Avalon 5.10 Family Feud, part 3 of 4

When the women got back to the camp, they came loaded down with a full quarter of the beast, including some ribs and half of the prime rump portion.  Three Amazons came with them, and brought baskets filled with fruit, vegetables and greens.  Antandre and Bremusa acknowledged the men politely, but bowed their heads to the women, especially Katie and Little Fire who they knew perfectly well from their legends.

“I never thought I would live to see you,” Bremusa said, and Antandre’s hands shook a little from the awe she felt.

The third Amazon, Hippothoe, carried a big double-headed axe that looked well sharpened.  She preferred to give the men hard stares and the cold shoulder, as if men in general were contemptible.  She did not mind the women, though she was not overly impressed by them, either.  After pleasantries, she insisted the others return with her.  They had a duty to guard what remained of the herd.  “And we had better do a better job of it,” she said.  “Or we will have nothing to bring to the relief of Troy.”

When the Amazons left, Nestor spoke up.  “Remarkable.”  He said the one word and stared at Sukki and Boston, like a man unable to decide which woman fascinated him more.

Alexis immediately got to cooking some of the meat and vegetables, with a comment.  “We should have enough to carry us to the next time gate, if we don’t dawdle.”  She added the last for Katie, and Lincoln, who would likely want to see the array of Trojan and Greek armies on the battlefield, dangerous as that might be.

“Let me help,” Sukki volunteered for the first time, and Alexis smiled for her and gave her something to do.

“Since we are going naked…” Elder Stow said, and removed his own glamour of humanity.  He gave Nestor a start, but he clearly shared characteristics with Sukki, whom he had already seen.

“Remarkable,” Nestor repeated.  “I apologize, but I do not know who your people may be.”

Elder Stow smiled as a thousand options, no doubt, passed through his mind.  He clearly decided to tell a very short version of the truth.  “We are of an elder race who began to grow grain and domesticate some of these animals while you homo sapiens were just starting to use bone and stone.”  The travelers understood, even if Nestor did not.  “Our present home is out there.”  Elder Stow pointed to the night sky.  “We have a home among the stars, and how Sukki and I came to travel with these people are long stories.”

Nestor shook his head.  He honestly did not understand, but he had another question.  “Are you two married?”

Sukki’s eyes shot to Elder Stow, and if the women read the look correctly, not always guaranteed for Gott-Druk, she seemed to say she would not mind.  But Elder Stow shook his head again.

“We are different generations,” he said.

“I have taken a young wife in my age,” Nestor said.  “She is very good to me.”

Elder Stow still shook his head.  “More important, we are separated by some twelve-thousand years, and that is a chasm hard to breach.”

“Build a bridge,” Boston interrupted.

“We are,” Elder Stow admitted.  “But I believe Sukki may be like a daughter to me, if she is willing.”

“You are all family, in the way the Gott-Druk understand family,” Althea also interrupted.  “I ask only that you love and care for one another.”

“We don’t leave our people behind,” Decker said, and inched up to see what Alexis might be putting in the bar-b-que sauce, since she got her hands on some spices.

“Elder Stow,” Althea took the floor.  “I need to see your equipment.  All of it, please, including your weapon.”  Elder Stow did not hesitate.  Sukki watched and began to underatand.

Sukki remembered Althea from the last time zone, and it came as a shock when she realized they were actually traveling through time.  She saw Diomedes when he arrived, and almost shrieked when she saw him disappear and become this woman from the past that ought to be long dead.  Althea even talked about her own death like it already happened, though she was clearly not a ghost.  Sukki realized then that the Kairos was a special and complicated person, and maybe a very special person.  She recognized the goddess when she arrived.  She wanted to worship this goddess, and she felt the holy terror that only the gods could create.  At the same time, she watched as Althea and the goddess fussed and hugged like two best friends with a long history between them.  Maybe the Kairos was a goddess herself, or a god in this life, as the others spoke of it.

“There,” Althea said.  “Your equipment is fully charged until the next time.  Normally, I would say use it wisely, but in this case, I recommend a screen against intrusion.  You don’t want Trojans or Greeks, or even the Amazons to come stumbling into the camp.”  Althea yawned.  “That took a lot out of me.  I think it is time for Diomedes to come back to his own time and place.”  She waved, and went back into the past so Diomedes could sit on the log in her place.  Diomedes also yawned, and then checked the bar-b-que sauce himself, with a comment.  “Cattle rustling always makes me hungry.”

“Remarkable,” Nestor repeated himself, and Sukki nodded in agreement.

“Welcome back,” Lincoln said.  “It is Diomedes, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Diomedes smiled.  Lincoln always had to ask.

“Are you a god?”  Sukki could not contain her question.

“Only for me,” Boston said, and she scooted over to give Diomedes another hug.

“And the fairies,” Nestor said.  “I recall Alder and his wife, Perdy were a great help in building the Argo.”

“All the sprites of the earth, air, water and fire,” Boston said with a smile.

“I did not even know there were fire sprites until the last time zone,” Sukki said, and looked at Alexis, Katie and Elder Stow to see if she said it correctly.  Elder Stow got busy with his equipment, but Alexis and Katie assured her with their smiles and nods.  “There are air and water sprites too?”

“Way too many for one person to handle,” Diomedes admitted.  “It gives me a headache, thinking about it.”

“And what are you thinking about?” Lockhart asked Katie, who seemed to be deep in thought.

Katie shook herself free to respond.  “It appears that I know all sorts of things about the Amazons and Amazon law that I never learned.  It feels instinctive, like down in my gut, like about what I can and cannot do being an elect.”

“I was wondering how you knew about the Amazon right to her kill,” Alexis said, as she licked her finger to test the sauce.

“I don’t know.  It feels strange.  I just know things, and I don’t know how or why I know them.”

“A gift from Artemis, I would bet,” Lincoln suggested.

“I have that feeling sometimes,” Diomedes said, and paused before he amended his statement.  “Who am I kidding.  I get that all the time.  Normally, the past and future slowly open-up in my mind, around puberty, and usually the influx of knowledge comes gently, but sometimes it comes, wham! bang!  Usually it is an emergency, and I have to scramble to keep from being overwhelmed with all the things I suddenly know.”

“I can only imagine,” Katie said.

“It gives me a headache thinking about it.”

“Maybe you are getting an illness,” Nestor suggested.

Diomedes smiled.  “If only life were that easy and straight forward.”

Alexis licked her finger again and announced.  “Food.”

“So, what are you now, a dwarf?” Boston asked, before she shouted.  “I miss Pluckman.”

“And his eighty-three stooges,” Decker mumbled and got his plate ready.

After supper, Alexis and Lincoln set the rest of the meat up to smoke in the night.  They had a bag of salt and salted much of it.  Nestor helped, knowing a thing or two about preserving meat in the world before refrigerators.  Diomedes sat and put on his most serious face; the one that always got Agamemnon’s attention.  He spoke when they were ready.

“From here on out, it would be best to avoid the obvious historical events.  You can find me at the center of the time zone, if you are careful about it, but you have to make the effort not to interfere with events without permission.  For most things, it would be best to fade into the background and not go there.  The chance of an innocent question or comment spoken in the wrong ear at the wrong time…the risk is just too great.  I really want you to get back to the twenty-first century.  I really do.  But I want it to be recognizable, not one that you have inadvertently changed beyond all recognition.”

“So, no questions about the Greeks or Trojans,” Katie said.  “Or about the war, even general questions?”

“It is safer that way,” Diomedes nodded.

Nestor interjected.  “And I understand you are originally from three thousand years in the future?”

“Yes,” Lincoln said.  “But I suppose we have to be careful at this point talking about that, too.”

“Even if it is something like computers, like the database you hold in your hand,” Diomedes said.  “It might give a sharp mind like Nestor some ideas and to pursue a line of thinking that might eventually mess everything up.  Sorry.”

“We will be careful,” Alexis said.

“We have to be,” Katie showed that she understood.

“Fine.”  Diomedes looked at everyone around the circle.  “Now it is a warm night.  Do you mind if Nestor and I stay and lay down by your fire?  I ate too much to walk all the way back to the beach.”  People said that would be fine, but Nestor had a thought.

“They will be looking for us,” he said.  “Odysseus will certainly come hunting.”

Diomedes just looked at Elder Stow, and the man spoke.  “He won’t find us, I think.  I have finally got the screens connected to the invisibility disc, I think.  Unless he has a sky ship, he should not see us at all.”

“He might bump his nose into the screen,” Lockhart said.

Diomedes agreed.  “And he might spend the whole night tracing the outline of the screened in area, but he won’t understand what it is, I hope.  He is clever.”

“Worry about that tomorrow,” Nestor said.  “We have had enough worries for one day.”

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

TOMORROW

Episode 5.10 ends with a special post tomorrow, Thursday.

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Avalon 5.10 Family Feud, part 2 of 4

“Howdy folks.  You got room at your fire for a cattle rustler and an old man?”

“Diomedes?” Lockhart asked.  Diomedes nodded, as Nestor interrupted.

“Who was that woman?”

“Athena,” Diomedes said to the side, before he spoke up.  “And you remember Nestor from Jason and the Argonauts.  The old man is eighty or so years old now.  You remember these people?”

Nestor looked around, caught sight of the horses, the tents, and the faces before he let out his surprise.  “Why, you have not aged one speck since the last time I saw you.  You swore you were not gods.”

“We aren’t,” Alexis said right away.  “We are time travelers.  The last time we saw you was hardly ten days ago for us.”

“I don’t understand.  I understand Diomedes, as the Kairos, he travels, as he says, through time.  He borrows a person from the past who shares his soul, so in this way time is not disturbed.  I know Althea did the same thing in her day, but…”  He did not know what to say.

“We move through the Heart of Time.  As far as we know, there is only one in all existence.”  Katie looked at Diomedes.

“On this genesis planet,” he said, then paused, as Boston raced into his arms.

Boston paused.  “You are Diomedes, aren’t you?”

Diomedes looked at Nestor.  “Yes, he is,” Nestor said.  “Though I would not mind a hug from a pretty young woman.  It has been a long time since I have seen my daughters, I should say, my granddaughters, if not my great-granddaughters.”

Boston obliged him with a hug and then stepped back.  “I remember you.  You used to make Iolaus jokes.”

“I was young and brash,” Nestor admitted.

“All right.”  Diomedes rubbed his hands together as Decker and Lincoln came into the light.  “Katie, Alexis, Boston, and Sukki.  You get to go with me to fetch what we can of the cow Decker shot.”  He traded places with Althea all grown up and continued speaking without an interruption.  “You men get to stay here.  You are not permitted to talk about the events at Troy or after Troy, but you can talk to your heart’s content about Jason and the Argonauts.  And Katie, you can ask all you want about Heracles, later.  Right now, we have a job.”

“Right,” Katie got up, with a quick kiss for Lockhart, and she was ready.

“Wow,” Boston said to Althea.  “You aged,”

“Hey, I’m not that old.  I’m just twenty-something, I think.  Anyway, I aged the normal way.  Want to know when I died?”

“You know that?” Alexis asked.

“Yes.  From this point in history, it has already happened.  I know how, why, when, and too many details like it is happening now.  I would rather not talk about it—oh look, we just came out of the trees and the herd of cattle is still there.”

“Sukki?” Boston asked what was the matter.  Sukki looked stressed.

“Why did you want me to come along?” she asked.

Althea stopped, so everyone stopped.  Althea faced the girl, put her hands on her very large shoulders that supported muscular arms, and spoke softly.  “Because this is now your family, and all the girls in the family are invited.”  Althea smiled.  Sukki looked at the ground.  “Do you understand?  You are part of the team.”  Sukki nodded, but did not look up, so Alexis and Katie got on either side of her and hugged her.  She started to cry, softly, and Boston started to cry softly with her, empathic elf that she was.

Althea turned.  “Penthesileia,” she called, and made herself heard.

Three women trudged down from the edge of the herd, as Althea and the travelers made their way up the small rise.  They met on level ground and one of the Amazons spoke.

“We did not expect to find women here,” she said as the others raised their spears to not be threatening.  “I am Alcibie.  My sisters are Antandre and Bremusa.”

“I am Althea from long ago, come with friends to apologize for shooting one of your aurochs.  They did not know you were herding the wild cattle and thought they were part of a wild herd.  They are ten hungry people, but a single aurochs is more than they can consume.  I am sure they will be glad to share it with the Amazons.”

“How can you be Althea from long ago?” Bremusa interrupted to ask.

Althea smiled for her.  “I visited your people in the last days of Otrera, when I was young aboard the Argo, and I yelled at Ares because he is supposed to stay away from my Amazons.”

Alcibie and Bremusa ducked and looked up for fear that such sacrilege might bring the wrath of Ares on them in an instant.  Althea continued.

“I came again with Heracles when Hippolyta gave her girdle to Heracles.”

“That was stolen,” Antandre said, sharply.

“The story changes over time, but I was there.”

“We have a right to our kill according to Amazon law,” Katie said.  “Even if it was accidentally shot from a herd of wild beasts.”

“Who are you to tell us what is Amazon law?” Alcibie demanded an answer.

“I am Katie.  The second elect in all the world after Zoe.”  Alcibie backed off, noticeably.  “If my friend Artemis was here, she would vouch for me.”

Alcibie and the others looked down in something like a head bow, and Alcibie spoke.  “I should have recognized you by your golden hair.”

“Company,” Boston reported.  People looked in the light of the newly risen moon.  Two women came, side by side, and a half-dozen more followed, keeping well back from the couple.  One of the women was in tears.  That was Penthesileia, the queen.  The other woman was Artemis, and she spoke as they arrived.

“And I do vouch for you, Katie.  And Little Fire, and Alexis, my friend.  And I see you have added a new friend to the family.

“This is Sukki,” Alexis said through her smile.  Being called a friend by a goddess is a powerful aphrodisiac.

“I think we can dispense with the glamours for now,” Artemis decided, and raised her hand to reveal Boston, the elf, and Sukki, the neanderthal.  Antandre and Bremusa shivered at the sight of the Gott-Druk, and at the sight of a little one, but in the presence of their goddess, they almost did not notice as they fell to their knees and covered their eyes.  The women who followed their queen from the camp were also on their knees in the mud, and Artemis spoke loud and clear.  “I think sharing the aurochs is a wonderful idea.  Boston, would you do the honors?”

Boston nodded.  “I could use help.  The women might want some of the innards that we normally waste.”

“Alcibie can help,” Artemis said, since the Amazon was the last one on her feet, with her mouth and eyes wide open, staring.  Boston turned her from the sight of Artemis, and accepted Katie’s knife, which she offered for Alcibie to use.  They went to work on the beast, and Althea finally spoke.

“You’re not mad at me, are you?”

Artemis looked at Althea for a long minute before she spoke.  “I don’t think I could be mad at my best friend forever, no matter what.  I don’t think I could hate you no matter what form you took.  I’m sorry you got stuck with Athena, and I think it is terrible what Aphrodite did to you.  I know you cut her, but I know you denied Athena and refused to finish her.  Dite is not mad at you, I think.  Anyway, it was the result of her own meddling.”

“You’re rambling.”

“I feel awkward.  I don’t do awkward.”

“I love you, no matter who I am.”

Artemis nodded.  “Even when you are a male.  I know.  It took me a while to figure that out.  I love you, too.  Without you, I would have no real friends at all.”

“Me too.  Not forever friends.  And you have always been so good to me.”

“You, that is, Nameless, warned me not to pay attention to any golden apples that had writing on them.  I am so glad I believed and trusted you.”

“Me too.  I’m sorry this time we are on opposite sides.”

“Me too.  But this won’t go on forever.”

Althea started to cry, and Artemis and Althea hugged like long-lost, broken-hearted friends.  Then Artemis said one more thing.  “I better go.  I feel like I am going to cry, too, and it would not be good for mortals to see a goddess cry.”  Althea nodded, and sniffed; and Artemis vanished.

Avalon 5.10 Family Feud, part 1 of 4

After 1116 BC Troy.  Kairos 69: Diomedes, the King

Recording…

Diomedes rolled in aurochs dung, and made the others apply it as well.  When he saw the Amazons ride in, driving a herd of some thirty wild cattle, he imagined cowgirls with whips and spears driving cattle along the trail.  He shouted, “Yee-haw,” and then had to explain to Odysseus what yee-haw meant.  Now, he figured if the women were cowgirls, the least he could do is be the Indian when he went to steal some of those beasts.

“You are disgusting,” Odysseus said as he scooted up and whispered.  “Old man Nestor says he will have to bathe the entire day tomorrow to get rid of the smell.

“Is that a threat or a promise?” Diomedes asked, as he pulled his cow hide further up on his shoulders.  “Thersites could use a bath.”

“Wash his mouth, maybe,” Odysseus whispered.

Nestor scooted up with Sthenelus’ help.  He giggled like a schoolgirl.

“Diomedes,” Thersites called out in his loudest whisper, before he saw them.

“Hush,” Diomedes hushed him.  “No scare-um buffalo.”  He turned back to Odysseus and Nestor.  “Aurochs have a bad temperament.  Spook them, and they will run, but startle them, and they will just get angry and charge.”

###

Two sets of eyes tried to pierce the darkness.  One looked back and spoke softly.  “Where is that girl.”  She turned to the one still beside her.  “Now that the sun has set, we need all eyes on the herd.”

“Lady.  I don’t see anything but mud and cattle.  Not much for the cattle to eat.  We best get them in to the city in the morning and to the butchers before they become too skinny to bother cutting up.”

“Quiet Bremusa.  Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth closed.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Alcibie.”  The call came from behind, and it sounded nice and loud.  “What is the problem?”

The girl ran up, followed by the queen.  Alcibe spoke softly after she removed the palm from her face, an affectation the Amazons learned from a young woman who visited them in the days of the queen’s grandmother.  “Antandre.  You move that way.  Bremusa, move slowly the opposite way.  Keep quiet, and keep your eyes and ears open.”  Alcibie turned to the queen and deliberately whispered.  “Penthesileia.”  She nodded her head.  “I sense something in the cattle.  Something is not right.  Maybe, for all our precautions, the Achaeans have come up into our midst.”

The queen put her own hand over her own mouth.  She should have known better than to shout ahead.  She looked intently, but saw no movement but among the cattle.  Alcibie had her bow out and strung.  She fingered her arrows.  The Amazons were hard to see in the dark of night, but they were not the only ones who mastered that skill.

###

Diomedes and his crew stood together and wailed like banshees.  They waved their cow hide cloaks like they were the dead cows, returned from the dead.  The wild cattle were certainly startled, but they were not spooked to run until everyone heard a loud crack in the distance, and one of the cows fell to the ground, mysteriously dead.  Everyone imagined Zeus and a thunderbolt, except Diomedes, who knew the sound all too well.

Ten of the herd, the group Diomedes and Odysseus agreed would likely split off the easiest, ran in the expected direction.  The Greeks saw the torches lit, which formed a nice tunnel to the sea.  Diomedes and his crew did not wait around to be caught, but they kept yelling, giving their position away at every step.  One of Diomedes’ men got an arrow in the thigh.  It was a good and lucky shot, and Diomedes almost turned back to confront the shooter, but Odysseus turned him to pick up the man and help get him to safety.

Antandre and Bremusa realized too late that they could do nothing with their spears.  Alcibie shot three arrows, but two missed and the third only wounded one who still got away.  Antandre and Bremusa had to quickly turn to keep the rest of the herd from running, and other Amazons came up to help.  The women were well trained and disciplined, so they succeeded without anyone getting hurt, but Alcibie yelled, “I knew it,” and Penthesileia growled and felt like kicking herself.

As soon as Diomedes got the wounded man to where he could hand him off to Sthenelus and his men, he grabbed old Nestor, who was still giggling, and pulled him aside.  He practically dragged poor Nestor to the edge of a stream and together, they got in to wash.  All that while, Diomedes did his best to think to Boston.  Don’t let Decker go out on that field.  Stop him.  Tell Katie to get ready to join me.  I’ll be there quick as I can.

Boston had to run to stop Decker and Lincoln, though the two had stopped.  With the night goggles, they saw what was happening better than any Greeks, Amazons or Trojans could hope to see, and while they might not have understood the full dynamics of what they saw, they decided not to interfere.

“I only looked at the beef,” Decker admitted.  “I assumed these were wild cattle.”

“They are,” Lincoln said.  “Aurochs are a wild breed.”  He wilted a little under Decker’s stare.  “It is too far to tell, even with the goggles, but I am guessing we are closer to Troy than we thought.  I was trying to make out the city and missed the people completely.”

Decker nodded as Boston ran up at super elf speed.  “I guess we both need to be more careful from here on out.”

“That, or we need to stop before dark, no matter how much someone wants to see the fabled walls of Troy.”

“Can’t see the walls in the dark, anyway,” Boston said, as she caught her breath.  “Amazons,” she added.  “We’re supposed to wait for Diomedes, and then Katie is going to fetch the beef.”

Decker and Lincoln said nothing as they turned to head back to the camp they had set up in the woods.

###

Diomedes crawled out of the water and saw the love of his life standing on the shore, waiting patiently.  How unlike her, he thought, and he stepped up to her and kissed her passionately.  She responded with her whole heart, but when they parted, she stepped back and spouted.

“Now I’m soaking wet.  Thanks a lot.”  she waved her arms, and all the water that covered her vacated her clothes and went back into the river.

“I just wanted to give you something from my heart and ask you to remember later where we left off.  Sadly, I have work to do that just came up.”

“I know.  I’ve been watching them for the last couple of days.  This is not a good time for them to show up.”

“I understand.  And there is a crisis here, already.  I was thinking I may have to trade places with Althea and let her handle it.”

The woman turned up her nose at the thought.  “And you drag the sweet old man with you?”

“Ah, yes.  They met Nestor on the Argo, if you recall.  Volcano day.”

The woman nodded.  “Well, you can start out as yourself.  Who you become is your business.  You have your own work as we have our work, even as you said.”

The woman waved her hand again and Diomedes and Nestor disappeared from that place and reappeared beside a nice, cozy campfire.  Diomedes thought, don’t forget where we were.  He heard the answer, Never.

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

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4 posts in this episode.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and THURSDAY.

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