On the edge of town, three Wolv jumped them. They got blown back by the screens Elder Stow set around the group. The Wolv did their best with tooth and claw, but that did nothing to impede the steady progress of the group.
When they entered the village square, where the Humanoid ship faced them at the far end of the open space, a dozen Wolv opened fire with their handguns. It did nothing. The Wolv soon stopped and backed away. The patrol-transport ship screamed and produced one burst of its main gun before the gun appeared to shut down. Patrol ships got outfitted with some of the most powerful Humanoid weaponry. Those ships tended to be engines, weapons, and some reasonable screen capabilities against intruders. Crew quarters and work spaces were cramped, and they had minimal navigation, limited life-support, and limited other systems interstellar ships had. They were not made to leave the solar system. But they had weapons, and Elder Stow remarked as he considered his readout.
“Impressive. They have found a new energy source and improved on the old Anazi technology.” Of course, the shot hardly registered visibly on Elder Stow’s screens. Elder Stow only had a small, handheld screen device such as a ship’s officer might carry, but such was the technological difference between the younger races, like the Humanoids, and the elder races, like the Gott-Druk. Elder Stow said no more as the Humanoid commander came out of the ship, followed by three more Humanoids and a dozen Wolv as guards.
Galatea nodded. “I had to figure out how to slip inside Elder Stow’s screens. Even though the gods know how to do that, now. It isn’t easy. I had to really think about it. I may get a headache…”
“Good for you, now, hush.” Ophelia smiled for the woman before she turned with a serious face to the approaching Humanoids.
“Your Amph… Salacia husband wants to help,” Galatia whispered.
“Yes. Hush,” Ophelia said. “Zeuxides.”
Zeuxides stepped forward with the blanket. He whispered as he laid it out on the ground, revealing the six heads. “I don’t know why we didn’t take some Wolv heads. That might have put a bit of fear in the beasts.”
“First of all, they are people, not beasts,” Ophelia said. “They walk and talk, and as you have seen, they follow orders. But second of all, they have no word for fear. They do not even understand the concept. The closest they have for the word fear is their word for indigestion.”
“Then, if one wants to eat me, I hope I can give it indigestion,” Zeuxides whispered as he stood.
“What?” the Humanoid Captain yelled the word as he came to face his visitors, though his eyes fastened on the six Humanoid heads. By the grace of the gods, probably Proteus, because Galatea would not think of it, Ophelia and Zeuxides could understand and communicate with the Humanoids. Ophelia had imagined using Elder Stow as a translator.
“The troops you sent to scout the area are all dead. We brought you these so you can perform the proper rituals. Understand. This is not a sanctuary planet for you or your people. This is a Genesis planet, and as such is off limits to you and your people. You have no business being here, and I know it is marked on your charts as a no-go zone.”
“Aaaah!” The Captain shouted and threw his hands in the air in a very human act of frustration and anger. Ophelia looked closely and judged him to be a young lord from a noble Humanoid house. “I don’t even know what that means…”
One of the Humanoid commanders leaned forward and asked. “What is a Genesis planet?”
Ophelia only paused briefly before answering. “It is one of a dozen or so worlds in this whole galaxy where intelligent life spawns or is created. At some point in the development of the species, the powers of the universe spread the life forms among the stars. Most of the people you have come into contact with during your age of exploration among the stars had their beginning here, on Earth, or on the Pendratti world, which is now barren.” She pointed to Elder Stow and his glamour of humanity fell away to reveal his Neanderthal nature. “The Gott-Druk and the Elenar, both of whom I know you have in your records, began on this world.” She pointed to Zeuxides. “This world presently belongs to the Homo Sapiens, who you dare not underestimate, though their technology appears primitive to your eyes. The very powers of the universe will fight to protect this world, and its residents. You are being given a chance to leave before you are utterly destroyed.”
“But we have nowhere else to go,” the captain still shouted, only now he sounded desperate. Ophelia caught a word from one of her lifetimes, far in the future. She decided to go with that thought.
“Your father threw you out.” She said it like a statement, not a question. “And how many ships do you have in orbit?”
The captain said nothing. He just steamed, but the Humanoid commander spoke frankly. “Seven. Two war ships, three transports carrying several thousand people, no Wolv, and two more patrol boats, one being a patrol-transport.”
The captain interrupted. “But you heard. We have nowhere else to go.” This time, his words were softly spoken and he sounded like one resigned to his fate.
The sky turned dark. Thunder echoed through the village. Stroke after stroke of lightning struck the fields near the beach. A giant rose out of the water and headed straight toward them. He only needed a few steps to reach the edge of the village, at which point he stood only twenty or so feet tall, as he shrank when he neared. When he came around a barn to reach the main street, only the top of his gray head could be seen. When he arrived where the group of people stood, he looked human enough, though still bigger than Zeuxides, who stood an imposing six feet tall in his generally smaller world.
“I can help with that,” the man said. “I know a planet in an untouched system that should sustain you. The world is bigger than earth, but not like double. There is an atmosphere and animal life there, after a fashion, so an edible food source. The star gives about half the heat and light of the sun, but the planet is closer. It goes around in about two hundred and maybe thirty days. The weather stays cool and dreary, but it is livable, about thirty some of your light years out in the Gott-Druk direction. In fact, I know several systems, if you are willing to travel up to fifty light years.”
“You will take us there?” the Humanoid commander asked, not waiting for his captain to speak up.
The man shook his head. “I am not my wife to travel all over the sky; but with a kiss from my wife, and maybe if I can borrow Martok, he can put the information in your, er, navigation system.” He grinned for remembering what the system was called.
Ophelia dropped her jaw. “Taking liberties, I see.” She turned to the others. “Elder Stow, I’ll be back. Zeuxides, close your eyes.” She turned again to the man. “Both parties are agreeable,” she said, speaking of Amphitrite and Martok. “Especially since the alternative would involve several atomic explosions in the upper atmosphere.” Ophelia traded places through time with Amphitrite, the goddess, who stepped eagerly into her husband Poseidon’s arms. After a moment, those two, the Humanoids, the Wolvs, and the patrol ship all vanished.
Proteus and Galatea also vanished, so that left Elder Stow, who restored his glamour so he looked human again, and Zeuxides, who didn’t close his eyes, but wished he had. He asked, “So where did Ophelia go?”
Elder Stow shrugged as they walked back up the hill. “Somewhere into the past, or the future, or somewhere in between.”
“Who was that who came and stood in her place?”
“Amphitrite, I believe.”
Zeuxides swallowed. “So that giant was…”
Zeuxides nodded. “So, when Ophelia said Proteus and Galatea, she meant Proteus and Galatea.”
“I would say, yes.”
Zeuxides nodded and swallowed again. “And are you human?”
“Certainly,” Elder Stow said with some force in his voice. “Homo Neanderthal, not Homo Sapiens, but that still qualifies as human. In fact, we are close enough on the genesis tree, we can even mate with each other, as disgusting as that sounds.”
Zeuxides said nothing the rest of the way up the hill.
“So, where did they go?” Lockhart asked the same question Zeuxides asked.
“Where’s Malvas?” Lincoln asked.
“There are ruins on Malvas?” Katie asked at the same time.
Elder Stow pointed to the sky as he spoke. “An orange star. It became unstable about two thousand years ago, my time. It kicked a habitable planet about three times its original distance from the star, according to the reconstructed theory. The survey team found a city, but determined it had been abandoned a hundred years before the star bloomed. The star has returned to its more stable condition since, but now there are ruins on the ice rock that was probably once an earth-like planet.”
“So why would they go to a place that has ruins?” Decker wanted to know.
“It doesn’t have ruins yet,” Elder Stow responded, and looked up at the sky as the sun sank to the horizon.
The travelers head toward Rome, and the Kairos, Marcia Furi Camilla Diana; but first, they have to get past the witch. Until then, Happy Reading.