Raiders Of The Lost Park: a Psi-Kicks story by: GF Willmetts

December 4, 2016 | By | Reply More

Callane Oberon pondered as she walked down the Avenue Radial Oeste. It had happened within a blink of an eye. Things had changed but she hadn’t. The Olympic village and the adjoining lab where she had ensured the correct urine samples hadn’t been changed no longer existed and she was now empty handed. No sign of debris. It has just disappeared and here she was walking as if nothing had happened.

She had accompanied the Blank McKensie for an act of fair play by ensuring the urine samples were not replaced and made sure the Russians went away with something they weren’t expecting. If they did their own testing, they would find a variety of fruit juices instead. They would wonder how that happened but could not blame any of the other nations.

With the absence of anything Olympic, the rules had changed. She sniffed the air as she walked, detecting more coal and oil than usual. The few people she passed were wearing clothes that were popular a couple centuries back. They also spat on the pavement as she passed. It was more than a physical change. She was recognised as a cigano and she was seen. Not all people liked ciganos and they accepted the Fey as their own. So would any of the local Gheare și Colți Clan if they hadn’t discovered it already.

McKensie had waited where she had left him. No scent but could be seen in line of sight. The same way he might spot her. How had those criollos seen her?

The Blank turned. He was wearing a dinner suit and carrying a top hat.

‘Someone’s dressed me for a dance.’

‘We are in Rio, Mr. McKensie,’ she replied in her dolcet tones.

‘I’m no Fred Astaire.’

‘The stadium is gone. There is no sign it was ever there.’

‘You look like the only thing that hasn’t changed.’

Callane inspected her clothes. ‘I still look like a cigano. It just become more noticeable.’

‘Is that a bad thing?’

‘Romanies are rarely liked, Mr. McKensie’, Callane explained. ‘Ciganos here are seen as chories…thieves and murderers. The criollos can see me. I do not vanish out of their eyeline as well as I should.’

‘Maybe they were psionic?’

‘They smelt human.’

‘What do you want to do?’

‘What we normally do. Eat. See if anyone else knows what is going on.’

‘Lead the way.’

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

 

At this time of night, Rick’s, the bar restaurant that the Rio Fey Clans also frequented were often full to allow Dominic his night off elsewhere. Hardly surprising as McKensie had discovered a year back that they liked the Fey and could hide openly in Brazil. Even so, there were more baseline humans here than usual.

Rick, the Maĩitre d’, had supplied Callane with earth grubs and beetles that she scoffed down with relish. The Blank fared better with a steak with a mixture of vegetables which they had cooked. At least the food hadn’t changed.

‘Is everyone on a diet, Rick?’ Callane asked.

‘Bad news, Ma’dam Callane. The Gheare și Colți Clan have suffered some distress. I have yet to receive confirmation but members are being coerced.’

‘By who?’

‘It wasn’t a voluntary selection for guides. Most passed. The last were taken from here and given no choice.’

Callane paused. ‘Would you prepare me a picnic hamper, Rick. The same for Mr. McKensie. We will be travelling.’

‘Being prepared, Ma’dam. I do not think the Gheare și Colți Clan will want any interference.’

‘I will only be concerned if I see them in trouble, Rick. Fey promise.’

Rick left them.

‘Kek! Their clan is in trouble.’

‘Rick doesn’t appear to have noticed the…change. Weren’t you going to ask?’

‘There is something not right. I don’t think even he would know what I was talking about. Why would the clan be needed as guides.’

‘What does the Gheare și Colți Clan baseline with?’

‘Brazil cats…jaguars. It makes them loners but none are here tonight.’

‘Dangerous loners. Either they’re volunteering or whoever has them has an edge.’

Callane scoffed down some more of the grubs. Unlike Kat, she liked her food live. Pretty much like the badgers she had baselined with.

‘Should we be involved?’

‘I said not. Fey promise.’

‘What about that man who just came in. Looks like we’ve landed in an Indiana Jones adventure.’

The man at the bar wore a leather hat and jacket and between drinks was in conversation with Rick. He looked in their direction a few times, squinted before turning back to the bar.

McKensie finished his meal. ‘I don’t think he can see us.’

‘He knew enough to come here.’

‘So did those who picked up the Jaguar Clan. I take it they can be missed in a sideway blink?’

‘It can happen.’

‘Really? How?’

‘Matto-mengros.’

‘Drunks? Double-vision.’

‘You never tried?’

‘I don’t drink when I’m working. With you both, I’m usually working. Would it work with Blanks?’

‘You will have to try.’

‘Not with you. This reality shift doesn’t have aerosols for pheromones.’

The man staggered over.

‘Sar shin meerie rawnie? Sar shin rawnie?’

‘Koshti sarla. So si?’

‘You’re in charge?’ the man addressed Callane.

The badger-fey nodded. ‘Was that the range of your Romany, gorgio?’

‘Better when I’m sober but then I wouldn’t see you. You’re one of those special Romanies, ain’cha? A rawniskie dicking gueri?’

‘Sit down,’ McKensie said, ‘before you fall down.’

‘Paracrow tute.’

The man took a metal canteen out of his coat and took a swig before offering to the pair, who shook their heads.

‘You need it more than us.’

‘How do you do it?’

‘Not drink in kitchema? We came here to eat not business.’

‘You want business?’

‘You pay tringrosh?’

‘I pay good tringrosh.’

‘What do you want for your good tringrosh?’

The man took another swing from his bottle. ‘There’s an artefact out in one of those so-called Brazilian parks. One of your Jaguar buddies was persuaded to act as guide…’

‘How did they do that?’

‘I heard they kidnapped one of their kids.’

‘That would have been difficult.’

‘Strunk as stoats. Made it easy to see. Took a lesson from them.’ He drank from the bottle again. ‘God, you’re beautiful. Will you help me find it?’

‘Where are the babies being held?’

‘Some kind of nursery.’

‘I know the place. Your name?’

‘Omaha Goodson.’

‘I must free them first.’

‘Won’t that delay us?’

‘I know where they’re going. Under my direction, we will get there first.’

‘Ah! Your health.’ Goodson drank again.

 

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

 

‘We’re just going to walk in?’

Callane adjusted her apron and hat, as they stood across the street from the nursery.

‘They should also be drunk enough not to miss me, Mr. McKensie. I have all the advantages. A gorgio companion gives me respectability.’

‘I thought you Fey wouldn’t have been caught out as easy as that.’

‘This reality shift messes with minds, Mr. McKensie. We seem privileged.’

‘Maybe it someone who knows the…Consultants.’

‘Or one particular, like Sara Seeker.’

‘We won’t know for sure until we get back to England. How will Kat be coping?’

‘The same as us but we should complete the task. My niece can take care of herself.’

‘Why?’

Callane paused, dropping something into the mugs. ‘I’m feeling compelled. It means something to succeed. It hasn’t caught up with you yet.’

‘A reality shifter whose a gamer.’

‘Does that mean something?’

‘Maybe. We ought to get this done before that ridiculously named Omaha Goodson gets back with the transport. At least your pheromones are going to keep him compliant. I take it there’s more than one artefact and you want to find out which?’

‘Who knows what exists in this reality. It might even be something new.’

‘Couldn’t I have dressed down a little?’

‘The perception here is we are chories. I would certainly be classed as a chovhan. A gorgio speaking up if the gav-engro come would save problems.’

‘I thought you could resolve most problems. ‘Besides, you would just have to avoid eye contact and they’d miss you.’

‘Unless they’ve been drinking, like our new companion has been.’

McKensie adjusted his top hat in the window reflection to make himself look a little more rakish.

‘How did you know they’d be here?’

‘Who would come to rescue them? The Gheare și Colți Clan told them there was no one else here. Have you remembered the Spanish?’

‘Let’s do it before I muddle any words.’

They crossed the street and McKensie knocked loudly on the door.

!Abra a porta. Temos bebidas…koshto levinor para os trabalhadores sedentos.!

He was about to knock again, when the door opened slightly. Callane gently nodded her head. Even the Blank realised it could be a trap.

!Te vimos outro lado da estrada.!

!Estamos cedo! Callane said. Ainda estamos cedo, mas essa cerveja vai ficar quente. Você gosta de cerveja gelada?!

This time the door opened widely.

!Quanto à mesa. Não mais.!

!Claro, Senhor!

McKensie poked his head in first and looked around but the small Fey dipped under his arm and walked through and placed the tray on the table.

!A mulher trouxe bebidas suficientes?! he asked. !Eles não nos deram números!

One of the men came forward and took a sip.

!Quien te envio?!

!Palheiro! De sua kitchema.!

There was someone moving in the background who didn’t come forward. The other four came forward and drank.

!Señor, el grande no tiene sed? ¿Puedo conseguir una jarra más grande?!

!Tengo bucca niflipen.! The deep voice from the back announced.

!Conheço um drav-engro que pode ajudar.!

!Sím.!

!Así que dime. ¿Por qué estás ayudando a las personas que mantienen a los bebés prisioneros?!

!Então me diga. Por que você está ajudando as pessoas que mantêm os bebês prisioneiros?

!Cuerpos inconscientes.!

McKensie couldn’t follow all the conversation but the five men drinking were slouched over the table. Callane had slipped them a mickey.

‘Where are the children?’ Callane asked in English.

‘They were supposed to delay you. They took one of them with them into the park. What is happening to this place?’

‘For my friend here, are you with them or us?’

‘Can you cure my bucca niflipen, Reverend?’

‘I’ll do it on the way.’

The Fey came out of the shadows. A member of the Maku-Fey, a hippo baseline. A plea for help had saved a fight. McKensie was grateful for any saving.

 

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

 

On the road with Omaha Goodson, the Maku-Fey was snoozing with his legs hanging out the back of the covered cart. McKensie was now in Goodson’s spare clothes, a leather jacket and canvas jeans. Goodson was reluctant to let him have his hat but the rest of his clothes felt more appropriate than top hat and tails. Callane had shed her barmaid clothes and wearing khaki safari wear, her grey haired tied back with a bow.

‘We would be faster on horses, Reverend,’ Goodson shouted out.

‘This is the short-cut. I’ll point out when to turn off. There is no need to shout.’

‘What’s all this ‘Reverend’ thing, Callane? You’re a drav-engro not a rashi.’

‘Sign of respect, Mr. McKensie.’

‘Head of clan? A sher-rawnie-engro. Should I call you Reverend as well?’

‘I do not broadcast my rank. Even Reverend isn’t a rank.’

‘Then why do you call me Mister all the time?’

‘You are a stanya-mengro. A sher-engro.’

‘Not exactly. Leadership is based on whoever is there. We have certain levels of autonomy. The Caruthers rawnie deferred to you. That only comes with rank.’

‘Kat did put her in hospital. If I failed and I nearly did, someone else would have been sent in to make sense of things. We respect the Fey. We just needed something to work and that was clearly to travel than be confined between assignments. We Blanks are secondary to the Psionics but they can’t work with everyone. We are equals. In Romany terms, you’re senior. Running this assignment, I defer to you. I follow your orders. I do the paperwork.’

The cart continued. Callane poked her head through the curtain and pointed a turn-off to Goodson.

‘What did you do to our big friend there?’

‘He couldn’t hold his pauvi-pãni. Some Fey can’t. Matto-mengro. The remedy is simple but he needs to rest while it works and I’ll wake him if I need him or he’ll do in a day or so.’

‘A cure for alcoholism. That would be something.’

‘For his liver. He’ll have to stop drinking himself.’

‘What about him?’ McKensie pointed to the front of the wagon. ‘He seems awfully compliant.’

Callane gave a wink and a smile. ‘The gorgio saw the results of his information. I think he would prefer to be part of our team than against us. The pheromones do the rest.’

‘And the children?’

‘One is used to keep the other in check. They wouldn’t like to set an example being too far apart.’

‘Short leash?’

‘Tethering these jaguar-fey couldn’t be easy.’

‘The gorgios exaggerate. Holding one would keep partner at bay.’

‘So they share the jaguar desire for isolation. But she…whoever hasn’t asked for help.’

‘This is their land. It will get them first.’

‘Hey, Reverend,’ Goodson poked his head through the tent before burping. ‘The road’s ended here. Wasn’t much of a road but…’

Both the Fey and Blank joined Goodson on the coach box.

‘Hush!

Goodson took a swig from his bottle but kept quiet as Callane sniffed the air.

‘Not far.’

‘How come we haven’t any real problems, Callane?’

‘Because I don’t play stupid.’

‘You cheat?’

‘I win.’

‘Do we need to bring him, Reverend?’

‘Not this time.’

‘What about my artefact. I thought I was hiring you.’

‘Did you want to go the dangerous way through the jungle?’

‘No!

‘You’ll get something. Bring the ropes.’

The men followed Callane and then from the road they were looking down at a deep valley.

‘I hate heights. Why does it have to be heights?’

‘This is why the road stops.’

‘Abseil after me. There’s a temple hidden due north. Don’t go in without me.’

Callane was gone. Goodson swigged from his bottle.

‘How is she getting down there…’

McKensie looked down. ‘You should see her niece do that. Now, how afraid are you of heights?’

Below, Callane quickly moved into the trees, gently sniffing along the way, looking for the hint of a breeze that would draw the scent towards her. Choosing the faster route had been perhaps a little too fast. Would the jaguar-fey pick up her scent? The lie with Rick that more than one Fey was taken was false. How much else was? How were they securing her and the baby? Would any of her clan catch her scent? Would they know what was going on given the reality change? The Gheare și Colți Clan were one of the most spread out Fey by baselining with solitary jaguars, preferring jungle to population. Had they been changed that much?

The badger-fey looked back. Would Goodson scream like a child on the way down the rope and give their position away? She dwelt on one thought that the Blank would stun and throw him down tied to a rope. He might even miss the rocks that she had bounded down on. Hopefully alive as she had a plan for him later.

It wasn’t smell but noise that attracted her. A twig snapped. Anyone competent in the jungle and knowing other people would be involved wouldn’t make that mistake. Unless it was deliberate. Maybe the jaguar-fey had smelt her. Callane sniffed her wrist. Maybe something of a different smell could be created for another time. She moved on cautiously.

In a nearby glade, there was a team of six men, waiting and looking around. In front, walked a restless jaguar-fey. As Callane had guessed, it was a female. Not hand-tied but there was a short rope between her and two of the men. They were not taking any chances that if they didn’t drink they wouldn’t see her. Behind them, a man was carrying a small child with a noose around its neck rather than a gun. The twig snap was a warning for her to look than take rash action. It could mean the same thing to any of her clan in the area.

No wonder she hadn’t wanted any help. Callane moved back through the trees, wondering what they were waiting for. She had one Maku-Fey, had there been any others who’d turned as well? They also weren’t the only raiders of the lost park and her own group wasn’t on anyone else’s map. That was their advantage. It might also explain why they were waiting for a scout party to get back.

By the time the badger-fey had arrived back at the cliff-face, both McKensie and Goodson were at the bottom making their way north and were quickly caught up.

‘How did you get him down so quietly, Mr…Mac?’

‘A tied abseil…and a blindfold.’

Goodson shrugged. ‘I told you, I don’t like heights.’

‘Voices down. They are about half a mile behind us and sound will travel. Their guide isn’t a volunteer. They have a garrotte around her child’s neck.’

‘She’s one of yours?’

Callane nodded. The less Goodson’s knows the better. ‘They’re waiting for someone or more. I’d rather be there first and then free her.’

‘I have a map,’ Goodson offered, opening a roll.

‘Not a good one,’ Callane sniffed. ‘We’ll use mine.’

‘That map cost a lot of money.’

‘You would have got a better deal with a charo diklo.’

‘Then how come the other group is so close?’

‘They aren’t. They are waiting for their scouts to come back. They are lost.’

‘And we aren’t?’

‘No!’

The two men followed Callane. ‘Don’t use those machetes or they will follow us.’

‘That Reverend chovahan can move, can’t she?’ Goodson complained.

‘She’s slowing down for us. Try her pace.’ McKensie said and started to trot. Begrudgingly, Goodson followed.

After a ten minute hike, they reached a clearing, towering over them was a Mayan temple. The jungle weeds hid little of its appearance.

‘I didn’t think the Incas came this far into Brazil?’

‘This one wasn’t for sacrifice. The clans never allowed their butchery to get that far here.’

‘The Incas were scared of the Fey?’

‘Animals were deemed sacred.’

‘Even those who…’

McKensie looked at Goodson and didn’t go on.

They were now standing at the base leading up to the pyramid.

‘Now, Omaha Goodson, have you ever opened a Chinese cricket box?’

‘I’ve seen a few, Reverend.’

‘They were based on legends like this. You stand on that slab there. Mac. That one.’

Callane selected another slab, crouched and pulled out a wedge. All three slabs descended into the ground.

‘Reach around. There should be a fire-stick near to where your stand. If you need light, set them alight and walk towards the temple. Don’t fall down the steps.’

Without looking, Callane walked on but aware of the two men following her, the shadows from the burning sticks guiding them.

‘The entrance works by honesty. I doubt if you would find two honest men to help you get in here, Omaha Goodson. To steal, they would have to kill. Don’t step on the last step. Jump over it.’

‘This is all too easy, isn’t it?’ Goodson complained.

‘You would really want to be ducking poisoned darts and assorted creatures coming out of the brickwork?’

‘Er…no!

‘That’s only for the tradesmen’s entrance. This way is a lot simpler and we might have a look that way on the way out. Now both of you place your feet together on the next slab by the wall and wait. Callane went forward and standing on a ledge pushed a stone forward before stepping back onto another slab which caused all of them to slowly rise up in the air.

‘Don’t even think of coming back this way, Omaha Goodson. It will take at least three years for all the sand to recycle to open this entrance. This is also closing our entrance slabs as well.

They thudded to a stop with a very nervous Goodson looking around, muttering nervously about heights. Callane suddenly leapt what looked like twenty feet to another floor.

‘All you have to do is leap over…’

‘I agree with Goodson this time, Callane,’ said McKensie. ‘I couldn’t do that even with a running jump. I doubt if I’d bought the rope, it would have been any good.’

The Blank watched as Callane looked over the floor she was on. The flames showed her as a shadowy figure and she was obviously using more accurate night vision or her nose to scent what was around. She returned with a rope and tied it around a pillar before tossing the other end to McKensie.

‘This rope is very old but it should support your weight. Omaha Goodson, watch how Mac does this and copy him. Tie it around your waist so you don’t fall and leap. Hit the wall in abseil, legs as springs and walk up the rest of the wall.’

McKensie, threw the fire-stick to the other side, took a deep breath but followed her instructions and after a few minutes clambering was beside the Fey. Untying himself, Callane threw the rope to Goodson.

‘As easy as that. If the height frightens you, don’t look down. The only way out is this way. Something you can tell to your children when you recount your days as a great explorer.’

Nervously, Goodson threw the torch over and saw Callane pluck it out of the air. With the rope tied around his waist, he grabbed the rope and swung across and found himself falling down.

Suddenly, the rope became stiff and he found himself being dragged upwards. Although he thought the two of them had caught the broken rope, it was only the Reverend who had saved his life.

‘How did you..?’

‘You ask that after seeing me do a leap you couldn’t do?’ The badger-fey shrugged. ‘Bring your fire-sticks. Not far now.’

With Goodson dragging behind, McKensie whispered, ‘Are you going to give him anything?’

Callane gave a wink.

‘What about those scouts?’

‘The way in would have been too heavy for the Maku-Fey. Could you see them leaping across?’

‘So they’ve always been rogue?’

‘Some of them. They think size is everything so we use it against them.’

‘Why didn’t this captured jaguar-fey just lead them in? Wouldn’t the traps have finished them off?’

‘The way they held her baby means no compromises.’

‘You think this is a trap?’

‘There are always traps.’

She stopped and looked back as they faced the next wall. Goodson had really slowed up. He had shown little interest in the fact that they had been whispering when anyone else would have thought they were talking about them. A moment for a Fey was less than a blink of an eye.

‘Come along, Omaha Goodson. Another three-way trick.’

This time she placed the two men at different intervals facing the wall and pointing to a particular slab before selecting a place between them.

‘We press these three slabs together. The floor below us will dip and you must go through quickly. I cannot come back for you. It will need three people to get through. If you leave the fire-sticks, then you will have no others. Do you understand, Omaha Goodson?’

‘Ava, Reverend.’

‘Now!

The slabs moved easily and gaps in the floor opened. They all slid through and then the floor rose back into position. The men had kept their fire-sticks and now there was a slight breeze attracting their flames.

‘What artefact were you after, Omaha Goodson?’

‘I was told to get whatever they were after.’

‘By who?’

‘United States government. I was contracted to find it, whatever it was.’

‘You haven’t been drinking for some time now.’

‘Fear is keeping me going, Reverend.’

‘You can tell your…contact that the vault was empty. We just walked through it. We emptied it a long time ago. You bear witness. I give you the gift of wisdom.’

‘Why, if it was so secure?’

‘We found somewhere more secure. The Maku-Fey were getting too curious and would have worked out a way in eventually. Now, you need to follow my instructions precisely. Walk only on the steps I walk on or a variety of weapons that will leave our bodies as a warning to others.’

They came to the opposite wall.

‘This time you both will need to press with both hands on these two slabs each, so put your fire-sticks down. Again, Callane stood between them but unlike them, pressed two vertical slabs instead. The part of the wall they were on revolved and they were in a larger room with light coming in from the ceiling. Facing them was a large humanoid animal statue, lit by the light.

‘What is that, Reverend?’

‘The reason why the Incas revered my people. We let it pass because it reduced human sacrifice. Great builders but superstitious. Now walk on the slabs I walk on. Do not touch anything you see.’

They followed the badger-fey across the room to a corridor, two man wide. In the distance, there was a gleam of light.

‘We haven’t been hit by anything yet. Are you sure it’s all working? I don’t see any…victims.’

‘You will nearer the entrance,’ Callane sighed, picked up a brick and threw it at the floor ahead. Everywhere it hit, several spears shot out of the wall, staying there briefly before retracting.

‘Will you obey my instructions, Omaha Goodson?’

‘Ava, Reverend.’

‘To stray from the path will be fatal to us all.’

As they followed, Callane’s dainty steps turned into bigger strides. The taller men kept up until, suddenly, the badger-fey did a mid-air somersault landing some feet away.

‘We aren’t that good, Callane.’

‘There is a pit.’

She touched a slab and the floor dropped away between them, revealing a hole full of spikes and a couple dead bodies. Desiccated but not skeletons.

‘They got off lightly.’

‘Where’s a bullwhip when you need one?’

The trapdoor closed.

‘We’re trapped then?’

‘There is a way. Each of you to the edge by the wall. The sides will be the last to fall. Move quickly and you should make it. You should both make it.’

‘I love your confidence.’

‘Take big strides.’

Both men walked cautiously back, looked at each other and then run. Fear drove them both, more so as the trapdoor was quickly opening. McKensie stopped on the other side. Goodson couldn’t stop himself and ran on, stopping short when an arrow hit him in the shoulder. He fell down and missed several more arrows.

‘Shouldn’t you have told him to stop?’ the Blank asked.

‘It’s a lesson.’

Callane walked over to the fallen unconscious Goodson. The arrow had no fletch and she pushed it all the way through his shoulder. With McKensie holding the flame overhead, she pulled off Goodson’s jacket and tore his shirt sleeves up. Pouring some herbs from a pouch from her belt on both sides of the wound, before covering in a tight bandage and then a making a tight sling to keep his arm close to his chest before putting his healthy arm back in his jacket and then zipping him the rest of him inside and around it.

They sat down on the opposite wall, waiting for Goodson to recover consciousness.

‘No wonder no one’s gotten in.’

‘This is the easier exit. They’re all designed to keep baselines out.’

‘Apart from the arrows, is there anything else major along this route? No boulders ready to roll down on us?’

‘Why have a deterrent that can only be used once? It makes it so easy for the next chory to walk in and steal what they like.’

‘But even those arrows will run out?’

‘No one knows how many arrows that are waiting.’

‘Touché.’

Goodson groaned. ‘What happened?’

‘You didn’t stop running. An arrow got you. I put some antidote in the hole in case it was poisoned.’

‘If, Reverend?’

‘It’s done at random. We rather have the word spread not to come this way again than no one to return.’

‘Not far to go now,’ Callane said as McKensie helped Goodson to his feet.

As Goodson followed Callane, the Blank picked up and put on Goodson’s hat and picked up a few of the arrows, extinguished Goodson’s torch and followed last. Again, it was a series of different slab walking. He doubted if the badger-fey was doing this from memory so there must be a way she could see something they couldn’t.

Again, they reached another wall, although this one had a few open vents, letting the light in.

‘That’s a bit of a giveaway, isn’t it?’ asked McKensie.

‘Mostly to change the air and let a few snakes in from the heat, Mac. Now, put your hands on these slabs and press when I do mine.’

‘I can’t press two,’ complained Goodson, raised his slinged arm.

‘Press the outer one.’

As the slabs were pressed, Callane kicked up with her foot and all fell into place as the wall moved sideways and they stepped through into the daylight. McKensie extinguished his torch and pushed it back through the vent.

‘What a tidy man you are, Mac.’

‘Less of a fire risk in there.’

‘Didn’t I mention the oil bath a third of the way in?’

‘You’re joking, aren’t you, Reverend?’ Goodson asked.

‘Has Callane joked at all yet?’

‘Hush! Down!

Callane ducked down and McKensie made sure that Goodson did likewise. A giant figure walked past. Even from their angle, they needed no introductions. A Maku-Fey!

Keeping to the undergrowth, they quietly followed behind him. All away around to where they had gained entrance to the vault. The other hippo-fey was waiting there. They stayed by the temple corner watching them.

‘What do we do?’

‘We don’t go to their party. Keep quiet and follow me. We’ll go to the glade. You can tell them the vault was bare.’

They needn’t have bothered. The glade was vacant as well. All that remained were the ashes of a fire that Callane sniffed.

‘Very long?’

‘Enough of a head start.’

‘But why leave?’

‘The Maku-Fey are still looking. They might have thought we’d been and gone. Their scouts might even have found your ropes. They might even have thought we left that as a distraction and been and gone. It’s all been and gone. They aren’t there anymore.’

‘Back to Rio?’

‘Why disappoint them? We also have to free the Gheare și Colți mushi.’

Would she know you were there.’

‘She would have smelt me.’

‘Can we get back before they do?’

‘We’ll take the shorter route.’

‘The way we came?’

‘They might have seen the ropes.’

‘Can we fill our water bottles?’ Goodspn chipped in.

‘We aren’t far from the Rio Pavuna. With a boat and tide we can be in Rio in a couple hours.’

‘A boat! Goodson said haughtily in disbelief, ‘Out here?’

Within twenty minutes, they reached the river and a yacht tied to a pier.

‘That was a bit of luck, Callane,’ Mac said warily.

‘Hush! I’ve got this figured, Mac. Do as I say. Come along, Omaha Goodson.’

The legend on the yacht bow was ‘The Lazy Swan’.

‘With wind and tide, we should make good time.’

Raising anchor and adjusting the sail, they took off with Goodson sitting in the bow.

‘That was lucky, Callane.’

‘Not too loud,’ Callane whispered. ‘I have this figured out.’

‘Huh?’

‘We played our own rules. Whatever caused this change hasn’t settled so our player is confused.’

‘You mean this is an imagined boat?’

The badger-fey shrugged. ‘We haven’t sunk yet. The treasure was never the aim, the rescue is. What was supposed to have happened?’

‘We take Goodson into that temple, evade some traps, grab something precious and escape, meet the bad guys and rescue the girl. Indiana Jones 101.’

‘Except…?’

‘We evaded the bay guys, walked the traps…well, sort of. Well, still escape.’

‘This reality isn’t stanya…stable. We got to the temple fast. Look at how Omaha Goodson has changed since we came here. His confidence wavered. He sobered. We are leaving fast. A little fey chovahan thinking ahead. ‘

‘We aren’t totally immune.’

‘No. But are you still getting double sight?’

The Blank shook his head. ‘I’ll all here now.’

‘We are resisting the change. The others might not be so fortunate.’

‘I take it you’ve figured out the ending?’

‘I hope so.’

 

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

 

By nightfall, they were back at Rick’s eating a meal.

‘Are you sure they’ll come here?’ Goodson asked, eating a large steak one-handed. As he was an American, that wasn’t a problem and Rick had neatly cut it for him.

Callane wolfed down her diet of insects and grubs. For a change, McKensie had chosen fish, the river changing his appetite.

‘It’s neutral territory,’ she finally said. ‘Even they would think we need to eat.’

‘We have company,’ McKensie said, looking to the door.

‘They’re all right. Those are G-Men. They hired me to find the temple.’

‘And you hired us?’

‘They also have a Gheare și Colți Clan hostage with her baby,’ Callane said matter-of-factly. ‘You’ve been duped. I’ll also show you their secret when they come over.’

Goodson twisted and saw the jaguar-fey holding her baby surrounded by three of the men around her while two of them came forward and one flashed his badge.

‘You don’t have any jurisdiction here,’ McKensie said. ‘Neither are we American.’

‘We only want to talk with Mr. Goodson. Did you find what we wanted?’

Goodson looked at Callane, who mouthed tell them.

‘The temple was bare. Nothing there. I went through a maze of danger for nothing.’

‘And why did you need a Gheare și Colți to convince me?’ asked Callane.

‘You might not have gone otherwise.’

In one smooth motion, Callane got up and hit both men in the diaphragms, winding them. Instantly, their look changed to something less intimidating. They immediately backed off. The Pattern at the bar had also gone.

‘These, Omaha Goodson, are called the Pattern. Shape-shifters. Chameleon people. Those at the bar are also Pattern. Further wisdom. Even their prisoner Gheare și Colți mushi is a fake. Wrong smell. They had every opportunity to follow us in but chose not to.’

‘And the Maku-Fey?’

‘The same. Except the one in the cart. Their template which they couldn’t take with them had he smelt them.’

‘We would never have gotten away otherwise. Better to steal what we have here than in a jungle where we could escape. Except…’

‘There is nothing to steal.’

‘And Goodson isn’t Pattern?’

Callane turned to Goodson. ‘Just a dupe. I would have smelt him out if he wasn’t.’

‘Geeze!

‘Finish your steak, Omaha Goodson. You have your information. Do not trust your allies. There was nothing to gain.’

 

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

 

The Lazy Swan sailed out of the port with the tide, heading north.

Callane watched as McKensie checked the sail.

‘You think this is a good idea, Callane? They might still come after us.’

‘They will be looking for us on the roads or river, Mr. McKensie. If they think of the sea, then at least we will see them coming.’

‘They can also blow us out of the water.’

‘In this day and age?’

‘This is still steampunk. They could have a dirigible. An armed dirigible.’

‘Like us, it only goes where the wind goes.’

‘Why pursue us when we have nothing?’

‘Is that so? Goodson might have missed something but I did spot you pick something out of the floor.’

Callane sighed and pulled a bag out from inside her shirt, opening it to reveal a shiny babble,

‘That’s bigger than the Hope Diamond.’

‘From a similar vein. We gave them the smaller stone for a favour yet to be fully repaid. Anyone visiting this temple is obliged to take and move something with them. This was the smallest one I could pick out.’

‘But that floor was empty.’

‘My dear Mac, would I show Omaha Goodson all Fey secrets? There is a secret vault but it will remain secret.’

‘No matter the reality?’

‘We are the reality. We like to win.’

 

End

 

Psi-Kicks, The Stable Consultancy,

Callane Oberon, Cameron McKensie and Omaha Goodson

(c) GF Willmetts 2016

All rights reserved

Ask before borrowing

 

————————————–

TRANSLATION

As McKensie did not understand the conversation, here is the translation from Portuguese Spanish to English, with a little Romany added in.

 

‘Sar shin meerie rawnie. Sar shin rawnie.’

‘How are you, sir? How are you, madam?’

 

‘Koshti sarla. So si?’

‘Good evening. Just so?’

 

!Abra a porta. Temos bebidas…koshto levinor para os trabalhadores sedentos.!

‘Open the door. We have drinks…koshto levinor for the thirsty workers.’

koshto levinor             good ale in romany

 

!Te vimos outro lado da estrada.!

‘We saw you across the road.’

 

!Estamos cedo! Callane said. Ainda estamos cedo, mas essa cerveja vai ficar quente. Você gosta de cerveja gelada?!

‘We are early! Callane said. We’re still early but this beer will grow hot. Do you like cold beer?’

 

!Quanto à mesa. Não mais.!

‘As for the table. No more.’

 

!Claro, Senhor!

!Of course, Mister.!

 

!A mulher trouxe bebidas suficientes?! he asked. !Eles não nos deram números!

‘Did the woman bring enough drinks?’ he asked. ‘They did not give us numbers!

 

!Quien te envio?!

‘Who sent you ?!

 

!Palheiro! De sua kitchema.!

‘Haystack! Of his kitchema.!

 

!Senhor, o grande não está com sede? Posso pegar um jarro maior?!

‘Lord, the great one is not thirsty? Can I get a bigger pitcher?’

 

!Eu tenho um balde niflipen! ‘I have a niflipen bucket!’

 

!Todavía estamos temprano pero esta cerveza crecerá caliente. ¿Te gusta la cerveza fría?’

‘We are still early but this beer will grow warm. You like cold beer?’

 

!En cuanto a la mesa. No más.!

‘As far as the table. No more.’

 

!Por supuesto, señor.!

‘Of course, mister.’

 

!La mujer trajo suficientes tragos?!

‘Did the woman bring enough drinks?’

 

!No nos dieron números.!

‘We weren’t given numbers.’

 

!Quien te envio?!

‘Who sent you?’

 

!Almiar! De su kitchema.!

‘Rick! From his kitchema.’

 

!Señor, el grande no tiene sed? ¿Puedo conseguir una jarra más grande?!

‘Senor, the big one is not thirsty? I can get a bigger flagon?’

 

!Tengo bucca niflipen.!

‘I have a niflipen bucket!’

 

!Conheço um drav-engro que pode ajudar.!

‘I know a drav-engro who can help.’

 

!Sím.!

‘Yes.’

 

!Então me diga. Por que você está ajudando as pessoas que mantêm os bebês prisioneiros?

‘So tell me. Why are you helping chories who keep babies prisoner.’

 

!Cuerpos inconscientes.!

‘Unconscious bodies!’

 

 

!Para impedir que estos bostaris los lastimen. No tengo ganas de enfrentarte, Reverendo.!

‘To stop these bostaris from hurting them. I have no desire to face you, Reverend.’

 

!Un mal disfraz?!

‘Bad disguise?’

 

!Cuerpos inconscientes.!

‘Unconscious bodies.’

 

Romany                                  English

Ava                                         yes

Bostaris                                   bastard or unpleasant person

Bucca niflipen                         liver-complaint

Charo diklo                             dishcloth

Chories                                    thieves

Chovahan                                witch

Drav-engro                              medicine woman

Gav-engro                               police

Gorgio                                     non-gypsy

Kitchema                                 public house

Koshti sarla                             good evening

Koshto                                                good

Levinor                                    ale or beer

Matto-mengro                         drunkard

Mushi                                      woman

Paracrow tute                          I thank you

Rawniskie dicking gueri         lady-like looking woman

Rashi                                         priest

Sar shin rawnie                        how are you, madam?

Sar shin meerie rawnie         how are you, sir

Sher-engro                              a head-man, leader of a Gypsy tribe.

Sher-rawnie-engro               female leader

So si?                                       What is it?

Stanya                                     stable

Stanya-mengro,                    groom, stable-fellow

 

Gheare și colți Clan     jaguar clan

Maku-Fey        Surname Chibchas

 

——————————————————————————————–

Category: Scifi, Short fiction

avatar

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Leave a Reply

Enjoy scifi? Please spread the word :)