This week’s #BlogBattle entry, incorporating “sacrilege” with last week’s “derelict” since I skipped that one.
From the Adventures of Grant McSwain, Explorer of Exotic Vistas, Defeater of Deadly Villains, and Charmer of Care-Free Vixens,
Accompanied as always by his hapless assistant, Teagan O’Daire, the Ginger of Galway… and Tepandorixotl
Even on an alien world, under the light of two moons in a sky of magenta, Grant remained true to his nature—an anchor Teagan desperately needed as she sought a solution to this chaos. Surrounded by featureless humanoid shapes of hazel-colored mud, Grant threw himself against the overwhelming odds without hesitation. His thick fist splattered the face of one creature, and his boot kicked through another’s leg.
The soft earth rose to a low hill nearby, and Teagan spotted a mud-spattered structure like a ziggurat or pyramid. She ducked beneath an arm of living clay and swept her attacker’s legs with a low kick. The creature bellowed and flailed in the air before it splatted into the mud.
“Some kind of shelter, Grant,” Teagan shouted, pointing at the building—the only one in sight. The barren horizon rose and fell in slight ripples and small hills, but Teagan saw no flora, no fauna, no signs of intelligence.
A voice boomed in her head, one single echoing word: A-round.
She clutched her ears in vain and struggled with each step, her boots creating pockets of suction in the moist earth. Beside her, Grant tore through the mud, his boots cutting deep troughs, and his fists carving a path through the alien foes.
A-round you, the voice repeated, pausing between each syllable but picking up speed. In-tel-li-gence. We are all around you, flesh-one.
To Teagan’s right, Grant caught a lunging mud-man and flipped it overhead, using its momentum to smash it into the ground. With Grant bringing up the rear, shoving the creatures back, Teagan reached the bottom of the hill and started the ascent toward the exposed structure. As she climbed, her foot sank through the hazel clay and hit the stone of the covered building.
You do not belong here, the voice hissed.
“Are you hearing this, Grant?”
Grant dodged a swing from one of the misshapen beings, and huffed in exhaustion. “What are you talking about?” Unable to wait for the answer, he intercepted another mud-man and grappled with the creature.
You hear me, the voice whispered. I sense it.
Teagan scrambled out of the muck and up the steps. Two metal doors leaned against the wall, broken from their hinges. Though weathered and discolored, Ixthacan runes and art covered their surfaces.
The voice, now eloquent, continued its tirade in Teagan’s mind. Long has it been since our kind was forced to form crude, linear concepts and structured expressions suitable for the lesser minds of flesh.
“I think it’s reading my mind, Grant.”
Correct, the voice answered. Regrettably. An image filled Teagan’s mind–her form made up of rotten steaks.
Grant stood at the edge of the stairs, shaking clumps of mud off his hands and clothes. The creatures stopped their advance where the stone pyramid rose out of the mud. “I don’t know why they stopped,” Grant said, “but this dirt is shifting and moving, rising up the sides.”
Sacrilege. Meat-husks do not belong here. The way back is closed to your kind.
Teagan ignored the gibberish and looked at the peak of the pyramid. “I don’t get it. This is Egyptian architecture, quite similar to the great structures in Geza. But those are Ixthacan runes on the entryway…”
“The one we should maybe go through? Those clay things are still oozing this way.” Grant pulled Teagan along and moved past the metal doors into the darkness. As they crossed the threshold, a set of stones in the walls emitted a soft blue glow.
Your meeting place has been reclaimed, the voice continued. The foothold of flesh on this side is shattered. Your kind is banished, forbidden from these halls.
Teagan gritted her teeth and pushed the voice out of her mind. More characters and runes covered certain stones on the walls. Shelves held golden relics and ancient sculptures.
“Those aren’t Ixthacan,” Grant said, pointing at a set of characters.
“Holy Mother of God,” Teagan blurted, “are those ancient forms of Chinese characters? And look—that bladed spear matches the style of early Chinese weapons-craft. And that earthen statue of an imperial soldier—the Qin dynasty, perhaps? Judging by the armor?”
“But these are clearly Egyptian hieroglyphs,” Grant replied. “Look at the gold cat statue.”
“Where the hell are we, Grant?”
You are intruding upon sacred ground, the voice answered unbidden. Spreading your disease beyond the bounds of your prison. A low wave of hazel muck spread like a glacier, oozing through the entrance behind them.
Grant dashed to the spreading clay and kicked huge divots in it, trying to push it back. “I don’t care where we are so much as how do we get out of here!”
“What do you want?” Teagan shouted, and ignored the confused look from Grant.
An end to the disease you bear. Hatred flowed through Teagan’s mind, and the voice seethed in reply. The flaw in your forms that developed into soft, weak meat. The ‘devilution’ that forced us to purify our genepool, to prevent the epidemic.
“I’ve heard such talk before,” Teagan said. The so-called science of the hard-line Germans came to mind. “Surely we can reach some kind of accord.”
You waste words. You waste raw materials. You waste life. You do not belong here. You will die.
“So very evolved of you,” Teagan shot back. “Sorry to disappoint by suggesting we talk instead of killing each other.”
Grant stomped a mud-man’s torso as it rose from the spreading clay, then kicked the head off another. He glanced back at her and asked, “Who are you talking to, Teag?” Then another mud-man leapt on him, and Grant smashed it into the wall with his broad back.
You cannot kill us, foolish progenitor, no matter how hard your worker drone tries.
“You should tell him so, get him riled up. Maybe he’ll do a better job of it.”
He cannot hear us. We deign to speak on your level. We are incapable of descending to his.
Strange thoughts resounded in Teagan’s mind, and foreign memories rushed through her vision. A world at war under twin violet moons… armies of living earth driving out the deviants whose bodies solidified into muscle and bone… slaughter and fear, desperation and despair, followed by capture and exile.
Minions of the Great Rebel, the voice boomed, and Teagan collapsed to one knee. Begone! Sinful flesh was banished from this plane, dispersed and scattered onto derelict, lifeless planets floating in the empty expanse of the void. How dare you—the exiled and forsaken—now try to return?
“My God, Grant,” Teagan gasped as the memories coalesced in her mind. “They cleansed a full third of their population. Anybody with the DNA that might permit this evolution into flesh some generation down the line—they killed or exiled them all.”
Grant grunted in response, thrashing and dodging among a crowd of mud-men.
The others, the voice cooed in Teagan’s mind, the ones you fear, who sought entrance to this world? These Germans—they are not wrong, fleshling. They wish to cleanse, to purify. Where they err is that they do not see themselves as part of the problem.
The telepathic connection formed an image of a portal back to Castellano’s repository in South America. Perhaps we did not fulfill our task so many ages ago. We shall correct this.
“Grant, they’ve changed plans. They’re going to invade.”
Between stomping mud-men, Grant surveyed the room. “So many treasures of antiquity,” he muttered. “So many connected historical mysteries we could solve.”
He doffed his pack and swung it like a weapon, splattering two more mud-men across a glowing wall. Then he rummaged within it while kicking mud-men back. “Does that connection you’ve got work both ways? Can you tell how to get us home?”
Teagan smiled and the voice in her head recoiled in sudden fear. A line of light sliced through the air in front of the Qin soldier, and expanded into a shimmering circle filled with an image of the repository’s dark cavern.
Grant’s hands grabbed her and pulled her in. She braced for the disorienting shift, the blades of light and cacophony of this alien transport. But instead, they stepped across worlds with minimal resistance, like rising from beneath the surface of a lake.
Strands of clay came through as well, stretching across the floor and dragging more of the hazel mud from the other world.
Something hissed beside Teagan. Grant held a bundle of dynamite, the braided wick already lit. “You said they had a plan. There’s nothing I’m better at than messing up plans. Usually my own. Let me do what I do best.”
He tossed the bundle through. “Cut the portal, Teag… and hit the deck.”