“I don’t see them,” Lincoln said, referring to the caravan that should have been on the road drawing the attention of the ghouls.
“We just have to go with it,” Lockhart decided what everyone knew.
The marines, Katie and Decker, took the center with their special issue rifles. Lincoln, with his pistol, backed them up where he could also keep an eye on the horses. Eder Stow went out on one wing to get a different angle on the ghouls. Lockhart took the other wing, and pulled his police revolver as well as his shotgun. He might need the shotgun if they got close enough, but he hoped they would not get so close.
“If they get close, defend yourself,” Lockhart instructed the crew. He patted the Patton saber he wore at his side. They all carried one, except Elder Stow who had a good charge in is hand weapon. “But don’t attack since you can’t be sure who it is you are seeing.”
Lockhart wished they had time to practice with the sabers, like about six months to a year, but he figured they had a sharp point and side with which they could slice and stab, and to be sure, not much else was needed.
When they were in position, Lockhart picked up his pistol and waved. They all had their first targets picked out. If they could take out five before the ghouls responded, the rest would amount to one on one. Still not good odds with seven or eight foot ghouls, but better than if they had been ambushed. Thus far, Lockhart had seen no ghoul weapons other than the wicked looking knife they carried.
Lockhart waved, and the gunfire was ragged, here and there, but ghouls fell, and two fell quickly when Elder Stow turned his weapon on the enemy. Elder Stow’s hand weapon all but vaporized the enemy.
Then it started. Katie, Decker and Lincoln all shouted and put their hands up to their heads. Lincoln and Katie turned around to look on the horses that stomped nervously behind them. Decker fought it. He had ghouls in his mind before, and as he had been told, they were having less and less affect on him, like he was slowly building an immunity. Eder Stow down the way, used his anti-gravity belt to float up about ten feet to where he could look down on the enemy. He thought he would fire again as soon as he saw an enemy, but the ghouls appeared to go invisible. Whether they did or whether it was part of the illusion they were casting, Elder Stow could not say.
As far as he could tell, Lockhart remained free of ghoul influence. He saw four of them moving down below and figured the fifth went to ground, which meant it became insubstantial and sank into the earth to come out later, probably after dark, to track them and send mental messages of their movements to the main body of ghouls in whatever time zone that might be located. That was not good, but he could not worry about that just yet.
Lockhart grabbed his shotgun and headed back toward the others, even as Decker sprayed a bush with bullets. A ghoul shouted and fell. Decker was thinking. The ghouls were still down below the little rocks they were on, and though invisible, they were rather clumsy. Any movement of bushes other than by the wind indicated the enemy in his mind.
“I’m free,” Katie said after a shake of her head.
“Decker and Lincoln, keep your eyes closed,” Lockhart commanded even as the two ghouls out front topped the rocks. One went for Lincoln. The other went for Katie who drew both her sword and pistol.
The invisible ghoul took a swipe at Katie, who being an elect had the fine tuned senses to move and respond. Her sword slashed through the air, and cut something. Lincoln yelled. Lockhart shouted as he raised his shotgun.
“Katie, move out of the way.” He was afraid if he fired where he thought the ghoul was, and missed, he might hit Katie. She did not hesitate to back away from her invisible assailant, but she kept an eye on the purple blood that became visible as it dripped from the creature.
Lincoln yelled again and got knocked down. He tried to back up on his seat, but something big was right there. Lockhart fired, and they heard the ghoul squeal in pain. It could not maintain its invisibility, and Lockhart finished it with another slug as soon as he could see it.
Katie fired some six or seven shots from her pistol at the point of dripping blood. The ghoul, which had been ready to charge her, fell to its knees and also became visible. Lockhart finished that one as well before he went to check on Lincoln. Lincoln had wisely hardened and layered his fairy weave to approximate Kevlar, like in a bullet proof vest. The result was his fairy weave got shredded, and he had a couple of scratches, but nothing more.
“Still one or two out there,” Decker got their attention as he flipped to his back, pulled his wicked army knife, and reached up to grab an invisible hand which no doubt held an invisible knife. Suddenly, Decker stopped moving.
A young man appeared out of nowhere. The ghoul also appeared, hovering over Decker and equally unmoving. Lincoln, Lockhart and Katie were reaching the point where they could tell one of the gods just by the feeling in the air. They said nothing and waited for the young god to speak.
“I am half tempted to let the marine finish the fight,” he said with a look over his shoulder and a grin. “The ghoul has all the size, strength, weight, and everything, but I bet the marine would win.”
“No bet,” Lockhart said.
“Tien,” Katie named the young god, who nodded, as Lincoln looked toward his horse where the database was carefully put away.
“Mother Lin sent me,” he said, and another ghoul appeared beside him, also unmoving. “I see you had things well in hand, but I agreed to come because these ghouls do not belong here. You don’t either, by the way, but at least you will be moving on. These ghouls, though, don’t seem to get the message. I’m sorry to say I don’t know where the main tribe is. Some future time zone, I suppose.”
“Something to look forward to,” Elder Stow said as he floated up to stand beside the others.
Tien made no direct response. “This one went to ground, as Lockhart guessed. Now, he won’t be following you to bother you.” He touched the ghoul and it melted to a small green and purple smudge on the ground which would wash away in the first good rain. The one hovering over Decker joined his fellow in death by melting. “All’s well as ends well,” Tien concluded, before he explained. “Mother Lin says I shouldn’t go around quoting Shakespeare, but she leaks the future. She can’t help it. Most times, the Kairos leaks something or other, usually from the twentieth or twenty-first centuries, some times from the days of Alexander the Great or around two hundred BC when Greece was a mess and Rome was still a republic.
“Mother Lin?” Katie asked, as they vanished from the rocks and found themselves and their horses transported instantly to within a few hundred yards of the army camp.
“Better not to show up right in the middle of everybody. They wouldn’t be surprised to see me appear out of nowhere, but to be honest, you folks are a little strange,” Tien said as an aside before he answered Katie. “Well, it wouldn’t do to call her father.”
“I see,” Katie nodded, and to Lockhart she said, “The Nameless god of Aesgard is his father, another life of the Kairos,” in case Lockhart forgot who Tien’s father was.