A small town is transported to an alien world
They continued to fly for what seemed like hours. Monday watched the terrain slide by below from the security of the net. Although his hands were tied over his head and his feet were bound tightly together, he was not uncomfortable in the sling like attachment. The warriors flew in what appeared to be a formation of some type. There were a total of twenty that he could count, arranged in groups or squadrons of five. The captives were trailing behind the formation carried by the transport birds, with one squadron of warriors flying in the rear.
The powerful wings of the birds as they flew steadily southeast amazed him. Each was about the size of a small horse with a wing spread of at least thirty feet. They resembled the Falcons of old Earth, the Tiercels, or males who were transporting them, a bit larger than the females ridden by the warriors. Each varied in their plumage, from mottled gray to light brown, from speckled brown and tan, to a dark red and an occasional blue or gray mixed in. The talons of the tiercels had been cut and rounded, whereas the talons of the female mounts the warriors rode were long and extremely sharp, some even tipped with sharp metal caps. The birds would beat their powerful wings to gain altitude, and then glide on the wind currents for several minutes before starting the process over again.
The warriors were mounted on a saddle like affair which rested just behind the powerful wings. Side bags or holsters held their short bow with a quiver of arrows, and another held a dozen long arrows the size of small spears, closely resembling the throw-kills the Ionar used to such good effect. Each warrior had also secured themselves to their birds with a ring attached to their body harness which was again attached to the saddle by a short sturdy strap. They were all dressed in a short yellow tunic and sported a body harness of leather from which hung a short whip, individual knives, and short swords. Their legs were bare and each wore sandals which laced up their calves with leather thongs.
He could easily see his team members around him. The attack had happened so fast he didn't know if any of them had been wounded although no one appeared to be injured. They had been very thorough and all his weapons had been taken, including the 9mm pistol. The only weapon they had missed was the hidden knife that his belt buckle transformed into.
After another half hour of flying he could see clearings starting to appear in the landscape below, then the obvious checkerboard patterns of cultivated fields. Here and there a fortified village sprang up along with the occasional villa or great estate of someone who was obviously wealthy. The architecture he'd seen thus far resembled that of the Tyberians in their Roman like splendor but well separated. The leader suddenly turned in her saddle and gave a sharp command to the squadrons following her and the giant birds begin to slowly descend.
He could not see the target of their destination; he only knew it was not inside a good sized town or large city. Perhaps they were to be held in some outlying village or villa to await whatever fate had in store for them. They flew over a large wall of some type and the transport birds let them down very gently. Waiting on the trampled earth were a score of warriors dressed in red tunics, who efficiently ran to the ropes and disconnected them from the harness of the birds that immediately flew off to some unknown perch. The commander ordered their release from the binding nets and they were herded into a large building, down a set of wide stairs, and into a large prison like cell with stout iron bars. Their feet had been untied and their hands had been unbound and retied behind their backs with a strong cord. Without the slightest word, they were left alone in the large cell, their only light from several small windows set high up with strong metal bars and a smelly oil lamp hanging along the corridor they'd been pushed along.
The first thing they heard was a bellow from Hemdall who walked over and struck Henri on the back, stating a long string of incomprehensible words to Monday.
"He's happy that you were captured along with the rest of us," Henri said, "without the ability of their champion and holy man they'd surely be lost."
"Tell him I may be a holy man," Monday replied, "but I am not a miracle worker. I can't protect him against spears and knives and arrows. There's a limit to what any man can do even one that's holy as hell. Are all the patrols here or were some taken elsewhere?"
"They're all here," Henri replied, after a short talk with Hemdall.
"Then ask him this question," Monday stated, "and make sure he understands it well. Did they know their enemies came from the air, riding birds, and used nets to capture their people?" He said it with an air of anger, positive that the Vikings had known all along what they were up against but stubbornly refused to share the information due to superstitious bull.
After Henri told Hemdall what Monday had said, Hemdall turned away and would not look at Monday.
"Figures," Monday said, looking hard at Henri. "These assholes knew what we were facing and didn't even try to warn us."
"Their superstitious nature," Henri replied. "You keep forgetting they have a tenth century mentality, Top, and they're more afraid of the unknown than anything they'd face in real life. Half or more of their beliefs deal with life after death and life before birth. The lives they live now are simple way stations between the two."
"Tell him that from now on if he or any of his men know anything about this enemy, they'd better come clean with me," Monday told Henri, seeing the quizzical look on his face until he suddenly understood the play on words.
"Where do we go from here?" General Zanik questioned, watching as Dhar and his two Ionar companions deftly removed the bindings on their hands then walked over to remove Monday's.
"There's not a lot we can do until we have more information about their numbers and strength. Let's put together what we know so far. There were at least twenty warriors in the group that captured us, and they weren't the same group that captured the other patrols. The two Ionar who accompanied the patrols indicate there were approximately twenty warriors in each of the groups that captured them. So, we have at least a hundred warriors with their flying mounts, probably more, a ground crew that I counted consisting of at least thirty warriors, and an unknown number of villagers. This looked from the air to be a good sized village, but it could not be the home city of these people. I think they've dropped us off in what may be a staging area outside their major population center. Their intentions, other than possible slavery, is something we'll have to wait to see."
"I noticed they were all female," Gary stated, "and I didn't see any men at all even when we landed in the compound."
"Some mighty good lookin' ones too," Chris said, "if you overlook the fact that they're all green."
Monday was thinking the same thing and he already had a good idea why they were captured, but he was also wondering what Heinreich might be thinking. "What do you think, Henri, any guesses?"
"You're right about not fighting back until we know the odds we're facing," Henri replied. "These warriors look as if they know how to use the nasty weapons they have on their mounts, and they also look as if they wouldn't hesitate to do so. As for the reason why they're all female, it could be that the males are too large to effectively fly on the birds, or we may have stumbled across a race of people where the women dominate the men or a matriarchy. There have been many such in the history of our own world."
"Pass the word to everyone not to fight back until we know more about them, or unless it's a matter of life and death," Monday stated. "In the meantime, let's go over everything that everyone saw in minute detail just in case there's something there we can use against them." He motioned for Hemdall and the Vikings to join the group in a circle on the straw floor.
Half an hour later, they heard the guards returning along with the jailers. They walked up to the massive iron doors, unlocked them, and then gave a command which could mean nothing but follow. There were half a dozen warriors in green tunics holding long sharp lances in a threatening position which meant they probably knew how to use them.