Part III “Plans”
As Lee pulled into the yard through the gate he saw Elena his wife of so many years standing on the front porch watching him, and as he got out to close the gate he was astounded to see her petting the head of a gray fox! Lee drove his truck to the normal spot, got out and before he could speak Elena said “I hear you had some visitors today, I have been worried more and more lately, I am so glad your home”. She looked at the fox and made some sound and word and it immediately ran down the deck and slipped off into the brush. “Come inside Lee and get cleaned up, we have a lot to talk about”.
Lee came up the steps and hugged and kissed Elena “I was hoping this was all some weird dream, and when I got home all would be normal, but seeing that fox again…”.
Elena interrupted “His name is Loarn, and his family has been watching and bringing information to me since I was old enough to understand.”
Lee said, “Anyway, when I saw Loarn standing on the porch, I had confirmation that it was not a weird dream.” He did not comment on the fact that he saw the rifle he had built for her, just inside the doorway within easy reach.
Several hours later, sitting together on the deck, Lee and Elena had talked, and many things were revealed. Elena told a long tale that was passed onto her by her grandmother, the former possessor of the knowledge, and she has kept it secret all her life. Elena knew there was the possibility that one day these events would happen, so she always watched and kept alert for any sign. She was aided by Loarn (more properly The Loarn, Gaelic for fox) and his family before him, they are portal watchers of the forest and brought news of anyone coming or going through the portals that they knew of. Each time a new portal was discovered, a new member of the Loarn would be tasked to watch it and report any incidents to Loarn himself.
Lee absorbed all he was told without interrupting Elena, and when he was sure she was finished, after pausing a few seconds, asked “I get that you did not want to tell me this, I mean how could you, without being looked at like you were a half bubble off level, but the question is who else may have your abilities? I mean you have brothers and a sister and each of them have daughters, and let’s don’t forget our two grown sons and their families, is there a chance one or more of them have it?”
Elena answered “I’m not sure Lee. I have been for years, trying to discover if any of them do, but I’ve drawn a blank”
Lee replied, “Well, we are going to have to figure out some way to tell all your family, so they can be cautious, and it’s such a wild tale, who would believe it? I have messaged my family, but you know as well as I, none of them are easy targets, nor would they really be focused on them. If I was this evil person/thing whatever, I would focus on you, and your family and squash any that stand in its way to getting at them”.
Elena contemplated their discussion and said “I will take care of Liam, and his family, and River and her family. We both know Michael and Matthew will do whatever it takes to watch over their families. I am just concerned for you, Lee. You have no one to take with you, to help you. I know you too well, Lee, you will want to go and confront this, at the point of the spear, and nothing I say will dissuade you. I will tell you this, the portals will not allow you to take your modern weapons, knives, bows, and crossbows, can pass freely, but not your guns.”
Lee interrupted “What? How can that work?”
Elena answered “It was designed that way to keep the enemy from getting hold of modern weapons, and using them to turn the tide in their favor”.
“So, if I try and go through with them, what happens?” asked Lee.
“You will pass through, but they will not, and when you return, they will be with you again.”, replied Elena.
“Well, that throws a kink in the plan, but we will work around it” Lee answered, and as he did, Elena was holding out a shimmering bag the size of a modern zip lock bag.
“If you can fit it in this bag, it can travel through. It is the last of its kind, there is no more material, from which it’s made, left anywhere”, said Elena.
Lee took the bag, and immediately had a thought, he drew the Ronin off his hip and slipped it in the bag and it closed, his eyes smiled as he looked at Elena “Well, that makes me feel a bit better, so the gun can go, what about ammo?”
Elena said “No idea, Lee, all we can do is try, put your phone in it to, who knows if it will work and I seriously doubt it, but we can try”.
“Great idea! and on that note I’ll add the brick (for charging) and only try when I know a portal is open”.
Elena stiffened looking out into the darkness, and Lee who was looking in the bag immediately looked up and caught sight of the fox sitting just out of the firefight, and he came closer and sat by Elena, and she explained “A portal opened!”
Lee quickly said, “Get inside, and stay there with your rifle, and leave that Glock on your hip!” Elena hesitated wanting to argue and stand by her man, but knew he would be more distracted trying to keep an eye on her and that would dull his edge. As Elena went inside she saw Lee slipping off into the darkness, a place where he always told her he liked to work.
Lee made sure Elena was inside and then slipped out into the darkness into a circle of ferns and up against an ancient oak where he melted into the background, the Loarn looked at him and in a clear voice said “Be wary Bevan, it is a Brak.”, then he slipped off into the night. Lee muttered to himself “Well, I didn’t think it was the Amazon delivery guy,” and he contemplated what he should do, ultimately deciding to watch the Brak, at least for a few minutes once he saw it, so he could ascertain how it moved, and what weapon it had if any. As he was thinking this, he spotted movement out against the tree line and his eyes locked on the moving object, it was about his height and around his 250lb weight, moving slowly and a bit stiff, it was working it’s way along, staying out of the firelight, as it made its way towards the house where Elena was, consequently bringing itself closer to Lee at the same time.
The Brak slipped within arm’s reach of where he was concealed, Lee’s hand unsheathing the blade on his hip as he noticed the strange axe the Brak was carrying. Lee slipped out and said, “Bit late for a delivery, Bub,” as he did the Brak, with speed belying it’s size, spun counterclockwise, swinging the axe in a lightening fast move, that Lee was barely able to avoid. The axe bit deeply into the oak tree and stuck for a second. Recovering quickly Lee, kicked with the flat of his foot straight out into the stomach of the creature causing it to double over, but not let go of the axe.
Lee struck the forearm of the hand holding the axe, with the hilt of his short knife, numbing the nerves in that arm for a few seconds, causing the Brak to lose its grip on the axe.
The Brak swung a huge fist at him from the opposite side, and Lee moved under it, and as he did, his knife slid along the underside of the Brak’s arm at the shoulder, slicing deep. He kept moving past, as the Brak spun, and gripped the axe handle, pulling it free of the tree, its one arm damaged but not useless. The Brak made a upward swing causing Lee to arch back to avoid the impact, and as soon as it was above Lee’s head, the Brak reversed its course bringing it back down and across. As the axe swooped down Lee kicked at the Brak’s knee with a side sweep to try and get it off balance, the effect worked. The Brak losing just enough balance that Lee could move in close, too close for the axe to be of much use, and as Lee did, he slid his blade along the side of the Brak, continuing past it, as the Brak recoiled from the deep gash and pain.
Lee did not hesitate. As soon as he was past, he spun as he crouched, because the Brak swung the axe around, while turning to face Lee, and as it’s momentum carried the axe past the crouching Lee, he stood up and stuck the knife to the hilt in its throat, “You shoulda stayed home,” and watched the Brak’s eyes widen with surprise and pain, before it collapsed in a heap at the foot of the steps.
Lee took a moment to check that there were no more of the enemy around, and then said “It’s ok, Elena, you can come out,” the door opening quickly.
Instead of congratulating him she said “What were you thinking? Why didn’t you just shoot it!!?”
Lee smiled a smile that did not make it to his eyes, “I could have done that, yes, but if I have to confront them on their turf, and I cannot be sure I’ll have a gun or bullets, I needed to know what I was up against”. He looked at her and winked “Although, next time, hopefully I’ll have a bigger knife!”.
The next morning at dawn Matthew and Michael both showed up at the house, and as they sat and listened to their mother Elena, tell them the story. You could see they both thought it was a joke, and were starting to laugh, while looking for the punch line, until their father Lee said, “I figured it would be hard to swallow, and I was just going to show you a picture I snapped, but I think this will be better. Come with me”.
Lee and Elena, followed by Michael and Matthew, went outside, and Lee led them to the brushy corner of the property, and there in a hole he dug last night, lay the body of the Brak, “Figured it would just be easier to show you before I buried it.”
Both sons were stunned to speechlessness until Elena spoke, “These and others are out to destroy our family, and that by the way, means your families, too! So you need to get over the disbelief and pay attention!”.
Later that day, with plans made, and the arguments as to why he had to go, and the why of how no one could go with him, at this time was settled, it was decided that Michael and Matthew would bring their families to the parents’ property, and stay in the guest houses. This bolstering their defenses, and at the same time giving Lee peace of mind that Elena would be safer. Lee took to organizing his gear, getting rid of hunting calls and such and packing essentials, including six boxes of .45 ammo, it was a pretty big increase of weight, but taking off unnecessary things almost evened it out, and he wasn’t even sure it was going to make it through the portal.
The kids and their families had arrived, and were settled, and everyone was sitting around the table talking and Matthew asked “Now that we know what is going on, why not just wait for them to come through the portals? I mean something that weird will obviously be noticed, and normal people will take care of them, don’t you think?”
Lee answered “I wish, Son, but look around at the normal people, they think guns are evil, and if we take them away from everyone, then everyone will live happily ever after, and the Brak, if they start coming through, all those normal people are not going to help you, your families, or your mom against them. No, we have to prepare here, and there. So, I’m going to go get a lay of the land, and of what we are up against. When I’ve gotten that, I’ll come back and we will decide our next best move”.
Lee loaded things in his truck and kissed his Elena “I would love to stay, but I want to be near the portal and watch at least 6 hours to see if there is a trap. I will text just before entering, and I’ll try when I get there, every hour at 5 after. I do not think it can be far for us to travel to get to the fortress, there I can see what we are up against. You are to never go outside unless you have a gun and you keep it on your hip EVERYWHERE, inside or out. I have spoken to the boys and they will do the same, try and get your brother Liam and his wife Natasha to bring his family and your sister River and Her husband Van here, also. There’s food enough for a sustained period, for all of you, and the other two guest houses are vacant, just like we planned for in case of some emergency. Tell them to bring all their guns and every bullet they can find, and you will explain why when they arrive”. With that Lee and Elena hugged again, and he climbed in the truck, “I’ll leave the truck in the club where we always park it, if y’all need it come get it, but leave me something to get home in. I’ll either be in a hurry or too tired to walk it. The plan is to go through tomorrow, I’ll spend 6 days and come back on the seventh, I will keep to the schedule. Whatever you do, do not let anyone of the family follow me, or come looking. Hold the fort, and I’ll come back with better insight.”
With that, he backed out and waved as he drove to the gate where Michael and Matthew were standing, “Take care of your families and your mother, Boys, until I get back. She has the plan we set, also the cameras are up and working, as well as the silent trip alarms, and it’s piped into, Y’all’s houses, so you should not be caught off guard”.
30 minutes later, Lee was slipping through the forest, taking a long semi circular route, to come at the clearing, from the direction opposite of his truck. Lee stopped 100 yards away, slipping off his pack and climbing up one of the old stands with his binoculars. He sat and watched the clearing, slowly picking apart each small section of it, and the surrounding brush looking for anything abnormal or unusual. What he saw was disturbing, Jagar and Trend lay obviously dead shoved off to one side of the clearing and he saw the reason why. A Brak and something that resembled a woodsman were hidden 45 degrees apart from each other on different sides of the clearing where if the portal opens they could ambush anyone coming thru before they could act. “Alright, let’s make sure there aren’t any more surprises hiding before we deal with these two,” Lee thought to himself. Lee pulled out his phone and texted Matthew “Bring your brother and the two suppressed rifles, I have need of your expertise. Make sure all the families are in the main house ‘til you get back. Tell Michael to bring you to his stand I’ll be waiting there”.
Matthew replied, “30 minutes” nothing more.
Lee chuckled “Guess he got the gift of gab from me”.
33 minutes later, as he was still watching the clearing, having seen no other threats, Michael and Matthew materialized as if by magic under the stand, and Lee thought to himself, “Glad they didn’t forget what the Army taught about camouflage and stealth.”
He signaled them to climb up, taking a risk that the stand would hold all of them at the same time. Both climbed up silently, and he explained the situation to them, letting each take a look with the binoculars and identifying the threats. “Michael, if you sit up here, and take the Brak, I’ll take Matthew to the far stand, and I think he will have a clear but farther shot at the woodsman, then I’m going to come half way back and make some kind of racket so they both get up to see what it is. That’s your cue to fire, got it?”
Both nodded yes and he and Matthew climbed down, while Michael settled in and got ready. 15 minutes later, after Matthew assured him his lane was clear, Lee found himself halfway back between the stands and set about making a distraction. He lit a palmetto limb on fire, letting it smoke and waft in the breeze. As it burned down, he lit another, the breeze not quite blowing the right direction, but swirling, and he saw a patch head right in that direction and he ducked and put out the embers.
The woodsman smelled smoke and immediately tensed, and started trying to see where it was coming from. The Brak smelled it as well, but instead of staying hidden, it got up and started sniffing, trying to pin point it. The woodsman tried waving the Brak back into his hide out, but was too late. A near soundless pop, and the Brak head exploded from the rifle round, and before he could finish the thought that he had messed up, a second round entered his brain bucket and silenced him forever.
Lee stood, and looked at Michael’s stand and got the hand across the face symbol, then the same from Matthew. He then slipped smoothly into the direction of the clearing with the faint hope that Jagar and Trend may be just wounded. Lee slipped into the clearing and checked the threats first but both were neutralized, he ran to Jagar and Trend, Jagar was dead, Trend managed to say “The portal…to open…just say ‘for peace.” then he succumbed to his wounds as Michael and Matthew arrived.
Lee told his sons who they were, and he and the boys drug the Brak and woodsman looking thing to where he remembered the portal opening. “They should get sucked in the next opening”, Lee said.
Michael asked, “And them?”, pointing at the Treslanders .
To which Lee replied, “No, they will stay with me until someone from their people shows up. I’m sure their families would want to have a funeral or whatever they do. Now boys, you know what you’re up against, and this one”, he nudges with his boot, “As you can see looks almost human. Be extra diligent. I’m counting on you and so are people we don’t even know”.
An hour later the hunter is back on his tree, the two soldiers covered by their cloaks, laying off to one side and he waits silently for dawn. Almost at the same time dawn is breaking, the portal starts shimmering and Rotar and Falan appear just as before. After a brief exchange, the two fallen soldiers are moved to the portal and Lee texts Elena “Going through,” slips the phone in the bag with the Ronin, 3 spare magazines and the charger and walks through following Rotar and Falan.