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ArWen the Eternally Surprised
Author: Ria Time: 2007/11/22
Arwen encounters a strange monk and gains a little extra time.
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The Clash of Worlds: The Three Paths
Submitter: Date: 2011/10/30 Views: 209
Chapter 2

The Okrani crashed through the edge of the village, pushing fences and even cars out of the way, and any living being that stood in their route was cut down. Towns fell silent before them and people hid out of sight, watching from behind doors and upper windows. This one was no different, people hiding out of sight so that it seemed like a ghost town. Tosh, carried by one of the larger fighters, was brought level with Owen again whilst they waited. He was pale and bleeding from a cut on his head, and wouldn't answer her frantic calls. She turned, in desperation, to their captors. "Please, my friend is sick! He's a doctor, if you release him for a moment..."

One of the foul creatures laughed and pushed closer to them, gripping Owen's chin and raising it. "A doctor, eh? We don't need a doctor for this." Tightening his grip forced Owen's mouth open, and he poured a thick, foul-smelling liquid into his mouth, holding his head back so that he was forced to swallow it. "Doctor can't take his medicine," he jeered when he released Owen, who choked fiercely.

"Bastard," Tosh hissed. "Owen. Owen?"

"Fine, Tosh," he choked out at last. "I'm fine. Well, I'm alive. Unfortunately."

She smiled weakly and yelped as she was jostled. The leader pushed towards them, to the one who'd given Owen the foul liquid. "Human, behind us. They've picked up our trail. We have to push faster."

Screeching, chittering and cackling, the Okrani moved on again with their prisoners.

Rick ran his fingers along a wall and sniffed them, poised on the edge of the town and listening intently. He pushing himself to his feet and gestured ahead of them. "We're on the right track," he announced, turning back towards the van where Orlando had his tracking equipment out. "Orlando, what can you tell us?"

"They've turned South, a good way ahead of us. They're heading for the edge of the mountains. For the coast, maybe?"

"No." Rick clenched his fist and hurried over to look at the map Orlando was poring over. "There's a UNIT prison facility there, top secret and maximum security."

"Who's there? Who might they be heading for?"

He tensed his jaw and stabbed his finger at the spot on the map. "The Master."

"A new star is rising. A union of worlds which will bring the universe to its knees. Earth will burn in the fires of war as fuel. It will begin with Europe; the powerhouse of old is no longer, but the world still looks to their past glory for lead. Europe is weak, and the world will soon fall behind it. They are not ready." The Master turned away from the window and beamed at his guests. "They will fall."

They followed in his wake as he bounded through the corridors to the balcony which overlooked the car park of the maximum security facility. There had been no opposition to his take-over, so far under his control were the guards. It was likely that no one in the outside world had even noticed. He laughed and leaned forwards, looking out towards the mountains. "Burn the forest as fuel. The Okrani's crude weapons will suffice for now, but they are as crude as their weapons. It will take human dexterity to create even a simple hyper-kufrazic blaster, or a triston bomb." He tightened his grip on the railings and glared into the distance. "That girl, though. That girl. Oh she's good. She's brilliant. She'll have the device, I know she will. The freak will have given it to her to keep it safe, to find out about it. With her knowledge, and the power of that communicator..."

"She will comply?" The Lashimi closest to him asked, doubt clouding his tone.

The Master turned back to look at him, smiling in a way which would have been reassuring, were it not for the madness in his eyes. "I wasn't going to give her the choice."

Two days into their journey and they were still on the trail of the Okrani, on foot now after the landscape had become impassible in the van. Martin was bent over a pan of bacon, and Rick over another map, but Orlando tipped his head back to look up at the sky. "Red dawn," he pointed out. "You know what they say that means?"

"Sausages for dinner?" Martin asked.

Rick sighed. "Rain?"

He shook his head and returned to them, wrapping his arms around his chest to ward off a sudden chill. "That blood has been spilt over night."

They stared at him for a moment, and Martin didn't even try to hide his grin. "You know what they say about the pretty ones. Rick's right, Orli, it just means that we're going to get wet."

"We'll see," he muttered, squatting down next to Martin. "I still have a bad feeling."

"I've had a bad feeling for weeks now," Martin said, fishing slices of bacon out of the pan to dump unceremoniously on a slice of bread. "It could be something to do with being on the run, in pursuit of the alien creatures who kidnapped our friends, with two other friends missing, two dead, and the rest of the world waiting for war. It's not condusive to sleep."

Orlando smiled despite himself and accepted the clumsy sandwich. "What do you think, Rick? Keep going the way we are doing?"

"I think so." Rick had stayed where he was, tracing the map. "The journey gets easier from here. We're nearly down off the hills and we'll be into the planes of Greece soon."

Martin waved his fork. "I'm making the point now, I'm a sprinter, not a distance runner. If this keeps up, I'm going to collapse."

"It won't keep going for long," Rick assured him grimly. "Another day at this pace and they'll have reached the facility, and Tosh and Owen will be beyond our help."

Orlando pushed himself to his feet, wolfed down the last of his sandwich and grabbed his bag. "And we're half a day behind them. It'll be hard enough catching them if we get going now."

"We'll make it." Rick clapped a hand on his shoulder and grabbed his own bag, stuffing the map into it. "We have to."

The journey, which had been difficult through deep gullies and treacherous boulder-fields, both filled with cracks and loose scree that could have broken an ankle easily, became easier and almost pleasant as they dropped out of the final gullies onto the gently sloping plain. Short grass, cropped by the sheep and goats that regarded them warily as they ran by, made for easy running and allowed them to lengthen their strides and increase their pace.

They came to the first real road they'd seen for days, and the signs were clear that their quarry had come through this way. Bushes at the edge of the road were trampled and broken, and the lone road sign had been defaced with repeated blows from broad blades. "Not many people carry swords these days," Martin muttered, mostly to himself.

Engine noises coming up the road gave them a slight warning, enough to duck back behind the bushes for the slight cover. The bikes that roared past them were clearly ridden by humans, though, and Rick emerged from his cover before the other two could even think about stopping them. "Hell's Angels," he breathed, grinning. "Had any trouble on the roads?"

The gang wheeled around to surround them in a haphazard group, polished chrome glinting in the hot sun set in black leather. The leader of the group pushed forwards and pulled off his helmet to shake out his hair and fix them with an arrogant sneer. "Who are you, and what are you doing in this land?" he asked.

"Tell me your name, and I'll tell you mine, pretty boy," Martin told him.

There was the unsubtle sound of guns being drawn. "I'd kill you where you stand, if it wouldn't make such a mess of my uncle's road."

Orlando flicked the safety off as he raised his own gun. "You'd die before you could think it."

Rick, pushed Orlando's gun down and away and glared at Martin. "Enough! We're guests here." He turned to the leader and inclined his head in greeting. "I apologise. My name is Captain Richard Rant of UNIT; this is Martin Hanley, head of the security service in the UK, and Orlando Maiami, a researcher and technician at CERN. We're friends of Greece."

"Funny, I've never seen you at formal dinners," the leader laughed. "Actually, you I do recognise," he told Martin. "Though you ought to recognise me. My name is Prince Adrastos of Greece, although my friends and I are the only ones who care about that now. Greece, Europe, Earth... the distinctions don't seem to mean anything. What brings you to Greece, anyway?"

"We're tracking a group of alien marauders who have taken two of our friends hostage." Rick explained. "We've followed them from the south of France, and they were heading for the Pyrennees. As far as we know, they came south to here and then turned west along the road, heading for the coast."

Adrastos nodded and gestured the way he and the bikers had come. "Short and ugly? Dark skin and swords?"

"That sounds like them."

He nodded and ran a gloved hand through his hair. "We came across them in the night. Piled the carcasses and burned them; you can see it on the horizon. We left none alive."

"None?" Martin asked. "They were human, that would have been clear."

"It was night, we could only see that the majority were not human," he explained. "I am sorry. We didn't see any humans in the clean-up, but... Look for them, but don't hope. It's a currency long since spent in these parts. You have no transport?"

"No, not since we hit the hills." Rick told him absently, mind far from the conversation.

Adrastos squeezed his shoulder and looked around at his crew. "Philip, Charis, find a pillion." He turned back to them. "I can only give you two bikes, but I'm sure it'll help."

"Thank you." Rick nodded and accepted one of the bikes. "Orlando, can you ride pillion?"

"I'll drive, Martin can pillion," Orlando told him without checking. "I'm good with bikes."

"Travel safe." Adrastos told them. "Keep a weather eye out; you may yet see us again."

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