Cowboys and Sorcerers, Part One

gunfight

From the opening of the television show “Gunsmoke.”

The 21st Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

6,000 years ago in Bronze Age China, Bingwen Lóng, a dragon disguised as a man, Yao Jin, a sorceress and sword wielder, and Xia Jiuzhou, an eight-year-old boy whose real name is Landon, stand on a ridge overlooking the mystical and mythical city of K’un-Lun.

“I shall miss our time here.”

“Yao Jin, we were all almost killed here.”

“Yeah, I want to go home now.”

“We will, Landon.” Bingwen Lóng looked down at his friend and patted his shoulder.

“It was still an extraordinary experience. Even you must admit that, Landon. After all, you met an immortal moon goddess and the daughter of a dragon.”

The boy took a deep breath. Yes, it had been thrilling to be among such amazing people, but he missed his Dad, his Grandpa, and his little sister.

“Well, as Landon said, time to go home.”

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Turn and Face the Change

alternate universes

Two days before he took his first trip through the time gate, Major John Kelgarries had a hush-hush meeting at Operation Retrograde with Antoine R. Barnes, Head of the Temporal Mechanics division, the last word in temporal field operations and perhaps the one person in the operation who actually understood the Forerunner time map.

It was late. Just about everyone was asleep at the arctic base except those personnel on night duty. They were in a small conference room. Barnes had cut the surveillance feeds. This was strictly off the record.

“That’s the long and the short of it, Major. Assuming your mission to bring back the survivors is successful, I can only predict to a 48% accuracy how our history and our present will be changed.”

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Tomorrow or Yesterday?

yesterday, today, tomorrow

Found at flickr.com

Major John Kelgarres had been the military commander of Operation Retrograde for over five years but in all that time, he’d never gone through a gate. Not until today.

“Are you sure your presence is really required John. After all, we know our job.”

“It’s not you Gordon. I’m Walter Byrd’s C.O. I’m responsible for the safety of the men and women under my command. Byrd’s been out of touch for a long time. He and his people have been stuck tens of thousands of years in the past. They thought we gave up on them, they thought they were alone, cut off. If there’s any doubt he’ll order his team to come home, I’m here to see otherwise.”

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The Palace of Heaven, Part Two

shambhala

Palace of Heaven

The 20th Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

Bingwen Lóng rose majestically on brilliant wings high into the Palace of Heaven ready to confront his foe. At the last second, Xian, the Royal Shadow Dragon, and the golden dragon’s arch-foe, dodged and swooped slow over the floor of the palace, so low that both Landon and Yao Jin felt the breeze of the passage of his left wingtip.

As Xian pulled out of his dive, it seemed as if he were raining black water, hundreds and hundreds of drops. They splattered all around the pair, and the tiny lantern the boy wore on a chain around his neck burned bright.

“That’s not water,” the Chinese sorceress exclaimed.

What at first had looked like black raindrops quickly changed. Each tiny puddle expanded and writhed with a will of its own. They grew, became shapes, became tall.

“Shadow warriors. Hundreds of them. Run, Xia Jiuzhou!” Yao Jin yelled Landon’s Chinese name and then drew her sword to fight. Demonslayer moaned and shivered in delight at the prospect of consuming so many evil souls.

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The Time Trap

timelines

Krenim timelines from the two part Star Trek: Voyager episode, “Year of Hell”.

At what used to be Folsom base in a hidden canyon in 21st century Arizona, four men and two women walked through the time gate temporal field and disappeared. Kelgarries said a silent prayer. His long wait for their return began…or so he thought.

Ashe, Murdock, Zheutlin, Huỳnh, Fox, and Romanovich stepped through the other side of the gate. A forerunner base, operational, new…and populated.

“They’re dying. They’ll all dying.” Ross stared in horror suspecting the terrible secret of the alien time gate modifications.

There must have been dozens of Forerunners dressed in their blue-gray skinsuits. They had all collapsed on the floor, writhing in pain, choking.

“Back,” Ashe commanded. Back before the gate closes.”

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Prologue: The Defiant Agents

time travel

Image: BBC News

“So you want to know why I saved your life in the Ice Age, Murdock? It started out so simply. My men were engaged with the invading Forerunners. Months ago, one of our technicians accidentally activated some sort of transmission device on the spaceship. Apparently it emitted a signal that can travel faster than light, assuming the Forerunners who arrived came from outside our solar system.

“The invasion force hit without warning, repelling down through the opening above the spaceship’s chamber. I was the only one to get out in time. I planned to use you as a bargaining chip. I knew that our scientists had developed the time gate by studying portions of the alien technology we had recovered years ago from the first site in Siberia. I knew the Forerunners might follow us into the Bronze Age.

“I planned to defect. I was going to use you to negotiate with your people, secure safe passage on your submarine back to your base, and then return with you back to the present. I know where other spaceships are in the past, Murdock. I know of at least one in the Americas. I would have helped you find it, even before the Forerunners linked us telepathically.

“Why did you hit me and run? We could have escaped together. Didn’t you sense my thoughts, understand my intent? You understood the alien. Why didn’t you understand me? Why didn’t you save me like I tried to save you?”

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Time Storm

time storm

Blue energy tornado – high quality and very detailed computer-generated image

Captain Toni Blair stared up in awe as did her officers and troops as the Forerunner scout ship landed on the exact spot where it had launched so many days ago.

It’s landing legs had extended. The ship touched down. It’s vibrations and shuttering ceased, and then it seemed as inert as it did when it first came through the now destroyed time gate, before it came to life and took flight.

The hatch opened and the ramp extended downward. Four time travelers turned reluctant astronauts, dressed in alien garb and each with a haunted look in their eyes, began the long descent back toward the sand of their mother planet.

Gordon Ashe, Ross Murdock, Aiyana Zheutlin, and Lynn Huỳnh all set foot back on a world they thought they might never see again.

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My World is Blue

europa

RON MILLER/STOCKTREK IMAGES VIA GETTY IMAGES

“Travis. Darling, wake up.”

Travis Fox opened his eyes and saw his wife Cassie. “Good morning, beautiful. How…?”

Then he realized he was in the wrong bed. Why was his wife leaning over him instead of lying beside him? He wasn’t at home. He never made it home last night. Wait. How long had he been away from home?

The time gate. He’d gone through with Byrd and the others to help get Holden’s group back home from the past. The Folsom men. The attack. They’d tried to kill him.

“Where am I?”

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The Palace of Heaven, Part One

ancient china
The Nineteenth Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

The young sorceress Yao Jin, eight-year-old Landon, and the mighty Ambrosial Dragon stood on a ridge overlooking a valley in what they knew to be ancient China. By some mysterious magic, the trio had been taken backward in time rather than returning home after rescuing the souls of Yao Jin’s grandfather and his Nameless Master from demons on an unknown island in the River Styx.

“Buddy, do you think you can…”

The little boy had turned toward the now imposing and magnificent dragon only to find he was no longer there. In his place, there was a Chinese man. To the child, he seemed about the same age as Yao Jin. He was tall and dressed in what looked like old fashion Chinese clothes. At the same moment, Landon saw that Yao Jin’s clothes had changed, too.

“Hey, what happened to Buddy?”

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The Encounter

time tunnel

Photo used under Creative Commons from light_arted

The temporal field in the alien time gate sparked and cracked for several seconds before anything came through.  Then it appeared, a single Forerunner, an Orange.

“Watch out!” Murdock sounded almost panicked. “It’s a Forerunner weapon.”

It looked like the same race as the Blues. Skin color was a little darker, but everything else was identical. No hair on the exposed head and hands, human enough eyes, flattened nose, more or less a slit for a mouth, lumpy skin texture that looked like an orange peel. It was holding an object Ross recognized as the telepathic weapon the Blue used on him back at the Soviet base in the Ice Age.

Murdock, Ashe, and Zheutlin all reflexively reached for weapons they didn’t possess. Lynn Huỳnh never took agent training, so her response was to freeze.

The tip of the alien object glowed yellow which Murdock knew meant it was activated. He rushed forward to stop the Forerunner before it could paralyze them all.

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