Nonagad: Chapter Six

Nonagad: 6

 Tom arrived at the great hall, entering through the small rear door that lead into the kitchen area. Unless he was with someone else he would always forego the heavy main entrance’s thick wooden doors. The original meanings of their intricate drawings and symbols were a mystery to his people. The hall, as well as the rest of Home was deserted when their forefathers stumbled upon it many years ago.

 He saw Rita working with the group of visitor women on one side of the large room and Clark on the other talking to the children. He was smiling, playing clap-jack with the two youngest who appeared to be twins. The third, older child was standing behind them, a hand on each of their shoulders. He appeared to be laughing along but there was awkwardness to his smile, as if it were for show; what he was ‘supposed’ to be doing. Odd, thought Tom, nothing nefarious just odd.

 Tom noticed that their clothing was loose fitting; they all seemed to be at least two sizes too big for their small frames. The two boys wore tan cloth pants and over-sized long-sleeved shirts which hung over the pant waists almost to their knees. The older boy wore a deerskin leather vest over the shirt. Otherwise they were identical including their bowl-type haircuts and tan leather boots that appeared to be stitched from the same animal hide as the older boy’s vest. The girl twin was dressed identically to the four older women. They wore loose ankle length white and blue dresses. All but one had a pure white scarf wrapped around their heads. They looked like the coverings Catholic nuns wore in the historical documents Tom had read when Ellie was training him.

 The single unique scarf was black with a thin white trim leaving no doubt she was the leader of this group.

 Tom walked over to Clark and held his hand up to greet the big man. All three children looked puzzled at the sight of this tiny man. The twins giggled into their hands. He ignored them as Clark reached his hand out to grasp Tom’s. Although Clark usually amused himself by gripping the other parties hand in his massive fist and gleefully watched them fight from allowing a grimace to appear as he crushed their hand, he was always cautious when greeting his leader. He could easily break Tom’s hand without even using all his own fingers.

 “Clark, a word.” Tom nodded to the side and lead him a few steps away from the children.  He released Clark’s hand and continued. “Ellie has sent two teams to watch the woods beyond the Southern End. There are at least three people hiding beyond the edge of the marsh. They’re larger than any of these seven so I’d guess they’re men of their tribe. What do we know about the group we have here?”

“Not a lot at the moment Tom.” Clark began, “Rita’s given nona water to the children, Ellie will be able to assess them soon.” He nodded towards the women on the other side of the hall with Rita, “as far as that group. Rita is doing a cursory examination of them now. Only the eldest one talks, she gives her name as Charlotte. The others just follow her lead. We don’t know much other than their cover story is false. I’d say they’re an advance party scouting us out, checking our defenses.”

 Clark had kneeled on one knee to be eye to eye with Tom.

 Tom said, “Ellie cannot determine what language they’re speaking to each other. Ellie needs us to engage the others so their leader translates, Ellie will be able to learn the language and we’ll get a better idea what they’re up to. Have they made any requests?” Tom asked.

 “Food and shelter of course,” Clark replied. “I haven’t asked what they want long term yet. I was waiting for you to talk about how we want to handle them.”

 “Get a couple of men to stay here with the Doctors then head down to the corn and set up a defense line. They probably won’t move until nightfall, they’ll think we can’t see them. Meet me back in the SLCC when you’ve completed the defense.”

 Clark stood and said respectfully, “as you wish sir, I’ll be an hour at least, I’ll see you later.”

 As he walked away, Tom thought how easy it would be to order Clark alone into the marsh. To command, ‘Go and find out who is out there and bring back a prisoner.’ Surely the three, whoever they are, could overpower and take or even kill Clark. Then Rita and her voluptuous body could be mine. Ellie couldn’t control it, couldn’t stop it. Maybe from that far into the marsh Ellie’s connection to Clarke would be broken and he’d  be just be a normal man, not one with adrenaline spiked strength courtesy of Ellie and her bots. Tom watched as Clark walk out the door having to stop himself from giving the order for Clark to walk to his death.

 He turned and walked towards Rita and the female visitors.

 His mind was still on the myriad unfortunate accidents that could befall his rival as he approached the group. He didn’t notice the nail that had come loose and stood less than a half inch out of the wooden plank flooring. His thick boot heel caught the nailhead and he tripped forward towards the women clustered around Rita. As he stumbled and fell forward, one of the three women with Charlotte jumped forward and caught him. As she helped him up she held his hand and touched his cheek, for an instant he thought her hands were moist, almost oily. Suddenly he felt a warmth spread throughout his body. The hair on the top of his head stood as goosebumps rose on his skin, his stomach contracted and felt full as if he just ate a satisfying but not gluttonous meal. His legs felt warm and the muscles rippled as if a soft pair of hands was gently rubbing the surface. His balls tingled and his manhood began to stiffen.

 Their eyes met and he forgot all about Rita and Clark. There was a beautiful stranger holding his hand, touching his cheek and gazing into his eyes, she was small, not as short as he was but easily the closest to his height he’d ever seen. He wanted her, he wanted be with her and run away from this place. He wanted to take her where he could make his own decisions and have a child of his own. Somewhere there was no Ellie telling them when to plant and who to screw. It didn’t seem strange to him at all that these thoughts and feelings suddenly manifested themselves.

 He made a decision to defy the decree he knew Rita would make about her, even if it meant betraying Home and the people he lead. He wanted to be free of Home and Rita’s watchful eye and constant voice in his head.

 At that instant, as if she knew he was thinking about her, “Leader Tom,” that annoying high pitched voice in his ear, “your pulse rate has increased and I see your blood pressure is rising. Please report to the health center to be examined.”

 Without releasing the hand of the beautiful temptress before him, he turned to the large blank screen at the end of the great hall knowing that’s where Ellie’s ‘eyes’ were and mouthed the word, ‘no.’ Charlotte saw this, knowing what was happening.

 He knew what he wanted to do. He knew that some sort of incursion was coming, when the attack started he would act on it, he just had to wait.

 Behind him, standing with the twins, observing, soaking in every detail of this strange village, Charlie saw the small man become infected by one of Charlotte’s team. He knew although that person was small in stature, his allegiance could be huge. Charlie needed to get a message back to his father; by next night, they’d have their healer.

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Nonagad: Chapter Five

Nonagad: 5

Tom was in the Security and Logistics Command Center, known to the townsfolk as the SLCC, when the alarm sounded. He watched on Ellie’s main window as Clark and his security team rode to intercept.

“Ellie” he said not turning from the screen, “what do you see?”

Through the visually imperceptible bud inserted in his right ear he heard the familiar, almost childlike voice. “We see ten.”

Tom was puzzled but knew with her superior vision, even if he didn’t understand how she could do it, she was right. “Ellie, I see seven. Three small, possibly children and four average sized all dressed as woman. Where are the other three?”

Calm voice in his ear, “we are unable to determine the ages or sexes of any of the seven you refer to. The three you cannot see are behind trees on the edge of our sight.”

“Ellie, what can you tell me about those three.” He asked.

“They are larger than any of the others in the sight.” She was referring to the three children and four women that Clark was exchanging mock pleasantries with on the edge of the marsh. “We can see nothing else.”

“Ellie, inform Clark of the three in the trees. We’ll want him to be aware in case this diversion isn’t as subtle as they want us to believe.” And have two additional security teams station in the cornfields. Have them prepare for covert watch.”

 “Yes Leader Tom,” he heard in his ear, “we understand.”

 He knew that Ellie would contact the citizens that needed to be deployed to the task of staking out the southern fields. Although there were only three men permanently assigned to the task of security, anyone could be called to duty to protect their village. Those dedicated to security spent their days in other tasks, caring for the horses or tending to the fence lines meant to keep their livestock safe. In the village there is no crime, no theft, certainly no murders, and no internal threats of any kind. Occasionally they were pressed into service to investigate an accident or fire so that Ellie could determine how to prevent its re-occurrence. Or as in today’s case, meet and interrogate ‘visitors’ for Ellie to process.

Tom watched as the window view changed to the great hall. He didn’t have to ask Ellie to change it, although she always saw all her windows, she knew where he would need to see next.

 In addition to ‘eyes’ in the Great Hall, Ellie had ‘ears’, one of the two locations in their town she could hear. The other being throughout the Rook tower; and more importantly for Tom, she could share what could be heard.

Tom watched as Clark and the visitors walked in. Shortly after Rita arrived, he saw Clark huddle together with her and the two young assistants. “Ellie,” Tom always spoke her name when addressing her directly. He found that it helped avoid confusion when a group was gathered within one of the areas she was accessible by voice. “Please isolate Security Clark and Healer Rita’s voices.”

In his ear, “As you wish Leader Tom,” he cringed at the title. ‘Why must she always call me that?’ He thought, although he knew already what she would say. ‘That’s who you are Leader Tom and that is how we should address you. It is the way.’ It’s what’s she has always said anyway, and he was sure she always would.

Tom listened intently as Clark told his story; he noticed that although he addressed all the women, his feet pointed directly at Rita no matter how the group moved. Rita in turn, kept her legs slightly open, feet angled slightly outward as if ‘inviting’ Clark’s scuffed boots in. Tom watched as her body angled towards Clark’s. She stood relaxed, shoulders back, as if to display her full bosom squarely, or rather roundly, pointed at Clark’s muscular body. At six foot 4 inches tall, Clark was one of the tallest of their community. One of the few men ‘voluptuous’ Rita had to look up to. A fact not lost on diminutive Tom, he loved Rita but knew Ellie would never approve of their mating. Although she allowed free will and could prevent impregnation by controlling both sperm and egg production, there was no ‘logical’ or productive reason for her to suggest or approve their union. 

 He knew there are only two reasons for copulation; making love to produce a baby for the continuation of their community, and screwing for the pure joy of mind blowing sex. He knew Ellie would never allow the former, Tom’s defective DNA assured him of never having a blood heir. And Rita with her incredibly good looks and body that even some of the straight women of their society lusted after, would never want the latter from tiny Tom.

Of all the many things Ellie could control in her people, sleep, strength, pain…, none of the seven deadliest sins were on her puppet-master list. Lust and jealousy were running rampant in Tom’s mind and there was nothing Ellie could do about it.

“Leader Tom,” Ellie spoke in his ear, “we sense heightened blood pressures and raised heart-rates in Healer Rita and Security Clark. Are they in danger, do we need to allocate additional security forces?”

 “No, I mean… Ellie, no. They’re not in danger, just horny.”

 “We do not understand.” He heard in his ear.

 “Ellie, I don’t expect you would, disregard the elevated levels. Playback the conversation between the visitors and what’s the status of the three hidden from my view in the forest?”

 On the top center of the six smaller windows that frame the main view screen, he watched the four women huddle together as Rita’s helpers escorted the children away. His first impressions of the group dynamic were confirmed when he observed that the only woman that spoke was the one they called Charlotte. He was also not surprised to hear her speak only in a language that was not familiar to him.

“Ellie, identify the language and translate.”

He was shocked by the reply that buzzed in his ear, “we do not understand.”

 “Ellie, clarify what it is you don’t get. The request or the language?”

 “We cannot translate into English from a language we do not know ourselves.” ‘Interesting’, he thought. ‘That’s a first.’

 His gaze moved around the remaining sub-windows and then back to the larger center screen. He watched Rita move between the children, checking their pulse, blood pressures, looking at their eyes, ears and at their teeth. He saw them laugh, completely at ease with this beautiful stranger poking and prodding them for probably the first real medical checkup of their lives.  She was lovely…

“Enough of this.” He mumbled. “Ellie, windows off, I’m going down there.”

 “As you wish Leader Tom.” The screens all went dark as he hopped from the chair in front of the wide main desk, stood and walked towards the door.

“Ellie, and alert me to any change to the people in the treeline, they’re probably the men of the group waiting for the scouting party to report back.”

“Yes Leader Tom.” He cringed again at the name.

Nonagad: Chapter Four

Nonagad: 4

      Zack watched as the riders on horseback approached; he and his fellow archers had their bows taught in case his people, his son, were attacked. To his relief he saw the lead horseman, a tall solid black man dismount and approach with his hands open and outstretched; a universal sign of peace. Zack loosened the pull on his bowstring and nodded to his men to do the same. They watched as the village’s scouts talked to Charlotte. “Good boy my son,” he said quietly. “Let Charlotte set us up.” His men nodded, not that they agreed in particular with what he said, but when your leader speaks, you acknowledge it.

Zack saw the lead man lift one, then the other twin up onto his horse. He saw as the dark skinned man pointed to his son and then turn to one of the other riders who quickly dismounted. Zack pulled his bow back up and aimed far enough above this man’s head so that the arc would drop the arrow into his skull if he made a move to harm Charlie. Without a word his two men followed suit and had their arrows tethered and their strings taught. The Beachwood bows dark from years of oiling and care vibrated with their stored kinetic power. They watched carefully, eyes narrowed slits, all three projectiles aimed at an identical point in space above their target. They saw the man’s face smile; his hands and arms open identically to the way the first man’s had, watched as he pointed to Charlie and then the horse he had just dismounted. Zack and his men understood and again slowly released the tension and lowered their weapons.

Charlie was lifted up onto the saddle, the man holding the reins of the horse carrying the twins turned and led them all back up the hill towards the town. The plan was in motion. Was he right to let his oldest son take on this risk. In the eyes of the tribe he was a man, to Zack he was still his boy, his baby. He thought back to the meeting around the fire last night; how the team had agreed on the final plan.

Charlotte was tending the council meeting when Zackary called her, “Charlotte, we’ll need you and a seduction team for this raid. Small crew, from what our scouts have told us, it’s a well developed town.”

“Yes sir,” she said as she bowed her head in compliance. “May I suggest five plus myself?” He could see she was already picking through the candidates in her mind.

Zack looked down at his son, “Charlotte, this is Big Chuck’s mission. Son, share with us your plan.”

Charlie looked at his father and the men who had sheathed their weapons and reseated themselves on the logs that served as their benches. Squaring his shoulders he turned to Charlotte and spoke, his voice young but firm. “Three women plus yourself, we’ll bring the twins. The townsfolk won’t believe us capable of violence with just woman and children. We leave at dawn.”

As Charlie laid out the rest of the plan, what story they would tell just enough truth to make it believable and easily remembered. The truth was always easier to remember, weave the lies in properly and it won’t fall apart. The men nodded their acceptance, his father smiled in pride at the details of the plan his son had laid out. Occasionally Zack would interject a concern or suggestion, Charlie always worked these in. Although it was his plan, his father was still their leader.

Zack remembered how Charlie looked when the scheme was complete, he appeared nervous but excited. Zack could tell he relished the chance to prove himself. He watched as Charlie reached up and clutched the cross that had been passed on to him, closed his eyes and said in prayer, “Lord give me the strength to lead my father’s people, our people. Bless the soul of my uncle Big Chuck. Let him guide us. Keep us safe. Amen.” Charlie opened his eyes, Zack saw him look into the faces of the men he had watched and learned from. He could tell Charlie was ready to bring them a healer.

Now standing in the woods, hidden among the trees, he watched his son being lead away on horseback. Zack noticed something about the riders.

He turned to his men and asked, “Did you notice the man who engaged Charlotte? He tapped his ear and glanced in our direction” Both men nodded in agreement. Again more as a courtesy to their leader than fully understanding his meaning.

“This is a well developed village; they might have some of the old tack left.” The men continued to nod agreeing that whatever Zack saw was indeed there, and should be noted.

“Wait here until day’s end,” Zack commanded his men. “I’ll return to our people and await word from my son…” He broke off, stopping himself from making this raid personal. He continued, “…await word from the team to make the next move.”  In his mind he thought, ‘and to add something even our people won’t expect.’

As he backed away from their position, never taking his eyes off the horses or people that walked up the hill towards that great tower, he ordered his men, “If anything develops, send word, otherwise stay and watch.”

Unfortunately for Zack, his men didn’t see when something did indeed ‘develop.’ They failed to notice the corn stalks moving barely perceptively as six men from the village took up positions to watch the men in the forest.