Avalon 3.10: part 4 of 5, Battle Below

Everyone slept outdoors and eyed each other through most of the night. Lockhart set the standard two person, three hour watch, It was around four in the morning, when Lockhart and Roland were on duty, when Mingus chose to get up to spend a little time with his son, there came a disturbance in the Elamite camp. Men began to scream and run wild, tripping over one another in the dark, and possibly hurting each other. Some came toward Lockhart, but Lockhart raised his shotgun

Lockhart saw ghouls coming toward him. He looked quickly to his left and saw ghouls where the Sevarese were sleeping. He had been fooled before, so he closed his eyes. He pulled the trigger on his shotgun so the shot went over people’s heads, a loud roar to wake people up. Then he shouted at the top of his lungs. “Ghouls!”hadj ghouls 1

“Shut your eyes,” Hadj came running out of his tent and Alexis and Mingus shouted the same thing. “Shut your eyes. They can fool the eyes. Shut your eyes.”

“They are still some distance away,” Elder Stow shouted. “As long as I focus on the scanner,” Elder Stow said, before he felt it prudent to shut his eyes.

“They are at the edge of the trees,” Mingus said.

“Keep your eyes shut,” Lockhart yelled. He was having a hard time fighting the temptation to take a peek.

Suddenly, the Sevarese fighter lifted off from where it had landed, and it shot its main gun at the people sheltered up against the Marzalotipan ship. Elder Stow still had his portable screen active, and though it was only a small portable, it was advanced enough and strong enough to fend off blow after blow.

Decker dared to look. His vision was taken once and he was almost fooled a second time, but he understood the illusions cast by ghouls could be resisted with experience. He saw several outlines by the distant trees and opened fire. He struck two, but was not sure about the third when the pressure became too difficult and he closed his eyes.

hadj ghouls 5Alexis pulled her wand and sent a magical flare into the sky. It hung there and illuminated the whole area, and she could keep it up, even without looking.

Cody, the young Pendratti lost the battle to do his duty. He had his weapon out and thought only about protecting his commander. He fired even as the ghouls began to come out from the trees. Three more ghouls quickly turned to mush as Hadj and Mingus shouted together.

“Close your eyes. Get your eyes closed. Don’t look. Close your ears.”

“My eyes are closed,” Boston shouted. Cody closed his eyes as well, but let out a wail that made the humans shiver.

“The arrows are primed,” Mingus said. “There are three left. Do you see them?” Mingus touched Roland in the arm and then held his hand over Roland’s eyes. Roland and Mingus both closed their eyes, and Mingus thought to his son. “Use your mind, not your vision.”

hadj explosion“Ready,” Roland said, and he saw the three ghouls pass by the Elamite camp, what was left of it. Roland fired the first arrow, and it struck home. The second arrow hit perfectly as well, but as happened to Decker, the pressure began to build up in Roland’s mind. He had to close his eyes to fight it off, but a gun was fired from an unknown source, and the pressure left all at once.

Lincoln stood and looked around. “A ghoul can confuse many, but only control one person at a time.” He said what was true, but Mingus countered.

“We struck nine who may not all be dead until we have a chance to check. There is an hour yet before sunrise and there is still one out there.”

While Lockhart made sure the travelers were still in one piece, Hadj sent Ishitak, Anashk and Leahn around to check on the women and children in his own family group. Ibin el-Wadi came out of hiding and suggested they were at the back, against the ship, and there were others first between them and the ghouls.

“Sokar!” Hadj called out to the Elamites. “Sokar, are you still alive?” El-Wadi repeated Hadj’s words in hadj elamitethe Elamite tongue,   Hadj was reluctant to go see, but an answer came after a short while. Twelve Elamites staggered toward Hadj’s camp, carrying three more who would not live long. The rest of the thirty had all killed each other.

“What sort of nightmare did you bring upon us?” Sokar shouted like a man about to fall apart and desperate to hold back the tears. “The queen was right to proclaim you a danger and call for your head.”

“I told your queen I was married three times and not looking for another wife,” Hadj responded sharply. Sokar made no response as Lockhart, Lincoln and Decker stepped up beside Hadj, guns in hand and ready. Ishitak came and reported to her husband.

The tribe is safe and well,” she said. “But Jaral hit his sister once and she is crying. Anashk is comforting her.”

“That boy,” Hadj responded without explanation.

“Incoming,” Decker shouted and pointed. The Sevarese fighter, having failed to shoot through Elder Stow’s screen, was moving to crash into the group in a suicide run. Elder Stow’s portable screen, no matter how advanced in deign would not stop that, especially with the power source all but drained.

UFO battle 2“Beklissnashurishakash …” They heard the Sevarese commander mumbling into his communicator and a moment later, a streak of power shot out from the transport’s main gun. It clipped the fighter’s wing and the fighter began to spin out of control, pulling sharply to the left. People ducked as the fighter crashed into the trees and exploded, and it was a big explosion that sent a cloud and debris hundreds of feet into the air, lit up the whole area, and set all the trees on fire

“Sokar, close your mouth,” Lockhart said.

“I don’t understand,” Sokar shouted. “What is happening. What has happened to my men. My eyes and my mind do not make sense.” He fell silent again, and stared. at the fire.

“Hadj, Lockhart,” Alexis called from the place where Commander Slurpee was lying against the Marzalotipan ship.

“Lockhart, Hadj,” Roland called from the place where the Sevarese had been sleeping.

“Hadj,” Ishitak called from the tent. Hadj turned first to his wife.

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Not fun, knowing the ghouls are out there, watching, waiting for an opportunity to attack, and somewhere in the future there are a hundred, well, now more like sixty.  The tension in the camp remains alien to alien and human to human, and how will it play out?  Be sure to return for the final post tomorrow, same ghoul time, same ghoul blog … he, he, hee …

Avalon 3.10: part 3 of 5, Gathering Storm

It was an hour later, before the sun set, about thirty soldiers came out of the trees and stared at the ship and the party that was happening around the outside. Decker asked if Reglala had a Blueblood hand cannon handy, but he did not.

“Hadj of the Hjammad,” one of the soldiers shouted.

Hadj and Lockhart stood, Lockhart with his shotgun in hand, but Reglala spoke first.hadj elamites

“Welcome, friends. You know, I have some uniforms that would fit you well, for your people. My woman, Ouklee is a master with a needle to make them fit just right. The material is equally good, hot and cold weather. Come, Come,”

“Sokar,” Hadj got that much out before Sokar threw his hands up and yelled.

“What is this madness? Who are these creatures? “Who built this great building in the wilderness? What is going on?” He ran out of ideas to express in his dumbfounded mind what he was seeing, so he went silent while his men stared and milled about, unsure of what to do.

“He wants to know what the hell all this is,” Ibin el-Wadi stepped up and translated for Hadj. Of course, the travelers, and the elves heard it all as English, the Marzalotipan heard it in their own tongue through their translators, and the Pendratti the same, if they had their translators turned on.

“My grasp of the Elamite tongue is not very good,” Hadj admitted. “Lockhart, you explain it.” Lockhart looked at Hadj and realized he heard one language from Hadj and a very different language from Sokar. The Marzalotipan spoke a third language, and the Pendratti a fourth. It was easy when he heard it all in English, and his brain adjusted without thinking about it, depending on who he was talking to. But here, Hadj mingushe was asked to do that consciously, and he was not sure he could.

“Allow me,” Mingus stepped up, and Sokar’s eyes got especially big on sight of the elf, but he listened. “This ship is like a giant riverboat, but it flies on air instead of on water. These birdmen come from far away, but they are merchants, and very good ones. They will sell you your own shirt off your own back if you are not careful.” Several of the men listening snickered at the thought. “These lizard men are from far away in another direction, but their air ship crashed, like a riverboat that gets a hole on a rock. One is injured, but we are trying to help. Chief Hadj and his people you know, but the rest of us are from far in the future and have come back to these days by an act of the gods to see how the people lived in these times. We have seen too much war and people hurting each other, and some of the gods are not happy with the spilling of blood. Even these animal people are at war, and the lizard woman has been hurt because of it. I hope you have not come here to make more war. I cannot say what the gods will do if you have.”

“Yes,” Hadj said. “I cannot say what we will do either, and some of the gods will not be happy no matter what.” Hadj smiled and looked at Lockhart. “I always understand my little ones no matter what language they are actually speaking,” He explained and Lockhart nodded, like he knew that but had forgotten.

“And the ugly one?” Sokar pointed at Elder Stow who came close, reading something on his scanner.Srow 3

“He is of the ancient men who walked these mountains ages ago. His people laid the foundation stones of many places here, including Susa.”

“My father,” Elder Stow tried for Lockhart’s attention, but Decker interrupted.

“Incoming,” he shouted, and a Sevarese transport escorted by a single fighter came out of the setting sun and looked for a place to set down.

The Sevarese transport set down gently a hundred yards out while the fighter flew cover overhead. Sokar the Elamite sat down on the grass because he could not take it all in. Even as three Sevarese came from the transport, guns drawn and ready for action, and Alexis got Cody to put his gun down with the promise of protection, Mingus convinced the Elamites to set up camp for the night.   One of the Sevarese saw the movement and fired his weapon without permission. The shot stopped short, like it ran into a wall, and people jumped.

“Innocent people here,” Lockhart yelled.

“There is no fighting here,” Alexis also yelled.

Reglala shrieked. “By treaty with the Sevarese high council, anything you break, you pay for.”

UFO Birdman 7The leader of the three looked at the trigger-happy one and said, is essence, “one demerit.” He sent that one back to the ship while Hadj stepped up to converse with the newcomers.

“It is late,” he said. “You may rest here if you wish to keep one eye on the Pendratti, or in your ship as you prefer, but you come and talk to me in the morning about whether or not you may have prisoners. Listen well. You know this planet is off limits. If you behave yourselves in the night, we may talk. Misbehave, and your lives will be forfeit and your battle cruiser will be melted down and sold for scrap. This is not a threat. It is a promise.” Hadj turned his back and walked to his family group. The goats were roasting and would be done soon, and Leahn wanted some more of that bread stuff.

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Here ends part 1 of Episode 3.10.  The area appears to be filling up with antagonists, alien and human.  The travelers, as usual, are caught in the middle, but this time, maybe the Marzalotipan has something to relieve the headaches and stress.  Be sure and come back Monday and Tuesday for the conclusion of Avalon, episode 3.10 Battle Above

Avalon 3.10: Battle Above, part 1 of 5

After 2617 BC, the Zargos Mountains. Kairos lifetime 43: Hadj of the Hjammad

Recording …

“We don’t look like we have gone very far,” Boston complained.

“Fifty or sixty years, I would guess,” Roland responded.

“Lincoln?” Lockhart raised his voice.

“I’m coming to it,” Lincoln said. He had the database out and was staring at the screen.

“Mountains of some kind,” Alexis suggested.zis nature 3

“Well, it certainly isn’t the Syrian desert,” Lincoln said with a quick look around. “The only reference I can find here is Hadj went briefly to the Zagros Mountains in search of elephants.”

“See? I said we didn’t go far,” Boston said, having a reasonable grip on her geography.

“I do see,” Roland said. “And if we are headed for Susa and any of the Elamites we encountered fifty years ago are still alive—“

“—or their descendants,” Alexis interrupted. “We will have to tread lightly.”

“You might wish to get under cover,” Elder Stow shouted as he raced in from the perimeter. Decker saw and came in from the other side. Cover was not going to be easy to do. The trees were widely spaced, and while a person might hide among the rocks and bushes, hiding a horse would be more difficult.

Roland pulled Boston up beside a tree, and pointed up. “Sevarese fighters,” Roland said. There were four of them rushing in from the right, coming out of the afternoon sun. “Pendratti,” Roland pointed the other way where a small transport of some kind was being escorted by two fighter craft. “I recognize the markings.”

Boston nodded her head. “You are the hunter.” She reached out and touched his arm. He looked at her, and they were lost in each other for most of the battle.

UFO battle 4The two Pendratti fighters hovered around the transport like doting parents protecting their child. The Sevarese fighters split two and two in order to come at the transport from both sides. Suddenly, the transport shot straight up, and the fighters engaged. Great white and golden streaks from power weapons crossed the sky as the ships made impossible turns, dipped, bobbed, and wove a complex tapestry in the air. Several streaks of power hit the earth, and the earth and rocks exploded, once not far from Lincoln and Alexis.

Shortly, one Pendratti fighter caught fire in the wing and took a Sevarese fighter with it in a massive explosion. The other Sevarese fighter in that pair immediately shot up to engage the transport. Then the other Pendratti fighter looked finished, but both Sevarese fighters attacking it looked crippled. The Pendratti fighter fell and exploded about a half-mile away. One Sevarese ship started smoking and headed straight for home. The other stuck around long enough to watch.

Apparently, the Pendratti transport was not unarmed, but it lacked the speed and maneuverability. It tried to turn around and backtrack the way it had come, but the fighter got a good shot into the tail of the transport before the transport’s big gun caught and shattered the fighter. The last, damaged Sevarese fighter opted to return to base when it saw the transport was going down. It may have expected the transport to explode upon landing, but it appeared to pull its nose up and land after a fashion. It was doubtful anyone or anything could survive such a landing, but Lockhart said it would not hurt to see. The crash was about a mile off in the way they were headed.

The travelers started out, but only got about half-way to the crash when a massively big ship began to settle down for a landing near the same spot. It was Decker who identified the craft.UFO Marzilotipan 1

“Marzalotipan,” he said, referring to the scavenger-salesmen that were seeking to profit off the hostilities in this corner of the galaxy. The Marzalotipan ship shone its spotlight on the travelers, to which Decker added, “We’ve been seen.”

“And who else?” Katie asked, as the spotlight paused in two other distant places.

“Sort of like a call to come and shop, do you think?” Lincoln asked.

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Hadj had everyone hide as well as they could, but camels and mules were not naturally cooperative animals, and the goats and children were impossible. When the Marzalotipan spotlight singled out his group, he got everyone up to run.

“We’ve been spotted,” Hadj explained.

“How do they make such a big light, and in the daytime?” Leahn, Hadj’s third wife asked.

“They must have borrowed a piece of the Sun god, Utu,” Anashk, Leahn’s sister and Hadj’s second wife responded. “See the way they use the fire to make their mountain fly.” She pointed at the retro rockets helping the craft into a soft landing. Leahn nodded, even if she did not believe it.

Ishitak, Hadj’s first wife clapped her hands. “Sisters,” she said sharply. “Keep those mules moving. The Elamites are not far behind.”

“Chief,” Ibin el-Wadi brought his camel up alongside Hadj. “We are headed toward the flying mountain?” Hadj 1He asked, but he did not sound too happy about it.

Hadj looked back before answering. He wanted to be sure everyone was moving. They had four men, seven women, fifteen children ages six to sixteen, where fortunately the youngest girl, the six-year-old spent the last two years walking from Syria holding on to her mother’s dress. They had six camels, a dozen loaded down mules, and two dozen goats driven by the children. The goats started out only a dozen, but they kept breeding. They could not help it. Hadj was concerned that one of the women might become pregnant, perhaps one of his own wives. That would complicate things and make their travels difficult. but so far the women had been good.

“The light fell on three groups,” Hadj told el-Wadi. “We were second. I have no doubt the third light was Sokar and his Elamite warriors. The question is, what was the first?”

“That is the worry,” el-Wadi said. “Who could they be?”

Hadj smiled. “I figure they are either giants from the plateau, people from a mountain village, or possibly friends of mine. Let us ask the elder elf. What do you think, father Mingus?”Hadj visit

Mingus was riding his horse, quite well, and frowned at the designation father Mingus. “It is my son and that strange red headed Mary Riley who used to be an annoying human and now has become an annoying elf. What a terrible thing to do to my people, by the way. And it is my daughter, and probably her moron husband. I suspect Lockhart, the marines Katie and Decker, and that ticking time bomb Gott-Druk are with them.”

“There you go,” Hadj said to el-Wadi. “We are headed toward friends.”

Ibin el-Wadi nodded before he objected. “But you haven’t explained why we are headed toward the flying mountain when common sense says run away as fast as your camel can run.”

Hadj laughed.

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Be sure and return tomorrow for the second post in Avalon, episode 3.10 Gathering Friends