Lincoln and Alexis tied off their horses. They were both soaking wet from the river crossing, and so were the horses, but none seemed any worse for the wear. Lincoln thought to try out his wristwatch radio. “Lockhart, can you hear me?” He had to wait a minute, figuring Lockhart had to remember how it worked. He heard Katie’s voice in response.
“We hear you,” she said. “Keep in mind, every peep on the radio reaches everyone. Meanwhile, Robert is not getting the best cooperation from Elder Stow’s horse.”
“That is a very good horse,” they heard Elder Stow respond. “You just have to coax it, gently.” Elder Stow did not have a watch-radio, but he could easily pick up the frequency on his communications device.
“We will try not to get out of range. How does it look, Lincoln?”
“Like we figured. The people came out to work on the spring planting. There are not many near our location, but even if no one comes close enough, we have a good view of the city wall, mostly a wooden wall, and the city gates.”
“A merchant ship as I surmised. We are about to go invisible for a closer look. There appear to be some crew members sitting around a fire. We will let you know what we find out.”
“Roger. Out.” Katie nudged her horse into the water and bit her tongue rather than complain about how cold it was.
“Are you ready?” Elder Stow asked. Sukki nodded, so he flipped the switch and checked to be sure she went fully invisible. Then he made himself invisible, so they could still see each other, but no one else could see them. “Let us see what the people are talking about.”
As they walked up, they saw seven Gott-Druk sitting around the fire, and two men that were definitely not Gott-Druk, standing, with guns in their hands.
“Humanoids,” Sukki whispered. Elder Stow nodded and hushed her.
“So, you say the ship will not fly?” It sounded like a question, but Sukki and Elder Stow had to wait for the translation device to translate the words into Gott-Druk. Of course, to Elder Stow and Sukki, the translation still sounded like “So, you say the ship won’t fly?” They had been gifted by the Kairos with the gift of the little ones. No matter language got spoken, they heard it in their native tongues. Likewise, they could respond if necessary, and the person they spoke to would hear the words in their own native tongue. A few alien languages they had come across had been difficult, but Humanoid and Gott-Druk were easy.
“Too much battle damage,” one of the Gott-Druk responded. “You attacked us with three warships, and we would have gotten away if you had not crashed your shuttle into our cargo bay.” They had to wait for the translation again.
“I got hungry,” the humanoid said, and appeared to laugh. After the translation, he added, “So, why did you come here? This world is marked in green. No one is supposed to come here.”
“We did not exactly have a choice.”
“But this world is no good for repairing your ship. It is only good for food.” It sounded like yelling, humanoid style.
“We did not exactly have a choice,” the Gott-Druk repeated.
“Come,” Elder Stow whispered. He led Sukki up the ramp and into the ship where he thought to add, “Don’t touch anything.”
They arrived in the engine room where a humanoid held the two Gott-Druk engineers at gun point. They heard the humanoid yell into his communication device. “I can’t get it to work. I don’t even understand it. They call it ion energy and say it powers the photon drive, but they call it dark energy and anti-photons. I don’t even know what they are talking about.”
They heard the roar from the other end. “Keep them at it. The longer we stay here, the greater chance we have of being discovered by whatever reason this world is marked in green.”
Elder Stow heard enough. He pulled his weapon and set it with just enough power to stun a Gott-Druk. He imagined it might kill the humanoid, but that could not be helped. He fired.
Out in the fields, a middle-aged woman came to rest in the shade of the trees. Alexis took the chance. She shaped her fairy-weave clothes to imitate the local styles, and made some small noise in the woods so the woman would not be startled by her sudden presence. The woman looked back and saw her. Lincoln stayed out of sight, but he held on to his Patton saber and had his handgun at his side, just in case.
“Your pardon,” Alexis said. “I am looking for someone and perhaps you could help me.”
The woman did not bother to rise, but shaded her eyes as she looked up. “You must live some distance from here, like on some outlying farm,” the woman said. “I know a lot of people, but I don’t recall your face.”
“I do not live near here,” Alexis admitted. “I do not know the face of the one I am looking for, but I know his name. It is Evan Cecil Emerson. Do you know him?”
“Cecil? What do you want him for? He is pretty useless. He can’t hardly dress himself. He doesn’t know anything about work or tools. He can’t hitch up the oxen, and couldn’t plow a straight line if he got threatened with the whip. He is an idiot. I got a six-year-old who knows more than him. What do you want him for?”
“He doesn’t belong here,” Alexis said, plainly.
The woman laughed. “You may be right about that. He’s been saying the same thing since he showed up some time ago, hungry and helpless. I would bet the Etruscans threw him out, but we take in all the strays here. We got some Etruscans, Latins, Sabines, Albans, Greeks. We even got some that claim they came from as far away as Asia, from a place they called Troy. I don’t know where that is, either. I don’t know where Greece is either, except I heard about it all my life. So, who told you about Cecil, and where does he belong? He sure doesn’t fit in here.”
Alexis took a deep breath before she decided on honesty. “A faun from Vatican Hill asked me to fetch him. Cecil is from the future, and I intend to take him there—to take him home.”
The old woman stared. Then she laughed. “You a believer in the wee people? You go for all that magic foolishness?” She paused in her laugh. “To be sure, Cecil says he is from the future. He says he got separated from his wife there, and does not know how to reach her. Funny you should say that.” The old woman’s eyes got big for a second, before she squinted and pointed. “Cecil is there, with my husband, probably messing up the planting, again.”
“Tyrus.” The woman stood, shouted and waved. “Tyrus. Bring Cecil.” The man scowled and handed the reigns for the plow to the young boy beside him. Cecil did not move until Tyrus waved for him to follow.
“What?” Tyrus shouted back. “We’ll never get the field done if we leave off work.” His voice lowered as he drew near. “Cecil is doing his best, poor as that may be. What?”
“This young woman says she is looking for Cecil; says she wants to take him back to the future.”
Alexis had to concentrate, but managed a sentence in English. “Do you want to return to the future?”
Cecil fell to his knees and began to weep.
Tyrus looked flummoxed. “I can’t allow that. Lord Tarquin himself told me I could have him if I didn’t lose him. If he goes missing, what is going to happen to me?”
“On the other hand,” Alexis said, reading the couple. “If I take him off your hands, you will get much more work done and have one less mouth to feed.”
Tyrus rubbed his jaw. “There is that.”
“Ah-ha,” the woman nodded and smiled, like she liked that idea.
“No, but it cost me to have him.”
“Benjamin,” Alexis called. Lincoln stepped into sight and made a show of sheathing his saber. “Do you have those coins you picked up from Ibelam?” She turned to the couple and explained, even if they would not understand. “Ibelam helped a friend, Artie, and she paid him in gold coins such as the Androids minted for their economy, and mostly for trade. Ibelam was kind enough to share a few, despite him being a notorious pirate.”
“Here,” Lincoln handed them over and Alexis gave them to Tyrus.
“Ibelam?” Tyrus asked.
“Yes. I imagine he sailed by here at some point, though that would have been when you were a child. He captained the ship, Sinbad’s Folly.”
“Sinbad?” Tyrus appeared to know something. Some light went off in his memory. “Notorious,” he agreed, and looked at the coins.
“Cecil,” Alexis waved for him to join them.
“Evan?” Lincoln asked.
“Either,” the man said, and he hurried. He almost started to cry again when he saw the horses, but they mounted, Evan behind Lincoln, and they rushed to the river. “No, that way,” Evan said, turning them away from the water
“We have to get out from under the eyes of the town,” Lincoln insisted.
“We will. Trust me. That way,”
They turned downriver and soon came out of the trees where they could be plainly seen by anyone up on the village wall.
“By the time they bring out the chariots, we will be back under cover and out of range, believe me.”
Alexis spoke into her watch. “Katie. Elder Stow. We got Evan Cecil. How are you doing?”
“We have a dilemma to resolve, but it should not take long,” Elder Stow responded first.
“Just coming to the cave where Valencia should be located,” Katie answered. “I’ll let you know.”
Evan appeared startled by the voices that came from the little bracelets the people wore. He did not say anything, but he looked more closely at his saviors.
The riders and their centaur guide came out of the trees on to a small clearing. The spring flowers grew up to a grass covered ledge, at the back of which sat a clear cave among the rocks. Colon stopped, so the others stopped with him, and wondered what he would do.
“Lady,” he called. “My lady. Gracious lady, I have brought friends of yours. The faun of the gray hair sent me. Lady…” Colon stopped speaking, and looked worried.
A wolf slowly emerged from the cave, growling and snarling. It looked hungry. The travelers noticed some red hair that grew out of the wolf’s back. Colon took a step back, but he tried to smile. Two identical boys, no older than twelve, came from the cave to stand beside the wolf, and both complained.
“Mama. We have company.”
The wolf let out a little grin before it changed into a woman, about five and a half feet tall, with long red hair down her back, and eyes as dark a charcoal. “Thank you Colan,” she said. “It doesn’t fix things, but it helps.” She turned to the travelers. “Lockhart, bad timing as usual.” She opened her arms. “Boston.” She had to wait. Boston hesitated because of the wolf, but only hesitated for a moment.
One of the twelve-year-olds put his arms out for a hug, but Boston snubbed him, and the woman slapped his hand. “Romulus,” the woman scolded.
“And Remus?” Katie asked, and got that groupie look on her face.