“Colonel.” Alexander turned quickly to his friend. “Will the General listen to you?”
“He may,” deMartin said. “But I gather this is the result of a perceived assassination of the Byzantine Governor. I should say it is more important to get the Byzantines to listen to you.”
Peter nodded as several artillery shells came out from General Gordon’s position. Ethan quickly dropped a line of force from the ship to the ground and they all watched as those artillery shells got halfway to their destination and vanished. Several shells came from the Byzantines in answer and they did the same thing. They vanished utterly half way across the space between the two armies, and without so much as a pop!
“Ethan!” Jill scolded and Ethan shrugged.
“We have broken so many rules this trip,” he said.
“That isn’t the point.”
“No,” Manomar interrupted. “The point is we have two natives to this Earth right here who want peace. They have every right and should be given every opportunity to convince their compatriots and superiors to make peace. I thought the Gaian way was to give people an opportunity to work things out in their own way. I say, give them that opportunity. They will have to do the work.”
Ethan smiled. “I knew there was a great thinker in you,” he said to Manomar who simply gave a slight bow.
“The influence of the scholar,” Peter Alexander suggested with a little laugh.
“No doubt,” Colonel deMartin agreed.
“That is really twisting things pretty far. The people of this world appear to have already decided to settle their differences in a conventional way, and chit filled intruders should not interfere.” Jill protested, but everyone just waited for her radiant smile. “But I like your ill logic.” She touched the Main and the air around the view screen began to shimmer. When it stabilized again, Jill made a door for Alexander and the Colonel. “We will go with Peter Alexander and explain about the Governor. Honest confession is not forbidden. Manomar, would you accompany Colonel deMartin.”
Manomar looked about to say no, that he was not leaving Jill and Ethan again, but Ethan spoke first. “I think she means by projection. I don’t think mother hen means for me to leave the ship until I am fully recovered.”
“Mother hen?” Jill spoke sharply.
“So you’re not thinking about children?” Ethan asked.
Jill turned a little red. “I already have one son,” she reminded him.
“Well, maybe one per husband isn’t asking too much, do you think?”
“Maybe,” she said, turned a little redder and looked away.
“I do excellent child care.” Manomar said and Alexander and the Colonel both laughed.
Jill looked away from all of them. “You people are terrible.”
“No.” Colonel deMartin spoke gently. “You two not having children would be terrible.”
“Yes, absolutely.” Manomar and Peter Alexander agreed while Ethan wisely said nothing.
“Manomar, you can sit, I mean in this chair.” Jill changed the subject, then she ran over and gave Colonel deMartin and Peter Alexander hugs and said good-bye.
“You are coming with me?” Peter Alexander thought he misheard.
“In spirit,” Jill said, and she escorted them to the door.
Peter Alexander and the Colonel stepped out and found Jill, Ethan and Manomar waiting for them. “I have given our projections some substance, just so you know, but this way is more impressive if we need to be impressive.”
“Before your visit I would have been shocked half to death on seeing your angelic form,” deMartin admitted.
“And me,” Peter Alexander agreed. “And I had already met Lela and been filled with my Guardian chits. But between you and me, deMartin, I suspect we haven’t seen the half of what these Gaian are capable of.”
With that, the two men shook hands and parted. They would meet again, but for the present, the show was the thing. They both knew every binocular on the field was pointed at them, and then they looked up and decided perhaps not every binocular.
“Good God!” DeMartin gasped. “And I bet that is not a projection.”
“We were riding in that?” Alexander pointed. Jill had moved the fighter-destroyer all the way into that dimension. It floated almost half a mile above their heads, but the size of the thing could not be hidden. Ethan swallowed exceptionally hard when he remembered that the ship would fit in any of four docking bays of the battleship.
“Big as a Holy Roman Battleship,” DeMartin said. “Way bigger than the ship those cyborg people came in.”
“Bless my soul,” Manomar said, and everyone paused to look at him. “As my friend Lars would say.” He shrugged.
“Quit looking up.” Jill whispered to Ethan and her projection elbowed him in the ribs, and Ethan felt it. “You look like a tourist in New York City.” Even so, as they started to walk, Ethan’s projection nearly tripped.
It took a half hour to reach the front lines. Jill had made sure that she, Ethan and Manomar all glowed a little, and that helped the soldiers give them plenty of room. DeMartin and Manomar found General Gordon right away. Ethan, Jill and Peter Alexander needed a little more time, and in the end, General-Chief David and Colonel Nicholas Alesandros of the Byzantine contingent had to come down the ridge to meet them.
“Peter.” The Cherokee General was the first to speak. “Why am I not surprised it is you?” He spoke to Alexander, but his eyes were on the couple with him
“Catch me up.” Alexander said in Cherokee. “What happened to the peace?”
“There can be no peace when those barbarians assassinate the Governor of Balazarius appointed by the Emperor himself in Constantinople.” The Byzantine Colonel sounded like he had been angry for days, or maybe he was blustering, wanting the approval of the ones who glowed like iconic figures from a cathedral ceiling.
“But the Holy Romans did not assassinate the Governor.” Peter started to explain, but Jill stopped him before he could accuse himself.
“It was a wicked alien from another world that killed both your Governor and everyone who died in and around the house.” Jill said. “And you can see by your own eyes, by our ship and by our presence that we know of what we speak. Fortunately for you, we killed the monster, and the greater Monster that followed we killed just yesterday. When you return home, you will find the Governor’s palace gone, but you must count it a small sacrifice to save your city.”
“This war is based on a lie,” Ethan added. “The Holy Romans did not kill your Governor.”
The Byzantine threw his gloves to the ground and looked ready to shed some tears of frustration. “No! I cannot hear this,” he said at last.
“Are you calling us liars?” Jill asked loudly with a bit of echo in her voice, and she turned up the glow, changed their arraignment to angelic white and lifted her and Ethan a foot off the ground. The man positively fell to his knees.
“Lord, forgive me.” He shed a couple of tears, but like most people, it was honestly for himself, and not for a mistake that almost sent countless men to their death. “But what can I tell the Emperor?” That was the crux of the matter.
“Speak thusly.” Jill spoke more softly, almost tenderly to the man and in the man’s own Byzantine, Greco-Latinized tongue. “The city of Balazarius was invaded by an enemy which has never been seen before in this New World. The Governor resisted, and he and his household were killed, but with his great sacrifice, the enemy was destroyed. The only witnessing survivors are Chief Peter Alexander of the Cherokee and Colonel Orlando deMartin of the Holy Romans, without whose help the enemy would not have been defeated. Say also, since the Holy Romans were willing to set aside their differences to come to the aid of your Governor and destroy this dreaded enemy, it would be dishonorable for you or your men, and dishonorable to the name of the Emperor to turn now like a viper and attack those who have shown a willingness to cooperate in friendship in this dangerous New World.”
“Maybe.” The man spoke at last as he thought about the words and let them penetrate. “Maybe it could work.”
“Emotional, isn’t he,” Ethan said to Alexander.
“Byzantium has always been so,” Alexander said. “How about you, David?”
David never stopped looking at Jill and Ethan, but his words were plain even if his jaw was dropped. “You know how I feel. I am against a war in this day. The native peoples of this land have spent too much time at war without help from the Europeans. We do not need to be caught up also in their quarrels, lest we do nothing but war and fighting until the last of us is killed.”
“Well said.’ Jill praised the man and returned to the Byzantine. She checked. Manomar was ready. “There will be no war on this day, but what you do tomorrow will be up to you. The future is in your hands. Tomorrow is what you make it.” As she spoke, she and Ethan began to rise up in the air while Manomar did the same from the other side. By the time they reached the ship, they vanished in a sharp flash of light. Then the ship itself vanished as Jill returned it to the dead world from which it had come.
Manomar spoke. “As my former Master would say, that was fun. Can we do it again?”