"The one we should maybe go through? Those clay things are still oozing this way." Grant pulled Teagan along and moved past the metal doors into the darkness. As they crossed the threshold, a set of stones in the walls emitted a soft blue glow.
Your meeting place has been reclaimed, the voice continued. The foothold of flesh on this side is shattered. Your kind is banished, forbidden from these halls.
Teagan gritted her teeth and pushed the voice out of her mind. More characters and runes covered certain stones on the walls. Shelves held golden relics and ancient sculptures.
"Those aren't Ixthacan," Grant said, pointing at a set of characters.
"Holy Mother of God," Teagan blurted, "are those ancient forms of Chinese characters? And look—that bladed spear matches the style of early Chinese weapons-craft. And that earthen statue of an imperial soldier—the Qin dynasty, perhaps? Judging by the armor?"
"But these are clearly Egyptian hieroglyphs," Grant replied. "Look at the gold cat statue."
"Where the hell are we, Grant?"
You are intruding upon sacred ground, the voice answered unbidden. Spreading your disease beyond the bounds of your prison. A low wave of hazel muck spread like a glacier, oozing through the entrance behind them.
Grant dashed to the spreading clay and kicked huge divots in it, trying to push it back. "I don't care where we are so much as how do we get out of here!"
"What do you want?" Teagan shouted, and ignored the confused look from Grant.
An end to the disease you bear. Hatred flowed through Teagan's mind, and the voice seethed in reply. The flaw in your forms that developed into soft, weak meat. The 'devilution' that forced us to purify our genepool, to prevent the epidemic.
"I've heard such talk before," Teagan said. The so-called science of the hard-line Germans came to mind. "Surely we can reach some kind of accord."
You waste words. You waste raw materials. You waste life. You do not belong here. You will die.
"So very evolved of you," Teagan shot back. "Sorry to disappoint by suggesting we talk instead of killing each other."
Grant stomped a mud-man's torso as it rose from the spreading clay, then kicked the head off another. He glanced back at her and asked, "Who are you talking to, Teag?" Then another mud-man leapt on him, and Grant smashed it into the wall with his broad back.
You cannot kill us, foolish progenitor, no matter how hard your worker drone tries.
"You should tell him so, get him riled up. Maybe he'll do a better job of it."
He cannot hear us. We deign to speak on your level. We are incapable of descending to his.
Strange thoughts resounded in Teagan's mind, and foreign memories rushed through her vision. A world at war under twin violet moons... armies of living earth driving out the deviants whose bodies solidified into muscle and bone... slaughter and fear, desperation and despair, followed by capture and exile.
Minions of the Great Rebel, the voice boomed, and Teagan collapsed to one knee. Begone! Sinful flesh was banished from this plane, dispersed and scattered onto derelict, lifeless planets floating in the empty expanse of the void. How dare you—the exiled and forsaken—now try to return?
"My God, Grant," Teagan gasped as the memories coalesced in her mind. "They cleansed a full third of their population. Anybody with the DNA that might permit this evolution into flesh some generation down the line—they killed or exiled them all."
Grant grunted in response, thrashing and dodging among a crowd of mud-men.
The others, the voice cooed in Teagan's mind, the ones you fear, who sought entrance to this world? These Germans—they are not wrong, fleshling. They wish to cleanse, to purify. Where they err is that they do not see themselves as part of the problem.
The telepathic connection formed an image of a portal back to Castellano's repository in South America. Perhaps we did not fulfill our task so many ages ago. We shall correct this.
"Grant, they've changed plans. They're going to invade."
Between stomping mud-men, Grant surveyed the room. "So many treasures of antiquity," he muttered. "So many connected historical mysteries we could solve."
He doffed his pack and swung it like a weapon, splattering two more mud-men across a glowing wall. Then he rummaged within it while kicking mud-men back. "Does that connection you've got work both ways? Can you tell how to get us home?"
Teagan smiled and the voice in her head recoiled in sudden fear. A line of light sliced through the air in front of the Qin soldier, and expanded into a shimmering circle filled with an image of the repository's dark cavern.
Grant's hands grabbed her and pulled her in. She braced for the disorienting shift, the blades of light and cacophony of this alien transport. But instead, they stepped across worlds with minimal resistance, like rising from beneath the surface of a lake.
Strands of clay came through as well, stretching across the floor and dragging more of the hazel mud from the other world.
Something hissed beside Teagan. Grant held a bundle of dynamite, the braided wick already lit. "You said they had a plan. There's nothing I'm better at than messing up plans. Usually my own. Let me do what I do best."
He tossed the bundle through. "Cut the portal, Teag... and hit the deck."
As always, these are BlogBattle entries in the contest hosted by Rachael Ritchey. This one combines two weeks' prompts ("derelict" and "sacrilege") into one entry. I tried to write a decent and subtle sacrilegious story (i.e. turning aspects of Christian theology into something quite the opposite), in addition to making it about the concept of sacrilege.
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The Ginger of GalwayAdventure
"Prepare to be amazed and astonished, Gentle Reader, by the feats and exploits of the legendary world-traveler, Grant McSwain. Thrill with each terror confronted! Be mesmerized at every mind-blowing mystery resolved! Swoon with suspense at the succe...