Guardian Angel-17 The Examiners, part 1 of 3

Jill and Ethan looked at each other in silence for a long time.  Duncan was the first Gaian Ethan had actually met after Dominic, and he felt a little embarrassed at the way the man acted toward him as Jill’s presumed husband.  He came from an America that had no nobility and no royalty.  Of course, he had learned that Jill was a princess, only it never dawned on him that it would make a difference in his standing.  It was going to take some getting used to.  Jill was not going to interrupt his thoughts.  She knew full well what he was struggling with.  What could she say?  She just had to let him work things out in his own time and in his own way.  She knew that much.  It was that way with the worlds.

“Where are we?”  Ali Pasha asked the couple.  He interrupted again, now certain that his travels were at an end.

“As you think,” Jill responded this time with a smile.  “This is your home.  But I will ask one more time, Ali Pasha, are you sure you want to do this now that you have seen the violence to which it can sometimes lead?  I can remove your chits with no injury to your person and you will never regret a decision that you will never remember.”

“I am sure that I will do my job, though whether I will do it well or not remains to be seen.”  He spoke courageously, like a man determined to fulfill his destiny.  “I do not yet know if I can kill a man, but by the will of Allah, it might never come to that.  As it is, I do not know if many outsiders will be interested in my world.  We have no technology and no reasonable means of supporting a technologically sophisticated people.  We have not even invented gunpowder, and I pray that we never will, though I know it is probably inevitable if it has not already been discovered in some dark corner of the Earth.  I will not stand in the way of the progress of my people.  I am an inquirist.  Ignorance is my enemy.  But I see now that knowledge is not always salvation.  In the end, it depends what we do with what we know.”

“I believe my master is learning wisdom,” Manomar said with a smile.

“Master.”  Ali Pasha no longer liked the word.  “In some ways it will be hard not to interfere with my own world’s development, but at least I will try to keep us from becoming slaves to some outside people.”  He looked at the others and then looked at his feet and shuffled them toward the waiting door.  “Come, Manomar,” he said.  “We have a Master Examiner of the Society to remove, for a start.”  He dared not say more, but it was possible the whole Society of the Mahdi was full of alien men.


Ali Pasha and Manomar got out near the New Ark city gate.  The guards there were not surprised to see them and let them into the city without lifting a hand.  Ali Pasha was known for his expeditions into the wilderness, so no one questioned them.

“We must stop on the way and pay back the money I borrowed, with interest.”  Ali Pasha told Manomar.

“My master is thoughtful.”  The big man grinned.

Ali Pasha looked up into the big, black face for a minute.  “At this point I think friend would be more appropriate, but master is probably for the best.  We must keep up appearances, and a scholar knows all about keeping up appearances.”  Manomar just smiled.

After they had paid back the money, and without being too obvious about it, let everyone know that they were back in town, Ali Pasha led his faithful man across the whole length of the town to the docks.  They greeted everyone they could along the way.  He had little trouble finding the girl, Kirsten, since he knew exactly what she looked like.  He had a bit more trouble finding her owner who turned out to be drunk and sleeping it off at the back of a sailor’s hostel.

“I don’t understand, sire.  Why would you wish to purchase me?”  Kirsten asked.

“I knew your father.”  Ali Pasha answered her in her own Englander tongue.  “He was a good man.”

“That is not what my mother told me.”  Kirsten answered honestly enough.  “She said he was a worse drunk than my Master, Omar the Idiot.”  Kirsten was not shy about sharing her feelings and opinions.  This was not a good trait for a slave, though Ali Pasha thought it was better than he had reasonably hoped.  Such impertinence clearly showed that the young woman had not surrendered to being a slave forever.

“Ah, but I knew your mother Angelica, too.  She was a good woman even if she had hard and fast rules for everything.”

“Well.”  Kirsten pursed her lips at the mention of her mother’s hard and fast rules.  “It does sound like you knew my mother.”

“So you see, I felt it was only my duty to see to their child.  Call it a simple kindness on my part for old time’s sake.  Isn’t that right, Manomar?”

“In truth my master,” Manomar responded.  “Lars and Angelica are, were good people.  One can easily see that in their offspring.”

Kirsten hardly knew what to say.  “Thank you.”  She tried to wake her owner gently, but then she threw a tankard of water on Omar the Idiot’s face.  “Wake up you fool,” she said.

As Kirsten worked on the drunk, Ali Pasha spoke an aside to Manomar.  “You know in Ethan’s world, the followers of the Prophet refuse to touch alcohol as the Holy Koran suggests.  It is not a bad idea.”

The man did eventually rouse as he sputtered from the water that sloshed into his open mouth.  “What is it?  What is it girl?  It had better be important or I will beat you raw.”

“Now, now,” Ali Pasha said.  “None of that kind of talk if you please.”  Manomar simply moved within reach of the man’s face and snarled.

“We have visitors.”  Kirsten introduced them.  “Ali Pasha the Scholar, this is Omar ben-Ebrahim.”

“Ben-Ebrahim?”  Ali Pasha spoke while he thought, not the Idiot?

“It is a common enough name,” the man blustered.  “What’s a man like you want in an indecent place like this?”

“I want to buy your girl,” Ali Pasha said while Manomar looked over his shoulder.  The bartender was keeping a close eye on the proceedings.  Obviously, he wanted Omar with gold rather than a girl.  He was not inclined to accept the girl in exchange for drinks, but gold would do just fine.

Omar sized up the well dressed scholar.  “I could let her go for thirty pieces,” he said and let out a sigh which suggested that the price was a sacrifice on his part.  It was a sigh that would become very annoying before the bargaining was done.

“Thirty?”  Ali Pasha followed the ritual.  He indicated how shocked he was at the suggestion, and in this case, it took very little acting.  “I am a scholar, not a Mogul.  I have need of this girl for my studies, but I am hardly a rich man.”

Omar shrugged and sighed.  Then he licked his dry lips and tried again.  “For a scholar and an honest man, I might consider half price, say fifteen?”

“I was thinking more like five for one blond barbarian girl.”  Ali Pasha responded, and they were doomed then to dicker for a while.  In the end, Ali Pasha was pleased with himself for paying nine rather than the ten gold pieces that would be the expected compromise between five and fifteen, and it only took one drink to make the bargain.  On the other hand, Omar had no reason to complain.  On the open market, Kirsten would have fetched about seven, and only because she was still so young.

“So, now you are my master?”  Kirsten checked, now that all the papers had been signed and duly witnessed.  The bartender added his name in big, bold print.

“Technically, eh Manomar?”

“My master is given to illusions,” Manomar said.  “He considers me his friend.”


“Yes, and I think you might turn out to be the good daughter I never had.  Someday, I might even see you married to a proper man, as long as his name is not Veek.”

“Really?”  Kirsten was excited by the idea.  She was sure her fortunes were going up.  “But you have no children?”  She asked, in consideration of the Scholar’s feelings.

“Children?  I have plenty of children and plenty of daughters, only I am not sure there is a good one among them.”  Ali Pasha laughed.

“Yasmina?”  Manomar suggested.

“Yes,” Ali Pasha admitted.  “She is tolerable.”

Guardian Angel-7 Gun Diplomacy, part 2 of 3

Ethan and Jill got dragged outside and tied to two of the five poles, which looked like permanent fixtures in the yard.  They had to wait while the executioners lazily collected firewood.  Not expecting to have a chance to get Jill alone again, Ethan started right in with the questions.

“So what did you infect me with?”  He waited, and while he could not see her face, exactly, he imagined she winced.

“Nano-chits,” she admitted.

“Chernobyl?”  He remembered.

“No.  Never.  These are organic based, not silicon nightmares.  That they have successfully restructured to match your unique genetic and psychic patterns is evident by the fact that they have been effective, but they are not intelligent and they have no capacity to develop intelligence.  In some ways it limits their abilities, but it is safer when they are not self-directed.”

“But I was able to understand Ali Pasha’s Arabic without thinking about it.”  Ethan spoke while two men tied him to the pole in the yard.

“Well, they are very sophisticated in their programming, you must remember.  Think of your computer, it allows you to store and retrieve masses of information and allows you to perform numerous tasks like calculations that would otherwise take days, if you knew the math.  But your computer is not self-directed.  It is only as good as the information it receives.  You hear Arabic and in a very short time, the chits allow you to understand and respond.  In time, if you hear enough Arabic from enough people, you will be able to pass yourself off as a native.”

“But I needed to think the pain away and think my healing from the whip.”

“Of course.  The chits are not a panacea for life.  They will never automatically erase any pain or pleasure, except that they are antibiotics which no known bacteria, virus or sub-virus can overcome.  Listen, thousands of men and women continue to seed worlds against the expected Chernobyl plague and those organic chits will function automatically.”  Jill paused for a moment in case Ethan had a question, but Ethan could not think what to ask, so she continued.  “But for things like setting yourself free from bondage, you must think it to happen.  Now.”

With that last word, Jill stepped free of her pole, and Ethan looked up.  All of the executioners were over at the woodpile or getting straw to start the fire.  She smiled for him as she walked behind his back.  “I will help you this time,” she said.  “But next time I will expect you to do this for yourself.”  Ethan was instantly free.  It was much quicker than if she had tried to untie the knots that bound him and much safer than if she had used a knife.

“Hey!”  One of the men by the straw noticed.  “Ahmed, you fool!”  The man shouted, and Ethan guessed that Ahmed was the one who had tied them to the poles in the first place.

Ethan grabbed Jill by the elbow as she had once grabbed him, and he ran with her toward the exit, but as they neared the gate in the stone wall, Ethan remembered the guards just outside the gate.  The commotion of pursuit was beginning behind them, so he had no option but to redirect their path on the only open route—back toward the house of torture.  There was shouting, and two shots fired in the distance.  As they reached the side of the house and ducked behind a number of crates that were lazily stacked there, they heard three more shots.


Lars ran from the docks as fast as he could.  The sailors, who were concerned first about their captain, lost him in the crowd when he got to the marketplace.  Lars ducked into a doorway and checked to be sure his gun was loaded.  When he was ready to run again, he took off back in the direction he had been taken, which was toward the slave market.  He hoped he was not too late to pull Jill and Ethan to safety, and he worried especially that Jill might not be able to break free as easily as he had.  He hoped they were all right.

Some commotion started behind him.  Someone shouted about an escaped slave, and he knew the masses would be after him any minute.  He was not surprised that the people in this world reacted as they did.  They could not afford to have their slaves even think about freedom, much less get away, since the slaves outnumbered the freemen.

“Auch!”  Lars said to himself.  He was going to save his friends, and woe to anyone who got in his way.

When he arrived at the slave market gate, he was not sure which way to go.  He wasted precious time and risked being seen when he stopped to think through to his best option, but he knew it would do no good just running in blindly.

At that same time, Ali Pasha came out from inside the market and he seemed in a terrible hurry.  “Sveeden!”  He shouted on seeing Lars and stopped dead in his tracks

“Where are Jill and Ethan?”  Lars asked quickly as he ran up.  Manomar looked around the street and hastily threw his robe over Lars’ shoulders.  The robe had a hood, which he also pulled up to cover Lars’ blond locks.

“Disguise.”  Manomar said.  Lars ignored him and concentrated on the scholar who appeared to be out of breath.

“I have money to be buying you from market, but taking time to raise money.”  Ali Pasha breathed heavily.  “Now you already selling, and Jill and Ethan taken to Examiners.  Come, we must be hurrying.”

“These Examiners are not nice?”  Lars guessed.

“Torture.”  Manomar said the one word, and held up the briefcase.  “Maybe we can send you home.”

Lars ran with them, but he managed a guffaw.  “I hope not.  I haven’t hardly traveled anywhere yet.”

When they came to the wall and the gate outside the house of the Society of the Mahdi, there appeared to be some commotion inside the gate.  Lars caught a glimpse of Ethan and Jill as they neared and suddenly turned away.  One of the gate guards looked about to take off after them, while the other presented his pike to the three approaching in order to stop their forward progress.  Ali Pasha went into conversation mode, a man prepared to demand entry, but Lars and Manomar both knew that this was no time for talking.  Manomar held back his master and went for his knife.  Lars was quicker and did not have his hands full of scholar and briefcase.  With two bullets, he put two guards out of commission, and Manomar left his knife where it was.

They began to run again, but as soon as they entered the yard, Lars saw Ethan and Jill headed toward some crates, three men on their heels.  It took a careful eye to stop those men without hitting his friends, but Lars was up to the task, and on seeing their fellows dropped by a thunderous crack! and what looked like magic, the other men in the yard decided not to challenge their visitors further.