Avalon 2.8 Visitors

            The travelers get Captain Decker back, even if they are still chasing Lincoln’s wife, Alexis, and her father Mingus.  What is more they appeared to have landed in a friendly group of natives.  Ordinary travelers might expect to relax and rest, but they know this is a lifetime of the Kairos where trouble and danger are the norm.  Besides, there are walking and talking reptiles out there, somewhere.

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            After the awakening, Katie kept one eye on Decker.  The others seemed unconcerned.  They stepped over to Otapec’s fire and told stories and laughed, but Lieutenant Harper felt she needed one eye on her Captain.  He had been out of it for a long time. 

            The man said little after he awoke, but then Decker was a person of few words so that was no surprise.  He saw to his horse, the one that was tied to him by the Kairos – the one he named after Colonel Weber.  Decker was all business with the horse, but Katie imagined if the horse had been a dog it would have licked his face.  After that, Decker hardly paid any attention to Elder Stow, as if having the Gott-Druk around was no big deal.  He also did not appear surprised to hear that Alexis and her father Mingus were missing again.

            “The more things change,” he spoke in clichés and sat by the fire to meditate.  That was the oddest thing of all.  Katie had no idea the hard boiled Navy Seal even knew what meditation was.

            “People.”  Otapec got everyone’s attention.  The elders of the natives and the Shemsu were approaching and it was time for introductions.  To no one’s surprise, the elders all bowed to Maya first of all though she blushed and turned her eyes to her Opi.  Otapec just smiled for her and opened his mouth when Decker finally had something to say.

            “Incoming,” and he added, “The more things change.”  Fortunately, he did not finish that cliché.  He could not as the sound of retro rockets echoed across the field.  A shuttle was coming in for a landing.

            Everyone grabbed their weapons while Maya strictly charged Chac and Ixchel to keep Kuican in the circle of the elders.  When they were ready, Otapec lead the troop down the hill to see the visitors, and he whispered in Maya’s ear as they went.

            “No!”  Maya spoke as if she was shocked to hear what Otapec suggested, but she said no more.

            They had to stand and wait for a while. 

            “System shut down,” Lincoln suggested.

            “Scanning the area for hostiles,” Lockhart offered.

            “Only us,” Decker quipped and gave his rifle the quick once over to be sure it had not been damaged in his five hundred year absence. 

            Finally the hatch of the shuttle came down and six Pendratti came out from the inside.  The four that looked military escorted the two the travelers had met in the jungle.  They young one was still juggling some sort of equipment.  The older gray one was smiling again.

            “And see?”  The gray one spoke.  “Here are exactly the ones we are looking for.  This matter should be resolved easily enough.  Bring them inside.”

            The young one smiled this time and showed all of his sharp teeth while he fiddled with some controls on his equipment.  Lockhart, Lincoln, Katie and Boston all stiffened.  They began to move toward the ramp and Maya reacted.

            “No!”  She shouted and gave a curious look to her husband who stood quietly, arms folded, watching.  The connection with whatever had the travelers in its grasp broke instantly, and the people stopped moving.  Boston and Lincoln backed up a step.

            Elder Stow and Decker had something else in mind, but Decker was quicker.  He put several bullets in that piece of equipment, and fortunately he was a good enough shot not to harm the Pendratti holding it.  The startled Pendratti dropped it and it shattered against the shuttle ramp.  The gray one frowned, but the guards all drew their weapons.  One overreacted or panicked and pulled the trigger.  A blast of some kind struck a screen a few feet in front of the travelers where it was completely stopped.  Maya looked at Opi, again.

            “My husband is so smart,” she said softly before all words were silenced by the roar of a second, smaller shuttle that rocketed to a landing less than a hundred feet from the Pendratti shuttle.  No one was surprised when three Gott-Druk emerged holding tight to weapons of their own.

            Elder Stow stepped forward before the guns started firing and he shouted as loud as he could.  “I said these people are under my protection.”  He looked at the elder Pendratti.  “And the reason I repeat myself is because you seem to have trouble with your hearing.”  That appeared to make the Pendratti elder angry, but the Gott-Druk who saw him and heard him relaxed a little.

            All this while, Otapec stood still and said nothing.  Maya looked at him again and started to ask a question.  “Should I –“

            “Yes.”  Otapec interrupted.  “Keep it right where it is.” Otapec heard something and he knew what kind of creature made such a sound.  Even as Elder Stow threw his hands up and the Pendratti and Gott-Druk sounded ready to get into a great argument, a five foot wide head stuck out from the trees right between the two ships and two arguing parties.  A roar was followed by a burst of flame.

            Both Pendratti and Gott-Druk darted for the safety of their ships.  The fire headed straight for the travelers but was stopped by Maya’s screen which she kept in place as instructed. Still, the travelers all stepped back except for Lockhart who curiously stepped forward.

            “Do no harm!  No Fire!”  Lockhart yelled in the Agdaline language which he dredged up from some back corner of his mind.  “No harm.  No fire.”

            The worm inched out from the trees and Katie remarked, “Why it is still full of feathers like a baby.”

            “Baby,” Lockhart said the word in the Agdaline language and repeated himself once more.  “No fire, baby.  No harm.”  The dragon dropped its chin to the ground and then slowly slithered forward as Otapec finally spoke.

            “This kind doesn’t have much in the way of legs or arms.  It truly is more worm-like.”

            “But aren’t feathers dangerous for fire breathers?”  Katie asked.

            “Not real feathers despite the look and feel.  They are more like asbestos, fire-proof and toxic if taken in large doses, by the way.”

            “But I thought the Agdaline ejected the adults in space before landing.”  Boston looked at Otapec who crossed his arms again as he spoke to her. 

            “They trap one or two in the airlock to release when they set down just in case their reception is not so friendly.”  He stepped up to his wife and kissed the back of her neck.  She wiggled, but was occupied with something.

            The worm reached Lockhart who repeated the word, “Baby.”  He reached out his hand and Maya’s shield gave way at the hand so Lockhart could stroke the dragon’s nose.  The dragon purred, a deep, throbbing sound.  It was not the lyrical song of the babies, but only because this one was larger and more mature.   

            Otapec whispered in Maya’s ear and she spoke.  “Find deer.  Eat deer.” Maya said, and Lincoln looked back toward the horses.

            “I hope it knows what deer is.”

            “Go.”  Lockhart said.  “Fly.”  He looked at Otapec who nodded.  They might not have much in the way of legs and arms, but there was nothing wrong with their wings.  The dragon rose up in a bit of a whirlwind and flew off without looking back.  After that, the Pendratti were the first to leave.  The Gott-Druk followed.

            “Well!”  Captain Decker said as he shouldered his rifle.  “I guess you will all have to tell me what I missed after all.”  He stared for a moment at Elder Stow before he stared more deliberately at Lieutenant Harper.

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Avalon 2.8 Flight … Next Time

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Avalon 2.8: Revivals

            The walking and talking reptiles don’t appear to respect any species but their own, but at least the Kairos and his wife are glad to see the travelers.  Otapec claims to have treats and surprises for them as well, whatever they may be.

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            There was a big bonfire built and ready to light, which suggested the travelers were expected.  Otapec, Maya and their children were separated from the others in the camp by some distance.  Lockhart imagined that was to give the travelers room to set their own tents, but he suspected there was also more to it.

            “We had a strange encounter coming in,” Lincoln spoke as he unsaddled his horse.

            “Pendratti.”  Elder Stow spoke up.  “I have only seen them in paintings and pictures which is why I was slow to recognize them.”  He turned to Katie.  “My apologies, Mother.  I would have claimed to be your protector sooner if I knew.”

            “Pendratti,” Otapec interrupted and laid his hand gently on Decker’s horse.  “And there are Gott-Druk somewhere around here as well, but we will speak of that later.”

            “Opi!”  Maya called.  She stopped to scoop up a four-year-old in a tent door, but otherwise she was bouncing up and down in excitement and anticipation and heading slowly to the big tent set back against some trees.

            “Yes, my love,” Otapec responded as he watched his ten-year old son and seven-year-old daughter run up with a trail of children behind them.  Otapec introduced them.  “Chac, my eldest.   He is the good rain that feeds the crops.  Ixchel, my beautiful daughter is the rainbow that follows the rain.  She takes after her mother.  And the little one struggling in his mother’s arms is Kuican.”

            “What is Kuican?” Boston asked.

            “The wind, I think.  I don’t think he slept until he was three.”

            “Opi,”  Maya called from the big tent.  She was grinning but impatient.

             “Bring the horses.  Maya has invented a special treat.”   Otapec waved to the group and stepped over to join his wife.

            The travelers did not know what to think and more than one member of the group eyed Lockhart who continued to shrug as he brought his horse to the big tent.

            Maya grinned like a school girl when she handed Kuican to Otapec and threw the front flap of the tent straight up.  If she did not exactly say, “Ta Da!” it was near enough.  The odd tent was much bigger on the inside than the outside suggested, and it was absolutely filled with corn.

            “Corn!”  Lincoln and Boston both said the word out loud.

            “Maize,” Maya said with a slight frown at Otapec.  Apparently they discussed it.

            “Just invented?” Katie asked Maya who said nothing but nodded her head, vigorously.

            “Hey, now we can make tortillas,” Lockhart grinned.

            Otapec matched the grin.  “Now we can make whisky.  I remember that one.”

            “What one?” Boston asked as she began to shuck some corn to feed her horse.

            Otapec forced Chac and Ixchel to each take a four-year-old hand and he began to help.

            Maya apologized and waved her hand.  A whole bushel was immediately cleaned and Boston reacted.

            “Wow, that was some magic.”

            Otapec shook his head and Maya just smiled a sparkling smile.  Otapec slipped his arm around his wife’s shoulder and squeezed her from the side.  She giggled before he spoke.  “You do know the horses will still mostly graze.”  He explained to his wife.  “Like human beings, they do best with a varied diet.”

            “Oh,” she nodded and waved for the children to follow their father as she broke free of his embrace and stepped up to Katie.

            “So what is this other surprise?”  Lockhart asked out loud, now that the horses were settled for the moment.  Two horses had in fact already found the nearby stream where they were contentedly slaking their thirst.  Otapec said nothing, but waved for them all to follow, which they did at a leisurely pace.

            “You are an elect,” Maya said first thing when she reached Katie.  Katie wondered how the woman knew.  “I have never met an elect before, except Zoe,” Maya said.  “But she had already been made a goddess by then so that did not count.”

            “You met Zoe?”

            “Oh yes, years ago.  She came by to ask if I would join the Amazon council if needed.  Of course I said I would.”  She glanced at Opi and smiled, and Otapec smiled in return, though he did not see her.  It was like there was an invisible thread connecting the two, so when Maya was happy, Otapec was happy.  Katie glanced back at Lockhart and smiled for him.  He saw and gave her a funky, foolish grin in return, and Maya spoke again.

            “You will have to work on that.”  Katie just nodded, and then was a bit surprised when Maya grabbed her hand and placed it on her belly.  “I would not mind if my daughter was one of the elect.”

            “You’re pregnant?  Number four?”  Maya just nodded.  “You and Opi?  But wait, how many years ago did Zoe visit you?”  Katie stopped walking so Maya stopped to face her

            “Oh, many, many years.”

            “You and Opi?”

            “Yes.  As a fertility goddess it is hard for me to not be pregnant.”

            Katie pulled her hand away slowly.  Then she had a thought.  “But won’t he grow old?”

            Maya shook her head.  “He is old enough to be a respected elder, but young enough to be a wonderful lover.  I will keep him as he is.”

            “For as long as you can,” Katie said.  She knew that even the gods could not prevent the Kairos from dying when it was time for him, or her to be reborn.

            “For as long as I can,” Maya agreed and a few tears came up into her eyes.  When they dropped to the ground, the grass grew a little taller and flowers came up. 

            Katie had a change of heart and gave Maya a big hug and a sisterly kiss.  “Let’s go see what all the commotion is about.”  Maya wiped her eyes, brought her smile back out as well as she could and followed.

            The others were all standing around the sarcophagus, waiting.  Lincoln turned to Katie and shouted.  “Lieutenant Harper, it’s Captain Decker.”

            Otapec was also waiting, but for Maya who stepped right up and took his hands where the sarcophagus was between them.  Otapec smiled for her, and she returned a genuine smile as Otapec went away and Kartesh of the Shemsu came to take his place.  Kartesh squeezed Maya’s hands before she let go.

            “Hello, old friend.”

            “Dear old friend,” Maya responded.

            Lockhart noticed that many of the dark-skinned natives came up and fell to their knees in the face of Kartesh.  “These Shemsu are mine by default,” Kartesh admitted, but her hands were manipulating the Agdaline controls and shutting down the sleep chamber so Decker could be awakened.  The lid popped open and Decker stirred.

            “Damn,” the man said, and “Ouch.”  He had been terribly wounded all those time zones in the past, and cryogenic sleep did nothing to heal him.  Kartesh made him lay as straight as he could in that little Agdaline box and Maya stepped over to stand beside her. 

            “I am not a healer by trade,” Kartesh admitted.

            “Nor am I,” Maya said, but the two goddesses placed their flat hands about eight inches above Decker.  The inside of the sleep chamber began to glow, and then Decker began to glow.

            “No,” Kartesh opened the conversation over Decker’s glowing body.  “You are Opi’s little woman.”

            “And proud of it,” Maya responded with her best grin.  “And that is little fertility woman if you don’t mind.”

            “Not any longer.  It is little Corn Woman now.”

            It did not take long, whatever the women did, and Decker wanted to sit up.  Kartesh gave Maya a kiss on the cheek much as Katie had and vanished to be replaced by Doctor Mishka.  She came complete with her little black doctor’s bag and would not let Decker do more than sit while she examined him.

            “But Doc., I feel fine now.”

            “Sit.  Stay.”  Mishka spoke to him like a dog.  “And that is Colonel Kolchenkov to you, Captain, not Doc.”

            Decker stayed until she finished and put her stethoscope back in her little black bag.  She turned to Maya with a word.  “So when were you going to tell me you were pregnant, and then  she and her little black bag vanished and Otapec finally came back to help Decker stand.  The man was wobbly after his five hundred year sleep, but some food and real rest would do wonders.  Then Otapec stepped up to Maya with a stern look on his face.  Maya looked down at her feet, like the goddess was afraid to look into his mortal, human eyes.  But he just caught her up in an embrace and kissed her like tomorrow might never come. 

            Some “Oooed,” some “Ahhed.”  Some couples looked at each other with unasked questions in their eyes.  Chac turned his head to protest.  “Mom!  Dad!”  Ixchel stared and did not know what to think.  Kuican pulled his hands free of his siblings and reached out with the words, “Me too.”

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Avalon 2.8  Visitors … Next Time

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