Avalon 8.2 Trouble Big and Small, part 6 of 6

“That is the building,” Elder Stow said and pointed.

“Doesn’t look like a gun factory,” Boston turned to Decker who shook his head.

“Just a warehouse,” he said.  “No idea where the factory is, and we don’t have the time to look for it.  We missed the evening tide.  Lockhart and the others will already have to spend the night on the docks without us.  We have to leave on the morning tide, or so the captain said.”

“And he better be telling the truth,” Sukki said softly, which was remarkable for the former Gott-Druk.  Gott-Druk were not known for keeping secrets.  They did not know how to whisper.  It was a cultural thing that everyone expected would cross over when Sukki became human.  But Sukki had come a long way in learning to be human, mostly.  True, the gods who made her human got a bit carried away.  They made her sort of a superhuman, but nothing anyone could do about that.

The most remarkable thing, though, was Sukki never said any threatening words like that.  She mostly trusted people and assumed the best.  Those kinds of under the breath comments were more Decker’s style, or maybe Lincoln when he expected bad things to happen.  Boston and Nanette both looked at Sukki, and she did look slightly embarrassed, but she did not take back her words.

“Ready?” Tony asked.  He held Katie’s military rifle.  Decker had long since showed him how to use it.

“Are we ready?” Decker turned to Nanette.

Nanette put on her determined face.  “I will do what needs to be done.  I can’t just sit idle while the rest of you do your duty.  I know my magic will come and go as we move through the years, but I can be part of the journey whether I have my magic or not.  So, let’s go.”  She brushed her hands in front, like she was telling Decker to go ahead of her.  Decker smiled.

“Ready,” Elder Stow said.  He touched the spot on his belt, and everyone turned invisible.  They could still see each other, including Boston.  They made her take a disc and would not let her go elf invisible.  Decker and Elder Stow agreed that they wanted to keep track of her to make sure she did not get out of control.

They had no trouble breaking in.  The door was unlocked.

Three armed men sat around a table drinking beer and talking about nothing in particular.  They had rifles within reach and knives on their belts.  They did not appear to be paying much attention to the door.  Elder Stow and Sukki watched the men for the first few minutes while Decker and Tony did a sweep of the building to make sure no other men were present.  Nanette went to the back wall, beyond the cannon, where she found all three gun belts and Alexis’ bag sitting lazily on another table.

“Lincoln’s knife is missing,” Nanette whispered.

Boston pointed to the back wall where the knife stuck about two inches into the plaster.  “I guess one of the thieves wanted to test the balance and sharpness.”

They gathered up the belts and bag, and tried the doors at the back, beginning with the big double doors on the far end.  It led to a back alley.  Boston found the latch and locked the door so no one from the outside could come in and disturb them in their work.

Behind door number two, as Boston called it, they found a lab room.  It held glass vials, like test tubes up on a table in the center of the room.  It had bowls, cups, and glass tubes of liquid which might have been tea but might have been a solution of the plague bacteria.  Boston did not want to take the chance.

Nanette touched Boston’s shoulder to draw on Boston’s magic, and surprised herself, that some of her own magic felt active.  “675,” she said, then clarified.  “Lincoln read in the database that the other earth would begin to come into conjunction with our earth and leak magic energy into our universe starting in 675.  We must be close to that time.”  She had no trouble causing everything in that room to pile up in the center and tried not to spill any of the liquid in the process.

“Tony said we arrived in 672.  Lockhart said that Bozo mentioned he had two years to make cannon before the Arabs came and laid siege to Constantinople.  That happened in 674, so Tony figured we were in 672.”  Boston got out her wand and took a turn drawing on what magic energy Nanette had.  Boston let the full fiery blast of her energy out.  It turned the wood table and chairs into a bonfire, boiled the liquids, cracked the clay and glass containers, and actually melted some of the items.  They left that room understanding that the whole warehouse would be on fire very soon.

Behind door number three, they found Kallinikos, and heard from Decker over Boston’s watch radio.  “We are ready here.  Where are you?”

“We found Kallinikos,” Boston responded.  “I just gave him a disc so he is invisible like us and can see us.  We are on our way.”

“Roger.  You need to go out front, wait outside and put some distance between yourselves and the building in case something explodes.”

Boston, Nanette, and Kallinikos walked past the others and tried not to look.  One of the men that sat around the table looked dead.  The other two looked wounded and sat, moaning, with their backs to the wall.  Boston figured the men did not cooperate.

Tony joined them in exiting the building.  Decker went to stand by the door.  Elder Stow and Sukki floated up beneath the fifteen-foot ceiling to where they could overlook the cannon on the floor.  Then Elder Stow with his weapon and Sukki with her goddess-given power melted every cannon and set on fire every carriage in the building, both ships cannon, the big wall busters, and a case of rifles they found in the front room where the powder and shot got stored.

With the deed done, Sukki exited the building to join the others, while Elder Stow, with his personal screen up tight against his person for protection, got out his sonic device.  He tuned it to the right frequency and let it rip.  It only took a few seconds for all the gunpowder in the building to explode.

“Lord Bozo is not going to be happy,” Boston grinned as they made their way back to the ship.

“But we don’t have time to go look for him,” Tony said gruffly.  He felt bad.  He had to shoot one of the men.

“The gun factory is something the Kairos will have to deal with,” Elder Stow said, in agreement with Tony.

“Not our job,” Decker said, and looked at Nanette.  She lowered her eyes but nodded, slightly.

###

The ship left on the morning tide before dawn.  The crossing did not take long, but the docks in Constantinople needed expanding.  They had to wait in line before they could pull up and unload.  They found Lockhart, Katie, Alexis, and Lincoln waiting patiently with several other men on the dock.  One of the men opened his arms and shouted for Boston, and she rushed into the hug.

“You don’t have a big white beard and a fat belly,” Boston almost complained.

“Not yet,” Nicholas said.  “I’m not that old.  But I do have some elves that help make the toys.  And something else.”  He called to an old man who just arrived and used a cane to walk.  He came close, curiosity on his face.  The man’s right arm also did not look too good, like he may have suffered something like a stroke.  “This is Arthur,” Nicholas introduced the man.  “He is old and worn out and ready to let go of this life, so Elder Stow, you are not allowed to fix him.  He is the last of the Anazi androids from long ago.  Arthur, let me introduce Katie and Lockhart, Artie’s parents.”

“An honor,” Arthur said, but paused when Katie stepped up and hugged the android.  She quickly got tears in her eyes.  Lockhart put out his hand to shake but ended up hugging the android as well.  The android also got tears in his eyes, being the last of his people and thinking about all those centuries, and all the losses.  Lockhart sniffed and Alexis, and Lincoln were not unmoved.  Boston wept.

“All life is precious,” Arthur said softly, and tried to smile.

“Centurion Rudolph says hi,” Sukki interrupted and got Nicholas’ attention.  Sukki remembered when the travelers found her.  Artie the android left the group at that time and charged Sukki to look after her mom and dad.  She was not sure she did that, and maybe felt a bit guilty, or maybe she wondered what it might be like to have Lockhart and Katie as her mom and dad.

Nicholas nodded to Sukki that he heard, but let things play out before he turned to Sukki and answered her.  “I sent Rudolph and his reindeer soldier to ferret out the gun factory.  We will see what we can do depending on what information they send back.  Not your job.  Meanwhile, thank you for rescuing the artificer.” Nicholas turned to the newly arrived stranger.  Alexis stood there checking on the man’s condition, and Nanette helped.

“Kallinikos,” the man introduced himself.

Nicholas introduced a member of the emperor’s staff and said he would go with them to meet with Constantine.  He had a bag of toys with him, ready for the children in the palace.  “Meanwhile,” he said.  “I’m working on a hand pump, like the ones firefighters used back in the early nineteenth century before they invented steam pumps.”

“For the Greek fire,” Tony said to any who might not know.

“Where do you want us?” Nanette asked.

“Alexis and Lincoln found my home,” Nicholas said.  “When you get unloaded, Arthur can show you the way, and I will be along in a while.”

“I can’t wait to play with the toys,” Boston said.

“What is this Greek fire?” Kallinikos asked

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

MONDAY through THURSDAY

A 4-part episode next week which will include a Thursday post to complete the episode in a single week.  Above and Beyond takes place in the border with Brittany, and in orbit.  Margueritte is getting married.  Don’t Miss It.  Happy Reading.

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Avalon 8.2 Trouble Big and Small, part 4 of 6

Alexis, Katie, and Lockhart got left alone, but Lincoln got shoved into the room.  Lincoln was not as intimidating.  Alexis immediately went to the man already in that room.  He looked like he had been beaten raw.  Her healing power might not work on diseases, but she could fix most injuries.  She laid her hands near the man, and they began to glow as she closed her eyes and concentrated.  Bruises and swelling went down, raw spots healed over.  Cuts pulled together and gashes stopped bleeding.  What is more, her work had an anesthetic quality to it.  The pain all but vanished wherever she touched.  As the healing glow worked down inside the man, several cracked and one broken finger bone knitted together, the lungs cleared so he could breathe, and the muscles that were strained all relaxed.  Very soon, the man began to talk.

“God’s blessing on you and your kindness.  Why would the cruel monster, Bozarius allow you to practice your healing ministry on me?  Does he want to abuse me again?  I will not tell him the secret.  I don’t care how badly he tortures me.”

“I don’t think he knows my wife is a healer,” Lincoln said.

“And a most lovely wife you have,” the man sounded utterly grateful.

Lockhart lifted his arm to talk through the wristwatch communicator that he, and honestly everyone, regularly forgot they had.  “Hope they are in range,” he said.

“Wait.”  Katie caused him to pause.  She turned to the man.  “I’m Katie, and my husband is Robert.  Alexis is your healer, and Benjamin is her husband.  Do you have a name?”

“Kallinikos, from Heliopolis.” he said.

“Heliopolis?” Lockhart asked, still paused with his wrist beside his mouth.

“In Syria,” Kallinikos answered.

“But wait,” Katie looked puzzled.  “Why do I know your name?”

“I am a simple artificer,” the man said.  “I can think of no reason you should know me.  Perhaps another Kallinikos?”   He smiled for Lockhart.  “Your wife is pretty, too.  I am sure she has other skills that you prize.  I had a wife, and a daughter, once.  They were slaughtered by the Arabs, and no one in our city resisted them.  We peacefully surrendered, and they came in and slaughtered so many.  I have seen many such places since.  Burning, looting, and killing.”

“It is what armies do,” Lockhart suggested.

Kallinikos sighed before he growled.  “But I, too, can burn.  I know the secret to set the sea itself on fire…”

“Greek Fire,” Katie’s face lit up.  “I knew that I knew your name.”

“What is Greek Fire?” Kallinikos asked.

“That is what it gets called—what it will be called.  But you should be giving your formula to the emperor, what’s his name…”

“Constantine IV,” Lincoln said, without having to look it up.

“My intention,” Kallinikos said.  “I intend to see the Arabs burned and killed, but the monster Bozarius found me.  He wants the formula, but I will not tell him. Strange, though.  I do not know how he knew I had a formula.”

“Why doesn’t he already know the formula?” Lockhart asked Katie, their expert in all things ancient and medieval in the technology department.

“Because it is kept a secret for centuries,” Katie answered.  “Most think it is tar or bitumen based, but the actual formula and what made it so effective is lost to history.”

“The Arabs should not have this.  I escaped the Arabs to give it to the Greek emperor.  I am sure Bozarius plans to give it or maybe sell it to the Arabs, but I will not let them have it.”

“We need to set him free.” Katie insisted.  “We need to see he gets safely to Constantinople.”

“So people can be burned or killed?” Alexis said, though she did not really protest.

Lincoln answered his wife.  “So history stays on track and isn’t changed.”

Lockhart agreed and got on his communicator, thinking hard about what he would say.  “Decker.  Elder Stow.  Are you there?  Can you hear me?  Over.”

“I hear you,” Elder Stow responded.  “We are waiting your return to the inn.  Tony, Nanette, Decker, and Boston have taken the horses and wagon to find a ship.  We had three men try to take our things from the wagon and we all agreed it was not safe to stay here.  Sukki and I are here at the inn…”

“Lockhart,” Decker interrupted.  “We have a ship.  The tide is in.  The wagon is on board, and we are ready to load the horses, but your horse is being a pain…”

“Breaker,” Lockhart said.

“Come in,” Decker Responded.

“The priest led us into a trap.  Our old friend, Lord Bobo is here, and we are his prisoners, again.  You know the man, the one Boston called Lord Bozo.”

“The Masters,” Elder Stow interrupted.

“Exactly.  He is building cannon for the expected Arab attack on Constantinople.  He is also working with a Doctor Theopholus, another agent of the Masters, who is tailoring the plague to set it off in Constantinople so he can reduce the population and the military in the city by half.”

“Germ warfare,” Decker interrupted.

“We also have a guy named Kallinikos here that Katie says is important to history.  Apparently, he invented something called Greek Fire.  Katie says it is imperative we get him safely to the Byzantines.  Do you copy all that?”

“Roger,” Decker said.

“Okay.  Here is what I am thinking.  You finish loading the ship.  Threaten the captain or do whatever you have to do to make sure he does not sail off without you.  Elder Stow.  Can you get our location on your scanner?”

“Yes, I’m just getting it up just as you said prisoners.” Elder Stow said.

“Okay. Then maybe Elder Stow can share some of his discs and you can come over here, invisible.  There are cannon to blow up and men with muskets to put out of commission.  But listen to this carefully.  If Bozarius—Lord Bobo is not here, you are not to go looking for him. We are not here to find the gun factory and put it out of commission.  For all we know, the factory could be in the city where we came into this time zone, ten days ago.  The Kairos has told us over and over it is his job.  We do what we can, and I am sure he is grateful, but our job is to get back to the twenty-first century, or twentieth century as the case may be.  Got it?”

“Roger that.”

“Okay.  We are scheduled to go with the doctor to Constantinople.  We might not be here when you get here.  But for one, we need to stick with the doctor to stop him. We need to make sure he does not release his disease in the city.  And two, save Kallinikos and bring him safely to Constantinople.”

“Three, be careful,” Katie added

“If we are not here when you arrive, we will meet you in Constantinople on the docks.  Over and out.”  Lockhart stared at his wrist before he put his arm down.  “There.  Did I leave anything out?”

Alexis looked up.  “Only that Kallinikos has been tortured.”

“Servants of the Masters,” Lincoln said.  “That should be a given.”

“You didn’t mention our gun belts,” Katie said.  “They were still on the table when we came in here.”

“Oh, shoot,” Lockhart said, and he called Decker again.

###

It took less than an hour for the Doctor to arrive and escort his prisoners to the ship.  The straight was only a couple miles wide, and they would only travel a few miles to the port at Constantinople, but it was way too far to swim, and like so many such trips, it took longer to get out of the port and dock on the other side than the trip across the Bosporus actually took.

This ship was a single masted merchant ship with a capacity of maybe one hundred tons.  They carried no cargo for this trip if the travelers were not considered cargo.  The ship was used to transport prisoners or unruly slaves.  It had a dozen wall mounted shackles down in the hold beneath the deck.   Katie got a good look at the nails in the ship’s wall before they locked her in.  The shackles had enough chain to let the prisoners sit, but not enough to let them lie down.

As soon as the prisoners were secured, their guards went up on deck to get some fresh air and to relax.  Katie began to pull on the chain held in by the rustiest nail.  Lockhart pulled on his own chains and one of the nails had some wiggle in it.  He looked at Alexis and Lincoln.  Lincoln shook his head.

“I’ll wait until one of you to gets the keys.”  Lincoln pointed to the wood beam where the keys hung on a nail.

“We can try yours together,” Katie suggested, and she grabbed Lockhart’s chain with him and said one—two—three.  They pulled the nail out of the wall easier than they imagined.  Lockhart immediately reached for the keys, but he could not quite reach them.

“Wait,” Katie said.  “Come on.  We can try the other side.”  Lockhart agreed.  He had to stand beside Katie so she could help, but it felt like an odd angle.  Katie had to stretch as far as her chains allowed so they could yank on the chain together.  This second nail did not come out nearly as easily as the first, but when it did, they heard a loud Crack! and a piece of the planking broke.  Everyone got still to listen in case the sound attracted someone’s attention.