After Diana explained to Justitia the phrase, “hurry up and wait,” for the third time, Katie came over to go over the plan. “Elder Stow is going to set up a one-sided screen wall. We can shoot them, but if the witch has taught her minions to use the guns, they won’t be able to shoot us. Boston has agreed to send some explosive arrows in any openings they make in the way of windows or doors. Alexis, Boston would appreciate your help with that.”
“Won’t that endanger Evan and Millie?” Alexis protested.
Katie shook her head. Elder Stow scanned the building, and Boston confirmed by her senses that Evan and Millie are being held in a back room, well away from any up-front action. She also confessed that her little grenades would not be like the sticks of dynamite Father Mingus made. Hopefully, it will keep the witch off balance and discourage any sharpshooters.
“Hopefully,” Lincoln said.
“Elder Stow will walk the screen closer and closer to the building. When he is close enough, he has it set to push rapidly forward to a few feet inside the building. That should bring the front of the building down. Then with these short swords and our sabers, we should be able to take her minions and get our weapons back. Boston and I will run to get Evan and Millie, since we are the fastest.”
“And what about the witch?” Diana asked, bluntly.
“It is a calculated risk. Thus far, the witch has shown no great signs of courage, but she has shown a great sense of self-preservation. We are hoping when she sees the weapons doing her no good, she may find the back door and revise her plans. Maybe get Millie and Evan to steal all of our things next time, but anyway, get out while the getting is good.”
“Bolo!” Diana raised her voice. A man came to see her, and the others paid attention. Bolo had thirty ragged-looking men with him. “Bolo is with the city guard,” Diana quickly explained, and she told about the fine young couple being kidnapped, and avoided the word, witch. She said the enemy had very dangerous weapons that can kill from a distance, but her people here have a means of countering that. Bolo and his men must stay behind her people until the front of the warehouse collapses. Then they can charge, fast as they can, and capture whatever kidnappers survive the collapse of the building.
Bolo looked at Katie, who stood as tall as him, and glanced at Lockhart and Decker who stood much taller than him, and nodded. “I have no doubt what you say is true,” he said.
“Hello Bolo,” Justitia said, and smiled for the man.
Bolo tipped his hat, like he forgot Justitia could not see him do that. “Look at you,” he said, through a smile of his own. “You are looking more grown up every time I see you.”
“Save it for later,” Diana interrupted.
“Lady,” Bolo nodded and got serious as he turned to shout at his men. “We are dealing with kidnappers, but they have some special and terrible magical weapons. So we stay behind these good people until it is time to charge, and I’ll tell you when to charge.”
“Go,” Lockhart said, and Elder Stow started inching forward.
As expected, the door and windows opened and gunfire came from the openings. Boston and Alexis were ready, with a dozen arrows each. Every time a head popped up or out, an arrow got sent in return, and the arrow exploded. Also, as expected, the bullets petered out until they stopped coming altogether. Even enchanted, or perhaps hypnotized, men were not willing to risk being skewered by an arrow, and especially if that arrow exploded. No doubt several of the men were among the dead and wounded.
When Elder Stow got close enough, the front of the building collapsed as expected; but so did most of the building. Only the back wall and a bit on each side still stood, and they looked shaky. The travelers charged before the dust cleared. The city guard came right on their heels. Then Diana, unexpectedly, ran out in her excitement and worry. Justitia and Lincoln had all they could do to keep up with her.
Diana ignored the city guard who gathered the survivors from the exploding arrows and collapsing lumber. She clambered over the rubble and ignored the travelers who were searching for their weapons. She got to the back and stopped beside Katie and Boston, who looked stymied. The witch had Millie by the neck and a knife at Millie’s throat. Two of her minions had Evan pinned by his arms.
“Let us go,” Nanette screeched. “Or I swear, I will slit her throat. And you know, I will be happy to do it.”
Justitia came up and hardly breathed before she shouted, “No.” It was a word heard all around the neighborhood.
“No, Nanette,” Charles Wallace Dodd ran up, flanked by Felix and Bolo.
“Hold him,” Diana said, and Bolo and Felix each grabbed one of Wallace’s arms so he could not run to the witch. He also did not seem to have anything else to say.
Justitia pushed in front and raised her hand. “You go too far.” Diana felt the sword slip from the sheath at her back and saw it fly to Justitia’s hand. She decided to close her eyes. She desperately wanted to interfere, but she did not. “I will dispense justice by my own hand if I must.” Justitia waved the sword. “And my justice will be swift and final.”
“The blind girl?” Nanette couldn’t believe it. “You have no power here.”
“But your heart betrays you,” Justitia said, and held up her other hand. The scales from the kitchen appeared in her hand. “The good you have done is a thimble, and mostly it was done by accident.” One side of the scales weighed down a little. “But your crimes, since Mother made you, have been countless.” She began when this second Nanette got made and through all the time zones, declared every wicked and evil thing the witch did. The witch just stood there, like one unable to move. The other side of the scale bent so low, the scale looked in danger of breaking. “You have been found guilty. Your sentence will be swift.”
“No,” Nanette screamed, an ear-piercing sound. She dropped Millie and caused a whirlwind to surround her and lift her from the ground. She flew through the hole in the roof and disappeared in the distance.
Justitia turned with a smile as the two men holding Evan collapsed into unconsciousness. The scales had vanished, but Justitia still held the sword, and Diana stepped up, and yelled. “Justitia.” It was not a pleasant sound. “That is not your job. You may be judge. You may be jury. God willing, you will never have to executioner. But you are not allowed to be all three. I’ll have no vigilante daughter.” Poor Justitia wilted under the scolding. But with each word, Diana took a step closer, until she wrapped Justitia in a great hug and added, “I was so scared for you.”
“Oh, Mama.” Justitia found some tears. “I was scared, too.”
They found two men waiting when they arrived at Diana’s home. Her husband, Publius, wrapped Diana in a hug and included Justitia. “Where were you? I got no answer from the servants, and we were getting worried.”
Diana’s father, seated, old man that he was, had a different opinion. “I came to visit and found my grandson tied to the gate. No servant will confess to the deed, and Gaius believes it would be shameful to tell. Then I found Publia and her friends tearing up the house with a wild party. I know she is not yet sixteen, but I had to threaten to find her a husband to get her to stop.”
“What kind of errand could take you from your duties as a wife and mother? Marcia, you are my good child…” The old man sighed.
“This fine young couple got kidnapped by a witch…”
The old man waved his hand. He heard one thing. “You got kidnapped?”
“That’s right,” Bolo said. Both he and Felix were there to confirm everything.
“Oh my dear,” the old man said to Millie. He got up. “Please come sit here. Both of you. That must have been a terrible ordeal.”
“The kidnapper had a knife to her throat and threatened to kill the woman,” Felix said. The travelers kept back, knowing it would generally best in such circumstances to let the Kairos explain whatever the Kairos was willing to explain. In this case, the old man gave Felix such a stare, he straightened up and said, “Lucius Falerna Felix,” and he added, “Sir,” just to be safe.
The old man took Millie’s hand and patted it gently, just like you would expect from a doting grandfather, but his words remained sharp. “And why would you take sweet Justitia on such an errand?”
“She followed. The servants were instructed to not let Gaius follow. Publia was not here when we had to run,” Diana said, quickly.
“Good thing Justitia was there,” Bolo said, getting set to praise her.
“The witch got frightened by so many of us,” Diana interrupted. “She flew away, as witches do. I am sure we will not be bothered by her again.”
“I see,” the old man said. “And who are all these others?”
“They are friends,” Diana said. “They may be a bit harder to explain. Their home is in the far future.”
At least her husband laughed.
“They are from the future?” the old man said. “Really? So, tell me something about the future.”
“That would not be wise,” Lockhart said.
Katie stepped up. “Even Delphi couches their words in vague symbols and disconnected words, and for a reason. Knowledge of the future is not to be trifled with. But I will say this. I have a feeling when the Gauls come again, you will defeat them handily, and may even find the Etruscans willing to bow to your victory, that is, if you arm and protect your soldiers with the equipment Diana has created.”
The old man smiled. “Just what I wanted to hear. I, too, believe I will defeat them the second time, and Marcia is my good luck charm, you know.”
Diana did not look happy, but in the end, she nodded. “I’ll give you that one.”
After two weeks, the travelers said good-bye to Centurion Felix. The old man said he could use good men. They also said good-bye to chicken-head and snake-head, and the whole troop of Roman-looking soldiers.
The minute they stepped through the time gate, Lockhart pulled Katie aside and said, “Explain. Justitia said her mother created Nanette.”
Katie nodded. “Minerva, that is, Athena is her mother. Diomedes is her father. Apollo let it slip that if Athena ever had a child, the child would be wiser than her mother. Athena Kept Justitia from being born for over seven hundred years, and then blinded her when she was born. But Artemis and Apollo intervened and brought her to Diana to raise, which kind of makes sense, seeing as the Kairos Diomedes was her father. Diana says there is no doubt Justitia is wiser than herself, so Athena should not have a problem with that.” Katie shrugged.
Lockhart gave her a kiss. “I cannot imagine our daughter will be wiser than her mother,” he said. She smiled and looked down, shyly, thinking of having a child. “Or stronger, or faster, oof.” Katie elbowed him in the stomach.
“Don’t push your luck,” Katie said.
Episode 10 of season 6 begins, where we meet an old friend who has shown up in several episodes, the Kairos, Diogenes of Pella, first cousin to Alexander the Great. Of course, the witch, the outlaw cowboys and some gunpowder don’t make it easy. Until then, Happy Reading.