It was early in the morning, and those residents of Lizzietown who were awake, were moving slowly as their bodies warmed up. From the north, a line of uniformed humans made their way down the street, stopping and snapping to in crisp formation. Six uniformed constables, still wearing their blue jackets, but having replaced their blue trousers with khaki pants and shin high boots, were in front of the formation. The other forty men wore khaki uniforms and pith helmets. All except the two at the front of the column carried B1898 magazine-fed bolt-action .30 caliber service rifles. Radley Staff carried a naval service sword, though a revolver rested in the holster at his belt. Fifteen year old sorceress Senta Bly carried nothing that could be construed as a weapon.
“All right, where are they?” Staff asked the girl.
“Uuthanum,” she said, raising her hand.
A small blue ball of light rose from her hand and started toward the ramshackle houses.
“Two by two,” called Staff. “Double time, march!”
His orders were repeated by the sergeant halfway back in the column. The soldiers started off in a jog, two by two, into Lizzietown. Staff held his sword close to his chest and the soldiers behind him carried their rifles the same way. The little blue light flew above and in front of them at exactly the same speed they moved.
The smell of panic rose from the lizzies. Some came out of their doorways to see what was happening, only to be shoved back by the soldiers. Anything in the way of the march, whether it was a cart or wagon or a lizzie was knocked aside by a booted kick or a rifle butt. Senta jogged along beside Staff. He slammed a large lizzie out of the way with his shoulder, rather like a rugby player.
Lizzietown held several hundred houses, but it didn’t take long for the soldiers to reach their destination. The little blue ball of light rose high up into the air and burst, raining down fine blue dust, which then glowed brightly as it coated six nearby shacks.
“Squads one and two, encircle positions!” shouted Staff. “Squads three and four, turn out those huts!”
Eight soldiers stormed through the doorways of the lizzie houses and began shoving lizzies and their possessions out onto the ground. Four policemen waited outside the doorways, examining items and pushing the reptilians down onto their faces. The other eighteen soldiers that made up squads one and two had formed a blockade around the six huts, keeping any on the inside from getting out, and any on the outside from getting in. There seemed to be few lizzies outside the circle who wanted to do anything other than get as far away from the area as possible.
Several lizzies appeared in the doorways of the other four houses.
“Kaetarrnaya eesousztekh!” shouted Staff.
Most of the lizzies popped back inside. One who didn’t had rifle butts smashed into his face by two soldiers who rushed forward from the line. One lizzie made the mistake of stepping outside while holding an obsidian encrusted wooden sword. He was cut down by at least five rifle bullets, even though he had made no move to raise the weapon. The rifle shots were the signal to all the lizzies outside the perimeter of human soldiers to get away and get away as fast as they could. Senta suddenly realized it was a signal for something else as well.
“Uh oh,” she said, stepping over to the doorway where the dead lizzie was making a large bloody puddle in the dirt.
“Get back here,” hissed Staff, but his attention was pulled away from her.
“We have contraband!” called one of the constables.
Senta ignored the others. Stepping onto the body of the dead lizardman, she pushed aside the animal hide door and peered into the hut’s interior. It was dark, but not so much that she couldn’t see. Four large lizzies stood against the walls, watching her, but she paid no attention to them. At the far side of the room was a fifth aborigine, his back turned to the girl, but when the light flooded into the room around Senta, he turned to look at her. He was shrunken and shriveled, and his skin had faded away with tremendous age or maybe disease. He wore a necklace of human hands held together with woven grass. In his own hand he carried a small lizard, its four legs sticking straight out, mounted on a stick like some strange lizard lollypop.
“Kafira’s Tits!” shouted Senta. “I know you!”
She did know him too. The dried-out old creature was none other than the chief shaman of Suusthek, the great city-state that had sat two hundred miles southeast of Port Dechantagne until Zurfina had called down a meteor strike to wipe it off the map.
The shaman suddenly held up his lizard talisman and hissed. Senta felt herself fly out of the doorway, sailing through the air to smash into the back wall of another hut. All the air was knocked from her lungs and her ears rang. She climbed to her feet just as the witch doctor emerged from inside.
Several riflemen fired at the old lizzie, but he simply waved the lizard on a stick and the bullets ricocheted away. He raised his other hand and a stream of magical energy bolts shot toward the young sorceress. Senta snatched one of the glamours floating invisibly around her head, activating it just in time to counter the witch doctor’s attack. The ricocheting energy bolts flew in every direction. The lizzie hissed and a blast of frost and snow flew from his fingertips directly at the girl.
“You’ve got a lot of nerve,” she said, countering. “That was the first spell I learned. See what you do with this. Uuthanum uluchaiia uluthiuth!”
Senta stretched out both hands and a small ball of flame formed, shooting directly toward the shaman. In the scant score of so feet between the two, it grew to a diameter of ten feet. The witch doctor held up his talisman as the fireball engulfed him and he remained safe within a little bubble as the flame exploded outward, setting fire to a dozen or more of the lizzie homes. The buildings popped and sparked and burned like they had been soaked in kerosene. In a few seconds, every house within sight was at least partially ablaze.
“Oops,” said Senta. She could see lizzies running in every direction and hear the soldiers calling to “fall back!”