A NASA Fractured Fantasy

 

Adventures of Sir Oldbod and the Cosmic Priestess

    Memoirs of Sir Oldbod, a knight of an ancient world, lost in time.

 

Part 3 The Ambush

copyright Des Pensable, 2012

back

 

We passed the final knuckles of dull grey granite that delineated the exit to the mountain pass into Lord Percy's estate in the Knobbly Mountains. It was a little past midday and the air was quite fresh and the clouds suggested a storm was brewing. Snow storms weren't that unusual in this area even though it was the middle of summer.

As we progressed down into the valley it seemed a little quieter than might be expected. I carefully scanned the surrounding terrain while my mount Misty picked her way down the rocky track mottled in bright yellow and red daisies.. There was no chatter of birds, in fact as I looked around there were no birds, which was a little unusual.

We could see the castle in the distance perhaps an hour's ride. I took out my horn and gave it a blast. Its rich vibrant note reverberated right across the valley.

'What was that for?' asked my hidden spirit companion, Moonshine, cohabiting in Misty's body. She was somehow able to speak directly into my head. She called it telepathetic or something similar. It was quite peculiar.

'We are expected but I could not give an exact date when I would arrive so I have announced our presence with my horn. It’s very quiet in this area of the mountains and they would not get many visitors. They will now have time to prepare a welcome for me.' I replied.

'Something feels wrong.' she said.
'Yes I feel it too.' I replied. 'It's too quiet.'

I halted Misty, dismounted then unstrapped the bag holding my chain mail and put the mail on. It was wise to take precautions in situations like this. I took my flail out of the weapons sack and draped it across Misty's neck and then rearranged the strapping holding Moonshine's ecodome tent so that it could be easily shed in case I needed to lighten the load if it came to a fight. Finally, I remounted and loosened the peace knot on my sword before coaxing Misty to continue.

'It's been a little over a month since I got Lord Percy's message that he needed my help. I hope that I haven't come too late.' I said.
'I hope that it's not related to my presence here in your world.' replied Moonshine sounding a little worried.

'How long have you been here?' I asked curiously.
'A little over a week.' she replied. 'You took a little longer than expected to find me.'

'You mean you knew where I'd be at some particular time?' I asked. 'That sounds absurd.'
'No.' she replied. 'Not at all. I told you that I could track you down at any time in the future or past.'

'You see in different realities the cosmic constants are a little different so the time course of events in each reality is independent of other realities and there is no synchronisation between realities in any precise way. However, taking local chaos effects into account it is possible locate you within about a week of your time.'

'Oh really!' I replied not having the faintest idea what she was talking about.
'We have been together many times.' she said. 'The problem is that a certain group of people do not want me to find GYTOBEB, the god yet to be born. I'm not quite sure why but it’s likely they know something about what happens after GYTOBEB is born.'

'If you can travel to the past and future as you claim, why can't you just go into the future and find out?' I asked.
'I cannot go into my future. It is barred from me.' She replied.

'Perhaps you cannot go into the future because you have died and these spirit creatures chasing you are trying to take you somewhere.' I suggested in a jocular way.

'No, I'm as alive as you are.' she replied. 'The worry that I have is that these people have predicted that I will be here in advance of me coming here. That suggests that we are getting close to when GYTOBEB will be born.'

'Just for curiosity. How did I die in my other lives?’ I asked.
'Oh very bravely in most cases while you were fighting to protect me.' she replied.

'In most cases? What about in the other times?' I asked.
'Well you died once by drowning in a castle moat wearing heavy armor and then there was the time you got so drunk you fell out of a castle window to your death. I was so annoyed with you that time.'

'And how long after you meet me in each of these lives did I live? I asked.
Moonshine was silent for a while then said. 'Do you really want to know that?'
'I could tell you the shortest and the longest times or even a statistical average if you prefer but the numbers don't mean much. How long you live is largely up to you. You are older and much more experienced than some of the times we have met. You should last longer than most other times.'

'Do you know when I will die this time?' I asked beginning to wonder about her hidden motives.
'No. I don't. I am not some servant of death if that is what you're thinking. I know only that both of us were present at the birth of GYTOBEB. Beyond that I do not know. So as you can see if you die in one reality I know that you are still alive in another and I go and find you.'

‘You said we were present at GYTOBEB 's birth yet it hasn't happened yet. That does sound a little confusing.’ I said.
'I saw a glimpse of the future in one of the realities. When GYTOBEB was born it caused a ripple effect across all the realities. It changed everything.' she replied.

'Perhaps that vision was a warning. Perhaps you are doing the wrong thing. Who gave you the permission to change the future.' I asked.
'Ha ha. You always say that in every reality we meet.' she chuckled and then was serious again. ‘You are a knight. You are charged with defending those who cannot defend themselves. You risk your life to change their futures. If you could see what I have seen in the future of many realities, if you could see how they suffer, then you would wish to change things too. No one gives us permission, neither god nor man. We are all free to change the future if we dare.’

'Why is it that it is always me that dies and not you? I asked.
'Because you cannot travel between realities. If I die then GYTOBEB will never be born.' she replied.
'What if you taught me how to travel between these worlds then if you die I could search for you.'
'Hmm. I tried that with you before but you still died first. However, we could try it again I suppose,' she replied.

Just then Misty stopped in the middle of the dirt road and looked across at a peasant hovel about twenty paces away. The day had become dull and a slight haze appeared around us and off into the distance.

‘What is it Misty? Have you noticed something?’ I asked without expecting an answer.

I dismounted and walked towards the half open door of the crudely built structure whilst Misty plodded along a few paces behind. It was eerily quiet. There would normally have been a few chickens running around nearby and perhaps a dog or two lazing in the shade but there were no animals in sight.

I glanced inside the small hovel. There were cooking implements and dirty clothes scattered on the dusty floor. It looked like it hadn't been occupied for some time. I walked around the structure and discovered a single grave site. The ground had not yet settled so it was perhaps a couple of weeks old at most.

'Hmm curious,' I thought as I walked back to Misty past a small garden patch in which there were lots of over ripe vegetables. The significance of that escaped me at the moment.

'What do you think has happened?' asked Moonshine as soon as I returned.
'Well someone has died and the place has been abandoned by the look of it. Beyond that it’s hard to say.'

We continued on for some time periodically examining empty peasant hovels.
'Correct me if I'm wrong, boss.' said Misty suddenly 'but we've been travelling for ages and we're not getting any closer to Lord Percy’s Castle.'

'You're not supposed to talk Misy.' said Moonshine. 'I told you that it's against the rules.'
They're your rules Moonshine not mine.' she replied.

'Really?' I replied suddenly noticing that several sets of Misty's hoofprints were heading up the road ahead of us.
‘That’s strange.’ I remarked. ‘It looks like we’ve been here before but I don’t recall it.’

'Oh dam!' said Moonshine. 'They’ve got here ahead of us and laid a trap for us.'
'Whatever do you mean.' I asked trying to understand what was happening.

'They've laid a temporal anomaly trap for us. It's like a bubble in time that goes nowhere. Imagine a ball and we are on the inside. We walk around the inside surface of the ball continually returning to the same spot. At some stage in the cycle, our memories are erased and it all repeats as if we had never been here.' Said Moonshine.

'That sounds like absolute nonsense.' I said. 'Bubbles in time. Talking horses. Spirit women hiding in my horse. I've been travelling alone too long by myself. I must be going crazy that's what I think is really happening.'

'No boss. I think Moonshine is mainly correct. We have passed that same peasant hovel several times and you check it out each time we come to it.'

Supposing that you are correct, why would this trap affect me but not you Misty?' I asked somewhat confused.
'What do you mean I am mainly correct?' asked Moonshine indignantly before Misty could answer.

'Well I think that it makes better sense that we are in a toroidal time anomaly rather than a spherical one. A toroidal bubble, shaped like a doughnut, has curved walls which when we looked through should cause a slight distortion in our vision. The haze is probably a deception so we don’t notice the distortion. Look at those clouds above us they have a slight distortion. A spherical bubble would give a much greater distortion. Also with a toroidal trap they could place the time warp device in the centre hole of the doughnut where it would be impossible for us to turn off.' replied Misty.

'What's a doughnuts Misty?' I asked becoming more confident that I was going crazy and wondering if my horse was going crazy as well.
'Come to think of it Misty you are probably correct. A doughnut shaped trap would make more sense than a spherical one. But it means that we are really trapped here permanently until someone switches off the controlling device. You’re a horse. How in the cosmos did you work that out?'

'I'm not supposed to tell anyone.' said Misty 'but I'm a special horse. I'm from off world. I was sent here on an important mission to keep my boss here alive. It's been very difficult at times as he's such a bone head but he has a lovely kind heart and I love him.'

'Now I know I am crazy.' I said aloud but the others ignored me.
'Oh. That might explain why they have got here ahead of me. Someone has found out about you and leaked it. It means we have hidden friends but it also suggests that we must be getting close to when GYTOBEB is born.' replied Moonmist.

'So the question is how do we break out of a toroidal temporal anomaly?'

'Well theoretically any temporal anomaly needs power to keep it active otherwise it will collapse. The bigger the anomaly the greater the power. I've been counting the number of paces between instances of the peasant hovel. There's about a thousand and that suggests by simple geometry that the anomaly is only three to four hundred paces across. That would require a fairly large power supply and my guess is that its hidden within the anomaly and that my boss here has already found it although he doesn't realize it yet.'

'You've found the power supply, my love. Great! Show it to me and I might be able to advise you on how to switch it off.' said Moonshine.

My mind was spinning. This whole situation was crazy. Temporal doughnuts with hidden powers. I began to wonder if these doughnuts were alive and I could kill them with my sword. What could I do about them? Then the mystery of the vegetables crystallised in my mind.

‘What do we need to find?’ I asked.
‘A power supply. It's like a big metal box that powers the temporal anomaly.’ Said Moonshine.
‘It's something that shouldn’t be here.’ Said Misty.

‘Ah. Something that shouldn’t be here that feeds the doughnut. I can guess where that is.’ I said.
I went past the vegetable garden with its ripe vegetables. Anyone living nearby would have known about the vegetable patch and returned frequently to harvest them if someone had died here recently. I picked up a piece of timber fence paling and began to dig in the grave. I had only dug about a hand span below the surface when I hit a metallic object.

As I cleared away more soil Moonshine shouted.
'That'll be it, clear away the side facing the road that's where the control switch will be.'

Several minutes later Moonshine pointed out a circular red button and on pushing it the haze around us cleared as the sun leaped across the sky to a new position revealing a lovely sunny day.

'Did you see that!' I exclaimed excitedly. 'The sun just moved.'
'Do you wish to explain that to him or should I?' said Moonshine aloud.
'Umm. best leave it alone.' replied Misty with a chuckle.

I was trying to decide whether these two female voices in my head were having a jest at my expense when a green scaly creature in unusual apparel appeared out of nowhere between Misty and myself pointing a metallic object at me.

'Well aren't you a ssmart asssss.' it said with a foreign accent and a bad lisp. 'Where'sss the bitch?'
'I don't own a dog.' I replied truthfully.

'Come on you're too ssssstupid to even know you were trapped. Ssshe must be here ssssomewhere. Where is sssshe?' it hissed.

Misty carefully and very quietly moved in behind the creature until she was about five paces away then stopped waiting for a signal from me. We had done this before. I dived to the ground and rolled quickly to the right. She charged, knocking the creature to the ground then struck with her hooves at its head. Blood splattered out of the wound and almost instantly it vanished.

'What magic is this? Was that real or some cursed illusion?' I asked my mind reeling in surprise.
'It was real enough. That was a Xarlic mercenary or assassin. It probably had some sort of contingency device on its body. Misty's blow would have easily rendered it unconscious if not killing it outright. The contingency device would have detected that it was injured and teleported it away.’ Said Moonmist.

'So these lizard demons can be killed.' I said with a smile.

'Perhaps we were lucky.' was Moonshine's reply. 'Fortunately, there is likely to be only one of them as the cost of temporal transport is unbelievably expensive.'
'If it was not killed then it will be out of action for a while and that gives us a chance to sort out the problems with your Lord Percy and leave.' she replied.

'If it survives it will be able to find us again and next time it will not hesitate to kill us swiftly.' I said.
'That is most probable,' replied Moonshine. 'One of the reasons I have my ecodome is that it has a non-detection device that will hide us from almost any type of electromagnetic searching device. If I keep that active during the day while we travel providing we stay within several paces of the dome we will effectively be invisible to detection.'
'However, there is another problem. My starship is cloaked from most means of detection at the moment, but it will be most likely detected by the Xarlic if I go to it. I must remain here until we have succeeded in our quest or one of us perishes.'

'The creature has left behind that metallic object. Should we take it?' I asked.
'No. That is a weapon. It will be keyed to the Xarlic's genetic code and quite possibly explode if we try to use it. It will be safer if we push it into the hole with the power supply and cover it up. If the weapon self-destructs or the Xarlic decides to detonate it remotely then it will also destroy the power supply. Replied Moonmist.

'I will admit I have little understanding as to what has happened here today.' I said. 'but I am a willing learner. Teach me about this Xarlic creature so that I will be able to defeat it next time we meet and we may both remain alive to find this GYTOBEB of yours. He or she has me intrigued. This god must be important if creatures travel through time just to prevent him or her from living.’

‘More importantly did you bring some more of those blue essence of youth tablets when you returned from your star last night.'
'Why of course I did, my love.' she replied. 'You will have the performance of a young stallion and I will be your willing mare tonight.'

'I hope you don't mean to turn me into a horse do you?' I replied somewhat concerned.
'No, my sweet knight.' she chuckled. 'It was just a figure of speech. I will be a woman again totally dedicated to ravishing you in the most delightful way imaginable.'

'Good then let’s go and see my old friend Lord Percy. I can't wait until later tonight and I have a good imagination when it applies to ravishing.' I replied happily.

end part 3

CONTINUE to Part 4

If you enjoyed this story send an note to Des the author and watch for more memoirs of Sir Oldbod, coming soon on this website.

back