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 2.11: Deep Underground

            There are children underground, frightened children buried deep, with only ghouls to guard them and keep them company.  Outside there are fathers and travelers determined to set them free.  It would be a fool’s errand to enter that dark warren of underground passages and caverns blindly, but even underground the travelers have power and resources to help.

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            When the company of men arrived in the city of Abydos, they found most of the houses closed up and the people afraid to come out.  There were only a few priests who had the courage to face the group.  They stepped up to Decker because he was out front with Elder Stow, leading the way.  They bowed deeply to the Gott-Druk and called him “Elder” before they turned to speak to Captain Decker.

            “Nubian,” The priest called him.  “Now that you have driven out the army of Lord Seth, we are constrained to ask how we may serve you.”  Several of the priests looked to the dock on the river where three boats were headed out into the current.

            “A couple of RPGs would finish the job,” Decker said.

            “Lincoln,’ Elder Stow called.

            “Me?”  Lincoln stepped up, pushed in part by his wife, Alexis.

            “You are in charge after Lockhart,” Captain Decker reminded him.

            “Oh, yeah.”  Lincoln stepped up to the priest.  “We are only here for the children.  These men you see are their fathers.”

            “And maybe kill a few Ghouls in the process,” Captain Decker added.

            “You are priests?” Alexis asked.

            “We serve Osiris in the land of the dead,” the priest responded with a bow of his head.

            “Very good,” Lincoln said.  “Allow us to collect the children and we will be on our way.”

            The Priest bowed again.  “This way,” he said, and he took them to what looked like a solid wall in the ridge beside the city. 

            “The entrance is here,” Elder stow said, “Though it does not appear that way.”

            Roland stepped up and examined the wall.  He slipped his hand through it.  “An illusion.”

            “And probably guarded,” Decker said.  He stepped in front of the illusion and fired a whole clip into the cave before he, Lincoln and Roland ran in.  They found two green smudges on the floor that had once been ghouls.  Outside, Alexis took Boston’s hand for the additional magic and waved her wand over the entrance.  The illusion dissipated and the Priests looked as impressed as the men who followed.

            “Slow and careful,” Lincoln said.  “No point in staying quiet.”  He stared at Decker who did not flinch.  As far as he was concerned, he was doing his job of delivering everyone back to the twenty-first century, alive.  Lincoln continued and raised his voice.  “No running ahead.  There are probably traps.  There are eight more ghouls as well.”  He looked at Elder Stow.  “I don’t suppose you can pinpoint their position.” 

            Elder Stow shook his head, but he projected a holograph showing the inside of the caves in all their twists and turns.  “The children are captive here,” he pointed to a large chamber not far from the surface.  The map lit up yellow in that place.  “The obvious route is this.”  He lit up the direct route in green.  “My counsel is to leave men here to hold the entrance and journey this way.”  An orange route lit up that was a bit longer, but went around two chambers where he and Decker agreed there would likely be the most resistance.

            “Dungeons and Dragons,” Boston quipped.

            “Labyrinth,” Alexis countered.

            “That is the plan,” Lincoln agreed, and he and Decker spent the next few minutes dividing the men and finding places where they could hide.  The rest of the men followed the group down Elder’s Stow’s route.  They tried to keep quiet, but that was not really possible.  They did well at first, but half-way there was a flash of white light and another green smudge, which meant the ghouls knew the way they were headed.

            “Divide,” Lincoln looked quickly at Elder Stow’s map.  “The main body continue on here and expect resistance.  Captain Decker, take Alexis, Boston and Roland through this narrow cut-off.  With luck, you should reach the children with no trouble.”

            “Except for the guards where the children are,” Decker registered his protest, but agreed.  He asked Roland if he wanted to lead.  Roland shook his head.

            “I could lead you perfectly through a labyrinth of trees, but underground.”  He shrugged.

            “Alright.  Women in the middle,” and they literally squeezed through the narrow places.  Once they were in a position to look down on the children, they found three ghouls hovering around the children where they could not be easily taken out simultaneously without risking injury to a child.  Roland and Captain Decker appeared stymied until Alexis made a suggestion.

            “Why don’t we pull a ghoul?’ she asked.  The others did not understand until she grabbed Boston’s hand and had Roland take Boston’s other hand to add their magic once more to hers.  Suddenly there were sounds down the far corridor.  It was gunshots and the sound of men screaming. 

            The ghouls were all attracted to the sound.  They got up and all went to the door where they looked to take up defensive positions, but of course their backs were wide open to the room.  Dekcer opened up his weapon and sprayed the walls.  The children screamed.  The Ghouls screamed at a much higher pitch.  It sounded like steam escaping from a small break in a pipe, but soon there were three more green smudges on the ground where the Ghouls used to be.  When they tumbled through that last opening into the chamber that held the children, they were mobbed by crying kids.  Maybe they did not know who these people were, but they were human.

            “Nidjau?” Alexis called out and a boy, maybe four came toddling up.  “Your brother Emotep?”  The boy nodded and Alexis waded through the children to hug him.  “We came with him to save you,” she said, and he cried on her shoulder as she hugged him.

            Captain Decker backed away from one opening as Lincoln and Elder Stow came in.  They had heard the gunfire echoing through the corridors, but it was distant and they had no idea what was happening.  Alexis was worried, but when Lincoln came in he reached around Nidjau to hug his wife.

            Roland kept watch on the other opening, the one that lead deeper into the caves while Boston corralled the children.  She clapped her hands in good teacher fashion and yelled, “Children.  Follow your fathers.  You can hug when we get back to the surface.”  They began to move.  Of course, fathers and children sought each other out all the way back to the surface, but that was to be expected.  As long as their feet kept moving.

            “How many did you get?” Lincoln asked Decker once they were free of the cave.

            “Three,” Decker admitted.

            “And we got three with only three casualties.”  The men who were carrying the bodies back to the surface passed by.  The priests of Osiris who were still standing there, watching and waiting, took the dead for the proper rituals.  Lincoln finished his thought.  “That means there is still one more down there.”

            “Or out there,” Decker nodded. 

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Avalon 2.11:  Deeper Underground … Next Time

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Avalon 2.11: Battle

            Some say getting there is half the battle, but it is usually mouthed by ones who have never been in battle.

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            There was a ridge in front of them, about a quarter mile away.  The city proper was off to their left, closer to the river.  Straight ahead there were only a few houses, and Elder Stow assured them they were empty.  He let his feet float to the ground as he studied his instrument.  He adjusted something several times and at last made his pronouncement.

            “The children are in a cave beneath the ridge.  There is something else there as well.  Ghouls, I believe.”

            “Great!” Lincoln said.  Alexis took his arm and smiled for him. 

            “I was wondering why we haven’t seen them,” Decker said as there was some movement at the base of the ridge.

            “Soldiers, sir.”  Katie Harper took a long look through her binoculars before she handed hers to Lockhart. 

            “Dismount,” Lockhart commanded.  “Boys, take the horses to the rear.”  He and the others got their guns and prepared for battle.

            “Lieutenant Harper,” Decker called.

            “I have the flank by the river,” she said before he could say it.  She carried her semi-automatic to the far side.  He stayed on the other end.  Lockhart, with his police pistol and shotgun took the center with the Gott-Druk.  Lincoln and Alexis stood between him and Decker while Roland and Boston  were on his other side beside Katie.  Alexis and Boston pulled their wands, Boston having handed her Beretta to Roland, and they waited.

            “Emotep, keep the men back,” Katie ordered as she checked her weapon.

            Emotep got up on a horse.  “Can I have your attention,” he said, and about half the men looked up  at him.  Emotep called for the armor of the Kairos and it appeared instantly around him and adjusted automatically to his shape and size.  A number of the men gasped, but Emotep spoke as loud and clear as he could.  “Stay here until called.  Do not run out to attack because you will probably be killed by accident.  Wait until it is your turn.”  He did not know how else to say it.  He got down from the horse.

            “Wow.  I love your outfit,” Sakhmet stared at him, her mouth about ready to drool.

            “Awesome,” Ka said.

            “Not fair.  I am the eldest,” Aha-Aa said.

            Sakhmet reached out to touch his sword, but Emotep pulled back.  “Hey!” he said in imitation of her.  “That is mine.  You get your own.”  He winked at her.  “Seriously.  Keep these men here until they are needed so they don’t all just get themselves killed. He stepped up beside Lockhart who did not bat an eye at his presence and in fact asked a question.

            “You don’t dance do you?”

            “I don’t think so,” Emotep said.

            “Good.”

            The enemy charged across that hot, dry land.  That alone suggested that this whole war and fighting business was rather new.  The men would be worn and sweating by the time they arrived, but then there were roughly a hundred of them.

            “Remember the children,” Alexis shouted.

            “This is for the innocent ones,” Boston echoed  The travelers would avoid killing wherever possible.  None of them liked the idea, but in this case there was no choice and it was easy to justify.

            “Wait for it,” Decker shouted.  Everyone waited, but to be sure, a hundred men charging right at them, to kill them, waving their spears and copper weapons, screaming death got a lot closer than several might have liked.

            “Fire.”

            Men fell  in a line that never seemed to get any closer.  The noise alone frightened everyone.  And  when Boston stepped forward and something akin to a flamethrower came from her wand, the enemy charge broke and they ran for their lives.  Lockhart stopped firing right away, but he had to yell at Decker to get him to stop.

            Even as the men turned to run, something like a lightning bolt came out from the ridge top.  It struck the screens Elder Stow had put up without mentioning it.  Most of the magic was neutralized, but some of it broke through, slanted, like light through a prism.  It struck the ground and exploded in front of Katie.  She was knocked off her feet, not injured, but shaken up.

            Elder Stow pulled a weapon the others had not seen before.  A streak of white light crossed the field and struck a screen of some kind on the ridge.  Most of the weapon charge was deflected or absorbed by that screen as well, but enough got through to shatter several boulders there. 

            The lightning from the ridge came a second time, and this time more of it broke through the barrier.  Everyone ducked, but Elder Stow was knocked off his feet and had to shake his head several times to clear it.

            Boston got angry.  She grabbed Roland’s hand who understood and grabbed his sister’s hand to add her magic to the mix.  With their three strengths in magic combined, Boston let loose a fireball that streaked across the field and would not be stopped by any barrier.  The ridge below the top caught fire and spread like a napalm strike.  Whole sections collapsed and left a smoking ruin.  There was no third lightning strike from the ridge.

            Emotep in his armor stepped out.  “Stay here,” he shouted, and began to jog across the field.

            Lockhart shouted.  “Elder Stow, identify the opening to the cave with the children.  Decker, lead the assault on the ghouls to set the children free.  Katie, can you jog?”  Katie nodded.  “Let’s go.  Boys, stay with the horses.”  He took Katie’s hand while she shifted her rifle to her shoulder and they ran to catch up with Emotep.

            Decker stepped to where he could shout at the locals who were all bunched up and for the most part frightened to near madness.  “Men.”  Decker raised his voice as loud as he could.  “We are going to get your children, but for your own safety you need to follow orders and do what you are told.  No charging ahead.  Wait until the way is clear.”  He decided not to say anything about the ghouls, but he did add a thought.  “Any who choose to stay with the boys and watch over the horses is fine.  No one will blame you.”  He turned to Elder Stow.  Roland was right there as well.

            “There is a cave opening at the end of the ridge where the city begins.  The way appears open.  I was afraid our salvos on the ridge might collapse the cave, but there, it is at the other end.”

            Decker did not look back.  He began to walk, Roland and Boston beside him.  Elder Stow floated after a moment, but kept his eyes on his instruments.  Alexis started and Lincoln came beside her.

            “We don’t need to go, you know.”

            “But some of the children might be hurt,” Alexis said.  “But you can stay here if you want.”

            Lincoln shook his head.  “Someone has to watch over you and keep you safe.”   Alexis smiled, took his hand and leaned her head against his shoulder as they walked.

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Avalon 2.11:  Confrontation … Next Time

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