Avalon 8.3 Above and Beyond, part 3 of 4

Martok did not take long adjusting Elder Stow’s communication device.  The device could reach a ship in orbit.  He just needed to extend the range a bit because he was not sure where his target might be.  Margueritte came back and spoke for herself.

“Imuit.  I invite you to earth, to come and see me.  The Trilobites in orbit have taken some friends and family, and I would like to get them back in one piece.  Please help.”  She turned it off and handed it back to Elder Stow without comment.

“So, what do we do?” Decker asked.

“What can we do?” Lord Barth asked.

“We wait,” Margueritte said.  “Right now, that is all we can do.”

“Okay,” Boston said.  “Trilobites I’ve heard of.  Who are the Imuit?”

“They are aquatic insects, maybe amphibious insects, arthropods.  You would probably see them as spiders.  They were the first multi-celled intelligent life produced naturally on this Genesis planet.  That was about 540 million years ago.”

“First multi-celled naturally produced?” Tony asked.

Margueritte had to listen to other lifetimes, including Lady Alice, before she could answer.  “Conscious life or sentient life has been on earth almost since the oceans were created.  It may have even floated around in the dust before the earth was created four and a half billion years ago.  Eventually, we got microbes and photosynthesis and oxygen in the atmosphere, and then actual cells—single cells like bacteria.  And sentience came with it all.”

“You mean intelligent life in microbes?” Boston asked.

Margueritte shrugged.  “But certainly, with single cell life.  One type lived in colonies and the consciousness combined through the colony.  At a certain size—I don’t know how many, billions, probably trillions of single cells in the colony, intelligence grew.  They invented the apple.  Do you remember the apple from Ali Baba’s Day?  The healing device that killed bad cells and promoted the growth of good cells?  Well, anyway it or they began to experiment on the Eukaryotic cells that eventually formed multi-celled life.  No, they did not invent multi-celled life.  They were not the reason for the Cambrian explosion.  But they experimented on the first Trilobites.  They wanted to replicate intelligent life as they understood it.”

“And they succeeded,” Elder Stow said, having paused in working on his scanner to listen.

“After a fashion.  Sort of.  The Trilobites are still animals on their own, but combined in a group, that is within a certain range of each other, they are telepathic, and the colony can imitate intelligence, sort of.  There were other intelligent life forms that came and went since the Achaean colony formed, but the Imuit was the first multi-celled intelligence God made in this world.  It makes more sense to say God made, or at least intelligently designed.”

“But now we have intelligent Trilobites in space that have captured Lockhart and the others,” Decker said.

“And my mother and sister,” Margueritte nodded.  “But the Trilobites are so slow to learn, rather than intelligent, it might be more correct to say they are not stupid.  Of course, not stupid after 550 million years can advance to space travel and teleportation.”

“Too bad,” Decker said.  “Not stupid means they can’t run for congress.”

“You too?” Tony smiled.

“It doesn’t get any better in a hundred years.”

“Ha-ha,” Margueritte did not laugh.

“So,” Elder Stow took back the conversation.  “We have had intelligent spiders on earth for 550 million years?”

“Not on earth,” Margueritte said.  “They began on earth, but like every intelligent species, at a certain point they got taken to an ordinary life-supporting planet where they could thrive.  You know, the climate has changed on earth over four and a half billion years.  Sometimes, that causes mass extinction events like the oxygen event.  I would guess the Imuit got taken off world during the extinction event at the end of the Paleozoic, when so much of the sea life died out, say, about 250 million years ago.   I don’t know what exactly happened then.  I was not around.  But all kinds of things can cause extinctions.  It is better to be elsewhere when that happens.”

“So, there are lots of intelligent species in the universe that began on earth?” Sukki said, but it was really a question.

“I wouldn’t say lots,” a woman said.  The image of a beautiful woman with long green hair appeared at the end of the table.  She caused the people to shuffle their chairs a bit before they settled down to stare.

“Sheen,” Margueritte apparently met the woman at some point in her life, or in another life.  “Don’t worry,” she told the others.  “She is just a projection.  She is not really here, and doesn’t really look like that, though I think the green hair is natural in a way.  Looks nice.”

“Kairos,” Sheen responded.  “And thanks.  But I was going to say there were plenty of intelligent species on this planet before the genus Homo got planted in a garden, and I don’t just mean Australopithecines.  Yours is a seed planet.  You germinate life forms.  Yours is one of only four in this arm of the galaxy, and one of those four is near the end of its useful life.  Their sun is about to go red giant.  Luckily, that is not my world.  This world I have watched for a long time, not interfering, but just watching.  You know it is not my place to interfere.”

“For how long?” Elder Stow asked.  He meant to ask how long she had been watching.

“I saw the Diplodocus forcibly removed sixty-five million years ago, though they were not ready.  I have seen the Trilobites return to this place time and again, to take a sampling of whatever intelligent species is in the ascendency.”

“But they cannot have these people,” Margueritte said.  “Half of them are people displaced in time.”

“I see that,” Sheen said.  “I am not sure how you did that since time travel is a dead end.  But I understand.  That is one reason I like you.  You know some things even I don’t know.  But what about the others?”

“They are my family.  If they are taken it will break my heart.”

Sheen almost smiled.  “Far be it from me to break anyone’s heart.  Now, for the future, your friends were selected because their technology is superior to the rest of the planet.  The Bites were not interested in the Gott-Druk, but they kind of missed the two by the wagon and picked up the four by the house.  Not very good aim.  You understand, I will have to remove the Trilobites completely or they will come right back and try to pick up your time friends again.  They really are not that smart.  Once gone, they will stay gone.  Their schedule is every hundred thousand years.”

“Thank you, my friend,” Margueritte said.

“You are welcome, my friend,” Sheen said and vanished.

###

Lockhart stayed on his feet and kept an eye on the bugs crawling in the other room.  At some point, he figured out the other room was full of water.  “Even if we break through the wall, we will either be drowned or maybe face the vacuum of space.” he concluded.  “We have to wait for the ones we left behind, and the Kairos to work things out.”

With that, Katie stayed on her feet, but the others sat down, until Lincoln got up to pace.  He said walking helped his stomach.  He also said he hoped they were not taken to fill Trilobite stomachs.  Nanette and Alexis both yelled at him for being insensitive.  Elsbeth shuddered at the idea.  Jennifer said she felt like throwing up again just thinking about it.

“They look creepy,” Brianna said at last.

“They are,” Lockhart agreed.  “Creeping across the floor and up the walls.”

Katie nudged him.  “How did you figure out they were in water?”

Lockhart pointed.  “They prefer to cling and use their legs like a centipede, but I have seen more than one push off and swim to another point.  I suppose there is a pattern of sorts.”

“Like a ballet,” Katie nodded.

“I was thinking more like a baseball game. Some hold their position while others look like they are going in circles, like running the bases.”

“Oh,” Lincoln sat down.  “We’re moving.”

“How can you tell?” Nanette asked him.

“I can tell,” Jennifer said.

“Vibrations,” Lincoln answered, and Nanette put her hand to the floor and let her magic feel for the movement.

“Where are we going?” Elsbeth asked.  “We are going to miss Margueritte’s wedding.”

“Can’t have a wedding with Father Aden here,” Brianna pointed out.

“That’s right,” Jennifer said, trying to get her mind off the movement.

“Don’t worry,” Father Aden sought to comfort Elsbeth.  “I am sure Margueritte will save us soon enough.”

“Ugh,” Elsbeth said.  “That would be terrible.  Margueritte gets all the credit for everything.  It isn’t fair.”

Brianna smiled and hugged her daughter, and blinked, and they were somewhere else.

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

Don’t forget TOMORROW, the end of the episode.  Monday will begin a new episode so you don’t want to miss tomorrow’s post.  Hopefully, people will make it home for the wedding.

*

Avalon 8.3 Above and Beyond, part 2 of 4

The vanished people ended up in a small room with no windows and no visible door.  Everyone felt sick.  Lincoln and Jennifer threw up.  Elsbeth did as well, but just a little and said she was fine.  Brianna and Father Aden were right there for Jennifer.  Alexis and Nanette helped Lincoln, while Katie and Lockhart looked for a way out.

“No door, no windows, no vents,” Lockhart said.

Katie put her hand to the wall and admitted, “I don’t even know what kind of material this is.”  She pressed her fingers into the wall and when she drew back her hand she saw where her fingers pushed into the wall, briefly making indents before the wall healed over and became flat and smooth again like nothing happened.

“Something like memory foam?” Lockhart suggested.

“But hard,” Katie responded.  “More like a padded cell.”

“Where are we?” Elsbeth asked as she wiped her mouth with her sleeve.  “Is this a dream?”

“Not a dream,” Alexis said, as she got Lincoln to sit with his back to the wall.  Father Aden thought that was a good idea, and he got Jennifer to sit against the opposite wall.

“It did not feel like when the gods moved us instantly from one place to another,” Lockhart said.

“But similar, in a way,” Katie countered.  “We have definitely been moved to another place, and no telling how far we have traveled.”

“How can we have traveled?” Brianna asked.  On seeing that Jennifer was all right, she stood and put her arm around Elsbeth, her daughter.

“Teleport,” Lincoln mumbled, coughed to clear his throat, and tried again.  “Like on T.V.”

“We could be in space,” Alexis added, speaking for her husband.  “On those shows, they usually transport to a ship in orbit.”

Lincoln nodded and pointed to his wife, adding, “It feels like space.  I got sick when I got taken to space by the Vordan, back in the real world.”

“When was that?” Nanette asked.

“A few years ago.  Before we found you.  About thirteen hundred years in the future,” Lockhart answered, and grinned.  That was the kind of thing the Kairos usually said.  “Back before we got stuck on this time trip.”

“Well,” Elsbeth spoke up.  “Wherever we are, I am sure Roland will get Charles to turn out the whole Frankish army to look for us, and then woe to whoever kidnapped us.”

“That might not be so easy if we are in outer space,” Nanette said.

Brianna looked at Lockhart and Katie.  “By space, you mean above the clouds, like out among the stars?”

“Hopefully not as far as the stars,” Katie answered.  “But outside the atmosphere, maybe between the earth and the moon.”

“That will make it hard for any army on horseback to find us,” Lockhart said.

“But you have experienced this sort of thing before?” Father Aden spoke up from where he doted on Jennifer.

“Not exactly,” Alexis answered, but Lincoln waved, like he wanted to say something.  People waited for him to swallow.

“I read about teleportation in the database after the first time the gods moved us from one location to another.  The television version is impossible.  There is no way to account for the infinite number of variables.  Finite creatures can’t do infinite.  There are ways around that.  I remember a temporary wormhole is one way.  I don’t remember the others.”

“You mean, you did not understand the others,” Alexis said with a smile for her husband.

“That too,” Lincoln admitted.

Elsbeth turned to her mother.  “Maybe you could call Doctor Pincher and he might know a way to get us out of here.”

“No, baby,” Brianna said.  “Margueritte might, but I’m not connected to the spiritual world in that way.”

“Little White Flower?” Elsbeth looked at Jennifer who sat with a hand on her stomach.

“No,” she said.  “I’m not connected anymore, either.”  She explained to the others.  “I used to be a fairy.  I became human to marry Aden.”

“Really?” Alexis spoke across the room.  “I used to be an elf and became human to marry Benjamin.”

Father Aden interrupted before the two women started comparing notes.  “It seems to me it is less important how we got here as why we are here.”

“Obviously someone brought us here for some reason,” Katie agreed with the father.

“And what do they want?” Brianna asked.

Lockhart punched the wall, but not too hard.  The wall stiffened on impact, so it showed no dent.  “I would guess we can’t shoot our way out of here.”

Nanette pushed her finger gently into the wall, and it showed a deep dent, but healed over as soon as Nanette withdrew her finger.  “I may be able to do something, now that I have my magic.”  She went to discuss it with Alexis even as one wall began to change.  Jennifer and Father Aden had to quickly move away from that side.  The wall turned transparent to where it appeared to vanish altogether.  Lockhart slapped his hand against it to show that it was still there, only now it was invisible and see through.

Elsbeth looked while Lockhart distracted everyone with his hand slap. Elsbeth screamed.  There were multi-legged insects of some sort, about the size of an average table chair, crawling all over the floor, walls, and ceiling of a much bigger room.  People backed away from the transparent wall, but Katie took a close look.

“My god,” she said.  “They look like Trilobites.”

###

Margueritte got the blacksmith and his helpers to take care of the horses.  Tony and Decker had ghost unhitched from the wagon, and Tony figured the mule would not wander off.  Margueritte took everyone inside and sat them at the table.  Father, Lord Barth, sat in his regular seat on the end.  Boston, Owien, Decker, and Tony sat on the side where Brianna, Jennifer, Margueritte, and Elsbeth usually sat.  Sukki, Margueritte, and Elder Stow sat on the opposite side, with Margueritte in the middle, where Margueritte’s big brother Tomberlain sat with Owien and often enough, Father Aden and Roland.

Margueritte put her hand out to Elder Stow and said, “Scanner.”

Elder Stow only hesitated for a second before he pulled out the device.  “You think some sort of matter transportation happened?”

Margueritte nodded.  She opened the device carefully.

“Couldn’t Danna do something?” Owien asked.

“Or maybe one of the gods,” Boston was thinking the same thing.

“The gods aren’t cooperating,” Margueritte said, and then added, “Father, don’t look.”

Lord Barth covered his eyes for a minute as Margueritte went away and Martok, the alien Bospori came to take her place.  Martok, a mathematical engineer, was a life that came from far enough in the future to understand all the technical specifications of the Gott-Druk device.  He went to work, and Lord Barth only let out a small peep when he uncovered his eyes.  Owien, Boston, and Decker all laughed.  Tony had another thought.

“We might know what was going on if we had the database.”

“I was just thinking that,” Sukki said, but Martok shook his head.

“Stow, explain,” Martok whispered, while he worked.

Elder Stow had to think for a minute, but thought he understood.  “We have basic matter transportation that we have been able to achieve in laboratory conditions.  The actual breakdown and restructuring of matter is considered untenable.  There are limitless variables and no way to account for them all.  There are ways to sidestep that limit, but we are just beginning to experiment in your twentieth century.”

Decker understood.  “So, whoever we are dealing with has a technology superior to the Gott-Druk, even a thousand years in the future.”

“Essentially, yes,” Elder Stow admitted and looked down at the table

Martok appeared to have finished and Margueritte came back to another peep from her father.  She said, “There are plenty of choices.  The question is which one—who are we dealing with?”  She pressed on the scanner and a holographic image of a ship appeared to hover over the table.  “Parked above us,” she said.  “Just on the edge of space.”  She studied the image and heard from other lifetimes and finally from Alice of Avalon herself.  “Damn,” she said, as the image began to waver and break up.  Something fizzed in the scanner, and the image vanished.  “Damn,” Margueritte said again, and glanced at her father because of her words, but he just looked serious.  Margueritte never swore.

Neither did Elder Stow, but he almost made an exception when he grabbed his scanner to check for damage.  He got out the eyepiece he used for the microcircuits and almost cursed again.

“But we need help,” Margueritte yelled at the ceiling.  By then both Boston and Sukki needed to know.

“What kind of ship was that?” Sukki asked.

“Who has a damn ship?” Boston asked at about the same time.

“Trilobites,” Margueritte said without explanation because Lady Alice made a suggestion.  She stuck her hand out to Elder Stow and said, “Communication device, please.”

Elder Stow looked at her and pulled his scanner out of reach, like a child might protect his toy from the one who broke it.

“Just to make a call,” Margueritte said.  “There should not be any feedback this time.”

Elder Stow detached the device from his belt and handed it over, reluctantly, and Margueritte went away so Martok could return and fiddle with the device.