The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
Robin motioned Smarn to drop lower beside him. The giant did so and peered the direction Robin was pointing. A gigantic air ship was loading cargo in the shade of gigantic trees and a large uprising of earth and boulders. Soldiers were carrying something into the back of the vessel. It took a moment, before Robin recognized what they were.
"Those bastards are loading people like freight!"
Smarn tried to jump to his feet, but Robin held him down. "We must do this right. It won't do any of them good if we are captured too, my friend."
"Methusaleh would be very mad if he could see this."
"Smarn, you underestimate our leader. He sees more than he lets on."
"But why would he allow this?"
"God only knows." Robin answered, feeling a bit of stickiness inside about it as well, but also knowing that Methusaleh never withheld his hand unless it was for a good reason.
Robin spotted an area of deep shade to their right that worked around the edges of the forest to the back of the ship.
The soldiers finished loading and wandered off, joking and chatting. They took a spot to the left of the ship and settled down to eat.
Smarn grinned at him.
"I'll distract them while you get into the back." Smarn said.
He kept hunched over and began working his way to the shadows with Robin in tow. Robin got several feet, then froze. He had heard something behind him. He spun around, an arrow to his bow, then relaxed.
He laughed. "Mother, Mother, Mother. What shall we do with you?"
Behind he and Smarn was the whole tribe of miniature elephants, led by the Mother. She raised her nose, but didn't trumpet.
Smarn looked back. "What?"
"I think you may be getting your answer, Smarn. And a little help as well!"
The Captain of the Soliders was leaning against the side of the ship in the midst of making a joke when he heard a series of trumpeting sounds. He and his men all jumped to their feet and drew weapons as the tribe of elephants came running into view. They came up to the soldiers and made begging noises.
"I think they want food, Captain." One of the men said, then tossed a piece of his sandwich, which several elephants swarmed after.
In a matter of seconds the soldiers had their attention totally absorbed in feeding the baby elephants, which sidled up to them and cuddled. The soldiers ate it up and laughed heartily, playing with the little guys, while also feeding them.
Robin and Smarn watched from near the back.
"See Smarn, even the evil men have some good in them."
"Then why do they do such evil things?"
"Men are not always reasonable when it comes to that." Robin replied, his eyes sparkling. "It takes a lot of experience for a man's soul to tell the difference sometimes. But enough of philosophy we have a job to do!"
They rushed into the back of the ship, vanishing from view.
The Mother who had been watching everything from the other side of the ship, trumpeted loudly and the tiny elephants began slipping away from the soldiers, one by one.
One soldier tried to hold onto one of the little guys, then thought better of it when the tiny elephant blew a chunk of slimy water from its nose into his face.
The soldiers all gathered around the poor fellow and laughed at him as he wiped at the mess desperate to get it off himself.
Robin and Smarn made their way into the interior of the ship. No one met them. No resistance crossed their path. Finally, they came to a large room with a window into it. Smarn looked in. "Here!"
Robin looked inside. All the people they had seen loaded onto the ship were inside, laid down like so much meat on their sides, unable to free themselves from the restraints and the poles that had been used to carry them inside.
Robin looked at Smarn. "How good are you at picking locks?"
Robin's answer came quickly after they entered. Smarn took the first lock of a captive who looked up at him in with wide eyes, then snapped it like a paper chain.
Robin grinned. "Keep up the good work, Little Smarn!"
Samuel held up a hand for everyone to slow behind him. They peered around him and saw a very strange looking cylindrical building set inside the corridor. It measured about twenty feet in diameter. It had a door inset into it and closed off the corridor.
A strange symbol marked its entrance.
"I wonder what that means?" Jimbo said, his eyes examining the area for any kind of trap.
"Kind of strange that no one has come after us yet."
Samuel looked at Nanny. "I don't like it either."
"Ask Al?" Jimbo suggested.
But Al was nowhere to be seen. Nor was Marilyn.
Samuel shrugged. "I think we're on our own with this one, guys."
They moved forward cautiously, then tried the door. It seemed to be operational. Jimbo gribbed its knob, while Samuel went to the other side to cover him if someone was waiting there.
Jimbo flung it open.
Samuel looked inside. It was just an empty space littered with white chunks all over the floor. Another door was set in the far war.
"Nothing!" Samuel said.
They entered the room cautiously. Jimbo shut the door behind them. As he finished it made a whining sound, then a loud click.
"Damn!" Jimbo whined. "Sucker punched!"
He tried the door until his face turned red. Nothing budged.
"Oh God!" Nanny cried out, as her foot slammed into something white on the floor with two holes in it.
Samuel spun around, ready to shoot, but stopped when he realized what had startled her. It was a skull. A human skull.
Then as he and his friends turned their attention more closely to the floor, which was dimly lit by some wall lights that flickered, creating deep shadows, they saw the floor was littered with the bones of people and heads.
"It's a graveyard!" Nanny hissed in fear.
Above them massive windows began to slide open and balconies push out into view. Hundreds of men and women with blonde hair and startling blue eyes stepped onto the balconies to look down at them.
"No." Samuel stated. "Not a graveyard at all."
Jimbo looked up at the massed humans above them. "It's a battle field!"