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Avalon, Season Two: Bokarus

Avalon, Season Two: Bokarus

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Avalon, Season Two: Bokarus

Lunghezza:
415 pagine
6 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
May 30, 2016
ISBN:
9781310161360
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Eight people trapped in the past are trying to get home. They move through time gates and across time zones that surround the many lifetimes of the Kairos; a person who never lives a quiet life. In each time zone, they face unique troubles in the struggle to survive, while keeping one eye open for what else has fallen through the cracks in time and may be following, or perhaps hunting them. From the beginning of history to the present, they have no one but each other to depend on—for as long as they are able to trust and depend on each other.
Avalon, the series, is like a television show written in story form. Like a good TV show, one or two episodes is sufficient to meet the characters, understand what is happening and how this all works. I encourage you to sit back and enjoy. For the purists, the Prequel, the Pilot Episode, and Season One are all available in various formats. Happy Reading.

From the Pilot Episode:

It was Doctor Procter who explained.
“I spent the last three hundred years studying the lives of the Kairos. Now that we have the opportunity to walk through those lifetimes, one by one, and in order I might add, I am not going to miss that opportunity. Isn’t that right, Mingus?”
Mingus shook his head and sighed, and in that moment everyone got a good look at the difference between Mingus, a full blood elf and the Doctor who was half-human. The contrast was not startling but obvious. No plain human could have eyes as big, features as sharp or fingers as thin and long. “If you say,” Mingus muttered as he took the amulet and shook it once himself.
“What says the Navy?” Lockhart turned to look at the two who were armed and bringing up the rear.
“I’m to follow orders,” Captain Decker frowned.
Lieutenant Harper smiled. “I would not mind exploring a little while we have the chance.”
“Besides,” Roland spoke up while Lockhart faced front again and encouraged everyone to resume walking. “I have a feeling the Kairos would not mind if we rooted out some of the unsavory characters that wandered into the time zones without permission.”
“Oh, that would be very dangerous.” Alexis said it before Lincoln could, and she grinned for her husband.
“All the same...” Roland did not finish his sentence. He fell back to walk beside Lockhart to underline his sentiments to the man.
“Hey.” Boston came up. She had been straggling near the back.
“Boston, dear.” Lockhart backed away from the elf and slipped his arm around the young woman. “So what do you think? Do we run as fast as we can or explore a bit and maybe confront some unsavories along the way?”
“Explore and help the Kairos clean out the time zones. I thought that was obvious.”
“Well for the record,” Mingus said as he turned and walked backwards. “Though it may kill me to say it, I agree with that Lincoln fellow.”
“I haven’t offered an opinion,” Lincoln said.
“No, but I can read the mind of a frightened rabbit well enough.”
“Father!” Alexis jumped and there was some scolding in her voice. “I vote we explore and help.” She looked at Lockhart, and so did everyone else except the Doctor who was still playing with his amulet.
Lockhart nodded. “Okay,” he said. “But the number one priority is to get everyone home alive and in one piece, so when it is time to move on, we all move, no arguments.”
“You got that right,” Captain Decker mumbled.
Everyone seemed fine with that except Mingus who screwed up his face and asked, “And who decides when it is time to move on?”
“I do.” Lockhart spoke without flinching. The two stared at each other until Doctor Procter interrupted.
“Anyway,” he spoke as if in the middle of a sentence. “I would not worry about hunting unsavories. I don’t imagine it will take long before they start hunting us.”

Editore:
Pubblicato:
May 30, 2016
ISBN:
9781310161360
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

I live, work, and dream in the southeast United States, where I occasionally wipe the dust from my shoes.My stories stretch back to the beginning of history and forward to the horizon of the future. They stretch out to other dimensions, other universes, other earths. They stretch up to the heights of human potential, and down to the depths of human depravity. And I always tell stories.Give me a cave, a bonfire in the night, the distant howl of a wolf under a full moon, and a listening, attentive ear, and I will tell you a story.Other than storytelling, I continue to walk with my family and friends, day by day, and only now and then wonder how long this road may be. I can't wait to see what happens next.--MichaelM. G. Kizzia

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Avalon, Season Two - M. G. Kizzia

Avalon

Season Two

Bokarus

M. G. Kizzia

Copyright 2014, 2020

MGK Books

(version 1.7)

Smashwords Edition License Notes

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Table of Contents

Introduction

2.0 The War to Begin All Wars

After 3969 B.C. in the Andes of modern Ecuador

Kairos 20: Qito

2.1 Creatures in the Night

After 3910 B.C. in the Nile Delta

Kairos 21: Phoenix

2.2 Jericho

After 3852 B.C. in Jericho

Kairos 22: Cophu of the Shemsu

2.3 The Dark Side of the Sun

After 3794 B.C. on the Korean Peninsula

Kairos 23: Kim

2.4 Amazon

After 3735 B.C. near the Black Sea

Kairos 24: Zoe, the Amazon Queen

2.5 Broken Days

After 3675 B.C. the Northeastern U. S. woodlands

Kairos 25: Huyana

2.6 Multiple Worlds

After 3617 B.C. around Paris, France

Kairos 26: Tetamon, called the Theban

2.7 New Blood

After 3557 B.C. between the Tigris and Euphrates

Kairos 27: Beltain

2.8 Encounters

After 3498 B.C. between Guatemala and the Yucatan

Kairos 28 Otapec

2.9 The Army of Invention

After 3440 B.C. in Romania

Kairos 29: Flern

2.10 Born to Be Wild

After 3383 B.C. in Caana/Southern Lebanon

Kairos 30: Eliyawe

2.11 Scorpion

After 3324 B.C. in Upper Egypt

Kairos 31: Emotep, the Scorpion

2.12 Celtic Dreams

After 3266 B.C. near the coast of Brittany

Kairos 32: Danna

END

Postscript

Avalon Season 2 Introduction

Avalon is the story of people trapped in the past and trying to get home. They move from time zone to time zone, from one lifetime of the Kairos to the next, hoping to have the courage to face whatever trouble they confront and worried about what may be following them. From the beginning of history to the present, they have no one but each other to depend on—that is, for as long as they are able to trust and depend on each other.

Avalon, the series, is like a television show written in story form. Like any good TV show, one or two episodes is sufficient to meet the characters, understand what is happening and how this all works. I encourage you to sit back and enjoy. For the purists, the Prequel, the Pilot Episode, and Season One are all available in various formats. Look for the author M. G. Kizzia at your favorite e-retailer. Happy Reading.

From the Pilot Episode

Doctor Procter explained.

I spent the last three hundred years studying the lives of the Kairos. Now that we have the opportunity to walk through those lifetimes, one by one, and in order I might add, I am not going to miss that opportunity. Isn’t that right, Mingus?

Mingus shook his head and sighed, and in that moment everyone got a good look at the difference between Mingus, a full blood elf and the Doctor who was half-human. The contrast was not startling but obvious. No plain human could have eyes as big, features as sharp or fingers as thin and long. If you say, Mingus muttered as he took the amulet and shook it once himself.

What says the Navy? Lockhart turned to look at the two who were armed and bringing up the rear.

I’m to follow orders, Captain Decker frowned.

Lieutenant Harper smiled. I would not mind exploring a little while we have the chance.

Besides, Roland spoke up while Lockhart faced front again and encouraged everyone to resume walking. I have a feeling the Kairos would not mind if we rooted out some of the unsavory characters that wandered into the time zones without permission.

Oh, that would be very dangerous. Alexis said it before Lincoln could, and she grinned for her husband.

All the same... Roland did not finish his sentence. He fell back to walk beside Lockhart to underline his sentiments to the man.

Hey. Boston came up. She had been straggling near the back.

Boston, dear. Lockhart backed away from the elf and slipped his arm around the young woman. So what do you think? Do we run as fast as we can or explore a bit and maybe confront some unsavories along the way?

Explore and help the Kairos clean out the time zones. I thought that was obvious.

Well for the record, Mingus said as he turned and walked backwards. Though it may kill me to say it, I agree with that Lincoln fellow.

I haven’t offered an opinion, Lincoln said.

No, but I can read the mind of a frightened rabbit well enough.

Father! Alexis jumped and there was some scolding in her voice. I vote we explore and help. She looked at Lockhart, and so did everyone else except the Doctor who was still playing with his amulet.

Lockhart nodded. Okay, he said. But the number one priority is to get everyone home alive and in one piece, so when it is time to move on, we all move, no arguments.

You got that right, Captain Decker mumbled.

Everyone seemed fine with that except Mingus who screwed up his face and asked, And who decides when it is time to move on?

I do. Lockhart spoke without flinching. The two stared at each other until Doctor Procter interrupted.

Anyway, he spoke as if in the middle of a sentence. I would not worry about hunting unsavories. I don’t imagine it will take long before they start hunting us.

CAST

Robert Lockhart, a former policeman, now assistant director of the Men in Black. He is charged with leading this expedition through time though he has no idea how he is going to get everyone home—alive.

Boston (Mary Riley), a Massachusetts redneck, rodeo rider, and technological genius who finished her PhD in electrical engineering at age 24. She loves all of the adventure, and all the spiritual creatures they encounter, which suggests she may be a bit strange. She carries the amulet, a sophisticated combination electronic GPS and magical device that shows the way from one time gate to the next.

Benjamin Lincoln, a former C. I. A. office geek who keeps the database and a record of their journey. He tends to worry and is not the bravest soul, but sometimes that is an asset.

Alexis Lincoln, an elf who became human to marry Benjamin. She retained her healing magic when she became human, but magic has its limits. For example, it can’t make her father happy with her choices.

Roland, Alexis' younger brother is a full blood elf and gifted hunter. He came to keep his father Mingus under control and out of his sister's face. He discovers there is something in humanity worth saving and protecting. He knows many of the creatures in the spirit world that they face, including the nasty ones inclined to rise-up out of the dark.

Mingus, father of Alexis and Roland, is an elder elf. He ran the history department in Avalon for over 300 years. He knows the time zones and the lives of the Kairos but tends to keep his opinions to himself. And he believes his children are being ruined by so much human interaction.

Elder Stow, a Gott-Druk (Neanderthal), from a technologically advanced people who left the earth in the time of the flood and have since been prevented from returning to claim their ancient homeland. He has no great love for homo sapiens, but he is willing to accept the travelers as family in a kind of truce because his chances of returning to the twenty-first century are much better with help than they would be on his own.

Lieutenant Katie Harper, a marine whose specialty is ancient and medieval cultures and technologies. She is torn between her duty to the marines and her desire to be part of this larger universe she is discovering.

Captain Decker, a navy seal, now a marine special operations officer who will do all he can to keep everyone alive, even if it means shooting his way back to the twenty-first century. He is a skeptic who does not believe half of what they experience—even if he does not know what else to believe.

The Kairos. But that is a different person in each time zone.

2.0 The War to Begin All Wars

After 3969 B.C. in the Andes of modern Ecuador

Kairos 20: Qito

Recording…

Quiet! Roland’s word sounded sharp. Boston stopped still and sat like a stone statue in the saddle. Lincoln looked up toward the treetops. Lockhart looked back at the marines and Captain Decker motioned for them to step off the grass and in among the trees. When they dismounted, Roland took Boston by the elbow and guided her in the same direction.

What is it? Boston whispered once they and the horses were hidden behind the stunted growth that sufficed for trees at that elevation. She looked up at Roland, but he simply put a finger to her lips. Then they all heard it. It sounded like a repeating, whirling whistle. It was not loud, but the sound carried, even in the thin air on the mountain.

Another few seconds and they saw it top the ridge they had just crawled over. It looked like a scooter of some kind. It hardly moved faster than ten miles per hour, but it floated a few feet off the ground and carried a creature they had never seen before. It appeared to be headed in the same direction they were headed. It also left a trail of smoke in a way that suggested it might be damaged.

Roland held tight to Boston’s arm to be sure she did not run out to say hello. Katie Harper lowered her rifle to suggest she did not believe the creature posed a threat. She glanced at Lockhart who nodded in agreement with her assessment. She glanced at Captain Decker, but he got busy snapping the scope to his rifle. She sighed.

They heard another sound. This sounded more like an engine—like a jet engine and not far away. It topped the same ridge closer to fifty feet in the air and while it looked like a one-person aircraft, the travelers had been fooled before. They once found three passengers in a ship where they thought there were only two.

The scooter began to weave in and out of the brush and among the stubby trees to try to make a hard target. The aircraft rose higher and hovered for a moment like a Helicopter. Then it came in for a strafing run. The weapon looked like a heat ray of some kind. The shrubs caught fire. The scooter got hit, though not destroyed. It became hard to tell from their angle among the trees. The aircraft began to pull up, but it did not get very far. Captain Decker fired a six-shot burst and hit something. The hovering aircraft sputtered, smoked, broke out in flames and plummeted to crash in a ball of fire.

Lockhart was the first to step out from the trees. Spread out, he said, as he got up on his horse’s back better than he did the first time. But stay aware. No telling what we may find. He waited for the others to mount and had a thought. Boston, you better be prepared to hold the horses if we have to go on foot.

No way, Jose, Boston responded, as she checked her Beretta to be sure she was ready. She glanced briefly at Roland and felt glad to see him smile.

They tied the horses off before they got too close to the fires. The horses were obedient, each being tuned to his master, but they were horses and not inclined to mix well with fire.

Stay close, but don’t bunch up, Lockhart commanded, and they began to walk. As the associate director of the Men in Black back in the twenty-first century, he had confronted plenty of aliens and their strangely capable weapons. He did not expect great capabilities this far in the past, even from aliens. But then, he did not know exactly what to expect.

They found the creature first when they paused at the edge of a clearing. It held its head and the scooter it rode appeared to be so much scrap. When it looked up, they saw the fear in its eyes. Despite that, Boston and Captain Decker might be excused for laughing. The thing looked like a four-foot version of a statue right off Easter Island, including the lipless mouth and the funky hat.

Humannss, it said, drawing out the final letters in the word. Help me. They are commmming. The others must be warrrrned.

Agdaline. Lincoln identified the creature without referencing the database. He only got the handheld out to verify.

Yes, yes. The Agdaline nodded in a very human looking way. I am Agdaline, but they are coming. Please help.

Who is coming? Boston asked, but as she did, she saw. It looked burnt and beat up, but whole.

Balok, Lockhart growled softly as the serpent slithered up to the other side of the clearing and rose to stand on its legs. It held one of those heat-ray discs in the multiple fingers of its right hand.

The Agdaline shrieked and hid its face in its hands. It looked incapable of running. The Balok’s sole attention stayed on the poor creature and the snake appeared to smile.

Balok! Captain Decker did not use his soft voice. The Balok turned its snakehead to take in the travelers.

Primitives, die, it said, just before the Captain’s bullet tore through its middle. It looked down and Boston swore it looked surprised, though how anyone could tell on that serpent face was beyond the rest. The Balok looked up again in time to have its head blown off by Lockhart’s shotgun. The body fell.

Roland, Captain Decker waved to the elf, and they trotted off to check on the crashed Balok ship. They did not want any more surprises.

Katie, Boston waved for the Lieutenant to follow her to the Agdaline, but both women kept back a little, torn between wanting to help and being afraid to touch.

Their home world is a bit smaller than Earth. Lincoln read from the database. Apparently, it doesn’t have the muscle strength to do much more than waddle, and not for long distances.

Pleasssee, the Agdaline said. Thank you. It reached out a hand and after a moment of hesitation, Boston took it.

It feels like flesh, she reported.

But they are coming. The Agdaline clearly sounded concerned. Many of them. We must warn the others.

Lockhart kept one eye on the area for more Balok, but he got the message. How far behind?

Not more than three glick, the Agdaline answered, and Lockhart looked at Lincoln who could only shrug.

Roland and Captain Decker returned and gave the all clear. Apparently, it had been a one-serpent craft. Lockhart turned immediately to the women and the Agdaline. Can he ride? Lockhart decided the Agdaline was male, though he honestly had no reason to think that.

Whhatt is ride? The Agdaline asked.

They showed him, and he rode behind Boston in front of the troop with Roland, but he spent most of the way looking back to be sure they were not being followed by another one of those Balok aircraft.

###

The village nestled in a hollow over a ridge and below a hill. The travelers got more than a few stares, but only because no one had ever seen horses before. People were just people, no matter how strange the dress, and the Agdaline was apparently known. Indeed, there were signs of more Agdaline about.

When Lockhart halted the column, one local man ran off to fetch whoever needed to be fetched. The travelers were getting used to that. They took the time to make sure their equipment was in good order, and helped the Agdaline dismount, a project in itself. Though only four feet tall, he was heavier than he looked. They were not at all surprised when moments later they heard a woman’s voice cry out.

Lockhart! You couldn’t have timed it better, or worse, depending. The woman who ran up looked like a dark skinned North African, not what they expected in the ancient Andes. The man beside her, though, fit the bill, being dressed in leather and feathers. He looked like he had Hollywood written all over him, and so did the elders who followed more slowly.

Qito? Lincoln wanted to be sure.

Qito nodded and introduced her young man. This is Tec’huanu. Then she got distracted by the Agdaline. Gogo. What did you find out?

Three glick, the Agdaline pointed back with a worried look on his face. Forty or fifty with weapons. The travelers nodded, again, not really surprised. They had been speaking Agdaline without realizing it. Now they had Qito’s language as well, but they were getting used to such language transitions. They did not think about it often since to them it all sounded like English.

Wait a minute. Qito looked up and appeared to count her friends. Where is Alexis? And where is her father?

Mingus has stolen her again, Lincoln said.

They have moved through the time gates and are somewhere ahead of us, Roland added.

Qito said nothing. She simply put her head in her hand and looked like she had a headache.

Woman! The elders arrived. One of them looked dark and North African like Qito, but most favored Tec’huanu. What bad news have you brought us this time? The man looked angry.

Good news. Help for us, Qito came straight out of her sour look and responded in a most humble voice. And just in time because friend has told me the serpents will be here in force by the time the sun tips overhead and begins to fall toward the sea. Clearly, the natives knew the Agdaline as friend, a safe name.

What? That does not give us much time. What are we going to do? The elders began to spout, but silenced when the Chief in front raised his hand.

And how do you propose we defend ourselves? The man spoke smugly to Qito, but Qito did not appear put off.

The ruins, Qito pointed back to the ridge the travelers just came over. The Balok will have to climb the ridge to get to the village. We will have the high ground. Put our Agdaline friends and their weapons at each end to get the enemy in a crossfire. Put my people on the stones to roll them down on our enemies. Put my friends in the center to give strength to the middle. Put your warriors behind with spears to catch any Balok that break through, only do not let them charge or they will put themselves at risk of Agdaline fire.

That is good, one of the elders spoke and looked up at the sun. We might at least hold them off until we evacuate the village.

The front man turned with some anger in his eyes and turned them on the elder who spoke out of turn; but quickly decided on another tactic. And how do you suppose these new friends of yours will hold the center?

Roland. Qito called and the elf stepped forward. Three of the six elders present took a good look and two steps back.

One spirit man? The chief remained skeptical and implied that would stop nothing.

Decker. Qito pointed at a bird perched in a nearby tree. Decker still had the scope on his rifle in case he had to take another hot shot at a Balok aircraft. To be sure, the bird was too easy. One shot and it fell like a proverbial rock.

The elders were startled by the sound and amazed by the dead bird, but they hardly had time to breathe as Boston leapt up on the back of her horse.

Eee-Ya! She wheeled out of line with the other horses and galloped toward the village, imitating Silenus the whole way, Yip, yip-yip! She pulled her horse up short, and without completely stopping, reached down and pulled up a spear that was leaning against the side of a house. She wheeled, cocked the spear under her arm and charged the elders like a knight in armor. The elders shrieked and screamed, and Boston almost did not stop soon enough.

Honey needed to stretch his legs. Boston reached forward and patted her horse’s neck. Didn’t you Honey? The horse nodded. Did I ever mention I used to ride rodeo?

And a woman, no less. The man who looked North African like Qito spoke at last, while the chief stomped off followed by the other elders. Nice to meet you all, the man finished with a smile and a wave before he hustled to catch up with the others.

That was amazing! Tec’huanu spouted, but clearly he was mostly fascinated by the horse. Can I, he paused before he finished his thought. Can I touch the beast? Of course he could.

Lockhart turned to Qito. Forty or fifty armed Balok?

Qito shuffled her feet. Yes, well. She looked at Gogo and brightened a little. The Agdaline have good high radiation weapons. And there are plenty of them. I think the Balok made a mistake coming on foot, or belly as the case may be.

Can the Agdaline shoot? Captain Decker asked.

Qito shook her head ever so slightly. Not well. She looked up at Tec’huanu who tore himself away from the horse long enough to say something.

I told her she should teach us to use those weapons.

Qito shook her head more vigorously. You can’t have the weapons. And you can’t have a horse, either.

I have learned she can be very stubborn at times.

We have all learned that, Lincoln spoke up. Qito and Tec’huanu stared at each other, like two people locked in a battle of wills. Boston, Lockhart and Katie Harper all smiled, and Katie spoke up.

They make a nice couple.

No! Qito interrupted with a shout before she faced Tec’huanu directly. I am Shemsu. You are Teschkul, a bottom dweller. No one asked you to come up from the ocean waving your spears and forcing my people to… Oh! She turned away. Tec’huanu pretended innocence. He shrugged, but smiled.

A nice couple, Lockhart agreed with Katie, and Qito darkened just a little and walked off rapidly.

###

They did not have long to wait, but it did not take long for Captain Decker to get a real surprise. He was scanning the skies, looking for another Balok aircraft, thinking if it was his operation he would send in two or three to soften up the opposition before sending in the ground troops. What he saw was an eagle, a real American bald eagle, and it headed toward them with some speed. He watched it dance on the wind, and swallowed once when he imagined how high it flew in the sky and how little he liked heights. Still, he could not look away as it came closer and closer.

When the eagle came overhead, Captain Decker paused to look at the others. They were dutifully staring out over the ridge, waiting for the Balok. He had gotten behind them all where he could get up on a rocky hump in the ridge and fire down on the Balok without fear of hitting his own. When he looked again for the eagle, he jumped. The bird had landed a few feet away and stood, preening its wings, waiting to get his attention. Decker had to stifle his shock to avoid making a sound as the bird turned one great eye to stare at him and spoke.

Warrior. Why do you fear the heights?

A hundred things passed through the mind of the marine, all of the excuses and denial, but in the end, he only had one thing to say. I deal with it when I have to. Captain Decker thought the eagle smiled at him, which seemed very odd. He felt sure he must have fallen asleep and this must be a dream, but he paid close attention when the eagle spoke again.

You should see it through my eyes. It is glorious. Captain Decker did not move, but found himself leave the ground and felt the wind lift him quickly until he was high in the air. The air alone kept him up and he smelled things on the wind that he never imagined. One thing was the serpents, and he saw them slithering along down below. Even from that great height, he looked and did not feel afraid. Captain Decker heard the cry of the Balok and saw them spread out to cover the ridge. He estimated forty and wheeled around twice to be sure.

Back on the ridge, he saw Qito with her arm sticking straight up in the air like a schoolgirl, waiting for the teacher to call on her. She looked exposed in that position, but he saw she wore some kind of armor and had blades at her back which he felt sure were not typically Neolithic. He felt amazed at what he could see from that height, and the clarity of detail he could pick out even at such a great distance.

He wheeled around again and realized he could look straight ahead or up or down without turning his head. What is more, he could look to both sides at once, though those images were hard for his mind to process and he soon quit for fear that it would make him dizzy.

On the center of the ridge, he saw his party of travelers, ready and waiting. To either side of them there were Qito’s North African looking people. The ridge itself looked littered with worked stones, some of which had to weigh several tons. Captain Decker was not sure what Qito’s people meant to do with those stones, but he imagined he would see soon enough as the Balok reached the halfway point and all of them appeared to be committed.

Captain Decker did not think much of the Balok tactics. They sent out no scouts. It seemed they did not care what opposition they might face. He chalked it up to egotism, the kind of overconfidence that tended to get men killed on the battlefield. Then he imagined it might be inexperience, like these Balok were not used to ground operations.

Perhaps they are not used to any reasonable opposition, the eagle said, and Captain Decker drew in his breath. He might have panicked if Qito did not drop that hand to start the action. At once, the Agdaline on the flanks began to fire. It looked like withering energy beams and the grass on the ridge quickly caught fire. Captain Decker was not sure they hit any Balok, though he supposed they could not help hitting a couple, but it did have the effect of driving the Balok toward the center of the ridge.

Then he saw what Qito’s Shemsu people intended with those stones, and he gasped again. One man stood over the stone and it lifted off the ground. It did not seem to matter if the stone was one or several tons. Two other men stood behind the stone, one to each side of the stone lifter, and in a coordinated effort, they shoved. None of the men appeared to actually touch the stone, but the stone jolted forward and then gravity took over. With Balok being crushed under these rolling wonders, they moved even more to the center.

Captain Decker quickly calculated. From his vantage point and with those eagle eyes he could see all the action perfectly. The Balok bunched up in a couple of groups like green troops gathering around their sergeant, wondering what to do.

I believe these are yours, the eagle spoke again, and Captain Decker found a grenade in each hand.

I was saving these for an emergency, he said. The eagle said nothing. He just wheeled them around for another pass. Captain Decker shrugged, and with the eagle’s eyes and swooping down, he had no trouble dropping the grenades directly on the two largest groups of Balok. With that, he cut their numbers by a third.

Then the fifteen or so uninjured Balok began to return fire. It came belated, but Captain Decker soon saw why. In order to free their hands to grasp their weapons and fire, the Balok had to rise up and become targets. When his group opened fire at the Balok who were now directly below them, it looked a little like a whack-a-mole game.

The captain saw two things then that did not make him happy. First, the Teschkul warriors could not contain themselves at the back and went charging over the top of the ridge. He saw Qito yell at her young man and saw the young man respond with a shrug. Second, he saw two of the Balok back off and slip into a pit area full of bushes, brambles and trees. One of the Balok looked injured, but the other looked untouched.

Put me down, the captain complained. I have to go back down. The eagle did not argue, and at once, the captain opened his eyes.

Lockhart. Roland. Captain Decker could be heard because the group had ceased firing. They were pulling out their pistols and preparing to follow the Teschkul warriors down the hill. Qito had already run after Tec’huanu. The man and the elf looked back and the captain spoke again. There are two that will escape unless we go after them.

How do you know this? Roland wondered.

Captain Decker frowned at his thoughts. You are just going to have to trust me on this.

The trip down the ridge was not easy. There were several Balok unaffected by the defenders of the ridge and a number of wounded serpents that still posed a threat. Since the Teschkul were in the first line of attack, they bore the brunt of the Balok fire and lost six warriors, but they also put most of the Balok out of business. Boston shot one, Lincoln two and Katie got four, but the rest were among the dead and dying when they arrived.

Captain Decker, Roland and Lockhart cut through the action slowly and carefully, though Captain Decker said later he doubted the Balok knew how to play possum. When they got to the dip in the land, the captain stopped and pointed.

They came down here, he whispered. One looked wounded but the other looked whole. He had Roland move along the edge of the pit while he and Lockhart headed toward the middle. He remarked to himself that the pit looked smaller from above.

Twenty feet in and the wounded Balok made a lunge for Lockhart. His pistol and Roland’s arrow ended the threat, but Captain Decker watched before he realized how stupid that was. Sure enough, he turned just in time to see the other Balok rear up and pull its weapon. He was going to be toast, but he heard a loud Scree! and the eagle grazed the Balok’s face. That gave Captain

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