Avalon Pilot part II-2: Mission Team

The woman marine arrived in the lunchroom first.  She saluted Colonel Weber and the captain who stood up to greet her.  The colonel went straight to the introductions.  “Lieutenant Harper.  Captain Decker.”

The captain stuck out his hand.  “Welcome to the monkey house.”

She shook the hand and responded with her name.  “Katie.”

“Sit,” the colonel said, and it sounded like an order so both complied, while one of the three men across the table spoke.

“Decker and Harper.  Sounds like a couple of cops from a cheap television show.”

Colonel Weber pointed at the speaker and continued with the introductions.  “Robert Lockhart is the assistant director of the so-called men in black organization.  Ben Lincoln is the one with the missing wife.  Of course, you know Doctor Emile “I am stealing your property” Roberts.”

“Sir.”  The lieutenant acknowledged each man and kept it business-like.  “Mind if I ask a few questions?”  The colonel waved as if to say be my guest, but good luck getting any straight answers.

“I read the briefing but I don’t exactly understand it.  I have heard of people who claimed to be reincarnated, but this sounds a bit more extensive than that.”

“And I hardly expected to find it in a briefing paper,” Captain Decker agreed.

“Not reincarnated,” Lockhart rubbed his unshaven chin as he spoke.  “He sometimes refers to himself as an experiment in time and genetics going back to the beginning of history.  And if the paper was accurate, you will find it says he also remembers the future.”

Lincoln touched Lockhart on the arm to quiet him and spoke to the marines.  “May I ask your security clearance?”

The colonel answered.  “Both Captain Decker and Lieutenant Harper are cleared all the way to the top.”

Lincoln rubbed his own chin.  “That might not be high enough.”

“That’s right.”  Lockhart grinned.  “There are some things it would be best if even we did not know about.  Isn’t that right, Emile?”

Doctor Roberts looked up.  He tried to keep a low profile in front of the colonel who kept threatening to arrest him, but he could not resist a response.  “Like Santa, spry little elf that he is,” he joked.

“Yes.”  Lieutenant Harper thought they were all kidding and tried to get back on topic.  “What does it mean when it refers to elves and dwarfs?  I assume that is code for something.”

Doctor Roberts went back to hiding and Lincoln said nothing, but Lockhart grinned more broadly and shook his head slowly.  The lieutenant reacted.

“You must be joking.  I stopped playing fairy princess when I was five and found out there are no such things.”

Before a more reasonable response could be made, the entrance of the women, who were laughing and having a wonderful time, interrupted them.  Colonel Weber and Captain Decker stood.  Lieutenant Harper also stood, though after what she just heard, she felt like it might have been safer to stay seated.  The colonel at least got to introduce the director, Roberta Brooks.

“Bobbi,” Bobbi said, as she shook their hands and took her seat.

Boston butted in front and took each hand in turn.  “Mary Riley, but everyone calls me Boston.”  She said it twice and went to sit next to Lockhart.

Mirowen nodded shyly at the marines but avoided shaking their hands.  “Mirowen.”  She went to sit beside Doctor Roberts.

“Mirowen?”  The captain asked, like he might be searching for a last name.

“Soon to be Roberts, I think.”  Lincoln sounded morose.  Mirowen’s presence underlined for him like nothing else that Alexis was missing.

“For now, just Mirowen.”  Lockhart kept grinning and raised his hand to point his thumb at the couple.  “She is an elf.”

Mirowen blushed, but she brushed back her hair to reveal her pointed ears.  She turned quickly to Doctor Roberts and he gave her a peck on the lips to reassure her.

At the sight of those ears, Lieutenant Harper sat.  When she sat, the captain sat with her, and barely in time to deal with what happened next.

“Hi, I’m the Princess, but people call me…”  The Princess paused and pretended to think about it before she concluded, “Princess.”  She smiled her dazzling smile.  “Right now I have to go home.  My husband owes me a foot massage, or something.”  She reached to take both the captain’s and the lieutenant’s hands.

“And where is home?” the Captain asked, while he unsuccessfully tried to keep his eyes from wandering up and down her curves.

“204 BC,” the Princess answered with a straight face.  “Now don’t let go,” she added, and vanished from that time and place so Glen could return to his own time and face his own dilemma.  The captain let go, but only for a second.

“Now.”  Glen smiled at the military people.  “Lovely to have you here.  Lovely to meet you both.  You can’t come.”

“Now, wait a minute,” Colonel Weber wanted to protest, but Glen cut him off.

“Despite your soldiers, you have no authority and no real power here.”  Glen walked around the table to the far wall, the only big, blank wall in the room.  “Be gone,” he mumbled.  “Before somebody drops a house on you.”

Once at the wall, Glen turned and looked around the room.  He had instructions.  “Bobbi, I guess you need to play hostess to Mister Smith when he gets back here on the Kargill ship, at least until I get back.  Emile and Mirowen, make a decision already.”  He took a deep breath and then paused to consider what he was about to do before he spoke.   “Letting ordinary mortals other than me and my immediate family into Avalon is not a common occurrence.  But Lincoln, you can come and fetch your wife.  Lockhart, you need to come to be the boss, and keep a tight rein on Lincoln.  Boston, you need to come to keep Lockhart from freaking out, and you need to behave yourself.”  Glen shook his finger at Boston while Lincoln, Lockhart and an excited Boston got up to stand beside him.  “That’s it.  Colonel Weber, Mirowen and Doctor Roberts better be here and untouched when I get back.”  And with that said, he turned again to the wall and spoke softly.

Emile took Mirowen’s hand and she looked at him, smiled broadly, and repeated an ancient rhyme.  “How many miles to Avalon?  Three score miles and ten.  Can I get there by candlelight?  Yes, and back again.”  Part of the wall turned momentarily dark.  A seven-foot-tall and seven-foot-wide space took on a shadowy look before it suddenly became as bright as a window facing into a sunny day.  An archaic archway formed around the space and it became an opening to another place, altogether.  The grass there looked green with life, and the castle in the background, high on a hill, looked positively medieval.  The aroma of life filled the stuffy conference room, and people sighed, softly.

In the foreground, a little creature stood and bowed most regally in Glen’s direction.  Several eyes shot toward Mirowen.  Mirowen kept up a glamour that made her look nearly human with only the pointed ears to give her away.  This creature in the archway was clearly not human, and Glen did not help when he named the thing.

“Kalderoshineamotadecobean.  Lovely to see you.”

“My Lord is always gracious.”

“Speaks sort of human,” Decker whispered to Harper, who did not hear him because, for some reason, she was crying.  “Bit of a shock though.  I can’t imagine an ogre.”

Glen invited his fellow travelers to cross the threshold, and he watched them closely as they went, before he turned once more to the room and spoke.  “Oh, and Mirowen, don’t worry.  I hope to be back long before the baby is born.”

Mirowen flushed as red as Boston’s red hair before Glen stepped through the wall and the entrance to Avalon snapped shut with a bright flash of light.

The Elect, Episode 12 part 4 of 4: Homework

Latasha sat at the kitchen table dutifully doing her homework.  She never bothered with that much before, but for the first time ever she felt good about herself and her life.  She felt like she had a future, and that was an utterly new feeling.

“What are you doing?”  Leon asked.  He was the eldest and sometimes watched over them, though he had two children of his own, one by one of Latasha’s friends who was herself only sixteen years old.ac lat OB 1

“Homework,” Latasha said.

“Why?”  He was not asking what she was thinking.  He was asking why she bothered.  She had heard that bad attitude all her life.

“Detective Lisa says there is no reason I can’t go to community college and study law enforcement.  I am going to be a police woman.”  She was stating what she considered the facts, though she had to get the grades to get through high school first.  She felt the tension, spun and caught Leon’s wrist.  He had his hand open and he fully intended to whack her in the back of the head, hard.

He gave her his meanest stare, but she was not going to let him hit her again.  He finally yanked his hand free with a word.  “Stupid bitch.  The police are the main thing that keeps us down.  Why are you going to join the enemy?”

Latasha stood and made her little fists.  She did not need to hear this.  “They are not the enemy,” she yelled.  “The only thing that keeps you down is you.”

He had some choice words.  She returned as good as she got.  Even a year ago, he would have slapped her silly.  Now all he could do was growl at her and stomp out the back door.

ac lat mama 1Latasha could not sit down right away.  She was too steamed.  Her mother came down the stairs to finish puttering in the kitchen and put dishes away.

“He’s right, you know,” she said.

“He is not right.”  Latasha plopped on her chair.  “I want to do something positive and important with my life.  What’s wrong with that?  I mean, God didn’t put us here to sit around and do nothing, did he?”

“Baby.”  Mama sat beside her.  “I know the Lord has given you the most special gift I have ever seen, you and your…sisters?”  Mama was asking about the word and Latasha nodded.  Sisters was right, and in a way that went way beyond anything as petty as blood or skin color.  “Well, maybe if you can knock some sense into the heads of some of the men around here I am sure it will all be worth it.”  She patted Latasha’s hand and stood to clap her hands at the little ones who were spacing out in front of the television.  “You two, to bed.”

“No, not yet.”  That was expected, but they went upstairs with Mama.  They were tired from playing whack a zombie all day and hitting each other over the head with sticks.

James came down when they went up.  He was the youngest of Latasha’s older brothers at nineteen.  He finished high school last year and had some reasonably good grades.  Mama ac lat james 1cheered louder than anyone at his graduation.  He was her first who made it all the way.  He looked at Latasha.  He always encouraged her to do the work, and in that respect, he was like the black sheep of the family.  Latasha finally put down her pencil and looked up.

“I didn’t want to interrupt,” he said.

“Well, you did.”  The sarcasm just popped out like the old days, and she was immediately sorry.  She really looked at him and gave all her attention.

“I thought you might be interested.  I talked to Sergeant Whitaker today.”  Latasha raised her eyebrows.  She was getting to know some of the police but she did not recall a Sergeant Whitaker.  “Marine recruiter.  He says my grades may be good enough.  I’m thinking of joining the marines.”

Latasha dropped her pencil and rushed around the table to give him a big hug.  He said, “ouch,” and she lightened up.  Then he added, “Mama doesn’t know,” and Latasha pretended to zip her mouth closed.  Then she had to speak.

“I’m so proud of you.”

“Me, too.  Proud of you, I mean.”  He pointed to her open schoolbook.

“I’ll make you proud,” she said.  He just smiled for her and went out.

Latasha was just about finished with her work when Darren sat down in the chair opposite her.  She tried to concentrate, but at last threw her pencil to the paper and frowned.  “Every country ac lat darren 2heard from,” she said and looked up.  Darren had on his serious face, but it was also his manipulative face and Latasha was never quite sure which one she was seeing.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about what you did to those people,” he started right in.  “About you joining the police and all that.  I’ve decided that maybe I need to do something with my life, too.  I’m gonna get a job and work hard to make something of myself.”  Latasha waited for the but.  “The problem is I owe this money and well, I don’t know how to say this, I need your help.”

“I don’t have any money.”

“No, not like that.  I have the money.”  He patted his jacket pocket.  “I just want to pay it back so I can start with a clean slate.  You see?  The thing is I owe it to one of the real bad guys and I am late in paying him back.  I’m afraid.”

Latasha lifted her head and shook it a little.  “No.  That is not what I am supposed to do.”

“But you could go with me.”

Latasha waved her hand at him.  “Regular people problems have to be solved by regular people.  I’m not supposed to interfere with things that way.”

“But we are family.”  Darren paused and laughed as if the thought just occurred to him.  “No, I wasn’t saying you should come and beat them up or something.”  He laughed again.  “No, I was just thinking if my little sister was along, I would have a witness and they might not beat me up.”

Latasha was not sure.  “What about Leon?”ac latasha 7

“No way,” Darren was firm.  “If I brought Leon and James that would be like starting a world war.  But you, they are not going to beat up my little sister and a girl besides or make you watch while they beat me up so you can identify them later.  I don’t think so.  Really, listen.  All I want to do is pay them back and then make a new start with my life.  Really.”

He sounded sincere, but Darren was good at that.

“Saturday morning if nothing else is going on.  Just think about it.  Now I’ll go away so you can finish your homework.”  He did, and she would have to think about it.

###

Lisa and Ashish pulled up the alley as quietly as they could and turned off the engine well before they arrived.  “Still no word from Heinrich?”  Ashish had to ask.

“No.”  Lisa was still adjusting to the idea that she had a member of the mysterious council in town looking over her shoulder.  Maybe he was not exactly breathing down her neck.  In fact, he could be a great help to them.  But it felt like he was watching her every move.  “And no word from Emily ac lisa 4either.”

“Latasha?”

Lisa shook her head.  “She just needs to get her homework done and pass her tests.  Libby is working with her some and that is for the best.  They are too young and too old to be more deeply involved.”

Ashish nodded.  He was not going to argue, though it honestly looked like it might be impossible to keep them from being involved.  “Millsaps.”  Ashish spoke into the radio.

“Ready.”  The answer was brief and Ashish looked at Lisa.  She did not move immediately, like she had something on her mind, but she moved at last and it was quick and forceful steps.

Guns were drawn, and when they were in position, Ashish said “Now” into the radio while Lisa kicked in the warehouse door.  Police officers came in from the back door and the side windows were covered as well, but the place was empty.  There was an old forklift, some stacks of wooden pallets and a broken toilet cover on a pile of rubbish in the corner, but no sign of zombies or even that it had ever been used for such.  Lisa sniffed the air but said nothing.

Ashish holstered his gun with the words, “No surprise.”  It was the address where those rare and ac ashish 2controlled substances had been delivered, but they honestly did not expect it to be the operation center.

The police did a thorough job of it and even checked the dust pile beneath an abandoned push broom, but there was nothing.  Ashish thought to speak again.  “There are too many abandoned buildings in this city, and the lab isn’t necessarily in this city.”  Lisa was still sniffing and Ashish finally had to ask, “What?”

“Smells like magic,” she said.