Chapter 1

I stood guard in the corridor, musing to myself: Why the hell did I, John Winter, ever join the National Guard in the first place? I was a perfectly happy ancient languages major about to graduate from Auburn University when those damned terrorists raised their ugly heads. I figured that a few extra bucks wouldn't hurt, and the uniform really is a chick magnet, but I never expected to be called to active duty. I even had a great job already lined up for when I graduate. Right now, everything seems to be coming up smelling like shit!

The thing that really pisses me off is that I never left Auburn. I just got moved from one place on the campus to another place. Oh, well, I just hope that job is still there when I finally do get my degree.

Right now, I am "standing guard" just outside the door to a very secret experiment. Scuttlebutt has it that the eggheads are working on a time machine. Whatever it is, the powers-that-be are sure that it is a prime target for the terrorists. That's why I am standing here with my full battle uniform and kit. Shit, they even have me carrying a bayonet. Sure, I've been trained to use it, but I don't know that I could really stab somebody with it. Oh, yeah, I could shoot somebody at a distance, but up close? ... I don't know.

My assault weapon is even activated. The replicator for the ammunition is ready, and a kinetic round is in the chamber. The safety is on, but I could become a killing machine with a flick of my thumb! Shit, the thought, alone, scares me!

WHAT THE HELL! Some fool is shooting at me! OK, God Damn It, I'm going to shoot back. That's an ancient AK-47 ripoff that she is shooting, but the bullets are just as fatal as any modern weapon if you get hit. I'm wearing the latest in full body armor, but a direct hit will still break a bone if I'm struck in the right—make that the wrong place.

This looks like a job for full auto fire with kinetic slugs. We don't want stray explosive slugs inside a hallway. It looks like I got her with that last burst, but, shit, here come some more fanatics. I hope my automatic alarm system worked, because I could sure use some help.

The battle lasted for about 10 minutes, then there was a tremendous explosion that knocked me completely out. When I finally came to my senses, I couldn't figure out where I was. I was lying in what seemed to be an alley that was paved with dirt and horse shit. The buildings on both sides of me were on fire, and I heard a lot of shouting and screaming, none of it in a language I could understand.

I was completely alone in that alley, and I was still dressed in my uniform and full battle kit. My weapon was firmly grasped in my right hand in what I imagined was the equivalent of a death grip. If I was dead, this had to be Hell! But I sure didn't feel dead. I had some minor aches and pains, including a headache, but nothing that was debilitating, and that was a damned good thing!

I looked up the alley as I saw some movement in that direction. Some damned fool in a weird outfit ran toward me brandishing a very efficient looking spear. He had a look in his eye that left no doubt as to his intentions, so I gave him a three-round burst in the chest. Those .45 caliber slugs really do a number on flesh at this range, so he quickly lost interest in skewering me or in much of anything else.

I heard some women screaming in the building on my left, so I thought that, red-blooded American Boy Scout that I was, I ought to look into it. Besides, if the women were grateful enough, I might be able to promote a little pussy as a reward. That thought was enough to get my stiff muscles stirred into action. There was a door about five meters farther up the alley, so I had a convenient entrance.

I burst through the door and nearly vomited when I saw what was inside. Four White women in various states of undress were being raped by 11 Asian-looking men. What made me sick was the body parts lying about, most of which were bleeding. There were several torsos lying about with slit open bellies, one of which had been pregnant. All of the dead appeared to have been women, and from what I could see, they had all been raped before they were killed. Five of the men standing around were holding sabers as if they were about to use them as soon as their friends were through with the still living women.

I didn't really stop to think—I just started shooting! I tried to be careful to miss the women who were still alive, but I sprayed bullets with abandon at the men I could hit without hurting a woman. They acted like they had never heard gunfire before, so, at first, the men just turned to look at me. That didn't last long as the living ones saw what had happened to their friends. True to the era before firearms, the men tried to charge me. That just made my job easier, and it was only a few moments later that all of the rapists were dead.

The four rape victims were left lying where that had been, so I went to them to see if I could help. I was no medic, but I did have some training in basic field medicine, so I thought that I might be able to do something to make them feel better.

At first, the women were all afraid of me, but they calmed down when they saw that I was not dressed like the rapists and was trying to help them. All of the women were bleeding some, but there was no bad hemorrhaging, so I saw that they did not need medical help so much as they needed emotional help. On listening carefully, I was able to understand a few words here and there, but not enough to carry on a conversation.

I was trying to find out what was going on when one of the women gave out a piercing scream. Four men dressed like the rapists had come through the open door. They were all carrying sabers and looked like they were out for blood. I was not foolish enough to try to talk to them. Instead, I gave each man at least one bullet to meditate upon as he died.

The building we were in was still on fire, so we were going to have to leave. I pointed to the flames and gestured for the women to follow me. Three were eager to leave, but one was somewhat reluctant, but some rapid fire talk from one of the women convinced her to be sensible about the whole thing. Anyway, they wrapped their crotches in some rags and dressed enough to have some protection from the weather before following me out the door.

There was one woman the rest seemed to turn to for guidance, so I tried to ask her what was the quickest way out of town. Now that I had heard enough of her speech, I was able to figure out that she was speaking a variation on early Byzantine Greek. Fortunately, a couple of years ago, I had taken a semester of that to broaden my knowledge of Greek. I can't say that I was fluent in the dialect, but I did know the grammar, and did have a smattering of words. I had a knack for languages, so I figured to have enough to get by in a few days.

Meanwhile, she pointed out her suggestion, so I led the way. She was right behind me with a spear in hand. The other women had picked up large knives, but none had tried for a saber. We worked our way down the alley, which was rather long, by my standards. We finally came to a cross street and the woman had us go to the right.

We had hardly turned the corner when one of the other women yelled out a warning. I turned and saw nine horsemen riding toward us. They, too, were dressed like the rapists, so I had no trouble in deciding upon a course of action. I waved the women against the wall to get them out of the way. The men and horses were damned close by then, so there was no time for elegant gunplay. I just sprayed the whole bunch, men and horses, with several long bursts. I was working my replicator overtime, but it was performing without a hitch. Those guys at the Springfield Armory had done a masterful job.

The women were absolutely flabbergasted at the way the men and horses died without much fuss, and I could see an immediate relaxation of tension among all four. They actually looked like they believed that they would survive after all.

We made it to the edge of town without meeting any more of the invaders, and some very labored conversation told me that the dominant woman, Helgor, thought that we should head for some woods that were near enough for us to see the tops of the trees. I had the sense not to argue with her, so that was where we headed. The woods were about one klick (kilometer) away, so we immediately headed in that direction.

Well, I was not surprised when we were spotted by some more of the enemy when we had gone about half the distance. By now, the women had complete confidence in either me or my gun, I wasn't sure which, but they obeyed when I ordered them to sit down and let me handle the attackers.

I let the horsemen get to 50 m away before I began shooting. This time, I went for the men and tried to spare the horses. I figured that we might have a use for them in the near future. There were 12 horsemen this time, and I was able to kill them all while I injured only two horses. This really impressed the women; I think that I was starting to look like a local version of Superman. Hopefully, that would eventually get me all of the pussy that I could handle, though I figured that these women would have to heal before they would be interested.

When I asked, the women snickered among themselves before admitting that they could ride, but they all begged off right now because of sore crotches. Dammit, I mentally kicked myself over that blunder. We gathered up the 10 remaining horses and the women looted the bodies of the men while I stood guard.

We herded the horses to the woods and found a place to make a temporary camp. The women, Helgor, Eilee, Insa, and Willer, set about making it as comfortable as possible while I did what I could to insure our security. Luckily for us, I was an almost fanatical amateur hunter; therefore, in addition to all of the military stuff I was carrying, I also had some stout cord in my pocket that could be used to make snares. I got very lucky and managed to snare two quail-like birds. At least, that was enough to take the edge off our hunger.

I also spent every moment I could adding to my vocabulary. By the time I went to bed, alone I must regretfully mention, I had a reasonable command of the local language. Thank God, the language was so near to the Greek.

The next morning, we were up with the sun and getting ready to revisit the town. The women were pretty sure that the invaders would have left by then, and they wanted to scavenge for anything useful, including food. There was also the possibility that we would find some more refugees.

I had accepted that I had been bounced back in time as a result of the explosion in the "time machine." It was a cinch that I was no longer on the Earth of the 22nd Century that I was familiar with, and a trip through time was as good an explanation as I was likely to come up with. At least, I had some friends and helpers, and I had an unstoppable weapon. The combination should get me through anything I was likely to face as long as I was reasonably careful.

We reached the town without meeting any surprises. The women had consented to ride, but I could tell that they were not real happy with the situation. We had saddles, such as they were, but there were no stirrups. Well, I would fix that today, if possible.

Not as much of the town had burned as I expected. Most of the construction was of mud plastered over a wooden framework. The most combustible part of the structure was the roof, but even that survived in many cases. It looked to me like most of the fires had been the result of accident during the attack and not a deliberate effort to burn the town.

I asked who the attackers were, but none of the women had ever seen them before, so they had no idea. I figured that they were not Mongols, since this was too early for the great Mongol invasion of Europe. Nevertheless, these guys could be a formidable enemy, since they had steel sabers and composite bows.

We went through the town pretty thoroughly looking for more survivors and for food and intact cooking utensils. The women did find an amazing amount of food hidden in places the invaders did not think to look. Cooking utensils were another story. The invaders had broken most of what they didn't want or couldn't carry, but there was enough useful stuff that we could get by. It was a great disappointment that we did not find any more people, but there was always a chance that some people would show up in the next few days.

There seemed to be no point in us going anywhere else. We had food and housing to last us for a while. I figured that, with the women's help, I could get a roof replaced on one of the houses before winter set in. Though, I will admit as an Alabama country boy, I was not looking forward to one of those "Russian" winters. The women tried to reassure me about the winters, after all, the snow never, or hardly ever, got more than one meter deep! That was almost enough to send me scampering south right then, but the women begged me to stay. The thought of all that appreciative pussy on the hoof overcame my better judgment.

That afternoon, I did start making stirrups while the women butchered a couple of the horses that I had shot. They had drying racks loaded with horse meat steaks and such before the sun set. For supper that night, we had a very tasty stew of vegetables and horse meat. All four of those women sure knew how to cook!

Between salting some of the meat and drying the rest, we were going to have meat to last us through the winter. They were busy as beavers getting ready for winter. When I asked why, I was told that they all expected to be pregnant through most of the cold weather. With further questioning, I discovered that I was expected to be the father! HOT DOG! I had struck it rich!

It turned out that all of the women had been married, but their husbands had been killed during the raid. They had no qualms about polygamy, nor about polyandry if the situation had been reversed. I found that I had landed among a very practical people.

They had all had at least one child, but all of the children had been killed or enslaved by the raiders, so they were experienced with childbirth, and had no fears of the coming occurrence. Well, if they were happy with the situation, I sure as hell was!

It was a good thing that we were fixed for meat for the coming months, because there were a lot of jobs that needed doing before the weather got bad. One thing I wanted to do was to put up a second wall around our home with a dead air space between the two walls. I knew that the house would be a lot warmer if I could do that. The women thought I was crazy, but they went along with me. They even helped with some of the construction. They agreed that the house could get pretty cold during the winter, and anything that could be done to alleviate that was worth the effort. I figured that my stock would really go up if the double wall thing worked as well as I hoped it would.

Another thing I did was to construct the equivalent of a Franklin stove from mud bricks. I was not sure how well it was going to work since I had no idea of what kind of clay was really needed. Nevertheless, the women moved their cooking from the open fire in the hearth to the top of the stove for most food and said that they did find it a lot more convenient.

I had some more ideas I wanted to try, but they would have to wait until next year. I especially yearned for indoor plumbing and running water, but that was going to take more work and time than I had to give at the moment. I was a bit dubious about the dirt floor, but the women insisted that I would get used to it. That was what I was afraid of!

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