The walking and talking reptiles don’t appear to respect any species but their own, but at least the Kairos and his wife are glad to see the travelers. Otapec claims to have treats and surprises for them as well, whatever they may be.
There was a big bonfire built and ready to light, which suggested the travelers were expected. Otapec, Maya and their children were separated from the others in the camp by some distance. Lockhart imagined that was to give the travelers room to set their own tents, but he suspected there was also more to it.
“We had a strange encounter coming in,” Lincoln spoke as he unsaddled his horse.
“Pendratti.” Elder Stow spoke up. “I have only seen them in paintings and pictures which is why I was slow to recognize them.” He turned to Katie. “My apologies, Mother. I would have claimed to be your protector sooner if I knew.”
“Pendratti,” Otapec interrupted and laid his hand gently on Decker’s horse. “And there are Gott-Druk somewhere around here as well, but we will speak of that later.”
“Opi!” Maya called. She stopped to scoop up a four-year-old in a tent door, but otherwise she was bouncing up and down in excitement and anticipation and heading slowly to the big tent set back against some trees.
“Yes, my love,” Otapec responded as he watched his ten-year old son and seven-year-old daughter run up with a trail of children behind them. Otapec introduced them. “Chac, my eldest. He is the good rain that feeds the crops. Ixchel, my beautiful daughter is the rainbow that follows the rain. She takes after her mother. And the little one struggling in his mother’s arms is Kuican.”
“What is Kuican?” Boston asked.
“The wind, I think. I don’t think he slept until he was three.”
“Opi,” Maya called from the big tent. She was grinning but impatient.
“Bring the horses. Maya has invented a special treat.” Otapec waved to the group and stepped over to join his wife.
The travelers did not know what to think and more than one member of the group eyed Lockhart who continued to shrug as he brought his horse to the big tent.
Maya grinned like a school girl when she handed Kuican to Otapec and threw the front flap of the tent straight up. If she did not exactly say, “Ta Da!” it was near enough. The odd tent was much bigger on the inside than the outside suggested, and it was absolutely filled with corn.
“Corn!” Lincoln and Boston both said the word out loud.
“Maize,” Maya said with a slight frown at Otapec. Apparently they discussed it.
“Just invented?” Katie asked Maya who said nothing but nodded her head, vigorously.
“Hey, now we can make tortillas,” Lockhart grinned.
Otapec matched the grin. “Now we can make whisky. I remember that one.”
“What one?” Boston asked as she began to shuck some corn to feed her horse.
Otapec forced Chac and Ixchel to each take a four-year-old hand and he began to help.
Maya apologized and waved her hand. A whole bushel was immediately cleaned and Boston reacted.
“Wow, that was some magic.”
Otapec shook his head and Maya just smiled a sparkling smile. Otapec slipped his arm around his wife’s shoulder and squeezed her from the side. She giggled before he spoke. “You do know the horses will still mostly graze.” He explained to his wife. “Like human beings, they do best with a varied diet.”
“Oh,” she nodded and waved for the children to follow their father as she broke free of his embrace and stepped up to Katie.
“So what is this other surprise?” Lockhart asked out loud, now that the horses were settled for the moment. Two horses had in fact already found the nearby stream where they were contentedly slaking their thirst. Otapec said nothing, but waved for them all to follow, which they did at a leisurely pace.
“You are an elect,” Maya said first thing when she reached Katie. Katie wondered how the woman knew. “I have never met an elect before, except Zoe,” Maya said. “But she had already been made a goddess by then so that did not count.”
“You met Zoe?”
“Oh yes, years ago. She came by to ask if I would join the Amazon council if needed. Of course I said I would.” She glanced at Opi and smiled, and Otapec smiled in return, though he did not see her. It was like there was an invisible thread connecting the two, so when Maya was happy, Otapec was happy. Katie glanced back at Lockhart and smiled for him. He saw and gave her a funky, foolish grin in return, and Maya spoke again.
“You will have to work on that.” Katie just nodded, and then was a bit surprised when Maya grabbed her hand and placed it on her belly. “I would not mind if my daughter was one of the elect.”
“You’re pregnant? Number four?” Maya just nodded. “You and Opi? But wait, how many years ago did Zoe visit you?” Katie stopped walking so Maya stopped to face her
“Oh, many, many years.”
“You and Opi?”
“Yes. As a fertility goddess it is hard for me to not be pregnant.”
Katie pulled her hand away slowly. Then she had a thought. “But won’t he grow old?”
Maya shook her head. “He is old enough to be a respected elder, but young enough to be a wonderful lover. I will keep him as he is.”
“For as long as you can,” Katie said. She knew that even the gods could not prevent the Kairos from dying when it was time for him, or her to be reborn.
“For as long as I can,” Maya agreed and a few tears came up into her eyes. When they dropped to the ground, the grass grew a little taller and flowers came up.
Katie had a change of heart and gave Maya a big hug and a sisterly kiss. “Let’s go see what all the commotion is about.” Maya wiped her eyes, brought her smile back out as well as she could and followed.
The others were all standing around the sarcophagus, waiting. Lincoln turned to Katie and shouted. “Lieutenant Harper, it’s Captain Decker.”
Otapec was also waiting, but for Maya who stepped right up and took his hands where the sarcophagus was between them. Otapec smiled for her, and she returned a genuine smile as Otapec went away and Kartesh of the Shemsu came to take his place. Kartesh squeezed Maya’s hands before she let go.
“Hello, old friend.”
“Dear old friend,” Maya responded.
Lockhart noticed that many of the dark-skinned natives came up and fell to their knees in the face of Kartesh. “These Shemsu are mine by default,” Kartesh admitted, but her hands were manipulating the Agdaline controls and shutting down the sleep chamber so Decker could be awakened. The lid popped open and Decker stirred.
“Damn,” the man said, and “Ouch.” He had been terribly wounded all those time zones in the past, and cryogenic sleep did nothing to heal him. Kartesh made him lay as straight as he could in that little Agdaline box and Maya stepped over to stand beside her.
“I am not a healer by trade,” Kartesh admitted.
“Nor am I,” Maya said, but the two goddesses placed their flat hands about eight inches above Decker. The inside of the sleep chamber began to glow, and then Decker began to glow.
“No,” Kartesh opened the conversation over Decker’s glowing body. “You are Opi’s little woman.”
“And proud of it,” Maya responded with her best grin. “And that is little fertility woman if you don’t mind.”
“Not any longer. It is little Corn Woman now.”
It did not take long, whatever the women did, and Decker wanted to sit up. Kartesh gave Maya a kiss on the cheek much as Katie had and vanished to be replaced by Doctor Mishka. She came complete with her little black doctor’s bag and would not let Decker do more than sit while she examined him.
“But Doc., I feel fine now.”
“Sit. Stay.” Mishka spoke to him like a dog. “And that is Colonel Kolchenkov to you, Captain, not Doc.”
Decker stayed until she finished and put her stethoscope back in her little black bag. She turned to Maya with a word. “So when were you going to tell me you were pregnant, and then she and her little black bag vanished and Otapec finally came back to help Decker stand. The man was wobbly after his five hundred year sleep, but some food and real rest would do wonders. Then Otapec stepped up to Maya with a stern look on his face. Maya looked down at her feet, like the goddess was afraid to look into his mortal, human eyes. But he just caught her up in an embrace and kissed her like tomorrow might never come.
Some “Oooed,” some “Ahhed.” Some couples looked at each other with unasked questions in their eyes. Chac turned his head to protest. “Mom! Dad!” Ixchel stared and did not know what to think. Kuican pulled his hands free of his siblings and reached out with the words, “Me too.”
Avalon 2.8 Visitors … Next Time