Crashing the Ring

DISCLAIMER:

The crossover is between J.R.R. Tolkien's universe (though the LotR references are based more on Peter Jackson's film than on Tolkien's novel), Michael Moorcock's multiverse and a touch of Peter Hammond's Sapphire and Steel - no infringements intended anywhere. As for the time pirates, I have to confess they're mine, but this brief story is all the information in existence on that lot; I haven't used them anywhere else, so it's no use looking for more. Oh - and thanks to Elric for the information on how mithril really works. ;)

COMMENT:

I have to apologize for this little piece of irreverent fluff, but I needed to get it written and be rid of it. The reason is mainly my being in two minds about The Lord of the Rings - it's a good story, but I don't hold with Tolkien's views. I fully agree with Michael Moorcock's critique of the novel, and it sometimes annoys me to see my younger friends who weren't around in the early 70's be as fascinated now, as I was then. I guess everybody's entitled to their chance at foolishness, but somehow it bothers me. And most of all it bothers me that I'm not completely un-fascinated myself, particularly after having seen the (1st) movie. It's a good story, and the film - for once - does it justice. So - well, I guess I just needed it off my mind.

SUMMARY: In a pear tree - this thing is only 15 K.

RATING: Quite bland - except perhaps for the occasional innuendo.

ARCHIVE: By all means, if for some strange reason you want it. Just let me know where, and please keep my name on it.

FEEDBACK: Yes, please! :) You can reach me at the address given on my top page.


/Eliann - 2002-01-08






Crashing the Ring

 

by

 

Eliann SleepingCat


Pythia's gang fell through time right at the moment Frodo was being all but skewered to one of Moria's innumerable rock walls by a particularly persistent mountain troll. For some not yet apparent reason, the troll's spear point had not penetrated its target, but Frodo was held firmly in place, and he had no air to speak, let alone call for help.

Pythia stopped in her tracks, the final click of her boot heels going unnoticed in the general din of battle. Behind her, Karilas, Boel and Bettina did their best not to collide with her back. "Now what?" Karilas muttered in resignation.

"Look at those eyes!" Pythia said. "Enough to melt the cruellest heart, I'd say. Except that of the troll doing it to him of course - none too sentient, the trolls from the western mountains. Guess that's why they were so often used as weapons by someone else." Two orcs rolled past her while fighting a dwarf, but she held her ground. "Stubborn too - that one's been at it for some time now. Think he'll get him? Oh, I could watch this forever!"

"No, you couldn't", Melchior said, at her side as usual. Sidestepping an orc attack aimed for someone else, he added, "The longer we hang around, the better chance for the time agents to get us."

"They might not spot us as long as we don't touch anything", Boel ventured hopefully, although she was far from certain that time agents would be so gullible.

"When have we ever managed not to touch anything?" Melchior retorted. "In this melee, someone is likely to bump into us sooner or later. Let's get out of here, Pyth - what's so riveting about those two anyway?"

"I can't let that ogre hurt him so", Pythia decided. She took two steps in the direction of the troll, then stopped again. "Although I must admit I enjoy the sight."

"I didn't know you got off on torture", Melchior said sarcastically.

"I get off on the compassion I feel for him", Pythia shot back. "Sort of an empathy trip. It's a female thing. You wouldn't understand."

"I'm not so sure it's a female thing", Bettina said. "I don't feel it."

"You're not exactly female, Bettina", Pythia reminded her.

"Professor Sutton claimed I was the next thing to it", Bettina said without rancour. "Whatever, I say we'd better get out before we're caught. Leave the hobbit to his destiny; he'll probably have a better chance than he would with us meddling."

Right then, someone belonging in the battle finally managed to kill the poor, dim-witted troll. He didn't tumble aside right away but fell on his weapon, his body holding the shaft firmly in place even in death. Frodo couldn't even gasp, but his large, deep blue eyes told them all about his predicament. Eloquently.

It was more than Pythia could take. Disregarding her own people as well as those fighting around her, she heaved the troll's bulk aside to the extent that she was able, and snapped the spear in two when she could not remove it any other way. Frodo collapsed on the cold, sharply uneven rock floor, and lay still.

Pythia wanted to check on him but was held back by Melchior and Karilas both. "You've interfered enough", Melchior said. "He's all right; I've read up on this era. He's wearing a mithril mail shirt - or he should be, unless you changed something by butting in."

"He's not all right", Pythia objected, trying to wriggle free of Melchior's grasp. "He's fainted from lack of oxygen as much as from pain, I'm sure. He doesn't appear to be pierced, but that beast might have pushed a couple of ribs into his lungs or something."

"Mithril doesn't bend well inwards", Karilas pointed out. "The links are designed to bend outwards. He's just bruised; he'll live. We know he will. Unless you screwed something up just now, which is always a possibility."

Pythia shook her dark hair in place. Mainly for dignity, as it was short enough not really to need rearranging. "Well, nothing wrong with making the time agents work for their pay. Mending timelines is what they do best."

"They'll be here in a couple of minutes", Melchior warned her.

"Why not a couple of minutes ago?" Pythia retorted. "Wiping this whole incident? In which case it doesn't matter what we do here."

"Then why would you check on him? Why help him in the first place, for that matter?"

"I don't know", Pythia said, just as a rock wall shimmered in the direction they had come from. A woman in blue stepped through, followed by a white-haired man in black, and a black-haired one in a fur coat. "It was as if I couldn't watch him suffer, even as I wanted to."

Melchior took one look at the new arrivals, and gestured to Bettina. She spun around and opened a passage at the other end of the cave, and they all started running for it, Melchior snatching Pythia along with him.

"I guess compassion strikes both ways", Pythia mused, as the new opening closed behind them.

 

- - <> - -


"Couldn't you have got us out of this time altogether?" Boel asked.

Bettina shrugged. "Sorry. Not enough time - so to speak."

They looked around, hills and woods convincing them that they were at least out of the caves. The landscape was peaceful, undisturbed but for themselves and two beings some distance away - one man size, one about half of that.

"This must be where one of the Fellowship is turning against him", Karilas said. "And he doesn't know whom to trust any more. I daresay he's beginning to feel the ring's pull on his own heart by now, and that's what's setting the others off, though they don't know it."

"Everyone thinks they're the best person for the job", Melchior said, oblivious of his grammar. "Ruling the world, that is. And yet no one has even united it. Whoever gets it, will face a stiff task."

"Nobody will", Karilas said. "Unless we messed up time in coming here. Our escape was a bit sloppy - no offence, Bettina, I know you did your best. Maybe we'd better stay and watch how this goes."

"How close can we get?" Pythia wanted to know.

"Close enough, as long as we don't interact with them, I should think", Bettina said. Consulting her instruments, she added, "We haven't actually set foot on their plane this time - and we'd better avoid it, or they'll be sure to spot us. It's trickier when there are no distractions around. So no impromptu rescue missions this time, Pyth, promise!"

Pythia shrugged. "Oh, we can always send Karilas through if we need to. He can interact with them; they'll just take him for another elf."

"The elves here are tall", Karilas reminded her, just as Melchior said, "His hair isn't long enough."

"You could be from over the next hill or something", Pythia persisted. "These are isolated tribes - they wouldn't know."

"I think we'd better stay out of their time altogether", Boel offered. "As well as their plane. After all, we're not out to change their history, are we?"

"Not if we can help it", Pythia agreed. "But if we can't?"

The two figures were approaching of their own accord - Frodo in the lead, obviously evading Boromir.

He wasn't successful. Suddenly deciding that the time for diplomacy was over, the warrior covered the distance between them in two great leaps, struck the hobbit down and pinned him to the ground. He tore Frodo's shirt open to reveal the ring lying free on nothing but smooth, tender skin, and Pythia knew she would have to intervene - because she already had.

"Hey, you big oaf!" she yelled as she crossed the planar border. "Pick on someone your own size!"

Boromir looked up - shamefacedly, she thought. Well, that much was to his credit. Surprisingly, he didn't appear aggressive. "I don't mean to hurt him", he said, though he was probably aware that his behaviour might look less than reassuring to bystanders. "But you see, I must.."

"You must nothing except leave him alone", Pythia said, her hand going to her belt as if for a concealed weapon. She hoped he would fall for it. Whether he did, or he was just being gentlemanly, he did roll off a little to his right - and Frodo promptly vanished from under him.

"The little fool!" Pythia growled under her breath, but luckily, Boromir did not immediately see the impossible in the situation. He started looking around, even calling Frodo's name, as if his intended victim would be at all eager to give him another chance.

Pythia quickly stepped back through the plane divider, and sure enough, there he was, the little ring-bearer, and he had drawn all kinds of unwanted attention - fortunately not from any time agents as yet, but from his own various brands of nemeses.

"We didn't do anything!" Boel said nervously. "I haven't seen anything like this before - how could he cross over?"

"The bloody ring, of course", Pythia told her. "It crosses anything, especially when it shouldn't. Now, how do I get it off him without antagonizing him, and before those horrors get to him - and us too, I shouldn't wonder?"

Frodo was quite obviously seeing her clearly now, along with her gang and the wraiths pursuing him. He tried to back away from her, but as this sent him straight in the direction of the approaching wraiths, he was moving slowly. In fact, he was seeing Pythia and everything else in black and white, all colour bled from the scene, which made her look a lot less than human to him, but she couldn't know that.

"Oh for pity's sake!" Pythia burst out. "I'm not after your trinket. My world is far too complex to be ruled by a piece of jewellery, and I wouldn't even know what to do with a world that could."

But Frodo had heard such protestations before, and so he kept backing off.

Pythia lost her patience. "I don't want your ring, dammit - I want you!" It slipped out before she thought, but what the hell, it would do. It kept him startled long enough for her to grab him and brutally force the ring off his finger, so the wraiths would lose track of him. But so did she for a moment, as he immediately fell back to his own plane, and the barrier blurred with his crossing. Glancing up, Pythia saw the nightmare riders now making a bee-line for her, while just to top off the experience, the ring was burning her hand. With a cry of disgust, she flung the thing through the barrier, where Frodo was only too quick to catch it. Boromir was nowhere to be seen, and on Pythia's side, the ghastly riders were fast losing cohesion.

Only then did she realize what the others had heard.

"Not to fault your tastes, Pyth", Karilas drawled, "But that might not be such a good idea. He is after all a halfling.."

She closed her eyes, enduring what she knew would come.

"Oh I don't know", Bettina laughed. "Did you see the feet and collar sizes of those creatures when we were back in the cave? How do you know there isn't more to them that's outsized?"

"Can't really blame her", Boel chimed in. "He isn't bad-looking. Those eyes, those lips, that fine skin.."

"Actually", Pythia growled, "it was the sight of that skin.."

That set even Melchior off. "Why, Pyth - I never knew you had a paedophile streak. Though it might well account for the fact that you can't spot a grown man - even when he's standing two feet away." He couldn't quite keep a touch of bitterness out of that last, though he hoped no one had heard it.

No such luck. "She's always been far-sighted", Karilas put in. "Your black beard just isn't part of her picture, Mel."

"If I may get a word in", Pythia said, "my empathy trips might be lodged right next to sexual attraction in my brain, but they're not the same. It was just that I saw he wasn't wearing that mithril thing any more. And he should have been. I couldn't help but thinking that it was my meddling with time, that his chances were now lessened because of me. I was merely trying to.."

"Repair time on your own?" said a cool voice behind her. They spun around as a unit, to face a blond man no taller than Karilas and dressed in a grey suit that was clearly not the fashion in any time in the immediate neighbourhood. "How often do you have to be told not to try and set things right if you make a mistake - you only make everything worse."

The blonde woman they had briefly glimpsed in the cave, stepped through the same time barrier the man had appeared from. She was still wearing blue, though a different outfit this time. Either confident or careless, she left the shimmering aperture slightly ajar behind her. Perhaps she anticipated a sudden need for it.

Her companion turned to her. "I believe we've caught them, Sapphire. You can call off the crew from the End of Time."

She smiled at him. "They'll be disappointed. They've always wanted to catch a gang of time pirates."

The man addressed them again. "What were you after? The ring?"

"Of course not, what would we want with that?" Melchior said. "We're independent, we don't have any wish to take anything that would make us less so."

"In fact", Bettina said, "we were simply running. You people are always chasing us, so we ran, and we fell through - into this."

"Gate crashers in time", Karilas ventured helpfully.

A shadow moved across the half-closed entrance to their time. Then a huge, four-headed, seven-eyed figure stepped through. It had to bend almost double to fit through the opening, and when it straightened, they could see that it had eight hands, one of which appeared to be of silver and another was wielding a screaming chalice, with ghost images of Faerie riders swarming around it. A third hand held an odd-looking staff that was hard to see clearly as it didn't appear to be all in one place, but it seemed to help holding the time gate open. A fourth held a mean-looking black blade, alive with writhing, glowing runes and moaning softly to itself in anticipation of slaughter. Over the being's multiple head flew a winged black and white cat.

Behind this apparition, a woman entered, dressed in fatigues from somewhen in the 20th century, and armed to her teeth with projectile weapons of that era. She looked sternly at them all.

"Which way is the battle?" she asked.



*** The End ***