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Fantasticoe 2001 -  10th Anniversary Issue

N.T.T.O

Mark Tawney

With a flash of cascading light and a thunderous explosion of sound they appeared. Stunned and shaken from their trip, the team was a bit disoriented. The three of them lay almost lifeless on the ground. Jane began to move a bit, her senses coming back to her. The blue sky above her became clearer and clearer. It was the early morning for the sky had that crisp look to it. She began to feel the wetness of the morning dew beneath her. The smell of nature rose from the grass as she realized that she was in some sort of field, a pasture maybe-- some type of open plain. For the time being this seemed perfectly natural to her. Why shouldn't she be there? Faint moans began to grow to her right. She glanced over and noticed her companions, Jake and Marquez, still lying lifeless on the dewy grass. She was surprised for only a moment that she was dressed in what seemed to be an infantryman's uniform. From what she could detect it was British, around the late thirteenth century. She had on an over shirt, orange, with the King's crest embroidered on it. Her fellow travelers where dressed similarly.

A brainstorm rushed through her head; the sudden rush of information caused her great discomfort. She clutched her head for a moment, then rose quickly to her feet and rushed over to her friends. Still groggy they too began to move as she did earlier. She knelt down beside them and started to shake them into consciousness. Panic stricken she began to dart her head around looking in all directions. They were about to die.

The sound of chanting and raving came from all around them. Jane saw off in the distance a whole hoard of men, standing in somewhat scattered lines. They where dressed in rags of wool and torn leather vests. Some carried huge two-handed broad swords, others what looked like farming tools. They all looked rugged and dirty. She could almost taste their stench from where she was. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of them, standing shouting in unison.
 

"HEY JAKE WAKE UP, COME ON GUYS WE HAVE TO GO, NOW!!" Jane shouted with authority, realizing the terrible peril they were in.
 

Marquez suddenly popped up and sat in the open field. He glanced at Jane and then glanced off in the distance. He saw thousands of figures standing on a hillside. There were so many figures standing in uniform that the hill seemed to be painted in orange. These men where standing there silent, patient. Each man had a weapon, swords, axes, maces, and spears. "Infantrymen," he thought to himself. Next to them were men more richly dressed in full body armor, each mounted on horseback. Behind the men sat a soldier, no a King. Calmly sitting he glared off in the distance behind Marquez. Marquez could just make out that the King was leaning over to tell one of his advisors something. A faint shout could be heard. Then from behind the infantrymen stepped an army of men with longbows. They stopped just in front, sticking their arrows in the ground. Each man seized an arrow and drew it back in the bow. With a wave of the King's arm the men let loose of their arrows.

Marquez watched in horror as the arrows painted the morning sky. He was surprised how graceful, how elegant they seemed to float through the sky over his head. Still watching his head arched back, he was now looking in the other direction as the arrows floated above. The arrows were slanting downward now. Traveling much faster, they were no longer so graceful, but more powerful. Like hail the arrows began to drop out of the sky. He could see the men Jane had been watching earlier. Kneeling on the ground with their shields above them they tried to protect themselves from the raining arrows. The men in wool kilts were dropping all over. Arrows gouged through the men's flesh, tearing through veins and arteries. From this distance it was hard to make out much. He could only see men falling with tiny arrows sticking out of their heads and chests. Finally the bombardment of arrows was finished. For a second the battlefield was silent.

Jake was finally awake and alert now. He had watched the massacre with the others. To his amazement the ragged men in kilts now rose from what had seemed to be a grave of men. In actuality there were still hundreds of men left; the arrows had only taken out a small portion. His head really hurt. "How long had he been there," he wondered, it had seemed like an eternity. Actually it had been just a few brief moments.

"We have to get out of here." Jake said under his breath panic stricken. He looked all around for some shelter, some place to hide. Off to their left was a forest, it would have to suffice.

"Over there to the left, the trees will give us some protection. Quickly get up and run over there, try not to make to much commotion. We want to get out of this war-- not have it follow us." Jake said with much confidence. Deep down he wondered how they were going to get out alive. But he couldn't let his team know that he was second-guessing himself. They depended on him for leadership. He was picked out of the FBI for this special task force, to be the leader of this group of time travelers. He had all the qualities of a leader: cocky, brave, and most importantly he cared about each member of his team. He wished at times like these that he could lean on someone for support, but this was his job, he was a leader.

Marquez and Jane agreed. The three of them stood up and started to run over to the protection of the forest. They were very sluggish in the uniforms, and clearly visible by both armies now as they ran toward the forest, but they had no choice. They wouldn't last a minute out there in the battle. The forest grew closer and closer, they might actually make it there alive. The team was focused, determined, they had one goal, to reach the forest. It wasn't far now they had to keep going. Jake had no problem; he had been trained and was in top physical form. Marquez and Jane however, were growing weak. Jake could here them gasping behind him.

"COME ON JUST A LITTLE MORE!" he encouraged.

Jake was the first to make it into the shade of the trees Marquez and Jane were not too far behind. When they reach the shade, both hunched over trying to suck in as much air as their lungs could hold. Their hearts raced wildly. Jane could feel her neck pulsate. They all continued to walk deeper into the forest, the farther the better they thought. After a good hundred yards they came to a boulder. It was covered in lichen and was in the deep shade of filtered sunlight. They all came to rest against its rough surface. Sweat beaded on their foreheads, and they were still breathing hard.
 

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The King was pleased with his initial display of power. He hadn't wasted a single man, only a few hundred arrows. Already the enemy was weaker, almost a fifth of their army killed in one pull of the arrows. He would send in his cavalry and ride them over like grass. He was just about to let his wishes be known when one of his lords spoke.

"Sire, who are those men in the middle of the field? They run from battle."

"Impudent bastards how dare they desert my army. See to it personally that they be destroyed for desertion. Hunt them down yourself if you have to."

"Yes sire."
 

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Rising from death all around him William was momentarily happy to be alive. Many of his men lay slain from the cascading arrows. He was stained with the blood of his countrymen. He had lived only because some of them had died. His men were injured but still in good spirits, they were still thirsty to kill, ready for a war.

"William"

He turned to the friendly voice.

"William looks as if the king has some men trying to flank our position, those men there running to the forest."

"Aye, they maybe sending word to more men. Take three men and stop them."

"Aye."
 

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"So he sent us to the Battle of Falkirk," Jane said still breathing deeply.

"Is that where we are?" Jake asked.

"Pretty sure," she proclaimed back to him. Of course she would be sure. She was the best. A top-notch historian, graduated first in her class from Yale. She knew about most every event in the history of humanity, usually in great detail. That is why she was on the team. This is what the whole program was about, to explore history in graphic detail. No longer did historians have to read through piles of old texts, they could be there for the actual events, taking notes on what happened. The birth of Christ, the fall of Rome, and the flooding of Atlantis were all known events, recorded by modern historians. Jane knew where they were, and they all knew why.

"What was that battle about then?" Marquez asked.

"Well in the late thirteenth century a commoner named William Wallace opposed Longshanks' rule over Scotland. He forged an army of Scots and lead them in battle in an attempt to win their freedom from England."

"So that was Longshanks, King of England, and the men in kilts were obviously the Scots." Jake said.

"Who wins?" asked Marquez

"The English do, and William Wallace is captured and put to death for treason."

"Do the Scots ever win back their freedom?"

"Not for a few years Marquez."

"So why did Desmend send us here?" Marquez asked.

Desmend was the President of NTTO, the National Time Travel Organization. He had once been out in the fields many years ago, when the technology was new. Over the years he began to rise above the ranks. Soon he was a senior officer, the youngest ever at the age of 35. His wit and uncanny ability to find the exact location of historical events made him a star in the organization. At first no one really knew where exactly historical events took place, it was more of a guess and check system. The approximate time and place was known but the exact time and place, or a "hit," as it came to be known, was unsure. Desmend in his first year had eight hits, more than most have in their entire careers. He was smart, almost to smart. No one would have ever suspected him of time corruption, especially this team. He was like a father to them, taught them the ropes, and showed them everything he knew.

The temptation of time corruption, it seems, was just too irresistible for him. In this day and age altering the events in the past was a very serious crime. All attempts were made, when people went back in time, to unchange history. Teams did not interact with anyone, and tried to come and go in very secure locations. Desmend seemed to want more wealth, with his intelligence came an insatiable greed. It helped him rise quickly in the organization. He did anything to gain power and prestige, now he wanted more, and he had the device to do it-- Time Travel. He could go back in time, and place any amount of money he had into stock of a business that he knew would become successful. That is exactly what he did. One trip to the past and Desmend would come home a billionaire. The brilliance of his plan is that no one would ever know he would come back and everyone would have always known him as a billionaire. There was a problem however; Jake, Marquez and Jane, they had all been on an away mission, and thus unchanged by the time continuum.

"It is as good as any place really, after the battle our bodies would just rot without question, besides there would be no remains for him to deal with, we would have been dead for 600 years before he was even born. If you want to kill someone without anyone knowing about it; this would be a way to do it," Jane explained with coldness in her voice.

"I can't believe it--Desmend--committing time alteration. Then he sends us back here to try and bump us off? If I hadn't been there I would never have believed it."

"Yeah, I know Jake, I can't believe it either."

"Well believe it you two, Marquez said, we are here and Desmend is the one that held us at gun point and forced us to put on this stupid clothing, and made us come to this wretched place--to die!"

"We are out of the battle field now Marquez, we have a good chance of making it out," Jake said in a consoling voice.

"I still don't understand why he didn't wait until we were back to change time."

Come on Jane, you know that there is never a time when some group is not away. When Desmend went back we were the only ones away. He would have less people to deal with," Jake said.

"Great, so that son of a bitch just decided that you all, who were like family, don't deserve to live because I need to be rich, that is just great!"

Marquez calm down, we have to try and get out of here first, then we can try and think of how to deal with Desmend."

"So what the FUCK do you think we can do, fearless leader?" Marquez questioned. He had never been a real brave soul. He was what you would call a wimp. He had his moments of bravery, but usually he was always the one to question, and never the one with solutions. But as an interpreter, there was no comparison. He spoke almost every known language with a flawless dialect. He even spoke some of the dead languages such as Latin and Greek. There was no doubt that he was useful, but in times like these the others just wanted to slap him.

"Jane, Please tell me that you…" but right then Jake was cut off.

"Jake, You know I never travel without it…" she smiled back at him knowing exactly what he was thinking for--praying for.

"You mean he didn't notice your extra Time Interface?!?" Marquez squealed with excitement.

"No I always put an extra around my ankle under my sock, he didn't know that I never travel without two TIs. So when Desmend asked for mine I was able to produce one," she smiled back at him.

"Well then you know what you have to do Jane."

"Yes Jake, I know."

"Make sure when you get back that you avoid Desmend. He'll kill you, he already tried once."

"I know Jake, I'll be right back with two more TIs."

"Why can't we all just ride back, it is possible. I mean how do you even know when to come back and find us?"

"Marquez you know that is extremely hazardous, who knows what could happen, you two are fine. This is a well-known battle. It has been studied extensively. I know exactly where and more importantly when we are. I will be right back….I promise."

Jane reached down at her ankle and pushed the button on her TI. The TI started to emit an intense light. This light spread and her figure was covered by a brilliant blue luminous essence. The shadows of her features were still visible. The blue light pushed outward in all directions, as her figure grew brighter. It was hard to look at her now. Jane seemed to be a star in the center of blue sphere. The space all around her started to bend inward as if she was standing in front of a fabric sheet and pushing it away from her. It began to bend more and more until there was nothing in the center. Jane's body seemed to be sucked into this void, stretching her more than a yard long. She grew and became more twisted, until she snapped into the hole like a rubber band. In a brilliant white light she was gone leaving nothing but a vibration of space where the hole had once been.

"So we just wait here until she comes back I guess," Marquez sighed pathetically.

"Not much else we can do."
 

"Halt in the name of King Edward."

Jake looked over his shoulder in the direction of the battlefield. There standing before him was a knight on horseback. The filtered light shimmered off his metallic suit of armor. Every inch of his body was protected, so too was his horse. He raised the horse on its hind legs. The steed wailed in a high pitch nay and dropped back down to the earth with a mighty stop. The figure was an impressive sight indeed. His sword drawn in his right hand, his left hand grasping the reigns as the animal slowly marched forward.

"You two shall be slain for desertion. No one leaves the battle field without the King's permission."

Jake and Marquez slowly backed away, their hearts filled with fear. Out of the corner of his eye Jake could see Marquez shaking. Behind them they heard a rustling in the bushes, a snap of a twig. "JANE," Marquez thought, "thank god." He turned his back to the knight and darted off toward the sound. Like a wildcat stalking its prey the Knight leaped forward. Jake stood watching. The Knight swung a powerful blow at Jake. Somehow he was able dive out of the way. The knight paid no more attention to him; he was after his prey on the run. Galloping toward Marquez the gap between them grew shorter and shorter. Marquez flew down the tunnel of trees. He was almost there, he only had to get the extra TI from Jane and he would be able to go home-- alive.

Out of the bushes that Marquez was running for were four men dressed in the same ragged clothing that he had seen earlier on the battle field. They roared out of the bushes charging forward in furious anger. Marquez froze in fear. He was a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car; certain death came charging at him from two directions. He was trapped with no escape.

The Knight reared his horse back in surprise. "An ambush," he thought, "clever plan." Full of confidence he regained control of his horse and hurdled in front of Marquez toward the four Scots. The Scots still advanced one after the other, weapons drawn. The knight drew closer. He galloped forward and came to the first Scot on his right. Shifting his body into position he leaned out to the right side with his sword ready. The Scot didn't stand a chance; his short sword was well out of reach of the knight. The knight's sword swung mightily as the cool blade sliced right through the man. From the force of the impact the Scot's body flew sideways, and his limp body crushed to the ground. Galloping onward the knight approached another Scot this time he was on the left side. He quickly thrust his sword to the left, making a clean vertical sweep with the weapon. The sword caught the back of the man as the horse raced by. The body spun around form the swing and the horse's body clipped the corpse, knocking it into a pile of leaves on the ground.

Onward the knight flew. His next victim was backing away slowly. The knight still charged. Just as the knight was in range the third man equipped with a spear knelt down on one knee. He locked the spear into the ground and placed his foot over the back of the spear. The tip pointed upward right at the chest of the horse. Unable to stop, the knight ran into the spear, and the tip went through the horse's chest. With a snap the spear broke in two, and the rider tumbled over the horse, falling to the ground. The entire time he clutched his weapon, it lay still in his hand.

He blocked the first strike on the ground, and then rose to his feet. The second swing was much less forceful and easily he dodged and countered. The fourth man crept up behind the knight. He cocked his axe behind him way above his head. The knight thrust forward with his sword impaling the man before him. The man gasped for a last breath as the knight withdrew his sword. Turning just in time the knight caught a glimpse of the axe falling upon him. Using all of his strength the Knight blocked the swing. He was knocked off his feet and his sword flew out of his hand into the brush. The axe man swung again, the huge weight smashed down upon his armor slicing it open. The armor had only slowed down the axe. The shear impact had wedged the axe deep in the Knights shoulder. Lying on the ground the Knight moaned in pain. With anger and fury the axe man swung down again and again upon the knight, until the only sound that could be heard was the snapping of bone and squishing of flesh.

Marquez had quickly responded when he realized that his imminent death was put on hold. He had not stopped to watch the battle. He did what came naturally to him, he tucked tail and ran. A flash of light and a thunderous boom shook the ground as he ran toward Jake. He knew Jane had returned. When he approached he saw Jake helping Jane off the ground. They were saved.

"Welcome back Jane," Jake said with a sigh.

"Lets get out of here before they come to kill us," Marquez sputtered out.

"Right, we've been here long enough," Jake said.

Jane reached in her pocket and handed both of them extra TIs she had gotten back at the lab.

The man with the axe looked up from the knight's body, blood trickled down his face. He could see of in the distance a brilliant light. He then saw the three people he had seen earlier. Having lost three of his men to these people, he was not about to let them live without a fight. He darted after the short British soldier that had run off behind the Knight. They were all turned away from him as he approached. He was almost there, hate filled his eyes and fury filled his heart. He was within range and leapt forward. Suddenly the small one started to emit an eerie blue light. It seemed to expand outward toward him. He was frightened and stunned. He had been so close that it consumed him. He was frozen in midair. Suspended, unable to move. The light began to grow, brighter now. It burned a hot. Then there was nothing.
 

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They arrived back at the lab unharmed, all four of them. Standing quickly was the medieval axe men. He looked all around in this strange new environment. He was standing on some kind hard floor, almost like stone. Light seemed to come form enclosed lamps above in the ceiling. They were brighter than any lamp he had ever seen before. The room he was in was large, possibly a great hall of a castle of some sort. The walls on all sides were white with nothing on them, no tapestries of any type. The room was warm, yet there was no fire. Standing before him was man in some kind of black outfit, the likes of which he had never seen. He was approaching as if with hostile intents; holding something metallic in his hand. He heard the others behind him getting up to their feet.

"So you all made it back I see. Obviously one of you had a spare TI then…Oh and you have brought back a friend."

"You're never going to get away with this Desmend." Jake said.

"Oh is that right? Who will believe you when you are dead? Everyone else knows me only as a billionaire. It is old family money you see."

"You're a piece of SHIT Desmend!"

"Ah Marquez you always had a way with words."

"Now if you will all kindly give me your TIs, we will try and do this all over."

The team all reached out and gave Desmend their TIs. He shoved them into his pocket and turned to the axe man. He pointed his gun at him and fired. The axe man's chest was ablaze with fire and pain. He clutched his chest and winced in agony as he dropped to the floor. Desmend turned around and pointed the gun toward the team.

"Now if you will kindly go to the Transient room, I would appreciate it."

They all started to turn and leave the room. Jake led the way followed by his team and Desmend. The axe man quietly stood back up. He wailed as he ran toward Desmend. He clutched his axe with all his remaining strength. His chest still burned with pain; blood now stained his wool tunic. Desmend turned as the axe man approached. With a final leap he swung with both hands downward. His axe came to rest in the neck of Desmend, splitting his jugular. Desmend's body crumpled to the ground lifeless, void of all movement. The axe still lodged in his neck.

The axe man slowly fell to one knee. He rolled over on his side and glared at the team. His last breath was taken here in this unknown world, away from his home. He died not for the cause of freedom, but because of one man's greed.

The three of them stood in amazement at what had just transpired before them. They looked at Desmend's corpse, axe still wedged in his throat. Their savior, the man with the axe, lay silent, shot right through the chest. Never before had the Receiving Room in the NTTO building seemed so quiet. A tear came to Jan's eye. It was all over.



Acknowledgments:

I would like to thank the entire creative writing fantasy class of 2001for their efforts and suggestions in improving my story. I would especially like to thank them along with Terry Heller for making coming to class, even during the dreary days of J-Term, enjoyable. Thanks a lot guys it was fun.

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