The chase was not very long. She found the Wolv with its back to a big oak. She snarled and growled at the beast as the hair on her back bristled with anticipation of a fight. The Wolv growled a much deeper and more frightening growl in return and the claws popped out of its right hand like little daggers. Its left hand, though, stayed pressed against the wound in its belly and what is more, the creature did not rise. Valencia quickly realized that it could not rise. That first shot must have been a lucky one that severed the spinal cord. It was amazing the Wolv could get this far before collapsing. The will to survive in order to kill another day, she decided
Valencia took her human form and her armor returned to cover her automatically. The Wolv stopped growling at the sight and then its big eyes got bigger when Valencia spoke in the ancient Humanoid tongue. “It is time for you to die.” The Wolv’s eyes could not get any bigger when Valencia went away and Diogenes came to stand in her place. It was not that Valencia could not or would not do what was necessary, but Diogenes was the warrior and his cut would be swift, clean and sure. He drew his sword.
The Wolv struggled a bit but managed to put its head out to expose its neck. Curiously, the Wolv had no fear of death at all. It is not that they possess great courage. It is likely they do not fully understand the concept of death. In any case, the Wolv let one word escape its lips before the end. It said, “Kairos,” so it knew its executioner.
When it was finished, Diogenes went to one knee and asked the Wolv’s forgiveness as was his custom. He cleaned his sword and put it where it belonged against his back. Then he went away once again and let Valencia return because there was one more thing to do and after Glen, of course, this adventure belonged to the woman of Rome. Besides, flying was easier than walking.
When Valencia landed on the grounds of the dig, she tried not to look around. She was glad the sun was not ready to rise. She did not really want to see the bits and pieces of bodies scattered all over the place.
Valencia opened the door to the escape pod and stood back just in case. It was likely the pod was programmed on landfall to trigger the one chamber first. The others would be triggered automatically within a day or so unless the first one opened them early or decided they should not be opened at all. When no Wolv came bursting out of the open door, Valencia went in.
Even with her werewolf eyes it took a bit to touch the right spots on the wall and turn on the internal lights. Then she had to stop and think. At last she determined that Dimitri had to come to this time and place once again. He was from the far future and understood the systems and what made them work or not work far better than a girl from before Rome was even built. A Woman from before Rome, Valencia corrected herself and then she went away and Dimitri went straight to the open chamber.
He put his finger into a bit of the amnionic-cryogenic goop. He sniffed like a wolf or a dog, but he knew what he was looking for. As he suspected, it had degraded over two thousand years. The Wolv was probably half-mad when it came out of its long sleep, like anyone could tell. He felt that might explain why it had not bothered to open the other chambers.
Dimitri looked in the other chambers. Three were empty. The fourth had a female in it, but he could tell just from looking at the syrup she rested in that it had degraded worse than the other. The readout showed that there were still signs of life, but surely this one would be a blithering idiot if she was not brain dead already. The last chamber had an infant in it. The fluid looked good. The signs of life looked strong. Dimitri felt sorry for that because he knew what Valencia had in mind. The reason was because it was what he had in mind, too. It was the only option.
Before that, Dimitri spent a good hour examining the ships systems to find out exactly how things worked. There was no telling how important that might be in the future. Then it also gave him a chance to remove certain bits and pieces—not enough to make the pod useless, but enough to make it unusable without their return. Those pieces went on file in Avalon.
He also figured out what happened two thousand years ago. He saw the burnt out relays, relays which the Wolv would not know how to fix. The main computer must have stalled at that point and without a return signal it must have decided there were no sleepers to resuscitate. As a safety precaution, the chambers were designed to function independently of the mainframe in case there was a complete computer shutdown. So the sleepers slept for all of those years. When Glen turned the power and the lights back on, the sequence went straight to resuscitation and did not go through the relays. It was like an intruder alert system or something.
Glen felt terrible about that. He felt like he was personally responsible for getting all of those people killed even though every other life in time told him it was not his fault and he could not have known.
“I can do it if you like.” Dimitri offered.
“No. It is my job.” Valencia answered, and Glen had no objection.
Valencia spent a long time looking at the Wolv baby. She thought about her own babies—the orphan twins Saturn brought for her to raise. In the end, one killed the other and poor Valencia never really got over that. In this case she wondered what it might be like to suckle a baby again. But here she knew this baby would suckle for about sixty seconds before it tried to eat her. She had no choice, and with that thought she drained the fluid from both chambers.
The mother Wolv gave up her life immediately and Valencia decided that indeed she had already been brain dead. The baby struggled as it drowned on pure air without the resuscitation procedure to make the necessary adjustments. It struggled for nearly ten minutes, and Valencia thought of Papa Wolv, how it dragged its paralyzed hind quarters for half a mile before the paralysis and loss of blood forced it to stop.
Once it was over, Valencia shut down all power in the pod, sealed the door and flew back to the Calveri house. The sun was ready to rise by then but she had no trouble landing unnoticed. She was a bit upset to realize her friends from Washington still had not arrived, but she was less upset when Miss Watson saw her and came running. Valencia waited and hugged the woman before she went away. Glen came back, not dressed in the armor of the Kairos but in the same clothes he wore when he left the house that evening.
“It’s over,” he said. “And there won’t be a repeat.”
“Oh my God.” Miss Watson put her hand to her mouth. “You said six chambers. I never thought of that.”
Glen nodded. “Now I have to go. When my friends get here, I would appreciate if you did not tell them my name. Just say the Traveler said not to give a name. Tell them they will find the Wolv about half a mile that way and warn them of the grisly scene at the digs. Tell them to put the pod in a shack out behind the new building, when they build it. Tell them I’ll be by some day to pick it up so don’t mess with it.” Glen got in the driver’s seat of the little Triumph.
“Will I see you again?”
Glen smiled. “Tell them they need to take good care of you and the Calveris. It has been a long night.”
“Who knows if we will meet again. I have this memory problem, you see. By the time I get home I probably won’t remember anything about what happened here except I will probably have nightmares for a while.” Glen shrugged and backed out of the long drive. About a half hour later he saw a van in the early morning light. He thought the driver looked familiar but he was not sure. He did notice the empty flatbed that was following.
By the time he got home, he was right. He did not remember anything about what happened and he could give no answer to his parents about why he had gone off in the middle of the night or where he had gone or what he had been doing. He was not allowed to use the car for a while, and while his gut said that was not fair, his mind could not say why.