Sci-Fi / Historical Fiction
Traveller Manifesto is Book 3 of the Traveller Trilogy, the explosive final sequel to Traveller Inceptio and Traveller Probo.
To use the enigmatic Transporter and send Special Forces trained Researchers back a thousand years is now the biggest game in world politics.
But not only politics, as academics scramble to outdo each other and harness prestige in the increasingly influential field of History.
As Professor Taylor is rescued from Byzantine Rome, a heavily-armed US Traveller team explores Mississippian Cahokia to experience a situation beyond even their control. Michael Hunter and Tatae flee Giolgrave in the hope of finding safety from modern interference. But at a terrible cost.
And something seems to be happening in Israel, resulting in the creation of a high-profile investigation team to uncover if there is a clandestine Traveller mission operated by the US and Israel.
From the windswept mountains of Wales, to the hills of Cahokia and the dusty wadis of the Negev, researchers find that to visit the past may not necessarily provide the answers they seek.
The encounter did not progress as smoothly as Anderson had hoped.
Maybe it was the desert setting, or that they now held the boy while those who had chased him through the parched ravines panted and watched cautiously. He was just a lad, no more than fifteen at the most and would be running still if he wasn’t pinned so tightly, face-down in the dust. His captor, Sergeant Simon Rahmer of Israel’s elite Sayeret Matkal relaxed, knee on his back, weapon ready. The boy gasped and struggled feebly, causing Rahmer to quietly growl in Aramaic Hebrew, “Careful boy! Try that again and I’ll carve my initials into your stomach.”
The boy understood and became very still.
The scene was one of the most surreal Anderson had ever experienced. A Roman patrol carefully arrayed themselves across the narrow ravine to prevent escape. The two closest legionnaires, the red-faced pursuers of the lad, breathed deeply but remained watchful, their hands on the hilts of their infamous short swords, their gladius. The others from their patrol soon arrived and also puffed, sweating as they were laden with the other soldiers’ shields, spears and helmets. They looked hard and fit and appeared unfazed by the sudden appearance of Anderson’s men. In fact, they looked eager for some action.
“Pax! Pax!” called out Anderson as he raised his gloved hands and stepped forward, his assault rifle left to hang at his chest. He paused to raise his goggles so they could see his eyes, for the goggles would make him too otherworldly. He then took a few more deliberately casual steps forward. But not too many. The legionnaires looked vicious and primed for attack, which surely would result in their deaths, for Anderson’s men had them covered. Their leather and metal armour would offer scant protection against the deadly 45mm rounds if his men were forced to use the assault rifles that were now so carefully aimed. Anderson desperately hoped violence would not eventuate.
If it did, Professor Cowen would not be pleased.
A stern legionnaire, most likely the patrol’s NCO, stepped forward a pace, his face flushed under his helmet. “Who in hades are you?” he demanded curtly.
“Peace brother, we mean you no harm,” reiterated Anderson with a smile.
“I’m no sodding brother of yours,” declared the Roman brusquely as he removed his gladius from the timber and leather sheath. The blade looked razor sharp.
“Unwise,” warned Anderson as he shook his head in warning.
The Roman snorted, raised his shield and took a step forward. As he did so, his highly disciplined men formed behind him, swords bared and shields moved to protect. Hard eyes stared from under each iron helmet that peeked above their metal-embossed timber Scutum; the Roman Legionnaire’s distinctive rectangular shield. There was more than one satisfied gleam and grim smile.
Oh, they looked to be so looking forward to this.
There was a thunder as three rounds were expertly placed through the corner of the lead soldier’s shield. Rounds ricocheted from the rocky walls with an angry hum that had a couple of the legionnaires duck in reflex. Predictably, the Roman paused, though he refused to be cowed. He merely looked at the fragmented corner of his shield with narrowed eyes, for the wood had been shattered to leave the leather cover in shreds. The Scutum was normally impermeable to light projectiles, so at the sight of the shattered shield, he frowned.
“Next time, that’ll be your head,” smiled Anderson, “but we have no desire for conflict.”
“Are you Zealots?” asked the Roman. His face had screwed up into a mixture of anger and a reluctant fear. The thunder of the assault rifle had been deafening in the confines of the wadi and the Romans behind him looked wary. They were superstitious, that much was known. Thunder might mean a belief in otherworldly forces, like the intercession of Jupiter himself. Anderson hoped so.
“Do we look like dog-fucking Zealots?” replied Anderson.
The Roman just grunted. “Then who are you, cunnus? You try that again and I’ll carve off your face.”
Anderson simply chuckled. “You can try. But if you do, we’ll kill two of your men before you get two steps closer. Only two at first. Which two would you prefer?”
The Roman gave a snort of derision, but looked behind at his troops and appeared thoughtful.
“My name is Anderson. I’m a friend,” stressed Anderson. Though he did his best to look relaxed, he was ready to fire if the Roman continued his advance. Three high-velocity rounds fired into his exposed face should stop him.
One of the Romans swore. “Just gut the dog,” he growled. “They might not be Zealots, or they might. Let’s get the lad and find the Jewish felatores.”
“Enough!” barked the Roman at the lead. He was certainly in charge of the patrol. Whether that role was similar to a corporal or sergeant, was unknown. He did have authority, for at his order the legionnaires immediately froze.
He looked back at Anderson, gave a curt nod and stood upright, his shield by his side. He then placed his gladius back into its scabbard. Behind him, the other Romans remained alert and ready, their swords still hard in their fists. The sunlight glinted off razor sharp blades. No matter how dusty or worn these soldiers looked, they took good care of their weapons and, by the looks of them, could fight.
“Vorenus,” nodded the Roman. Anderson stepped forward, extended his hand and smiled. Vorenus looked at the gloved hand thoughtfully, then extended his arm where they gripped forearms in the same manner as did the Saxons.
“It looks like we caught something of yours,” smiled Anderson.
Vorenus nodded cautiously.
“Zealot?” asked Anderson.
Another sullen nod.
Anderson looked at the lad as he lay, pinned under the knee of the Israeli. Rahmer had not lowered his weapon. He wasn’t one to be trifled with.
“Rahmer! Bring the boy!” ordered Anderson curtly in Latin. He wanted to show the Romans that his team also understood discipline.
Rahmer briskly heaved the lad to his feet and literally dragged him to Anderson and Vorenus. The youth began to struggle and squeal in protest, so Rahmer thumped his head into the sandstone wall of the wadi for good measure. He dropped him at their feet as the lad held a hand to his injured face and whimpered in terror.
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A resident of Australia, Rob Shackleford has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a career that has varied from Scuba Instructor and Customs Officer to College Teacher and IT.
Interests include travel, SCUBA diving, History, martial arts, astronomy, and playing Djembe and Congas. Despite that, he is actually not that boring.
Rob is father of two and has made his green escape with his lovely lady into the Gold Coast hinterland.
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