Avalon 3.5: part 5 of 5, Darkness Overhead

“I set the screen to the dimensions of the building,” Tara said. Three arms of zombies that were trying to reach in through the narrow windows were sliced off. They still tried to reach, grab and scratch whatever they could, but Elder Stow, who was back down from the rafters with Boston, used his own weapon to turn the arms on the dirt floor to dust.

Tara moved the knob to push the particle screen ten feet out from the edge of the building after checking the compensator to be sure the earth was not shoved out from beneath the building. The screen pushed the zombies back from the wall and the giant zombie back from the door, and the people could breathe a moment of relief.

“But I don’t imagine whoever is doing this will let the equipment continue to work for long,” Roland said.

“Someone is doing this?” Boston asked.Djin sky 1

“Of course,” Tara said. “I saw the dark in the sky.”

“No.” Katie and Alexis breathed as Alexis stepped over to where they were holding down Lord Veregoth. She was going to put him to sleep.

“The Djin?” Lockhart asked through his short breath. His arms were getting tired holding down the giant’s head.

“A big, bad genii,” one of the dwarfs said. “Bangles,” he tipped his hat.

“Blinker.” The other dwarf tipped his hat.

“Good to meet you,” Boston said, and then caused gasps from the dwarfs when she went to kiss Roland.

“Something helped me,” Alexis admitted as Veregoth went to sleep and Decker got off the giant’s chest. “It seems the Djin isn’t the only power around.”

“Probably why this equipment is working,” Tara added with a look at Elder Stow.

“Movement outside,” Katie said from the nearest window, and everyone squeezed in to look “Sky is clearing,” she added. A moment later, all the zombies collapsed. Tara was back on the floor with her eye closed. She reported what she saw.

The titan, Bhukampa was coming. “Brihaspabbi did something right for a change. I don’t know if he reported to the Brahmin, but he fetched the titan.”

“Brihaspabbi?” several people asked.

“Her husband,” Baga said.

“Separated,” Mitra added.

titan 1“Hoth!” They all heard the roar. It was deeper and more penetrating than Veregoth’s roar. As Boston said, it echoed down to the toes. Veregoth was coming around and Visana moaned before they all found themselves outside at the feet of a person who stood thirty feet tall and did not look happy. There was a twelve foot giant at the titan’s feet, and he fell to his knees.

“Father. Forgive me. We were caught unaware.” Hoth was making excuses.

The titan leaned down and stretched out a hand toward the travelers. His unhappy expression turned to anger. “Fool,” he said and slapped Hoth who flew through the air and crashed into a wall of the Great Hall. Hoth collapsed, but by then Veregoth was on his knees with his eyes downcast. “You were told these were under a hedge of the gods. Will you bring the gods here to take our land?”

“Lord. They claim to be from the future, but that doesn’t make sense.” Veregoth was shaking. “I thought they were telling lies.”

“Did the woman confirm this?”

Lord Veregoth paused. “I thought she started the lie to deprive us of good workers.”

“The woman does not lie. And you do not lie well, fool.” The titan Bhukampa stepped on Veregoth like a man might step on a mouse. They all heard the bones crushed under the titan’s heel. Then a simple wave of the titan’s hand and Veregoth made a new grave on the giant’s hillside. In fact, all the zombies, human and giant alike returned to their final resting place.

“What happened?” Young Lord Visana was coming around and shaking his head, like he was trying to clean out the cobwebs.

old giant 2“You were possessed by the Djin who made you capture these people and then brought the dead back to life,” Tara said.

“No. Not possible. My mind is too strong to be possessed as you say.”

“The woman does not lie,” Hoth said as he staggered up to fall again to his knees before the titan.

“Hoth. You were told to get rid of the woman.”

“Seven times we drove her away, and seven times she returned. You forbade us from harming her in any way.” Hoth clearly tried for naked honesty. “She speaks for all the slaves, human and spirit, and keeps the work progressing. Shall we drive her out an eighth time?”

The titan did not answer. “You will let these future people go with their horses and all of their things. I do not one future thing stolen or left behind. Is that clear? I will not have a slit of an opening where the gods may come up into this place, and by capturing these people, you have made a door with an open invitation.” The titan shifted his eyes to glare at Tara. “Woman. What do you have to say?”

Tara looked straight up into those eyes ad raised her voice. “Let my people go,” she said.

“I will think on this,” the titan responded, wheeled around and walked off briskly.Tara 1

Tara took a deep breath, but Alexis and Katie were both there to hold her up. “He scares me to no end,” Tara said.

“Me too,” Katie agreed.

“Lincoln too,” Alexis said with a grin, and the women laughed.

“You heard Lord Bhukampa.” Hoth yelled. “Get your things and go.”

###

The travelers were not far down the trail when they saw a man in rags approach. They planned to warn him about the giants, but before he joined them, Boston, who was out front as usual, slipped off Honey’s back and began to vomit.

“She has a fever,” Roland cried out, but Alexis was already down and running to help.

Decker and Elder Stow came in from the wings while Katie ran to the front. Lockhart and Lincoln grabbed the horses, not that there was anything more than scrub grass to tempt them.

“I don’t know what it is,” Alexis said, a touch of panic in her voice. “She is fading, but my senses are not picking up anything I recognize.”

“Did the zombies touch her,” Lincoln called out. “Did they bite her or scratch her?”

“Why should it be like those old movies?” Alexis asked.

“The Djin probably got the idea from one of our minds,” Roland said.

Elder Stow came to his feet. “She did receive a small scratch on her leg when she shoved the zombie off the roof.” Roland examined Boston’s leg and saw the scratch that looked like it barely bled.

“But I don’t know how to fix that.” The panic was now evident in Alexis’ voice.

“Here. Allow me.” The ragged man from the road had caught up with them. Suddenly, they all recognized him.

“Varuna.” Katie was the one who said it.

varuna on the roadVaruna took Boston’s hand and she opened her eyes, all cured, smiling, and even the cut on her leg disappeared. Alexis squinted and called Varuna by another name.

“Baga,” she said. “You are Varun, and Mithras is your brother, I bet.”

“Tara does not know. No one knows,” Varuna said, and he answered the questions that were on several minds even without them being asked. “Tara is a seer of the Shemsu. She sees in her minds eye if any Agdline come to earth. She knows the Agdaline sacred symbols, knows how to construct them and where to plant them. She needs to bring her people into the Indus valley, but is prevented.   Meanwhile, we are using her talent to keep a watch on the gods in the north. And we are watching over her.”

“You were the power that made Elder Stow’s equipment work,” Katie put it together.

Varuna nodded and continued. “Tara’s husband, Brihaspati works for the Brahmin up in what you would call Afghanistan. The Brahmin also has his eyes on the Indus valley, but that would mean war among the gods. Dayus is fool enough to let that happen.” I hate deceiving Tara, but I must find a way to prevent war at all costs. Tara bringing her Shemsu people into the valley would at least delay things. I don’t know if war may be prevented, but I will not bring the Kairos into the picture if I can help it.”

“I do not think you are deceiving her as much as you are helping her,” Alexis said, and she and Varuna helped Boston to her feet.

“I like to think of it that way,” Varuna said. “And now I have helped you.”

Boston checked her amulet and spoke her surprise. “Hey. We have traveled all the way to the gate. How did we do that?”

“Please,” Varuna said. “Go forward and do not look back.” He vanished, and Lincoln had one mumble to add.

“War among the gods does not sound good at all.”

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

Beginning next Monday, Avalon, episode 3.6 finds the travelers in Sumaria in the days of Etana, King of Kish, where they find enemies, old and new, among the serpents and the eagles brought down from the heavens.  Enjoy …

Avalon 3.5 part 4 of 5, Defending the Hall

Decker and Harper began firing when the zombies were still some distance away. Lockhart watched Katie shoot three right between the eyes. They collapsed, but they did not stay down. Whatever animated them got them up again.

Boston calmed her spirit as well as she could before she sent a fireball from the end of her wand. The zombie it struck burst into flames, but that did not stop it. It continued to stumble forward until Roland struck it with an explosive arrow. Back at the dawn of history, Roland showed a talent in entertaining the children of the Stick People. He focused on an arrow and shot a magic arrow into the sky that burst like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Now, using that same technique, he was able to blast zombies to pieces, but it was terribly slow work.

“Thanks. I was afraid it would set the building on fire,” Boston admitted. Roland took a moment to explain how to turn her little fire into a firecracker.

Alexis stayed busy popping the heads off zombies and skeletons. Her magic would have been powerfully explosive if attached to a real arrow, but she did not have that option. With her wand alone, about all she could do was blow the zombie heads to pieces. It did not stop them, but it slowed them way down.zombie 4

Decker noticed what Alexis was doing. He began to concentrate his fire on the zombie necks in an effort to liberate the head. He sent one head bouncing to the ground. A second one leaned heavily to one side but remained attached by some muscle tissue, so the zombie was nearly headless. Neither case caused the zombie to stop moving forward. Decker realized that what they were doing was not working.

“There must be a way to stop these things for good,” Lockhart shouted, having come to the same conclusion as Decker.

“It’s no good. It’s not working,” one of the dwarfs also shouted.

“Why is this equipment not working?” Elder Stow was frustrated.

“Let me see it,” Tara came to him to look it over

“Disarming the people is cheating,” Baga said.

“Right.” Mitra agreed, even as Elder Stow found a spark of life in his weapon.

Outside, Tara’s Shemsu people came to the edge of the village. The zombies had no interest in the village, and the villagers had no desire to assist the giants presumed to be in the great hall. They came because of the sound of gunfire, though they did not know that was what it was, and because it appeared the zombies were not going to attack them. The villagers were content to watch until someone shouted out.

“Tara and the sons of Ahura are trapped in the Great Hall.”

Another man shouted. “Don’t touch the dead. They are diseased.”

That got the villagers moving. The non-Shemsu natives got spears and moved carefully toward the zombies. They clearly heard the word not to touch them, but primarily from behind, they managed to pin a few to the ground. Meanwhile, their Shemsu neighbors had another thing in mind.

zombie 5The unique telekinetic ability of the Shemsu people was such that the more solid the object, the easier it was to lift. Any attempt to lift a zombie would crush the zombie, or make it fall apart. Some did that, and their efforts were effective, particularly when they managed to toss the zombie or zombie pieces twenty or thirty feet up into the dark, threatening sky, and watch it fall back to the ground where it struck and splattered.

Equally effective were the stones that ranged in size from a person’s head to a man’s mid section. The Shemsu could throw the stones without touching them, and several zombies were crushed in that way. Even so, there were some fifteen zombies and skeletons that made it to the Great Hall, and four from the swamps in the back. The reason there were not more on the back end is because once Elder Stow got his weapon to work, he was able to utterly disintegrate the majority of them.

Lockhart used his shotgun to turn one zombie head to mush, but then he and the other people against the walls had to back away from the windows. Zombie arms were reaching inside looking to scratch and infect who they could, and the zombies began to tear at the openings to make them wide enough to get in.

Suddenly, Lord Veregoth and young Lord Visana both stood, their eyes glazed over like men in a trance. Lord Veregoth made a grab for Tara, but she screamed and scooted under the table. She had Elder Stow’s scanner in her hands and held it tight to her body to keep it safe. Mitra and Baga were right there with their spears to strike Lord Veregoth in the thighs. The giant let out a strange sound of pain and confusion, and fell to his knees.

Decker dropped his ineffective rifle and went for young Visana at the knees. Katie leapt and slammed into the giant’s chest, He fell hard with his back to the dirt and the wind care bursting out of him. Lockhart turned his shotgun around and slammed the butt end into Visana’s temple. It took several strikes before Visana stopped moving. Lockhart hoped he didn’t kill the fellow, but the thought passed quickly as Alexis shouted.

“They are up on the roof!”

Lincoln grabbed the chain from the fan and began to pull. The fan stuck fast, and Katie and Roland quickly came to help. Roland leapt to put his full weight into the chain, and there was a snapping sound. An arm fell to the floor where it continued to grab and clutch at anything that came close. Elder Stow disintegrated the arm with a tight beam, and then grabbed Boston from behind.

“Hey!” Boston shouted.zombie 3

“My weapon will surely burn down the building,” Elder Stow said. His anti-gravity belt was working again and he carried Boston up to the rafters. The fan was turning, keeping the zombies out, but beside the fan, one zombie was tearing at the shingles and widening a hole to get inside.

Boston still had her wand, and she tried to think of heat, not fire. It came out like a laser beam, directed at the zombie’s head, and melted the head, but it did not dislodge the body. The body continued to claw at the opening to widen it.

Elder Stow was incredibly strong. Boston felt secure enough in his arms to kick out, to dislodge the zombie from the roof. It worked, but being in shorts allowed the zombie to make a grab for her leg. It did not catch the leg, but scratched it. There was small bit of blood Boston hardly noticed.

“Giant coming to the door,” one of the dwarfs yelled. He had managed a peek out one of the windows and did not like what he saw. While Lincoln continued to pull the chain for the fan, Katie grabbed her rifle and headed for the door, Roland one step behind. Alexis was working on the giant, Visana, to heal him and keep him alive. They did not need a zombie giant inside the building. Mitra and Baga each held an arm of Lord Veregoth. Lockhart held down the giant’s forehead while Veregoth raged and struggled to break free.

Roland grabbed Blinker the dwarf to take his magic and let the magic stream to the latch. He paused after a moment and said the latch would hold, but he could not prevent the giant from knocking down the door. He stationed himself and the two dwarfs to guard the entrance. Katie stood by with her rifle at hand, useless as the rifle seemed to be.

Decker grabbed his rifle and came up to Veregoth. Everyone yelled, “No!” so Decker paused while Alexis spoke. “If you kill him, he will go zombie on us. An enchanted giant we can handle. At least he is not contagious.” Decker nodded and sat on Veregoth’s chest, but kept his rifle in hand.

zombie 2The giant outside slammed into the door. It cracked, but did not give way. Roland and the dwarfs had a magical shield up to strengthen the door against intrusion. There was another crash, but the door held. Blinker put a hand to his head like he was developing a headache. Dead or not, the giant remained half-titan. A third crash loosened a couple of boards when Tara shouted from under the table.

“Got it!” she yelled.

Avalon 3.5 part 3 of 5, Zombies

“Tara!”

“Mitra. Baga. What is it?” Tara asked and tried to calm the young men so they could speak. Boston, Lincoln and Alexis paid attention. Lockhart, Katie and Decker went back to the arrow slit openings in the wall to see if they could see what was happening.

Lord Veregoth, the giant asked his question while Mitra and Baga caught their breath. “What did he mean, the dead will eat the living?” He was still staring at Lord Visana who was laid out, unconscious, across the entrance way where the door could not be closed.old giant 3

“The dead are rising from their graves,” Mitra said with only a touch of panic in his voice.

“Movement in the graveyard,” Major Decker spoke from the wall at the same time, his eye focused out the narrow opening. Katie and Lockhart went to the side wall to look out on where the graveyard was, and Boston joined them.

“Friends?” Lincoln asked of the young men.

Tara accepted the distraction. “The sons of Ahura, Varun whom we call Baga, and Mitra, his brother.”

“I guessed they were brothers,” Alexis said to the side as Lord Veregoth asked another question.

“What does he mean the dead are rising from their graves?”

“Look for yourself,” Lockhart told the giant and shouted, “Decker.” He grabbed Katie and went to the door to drag ten feet of giant from the entrance in order to get the door closed.

“Maybe we should head for the barn to see if our weapons are there,” Decker suggested.

“No need,” Katie pointed. Roland and a couple of dwarfs were scurrying between the two buildings and they were loaded down with all of their weapons.

“Where is Soma?” Tara asked the boys, like they were one short of their usual gang.

“Probably hiding,” Mitra said.

“He has a crush on Tara,” Baga said with a big grin.

Tara 5Tara blanched. “My children?” she asked.

“Safe,” Baga assured her.

“Brihaspabbi is probably off writing some more stupid poetry,” Mitra added. “And has no idea what is happening.”

“Brihaspabbi?” Alexis asked.

“My husband,” Tara said with a roll of her eyes. “We’re separated.”

“But that is not possible,” Lord Veregoth roared from where he was leaning down and had one big eye trained on the graveyard. “The dead don’t get up and walk around.”

“Roland,” Lockhart said. “Help me get the door closed.” The two of them shoved now that Visana was out of the way. The Marines, Captain Harper and Major Decker checked their rifles and Decker offered a thought.

“A flamethrower would be nice.”

“We have Little Fire.” Katie pointed at Boston who grabbed her wand and went back to stare out one of the narrow openings in the wall.

“I can’t quite reach the latch,” Lockhart complained. Roland looked up and Lockhart was about to jump for it when a big hand reached over his head and latched the door.

“But dead people walking around is not possible,” Lord Veregoth complained.

“It is what it is,” Decker offered the bit of philosophy he adopted back when he finally accepted the fact that this was not all an illusion, and Colonel Weber was not within communication range. He took up a position at arrow slit at the back corner of the building. Katie set herself at the window at the front corner.

There were six windows along each side wall, two up front on each side of the door, and four on the back wall. Roland, Boston, Alexis and Lockhart with his shotgun took the four between the Marines. That left Lincoln out, and Elder Stow who was grousing that his equipment was not working

“I can’t get a screen up. My weapon shows no charge, but that can’t be right. Even the sonic device is drained.” Elder Stow sat on the floor and began to take things apart.

“Excuse us, Lady.” The two dwarfs that came with Roland inched up to the window by the door and Katie took a step back. The dwarfs squeezed in and Katie went to kneel beneath Lockhart’s shotgun.

Lincoln pointed to the narrow windows and asked Tara a question.“Why so narrow?”arrowslit 1

“So people can’t escape out the windows, and zombies can’t squeeze in” Tara explained while she took him to a long chain by the back wall that went up into the rafters, twenty feet above. “This is hot, arid country. There is a big wooden fan in the roof, turned by pulling on this chain.   A fresh breeze gets pulled in through these vents when the fan turns.”

“My grandparents had an attic fan,” Lincoln said. “Of course, it was electric.”

“Same idea,” Tara said. “But we live in manual labor land.”

“She’s so smart,” Mitra praised Tara as if she invented the fan, which she may have.

“Tara,” Baga had something else in mind. “You need to tell us what you see.”

Lord Veregoth took a seat at the table and worried his hands. “Yes, woman. You must say what you see.”

Tara nodded, sat where she was, and closed her eyes. She reported. There were thirty or more people crawling out of their graves, which Tara found surprising because she imagined there were not that many they buried that were uneaten by the giants. Some appeared more like skeletons, so she imagined they were buried before her people became prisoners. Tara looked around for a cause. All she could see was an overhead cloudy and dreary day, which was also odd since it did not rain much and it was not the season for rain. “Giants,” she spouted. There were three coming down from the hillside where the giants were buried in all honor. They were decked out in fine clothes and carried their weapons at the ready. Two living giants who overcame their fear of facing the dead went to confront them, and it was a fight. “They are coming out of the swamps below,” Tara said. “A dozen or so.” She opened her eyes. “Lincoln, Lockhart, Katie and Elder Stow take the other wall. You, too, Blinker.” She spoke to one of the dwarfs.

Dwarf 1“I should have my head looked at for even being here,” Blinker groused, but went.

“Baga and Mitra. You could at least have brought spears.”

“We did,” Baga said, and there were two spears leaning up against the wall by the door. No one remembered seeing them from the first, but the mind just glossed over that fact as the boys went to fetch them.

“One of you on each wall,” Tara said. “Lord Veregoth and I will guard the door.”

“Woman!” Veregoth got ready to say something, but paused when Tara’s clothes vanished and were replaced by the armor of the Kairos, complete with weapons.

“Veregoth. I know you are not afraid.”

“It’s impossible, I tell you. The dead don’t get up and walk around.”

Decker interrupted the giant’s complaint. “Incoming,” he shouted.

############

Be sure to come back next Monday and Tuesday for the concluding chapters of Avalon 3.5, beginning Monday with part 4 of 5, Defending the Hall … against zombies, of course.

Enjoy.

Avalon 3.5 part 2 of 5, The Interview

The giant was only nine feet tall, though perhaps bent over a bit from age. His hair and beard were gray, and his hands and face showed signs of a long life. There was an ordinary woman in his trail, about five-three, which was tall enough for a woman in that age. She had deeply tanned skin, but she had straight brown hair and bright green eyes which suggested something other than strict middle eastern heritage. The giant took a seat at the head of the table and kept one eye on the people while he gave the appearance that he was ignoring them and did not care one whit about them.

“Lockhart, I am sorry,” the woman spoke in English.

“Tara?” Lincoln asked, but they all knew who it was.Tara 3

Tara nodded. “Roland and your horses are safe for the moment. Roland is in the workhouse, talking with the gnomes about liberating your equipment. The dwarfs are being stubborn. They want to know how everything works. It’s complicated.”

“Are there humans here?” Alexis asked.

Tara nodded again. “Most of the workers are human slaves, including my people who were caught migrating through the no-man’s land.”

“And the giants?” Lincoln wondered.

“Half-breed titans, and they have found it easy to force others to do all their work and they eat anyone who does not cooperate. Somehow, we have to convince them to let you go, without eating you.”

“I thought we were under the protection of the gods,” Boston said.

“Surely,” Tara agreed. “But the gods mean nothing in this place. These half-human children of the titans worship no one in this no-man’s land. That does not mean the gods are powerless. I am sure that after they eat you, they will face terrible consequences.”

“Great!” Lincoln hardly got to start his complaint when the giant at the table interrupted.

“Woman. What are you telling these slaves?”

“Lord Veregoth.” Tara dipped her head in a slight bow toward the giant seated at the table. “I am explaining that they have been fortunate to have been selected to serve the great masters.”

“And you speak in strange words. How is this? I know every word spoken by blood or spirit.”

“They are words that do not yet exist. The words are from the future as are these people. They were headed back to the future when we interrupted their journey and brought them here.”

old giant“Woman.” Lord Veregoth shook his head. “You are speaking nonsense. People cannot travel into the past. You would have traveled into the past and taken your people by a different road, if you could. Do not deny it. And the only way to go into the future is wait until tomorrow.”

“Truly,” Tara began to speak when Lockhart put his hand quickly over Alexis’ mouth.

“Keep it in English,” Lockhart instructed everyone. “He does not need to know that we can understand him.”

Lincoln had his mouth open, and pivoted toward Tara. “Ask him how he knew where we were to capture us.”

“Young Lord Vinasa had a vision that pinpointed your exact location. That was strange since he has never had such a vision before,” Tara responded.

“Smells like a set-up,” Katie said.

“Exactly,” Lincoln agreed.

“Stop.” The giant at the table was getting agitated. “What are they saying? What are you telling them? Speak, woman.”

Tara offered another slight head bow. “They asked how you knew about them. I mentioned young Lord Vinasa and his vision, though he never had such a vision before.”

“Yes. Strange thing that he saw these people, only I see his vision did not show him everything.” Lord Veregoth eyed Lockhart and Decker. “These are bigger than most. They should do a good day’s work.” His eyes turned to Boston and Katie. “And the strange red and yellow hair might interest Lord Hoth. He likes different things.” Lord Veregoth shrugged. “But the ugly one,” he said of Elder Stow. “I do not know what he is. He seems strange to me. Can they explain?”

Tara translated and Lockhart answered, with Tara translating again. “The red and yellow hair are future colors and do not belong here. Elder Stow is of the Gott-Druk, the people who once lived in this land and were driven out to the stars in the days of the flood. We are all from the future and are trying to get back there as quick as we can. The gods have made a way, but it is a hard and long journey.”

“Enough!” Lord Veregoth shouted and stood. “Do you think I am a fool? No one comes from the future. That is impossible. We are all going into the future, but it is day by day. No one can get there faster.” Lord Veregoth looked down on the travelers, and he had murder in his eyes, and maybe supper.

Alexis shook her head and Lincoln whispered. “The brilliant and stupid share the same flaw. Instead of adjusting their thinking to fit the facts, they adjust the facts to fit their theories.”

Alexis responded with a whisper of her own. “I was thinking he is a radical twenty-first century atheist who denies any reality that doesn’t fit with his preconceived worldview.”giant madman

“Quiet,” Lord Veregoth roared and slammed a hand on the table, but then he paused in his anger as a young ten foot giant burst into the room, and left the door open.

“Vinasa,” Tara managed to name the giant before the giant pointed at the travelers and laughed.

“Now your days are finished,” Vinasa said. “Behold the dead will eat the living.” There was a wild look in his eyes, and an insane sound in his laughter. “The great one speaks. The dead will eat the living,” he repeated before he collapsed.

Two young men came running in through the open door, shouting, “Tara! Tara!”

Lord Veregoth dropped his jaw, looked at the unconscious Visana spread across the entrance, and seemed to have trouble framing his question.

Avalon 3.5 Strange Bedfellows, part 1 of 5

After 2914 BC in the Persian No-Man’s Land. Kairos lifetime 38: Tara of Sumer

Recording …

At the beginning of the journey, back in the days of primeval chaos, at the beginning of history, Lincoln and Alexis, a couple in their sixties, were restored to their youth. Lincoln claimed to be twenty-nine because Alexis appeared to end up closer to twenty-four. Yet, despite their youth, Lincoln and Alexis argued like only old, married couples know how to argue. Lincoln tried to end it by saying Alexis was right, but Alexis did not end it because she knew Lincoln was lying and just trying to end the argument. The first interesting thing about it all was they were arguing about something that was none of their business—the way old, married couples so often do.

“But if Roland becomes human, that would kill father,” Alexis said.

“Your father Mingus has pretty much abandoned us as far as I can tell,” Lincoln responded. “Why should it matter what he thinks?”elf1

“Oh, he is still out there,” Alexis assured him. “He may be watching us this very minute.”

“Good,” Lincoln said, and he reached over and gave Alexis a kiss. “But I just don’t see Boston willing to give up her humanity to become an elf. That is a choice Roland will have to make, as you did.”

Alexis squirmed in her seat. “Boston already has a lot of elf in her, the way she talks and acts and thinks. The physical change would not change her much on the inside.”

“But some. Enough. It would be a tremendous difference on the inside in some ways, and on the outside. I mean, what would her parents and brothers think?”

“There are ways,” Alexis hedged. “She has enough magical ability to cover herself with a glamour. They would not have to know.”

“Ah! But what about children?”

“Elves don’t conceive but maybe once in a hundred years. They might not have any children until after her parents are gone, and maybe after her brothers are gone too.”

campfire 1“Maybe. Might. I just don’t see her willing to give up her humanity.”

“Well, I don’t see Roland giving up being the elf he is. It would kill father if both of us became human.”

“Having second thoughts?” Lincoln used that phrase often enough in all their years of marriage.

“Benjamin, you know I am not,” Alexis responded and gave him the kiss she always did.

Of course, the second interesting thing about it all was they were supposed to be on watch. It was near midnight, the horses were tied and quiet, and everyone else was asleep. To be fair, they had ridden all day and not seen any sign of people. And also, the sleeping potion, a poppy derivative, came wafting into the camp on a gentle breeze and Alexis and Lincoln were asleep even before it worked its way into the tents.

The horses were carted off by gnomes who learned the hard way that these horses were not for eating. Two gnomes tried to cut Boston’s Honey, and a third went for Alexis’ Misty Gray, and they all received electric shocks strong enough to incapacitate them for a good half-hour. It was the hedge of the gods and particularly, the work of the Kairos. They did not try that again.

The tents and equipment were all taken by dwarfs. They tried to take the clothing as well, but found the fairy weave only responded to the person to whom it belonged. They might have taken Elder Stow’s space suit, but they decided they did not want to deal with a naked Gott-Druk. They were content to take the Elder’s artifacts.

The people, including the Gott-Druk, were taken by the Giants who ruled this stretch of land. The gnomes and dwarfs and the human beings who were their slaves dared not complain, or even point out the obvious. Nothing makes a giant angrier than the belief that you are speaking down to them, like they are stupid or something. And nothing is worse, well, little is worse than an angry giant. In this case, the giants thought they had new slaves and horse bacon. The gnomes decided to let the giants learn for themselves about the horses. And the dwarfs, and in fact the little ones in general by then knew something about the travelers. They dreaded the consequences if the giants tried to have their way.desert at dawn 1

Roland woke up in the wee hours before dawn. He woke several hours before the others because he had a high metabolism. It was not the kind of metabolism that made him want to eat second breakfast or thirds at lunch, like a dwarf. But it was the kind that kept him skinny. In this case, the sleep of the poppies wore off sooner than it did for the others.

Roland found himself left where he slept. The Giants did not want the elf. He hummed a little tune as he searched the area. The tents were gone and the horses were missing, not to mention his fellow travelers, and when he reached to his side, he found even his knife was gone. Somewhere out in the dark, he heard the roar of a lion. He stood, thinking it was not a good thing to be alone in the wilderness, especially one that Lincoln had described as a no-man’s land.

Roland had to think. Tracking the group would be easy enough. He was a hunter, after all. But what he might do when he got there, he would have to think hard. He saw the giant tracks even in the dim light of pre-dawn.

The rest of the travelers awoke in a one-room log house made out of whole trees notched like a child’s Lincoln logs and with a twenty foot ceiling over a dirt floor. There were thin cut windows spaced evenly along the walls, barely wide enough to shoot an arrow through, and just the one door that Lockhart guessed was more than twice his six feet in height. There was also a table with three chairs on each side and one at each end. Lockhart, at over six feet, could sit in a big chair and barely reach his chin above the table. He looked like a child.

“Giants,” Lincoln said. “I would guess the ten foot variety.”

“There are houses off to the side here.” Alexis was peering through a window at the far side of the building.

“Barn in this direction,” Boston said. She was looking out the opposite direction, through a window by the door. “It’s a really big barn. I wonder if they have giant chickens or something.”

“I would guess our horses, guns and equipment are in there somewhere,” Katie said.big wooden door 2

“Looks like a graveyard out here,” Decker said, and everyone went to the side wall to look. There were only four slit windows along that side wall, but it was enough to see the graves.

“Between the houses and the barn,” Alexis said. “Like a warning.”

“Like a threat,” Decker countered.

“Do what you are told or end up here,,” Lincoln agreed.

“Visitors.” Lockhart heard the latch on the door and quickly got down from the chair. The others bunched up around him.

Starting Monday: Avalon, episode 3.5 Strange Bedfellows

The travelers get in a bind when one of the monsters following them catches them, and things quickly escalate to a matter of life and death.

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zombies 1

Lord Veregoth, the giant asked his question while Mitra and Baga caught their breath. “What did he mean, the dead will eat the living?” He was still staring at Lord Visana who was laid out, unconscious, across the entrance way where the door could not be closed.

“The dead are rising from their graves,” Mitra said with only a touch of panic in his voice.

“Movement in the graveyard,” Major Decker spoke from the wall at the same time, his eye focused out the narrow opening. Katie and Lockhart went to the side wall to look out on where the graveyard was, and Boston joined them.

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Don’t miss it.

Avalon 3.3: part 4 of 6, The Giant of Transvaak

The giant roared. He tossed boulders at the village from a distance. Most struck the dirt and rolled to a stop. A few cracked against the stone huts and a couple of walls collapsed. One went through the roof where, fortunately, no one was home. Katie and the Amazons ran up from the horse pen. The Amazons arrived with their bows at the ready. The local men with their spears looked lost until Andovar shouted.

“Get the village down on the beach,” Several men ran off to do that, but most of the men stood ready with their spears. Andovar organized them around their homes. Katie and Decker had their rifles ready and Lockhart had his shotgun. Lincoln pulled his pistol. Boston got her Beretta and Roland looked ready to join the Amazons with his bow in hand. Iddin thought it was all a bit of overkill for one little giant. The poor giant would fall full of holes and sharp points, and never make it in to the village, no matter how big he was.

“Do you have stun on that weapon?” Iddin asked.

“I already asked that,” Lockhart said.

Elder Stow shrugged a final time before he fired. The giant, some fifteen feet tall, was close enough by then to be hard to miss. He staggered under the stun-ray and stopped throwing stones, but he continued to move forward. It looked like something was driving him. “Forgive me if I kill the fellow,” Elder stow said. “Not intentional.” He fired again.caspian giant

The giant came to the edge of the village and fell face down in a field of grain. Iddin-Addad immediately left his time and place so Doctor Mishka could have the first look at the big man. She came dressed in the armor of the Kairos, a precaution, but instead of bristling with sharp weapons, she arrived with a simple satchel over her shoulder

“Roland and Boston. Lincoln and Elder Stow. Andovar and Alia, you can come too, but leave the rest of your people here.” Mishka marched off to examine the giant. When she arrived, she saw that he was an old man and wondered why he attacked. “What?” She spoke to the sky. “Oh, I see,” she added. It was like she was speaking to someone, but not anyone physically present.

“How long will he stay out?” Lincoln asked.

“I cannot say,” Elder Stow responded. Obviously, his weapon was not designed for giants.

“Scanner.” Mishka held out her hand. Elder Stow hesitated before he handed his weapon to Lincoln. Lincoln held it gingerly with his thumb and forefinger. He dared not touch any other part of the weapon for fear he might set it off. Mishka took the scanner and scanned all around the giant’s head. She adjusted the settings several times before she settled on the giant’s right temple. She returned the scanner and retrieved a bronze scalpel from her satchel.

“Andovar and Alia, sit on his shoulders. Lincoln and Boston, hold his head.” To be sure, the giant was three times the size of a normal man, but that was not as imposing as it might sound.

Mishka, a surgeon by training, cut expertly. It bled, as any injury to the head will, but the cut was paper thin despite the crude looking scalpel. Mishka pulled the forceps from her satchel, and it took no time at all to pull a thin, glowing tube from the giant’s head. She stitched up the wound and bandaged it while she asked Andovar to fetch men to tie up the giant.

“I am sure you know what is best. I honestly don’t know what relationship you may have formed with the giant, only don’t kill him. Alia, he is not allowed to kill the giant.” She hated putting one group to watch the other, but it would keep them both busy for a bit and out of deeper trouble.

“Yes, Doe-ctor.” Alia bowed her head. She did not pronounce the word “doctor” correctly, but she clearly knew who Mishka was.

When Mishka was finished, Iddin-Addad came back. He wisely kept the armor. He lost the doctor’s satchel but added his sword and long knife to the ensemble. He held tight to the tube taken from the giant’s temple and examined it as he walked back to where Lockhart and the others were waiting.

“What is it?” Elder Stow asked before Lincoln could frame the words. Iddin said nothing, so Boston nudged him.

“What is it?”

“Back in the future, I called this technology brain controllers. They work at a certain frequency. Scanner.” Iddin held his hand out again and this time Elder Stow put his weapon away before he took out the scanner. Iddin scanned the tube and then sat on the dirt in the middle of the town square while he removed the top of the scanner to get at the sophisticated insides. “I need to find a way to plug this tube in to amplify the thing and cause some feedback,” he said, without further explanation.

“What are we facing?” Lockhart asked.

“What are those witches?” Katie asked at the same time.

“Robots of some kind,” Elder Stow answered Katie as he took a seat and leaned his nose into Iddin’s business, concerned about his equipment. The others, including Alia and Andovar, joined them. They all sat in the middle of the village where the villagers had to walk around them. Lincoln opted to check on his wife, Alexis, and the wounded man.

Iddin talked while he examined things. “This is Blueblood technology. Not exactly compatible. The witches are the defense mechanism for a crashed ship. They go out and find whatever monsters they can. They control the monsters and use them to drive away the indigenous population until there is about a hundred square mile free zone around the ship. It helps protect the survivors of a crash and leaves plenty of room for rescue ships to land.”

Iddin traded places through time to let Martok work on the scanner and the tube. Andovar got a word in to Alia. “Are you understanding this?”

“Not much, but these people are known in the legends of my people and I trust them without question.”

Andovar nodded, but then looked like he was wondering why he asked an Amazon, whom he hardly trusted.

“Hey!” Boston shouted and pointed to the sky above the house next to where the witches floated. Something was still floating there, and it looked like an eye. People jumped. Decker wanted to take a shot at it, but the eye buzzed off to the south where they saw the three witches returning.

caspian eyeball“I assume they left the eye to observe how we handled the giant,” Lockhart said.

“Yes, that is very good,” Martok looked up. “I knew there was a reason you were Director of the Men in Black.”

“Assistant Director,” Lockhart said softly, but he did not argue.

“Blueblood scanner?” Elder stow asked about the eye.

Martok nodded. “But not nearly as sophisticated as yours.” He twisted the Blueblood tube into place in the Elder’s scanner. “Mostly just a camera with maybe infra-red and some audio pick-up.”

Men and Amazons began to take up defensive positions around the village. Katie and Decker split to cover both sides of the village square. Lockhart, with Boston and then Roland following, started around the outside of the houses with the hope of catching the witches from a better angle.

The witches stopped this third time in the same place as before, and the center one raised its voice again. “Move Village.”

“We bring the flying creature,” the one on the left made her pronouncement.

“Flying creature, come,” the one on the right said.

“Dragon or something else?” Martok asked Elder Stow as he turned his back on the witches. Martok had his cape on, and though he was right out in the middle of an open space, he merely pulled his hood over his head while he kept working. Elder Stow thought about it, but finally abandoned his scanner and made for the back corner of a house. He pulled his weapon and began to make some adjustments.

Avalon 2.10: Loose Ends

            I think confusion is Eliyawe’s middle name.  As angry as she was, even Zoe got caught up in the play, it being Eliyawe’s time period and all.  But Alexis is safe and restored to Lincoln’s arms.  Where Mingus is, no one knows.

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            Back at the camp, Eliyawe first turned on the midget in their midst.  She shook her finger to scold the poor former giant.  “Gorman, you lived a good long time being bigger than everyone and making people afraid.  Crush their bones, indeed.  Now you can live the rest of your days smaller than everyone.  And you will like it.”

            “I won’t like it,” Gorman grumped, but he knew he had no choice in the matter and nowhere else to go.

            “All the same, you better stick with Atonas the fisherman.  If you follow me, the gods will find you for sure and then you won’t live at all, I reckon.”  Eliyawe looked over at Marduk and Assur.

            “I want a horse,” Assur said.

            “Can’t be a real cowboy without a horse,” Marduk agreed.

            “Sit and be good for now.  It is supper time.”  The boys grumbled, but complied.  Katie did not mind cooking.  Eliyawe got up to help and together they made a pass at the remaining deer and some bread crackers. 

            “A bit lean on vegetables,” Katie said and Eliyawe shrugged and wiggled to some unheard music.

            Most of the spices they used to make the local venison more palatable had been in Alexis’ bag.  They retrieved the bag and all the vitamin jars which mysteriously refilled themselves.  They also got the pouch in which Alexis carried her portion of the bread crackers.  That also refilled itself, but the spices, though they found the containers thanks to Elder Stow, they remained mostly empty.  Fortunately, Eliyawe found some local grasses that cooked up something like lemongrass.

            “Better on chicken,” She said, but it would do to cut the gamey flavor.  

            No one bothered Alexis as she cried on Lincoln’s shoulder and whispered softly to him.  He whispered in return and she had his full attention.  Lockhart did what he could to help with the cooking, but he and Katie, with Boston chiming in now and then wanted to know the whole story of Eliyawe’s adventures.  Elias told most of it, with Jonas showing his wit now and then.

            “But what about these two?”  Katie asked at last.  “Young gods, very young I am guessing.  How is it they are willing to go along?”  She wanted to say obey Eliyawe’s commands, but she imagined that might be rude, and being rude to even young gods was never advisable.

             “About one hundred and fifty,” Eliyawe said and sat down so she would not have to cook anymore.  “More than old enough to start acting mature.”  She gave the boys a sharp look and they pretended not to notice.  “You remember Beltain and that great migration from Caana to the land of Sumer.  You were there I think when she got called off at the end.  Doctor Mishka was needed.  You see, without the good Doctor, they would never have survived, even being gods.  Their mother gave me a special dispensation so I could check on them from time to time and make sure all the extraordinary measures it took to save their lives were still in order and without complications.  They kind of have to obey.  Personally, I think I grew too much skull and made them into hardheaded knuckleheads.  But I love them dearly as if they were my own.”

            Marduk and Assur looked up at her when she said that.  They looked surprised, and pleased, and Assur appeared to form a little tear in his eye.  Eliyawe did not see because she turned to Elias.  “Husband.  I think I am going to be a strict mother.  I hope you don’t mind.”  She pecked at his lips and his hand came up to touch his lips, but his eyes went out of focus and looked up at the darkening sky.

            “Lost,” Jonas said.  “Now he’ll be dreaming all night about being a father.  How about you people.  Do you have any children?”

            Katie found Jonas looking at her.  She pointed at Lockhart.  “Oh, we’re not married.”

            “Us neither,” Boston looked at Roland.  “Not yet anyway.”

            “I haven’t asked her yet,” Roland admitted in front of everyone.

            “We have three so far,” Alexis sat up.  Lincoln kept his arm around her to protect and support her.  “I would like another.”  Lincoln said nothing.

            Clearly Jonas wanted to ask more, but once Alexis was out of her weeping, Roland could no longer contain himself.  “What about father?”  he asked.  “Alexis, where is he?”

            “I don’t know.”  Alexis’ voice was soft and she shook her head.  “When Atonas left in the morning, Father woke and said I should rest.  He said I had been on watch all night by myself and needed my sleep.  He seemed perfectly normal.  But when I woke, he had packed up his tent and things, saddled up and left.  And he left the camp in disarray, so I wondered if perhaps he swallowed some of the poison he pulled out of me. 

            “LSD,” Lincoln told her.

            “But in a day or two it will work out of the system and in the lake and the sea it will sink and not be a hazard.  The streams will be clean again and people will be normal soon enough.”

            “Father has the prototype.”  Alexis looked at Boston first before she returned her eyes to her brother Roland.

            “The what?”  Lockhart asked.

            “He has the prototype amulet that leads him to the next time gate.  He took it from the history department on Avalon.  He worked on it.  That is how he took me into the past when he first kidnapped me.”

            “You mean I don’t have the only one?”  Boston pulled hers out from beneath her shirt and looked at it carefully before she also looked at Roland.

            “So when he sobers up, he should be able to follow us well enough.”  Captain Decker spoke and Alexis nodded.  “So no need to mount a search and rescue mission,” he concluded.

            People paused to think and eventually looked at Lockhart.  Lockhart looked at Roland and Alexis because it was their father.

            “Father can take care of himself,” Roland said and Alexis nodded her agreement with that assessment.

            “Good,” Eliyawe jumped up.  “Because it would probably be best if you were gone by the time the gods wake up.”  She began to wiggle.  “I’m hungry.”  Then she began to sing and dance while she waited.  “Something, something runnin’.  Da-da-da-da-da-da.  Head out on the highway.  Da-da-da-da-da-da.  Lookin’ for adventure.  Da-da-da-da-da-da.  And whatever comes my way.  Hey!  Lincoln.  Get out the database.  I am sure I loaded Steppenwolf in there.”

            Everyone’s eyes shifter to Lincoln.  “There is an extensive music library in here,” he said, but he did not look up at the others.  He had not exactly been forthcoming with that information.  It took a second, and the music started plenty loud.  Boston jumped up and joined in the dance.  Katie looked at Lockhart and he shook his head.

            “Not on a bet.” 

            Captain Decker added his own thoughts, unasked.  “Not even under torture.”

            But after a moment, Assur and Marduk joined the girls and then the nymphs joined the dance as well.  And they all danced in the campfire light in 3366 BC as the sound echoed across the plains of Meggido and bounced off the mountains and Eliyawe, her hands over her head to show off her long legs and her skinny butt wiggling away sang, “Born to be wild … “

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            The travelers have no control over the time gates, like what period it will be in the life of the Kairos when they enter a new time zone.  The Kairos might be old, middle aged, young as Eliyawe, or as in the next zone, a child.  Somehow, though, even childhood does not prevent the Kairos from being at the center of a swirl of trouble. 

Avalon 2.11:  Scorpion … Next Time

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