Avalon 3.6 part 3 of 5, Prisoners of the Balok

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Balok,” Boston nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fed?” Lincoln had to ask.

“Us,” Mehabbi confirmed.

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

###

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I remember,” Decker said.

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

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

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

Avalon 3.6 part 2 of 5, Separated

It took an hour and a half to reach the river crossing, and Decker at least was not surprised to see twenty men there with spears. No one was surprised when Sinab got carefully down from Cortez’ back and went over to join the men, a big grin plastered across his face. Obviously, they were his men, no doubt the ordinary thieves he was talking about.

“An interesting experience,” he said. “I should like to have those beasts for my men, and Kay-tee for myself.” The men began to spread out to encircle the group. “I am thinking your beasts can go faster than we have gone, faster than camels, maybe. With such beasts, I could do so much more.”

Lockhart slid from his horse with a look at Katie. “My turn,” he said. He had his shotgun. Katie and Decker pulled their rifles and Roland held Boston’s Beretta. As usual, Elder Stow appeared to be fiddling with some piece of equipment. “Do you have a champion, of should I just kill you,” he said to Sinab. Lockhart stood, an imposing six feet, as near to a giant as a human in that age could get.Etana warrior

Sinab frowned and waved to a man who was nearly as big. The man held a long spear and grinned, like he thought this might be too easy. Lockhart basted a slug into the man’s leg, and the man went straight to the dirt, moaning and crying like his leg might come off.

“Next,” Lockhart said, and all of the men turned to run. They stopped suddenly when they appeared to run into an invisible wall.

“Like the sphere I have placed around the camp on several occasions,” Elder Stow said. “But a small area. They will not go anywhere until I turn it off or we move out of range.”

“A few minutes earlier to keep them out would have been nice,” Katie mumbled. Then as Lockhart mounted and they started across the river, Katie could not help speaking up. “If Boston and Alexis were here, they would be yelling at you for acting like Decker.” Lockhart made no response, so she looked at Decker, but he seemed like he had no trouble with what Lockhart did.

###

Boston, Alexis and Lincoln all had their hands tied behind their back with a strong rope. Their feet were left free to walk, and the spears the men carried made it clear they had to walk and keep on walking until told to stop. The men made no indication about where they were going, or why. Boston suspected the men were slave traders, and she was imagining what she would do to avoid being sold into some harem. Lincoln supposed they were drug dealers and would hold them hostage for a big ransom. He dealt with those sorts of men back when he worked with the CIA, before he came to work for the Men in Black and met Alexis. Alexis did not imagine much more than whatever these men wanted, it would not be good for her, Benjamin and Boston. She thought to speak, and kept her words in English so the men would not understand.

Etana captives“I think I can get my hands free by magic,” she said. “We just need to wait for an opportune time.”

“I was just thinking the same thing,” Boston said. “Why don’t we try right now?”

“Nowhere to go,” Lincoln said. “We get loose now and they just chase us and catch us. Then they tie us up again, or kill us if they think we are too much trouble.”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that,” Boston admitted. “I’m still too new at this magic business.”

“You still find it exciting,” Alexis said. “You need to see that it is just a natural part of you, like breathing. You need to let it be normal for you.”

“Yeah, but wow. I never imagined doing magic.”

“Hush,” Lincoln interrupted. “Looks like we are headed toward that hole in the hill. My guess is their base is underground. Now listen. Elder Stow has probably zeroed in on us with his scanner, but if not, I am sure Roland is tracking us, and probably telling everyone to hurry. And on horseback, they should find us soon enough, so let’s not do anything stupid before the cavalry gets here.”

“So we wait and do stupid things after they get here?” Alexis asked.

“I was just thinking the same thing,” Boston said.

###

“You’re right,” Lockhart admitted. “I’m just worried, and I didn’t think we had time to talk sense into a grassland cliff 2bunch of highway robbers.” Katie did not buy it, so he tried again. “It’s just that I spent those years on the police force and saw thieves get away with murder. I guess I couldn’t help myself.” Katie shook her head, no. “You’re right. I was wrong. I’m sorry,” Lockhart said and dropped the subject.

“I’ve lost them,” Elder Stow said, suddenly. “They were clearly there, and then they were gone.” He lifted his eyes to look around as if they might pop up in the distance.

“This way,” Roland pointed. His hunter senses were working overtime.

“I can take us to where they were last.” Elder Stow shook his scanner as if that might help.

###

The underground cavern was massive. It felt bigger than the hill they were under, or at least the roof of the cavern had to be very thin. The men left their spears at the entrance and came to the center where a stone altar stood in front of a massive stone statue of a snake. The snake had red eye. Both Boston and Alexis imagined they were rubies. Lincoln imagined something more like cameras, like overhead in the pharmacy where the red light indicated they were working. The men all knelt before the idol while a man in the distance droned in a strange chant that made no sense. Boston thought she might get away with a whisper.

“I’m not going first,” she said before Lincoln hushed her.

Etana serpent statue“Listen,”

They heard the faint sound of retro rockets overhead. Everyone quieted, the droning chant stopped, and they heard a thump. Some dirt broke loose from the ceiling and fluttered to the floor.

The men looked up, briefly, got off their knees and dragged off their prisoners. One man slapped Boston, and growled at her. Boston let the fire come up into her eyes, but the man had already looked away.

Avalon 3.6: Down Below, part 1 of 5

After 2855 BC in Sumeria. Kairos lifetime 39: Etana, King of Kish

Recording …

Men swept through the camp and grabbed Boston, Alexis and Lincoln. Boston complained. “Get your hands off me!” but it did her no good. Alexis stayed calm, but found her magic ineffective, and Lincoln had no weapon at hand to fight back. The men had weapons, and looked more than willing to use them. Boston, Alexis and Lincoln were dragged off, and by the time Roland got back from the hunt, the camp was empty.

“Boston!” Roland called, but there was no answer.

Major Decker and Elder Stow came in from up and down river where they had been out looking for an easy way across the deep and wide river on whose bank they camped. They found Roland pacing off his worry.Euphrates 3

“Eight men,” Roland the hunter concluded. “They came down here to the river where the trail stops.”

“A river boat,” Decker decided and sat to close his eyes and let his eagle spirit—his totem fly up and down the river in search of such a boat. Elder Stow got out his scanner which was still tuned to Lincoln, Boston and Alexis, and he scanned the area and across the river for some trace of their life signs.

Roland held his tongue to avoid cursing whoever those men might be. He set himself to cut up the deer and to cook and preserve what he could for the afternoon and the next day.

###

When the evening of the previous day came, the travelers avoided a village only to find their way blocked by the great river that Lincoln surmised was a tributary of the Euphrates. They camped late, and in the morning went out in search of information about where they might safely cross the river.   Elder Stow went south, Decker headed north, Roland went to hunt, and Katie and Lockhart changed their fairy weave clothing to imitate the farm clothing they had seen. They walked back to the village, knowing their horses would cause too great a stir.

Katie and Lockhart found the villagers very helpful in describing a place that Lockhart figured was about three miles downriver. The river broadened out, with an island in the middle, and became shallow enough, to drive an ox cart across. That was where the villagers crossed over with their goods to trade in the market of Kish.

“A Sumerian city,” Katie whispered to Lockhart in English.

“I wonder if Beltain’s people settled there,” Lockhart said.

“That, or she went further down in the Tigris-Euphrates valley to Nippur, Ur or Eridu, or one of the others.”

“But you must beware.” The elderly man in the public house looked very serious. “It would not be safe to go alone, just the two of you. People who have gone to the crossing alone or in small groups have disappeared.”

euphrates fight 1“What do you mean?” Katie asked.

The man leaned forward and whispered. “The serpent cult. They kidnap strangers and the unwary and take them off to their great underground temple and sacrifice them to their strange serpent gods. They say the altar is made of pure gold. They say the statue has eyes of fire, and they are always watching. They say when the idol finds one unworthy, fire comes from the eyes and the person burns to ash. They say there is a great crack in the earth in that place, and the fire in the earth runs red down below, and one day the serpent gods will send their servant, the great worm, up to the world to burn all the world in flames and smoke.”

“Old man,” a young man interrupted.   “Why do you frighten these people with tales old women tell to frighten the children? Let them enjoy their grain.” He turned to the couple. Indeed, he could hardly take his eyes off Katie. It made Katie uncomfortable, but Lockhart thought nothing of it. He thought she was beautiful, too. “You are from the north?”

Lockhart glanced at Katie and nodded. “I have never been this far from my home before. We are weavers, and I was taking cloth to Nippur, to trade, but we were set upon by thieves and lost everything. Now we are heading home by a different road to escape the thieves, but I do not know the way across the river.”

“Ah,” the young man nodded, knowingly. “We have ordinary thieves around here as well. Only the old women and old men are not content with ordinary tales. They make up tales of serpent gods and eagle gods fighting in the sky. Do not listen to such things. They see things that are not there, I think, too many years of Utu the sun shining on their head has addled their thinking.”

“Thieves around here?” Lockhart asked, but only because he could not see anything in the village worth stealing.

The young man nodded. “But they stay by the river, looking for people who would bring grain and goods to market. That is why it would not be safe for you to travel the river alone, just the two of you.”

Lockhart glanced at Katie again and made a command decision. “We are not alone. Our people are camped by the river. We came to your village to find the way across.”

“Ah,” the young man nodded again. “I did not think you were alone.” He paused to think before he spoke again. “I have been thinking to visit my brother in Kish. Perhaps I could guide your people to the crossing.”

Katie shook her head, no, but Lockhart was already agreeing. “That would be very helpful,” he said. “My name is Lockhart and this is Katie.”

“I am Sinab, and I have but one question.” Sinab paused again and let his eyes rest on Katie. “I have never seen hair the color of the sun and the sand. Are there may such people in the north who share this color?”Katie 4

Lockhart and Katie looked at each other again. They were trying not to attract attention, but Katie’s blonde locks were never considered. “Some,” Katie said softly, and she stood, so the men stood as well. As they walked to the door, the old man spoke again.

“Beware the serpent people.”

Sinab grinned and brushed him off as they went out. They all stopped and stared as Decker, the African-American, Roland the elf, and Elder Stow the Neanderthal on Misty Gray came riding into town, the other horses trailing behind.

“Lockhart,” Roland raised his voice. “Boston, Lincoln and Alexis have been kidnapped. They crossed the river and are being taken to some hills, but time is short.”

“Sinab knows the way to the river crossing,” Lockhart said, and he forced the man to get up on Lincoln’s horse, Cortez. Katie took the reigns. Roland held the reigns to Honey, Boston’s horse, and they set right out, but they could not move fast.

The old man watched and wondered how these big donkey people might do against the eagle people and the serpent people, and whose side they might be on.