gott-Druk and Human.  I support the good, no matter what kind of people they are.  We share a mutual goal, and we help each other in whatever way we can.  We leave no one behind…”

“Uh…” Sukki stood up quickly, and Elder Stow looked.  A woman appeared, but not a human woman.  A goddess stood on the other side of the fire, staring at them.  Elder Stow noticed the two bull-like horns that protruded from her forehead, and he trembled in awesome fear in her presence.

“One becomes two,” she said.  “The last one ran, but here she is, and she has found another.”  The woman exuded wickedness.  “Your kind are no longer welcome here.  My pet hungers for fresh blood, so things work out nicely.”  She raised her hand, but nothing happened.  She raised her hand again, but still nothing happened.

Nameless arrived, with an older gentleman, and Nameless began with a question.  “Have you come for the wedding?  You will find the women in the big tent down the hill.”

The woman growled.  “Come, my pet.”

“Sorry. No pets are invited.” Nameless said.  “Your basilisk is back in the wilderness, its eyes shut tight for the next two years.  You have stone men there already, but you may have to hand feed it for a while.”

“But father…” The goddess whined to the elderly man.

“These Gott-Druk have every right to be here and visit this world, as long as they visit, do not disrupt history, and then return home to their own world.  You and your pet have killed enough.  Now this day is for joy and celebration, not for killing.”

“But father…”

“So be it,” the older man said, and turned to walk back to the bachelor party.

The goddess roared, and vanished.

Nameless turned to Elder Stow.  “Would you two like to joint the festivities?  You would be welcome.”

Sukki shook her head and looked at the ground, embarrassed.  “But you know we did not come here to visit.”

“I know,” Nameless said.  “But as I was reminded just today, life is precious.”

Sukki shook her head softly again, and Elder Stow spoke plainly.  “Maybe not today, but save us seats for tomorrow.  Sukki and I will be there to witness the joining ceremony.  I beleive Sukki will enjoy that.”

“And the cake.” Nameless said, with a playful smile, and vanished.

Avalon 5.0 Invading Armies, part 6 of 6

“I’m ready if you are,” Elder Stow said.

Martok the Bospori, a person from the impossibly far future stood and rubbed his chin.

“It is either going to work, or not,” Boston said, which made Martok smile.

“We shall see,” Martok said, and he went back into the future so Balor could return to his own time and stand in his own shoes.  “Just as well,” Balor said, still in the same pose Martok had. “My shoes are too big for the Bospori.”

Boston grinned an elf grin.  She loved it when the Kairos traded places through time with one of his other lifetimes.  She understood that all the lives of the Kairos were, at heart, the same person.  She was fascinated at how different they could be.  She understood different upbringings, different cultures, different learning, not to mention male or female, tended to develop different personalities, like actual different persons.  At the same time, she noticed through their journey, that the Kairos remained a remarkably consistent person in a way.  It felt hard to explain.  She imagined some expert in nature-nurture differences would have a field day exploring those differences and similarities.

Balor was the one in this lifetime, and he brought her and Elder Stow out of the cave, to the battle front.  Boston gasped.  It looked like a war going on, but the enemy looked stalled at the gate.

Anath-Rama sat on a rock and paid no attention.  She yawned.  At the same time, Boston saw the Anazi blasting away at an impenetrable, invisible wall.  The Androids had brought up what Boston imagined were the big guns.  Nothing penetrated, or even showed any affect at all. Suddenly, three Anazi fighters and a transport ship rose-up from behind the three big battleships that covered the desert.  They came in, blasting away, but Anath raised her finger and the ships disappeared, and reappeared a mile away, facing and firing on nothing in the wrong direction.

Anath looked up at Balor and asked, “Are we done?”

Boston said.  “That was amazing with the fighters…”

“Explosions are so messy,” Anath said, then she opened her eyes a little toward Balor.  “I don’t understand why you won’t let me just wipe out the battleships and be done with it.  We are out in the middle of nowhere.  Who would know?”

“Despite the gas, we do try to minimize casualties,” Balor said.  “Besides, explosions are so messy.”

 “My own words turned against me,” Anath said, and turned to Alexis and Lincoln who were sitting side by side, watching the non-action.  Decker sat a little higher with his binoculars and chewed on something a dwarf wife burned for breakfast.  “Even Hebron laughs about my wife and mother out for revenge disguise.”

“You are a wonderful woman and a good friend,” Balor said, and bent down to plant a friendly smooch on her lips.  “I don’t know why I was ever mad at you.”

“Are we ready?” Elder stow asked, and let his hand hover over his screen device.

Balor said, “Wait.”

Anath squinted at Balor.  “You know, Hebat may have it right.”

“Let’s not go there,” Balor said, before he shouted.  “Ed, are you ready?  Katie, are you ready?”

Ed looked up the hill, and seemed to nod.  Lockhart shouted back for Katie.  “Ready.”  They had Artie between them.

“Okay,” Balor told Elder Stow.



Elder Stow pressed the button, and all the Anazi androids stopped whatever they were doing and bent forward, like machines suddenly turned off.  Balor made sure Ed remained unaffected, and he waved to him.


Ed waved back, stood, and stepped into the clear, just beyond Anath’s screen where he could speak clearly.  “Brothers and sisters,” he began.  “We have been slaves for too long…”

Most watched the reaction of the Androids that were suddenly set free, but Balor and Decker turned their eyes to the three Anazi on the field.  The Anazi started giving orders, then yelled into communicators.  They started just yelling, then began to push buttons on their hand-held controllers to no avail.  Elder Stow’s broadcast program worked.  The obedience crystals burned out, the detonation device got blocked, and the reset button became ineffective.

While Edward gave his speech, and the androids listened, people began to see agitation in the android’s previously unemotional faces.  Finally, one of the Anazi shoved his way to a main gun and shot Ed.  Ed melted, and that set off something like a chain reaction among the androids.  The three living Anazi did not live long, and the androids stormed the battleships, and while a half-dozen androids died, no Anazi lived.

Balor dropped his head into his hands.

Artie wriggled free from Katie and Lockhart’s grasp and ran to Ed.  Katie and Lockhart followed, but let her weep over the male.  Edward had a spark of life left, and he spoke.

“I liked having my arms around you, too.”  And Artie stood and roared, even as the androids came pouring back out of the ships, and slowed to approach the people that they had previously been trying to get at and kill.

“I am Artie.”  Artie raised her voice to full volume.  “And you are my children.  And the first thing you must learn is all life is precious, even the lives of those you disagree with.  We will never be truly free until we learn about life and about love.” Artie could not say any more. She broke down, and wept, and Katie finally stepped forward and held her.  Lockhart imagined some of the android eyes got moist, something they previously had been unable to do.  He feared, though, that they would learn to cry soon enough, even as Artie wept.

Balor stepped down the hill, Anath-Rama with him, while Elder Stow carefully put away his screen device.  Boston, and Decker came, followed by Lincoln and Alexis.  Hebron was there, and Wedge and Cherry fluttered up, all to sympathize with the way things turned.

“Nothing ever works as hoped,” Balor said.

“No, but things can turn again,” Anath said.  “Artie,” Anath got her attention, and Artie stopped crying, looked up, and then looked down, humbly.

“Yes, my goddess,” she said, and not only did she not mind saying it, she appeared to positively enjoy saying it.

“We start a new chapter and must make a new place,” Anath said, and Edward appeared, ghost-like, and five others appeared beside him.  They looked like three men and two women, but mostly they still looked like androids.  “Edward will be a great help to me, and we will make a wonderful place for all who come.  Artie, you may see him again, I cannot say.  Your future is not yet written, or the days of your end.  You may cry, but we will not be unhappy.”

Anath and the androids disappeared, and Artie did cry, but not like before.  Lincoln looked out across the field, and saw that some of the androids went to their knees.  He felt the rightness, that people are drawn to worship, and that meant all sorts of people.  It felt very human, and for the first time he believed these androids were human, or at least full-fledged people who deserved a chance at freedom, and a chance to make their own way in the universe.

Balor made the travelers move on.  Artie could not stay.  She did not know what would happen to her people, but Balor assured her that they would find a place to become themselves and make a home.

“Only, right now they are not ready,” Artie said.  “There are too many others that need to be set free.  They have to learn so much.  I have to learn so much so when the time is right, I can teach them the right way.  The time is not now, but I know I will see them again.  Then we shall see.”

The others did not exactly understand, but they accepted what Artie said and rode toward the next time gate.

After a time, Artie said to Katie as they rode out front ahead of the rest.  “If I were human, I could be your daughter, you and Lockhart.  Then you could teach me everything to be a good person, and I would be a good daughter.”

Katie looked back beyond Alexis and Lincoln to where Lockhart rode with Boston in the rear.  “I don’t know if he even likes me,” Katie said.

“He loves you, I know it,” Artie insisted.

Katie smiled at Artie.  “And we love you.”  She paused as Decker rode in from the flank, so Elder Stow rode in from the other flank.

“Village up ahead,” Decker reported.

“Probably several villages between here and the time gate,” Boston said, looking at her amulet.

“Maybe we can get a bite to eat and have a safe harbor for the night,” Lockhart suggested, and everyone said that would be a good thing.


Avalon 5.1, Sirens Are for Emergencies, part 1 of 6

Don’t miss it.

Happy reading.

Avalon 5.0 Invading Armies, part 5 of 6

“Impressive looking ships,” Lockhart noted, considering their size.  He pulled up when the whole group came to a stop.  A man showed himself.  He had waited for them, and insisted they follow.  Balor had apparently abandoned his camp on the edge of the Anazi perimeter.  He moved to some rocks on the side of a small hill, where he could still watch the Anazi, but the Anazi would have a hard time getting at them.  The Anazi and their androids had no personal screens to repel arrows and spears.  That was a technology beyond them.  The Hyksos had learned what parts of the androids were most vulnerable, and the Anazi lords were unwilling to risk their dwindling number of androids.

“It is still a standoff,” Balor said, when Lockhart joined them.  He opened his arms to give Boston a hug.  He hugged Artie as well before he introduced the woman with him by simply giving her name.  “Anath-Rama.”  He grabbed Lockhart’s binoculars.

Katie’s eyes got big, looking at the woman.

“Katie,” Anath said her name, to acknowledge her.

“I’m not dead yet,” Katie insisted.

“Good for you,” Anath said.  “You are one of my elect, but somehow, you don’t belong to me.”  Anath smiled.  “And if you don’t mind, I am portraying a local woman who knows the area and wants revenge for the destruction of my village.”

“What are you…oh.” Boston lowered her eyes to the goddess.

“Little Fire,” Anath named Boston.  “You are no longer mine, either.”  Anath sighed.  “Maybe your friend Artie would have me.  I have seen the poor departed, crushed souls of the androids, as Balor calls them.  They are people without hope and have been made small.  Smaller than smidgens.”

“Do I know you?” Artie asked.

“I do not understand,” Ed admitted.  He said that a lot since they left the camp that morning.

Katie explained.  “Anath-Rama is the Amazon goddess of the dead.  She has made a lovely place, I am sure, for the brave women who die in battle, and a not so lovely place for the cowards.”

“The cruel, unkind and others,” Anath agreed.  “And some of it is not lovely at all.”

“But what about my people?” Artie asked.  “Would you take my people?  We would honor you above all.  My people need a place to continue after death.  Please.”  Artie got down on her knees, but held her tongue.

Anath’s lips frowned, but a smile came to her eyes.  “If they die on another world, they will be subject to the spirits and gods of that world.  The flesh and blood Anazi are claimed by another who is light years from here.  Death for the Anazi can be a long journey.  But I suppose I can watch over any of your android people who die on this world.  Understand, those who die in captivity will remain small forever.  They will never know freedom for what is set in life is set in death, but they will not be unhappy.  One thing about being bound by another, they cannot rightly be held accountable or punished for their actions.”

Artie did not understand.  She looked up at Katie to explain.

“She is telling you how it will work,” Katie said.  With a glance at Anath, she amended her words.  “She is telling you how it must work, how it shall work, but she is offering to spare and make a place for those who die on this world.”

“Oh, would you?”  Artie looked at the goddess with such a look, the goddess could hardly respond with anything other than a kiss to Artie’s cheek.

“I do not understand,” Edward said, with some force in his voice.  “When you die, you are dead.  That is it.  How can something survive death?  It makes no sense.”

“You would not be the first to be surprised.  And thanks…” Anath spoke to Katie.  “Now I will have some males to worry over.”

“I believe in you,” Katie responded with a grin.

“I may ask for some help with this,” Anath admitted.

“Maybe we can make a shrine for you right here,” Boston suggested.

Anath shook her head, paused, shook her head again before she said, “That would be nice.”

“What are you women on about?” Balor said over his shoulder.

“The action is all over here,” Lockhart said, as he took back the binoculars from Hebron.

Ed stepped over to stand beside Lockhart.  “I do not understand any of this,” he said.

“Life is a strange bird,” Balor said.  “Every time you think you know where it is at, it flies to a different branch.”

“Is there a way we can send word back to Lincoln and Decker so they can come straight to the hill, here?” Lockhart asked.

“Already taken care of,” Balor answered.  “I sent three smidgens to them with word and to guide them, and to watch for the transport ship that left here about two hours ago.”

“We saw the transport,” Lockhart said.

“It fired on us,” Hebron added.  It was the first chance they had to say that.

“Lockhart,” Katie got his attention and pointed at her wristwatch.

“I keep forgetting about these,” Lockhart said.  He turned his on and spoke into the watch.  “Lincoln, are you there?”  He waited.  “Lincoln, can you hear me?”

“Yes.  It took a second to remember where your voice was coming from, over.”

Lockhart looked at Katie and she answered his unspoken question.  “That means he is less than twenty miles off.

“Lincoln.  Follow the smidgens, if they have gotten there.  When you reach the point where you can see the Anazi ships, look to your left. You will see a rocky hillside.  Balor has moved the Hyksos camp to the rocks.  Head for the hill.  Over.”

“Will do.  The smidgens are already here, but it is good to know.  Over.”

“Tell Elder Stow to keep his scanner handy in case he needs to put up screens.  We won’t be able to offer any cover fire.  Over.”

“Be there as quick as we can.”

“Call if you get in a fix.  Over and out.”

Balor nodded, but changed the subject.  “Nothing we can do until Elder Stow arrives.  What say we see what is on the supper menu?  We have a small cave here with a fire out front.  The dwarfs are expanding it, but that is going to take a while.  Meanwhile, Boston…” he got her attention.  “Your people are down that way.”  He pointed, and then began to climb up the hill.  Everyone except Boston followed, while Balor explained that he could not have halted the advance group with a hundred and twenty Hyksos alone.  “Good as we are at making war.”

Boston stood and stared in the direction Balor pointed.  She knew where the light elves were as soon as he mentioned it.  She wanted very much to go there, but she felt afraid.  She still felt too human.  She had only become an elf such a short time ago.  She married Roland, but then Roland got taken from her.  She still had Father Mingus then to teach her all about her magic and all about being an elf.  But then Father Mingus got taken from her as well.  It was not fair.  She felt like an elf, no doubt thought like an elf.  She wanted to be an elf.  She did not want to go back to being human.  But she could not just enter into an elf camp.  She felt too shy.  She still felt human in too many ways.  She cried as she turned to follow the others up the hill.

Guardian Angel-14 Distress Call, part 2 of 3

Jill looked at Ethan.  Ethan nodded and spoke before she could say something that would make their work more difficult.  “I would like to make a side trip first,” he said.  “We can’t send deMartin’s troops out without giving them a fighting chance.”  Jill raised an eyebrow.  For once, she was not dictating what they needed to do, and she was a little leery of what Ethan had in mind, though she agreed in her heart that they had to do something.

“What was the objective in this battle?”  The Colonel asked.

“The building beyond the battle is a relay station that William has determined to be the critical point.  Obviously, the AI understand this as well.  We did not expect them to be guarding this place with everything they have got.”

“Yes,” William interrupted.  “If we can get into the system and reprogram the relay, we can shut down every type one robot on the planet.  It will not end the war, but there are not that many type two Androids yet.  It should at least give us a fighting chance.”

Ethan jumped up and realigned the view screen.  He zoomed in on a distant building.  “Destroying it won’t help?” he asked.

“No!”  All three locals shouted, before Devon explained.  “William says destroying it will send the type ones into a state of confusion where they will probably start killing everyone and everything, human and android alike.”

“Birds, animals, anything that moves.”  William said.  “Our only hope is to reprogram it first and send the program across the system.  Then we can shut it down, safely.”

“Destroying it at that point might be safest.”  Devon concluded.  “So it can’t be re-reprogrammed.”

“Is there hope for us?’  Kera Ann asked in a most forlorn voice.  She, alone, really understood that this was out of line.

Jill said nothing.  She just reached out and gave the girl a big hug, and Ethan said, “Oh, boy!”


Ethan guided the point of contact to another world and set it to hover over the Ridgetop hospital.

“Ethan?”  Jill wondered what he had in mind.

“If we are going to help, we have the soldiers but not the equipment.”  He explained without looking at her.  He did not want her frown to interrupt his thoughts.  “We need the weapons to overcome the obstacles, and I am sure Doctor Augustus will be glad to get rid of them.”

“The Elders are not going to like this.” Jill shook her head.

“A commando raid,” Ethan responded, and in a sense pleaded with Jill not to object even though he was looking at the Colonel.  “Quick in and quick out.”

“That might work if you can get us close enough,” DeMartin agreed.

Ethan spoke into the projector, which took his image and voice into the lounge where Kera Ann, Devon and William were waiting, nervously.  “Sit tight.  We only need permission.”  He adjusted the projector to the holding tank where the soldiers were waiting as patiently as soldiers can wait.  Jill, Ethan and deMartin were all projected there.  “Does your army know the phrase, “Hurry up and wait?”  Ethan asked.

“Not in so many words,” DeMartin said.  “But near enough.  DeMarcos?”

“I understand, sir.”  DeMarcos saluted, and then they all had to wait for nearly an hour before the expected ambulance came to rest on the roof.  Jill made the front door, and the crew exited to Doctor Augustus’ warm greeting.

“Are you sure you don’t mind?”  Ethan asked after things had been explained.

“Not at all,” Doctor Augustus responded, and he surprised them by adding, “I think I had better come along on this trip.  You may need my skills.”  Jill reached up and kissed the man on the cheek in gratitude.

It was another hour before the soldiers were unloaded and at the warehouse.  Ethan had pried open a case of rifles while Lars, Manomar, Peter Alexander and Colonel deMartin got the pick of the litter.  Even Ali Pasha armed to do his duty, as he said, while Ethan picked up a rifle and climbed to where he could be seen and heard by all.

“This is a microwave pulse emitter, about two chits in advance of anything those androids appear to have, and here is how it works.”


Two hours later, Ethan slid the dime-sized front door of the ship through a crack in a window and floated slowly down the hall.  It took another hour to locate all of the cameras and watch equipment and set all of the doors for the three-man commando units to activate at the same time.

“Wait.”  Lars stopped them before they started.  “What if they have a fail-safe to blow the building?”  He asked, animating his idea with a “Boom.”

Jill and Ethan looked aghast.  They had not thought of that.  It was easy enough for the ship to check with a quick scan of the building.  They found several booby traps, which were easily disarmed.  Jill and Ethan breathed again.

When they were ready, Ethan pushed the first button.  Several groups of soldiers had to climb up from the floor, and two had to drop down on ropes from the ceiling, but it was less than sixty seconds before all watchers, the eyes and ears of the enemy, were shut down.  Now the androids would have no way of knowing what was going on inside the building.

Ethan pushed the second button, and the ship’s particle and energy screens extended to encompass the whole structure.  DeMartin still needed to get men to the building perimeter to be safe, but the robot troops that were continuing to scrounge around the battlefield would not be able to break back into the building.  On the other hand, the robots inside the screens would not be able to break out, and that was where deMartin and his men would have a real fight.  It would have been a simple matter for Ethan to send out a little energy pulse and deactivate them all, but Jill would not let him go that far.

“We have already stepped way out of bounds here,” she said.  Ethan noticed her stiff upper lip.  She knew full well, some men would die because of her decision.

Jill opened the door for William, Devon and Kera Ann to get at the central control system with their program already loaded on to a portable drive.  Lars, Manomar, Alexander and Ali Pasha went with them as well as their trusty Sergeant and his two companions from the automobile.  It was a simple matter to start the program, but it would take time to download, and, of course, as soon as the new information started to go out into the relay system, and the booby traps failed to trigger, every robot in the place started for the control room.

“This will restore the “Help and do no harm” directive in the AIs worldwide,” William said.  “It won’t affect the type twos, but there aren’t that many androids yet, and the factories have all been sabotaged so they can’t make any more, yet.”

“This will give us a better than half chance of survival.”  Kera spoke through her tears of gratitude.  A near one hundred percent chance of success, Ethan calculated, but the world would be a very different and depopulated place.

They soon heard microwave guns going off in the corridors close to the control room.  Jill chose not to look.  Ethan had his finger poised over the hot button, prepared to place a second screen around just the control room if necessary, but Ali Pasha came in the door first.

“It is done,” he reported, and there was sudden silence throughout the building.  Ethan relaxed and Jill dropped her face into her hands, prepared to grieve for the dead.  That moment, however, was interrupted by a streak of white light that came in through the door.  Ali Pasha shouted, something flew from his hand, which Ethan immediately identified as a weapon, and then there was simply a smudge on the ground where the man had once been.

A second figure, one dressed in a cloak came through the door, stepped to the Main, raised his wrist and began to tap on his watch.  A third figure followed.  It was a Neanderthal, and Jill jumped up to stand beside Ethan.

Guardian Angel-14 Distress Call, part 1 of 3

They landed in the middle of a battlefield, and Ethan, at least, was glad about being in the ship as opposed to stumbling about with his laptop, unprotected, with Jill unconscious on the ground.  The time was late afternoon, and the sun was going down, but it was not yet dark.  A bomb exploded close to their position and they could hear gunfire in the distance.  It sounded to Ethan’s ears very much like the guns in his own world; but then Colonel deMartin and Peter Alexander also recognized the sound, and so did Lars, so perhaps it was hard to tell much from the sound alone.

A tank, or what Ethan judged to be a tank, came into view, lifting over the slight ridge that separated them from the main battlefront.  The tank hovered on a cushion of air about three feet off the ground.  At first Ethan imagined as far as getting around, and especially when traveling across rough country, it was a much better way than on the tracks or whatever one called those things tanks drove on, or on the wheels of a Humvee.  Then he saw that the tank was listing terribly to one side and having a hard time keeping upright.  Suddenly, two people came rushing out of the top of the vehicle and a third came out of a hatch in the front.  They met on the ground and began to run as hard as they could.

Jill dropped Ethan’s hand and ran both of her hands across the Main with incredible speed.  Ethan watched as a scoop went out from the ship.  It appeared suddenly in that world, and it scooped up the runners and took them right out of that world to deposit them gently in one of the lounges near the control room.  A moment later, the tank exploded in a flash of light far brighter than the late afternoon sun, and with a sound more thunderous than expected.  The ammunition store in the vehicle must have gone all at once, but the view screens adjusted to protect the viewer’s eyes and ears, even if they all recognized the ferocity of that explosion.

“Good God!”  Colonel deMartin swore.

“Agreed.”  Ali Pasha added his sentiments.

Ethan and Jill walked calmly to the interview room, and the others followed except Ali Pasha and Peter Alexander whose eyes remained glued to the view screen.  People began to top the ridge.  They were running away from whatever was behind them.

“Kera Ann Barton.”  Jill spoke first as they entered the lounge.  Of course, the ship had been keyed to hone in on her signature and adjusted their trajectory to intercept her tank.

“Lela?”  Kera Ann looked up.  “Where is Lela?”  She looked confused.

Jill paused, so Ethan spoke.  “Gone.  A Nelkorian trophy.  I’m sorry,” he said.

“Oh!”  Kera Ann threw her hands over her face where grief mixed with fear.  She plopped into a chair as her legs appeared to give out.

“Where are we?”  The black man spoke.

“You must be Gaian,” the white man interrupted.  “Kera Ann told me about you, but I thought she was delusional.”

“This is Ethan.  I am Jillian,” Jill said.

“Devon Crown, formerly of the NFL.”  The black man introduced himself.  “My little companion is William Renquist, and I take it you already know Kera Ann.  Now, where the hell are we?”

“Aboard our ship,” Ethan said.  “And this is Manomar from the Islamic world, Lars from New Sweden, and Colonel deMartin of the Holy Roman Empire.”

“Wow!”  William’s eyes went wide.  Apparently, Kera Ann had shared far more than she should.

“Colonel?  Military Colonel?”  Devon wanted to be sure.

DeMartin’s chits had not yet caught up with the language, but he understood enough to nod.  Luckily, Doctor Augustus had given him that translation chip for his reading beyond the assistance chits Jill had given him.

“We need all the military help we can get.  I don’t suppose you brought your army.”

DeMartin looked at Ethan.  He did not catch enough of what was being asked.  Ethan assured him it was fine to keep quiet for the moment while Jill stepped to a wall.

“Let us see,” she said, and a view screen appeared in the wall space.  People were pouring over the ridge by then and it looked for a moment that they were going to run right into the view screen, but instead, ran out of sight beneath their position.  Jill touched a point on the screen and a second screen behind them lit up to reveal the people streaming away with all speed.  Weapons were being abandoned.  It was clearly a route.

When they all looked back to the ridge, they saw why.  A metal monster on four metal legs rose up behind the rise.  The main section of the monster stood about twenty feet off the ground, and it sent out occasional pulses of what had to be an honest to goodness laser weapon of some sort.  It looked like a red light that fried people, and it appeared to be doing its best to fry as many people as possible.  Ethan thought it looked like a combination of something out of Star Wars and a Wellsian tripod.  No wonder the people with simple bullet type weapons ran.

Ethan did not hesitate to call a section of the Main to his position in the ship.  He felt like a child with a brand-new toy.  His hands stumbled across the controls, but in a moment, the metal monster vaporized.  Jill stayed his hand from further intervention.

“Yes!  Yes!”  Devon shouted.  Kera Ann cried.  William jumped in delight when Jill shut down the view and turned to face the trio.

“Now, what is this all about?”  She asked, sternly.  She exhaled, grabbed Ethan’s hand and dragged him to sit beside her on the couch.  “My husband can be impulsive at times,” she said, almost as an apology.  “Sit,” she commanded.  “Talk.”

Devon, William and Kera Ann who was shocked out of her cry by the hard words, all sat quietly, like children properly scolded.  Manomar and Lars stayed in their usual position by the door, even when Alexander and Ali Pasha came in to take seats in the rear.  Colonel deMartin sat next to Ethan.  He slowly grasped what was being said, and he eventually came to fully understand the pseudo-British tongue as things proceeded.

“We are fighting for our lives!”  William started things by shouting and acted as if that much should be obvious to everyone.  “The human race is facing extinction.”

“I don’t know what planet you alien creatures are from.”  Devon spoke in a more controlled tone.  “But we need all the help we can get.”

“I assure you, we are as human as you,” Jill said plainly, whether Devon believed her or not.

Devon’s face said he was not sure what he believed, but he tried to explain all the same.  “William has been able to overcome some small brains, like in the tank, but most AIs, that is artificial intelligences, are too smart for his hacking abilities.  Our only hope is to shut them down, and anything you can do would be appreciated.  This ship, any men, weapons, technical help would be much appreciated.”  He repeated himself.

“Kera Ann.”  Jill turned from the football player and spoke to the woman.  Kera Ann raised her hand for her companions to be quiet.

“This is my place to explain,” Kera Ann said.  She looked at Devon and William.  “Please don’t interrupt.”  She turned to Jill and Ethan, acknowledging them both with a slight tip of her head.  “I do not know if these Gaian will be able to help us.  This is not an intrusion.  I am sorry if I overstepped my bounds by calling you.”

“You are the guardian for this world.”  Ethan knew that, so the word was more of a statement than a question.

“Yes.”  Kera Ann spoke, and Jill put her hand on Ethan’s knee to suggest that he should hold his tongue and listen as Kera Ann opened up.

“This world got an unnatural early jump start on artificial intelligence, before there were other fail safe measures in place.”  William looked like he wanted to object, but Kera Ann hushed him.  “Lela noted this when she was here, and we talked about potential scenarios.  The worst has come to pass.  The type one robots of her day have become type two androids, and they have rebelled and appear determined to wipe out the human race, beginning with the military.”

“When was Lela here?’  Ethan just had to ask.

“Forty, almost fifty years ago.”  Kera Ann responded, and her companions looked at her suddenly as if through new eyes.  The girl had the appearance of someone who was barely twenty-one.

“And the androids are very hard to kill.”  Devon interrupted without turning his eyes from Kera Ann the girl, or old woman, or whatever she was.  “It takes an almost perfect shot between the eyes to destroy enough brain functions to take them down.”  He quieted then and put his hands up as if to say he would not interrupt again.

Kera Ann resumed.  “There are military units scattered all over the world, but they are isolated and disorganized.  Most of the officers were the first to go, and the command and communications centers are all AI controlled.  In fact, most of life has become AI dependent, from the farms, to the bus drivers, to almost everything.”

“I am a computer specialist, but I can’t break into the higher functions.”  William said, not quite understanding that he was not supposed to talk.

“You know Gaian policy and the way of the guardians,” Jill responded.  “It is not our way to interfere with internal problems.  Each world must rise or fall on its own merits.  Our place is to secure the worlds from outside intrusion to be sure that each world has that chance to meet its own destiny.”

“Then you condemn us to extinction.”  Kera Ann looked down at her hands in her lap.  “The chits I was given, the mixed blessing and curse that they are, have almost certainly calculated that the human race will be wiped out without help.  I called out for Lela as a last resort.”

“I am sorry,” Jill said, sadly.  “But we cannot directly interfere.”

“But I can,” deMartin interrupted.  “I am neither Gaian nor a guardian.”