Avalon 6.2 Sudden Encounter, part 1 of 6

After 821 BC Phoenicia. Kairos lifetime 74: Ibelam, the Sailor

Recording …

The dry ground appeared desert-like in every direction.  There were trees enough for shade, but many looked stunted by the conditions.  The travelers moved in a group.  No one wanted to be the rear guard because the dust blew in that direction.  For once, Boston and Sukki did not straggle at the back of the pack.

“His name is Ibelam,” Lincoln said, having read about him in the database.  Alexis and Katie listened, and so did Lockhart, though he kept one eye on the trail ahead.  Boston certainly could have heard with her good elf ears, if she bothered to listen.

“Phoenician, you said.”  Katie wanted to get something straight in her mind.

“I would guess we are in southern Syria,” Lockhart said.

“Or northern Arabia,” Alexis offered an alternative.

“He must be moving,” Boston interjected. “The gate is getting closer on its own.”

“Ibelam?”  Sukki did not seem concerned about where they were.  She just wanted to get the name right.

Lincoln nodded.  “Next to Ibelam it says, see Sinbad the Sailor.”

Lockhart laughed.  Katie took it more seriously.

“Maybe some of those stories started this far in the past.  They were told, originally, long before Mohammed.  They got modified to fit Islam after the fact.”

“After the fact?” Boston asked, and this time Katie nodded.

“Mohamed won’t be born for almost fifteen-hundred years in the future.”

Lockhart spoke his thought. “Sinbad sounds like the Kairos. He sits at the center of the hurricane while everything whirls around him.”

Katie almost said she agreed, but Decker chose that moment to ride in from the wing.  Elder Stow, seeing Decker’s dust, rode in from the other wing.

“Man crying for help up ahead,” Decker showed his binoculars.  “Being chased by what looks like skeleton soldiers.”

“Sinbad must be getting close,” Lincoln mumbled through a slight grin.

Lockhart pointed.  “Decker and Katie with me on the right of that hill up ahead.  Elder Stow, take Sukki to the left.  We need your scanner, but get your weapon ready.  The Patton sabers is about all we have that is effective against skeletons. Fire and wind,” by which he meant Boston and Alexis.  “You go down the middle, and Lincoln, go with the women, sword ready.”

Katie gave Lockhart a love slap in his shoulder.  “And what am I?”

“I should say the other women. You’re with me.”

Katie nodded.  She wanted to be with him.  The riders split up.

###

“Help!”  Muhamed scrambled up the steep, rocky side of the hill.  He almost slipped in his haste, but then he had a thought.  He kicked at the loose rocks in the hope of starting a rock slide.  “Help!”  His cry felt like an automatic reaction to danger.  Like, the word just popped out of its own volition.  He had no idea if anyone might be around to hear him.  It did not appear so.  He picked up a couple of rocks and threw them at his pursuers. The skeletons were not bothered by the rocks, even as he hit one and knocked the arm out of its socket.  The others raised their shields and brandished their swords.  He imagined if they had flesh and blood, they might shout at him.

“Help!”  Muhamed shouted, involuntarily, and turned to resume his run. It hardly mattered.  He would eventually tire and run out of breath.  The skeletons needed no breath.  He stumbled. It proved fortunate. A skeleton-thrown spear tore through his sleeve and scraped his arm, but missed his back.  “Help!” His voice rang out again.

Muhamed glanced at the sky and realized he ran the wrong way.  The time gate lay in the opposite direction.  He seemed headed toward the very people he intended to stop.  The goddess had been very clear about that.  The demoness in the future gave him the elixir of life, and the formula, and showed him how to make it.  The same demoness in the past ordered him to ruin the ones running through time.  She made him able to know the time gates and where to locate them.  She kept him in bondage for several years, but at last she set him free to exact her revenge.

“Ahhh!”  Muhamed threw himself to the ground and covered his head.  A line of flame, like from a flame-thrower, shot over his body and struck the nearest skeleton.  The skeleton began to burn, rapidly, but it did not stop moving. “Ahhh…” A great wind followed the flame.  It knocked two off their feet, and caught in a shield where it picked a third off the ground.  It blew long enough to make the skeleton lose its footing, so it tumbled down the rocky ridge and broke to pieces.  But clearly, the wind proved no more effective than the fire, even if the burning skeleton eventually collapsed.

“Elder Stow,” a young woman’s voice called out.

“Just coming to it,” a man answered.

Muhamed dared to lift his head and watch. His eyes got wide, his mouth opened and he gagged on what he saw.  A line, like a stream of light struck skeleton after skeleton.  They did not move, like being blown by the wind.  They did not burn, like the one struck by the fire. They simply crumbled to dust as soon as they were touched by the light.  The dust, or maybe ash, blew away on the wind like nothing ever existed in that place.

“Such power,” he mumbled, before he shut his mouth.  The witch with the raven-black hair came to him.  He feared what she might do, but she surprised him with her words.

“Are you all right?  Are you injured anywhere?”

Muhamed smiled.  “No, praise Allah and his holy prophet.  I escaped with only this scrape.”  He showed his arm where the bloody cut looked like more than a scrape.

The other witch, the one with fire-red hair ran up.  “Lucky we came along,” she said, while the black-haired witch tore his sleeve to get at the wound.

Muhamed nodded, but said nothing as he could not get his eyes off her red hair.  He understood this one, in reality, was a demon creature of fire and light who only appeared as a red-headed human witch.

“Lincoln, help me,” the black-haired witch called, and a man came to help her get Muhamed to sit up.

“I am fine,” Muhamed assured them. “I am just winded by running so far and so fast.” then he quieted while the black-haired witch worked.

Three people came from one direction, riding on big horses.  The men looked like two giants, one white and one black.  The woman between them appeared a beauty with hair as gold as the sun. Two more walked up from a different direction. One old man, who toyed with a box as he walked, and one broad-shouldered young woman who looked strong enough to wrestle one of the giants.

Muhamed knew these were the people the goddess wanted him to ruin.  He had hoped to do that without being found out, but the skeletons had other ideas. The skeletons did not obey him. Instead, some turned on him.  He wondered if that might have been because they lacked the flesh to properly absorb the elixir…  Muhamed looked at the others and shut down those thoughts. He imagined he needed to be extra careful.  The goddess warned him that these people were clever.  It might be best to not talk at all.  He would listen, and maybe learn something of their intentions.

“Elder Stow?”  The white giant named the old man, but his inflection suggested a question.  The old man appeared to be studying a small box.

“There may be more skeletons,” Elder Stow responded.  “But they are some distance away and appear to be headed in the opposite direction.”

“Robert.”  The one with the golden hair got the white giant’s attention.  “This would be as good a place as any to camp. The steep, rocky incline is a defensive help.”

“Decker?” Robert asked the black giant.

“I agree,” he said.  “We will have to watch our rear and have to back-track in the morning to get down below, but we seem to be doing a lot of backtracking lately, so no big deal.”

“On the other hand,” the golden-haired woman said.  “Being on this little hill, our campfire will be seen for miles, unless Elder Stow sets his screen device on invisible mode.”

“No,” Robert said.  “We need to conserve his battery life.  Katie, why don’t you take Decker and see if you can find something to shoot.  Take Boston with you to give warning, in case some of the skeletons decide to double back. Lincoln, Alexis and I will take the horses tonight.  We better tie them.  There isn’t much to graze around here, anyway.  Elder Stow and Sukki, you can get the fire started, if you don’t mind, and if you can find enough to burn. And take our guest…Does he have a name?”

“Muhamed,” he said.  “Muhamed bin Saladi.”  He looked at his arm where Alexis had been working.  “By the prophet,” he mumbled.  The wound not only stopped bleeding, but it looked closed up and completely healed.  He could still feel it a little, where the cut had been, but it otherwise felt as good as new.  Then he had a second thought

“The magic will not wear off in time and the wound come back.”

“Not that kind of magic,” Alexis said with a small smile.  “The healing is real.”

Muhamed nodded and returned the smile, but he told himself again to be careful.  He did not expect help and kindness from the evil people the goddess described.  Saving him and healing him might be a trick to lure him into their wickedness.  He decided his best bet would be to show gratitude and keep silent, feigning ignorance, until he found a way to escape their clutches.  He stood and helped the old man and the strong young woman gather and stack some wood, and he tried to smile.  He mostly smiled.

Elder Stow and Sukki tried to smile in return, though Elder Stow in particular did not appear very good at it. It felt awkward for them all, before Alexis came back and reported that Lincoln and Lockhart had the brushes and would give the horses a good rubdown.

“Sukki,” she said.  “You need to come with me back down the trail.  We need to see if we can find some fodder for the horses to chew on, and maybe something for us to chew on as well.  The camel we shot and chewed on for lunch is already starting to turn in this heat.  We need to find something, in case Decker, Katie, and Boston don’t find anything better to eat.”

Sukki dropped her few sticks beside the circle of stones Elder Stow started building, and she looked up. They all looked up.  A large space ship of some unknown design shot overhead, headed in the same direction they would have to travel in the morning.

“Fudge,” Alexis said, and she really said fudge.

“Not Agdaline, or Anazi,” Sukki knew that much.

“I am not familiar with the markings,” Elder Stow admitted.

Muhamed stared like a man who had never seen or imagined the like.  He barely kept his mouth from screaming.

Avalon 3.10: part 5 of 5, Dispersal

Hadj’s first wife, Ishitak stood beside a woman, a stranger, and the only suggestion as to who it might be was Ishitak’s downturned eyes. She suggested a pose of reverence. The woman spoke first.

“You must be Hadj. Hadj of the three wives. Traveler in Time. Watcher over history. Kairos of the earth, and I see you have your hands full.”

Hadj paused and rubbed his chin before he felt a sudden urge, stepped up and kissed the goddess on the cheek. The goddess’ eyes got big. It may have been the first time she was surprised in her whole life. She lost a touch of control for a moment and let out a smidgen of her awesome nature. Sokar gasped, fell to his knees, and covered his eyes with his hands. Ibin el-Wadi joined him and then thought it better to go to his face. Lockhart bowed as well as a twenty-first century American can bow, and Hadj stepped back to rub his chin again.hadj 2

“Don’t tell me,” Hadj said. “Your face is familiar, like family, but I can’t place the name.”

“Kirisha, your sister,” Kirisha stomped her foot in a playful manner, but she put her hand to her cheek where he kissed her and smiled.

“But I thought you were twins,” Hadj said. “I heard you had a sister.”

“Pinikir has the north here, and Susiana, but she says she doesn’t want it. She says it is too much responsibility, but then she has really played with the queen of Susiana. Poor Sokar is so in love with the queen, sometimes I’m afraid he is going to blow up like that flying air thing.”

“She is very beautiful,” Hadj admitted.

“Pinikir stepped inside the woman and shaped the queen’s body and features to match her own,” Kirisha tattled.

“I see,” Hadj said, while Alexis, Lincoln, Roland, Boston and Mingus all came close to see what was delaying Hadj. Lincoln stood beside Lockhart. Roland and Mingus bowed to the goddess. Alexis and Boston curtsied as well as they could, neither as gracefully as a true elf since Alexis was now human, and Boston had just become an elf and was still learning.Barak Hebat 1

“And may I ask who your mother might be?” Alexis asked with her eyes downcast. She felt the goddesses mother would be the telling connection.

“Mother Ishtar,” Kirisha said with a broad smile, “And yes, Lincoln, my grandmother was Innan,” Kirisha lost some of her smile and everyone felt the heartbreak.

“But I should consider my manners,” Hadj said, with a glance at Ishitak who nodded without ever looking up. Hadj went away and Junior came to stand in his place. “You might give your actual brother a hug,” he said, and held out his arms.

“Amun,” the goddess shrieked her joy and raced into his arms for a real hug. “Pinikir is going to be so jealous,” Kirisha said as she returned the kiss to Junior’s cheek. Kirisha stepped back and said something the others hardly expected. “Oh, I almost forgot. You missed one.” She raised her hand and a ghoul appeared beside her. “Do you want this one?”

hadj ghouls 4“No. No. No way,” the people there all shouted.

“I didn’t think so.” Kirisha snapped her fingers and the ghoul collapsed and melted until he was no more than a green and purple smudge on the grass.

Amun nodded and spoke to the goddess as he took her hand. “Don’t go away. I want to hear all about this place you have, and your husband and the others, but first I have to attend to business. Alexis,” he said, and commanded her attention. Even so, it took a moment to remember what she had to say.

“Commander Slurpee died in the night. I’m sorry. I did everything I could.”

“Cody, are you satisfied?”

“I do not understand why these humans should help the Pendratti, but I begin to understand why this planet is off limits.”

“Good. Roland.”

Roland spoke right up. “The Sevarese commander killed his companion during the ghoul attack.” The Sevarese commander was weeping. “There is one left in the transport, but the transport engines are ruined, and the communicator as well, so they cannot contact their ship.”

“That should be along walk,” Mingus guessed.

“Boston?” Junior smiled for her.

Botson, who was on her knees, shuffled forward to hug Junior’s knees. “Oh, Great Lord, I love you so much, and I am willing to do whatever you ask of me even if I may not do it, but please, can I marry Roland now?” She looked up at him with eyes full of pleading and hope.

“She is a cute one,” Kirisha said. “And she is very much in love. And I should know. My mother is the love goddess.”Boston thanks

“Not just yet,” Junior said. “You need Mingus’ permission first,” He tried to look stern, but found it impossible.

“Yes, Lord. Thank you Lord,” Boston said, and she shuffled over to Mingus, gave his knees one good hug, and then sat back on her heels without ever lifting her eyes.

“One more thing,” Amun said, and he called, “Reglala and Ouklee.” the Marzaotipan couple vanished from where they were hiding inside their ship and appeared in front of Junior. “Do you understand that this planet is off limits?”

“Oh yes, very much. Indeed. We do. Oh yes.”

Junior quieted them. “You got a little closer to the fighting than is normal for your kind,” Junior pointed out. “Now you have several destroyed Sevarese fighters and Pendratti fighters from yesterday. You also have a Pendratti and Sevarese transport to salvage, if you dare. But then I expect you to leave this UFO Birdman 6system and not come back. It is for your own safety.”

“Oh yes, indeed. We will. Yes, we will.”

“So everyone listen,” Junior commanded everyone’s attention, and Kirisha squeezed his hand, attracted to the exercise of power. “Hadj will be taking a detour, to take the Pendratti back to his ship. He will send the Pendratti back into space, immediately. You surviving Sevarese will have to walk back to your ship, and that is a long way, so you will have to hurry. The Pendratti will have a reasonable head start.”

Junior looked at Sokar who refused to lift his head. “Sokar,” he said, and made sure the man’s ears were open. “You will take your men back to Susa where you will no doubt continue to worship your queen. But if you are good, and stop doing the queen’s evil, maybe, and I am saying only maybe, mind you, you will find something in your stocking at Christmas … “ Junior shook his hea. “Frosty the Snowman,” he said. “I mean, maybe Kirisha will find you a woman that you can truly love and who will also love you.”

“I am not my sister. I make no promises,” Kirisha caught the reference to Frosty the Snowman and laughed, and everyone smiled at the sound of pure joy. Junior coughed like he was clearing his throat.

“Reglala and Ouklee will take two goats for whatever Elder Stow needs to charge up his equipment, and then they will take their leave and you can leave this world. And Lockhart, by the way, you might stay here for a day or so. I think the time gate will get closer to you as we go toward the Pendratti ship.”

“We will keep an eye on it,” Lockhart said.UFO alien tech

“Good. Ibin el-Wadi. Everyone needs breakfast, and then we need to be packed to leave at dawn.” Ibin el-Wadi dared not speak as Junior and Kirisha vanished.

An hour later, Hadj walked across the field where it looked like some kind of battle took place, even if the ghouls were no more than purple and green smudge spots on the ground, and the trees set on fire by the fighter crash had burned down to hot, red ash. The sun was coming up, and the bodies of the Elamites and the Sevarese made a spectacle.

Anashk and Leahn, Hadj’s second and third wives came running to hug him and grab his arms to carry him back to the camp. They were grinning, and having been so close to a love goddess, and then seeing Hadj become a god who reflected the same love, Hadj had no doubt they had something specific in mind. Ishitak, his first wife, merely stood and was quiet, wiling to wait, but Hadj could see the calculating in her face. Hadj thought he had enough children, but then again, he was only human.

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

Starting Monday, as we approach the end of season three, be sure to catch Avalon, episode 3.11 Festival of Marriage.  It is about time Boston and Roland settle things …

Boston7

Avalon 3.10: part 4 of 5, Battle Below

Everyone slept outdoors and eyed each other through most of the night. Lockhart set the standard two person, three hour watch, It was around four in the morning, when Lockhart and Roland were on duty, when Mingus chose to get up to spend a little time with his son, there came a disturbance in the Elamite camp. Men began to scream and run wild, tripping over one another in the dark, and possibly hurting each other. Some came toward Lockhart, but Lockhart raised his shotgun

Lockhart saw ghouls coming toward him. He looked quickly to his left and saw ghouls where the Sevarese were sleeping. He had been fooled before, so he closed his eyes. He pulled the trigger on his shotgun so the shot went over people’s heads, a loud roar to wake people up. Then he shouted at the top of his lungs. “Ghouls!”hadj ghouls 1

“Shut your eyes,” Hadj came running out of his tent and Alexis and Mingus shouted the same thing. “Shut your eyes. They can fool the eyes. Shut your eyes.”

“They are still some distance away,” Elder Stow shouted. “As long as I focus on the scanner,” Elder Stow said, before he felt it prudent to shut his eyes.

“They are at the edge of the trees,” Mingus said.

“Keep your eyes shut,” Lockhart yelled. He was having a hard time fighting the temptation to take a peek.

Suddenly, the Sevarese fighter lifted off from where it had landed, and it shot its main gun at the people sheltered up against the Marzalotipan ship. Elder Stow still had his portable screen active, and though it was only a small portable, it was advanced enough and strong enough to fend off blow after blow.

Decker dared to look. His vision was taken once and he was almost fooled a second time, but he understood the illusions cast by ghouls could be resisted with experience. He saw several outlines by the distant trees and opened fire. He struck two, but was not sure about the third when the pressure became too difficult and he closed his eyes.

hadj ghouls 5Alexis pulled her wand and sent a magical flare into the sky. It hung there and illuminated the whole area, and she could keep it up, even without looking.

Cody, the young Pendratti lost the battle to do his duty. He had his weapon out and thought only about protecting his commander. He fired even as the ghouls began to come out from the trees. Three more ghouls quickly turned to mush as Hadj and Mingus shouted together.

“Close your eyes. Get your eyes closed. Don’t look. Close your ears.”

“My eyes are closed,” Boston shouted. Cody closed his eyes as well, but let out a wail that made the humans shiver.

“The arrows are primed,” Mingus said. “There are three left. Do you see them?” Mingus touched Roland in the arm and then held his hand over Roland’s eyes. Roland and Mingus both closed their eyes, and Mingus thought to his son. “Use your mind, not your vision.”

hadj explosion“Ready,” Roland said, and he saw the three ghouls pass by the Elamite camp, what was left of it. Roland fired the first arrow, and it struck home. The second arrow hit perfectly as well, but as happened to Decker, the pressure began to build up in Roland’s mind. He had to close his eyes to fight it off, but a gun was fired from an unknown source, and the pressure left all at once.

Lincoln stood and looked around. “A ghoul can confuse many, but only control one person at a time.” He said what was true, but Mingus countered.

“We struck nine who may not all be dead until we have a chance to check. There is an hour yet before sunrise and there is still one out there.”

While Lockhart made sure the travelers were still in one piece, Hadj sent Ishitak, Anashk and Leahn around to check on the women and children in his own family group. Ibin el-Wadi came out of hiding and suggested they were at the back, against the ship, and there were others first between them and the ghouls.

“Sokar!” Hadj called out to the Elamites. “Sokar, are you still alive?” El-Wadi repeated Hadj’s words in hadj elamitethe Elamite tongue,   Hadj was reluctant to go see, but an answer came after a short while. Twelve Elamites staggered toward Hadj’s camp, carrying three more who would not live long. The rest of the thirty had all killed each other.

“What sort of nightmare did you bring upon us?” Sokar shouted like a man about to fall apart and desperate to hold back the tears. “The queen was right to proclaim you a danger and call for your head.”

“I told your queen I was married three times and not looking for another wife,” Hadj responded sharply. Sokar made no response as Lockhart, Lincoln and Decker stepped up beside Hadj, guns in hand and ready. Ishitak came and reported to her husband.

The tribe is safe and well,” she said. “But Jaral hit his sister once and she is crying. Anashk is comforting her.”

“That boy,” Hadj responded without explanation.

“Incoming,” Decker shouted and pointed. The Sevarese fighter, having failed to shoot through Elder Stow’s screen, was moving to crash into the group in a suicide run. Elder Stow’s portable screen, no matter how advanced in deign would not stop that, especially with the power source all but drained.

UFO battle 2“Beklissnashurishakash …” They heard the Sevarese commander mumbling into his communicator and a moment later, a streak of power shot out from the transport’s main gun. It clipped the fighter’s wing and the fighter began to spin out of control, pulling sharply to the left. People ducked as the fighter crashed into the trees and exploded, and it was a big explosion that sent a cloud and debris hundreds of feet into the air, lit up the whole area, and set all the trees on fire

“Sokar, close your mouth,” Lockhart said.

“I don’t understand,” Sokar shouted. “What is happening. What has happened to my men. My eyes and my mind do not make sense.” He fell silent again, and stared. at the fire.

“Hadj, Lockhart,” Alexis called from the place where Commander Slurpee was lying against the Marzalotipan ship.

“Lockhart, Hadj,” Roland called from the place where the Sevarese had been sleeping.

“Hadj,” Ishitak called from the tent. Hadj turned first to his wife.

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

Not fun, knowing the ghouls are out there, watching, waiting for an opportunity to attack, and somewhere in the future there are a hundred, well, now more like sixty.  The tension in the camp remains alien to alien and human to human, and how will it play out?  Be sure to return for the final post tomorrow, same ghoul time, same ghoul blog … he, he, hee …

Avalon 3.10: part 3 of 5, Gathering Storm

It was an hour later, before the sun set, about thirty soldiers came out of the trees and stared at the ship and the party that was happening around the outside. Decker asked if Reglala had a Blueblood hand cannon handy, but he did not.

“Hadj of the Hjammad,” one of the soldiers shouted.

Hadj and Lockhart stood, Lockhart with his shotgun in hand, but Reglala spoke first.hadj elamites

“Welcome, friends. You know, I have some uniforms that would fit you well, for your people. My woman, Ouklee is a master with a needle to make them fit just right. The material is equally good, hot and cold weather. Come, Come,”

“Sokar,” Hadj got that much out before Sokar threw his hands up and yelled.

“What is this madness? Who are these creatures? “Who built this great building in the wilderness? What is going on?” He ran out of ideas to express in his dumbfounded mind what he was seeing, so he went silent while his men stared and milled about, unsure of what to do.

“He wants to know what the hell all this is,” Ibin el-Wadi stepped up and translated for Hadj. Of course, the travelers, and the elves heard it all as English, the Marzalotipan heard it in their own tongue through their translators, and the Pendratti the same, if they had their translators turned on.

“My grasp of the Elamite tongue is not very good,” Hadj admitted. “Lockhart, you explain it.” Lockhart looked at Hadj and realized he heard one language from Hadj and a very different language from Sokar. The Marzalotipan spoke a third language, and the Pendratti a fourth. It was easy when he heard it all in English, and his brain adjusted without thinking about it, depending on who he was talking to. But here, Hadj mingushe was asked to do that consciously, and he was not sure he could.

“Allow me,” Mingus stepped up, and Sokar’s eyes got especially big on sight of the elf, but he listened. “This ship is like a giant riverboat, but it flies on air instead of on water. These birdmen come from far away, but they are merchants, and very good ones. They will sell you your own shirt off your own back if you are not careful.” Several of the men listening snickered at the thought. “These lizard men are from far away in another direction, but their air ship crashed, like a riverboat that gets a hole on a rock. One is injured, but we are trying to help. Chief Hadj and his people you know, but the rest of us are from far in the future and have come back to these days by an act of the gods to see how the people lived in these times. We have seen too much war and people hurting each other, and some of the gods are not happy with the spilling of blood. Even these animal people are at war, and the lizard woman has been hurt because of it. I hope you have not come here to make more war. I cannot say what the gods will do if you have.”

“Yes,” Hadj said. “I cannot say what we will do either, and some of the gods will not be happy no matter what.” Hadj smiled and looked at Lockhart. “I always understand my little ones no matter what language they are actually speaking,” He explained and Lockhart nodded, like he knew that but had forgotten.

“And the ugly one?” Sokar pointed at Elder Stow who came close, reading something on his scanner.Srow 3

“He is of the ancient men who walked these mountains ages ago. His people laid the foundation stones of many places here, including Susa.”

“My father,” Elder Stow tried for Lockhart’s attention, but Decker interrupted.

“Incoming,” he shouted, and a Sevarese transport escorted by a single fighter came out of the setting sun and looked for a place to set down.

The Sevarese transport set down gently a hundred yards out while the fighter flew cover overhead. Sokar the Elamite sat down on the grass because he could not take it all in. Even as three Sevarese came from the transport, guns drawn and ready for action, and Alexis got Cody to put his gun down with the promise of protection, Mingus convinced the Elamites to set up camp for the night.   One of the Sevarese saw the movement and fired his weapon without permission. The shot stopped short, like it ran into a wall, and people jumped.

“Innocent people here,” Lockhart yelled.

“There is no fighting here,” Alexis also yelled.

Reglala shrieked. “By treaty with the Sevarese high council, anything you break, you pay for.”

UFO Birdman 7The leader of the three looked at the trigger-happy one and said, is essence, “one demerit.” He sent that one back to the ship while Hadj stepped up to converse with the newcomers.

“It is late,” he said. “You may rest here if you wish to keep one eye on the Pendratti, or in your ship as you prefer, but you come and talk to me in the morning about whether or not you may have prisoners. Listen well. You know this planet is off limits. If you behave yourselves in the night, we may talk. Misbehave, and your lives will be forfeit and your battle cruiser will be melted down and sold for scrap. This is not a threat. It is a promise.” Hadj turned his back and walked to his family group. The goats were roasting and would be done soon, and Leahn wanted some more of that bread stuff.

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

Here ends part 1 of Episode 3.10.  The area appears to be filling up with antagonists, alien and human.  The travelers, as usual, are caught in the middle, but this time, maybe the Marzalotipan has something to relieve the headaches and stress.  Be sure and come back Monday and Tuesday for the conclusion of Avalon, episode 3.10 Battle Above

Avalon 3.10: part 2 of 5, Gathering Friends

Decker and Katie had their rifles out and had taken up positions where they could get a bead on the transport. Roland had his bow and his last arrow ready, and Boston had her Beretta, sat beside him, and spent the whole time smiling at Roland and not paying any attention to what was happening. Lincoln and Alexis stayed back with the horses, while Lockhart crawled forward to look. He had his shotgun cradled in his arms, just in case.

“Hello?” Elder Stow inched forward. “Are you there? Can I help?” Elder Stow took two more steps and stopped again. “Is anyone alive?” Lincoln had assure him that the Gott-Druk and the Elenar were both Neutral in this portion of the war. It was the Pendratti fighting the Sevarese and Bluebloods, and some others, though only those three tended to visit Earth. And the occasional Marzalotipan, of course, who took everyone’s side as long as there was a profit to be made. “Hello?” he called again as he got close to the open door. He could not tell if the door opened in the crash or got opened by someone still alive inside. Then he heard a voice.

“Gott-Druk. Why should you help?”

“I have friends. One human is a great healer. We saw the battle above and wondered if there were survivors and if we could help.”

“Why should humans help us?”UFO crashed

“It is their way,” Elder Stow said, frankly. “I understand it is not the way of the Pendratti.” Indeed, Alexis explained that the Pendratti sought to control space and force all other, what they imagined, were lesser creatures to serve them. They would no more reach out to help a lesser creature in distress than a lioness might reach out to help an injured gazelle. “It is not the way of the Gott-Druk, but humans are strange. They claim to hate to see anyone suffer.”

“This is known,” the Pendratti voice admitted. “We will be out, over my ruler’s objections, if you may help her.”

Elder Stow stepped back as a lizard man helped a lizard woman walk stiffly from the wreck. The male looked unhurt, but the female was bleeding from several places, a thick, brownish green puss.

###

“It’s a bird,” Ibin el-Wadi expressed his surprise.

“Bird-like,” Hadj agreed. The Marzilotipan had arms that were wing-like, but not wings enough to fly. It wore a kind of pants, but mostly it was covered by feathers in a variety of colors. The female wore nothing but feathers, mostly brown and green, so it took some deductive reasoning to figure out she was a she. They both had beaks for a nose, but with puffy, though relatively normal lower lips. And they both looked out from behind sharp green eyes, ready to deal with whatever came their way.

UFO Birdman 5“Those are fine looking beasts, but maybe not the most comfortable to ride,” the male said. “I have an old, but serviceable Gott-Druk ground transport which would serve you well, and I might let it go for, say, three of the beasts.”

“The camels are not for sale,” Hadj said as he looked back at the camp being pitched under the shelter of the big ship.

“Then perhaps the horse? I believe that is the name of the beast, and it appears to be a fine looking animal,”

“No horses,” Mingus said, and sounded a bit possessive.

“You have names?” Hadj asked. He settled on calling the male Reglala and the female Ouklee. That was about all he could get his tongue around. Then he explained. “Your system files should state clearly that this planet is off limits.”

“Yes, yes.” Reglala agreed. “But we saw Sevarese chasing the Pendratti to this place and thought they would surely fight and we could pick up the salvage. We mean to help keep the planet clean of outsiders, not interfere with anything.”

Hadj looked at Mingus who offered his opinion. “A finely crafted excuse.”

Hadj looked at Ibin el-Wadi, but the old Bedou did not speak Marzalotipan five, the trade language, so he had no idea what was being said.

“I’ll think about it,” Hadj said. “Meanwhile, I am waiting for my friends. Maybe you can make a deal with them when they arrive.” He turned his three to the camp, and got down from his camel in time to kiss his wife Ishitak and scold his son, Jaral.

###

The Travelers approached the Marzalotipan ship without concern. The Marzalotipan were only Avalon Travelersaggressive in sales, not in war. They had Commander Slurpee, as Boston dubbed her, up on a stretcher, pulled by Lincoln’s horse and held aloft by Eder Stow’s anti-gravity device. Alexis rode beside her patient, but Elder Stow had to walk with the other Pendratti, a young one Lockhart called Commander Cody. Naturally, Katie had no idea who he was referring to, but at least she knew what a hot rod was.

“As bad as Marzalotipan screeches, honks and oogles may be, I think Pendratti-reptilian guttural tongue slurping is worse,” Lockhart concluded.

“Yes,” Katie agreed, but her eyes were straight ahead. “Looks like someone got here first.”

Three men stepped out from the human camp, and Boston had already abandoned Honey and was running like a flash. Roland had to give Lincoln his and Boston’s leads before he could chase after her.

“Father Mingus,” Boston Shrieked and threw her arms around him. “Oh, I am so happy,”

Mingus hardly knew what to do or say. He almost smiled, but refrained.

“Lockhart,” one of the men waved. “I see you brought a friend and a passenger.

When Lincoln arrived, dragging the three horses, he spoke before Lockhart could answer. “Hadj?”

Hadj wife 1“And Ibin el-Wadi.” He introduced the third member of the group. Of course, they all knew Mingus.

“Father,” Roland said, formally, while Boston let go and turned toward Hadj. She looked down and turned the toe of her right shoe in the dirt until Hadj smiled and opened his arms.

“I hug,” he said, and she flew into those open arms. “I better know how to hug. I have three wives.”

Boston just said, “I am so happy.”

“The friend is Cody?”   Elder Stow and the Pendratti both looked at Lockhart for confirmation, so he explained.

“I was thinking one of the lost planet airmen, but no one gets it.”

“The passenger, as you say,” Alexis interrupted. “Her name is Slurpee. Thank Boston for the name.”

“Welcome. Welcome one and all,” Reglala the Marzalotipan opened his arms as well. “I have a dermal regenerator brought all the way from the galactic rim and the planet of the Hongouree,” Ouklee said and pointed to a big machine on the open platform set up in front of the ship. “Of course, the Hongouree are amphibious, but theoretically it should work.”

UFO Birdman 6“No guarantees,” Lincoln said.

“As is,” Lockhart said at the same time.

“Use at your own risk,” Katie added.

“Alexis,” Roland looked at her. “Aren’t you going to say something to your father?”

“I’m thinking about it,” Alexis said. “But I am happy for you and Boston.” She got down from her horse. Cody and Elder Stow had her patient down on the ground.

Avalon 3.10: Battle Above, part 1 of 5

After 2617 BC, the Zargos Mountains. Kairos lifetime 43: Hadj of the Hjammad

Recording …

“We don’t look like we have gone very far,” Boston complained.

“Fifty or sixty years, I would guess,” Roland responded.

“Lincoln?” Lockhart raised his voice.

“I’m coming to it,” Lincoln said. He had the database out and was staring at the screen.

“Mountains of some kind,” Alexis suggested.zis nature 3

“Well, it certainly isn’t the Syrian desert,” Lincoln said with a quick look around. “The only reference I can find here is Hadj went briefly to the Zagros Mountains in search of elephants.”

“See? I said we didn’t go far,” Boston said, having a reasonable grip on her geography.

“I do see,” Roland said. “And if we are headed for Susa and any of the Elamites we encountered fifty years ago are still alive—“

“—or their descendants,” Alexis interrupted. “We will have to tread lightly.”

“You might wish to get under cover,” Elder Stow shouted as he raced in from the perimeter. Decker saw and came in from the other side. Cover was not going to be easy to do. The trees were widely spaced, and while a person might hide among the rocks and bushes, hiding a horse would be more difficult.

Roland pulled Boston up beside a tree, and pointed up. “Sevarese fighters,” Roland said. There were four of them rushing in from the right, coming out of the afternoon sun. “Pendratti,” Roland pointed the other way where a small transport of some kind was being escorted by two fighter craft. “I recognize the markings.”

Boston nodded her head. “You are the hunter.” She reached out and touched his arm. He looked at her, and they were lost in each other for most of the battle.

UFO battle 4The two Pendratti fighters hovered around the transport like doting parents protecting their child. The Sevarese fighters split two and two in order to come at the transport from both sides. Suddenly, the transport shot straight up, and the fighters engaged. Great white and golden streaks from power weapons crossed the sky as the ships made impossible turns, dipped, bobbed, and wove a complex tapestry in the air. Several streaks of power hit the earth, and the earth and rocks exploded, once not far from Lincoln and Alexis.

Shortly, one Pendratti fighter caught fire in the wing and took a Sevarese fighter with it in a massive explosion. The other Sevarese fighter in that pair immediately shot up to engage the transport. Then the other Pendratti fighter looked finished, but both Sevarese fighters attacking it looked crippled. The Pendratti fighter fell and exploded about a half-mile away. One Sevarese ship started smoking and headed straight for home. The other stuck around long enough to watch.

Apparently, the Pendratti transport was not unarmed, but it lacked the speed and maneuverability. It tried to turn around and backtrack the way it had come, but the fighter got a good shot into the tail of the transport before the transport’s big gun caught and shattered the fighter. The last, damaged Sevarese fighter opted to return to base when it saw the transport was going down. It may have expected the transport to explode upon landing, but it appeared to pull its nose up and land after a fashion. It was doubtful anyone or anything could survive such a landing, but Lockhart said it would not hurt to see. The crash was about a mile off in the way they were headed.

The travelers started out, but only got about half-way to the crash when a massively big ship began to settle down for a landing near the same spot. It was Decker who identified the craft.UFO Marzilotipan 1

“Marzalotipan,” he said, referring to the scavenger-salesmen that were seeking to profit off the hostilities in this corner of the galaxy. The Marzalotipan ship shone its spotlight on the travelers, to which Decker added, “We’ve been seen.”

“And who else?” Katie asked, as the spotlight paused in two other distant places.

“Sort of like a call to come and shop, do you think?” Lincoln asked.

###

Hadj had everyone hide as well as they could, but camels and mules were not naturally cooperative animals, and the goats and children were impossible. When the Marzalotipan spotlight singled out his group, he got everyone up to run.

“We’ve been spotted,” Hadj explained.

“How do they make such a big light, and in the daytime?” Leahn, Hadj’s third wife asked.

“They must have borrowed a piece of the Sun god, Utu,” Anashk, Leahn’s sister and Hadj’s second wife responded. “See the way they use the fire to make their mountain fly.” She pointed at the retro rockets helping the craft into a soft landing. Leahn nodded, even if she did not believe it.

Ishitak, Hadj’s first wife clapped her hands. “Sisters,” she said sharply. “Keep those mules moving. The Elamites are not far behind.”

“Chief,” Ibin el-Wadi brought his camel up alongside Hadj. “We are headed toward the flying mountain?” Hadj 1He asked, but he did not sound too happy about it.

Hadj looked back before answering. He wanted to be sure everyone was moving. They had four men, seven women, fifteen children ages six to sixteen, where fortunately the youngest girl, the six-year-old spent the last two years walking from Syria holding on to her mother’s dress. They had six camels, a dozen loaded down mules, and two dozen goats driven by the children. The goats started out only a dozen, but they kept breeding. They could not help it. Hadj was concerned that one of the women might become pregnant, perhaps one of his own wives. That would complicate things and make their travels difficult. but so far the women had been good.

“The light fell on three groups,” Hadj told el-Wadi. “We were second. I have no doubt the third light was Sokar and his Elamite warriors. The question is, what was the first?”

“That is the worry,” el-Wadi said. “Who could they be?”

Hadj smiled. “I figure they are either giants from the plateau, people from a mountain village, or possibly friends of mine. Let us ask the elder elf. What do you think, father Mingus?”Hadj visit

Mingus was riding his horse, quite well, and frowned at the designation father Mingus. “It is my son and that strange red headed Mary Riley who used to be an annoying human and now has become an annoying elf. What a terrible thing to do to my people, by the way. And it is my daughter, and probably her moron husband. I suspect Lockhart, the marines Katie and Decker, and that ticking time bomb Gott-Druk are with them.”

“There you go,” Hadj said to el-Wadi. “We are headed toward friends.”

Ibin el-Wadi nodded before he objected. “But you haven’t explained why we are headed toward the flying mountain when common sense says run away as fast as your camel can run.”

Hadj laughed.

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

Be sure and return tomorrow for the second post in Avalon, episode 3.10 Gathering Friends

Avalon 3.4: Trader in Mischief, part 1 of 5

After 2972 BC, in southeast Brazil. Kairos lifetime 37: Wir’a

Recording …

“We have visitors,” Decker yelled as he rode up from the wing. He pointed to the sky where the travelers were able to make out a black dot against the clouds. The dot was moving and appeared to be getting bigger.

“Back up to the trees,” Lockhart commanded. The travelers had just come out from a thin forest and started across the grassland that stretched out across the land for as far as they could see. They turned and spurred the horses to hurry.

“The ship turned in our direction,” Elder Stow reported as he floated up from the other side, scanner in hand.

“Do you think we have been seen?” Boston asked.

“Not unless they were looking right at us,” Alexis responded. “The chances of that are pretty slim.”

The travelers got down and walked their horses back under the cover of the trees and behind the bushes,UFO in sky 1

“Another adjustment in its trajectory.” Elder Stow read from the scanner. He was tracking the UFO. “The descent pattern will bring it down not far from here.”

“Looks like it is headed toward us,” Katie said.

They watched the dot become a ball before it showed a shape more like a rectangle as it drew near and slowed. “Cigar shaped,” Lincoln called it. He pulled out the database to see what might be in the historical record.

When the ship came close to the ground, they began to hear the engine noise. At the same time, a spotlight came from the ship and bathed the trees where they were hiding in a pinkish light.

“So much for going unnoticed,” Lockhart said. He pushed his horse out from the bushes and the others followed. They could clearly hear some kind of retro rocket whine that slowed the craft by then, and they also heard when the engines began to power down.

“Marzalotipan,” Lincoln read from the database. “Flightless bird-like is how the database describes them, along with the word annoying.”

“It is a big ship,” Alexis said. As one of the Men in Black, she had seen any number of alien ships in the future. Her judgment was usually good about such things.

“My guess would be a cargo ship of some kind,” Elder Stow said. “Not much in the way of life signs on board.” He put his scanner away as they moved across the grass. There were several rises in the land between them and the ship. This was good grazing land, maybe for cattle, but it would be difficult to farm, being filed with regular rises, like waves in a storm at sea. On the third rise, they paused. It was a very big ship.

UFO Birdman 5Boston remembered what the Kairos once said, though she did not repeat it too loud. “Hey! This planet is off limits. You can’t park here.” She turned her head and saw both Katie and Alexis grin at the memory.

“Not parking,” Decker said. He had out his binoculars. “Looks more like he is setting up shop.” The big back end of the ship was open in a giant ramp and pieces of equipment were being floated out to the ground for display.

“Come, come.” The travelers heard the words. Clearly, the Marzalotipan had a loud speaker system. “Come, come,” they heard the words again when they got closer. “I was beginning to think this wretched planet had no goods worthy of trade.”

Lincoln said one more thing before he put the database away. “Interstellar used car salesmen.”

When they arrived, they agreed the creature was probably male, though it was hard to tell. The Marzalotipan had claw-like feet which laid fat to the ground and carried the creature well enough. It had pants of a sort, and a shirt, but mostly feathers. It was roughly human size and shape with two green eyes that showed a sharp intelligence and probably two ears beneath all the feathers. It had a beak for a nose, but its lower lip that hid the teeth looked puffy, but normal enough. And it had two hands at the end of two arms that were wing-like, but clearly not wing-like enough for flight.

Lockhart spoke first for the travelers. “Do you have a permit?”

The Mazalotipan ignored his comment as his eyes seemed glued to the horses. “I suppose the beasts of burden are not for sale,” he said. He looked up into their faces and appeared to smile. “Mind you, I have a Sevarese ground transport on board that could whisk you to your destination in no time and no trouble.”

“What do you take in trade?” Alexis asked.

“Precious metals, fuel stocks, uranium or plutonium if you have any, precious gems. Diamonds and rubies are especially valuable if cut in the right way. Any advanced equipment.” He looked at Elder Stow and cocked his head as if trying to figure out what the Elder had and how it might work. Elder Stow said nothing. He knew his equipment was thousands of years more advanced than anything the Marzalotipan had ever seen. “I take planetary artifacts if I feel there is a market.”

“We haven’t got –“ Katie started to speak, but the Marzalotipan interrupted.

UFO Blueblood cannon 2“Those projectile weapons look to be well made. Might I see a demonstration?” He whistled and a floating ball came to his side. He attached a foot-long square of something like wood or plastic to it and sent it out five hundred feet to hover over the grass.

Decker, as expected, had his rifle out and ready. He took a second to attach his scope and fired a short round at the target. He figured it would not hurt to give the bird-man a little demonstration.

“Very good,” the Marzalotipan said as the target whipped in close and he changed to a second target, sent it out again and picked up a weird looking rifle. He fired and obliterated the target. “Mind you, this Blueblood canon has a wide angle attachment guaranteed to ruin any oncoming horde. But I might let it go if you have a second projectile weapon.”

“Elder Stow?” Katie noticed the Elder moved close to some of the non-lethal equipment on display.

“Wondering if he has something to charge up my equipment. You know my weapon does not have a limitless charge.”

“Gott-Druk? Did I say that correctly?” People nodded. “We have a fine assortment of the latest Gott-Druk weapons and equipment.”

“And how did you come by it?” Lincoln asked while he watched Boston and Alexis dismount and move up to some of the cloth on display.

“All fair trade, or properly scavenged,” the Marzalotipan said. “There is a war on out there you know. Now that is the finest Dilodian silk. It was made out of, I would have to call it spider webs for you purposes. See how lovely, how it changes colors in the wind.”   The cloth rippled with dark red, green. blue and purple strands.

“I wonder if he has any copper pots,” Katie said.UFO alien tech

“People!” Lockhart raised his voice to get everyone’s attention. The travelers all stopped what they were doing and returned to their horses. “We are not here to buy.” Lockhart turned to the Marzalotipan. “This planet is off limits as far as I know.”

“To fair trade?” The Marzalotipan acted like that was unheard of.

“You need a written permit from the Kairos. Boston. Distance?”

Boston pulled out her amulet. She looked up in the correct direction and took a moment to calculate. “Roughly twenty five miles that way,” she pointed where she was looking before she got back up on her horse.

“You get authorization to trade on this planet, then maybe we will talk.”

“Is it a city? Did I miss it in my initial survey of the land?”

Lockhart shook his head. “I don’t know his disposition. But his name –,“ he looked at Lincoln.

“Wir’a,” Lincoln said.

“Go to where you find people and ask for Wir’a.” Lockhart turned his horse to the grasslands. The others followed, though Alexis looked back once at the Dilodian silk.