Sand

Another little drabble, this one is inspired by the opening scene of “The Arabian Affair.”  The title was the prompt.

**

Normally, Illya had to wear black to blend in and he had to cover his pale locks.  There were, however, those rare times when being fair was an asset.  In the desert, he wore tan and didn’t bother to cover his sandy locks.  Sprawled on top of the dune, watching the secret laboratory, he was virtually invisible.

Of course, he probably should have worn a hat.  His flesh was as fair as his hair.  The exposed skin on his face could burn under that sun.  However, he had other things on his mind.  How was he meant to get inside?

Treat

Another Man from UNCLE drabble.  This one was inspired by the episode, “The Ultimate Computer Affair.”  The title is the prompt word.

**

It had been a tough mission that had left Illya in a foul mood.  He was tired, sunburned, blistered and ravenously hungry.  Now, Miss Oliver was cross with Napoleon too.  Had she really believed she was the only one?  Perhaps.  Illya knew that Napoleon wasn’t any happier just then than he was.

Heaving a sigh, Illya glanced back at his partner.  “We’re going to need clothes and… a room for the night?”

“Lotion for your sunburns,” Napoleon murmured, nodding.  His brows furrowed.  “Do you remember the number for the expense account?”  At Illya’s nod, he smiled.  “It’s UNCLE’s treat, then.”

Dance

My sister found a bunch of one word prompts that I’ve decided to use.  This one relates to a scene in an episode of “The Man from UNCLE” (a new fandom for me) – “The Re-Collectors Affair”.

**

Illya could not help but smile faintly as he watched Lisa enjoying the music that was floating out of the radio.  A glance towards the door made his smile grow.

Lisa’s movements had been elegant as she moved to the beat.  Napoleon’s were a bit awkward – a bit off the proper rhythm.  However, somehow, it brought him more pleasure.  Perhaps because Napoleon had returned.

Illya shut his eyes behind the shaded lenses, pretending to be asleep as Napoleon slipped around behind the couch to turn off the radio.  When Napoleon settled on the back of the couch, Illya sat up.

Taking a Moment to Relax

Once they had finished cleaning up from the fight, things became rather dull, so far as Liesel was concerned.  The Stars might consider themselves to be totally different from the Crosses, with their own community and their own rules for governing it, but Liesel couldn’t see any difference.  Both groups wanted to talk everything to death.  The only good thing about the Stars was that they didn’t expect kids to stay in the meeting.  That meant that they were allowed to go out to the playground near the community center.

It turned out to be the same park they’d visited with Konrad, where they’d first met David.  This time, they were allowed to see the whole playground, since they didn’t have to stay where Konrad could see them.  Liesel found the large climber that Markus had played on during their first visit and climbed up to a platform with two slides coming from it.

“Hey, Olivia,” she said, grinning at the other girl.  “I didn’t know you were here.”

Olivia nodded.  “Daddy told Mommy to keep us outside during the meeting,” she said.  Then, she shook her head.  “I didn’t know why, but them Mommy said there was a fight!”

“Everyone’s all right,” Liesel said, nodding.  Her brows furrowed and she shook her head.  “Mr. David mentioned that there was a map of gateways, like the one over in the forest there.”

“It’s in the book that the Elders keep,” Olivia said, nodding.  Her brows furrowed and she shook her head.  “Most of them are gone, though.  They got closed or broken.”

“How do you break a doorway?” Frieda asked, shaking her head.

Olivia shrugged.  “I don’t know,” she said.  “I just know they broke somehow.  Mr. Malcolm was telling Daddy about it.  Crosses closed some of them, he said, but a lot more were broken.”

Liesel hummed to herself.  Then, she sat on the slide.  At the bottom, she looked up at Konrad.  “How do you break a doorway?” she asked, shaking her head.  After a moment, she seemed to think better of the question and added, “I mean… the magic doorways, that lead to the Otherworld.  How could one of them get broken?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Konrad said, shrugging.  He ruffled her hair and said, “We’ll work on the problem together, later.  Markus might be able to get a copy of their book.”

“Why Markus?” Frieda asked, as she reached the bottom of the other slide.  “Why not you or Opa?”

Konrad smiled.  “If these Elders are anything like the ones back home, they’ll figure that Staffs are the ones that do research,” he said, nodding.  “Markus is our staff, so they might lend him a copy of the book Olivia mentioned.”

Frieda nodded and then scampered over to where Markus was playing with Johannes.  It was a large ball-shaped climber with webbing strung between the larger points of it.  Johannes was climbing around in the webbing, pretending to be a spider.  Markus was pretending to be a fly that was trying to get free of the webbing.

“Do you want to borrow the portal book from the Eden community Elders?” she asked, frowning up at him.

He climbed up to perch on one of the large green beads at the juncture of several bars.  “Yeah, sure,” he said, nodding.  He looked over at Johannes.  “Do you want for me to borrow it?”

“I think we need to see it,” Johannes said, his expression serious.  Then, he looked at Frieda and said, “Do you want to be a pretty butterfly?  Come into my web!”

“Pass,” Frieda called, as she ran back over to the big climber.  She climbed up the side, using the hand and footholds.  Then, she grinned at Olivia and Liesel.  “Johannes is pretending to be a spiddy spider,” she said.

Olivia shook her head.  “Why’s he wanna be a spider?” she asked.  She made a face and added, “Spiders are icky!”

“I think it’s because that dome has webbing in it and it makes him think he’s a giant spider in a giant nest,” Frieda said.  She hopped onto the platform and then said, “I don’t want to pretend to be stuck, though.”  Then, she went down the slide.  She was just hopping to her feet when she heard Opa calling her and her sister and brothers.

She sprinted over to the entrance of the playground.  Once she was there, she caught Opa by the hand.  “Is the boring stuff over?” she asked.  “Markus wants to borrow book.”

“The one that talks about the doorways,” Markus said, glancing over at David.  He adjusted his glasses and shrugged.  “It might help us know how everyone here became tainted.”

“And more about the doorways,” Frieda said, nodding.

“Not a bad idea,” David said, nodding.  He smiled at Konrad and nodded.  “I’ll clear it with the Elders and then Markus can borrow my copy.”

“Thank you,” Johannes said, grinning.  He looked up at Konrad and spread his hands.  “Why do they keep forgetting?” he asked.

“Because it’s not how they do things,” Konrad replied, lifting one shoulder.  He smiled at David.  “The Cross is in charge of things like this, even if he is only seven years old.”

“Right,” David said.  He chuckled and looked down at Johannes.  “Didn’t keep you from skipping a meeting, though.  Did it?”

“It’s not my fault you didn’t invite me to stay,” Johannes said.  He looked up at Opa and said, “I was a spider, Opa.”  He pretended that his pointer fingers where the spider’s mouth, waving them back and forth and making clicking noises.

“No spiders in the car,” Opa said, as Liesel and Frieda screamed and hid behind Konrad.  He chuckled and then shook David’s hand.  “I’ll get in touch with you about that book,” he said.

“Sure,” David said, nodding.  Then, he called for his own children.  “Time for lunch, kids,” he said, as Josh and Olivia ran up.  “Say goodbye to your friends.”

“We’ll see them again, right?” Olivia said, frowning.

Frieda grinned at Olivia and nodded.  “We visit here every summer,” she said, her tone certain.  “Even if you don’t see us again this summer, we’ll be back next year.”

Olivia grinned and then hugged Frieda.  Turning to Liesel, she hugged her as well.  “I hope you can come to the founders’ festival next month, at least.”

“Yes,” Liesel said.  Then, she giggled and danced back from Olivia.  Waving, she said, “Enjoy your lunch, Livie.  We’ll see you again soon.”  Then, she scampered off towards where Opa had parked the van.

A Plan of Action

The next day, they had a quick breakfast, then Opa took them out to the barn to meet with the others once again.  “This is not how I imagined your summer with me,” Opa said, as they all got out of his car.

Konrad shrugged.  “I’m sure that Tevas never imagined that we’d have to face down a horde of Singers when he took us camping,” he said, his voice soft.  He shook his head.  “Unfortunately, this is the life that we’ve got.”

“At least it’s never boring,” Liesel said, shrugging.  She scampered ahead of them to hold the door for everyone.  Then, she followed them inside.  Malcolm was already there with Ainsley.  David was there, as was Ryan.  There were also several other people that she didn’t know by name, but she recognized them for the previous night.

“You all know why we’re here,” David said, addressing the group.  His brows furrowed.  “I don’t think any of us suspected there was more to this than… just a misunderstanding.”

“We know different now,” someone grumbled.  Liesel looked over as an older man shook his head and glanced over at Ainsley.  “A Hammer, attacking her own Star…” he trailed off for a moment.  “I never thought I’d see the day.”

“Never thought I’d see the day one of us dragged outsiders into our disputes,” an elderly woman said.  She looked over at Opa and shook her head.  “They had no business putting a portal in your garden, Richard.”

“Grandson took care of it,” Opa said, ruffling Johannes’s hair.  “I’m more concerned with the here and now.  Do we have an idea how many we’ll be dealing with?”

Malcolm grimaced.  “Are we assuming everyone in the Eden Community aside from those gathered here has been tainted?” he said.  When Opa shrugged, he grimaced.  “With that assumption in place, they’ll outnumber us.”

“Good times,” Liesel said, grinning up at Konrad.

He grimaced.  “Not so much, no,” he countered.  He heaved a sigh and shoved his hands into his pockets.  Turning to David, he frowned thoughtfully.  “How much do you figure we’ll be outnumbered by?” he asked.

“Going by the same assumption as Malcolm, it’ll be something like four to one,” David said, nodding once.  Then, he shrugged.  “It may not be a valid assumption, though.  We might find that, the moment we start purifying them, and the inevitable reaction starts among them, a bunch of them are actually on our side.”

“From your lips to the Great Father’s ears,” Markus murmured.  He looked around at everyone.  “Would someone please tell me that we’ve got some sort of plan in place?”

“Spoken like a proper Staff,” Ryan said.  He shrugged.  “Right now, we know that everyone will be gathering at the community center.  The Elders have called a meeting and, in fact, we’re supposed to be there…” he trailed off to glance at his watch, before he finished the thought.  “In about twenty minutes.”

More

Picking up the Pieces

Once they got back to the barn, Frieda and Liesel sat down near Ainsley.  She was still very upset over what had happened.  Frieda knew, from her own experience, that it might help to talk about it with someone.  She gave the girl a faint smile.  Ainsley was about the same age as she was, with brown hair that just brushed her shoulders.  It was pinned back with barrettes on each side, but they were crooked.  Her tee shirt was a bit dirty and there was a bump on one knee that was also dirty.

“Do you want to borrow my brush?” Frieda offered, opening her little handbag.  Handing Ainsley the brush, she added, “So that you can fix your hair?”

“Thanks,” Ainsley said, taking the brush.  She tugged the barrettes out of her hair and then began smoothing her hair, while Malcolm tended to the bump on her knee.  As she reclipped her hair, she shook her head.  “I asked her wear you were and… she got really angry,” she said, looking down at Malcolm.

Heaving a sigh, Malcolm nodded.  “I’m sorry that happened, Ainsley,” he said, his voice soft.

Frieda took the brush and tucked it back into her bag.  “That happened inside the cabin?” she asked.  When Ainsley nodded, she asked, “What were you doing outside?”

Ainsley rubbed at her eyes.  Shrugging, she said, “I wanted to find Malcolm and – and Theresa was scaring me, so I sneaked out.”  She looked down at her knee, which was cleaned up and bandaged now.  “She knocked me down and… she seemed so angry!  I thought she was going to hurt me.  I just… I don’t know what happened.  All of sudden, there was blood.”

“Is your ring activated?” Johannes asked, pointing at her hand.  When she looked at him in surprise, he held up his own hand.  “I have one too, but it’s not awake yet.”

Nodding slowly, Ainsley looked down at the ring on her hand.  “My uncle – Malcolm’s father – activated it,” she said, her voice faint.  She looked at Johannes.  “You mean… my ring did something to Theresa?”

“It’s meant to protect you,” Johannes said, shrugging.  “If Theresa was trying to hurt you… it makes sense that your ring did something.”

“They make arrows,” Konrad said, his voice soft.  When all eyes turned to him, he shrugged.  “Flaming arrows, apparently.  At least, that’s why the Elder Sword back home said.  It’s why they teach the Crosses archery.”

Ainsley closed her eyes for a moment and then shook her head.  “I saw some kind of flash of light,” she said.  “Then, there was blood and… I think that I screamed.  Then, I realized that it was Theresa’s blood.”

More

Something Unexpected

It took quite a bit of convincing to get Opa to stay home.  He finally agreed only because Konrad promised that none of his younger siblings would be alone at any time during the operation.  Now that they were creeping through the trees, Liesel was wishing that Opa hadn’t let them go at all.

There was hardly any light from the moon.  Between the tiny sliver that was left of it and the scattered clouds, the forest was dark.  Then, there was the ground cover under the trees.  It was thick with brush and brambles.  Even seeing each other was difficult.  Seeing someone farther away than a few yards would have been impossible.  Any other time, Liesel might have been grateful for the natural cover.  Not tonight, though.  Tonight, it made her uneasy.  If she could hide, so could their enemies.

She nearly jumped out of her skin when Konrad touched her on the arm.  “Quietly,” he said, his voice hardly louder than a breath.  He pointed through the trees.  “I can see the cabin ahead of us.”

Liesel heaved a sigh and nodded.  She should have remembered that Konrad would be able to see.  She was blind without the light.  His vision was exactly the opposite.  In this darkness, he could see far better than he could in the daytime.  “Any activity?” she breathed.

He nodded once before he moved ahead of her, stepping carefully through the thick underbrush.  Liesel followed him as closely as she could manage.  Behind her, she could feel more than see the others.  Malcolm, David and Ryan had come with them.  Malcolm was keeping a close eye on Markus and Frieda, while David looked out for Johannes.

The wind ruffled through Liesel’s hair and she caught the faintest whisper on the breeze.  “Beware the Dark Ones,” the wind warned.  When she silently asked where they were, the wind answered, “All around you.”

She tensed and caught Konrad by the back of his jacket.  Her brother’s eyes seemed to glow as he turned to face her.  “Trouble,” she told her, her voice faint and her tone calm.  “Dark Ones are around us… somewhere.”

Konrad breathed a curse and glanced to the left and then the right.  Finally, he nodded and pointed forward.  “Straight ahead,” he said, speaking into her ear.  “Stop when you reach the edge of the trees.”

At her nod, he slipped away, moving on to the next person in their party and passing on her warning.  Liesel didn’t linger to hear them ask how he knew of the danger.  If they just thought about it for a moment, they already knew the answer.

Liesel slowed to a stop as she came to the edge of the trees.  A moment later, Frieda and Johannes joined her.  David was close behind.  She frowned at Frieda.  “Where’s Markus?” she breathed into her sister’s ear.

“He and Malcolm ran into trouble just as Konrad got to me,” Frieda replied, her tone vaguely annoyed.  “Konrad sent me on ahead.  He said that he’d help them.”

“I don’t like it,” Johannes whispered.

David gave a wry laugh.  “No one asked you to like it, pup,” he said.  He nodded once as Ryan arrived on the scene.  “The others?”

“They’re coming,” Ryan reported.  He heaved a sigh and shook his head.  Touching Johannes on the sleeve, he said, “How are you with healing?  Can you manage one?”

“Depends on how bad it is,” Johannes said, shrugging.  “Markus or Konrad?”

“Konrad,” Ryan said, scowling.

Johannes grimaced.  As the Sword, their brother tended to think of everyone else but himself.  When he got hurt, it was seldom a minor injury.  Johannes was about to speak when they heard a shrill cry from the cabin.

More

More from the meeting…

Continuing right where I left off..

**

Johannes nodded and then looked around at the group.  “You aren’t the only group that’s got splitting happening, though,” he said, shaking his head.  “It’s happening in the Haven communities too.”

When Ryan frowned, Konrad said, “He’s right.  Our parents left their home community because they were against marriage between Defenders and Crosses – even other Defenders.  You were expected to marry someone from among the Haven families, but not someone that held their family’s gifts.”

Frieda blinked and then looked at Konrad.  “The elders where we live don’t mind,” she said.

“No, they don’t,” Konrad agreed.  Looking at David, he said, “They even encourage it, since it makes those with the gifts in the next generation that much stronger.”

The Thurman Lance sighed and shook his head.  “When will it end?” he asked.  “Why can’t we have disagreements without it leading to splits that… we’ve considered each other enemies.  My cousins want to kidnap your Cross to punish him for stopping our Sword when… they were in the wrong from the start.”

“Why did they open a portal in Opa’s garden in the first place?” Liesel asked, shaking her head.  Her brows furrowed.  “Were they after us or Opa or Tevas or… was it just something they felt compelled to do?”

It was Ryan who answered.  “Someone found a map that contained the doorways,” he said.  He looked over at Liesel.  “You saw the one that was near the park?  There are others and each one leads to another part or level of the Otherworld, where the spirits dwell.”

“All right,” Markus said, frowning.  “What’s that got to do with opening portals?”

“If they open the right portal,” Ryan said, “they believe it will lead to the level of the Otherworld where the Snow Queen can be found.”  While they stared at him in shock, he nodded. “The problem is that the map only has the portals marked on it.  It doesn’t show any of the physical landmarks.”

“So, they don’t really know which portal to open,” Konrad said, his voice soft.  “They open a portal where the map shows one and try to figure out where it leads… to try to get their bearings.”

“Because the Cross families have closed enough of the doorways on the map that we can’t find enough of them to use as landmarks,” the Thurman Lance murmured.

Johannes frowned at Ryan and said, “I’ve got a question about that song you were singing.”

“The Power Disruption Song,” he said, his voice soft.  “It makes you feel the way it does because it changes the oscillations of your aura and disrupts your magic.”

For a moment, Johannes just stared at Ryan, blinking.  He looked over at Konrad and his brows furrowed.  Frieda knew exactly why, too.  Their Elders were very firm in the fact that they did not work magic.  They barely tolerated the songs being called spells.  They corrected anyone who made the mistake of calling it magic almost obsessively.

As Johannes turned back to Ryan, he said, “It’s magic?”

“What did you think it was?” David asked, frowning.  “Just singing doesn’t do very much, you know?  It’s the specific sequence of notes and tempo that make the spells work.  That’s magic.”

“Our Elders don’t allow us to call it magic,” Konrad said, shrugging.  “It’s an ability and a gift of the Great Father, but… they’re really adamant about it not be magic.”

“That’s because of how the wizards have treated us,” the Thurman Lance murmured.  He looked at Johannes and shook his head.  “What were you going to ask?”

“That’s the language the Singers use,” Johannes said, shaking his head.  “How do you all know it?  Is it related to the reason why our singing bothers you the way that theirs does us?”

“It’s the language of the spirits,” Ryan said, blinking.  His brows furrowed.  “All of our spell songs are in that language.  You mean yours aren’t?”

More

In the Dark of Night

Frieda was surprised when Opa not only let them go to the meeting, he insisted on coming along with them.  Maybe it shouldn’t have surprised her so much.  After all, he took his responsibilities towards them very seriously.  However, that was the biggest reason why she hadn’t expected him to let them go at all.

The place where they were invited looked less like a community center and more like an old barn.  Frieda climbed out of the van as Opa drew up in the field with the rest of the vehicles.  As she set her feet on the ground, the sound of singing reached her ears.  She whirled around to look at Johannes.  Her little brother, held in Konrad’s arms, was shaking and hiding his face.

Glaring, she whirled around.  Immediately, she sought out the person singing.  She spotted her target after only a moment.  A young man was standing just outside the barn.  His voice was ringing across the field.  “Hey,” she snapped, stalking forward.  Behind her, Opa and Markus were calling to her, but Frieda ignored them.  “Shut your face, before I shut it for you!”

“Frieda,” Opa said.  His tone was exactly like the one their father used when he was torn between embarrassment at something Liesel said and pride that she’d come up with it.

The young man stopped singing as she reached him.  He looked her over and smiled.  “You’re going to shut my face?” he asked.  He crossed his arms over his chest.  “You’re… what?  Seven years old?  How are you going to shut me up?”

“I’m nine years old,” Frieda said, balling her hands into fists.  Shaking her fist at him, she said, “Having a fat lip makes singing rather difficult.”

“Ryan,” a stern voice said.  “I told you we were expecting guests.  What were you doing to upset them?”

“This little girl just threatened to punch me,” Ryan said, thrusting a thumb at her.

The Thurman Lance chuckled softly and nodded.  “You expected any less from a lance?” he said, arching his brows.  He waved at them to join him and said, “Your lucky you got a warning.”

“He made my little brother cry,” Frieda said, crossing her arms over her chest.  She stood between Ryan and Konrad as he slipped into the barn, still carrying Johannes.  Then, she sprinted ahead of her eldest brother to lead the way.  Markus and Liesel took up position on either side of Konrad, with Opa following just behind.

David Gilbert nodded as they stepped through the gathering crowd to the front of the room.  “I’m glad that you could make it,” he said, his gaze on Konrad.

Konrad smirked.  “There’s one difference between Crosses and Stars,” he said, his voice soft.  He set Johannes on his feet and smoothed his hair gently.

“What’s that?” the Thurman Lance asked, shaking his head.

Shrugging, Konrad said, “You’re talking to me as the one in charge.  Why?  Because I’m the oldest?”  He shook his head.  “That’s not how Crosses work,” he added.

“I’m the Cross,” Johannes said, looking up at David.  “That means I’m the head of our family.”

Ryan chuckled.  “I had you in tears just a moment ago,” he said, shaking his head.  “You’ve got a long way to go before you can be the head of anything.”

Johannes frowned at him and then closed his eyes.  Frieda couldn’t help but smirk.  Ryan and the others probably expected Johannes to begin singing, or humming at the very least.  However, she knew that he didn’t need to actually make sound.  Just thinking of the melody was enough to active his gifts.  Ryan found that out a moment later, as the power of Johannes’s spell song hit him and he sat down, holding his hands over his ears.

Immediately, Johannes’s eyes flew opened.  “That was just from me imagining the melody, Ryan,” he said.  “Imagine if I’d actually been singing.”  He shook his head.  “Then again, it’s probably not fair to judge power based on sneak attacks.”

More

Meeting the Other Side

After the incident on the bike trail, Konrad decided it was better for them to stay away from secluded places.  He didn’t tell the girls that they couldn’t go out on their bikes alone quite yet.  However, Liesel was fairly certain that he was hoping that, by keeping them where other people could easily see them, he was preventing any further trouble.  She had no problem with that.  After all, it was Johannes that the Thurmans were after.  As one of his Defenders, it was her job to keep him safe.

As before, they were riding their bikes, while Johannes skated between them.  On this day, they went to the same park that they’d visited with their brother on the day that Opa had his meeting.  Today, though, they simply rode around the playground, keeping to the bike trails and in full view of the parents that had brought their children there to play.

A sound in the bushes just off the trail made Johannes skid to a stop.  Frieda followed his example, turning back to watch as he skated into the grass.  “Where are going?” she asked, as Liesel followed him, walking her bike.

“It’s a kitty,” Liesel said, her tone excited.  Greeting the cat, she said, “Hello, pretty one.”

“That’s a sidhe,” Johannes said, his voice soft.  As the cat padded over to rub against his fingers, he pointed.  “You can see her wings, tucked against her back.”

“Is she… friendly?” Frieda asked, approaching her brother and sister carefully.  She didn’t know as much about the different spirits as her brother did.  She only knew that some became corrupted by staying in the physical world for too long.

Johannes smoothed the cat sidhe’s fur gently and nodded.  “She’s a spirit of diligence, not sloth,” he said.  “How did you get here, Kitty?  Is there a portal opened nearby?”

The cat sidhe trilled at him and then looked to the trees.  Johannes stood and followed the cat sidhe’s gaze.  Frieda squinted, trying to see the same thing that her brother was.  She gasped softly as she saw the edge of a stone doorway.

“That’s not just a portal,” she said, her voice soft.  When Liesel made a curious sound, she pointed towards it.  “I mean… it’s not just this rip in the veil, like the Thurmans made.  That’s a doorway.”

“Frieda’s right,” Johannes said.  “Someone made that.”  He scampered forward and the cat sidhe bounded after him.

“Hansel,” Frieda called, her voice strained.  “We’re not supposed to go in the forest alone.”  She looked at Liesel, who shrugged.  Then, she heaved a sigh and dropped her bike to hurry after her brother.  Liesel was close behind her.

As they drew near the doorway, the stranger with the bow from the previous day stepped out from behind it.  Johannes stopped to let Frieda and Liesel draw up on either side of him.  “Did you open this?” Johannes asked, nodding at the doorway as the cat sidhe bounded through it and vanished.

More

Previous Older Entries