Around 4500 BC on the Plains of Shinar. Kairos 1-6: The Twins 1, 2 and 3.
“I must say it is kind of interesting being thirty again.” Lockhart spoke after they entered the tunnel. Lincoln looked back to see if the angel might be following them. It did not, but the angel light illuminated the tunnel, and good thing, because it looked like a long way to the dim light at the other end.
“Twenty-nine.” Lincoln spoke up. “You may be thirty, but I decided I am only twenty-nine. And my wife is now Boston’s age, just twenty-five.”
“That’s right.” Alexis took Lincoln’s arm. “Benjamin and I get to start all over again.” They kissed and began to make loving noises. The others did their best to ignore them until Mingus could not stand it.
“Shut-up.” He turned and yelled at them, but his son, Roland was right there.
“Father, Alexis chose her mate and her human life, now you leave my sister alone.”
Mingus paused and looked at his son. “A scolding from my own infant.” He stopped walking so everyone stopped. “Well, at least she got her youth back so she is not going to die any time soon.”
“I don’t know,” Doctor Procter spoke up absentmindedly and shook his amulet once more. “If I can’t get this thing working there is no telling where we may end up. I suppose we could all die on the road.”
“Cheery thought,” Lockhart quipped.
“But, say. Mingus and Alexis just ran through time in this direction. Right? Surely you can help guide us back.” Lincoln smiled to encourage them.
“Don’t look at me,” Alexis said. “I spent most of the time with my mouth and eyes shut.”
“Some. I might help some with the history, but really, we only arrived and skirted the edge of last time zone. We moved as fast as we could. For the most part, we traveled through the Heart of Time. We did not come all this way through the time zones. You can’t normally go back in the time zones unless you want to get younger…” Mingus let his voice peter out before he stepped over to the doctor to examine the amulet.
“Sounds like a plan to me,” Lincoln said. “We skirt the edges of the time zones as fast as we can, and hide.”
“I spent the last three hundred years studying the lives of the Kairos. Now that we have the opportunity to walk through those lifetimes, one by one, and in order, I might add, I am not going to miss that opportunity. Isn’t that right, Mingus?”
Mingus shook his head and sighed, and in that moment, everyone got a good look at the difference between Mingus, a full blood elf, and the Doctor who was half-human. The contrast did not appear startling, but seemed obvious. No plain human could have eyes as big, features as sharp or fingers as thin and long.
“If you say,” Mingus muttered as he took the amulet and shook it once for himself.
“What says the Navy?” Lockhart turned to look at the two who were armed and bringing up the rear.
“I’m to follow orders,” Captain Decker frowned.
Lieutenant Harper smiled. “I would not mind exploring a little while we have the chance.”
“Besides,” Roland spoke up, while Lockhart faced front again and encouraged everyone to resume walking. “I have a feeling the Kairos would not mind if we rooted out some of the unsavory characters that wandered into the time zones without permission.”
“Oh, that would be very dangerous.” Alexis said it before Lincoln could, and she grinned for her husband.
“All the same…” Roland did not finish his sentence. He fell back to walk beside Lockhart to underline his sentiments to the man.
“Boston, dear.” Lockhart backed away from the elf and slipped his arm around the young woman. “What do you think? Do we run as fast as we can or explore a bit and maybe confront some unsavories along the way?”
“Explore and help the Kairos clean out the time zones. I thought that was obvious.”
“Well for the record,” Mingus said, as he turned and walked backwards. “Though it may kill me to say it, I agree with that Lincoln fellow.”
“I haven’t offered an opinion,” Lincoln said.
“No, but I can read the mind of a frightened rabbit well enough.”
“Father!” Alexis jumped and had some scolding in her voice. “I vote we explore and help.” She looked at Lockhart, and so did everyone else except Doctor Procter who was still playing with his amulet.
Lockhart nodded. “Okay,” he said. “But the number one priority is to get everyone home alive and in one piece, so when it is time to move on, we all move, no arguments.”
“You got that right,” Captain Decker mumbled.
Everyone seemed fine with that except Mingus who screwed up his face and asked, “And who decides when it is time to move on?”
“I do.” Lockhart spoke without flinching. The two stared at each other until Doctor Procter interrupted.
“Anyway,” he said, as if in the middle of a sentence. “I would not worry about hunting unsavories. I don’t imagine it will take long before they start hunting us.”
“Cheery thought.” Lockhart repeated himself as Boston slipped out from beneath his arm.
“Lovely arm,” she said and squeezed the muscle as she let go. Lockhart just gave her a hard stare in return until she amended her words. “Dad.” She thought about it and changed it. “Grandpa.” Then she said, “Gramps,” and had to cover the grin that came to her lips. She felt rather glad Alexis interrupted.
“Look! A baby. Two babies.” Alexis pointed toward the ceiling of the tunnel and everyone looked. The ceiling and walls of the tunnel were opaque, not rock. The angel light did not penetrate far into whatever they were walking through, but it lit things up enough to see the forms. Sure enough, there were two babies. They saw one kick, and the other kick back.
“What is this stuff?” Boston asked the question.
“Amniotic fluid.” Doctor Procter answered her like it was the most obvious answer in the world. Fortunately, Mingus took up the explanation.
“The Kairos was designed to inhabit two bodies at once. One male and one female. It did not work out too well at first. In fact, the first two times old Cronos tried to bring the Kairos to birth, he failed.”
“The god failed?” Roland sounded shocked to hear that. Mingus merely nodded.
“You might as well say the Kairos failed to be properly born,” Doctor Procter corrected his colleague from the history department. “We debate this, regularly, but it is not well publicized.”
“But wait.” Boston spoke from behind so everyone stopped and turned. “What are these dark patches? It looks like there are spots that no light can penetrate.”
“What?” Doctor Procter and Mingus both slid up to the wall to examined the evidence. This was something new.
“Two babies.” Lockhart still looked up. “One male and one female. But both the same person.” It was a hard concept to grasp.
“But the dark patches?” Boston did not get an answer. “They appear to be moving around.”
“Demons, definitely.” Doctor Procter concluded. “That explains some of the early difficulties in the birthing.”
“Demons, perhaps,” Mingus did not sound convinced. Lieutenant Harper reached out and Mingus reacted. “Don’t touch!” He shouted, and the Lieutenant caught her hand. “Better to be safe.”
“Demons.” Doctor Procter sounded certain, but to confirm the statement, he got closer than he should have been. The dark patches quickly raced to his position to form a single mass of darkness and something reached out into the tunnel and touched the Doctor’s hand, or so Boston thought. She was the only one at an angle and the nearness to see in the dim light. But she could not be sure because at that same time there came a great flash of angel light. Even those with their backs turned had to pause and blink, and then the light went out altogether.
“The tunnel closed up behind us,” Roland said, and with his elf eyes, he seemed to be the only one who could see clearly—him and his father, and perhaps Doctor Procter. For the humans, it just looked dark behind them while the light from the other end of the tunnel looked far away and very dim.
“Keep moving.” Lockhart said, and in only a few steps, he felt a tingling sensation. They all felt it, like a small electrical charge.
“The time gate.” Alexis explained. “We have moved on to the Kairos’ next life.”
“The other failed life,” Mingus called it.
“The other practice life,” Doctor Procter countered, and as they walked, the light at the end of the tunnel grew stronger.
Boston had her eyes wide open in search of demons. Roland had thought to take up a position near the rear with her as they walked two by two. They both saw the motion when it came, and Boston grabbed Roland’s arm in an automatic response for fear of the demons. Something moved inside the walls. It moved first on their left, and then on their right, and it took a moment for Boston to figure it out.
“Hey. This time the two babies are separated and to the sides. Why is that?”
“Different mothers.” Doctor Procter spoke first again, but like before, it came out cryptic and did not explain much. Mingus had to explain, again.
“The first attempt failed in the birthing process, so in Cronos’ second attempt, he tried to separate the two babies. They were born, but being separated turned out to be too much for the infants. They didn’t live long.”
“At least they are not kicking each other,” Boston said, and she looked up at Roland. He looked down at her and she added, “Oh,” softly, and let go of the elf’s arm, not that he was complaining.
“Why would being separated be too much for the babies?” Lincoln took up the questions.
“I imagine one consciousness split between two brains is hard enough.” Lockhart thought to answer. “Add to that two different mothers and two different fathers, different smells, two different sights through two sets of eyes. It is a wonder the Kairos did not go mad.”
“Split personality, certainly,” Alexis added her thought.
“Worst in history, daughter,” Mingus said.
“At least that is what the Kairos says,” Doctor Procter added as they came at last to the end of the tunnel.
“Wait.” Lockhart made everyone pause while he stepped to the front to look out on the world.