“We found a good world, not far away, and made it our new home. The beautiful Anath-Rama brought us a village of humans to help us grow our daily bread and learn the ways of the earth. I had a son, and he had good people around him, to love him. It took real effort, but soon enough we had androids and humans living together, in peace. We made a good world; but then we got attacked, twice, over two hundred years. Some got killed. The humans could reproduce and repopulate, but we could not. All of our efforts proved fruitless.” Artie took a deep breath. “When the Anazi world got destroyed, the secret of self-aware, true, living android people became lost. We have made super intelligent robots, but they are only robots…” She let her voice trail off, and looked at Ibelam.
“I cannot tell you how to do that,” Ibelam said. “Some future lives might know, but I have no idea.”
Artie’s eyes shifted to Elder Stow, but he shook his head. “It is not a secret, but I don’t know…I don’t think I can say…I don’t know.” Elder Stow also looked at Ibelam, who shook his head as well, before he spoke.
“None of my future lives are willing to tell. I don’t know if that is because you are not supposed to know the secret or because you have to find out for yourselves. But I will tell you what I know. Your robots remain robots because I am sure your programming is perfect, and without flaws. Life requires a miracle. It happens like magic, or by chance accident, or by what you might call a glitch in the program, and not just any flaw will do. But by reason and logic, you will never find it.” Elder Stow nodded, and Ibelam continued.
“It is like finding God’s perfect plan for your life. You can sit and think all day, and never find it. There will be things in life that you will never understand, even things that don’t make much sense to reason, logic, or thinking really hard. You can submit to the almighty and have things revealed, or be led to things. You may stumble upon things and have them confirmed from above. But the truth is, for reasons God alone knows, some never discover their purpose in this life. Some seek haphazardly, or quit seeking after a time. And altogether too many conclude that everything is just an accident, and they never start seeking in the first place.”
“I have known a few like that,” Alexis said, softly.
“Let me also say this,” Ibelam said. “Never quit seeking. Never quit asking. Never quit knocking. You might never find, or fully find what you are seeking, but if you trust the almighty, you will find what is necessary—what is right, good and true.”
“The almighty?” Artie asked.
“Anath-Rama’s god,” Ibelam answered. “The one she calls the source.”
Artie lowered her head again to think, but continued her tale. “We became explorers over these last couple of centuries. We needed to head off any future attacks, if possible, but also, we went looking for the key to life. We are slowly becoming less. Someday, we may all be gone to Anath-Rama’s paradise.” Artie quit speaking. She had to consider Anath-Rama’s god. Her thoughts were like a prayer, though she did not know it. It helped when Mother Katie scooted over and hugged her.
General Redfern took up the telling. “About a hundred years ago, we discovered the Humanoids in space. They appear to have risen to the top in this sector of the galaxy, and they have no interest in peaceful relations. We have lost ships, and people. We appear to be targeted as rivals. We are becoming less, and outside of David, and the colony of mostly humans around him, we have found no way to replicate ourselves.”
“They came out from behind a dwarf star and surprised us,” Artie interjected. “We did not even see them until they were right on top of us. I headed straight to earth, and they appeared to keep their distance.”
Captain Korman spoke up. “An analysis of their propulsion system and weapons suggests a technology that is not better, and may not be as good as our own. The record suggests in a longer journey we would have outrun them.”
Elder Stow looked ready to say something, but General Redfern interrupted. “Our immediate concern is the Hungdin craft. We picked up their troops easily enough, but their ship and base of operations are invisible to us. We fear they have gained one technological advantage. If they have an invisibility screen, they may be the end of us.”
Elder Stow had to think, and everyone allowed him the time without interrupting. “I am not sure what is safe to say,” he said, softly, and looked at Ibelam who betrayed nothing on his face. “But I believe it would betray no future to tell you the humanoids have no invisibility. Their ship is built of the right composite materials and designed to cause your simple radar-like long range scanners to slip right over them, as if they are not there. Their stealth design is well done; perhaps even impressive. But they do not have even a glamour of invisibility. I believe I can help you there, but as for what makes a robot into a living being…” He shook his head, his face filled with uncertainty. Everyone understood. It was not his decision, and the Kairos already gave all he could.
Several hours later, Elder Stow, Boston, Katie, Artie, and Captain Korman came from the ship with news that they now had the means to detect humanoid ships in deep space. The one on the ground had also been found. They discovered Ibelam got the people to start partying without them. They had a big bonfire with plenty of game cooking away, and Ibelam told stories of his adventures.
Lincoln commented. “No one in our century would believe a word of it. I would not believe the stories myself except for two things. First, we are talking about the Kairos. As Lockhart said, he sits at the center of the hurricane while everything else swirls around him. Second, we have four eyewitnesses here who have more or less confirmed the stories, no matter how strange they sound. And, trust me, some have sounded pretty wild.”
“Never underestimate the veracity of four eyewitnesses,” Alexis agreed.
Decker came back from visiting the perimeter where android soldiers were keeping a sharp eye out for any humanoids or skeletons that might be headed their way. He interrupted. “Anybody ever figure out where that Muhamed guy went?”
“We found the guy running from skeletons,” Boston blurted out.
Alexis took up the explanation. “He seemed grateful. He thanked Allah and the Holy Prophet for being saved. He only had a scrape from a skeleton spear. Otherwise, he seemed in fine shape.”
“I guess he ran away when the soldiers attacked us,” Elder Stow said, and Sukki nodded.
“We should have made more effort to find him,” Decker said, still thinking about not leaving people behind.
“I figure he is native,” Lockhart said. “I imagine he knows where he is going.”
“Wait.” Katie interrupted. “He thanked Allah and the Holy Prophet for being saved?”
“Yeah,” Boston confirmed. “So?”
“I told you, Allah’s holy prophet won’t be born for another fourteen or fifteen hundred years.”
Everyone got quiet. Ibelam finally said it. “So, your Muhamed is from the future.”
“He said he was a chemist from Medina,” Boston remembered.
“Probably a pharmacist. Maybe from Mecca,” Alexis suggested. “Someone who could make the life elixir.”
“Probably from our century,” Lincoln added.
“Probably the necromancer,” Elder Stow said it.
“Had to be,” Decker agreed, as the call came that there were some skeletons coming. Some must have survived getting through the humanoid line.
Lockhart said, “Damn.” Lincoln looked at Ibelam and wondered why he doubted the truth of any of Ibelam’s stories. Ibelam just laughed.
Next Time: Avalon 6.3, Stubborn. The travelers find themselves arriving just before the founding of Rome, and they find someone from the future who has been enslaved and does not belong there.
Until next time, Happy Reading