Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Tarzan #3

That cover. 

The Altar of the Flaming God- not a bad title either. 

I love all the stories dealing with the lost city of Opar. Tarzan is preparing to leave for that place - and their recent houseguest Albert Werper has just left as well, with some of Tarzan's Waziri warriors guiding him. Werper's plan was to kill the jungle lord Tarzan so that Achmet Zek's pillagers could run wild, but after about Opar he now wants the wealth. Tarzan uses the wealth of Opar to finance his estate back home in England. Our rogue Werper soon ditches the Waziri and follows Tarzan to Opar. I haven't read the book in a while so I don't remember exactly how it played out there, but the idea of Werper following Tarzan and his fifty warriors- undetected- seems sketchy to me. At any rate we get a nice look at how wild the jungle lord truly is, even sinking his teeth into his prey when he hunts. 

It's not long before they reach the ramparts of Opar. The log bridge across a vast chasm is a nice touch. The art by John Buscema here is spare but good. Opar- an outpost of Atlantis ten thousand years ago- now inhabited by bestial, subhuman things. Conveniently there's a hidden passage leading straight into the treasure vaults. The jewels of Opar! There for the taking- and Werper observes Tarzan and his men taking over a hundred gold ingots. Unfortunately, an earthquake takes that moment to happen, and Tarzan is struck down, losing his memory. 


Werper, for his part, is captured by the savage inhabitants of this lost city and about to be sacrificed on the Flaming God altar- and meets La, high priestess of that terrible deity. She's about to sink her dagger into his chest when the amnesiac shows up. La wants to know if he's returned to be her mate- she's long had a thing for him- but when he declines she demands his death. Wielding the sacrificial dagger Tarzan fights them off. It hasn't been explained yet but Opar is strange in that the priestesses are all beautiful women, but the men are degenerate beasts. The women are in charge and presumably don't mate with the men- or do they- I'd have to go back and look at the books.  

Monday, August 28, 2023

The Sands of Time Ch 44

"Alright- it's time." 

Hillier had a tablet and was working calculations in her head, which was disconcerting. No one was happy with the situation- with Hillier being in charge. But it was either that or be stranded. Rachel thought maybe she could do it, but Hillier's knowledge surpassed hers. 

It had been decided to Gate to another world- Elysium. There was too much risk in going back- they needed to get to Earth, but the situation there was unknown and they didn't dare. 

Hopefully Stella and her people were still alive. 

The added benefit of going to Elysium was that there were ruins of the Ancients there. The project had only limited resources there, but the ruins were extensive. Perhaps they could glean additional insights there. In reality, though, they were mostly on the run and looking for a way to get safely back to Stella. 

Rachel had positioned guards around the Gate, ready to fire if a strike team came through. They'd be outnumbered, of course, but what could they do? Once the Gate was unscrambled anything might happen. Hillier thought she could get them through, but if the strike team was waiting, it'd be close. And could they even trust Hillier? 

Joon was glad Stella had insisted on an inhibitor collar. 

Hillier tapped in a code and removed the scrambler device from the cool metal of the Gate. Instantly it flared to life, and she began typing furiously. Colors swirled and they began seeing other places. Other times? A frozen wasteland. 

"That doesn't look like Elysium," Joon suggested. 

"Be patient," she snapped. 

Howie looked anxious. He didn't seem fond of the Intruder. 

"Okay, now," called Hillier. The view in the Gate changed to a vast plain of green- tall knee high grass extending as far as the eye could see. And some heights nearby, what looked like a huge pavilion, with an American flag flying proudly. That must be the place. 

"It's only going to be open for a minute," yelled Hillier over the rushing sound. Was that wind? And the Gate was starting to hum too. Joon turned to Rachel. 

"Be safe." 

"You too," she replied. "I hope we all meet again."

He smiled at her, glanced at Maia, and she nodded and went through. Joon followed, Hillier coming next. He felt the usual confusion, disorientation, and then they were... somewhere. 

Somewhere different. 


It was warm but windy, a normal looking sky for the most part. The grass swayed around them, and everything was incredibly green. There were large conical structures ahead- natural or man- made? Not man- made. Relics of the Ancients? They seemed to have windows, and earthen balconies of a sort. There were tents and pavilions at the base of the structures, and prefabricated metal huts. Apparently the colony here was still getting off the ground. 

The Gate behind them was humming, and they could see it cycling through vartious places. 

Would they ever understand?

Hillier looked pleased. 

"That went well. Can we remove this now?" she asked, referencing the collar. 

"Not quite." 

"You are making me irritated," she said with a sweet smile. 

Joon had been thinking about what she'd said- that only humans were time traveling. He didn't know whether to believe her. Could they trust anything she said? 

They began trudging  in the direction of the structures. No one came to meet them, which seemed off. Maia made sure her pistol was handy. Joon was still armed, Hillier wasn't for obvious reasons. Hillier changed form and for a moment there were two Maias next to Joon. 

"Kinky, huh?" she smiled. 

"Knock it off."

"Fine," she pouted. 

As they got closer people saw them coming. There was activity near the tents, and a few guards, although they seemed relaxed. A man appeared, followed by others. 

"You are?" 

To the point. 

"I'm Joon. Command group. We just came through from Horus. What's your status here?" 

"I'm Dunn. We met once." 

Joon didn't remember. 

"What's the situation? Like everyone else, we're wondering if we're going home."

"We don't know yet. We need to get back to Stella... on Earth. We're waiting as well."

"Well, we received word to arrest you if you came through."

Everyone tensed. 

"Relax. I know that didn't come from Stella. To be honest, we're not sure what to do. Half the people here will want to arrest you so they don't get shot. The other half are like f that."

"I appreciate your honesty. How did you get this word?"

"A courier came through. Represents the faction trying to overthrow Stella. Looked around, satisfied himself you weren't here, left." 


"Stefan. A jerk."

"Can we get some food?" Hillier interrupted. 

Dunn raised an eyebrow. "Sure. Gate hopping is hungry work. This way."

He led them toward the huts. 

"You probably ought not to have come." 

Hours later Joon was talking to Dunn as night fell. 

"You're kidding?"

"I am not," Joon replied. He had just filled Dunn in on Hillier. 

"Between her and that thing," he said, referring to Howie, "you sure travel strange." 

"We do."

"So what is next?"

"Well, we're going to try and get back to Earth. Maybe by way of Poseidon. We don't think there's a way to bypass Ops, so we're not sure we can get to Stella."

Dunn considered. 

"We have Gate controls here, but I'm not an expert. Valerus was our expert." 

"Valerus is now her," Joon said. 

"So you are forced to rely on her."


"What do you think Stella will do?"

"She's ready to close the Gate. For the greater safety. Will the board let her? That's the thing." 

"We figured. We're packing."

They were quiet for a few moments. There were two moons overhead and fragments of a third. A floating debris field. 

"It's quiet here." 

"Nice. Not the constant roaring of waves. It's peaceful. I've been happy here." 

"The ruins..."

"Theyre scattered. Ancient. From what we can tell they're all over the planet, or at least the areas we've seen. The ones behind us are quite extensive, partially underground. I can take you around, if you stay that long."

"I may take you up on that, thanks." 

Later  he entered their quarters to find Maia. And himself. 

Maia started when she saw him enter, then looked sharply at Hillier. Or Joon/ Hillier. 

Hillier resumed her form. 

"Your friend Maia likes to talk dirty."

"Bullshit." Maia scooted away. 

Joon was tired. He held up the control for the collar. 

"Careful, now." 

"Oh, Joon. Don't be so tedious."

"Howie's been so quiet," Maia interrupted. 

"So what are next steps?" Hillier asked. 

"Can you get us elsewhere in the base? Other than, you know, the Ops center?"

"No," she replied. "I need the Gate interface."

"What about the experimental Gates?"

"No. Unless they're online and synced with the master Gate." 

"Maybe your people have taken Ops. Are they just running loose?" Maia suggested. 

"I'd have to go there. The priority would be to get free. And do a little freelance bloodletting."

"Would they help us?"

"No. I could sway some, but most would want vengeance for our being imprisoned."

"What do we think caused all this in the first place?"


"Yes. Valerus mentioned that."


"Someone on Stella's team."