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 4 The Decision

copyright Des Pensable, 2012

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My mind was in a bit of a daze since we had escaped from a donut shaped time trap. Moonshine my spirit companion cohabiting the body of my horse Misty seemed unperturbed while Misty herself had revealed that she loved multi dimensional mathematics whatever that is. Both females talked into my head using some sort of mind speech or maybe I was just going mad and imagining it all. The question uppermost in my mind was whether Moonshine really was a witch or a priestess as she claimed. Hiding as a spirit in my horse seemed more like a cunning witch thing than a priestess thing although I was not sure of anything at the moment as so many strange things were happening.

As a knight of the Old Order I was charged with eliminating witches. How could I eliminate Moonshine if she resided in my horse without destroying my horse. Then again did I really want to smite her? She had done no wrong and made smouldering love. Until the situation was clearer I would think of her as a priestess. However, if she turned anyone into a toad then I would have to reassess the situation.

We were plodding down the dirt road towards Sir Percy's keep in the flat between the furrows left by the cart wheels when Misty suddenly tensed up and stopped as if listening. Her ears flickered back and forward. From experience I knew this meant trouble. I reached for my sword sliding it out of its sheath located down the left rear of my saddle and looked ahead listening intently. I saw two very large ugly looking black hounds of a type I had never seen before rapidly approaching us. They let out vicious blood curdling howls leaving little doubt as to their intent.

Fire swept through my blood readying me for the fight as I nudged Misty with both knees and she responded like the magnificent war horse she was and we charged aiming to block the left hound which should give me a clear attack with my weapon at the one on the right.

Both hounds separated as we closed, the one on my left was a few paces behinds the other. The one on the right leapt higher than any hound I had ever seen aiming squarely at my chest with the undoubted object of knocking me off Misty. The left would probably go directly for my throat as I landed on my back. This was a classic attack routine taught to all students of war. The idea was to ignore the mount and attack the rider who was the real danger. At least that was the theory. It wasn't always true in practice.

Misty jerked sideways to the left as if to collide head on with the hound on the left leaving me clear attack at the hound leaping at me from the right. Perfect timing was essential. The tip of my blade was facing towards the right hand monster as it leapt and my sword entered its neck just below its jaw .The forward speed of its approach combined with its body weight ensured that my sword was driven forcefully into its chest to the hilt.

I ducked down, my body pressed hard against Misty's neck and released my grip on the sword as the creature with an arms length of bright steel firmly embedded in its body flew over my back landing and skidding to a halt in a lifeless bloody heap on the side of the road. Good team work had triumphed once again.

The left hand hound howled as if it had been wounded and dodged to the left to avoid crashing into Misty as we sped past. She slowed and spun around to face the creature but it was very nimble and already coming quickly towards us.
As I sat upright looking around to see where the other creature was located, it hit me square in the chest knocking me off Misty and we both fell in a tangled mess onto the dirt road. It recovered more quickly than me and went for my throat.

Luckily, I was able to get my arm in front of my face as it clamped its jaws around my mail covered forearm.
As quick a wink Misty spun around her rear facing the side of hound standing over me savaging my arm and kicked backwards with both hind legs. She hit the creature a mighty blow with both of her hooves and it was hurled several paces away from me. Fortunately it let go of my forearm otherwise I might have lost it. However, it did jerk my arm brutally and the pain suggested that it was badly damaged.

As I lay dazed on the road trying to regain my breath, Misty spun around again and moved to a position between me and the hound baring her teeth and hissing a challenge to the creature to attack her in a most uncharacteristic way for a horse. The hound stood up with its vicious canine fangs bared and growling, a little confused as to whether to attack the most ferocious horse it had ever come across or run. Suddenly as if given a command it loped off with a slight limp back towards the castle gates from where it had come.

Misty turned around to see if I was okay and stepped over to me and moved her head down near my arm and began licking at the blood there.
'Are you all right?' asked Moonbeam using mind speech with a shaky voice clearly shocked at the speed at which everything had occurred.
'Ewww., Misty. What are you doing?'
'I'll clean his wound if he can get that mail shirt off.' replied Misty.
'That's not very hygienic.' replied Moonbeam. 'He'll get infected. I have some antibiotics in my ship. I'll go there later.'
'It's okay, Moonbeam.' I said. 'Misty has done this before and my wounds have healed quickly and perfectly. I don't know why but it's true.'
Misty sniggered.
'Okay what's the secret Misty?' asked Moonbeam.
'I produce antibiotics for cleansing wounds in my spittle.' she said. 'It was a part of my genetic specifications for the job.'

'Ladies, if I can have your attention for a moment. I think my left arm's broken or at the least dislocated at the shoulder and badly mangled.' I said wincing in pain.
I grabbed a hold of Misty's head with my good arm and she helped my upright. I felt my ribs, and flexed my leg muscles as my bloodied left arm dangled uselessly by my side.
'Other than my arm I seem to be okay.' I said. 'I have some spirit of poppy in one of my saddle bags. That might help a little.'
After a swig of the poppy potion I decided to go back and examine the dead hound and retrieve my sword. I would need help to strip off my mail shirt to examine my wounded arm more closely.

The hound was huge and built solidly like a pig with massive fangs and very ugly head. It looked like a war hound similar to others that were bred for battle and trained to kill people. That explained the attack method. I was certainly quite lucky to get out of this skirmish so lightly.
'Look, it's branded on its rear with the symbol of an eye.' I said.
'If that's the case we could have a problem.' said Moonshine.
'I've heard about hounds branded with the symbol of the eye. They are called faith hounds. They have been bred by a religious order on another world to track down and eliminate the unfaithful. They are believed to have a mental link to their masters who are priests called Eyes of God. There is likely to be one at your friend's keep and he will be unhappy about losing one of his hounds.'

'I have never heard of these people and they have no status in my land so I am not bound by their religion or rules. To attack a Knight of the Old Order is an attack on my liege the King and there will need to be restitution.' I replied resolutely.

I retrieved my sword from the foul creature wiping off its stinking gore on some nearby tufts of grass.
'We are still some distance from the keep. If you were to set up my ecodome I could change shape and fix your arm once inside.' said Moonshine.
'That sounds like a good idea.' I replied not relishing the prospect of having to fight with my arm in its current condition.

A few minutes later we were in the ecodome and Misty changed shape to the beautiful womanly shape of Moonshine.
She called for a doctor and moments later to my amazement another woman appeared who helped Moonshine to remove my mail shirt and leather jerkin to examine the damage.

'You have a dislocated shoulder and some torn muscles but have no obvious broken bones.' said the other woman.
Moonshine jabbed a needle into my other arm and asked me to lie upon a couch then before I could say anything she grabbed my good arm as the other woman jerked my dislocated arm violently and it clicked back into place. After I stopped yelling, she taped my torn muscles into place and rubbed some type of salve over the damaged muscles and my shoulder joint.

'You are dismissed' said Moonshine and the other woman simply vanished.
'Who was that and where did she come from and go to?' I asked quite amazed.
'That was an autodoctor. It's very sophisticated bit of future technology. Quite useful in a critical situation like this. Now lets sterilize the wounds and heal them and strap up the arm. It will probably be a little tender for a few hours.' she replied.

A few minutes later she helped me replace my mail shirt and clamped on my metal bracers over my fore arms to protect and strengthen them. Then strapped on my long sword over my back. My arm seemed a little weak and the shoulder joint sore but otherwise my arm was functional which was unbelievable. It would normally have taken me a month to recover from such a wound.

'This healing magic of yours is simply amazing.' I said.
'I have broken the rules.' she said. 'I am not supposed to allow you to see future technology or use it on you but after losing you so many times the rules seem rather stupid. I have injected you with what are called medical nanobots. They will repair you from within and speed up healing a hundred fold. You will find from now on that you will heal very quickly even during a fight but you are not indestructible and you can still die so don't get cocky and do silly things. Just fight as normal and you should be okay.

''Thank you. Now, let's find out what's happening? ' I said quite interested to meet this Eye of God who would allow his hounds to attack a peaceful knight. Moonshine changed form becoming Misty once more and we left the ecodome, deflated it and I resaddled and reloaded our equipment on Misty and set off for the keep.

After about half an hour of trudging in the late afternoon sun we reached the entrance of the keep which was not very elaborate. It consisted of an earthen rampart surrounding a stone rectangular building in the middle of a grassy earthen courtyard. There was a garden on the left side and what appeared to be a stable and storage sheds to the right.
We entered through the open gates of the rampart. There were about a dozen guards wearing scrappy leather armor along the walls carrying cross bows and several more in the courtyard outside the main building.

Misty stopped 20 paces from the door of the main building, I dismounted and Lord Percy's steward came out and walked over to me with a serious expression on his face.
'I welcome you, Sir Oldbod but unfortunately you have come at a bad time. I'm afraid Lord Percy is ill with some problem of the mind and is being attended by a priest with knowledge of such matters.'

'You are aware that your Lord is a good friend on mine and sent for me to come and help him with some problems.' I stated forcefully.
'Yes. Sir Oldbod.' he replied. 'But there is a problem . The priest told me to allow no one to see Lord percy. He said that it was too dangerous.'
'Nothing is too dangerous for a Knight of the Old Order. I wish to see my good friend and evaluate the situation for myself.' I said as I barged past the steward.
As I approached the entrance of the main building a priest wearing a black robe embroidered with an image of an eye stepped out barring my way.

'You killed a Faith Hound, a sacred creature of my god. The penalty for that is death. Arrest this man!' He yelled to the guards.
The guards looked a little unsure as to what they should do and looked to the steward for directions but the steward said nothing he just stood and watched.
The priest looked directly at the steward and said 'Dam you!' and stepped back into the keep building as the second faith hound charged out to attack me.

This time I was ready. I whipped out my long sword and with a mighty two handed sweep brought it down on the dogs head cleaving its skull in two then I charged into the main building. The priest stood inside against the far wall holding a weapon similar to the one that I had seen in the skirmish with the lizard creature earlier in the day.

'You will pay for your interference with an eternity of pain.' he said and fired the weapon at me.
A beam of light came from the weapon and began heating up my chain mail in the centre of my chest and my leather jerkin under the chain began to smoke but fortunately kept the hot metal off my skin.
He was right. It was painful but not for long as I threw my sword through the air and it skewered him through the heart.
His weapon went silent and dropped to the ground as he sunk to his knees and then fell over dead. I ran out the door across the yard to a horse trough and splashed the cooling liquid upon my chest. There was a hiss of steam and great relief as the water quenched the heat out of the chain mail and stopped my leather jerkin from smoking.

Dripping wet I turned to face the steward and said. 'Let's check out your lord. The priest has decided not to interfere any more.'
The steward nodded and hurried towards the keep front door, followed by me and Misty.
'My goodness. You don't muck about do you.' said Moonshine as she saw the dead priest with my sword still embedded in his chest..
'I still got quite a burn from that dam weapon of his.' I replied. 'Is there a way to stop that light beam of heat?'
'I think that you've discovered the most effective way already.' she replied with a chuckle.
'Yes not much can survive good steel through the heart.' I thought as I followed the steward up the stairs to my friend Percy's's room.

Percy lay on his bed thin and emaciated with a deathly colorless face and glazed eyes. The room smelt quite fetid.
'How long has he been like this.' I asked.
'About two weeks.' the steward replied.
Misty looked in through the doorway.
'He doesn't look too good and we really need some fresh air in there. Get rid of the steward and I might be able to help.' said Moonshine using her mind speech.

'Steward, I would like to sit with my good friend and pray for his recovery.'
'Could you get me some food and have a room and a hot bath prepared.'
'Leave my mount outside the door as I have some medicines and salves in the saddle bags that might help. I am used to sleeping with my mount nearby so the mount will share my room with me. Also you might arrange for someone to bring some hay for her as well.'

'As you wish Sir Oldbod. Thank you for your help. I should warn you that the priest had two hounds.'
'I dealt with the other on the road on my way here.' I replied.
'Thank you again Sir Oldbod. They have been terrorizing us for weeks. They never rest and seemed to have been listening and watching everything we do. They have also killed two of the guards so they will not be missed.'
'However, the priest said that they were sacred animals and harming them would bring down the wrath of his god upon us.'
'Well I'm sure their god has more hounds and his wrath will be upon me rather than you so don't worry too much.' I replied. 'Now how has this situation happened?'

'About three weeks ago the priest arrived accompanied by Sir Isgood with a letter of introduction from the king. He said he was sent by the king to protect us from these strange black spirits that have been seen in the night. After a few days Sir Isgood left and I noticed that Lord Percy was not himself. He became ill and asked me to do everything the priest asked which of course I have. Then after Lord Percy fell into this state the priest forbade me to see him claiming that it might be contagious. I've been unsure what to do.'
'Well you might get someone to remove the dead priest and his hound and have them burnt outside the ramparts and also send a detail to burn the the hound I killed which they'll find about half an hour down the road.'
'As you wish, Sir Oldbod.' he replied and left.

Misty walked into the room to have a closer look at Lord Percy.
'He doesn't look too good. I have a bad feeling about this.' she said.
We must set up my ecodome I have some equipment in there that will be able to tell us what's wrong with your friend and how to fix him.'
I quickly removed all of our travelling gear from Misty and took the ecodome tent into a nearby room and pushed the button to have it inflate itself. After it was fully erected Misty and I entered the structure and .she shape changed to her female form, donned a robe and retrieved a small box covered in buttons from a nearby cupboard.

'This should tell us what is wrong with him.' she said as we made our way back to Lord Percy's room.
Moonshine waved the box over Lord Percy then pushed it against his arm to get a sample of his blood she said.
Moments later the device emitted a warning.
'Biohazard warning level 6 code red. Secure the area. Quarantine mandatory. Protocol Firewall, mandatory. Council notified.
'State cause!' Moonbeam yelled.
'Cause classified.' said the box.
'Bloody Hell. We're in trouble! Quick back to the ecodome.' she shouted as she ran for the door.
As we entered the dome she said
'Brace yourself for the impossible, my love. I had hoped to spend more time with you than we have had before revealing what I am about to show you. Mother cease the illusion and take us back 3 days on my mark. Mark.'

I felt a strange sensation and was a little disoriented. My heart almost stopped and my stomach felt strangely empty.
I stood in a large well lit room looking out a window at a small ball shaped object suspended in darkness. I could see stars all around.
'Where am I. What has happened?' I said fearfully.
'At this instant in time you are in my starship. It's a boat in the sky. We are currently about 1000 leagues above your world and it is three days ago just before we are about to meet. You are making camp. I can show you if you wish but that may disorient you even more so perhaps not.'

'Surely you are jesting. That couldn't be my world. My world is flat.' I said. 'and how could a boat get up into the sky anyway?'

'Never mind, I'll get Misty to explain it to you later.' replied Moonshine.

'Could I have the autodoctor please mother.' she said and the woman that had fixed my arm appeared holding a similar box to the one in Moonshine's hand. She pressed it against Moonshine's arm then mine.
Moments later the device emitted the same warning we had heard with Lord Percy.
'Biohazard warning level 6 code red. Protocol Firewall, mandatory. Council notified.
'I am sorry you are both contaminated with nanoplague X12C .' said the autodoctor. 'This is out of my hands.' and she disappeared.
'What's happening.' I asked a little worried.
'We are in big trouble. We are contaminated with a plague that wiped out several worlds. I'm not sure what they will do. However, I'm sure that their response will be quick.' she said.

Moments later a huge ball shaped object which I assumed must be another starship appeared outside and out of it came a stream of smaller boats which sped off in different directions around my world.
'Um. I'm not quite sure where I am.' I said. 'You just said that I am down there making camp but it really feels like I am up here.'
'Yes you are in both places at this instant in time but I am not sure what will happen next. We will need to wait and see.' she said.

Several minutes later a woman appeared a few paces from us.
'Hello, by my authority as President of The Federation of Enlightened Worlds I have just locked down this world. No one may enter or leave.' she said.
'So er Moonshine. You have found the origin of our plague problem and this is your partner whom you have been with for many lifetimes.'
'Yes, Madam President. May I present Sir Oldbod.' replied Moonbeam.
'Its very nice to finally meet you.' she said.

'Won't you get contaminated with this plague.' I asked a little surprised.
'Oh no. I'm not actually with you. What you see is a holoimage of me. I'm sure Moonshine will explain it to you sometime.'
'I have followed the story of your lives together for years and I have decided to break protocol on this occasion and do what has never been done before.'
'In honour of your exceptional courage in the service of our Federation through your many lives I am going to offer to make you a citizen of the Federation of Enlightened Worlds. That will entitle you to many good things which I'm sure that you cannot imagine and it would be improper to even tell you about them at the moment.'

'Every decision we make in life has an effect on the future some more profound than others.'
'Your next decision is very important.'
'Do you wish to become a citizen of the Federation of Enlightened Worlds. YES or NO.'

(please select YES or NO to continue)