Avalon 3.4: part 5 of 5, Kairos, at Last

Roland and Boston took a break from staring at each other and talking in whispers. Boston kept an eye on her amulet to make sure they stayed on track and Roland paid more attention to the route to keep them out of trouble. At one point the rocks that sat back from the beach came very close to the water and left only a thin line of travel. Roland checked ahead and found where it opened out again. He paused at the sight, but quickly got the others to catch up.

There was construction going on down the beach. It was not what they expected in the Neolithic world of ancient South America. It was a ship. It looked like a two master, and had a below deck and a cabins fore and aft. It looked like it had a wheel, and no doubt a real rudder.

“Somebody’s tampering with time,” Katie remarked.

“Somebody’s coming in for a landing,” Lockhart responded and pointed up.

The Marzalotipan ship came down slowly. The travelers kept back to watch from safety as the ship corrected its angle several times. It made a lot of noise, but all things considered, it landed gently. There were no flame-thrower retro-rockets and there was no great wind pushed out from beneath the behemoth. Besides that, the Marzalotipan landed some distance from the construction. Alexis suggested that the birdman was well practiced at not disturbing the lives of potential customers. Lincoln added that the birdman needed the room to set up shop.UFO Birdman 3

This time, the travelers got a good look at the set-up. Robots, or drones as Elder Stow called them, did all of the heavy lifting. The Marzalotipan merely pointed here and there, like a traffic cop, Lockhart decided.   Everything was in place and ready to sell by the time the travelers arrived. A group of people from the construction site arrived at about the same time. And they were a strange looking group, as strange as the travelers.

There was an elf, a dwarf, two people who looked like something in between elves and dwarfs, and four men, darker in skin color than expected among Native Americans. The travelers guessed they were Shemsu people by the way the four carried a chair, or rather levitated it without actually touching it. The chair held a spindly old man with legs that appeared to be shriveled down to the bone, and useless. There was also an old, gray haired woman who walked with one hand on the arm of the chair and who kept looking up at the man in the chair as if she was afraid for him with every step. It was the old man who spoke.

“Boston! What’s wrong? You don’t seem to be injured in any way.”

“Wir’a?” Lincoln always had to check, though they knew the old man was the Kairos.

“We already did that,” Roland said.

“I got a poisoned thorn,” Boston explained.

“Alexis pulled out the poison,” Roland finished, and the couple looked at each other with loving expressions.

Wir’a gently patted the hand of the woman beside him as he spoke. “So when are you two going to get married.”

Boston was the one who responded. “We haven’t set a date.”

boat building 1Wir’a rubbed his chin. “Well, don’t wait too long. It will be AD in about three thousand years. Ha!”

“Nice ship,” Katie had to interrupt. The comment forced its way out of her lips.

“Yes,” Wir’a rubbed his chin a little harder and drawled the word. “I have a trip to make. Some of these Shemsu are going back to Egypt and I would rather not wreck between here and Africa.”

“A bit ahead of your time, isn’t it?”

Wir’a nodded, but smiled. “A Three Stooges ship. Guaranteed to fall apart as soon as we reach the Egyptian port.”

“What are you facing?” Major Decker asked the question that both Lockhart and Lincoln were thinking really hard.

boat building 2“The Masters are exporting cocaine to the Egyptian court. Poppies would be bad enough, but cocoa plants are New World and don’t belong there. They have about a two week head start, but it just goes to show, it is always something. Meanwhile,” Wir’a turned to face the Marzalotipan. “You have a name?”

“Ooogleloogalloo …” The name went on for a while and included some whistles and chirps that no human could imitate.

“Well, Oogle,” Wir’a stuck with the first part. “This planet is a trade free zone.” Wir’a paused and turned toward Elder Stow. “Elder Stow. What are you doing?”

The Gott-Druk looked up at Wir’a. “Lord.” He turned his eyes to Lockhart. “My father. I believe I can adapt this instrument to charge up my equipment.” He turned again, this time toward Katie. “My mother. Do you still have those spare Reichgo 10,000-year half-life batteries?” Katie nodded and all eyes returned to Wir’a.

Wir’a frowned. “All right. You can trade this one time with these people only, but then you have to vacate this planet and not come back.” Oogle appeared to put a smile on that bird face. “No horses,” Wir’a added, and Oogle lost the smile. “Fetch Digger,” Wir’a said to one of his little ones who ran off to fetch whoever Digger was.

Digger had a bucket of gold and precious stones with which he was reluctant to part. “This was to be our currency in Egypt,” Wir’a said. “We will just have to fetch some more.”

cannibals 3Elder Stow got his instrument. Alexis got some Dilodian silk. Major Decker looked again at the Blueblood cannon, and had just, in fact, got the Marzalotipan to connect the wide angle lens when they were interrupted by screaming in the distance. Fifty cannibal warriors poured out of the narrow place in the beach and began to spread out as they charged.

“We must have really ticked them off,” Lincoln said as he pulled his pistol.

“Probably killed a wife or a child by accident,” Katie suggested.

“Do you offer a test ride?” Lockhart asked.

“A test shot?” Katie corrected.

The Marzalotipan was not sure what they were asking, but he seemed to nod. Decker needed no more invitation. He sprayed the oncoming horde and with the wide angle and it only took a moment to knock all fifty enemy warriors to the sand.

“Unconscious, I think,” Decker said. “I’m not sure I read the stun setting correctly.” He fiddled with something on the canon and then handed it back to the Marzalotipan. “No thank you. Pulls to the left.”

“What? No.” Oogle protested, but paused to examine the weapon.UFO Blueblood cannon 2

“Lord Iwaca’l,” Wir’a spoke to the fairy that rested on the top corner of his chair. “Please fetch your troop and bind the unconscious natives so they don’t give trouble when they awake.”

“Lord,” Iwaca’l bowed and sped off.

“Oogle, time is up. I am sorry, but you must leave this planet and not return. Please pass the word on to your fellow Marzalotipan. This world is off limits. I am trying to keep the Pendratti war off this world so I don’t want anyone thinking this world is being armed. Do you understand?”

Oogle looked at his take of gold and stones and nodded. “Maybe after there is peace.”

“Don’t hold your breath,” Decker said.

“Indeed,” Wir’a agreed, but he said it in a way that was not clear if he would allow trade even then or if he felt the chances for peace were rather slim. He turned the subject “Roland and Boston, set a date and decide what you are going to do about the elf, human problem. I’m listening. Meanwhile,” He turned to the old woman and reached over for a kiss. “What’s for supper?” The old woman merely smiled.

Avalon 3.4: part 4 of 5, Hot Sand

The travelers stopped early that night, but stayed out on the grass where it would be hard for any group of men to sneak up. The weather was warm, so they let the campfire burn down low, especially since it was a beacon in the night that showed their location for miles. They slept some twenty yards from the fire thinking if the cannibals made an attempt, they would go to the fire, and then they kept a tight watch in the night with at least one set of eyes trained on the burning embers at all times.

Morning came without incident, and everyone relaxed. Breakfast was an enjoyable affair with a lot of the conversation centered mostly on Roland and Boston. Alexis kept quiet that morning, but no one minded. Her one comment to Lincoln when they mounted was, “I hope father is alright.”

“I am sure he is.” Lincoln gave his reassurance and they both looked back, briefly.grassland brazil 2

It was a pleasant morning, sunshine warm, but not terribly hot. Conversation was sporadic. Lincoln read some more about the time and place they were riding through. Captain Decker and Elder Stow kept a good watch on their flanks, and came in close whenever they came to some trees. It appeared at last they were headed toward the sea and only hoped they would not come up against another cliff or ridge that would prevent them from reaching the beach. What they found was only one thing.

“The Marzalotipan!” Lockhart said it because no one else was paying attention and Elder Stow and Decker were just moving in from the wings.

“Welcome friends. Have you considered the Dilodian silk? Maybe you are thinking of something to replace those projectile weapons. I suppose the beasts of burden are still not for sale. Mind you, I would make an excellent trade for those.”

“Did you get a permit?” Katie asked this time. Elder Stow was busy trying to find something that might be adapted as a charger for his equipment. Decker remained quiet and rifle ready. Alexis was busy eyeing the Dilodian silk, and Roland and Boston were busy as well, eyeing each other. Lincoln, however, noticed something.

“Where did you get the local spears?” His words drew the attention of the others.

UFO Birdman 6“Ah yes.” The Marzalotipan practiced his smile. “A hunting party said they could use a simple handgun to help on the hunt.”

“So you took a half-dozen sticks and stones in trade?” Lincoln was astounded, not to mention he guessed who that party was hunting.

“They had gold and tin. It was unrefined, but in sufficient quantities. And some interesting agate.”

“You need to get a permit to trade,” Katie stuck to the original issue.

“Did you find Wir’a? He is not going to be happy if you are trading without a license,” Lockhart added.

The Marzalotipan looked up. He was a salesman, but a timid creature. “I looked for him as you said. I made the effort but did not find him. How big is a mile?”

“I see you still have the Blueblood canon,” Decker said. He also guessed who the hunters were after and dreaded what kind of weapon they might have gotten their hands on.

“No,” Lincoln said, but he appeared to be talking to Alexis.

“Probably corrode in a thousand years or so,” Elder Stow mumbled.

“Quiet!” Boston shouted and everyone quieted for a moment to look at her as she turned to the Marzalotipan. “Five more miles up the shoreline.” She pointed.

“Ask for Wir’a,” Lockhart said again, and rode down to the beach. The others followed with Lincoln still saying “No” to Alexis. They could not hear what Alexis was saying.

The travelers reached the sand and looked out on morning over the blue of the South Atlantic. The water appeared calm and placid, but they knew at certain times of year, terrible storms could brew there. They dismounted and planned to walk their horses most of the way. Even walking, Lincoln figured they should find Wir’a in time for lunch.

Elder Stow floated up to Lockhart with a word. “Keep together and bring Decker in close. I can set a screen against the poor energy weapons of this day and keep it up for the morning, but it would be better if I did not have to stretch it too far.

Lockhart simply nodded and waved Decker in close. The man was prepared to ride out on the wing again, out among the sand dunes that grew just beyond the tidal pools. He accepted the limitation of his movement to remain behind the Gott-Druk screen, but he rode, or mostly walked on the outside between Lincoln and Boston, and his eyes rarely wavered from the dunes.Caspian shore 1

The travelers changed their fairy weave clothes to shorts and thin little shirts as the day heated, like a true day at the beach. Alexis made the required warning about sunburn and handed around some lotion she took out of her medical kit; but to be sure, the travelers had spent so much time by then in a wilderness of one kind or another, they were all about as tanned as they could be, and not likely to burn.

It was a pleasant time on the beach and an easy place to get lost in happy memories of other times and places. Roland and Boston held hands and whispered, and had no eyes for anyone but each other. Lincoln and Alexis seemed to be at peace, and they were not adverse to holding hands themselves. Katie was animated in her conversation at first, and Lockhart was smiling more of late. Katie was very different from the prim and proper Marine Lieutenant they met on the first day. It was like she opened up and once again, or maybe for the first time, became a human being.

Katie talked about how her parents used to take her to the beach every summer. She built sand castles, though never anything as grand as the castle of the Kairos on Avalon. She dreamed of fairies and elves, but never dreamed they were real. She played at soldiers and pirates. “And do you think we might run into some real pirates in our travels?”

“Oh, I hope not,” Lockhart responded. “It is hard enough keeping everyone alive as it is.” He held out his hand. He figured it was the theme for the day. Katie took it without hesitation, but she suddenly became very quiet, and walked most of the time with her eyes turned down, like she was considering her shoes. Lockhart just kept smiling.

Captain Decker and Elder Stow were the only ones paying attention. They were about half-way to their destination when Decker spied some movement in the rocks and trees that spread out beyond the dunes. He understood the cannibals were too far to mount a charge. They had seen what the weapons of the travelers could do, first hand. They had lost several men, and were being wary. Even if they moved some hunters up into the dunes before the travelers came around the corner, there was still enough distance to cut them down if necessary.

Decker verbally nudged Elder Stow and he looked briefly before he turned to his scanner. Decker pulled his rifle and paused. There was not time to see what his eagle vision might show him, but he felt a word was in order.   “Enemy sighted. Everybody be prepared to mount.”

cannibals 1Katie immediately let go of Lockhart’s hand and pulled her binoculars for a quick look before she handed them to Lockhart. She pulled her own rifle while Lockhart unsnapped the holster that held his police special. He left the shotgun holstered. It was no good at distance.

The travelers all stopped moving and looked, Lincoln reaching for the binoculars. They did not have to wait long. A yellowish line of power and fire came from among the rocks and stopped at a line twenty feet from the travelers. Elder Stow handed Lincoln a box and immediately took to the air. He flew toward the source. He had personal screens which would protect him from both yellow fire and primitive spears. The travelers could only watch.

It did not take long for Elder Stow to zero in on the enemy where the man kept firing, trying to penetrate the screen. The sand at the base of the screen began to boil, but it seemed like a person would have more success shooting rubber bands at a brick wall. A moment later, the travelers saw the orange streak of Elder Stow’s weapon, and the enemy fire stopped. Decker mounted. The others followed his lead, except Lincoln, who waited for Alexis to get up so he could carefully hand her Elder Stow’s box. When they were ready to move, Elder Stow was back and they started out at a trot. It was not as fast as some might have liked, but it was faster than the enemy could walk.

Katie spoke up, but softly to Lockhart. “All I can imagine is back in the dark, in their camp, we must have wounded or killed someone dear to the chief, like maybe his wife.”

Lockhart nodded his response. “Or his son or daughter. I was thinking much the same thing. Anyone else would have given up long before now.”

Avalon 3.4: part 3 of 5, The Question

Sunlight broke across the grasslands within the hour. Lincoln hoped they might pick up the pace to get out of that area altogether, but things did not quite work out that way. There were a number of short cliffs that interrupted the unending grass, and while none was tall enough to be especially dangerous, none was short enough for the horses to jump to the ground below. The first attempt of the travelers was always to head toward the ocean, thinking a clean beach would ease the route, but they kept finding the way blocked for one reason or another and had to backtrack. By the time they found a way for the horses to get down the short cliffs, they admitted they were in danger of being caught by people on foot.

Roland and Boston continued out front, and Boston kept her eye on the amulet that showed the way to the next time gate. She had learned to read the information well enough by then to be able to find the Kairos at the center of each time zone. She was just wondering if they were being tracked by the cannibals and if perhaps the Kairos could help, when they came to one of the small groups of trees that punctuated the unending grasses. There was something of a path that wound down a small decline to where the grasses took over once again.grassland trees 2

“Roland?” Boston looked up when she felt a sharp pain in her arm. “Ouch!” She pulled out a thorn. Alexis’ horse, Misty Gray bucked, and Lockhart and Katie who were guarding the rear reacted. Lockhart yelled.

“Ride!”

Katie pulled out her rifle as the group picked up the pace as well as they could while they moved downhill through the trees. She sprayed one side of the trees with bullets, though she saw no one. Captain Decker, who had moved in behind her when they came to the trees, fired toward the other side. Elder Stow fiddled with his equipment, and in a minute he had up a screen of force which nothing could penetrate. A moment later, and they broke out on to the grasslands again.

They kept to the pace, and did not slow until Boston sagged in the saddle and Roland shouted. “Alexis!” He caught Boston before she fell on the ground. Alexis was having her own troubles. Misty Gray took a thorn in his rear, and Alexis paused at her brother’s call, but only for a minute.

Boston already had a swollen shoulder and the beginning of green puss around the little hole made by the thorn. She had the beginning of a fever, but Alexis did not let it go any further. As Roland laid Boston gently in the grass, Alexis laid her hands on the wound. There was a warm, golden glow that covered both her hands and the swollen area. Alexis closed her eyes, and in a moment they saw a sickly green liquid mixed with blood evacuate the wound. In another moment, Alexis pulled out a bandaid, handed it to Roland and went to see about her horse.grassland brazil 3

Roland was gentle with the band aid, though Boston was already feeling better. The little hole where the thorn pierced her arm had already stopped bleeding. She looked up into Roland’s eyes and smiled her warmest, most loving smile. He responded with a red face before he spouted out anger.

“How dare you get hurt.”

“Well, I could not exactly help it,” Boston came back in self defense. Roland stood, and Boston could not tell if he was going to cry or scream. .

“I love you so much it frightens me.” He raised his voice. “I am not supposed to get involved with mortal humans. That is the law of god, and you are tempting me into Hell.”

“What about Alexis?” Alexis had become human in order to marry Lincoln.

Roland looked, but he sometimes talked of his sister as a lost cause. He returned his focus to Boston, knelt and took her hands. “I hate you. You are going to kill my father. Please marry me.” He waited.

Somehow, in her wildest imagination, Boston never dreamed she would be proposed by a man who just professed that he hated her. All the same, she threw her arms around his neck. “Yes. Absolutely yes, and you are not allowed to change your mind or back out of it. You are committed and so am I.” She pulled back and saw the silly grin plastered across his face. “I can’t wait until I lose my unicorn friend.” She watched Roland’s face turn red again, but this time it was not from anger. His pointed ears turned positively purple, before he kissed her. It was what she wanted.

grassland brazil 1Lincoln kept the others back while Alexis worked on her horse, but they were close enough and watched everything. They had grins of their own, except Decker who threw his hands up and grunted, like he felt henceforth the couple was doomed. Katie was inclined to look at Lockhart directly and disguised little at that point. Lockhart was only willing to glance at her before he went back to see how Alexis was making out with her horse.

“Hey Lockhart! Guess what!” Boston spoke as soon as she caught her breath.

“What?” Lockhart played the game.

“I’m engaged.”

“To Roland?”

“Of course, moron.”

“Just checking.” Lockhart looked at Alexis and she spoke.

“Misty is fine. I doubt there was enough poison in that little thorn to affect such a big animal.”

Lockhart nodded and raised his voice. “Everybody mount up. We need to put some distance between us and them.

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

Be sure and check in next Monday and Tuesday for the final two posts in Avalon, episode 3.4.  Those cannibals seem determined, but I’m thinking that birdman is going to put in an appearance somewhere down the road …

Avalon 3.4 part 2 of 5, Night Moves

“I think we are somewhere in South America.” Lincoln read from the database. “It says Wir’a is from Bolivia, around Lake Tiahuanaco.”

“We are not in the Andes,” Roland countered. He watched Boston cut a slice from the buffalo they bagged for lunch.

“I would guess we are well below Bolivia and headed for the Atlantic coast,” Boston agreed as she slipped back into her seat beside Roland. Several heads nodded in agreement with that assessment.

“It also says he had Shemsu blood,” Lincoln continued.

“Shemsu?” Major Decker asked.

“Like Qito’s people,” Lockhart responded. “You remember. The ones who moved those five ton boulders just by laying on their hands. The ones who dropped the boulders on the Balok.”

“I remember,” Katie said. “They did not actually have to touch the standing stones to lift them. It was all in the mind.”

“I remember vegetables,” Alexis said as she got up to help herself to the roast. “I don’t care if we take vitamins every morning. I think I might scream if we don’t start getting some vegetables and fruit in our diet.”cooking meat 2

Major Decker looked around. He heard something. Katie unsnapped the holster for her pistol. Roland got up slowly before he vanished quickly into the rocks. He was not wearing a glamour to make him appear human and thought it would be easiest if he vanished. Lockhart whistled for his horse, Dog, and Dog came trotting in close. The other horses followed.

“Hello!” Someone shouted. “Friend!” A man came to the edge of the grassland where the grass gave way to the rocks and boulders. “Friend?” the man said.

“Are you hungry?” Alexis asked.

Four other men came over a rise in the grass. They had a travois, four crude spears tied together at the top, and they appeared to be dragging the rest of the kill that Roland had left out on the plains. The travelers could only eat and carry so much.

“I see.” The man said and came close to the edge of the camp. “We found this fresh kill abandoned. I see you are eating of it. The rest may help feed my village.”

“You are welcome to it,” Lockhart said.

Bison 1“We watched you,” the man came near to the fire. “You ride on the backs of these beasts. It is a wonder. I do not know these beasts.”

“They are poison,” Katie said. “You will die if you eat them, but they work well for us.” Several eyes turned to Katie and wondered what she was thinking. The man also looked at her. Clearly, he knew the word, poison, and he looked disappointed.

“You are going?” the man asked.

Boston pointed before Katie could stop her. The man smiled.

“My name is Lockhart,” Lockhart said. He did not know what was bothering Katie, but he was willing to trust her instincts. Decker was clutching his rifle as well and Lincoln did not look at all happy. He introduced everyone.

“I am Dog’na,” the man said. “Chief Dog’na, and I invite you to my village for the night.” The man smiled, though it looked unhealthy. “We go that way,” he pointed where Boston pointed. “Come. The sun will set when we arrive.”

“Have some buffalo first,” Katie said and she pulled out her army knife to slice off a big piece. “Call your men over to join us.” She kept her eyes on Dog’na and watched as he fairly well drooled at the knife.

The men came and ate in silence, deferring to their chief to do the talking. The travelers also said little. It was an awkward and uncomfortable lunch, but it was soon packed up and they started out, Dog’na in the lead.

“Roland?” Lockhart said that one word.

“He will follow,” Alexis said in English.

“I’m not worried,” Boston added.

It was several hours before they arrived. They came to a short cliff that butted out from a long, rocky ridge. Dog’na knew the safe way down to where a section of trees interrupted the endless grasslands and grew up to the ridge.grassland trees 3

“Even money says the ocean is over the ridge,” Lockhart guessed.

“No bet,” Katie agreed. “We might be best off from here following the coast.”

The village in the trees held some three hundred people, which was a remarkable number considering how primitive they were. Lincoln suggested they were barely into the stone age, though it did appear as if they mastered fire.

“I don’t like it,” Katie whispered. “It doesn’t feel right but I can’t say why.”

“I agree,” Lincoln spoke up. “Something smells”

“The fish,” Alexis joked, but she looked at Lincoln with agreement in her eyes. As she said before, she trusted Benjamin’s suspicious instinct.

Lockhart took a quick look at the sky. “No tents. Keep the horses saddled and tie them off by the fire where we can keep an eye on them. You people are spooking me out.”

“Elder Stow.” Katie turned to the Gott-Druk. “Can you set up a force field for rapid deployment if necessary?”

“Yes, my mother. This I have already done.”

“Decker?” Lockhart looked at the man and the man nodded. He sat cross legged and laid his rifle across his lap while he closed his eyes. The travelers heard the sound of an eagle high up at the top of the ridge. It circled a couple of times before it headed northeast, up the coast for a good look around.

Chief Dog’na absented himself early in the evening. The rest of the Chief’s people hovered at times around the edges of the traveler’s camp, but never came near enough to speak. As the evening turned to night, the behavior of the people began to spook everyone out.

Lockhart set up a watch so at least one person was awake throughout the night, and by chance he was the one awake when Boston needed to find a bathroom. “Don’t go far,” he said, and she promised, but she wanted to go far enough to get away from the camp and the village. And it really was not far before she slipped down into a shallow ravine. There was something crunchy at the bottom. Boston squinted in the dim light of the night, but could not quite grasp what she was stomping around on until she held one of the round things up to the moonlight. Then she screamed. Then she stifled her scream and turned on her wrist communicator.grassland trees

“Lockhart. I found the dump. It is human bones. It is people.”

“Say again?” That was Decker.

“I found a ravine filled with human remains.”

“Cannibals.” Katie said.

“We need to go,” Lockhart agreed.

Suddenly, going to the bathroom was not so important. Boston tried to climb out of the pit. The sides were steep and slippery, which was how she ended up at the bottom in the first place. Fortunately, there was a hand to catch her. It was Roland.

“I figured it out the same time you did,” he said. “Stay beside me. We need to get to the horses.” He reached her wrist and turned off her wrist communicator. They did not need a sudden message to give away their location. He got out his bow. Boston still had her knife on her belt.

The two came up behind a small group of men attempting to sneak up on the travelers. “Down. Behind the trees,” Roland shouted, and Boston dropped to the ground. Bullets were fired. The men got up and ran, scared off by the sound, but a few would not get up again.

“Incoming!” Boston yelled, and she and Roland made a dash for the horses. Everyone else was up and ready to ride. Roland easily leaped on to his horse’s back. Boston mounted like a rodeo champion, even as she nudged her horse into a run.

Several more bullets were fired before Katie and Decker caught up. “I can vouch for at least two men and one woman,” Katie said.

“I can vouch for the cooking fires being lit,” Elder Stow reported before he took up his position on the wing.

“Remind me to pay attention next time you have suspicions,” Lockhart told Katie, and they headed out across the grass at a speed the cannibals could not hope to match on foot.